Life is what we make it

I will happily admit that my mother did the best job she could have done with her two children.  As a family, our live’s were not always easy.  Through sacrifice and perseverance Mum managed to purchase her first home in Manurewa for $85k, which in the late 80’s was allot of money – especially for a solo mother with two young children.

Unable to work and only receiving the bare minimum needed to bring up two children my mother showed such strength & determination in her life’s mission. Even through the eyes of a child I recognised that strength and it has been something I have looked up to my entire life. I still remember seeing the Salvation Army delivering bags of food & gifts over our fence one Christmas eve.  To me it was like Christmas but to my mother it was survival.

My brother and I

My brother and I

My brother attended Dilworth School for Boys and was required to board full time. I missed him greatly whilst he was away but was thankful that he was given such an amazing opportunity in life, which was thanks in most to my Mother’s perseverance during the application process. I was fortunate enough to attend Manurewa High School – a school that taught me the values and skills needed to carve out a life for myself in this exciting crazy world.  It wasn’t about having things handed to you it was about recognising life’s opportunities and grabbing them with both hands!

Everyone has things in their life that they want but don’t have and you have two basic choices. The first is to dwell on those things, which will close you off to the opportunities that life puts in front of you every single day. The second is to discard those worries and walk through life with your eyes and your heart open. You are the master and creator of your own destiny – no one will do that for you, only you.

I see proof of these things in my life and in the lives of those around me every day. My brother has succeeded in grasping his dream as a commercial pilot, something that came with great personal and financial sacrifice. In some ways our passions are joined, which saw me working for Air NZ across a variety of amazing roles and in that time gaining the skills and knowledge that I now use every day in my job as a Tutor at the International Travel College of New Zealand (ITC).

I truly believe that if I had not ‘lived without’ – I could not enjoy the same level of appreciation for ‘living with’. I now use this message in schools throughout New Zealand in my role within the marketing department at ITC.  I find nothing more rewarding than helping secondary students find their self worth and in turn assisting them to recognise and reach their full potential.

Running a course with Northland students

Running a course with Northland students

Too often students are prevented from stepping up and from becoming whom they feel they are destined to be. Instead they are held back and wrapped up in the cotton wool resulting from the fears in our society. Through role modeling & support we will instill confidence and it is through confidence that people find success.

The outcome of my mentality and vision is already helping students to take charge of their future & reap the rewards of their success. That for me is like winning a million dollars. My life is truly enriched with every success I am blessed to be a part of.

One of my students 18yrs old and now in her dream job as a flight attendant

One of my students, 18 yrs old and now in her dream job as a flight attendant. Success!

I look forward to being a part of the Manurewa High School Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme in September, which will allow a group of students to witness some of the Humanitarian Aid Programmes in Laos, Thailand as well as giving them the opportunity to give something back. I am confident that these fortunate individuals will come back more motivated, experienced, worldly, mature, responsible, focused leaders.

Each student who attends the HALP programme is required to fundraise and I joined these efforts most recently running the Ultimate Challenge Circuit – a military oriented circuit designed to really push those who participated. I am most fortunate to be a part of this adventure.

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Girls first fifteen, friends and family along with some amazing supporters from The International Travel College of New Zealand, Stray New Zealand, Auckland Adventure Jet and Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungy took part in the one-hour circuit which ultimately challenged every inch of them.

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This left four pretty crazy and determined people to complete the epic two-hour circuit, me being one of them completing the second hour with a gas mask on to replicate the affects of exercise at high altitude. Photo’s were care of the forever talented photographer Caz Donaldson! Amazing moments were captured during this important event.

Another ‘big win’ on the day was undoubtedly the change that we witnessed in many of the participants.  The students who had to take charge of each station transformed from quiet, shy individuals to inspiring and encouraging young adults.  HALP students consistently pushed the participants and were noticeably motivated by the event. It would not have been the success it was without them.

I look forward to sharing the story of this HALP journey in September.  Most of all I look forward to being a part of this amazing opportunity to give back to my high school, who helped to influence and shape the person I am today.

 

 

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When life began…

Some say, “you’re crazy” and “how do you find the time”. Others say, “wow that’s amazing Mel, better you than me”. 

The greatest truth in my life is how my children have contributed to the woman I am today. These two beautiful gifts have helped me to see both the dark and the light that life can cast before you. I had a very easy pregnancy with my first little girl Aria. I took everything in my stride and was relaxed and excited to meet my little angel.

I had what was called a “text book labour” and in just 12 hours I had given birth at home in a birthing pool to a healthy little girl. She was so quiet and adorable. In my mesmerised state I didn’t even taken notice of the large amount of blood I was loosing. Rushed to the hospital with this little innocent soul where I waited a long five hours to have the ‘final stage’ of labour completed thanks to some minor surgery.

Now back at the comforts of home, it didn’t occur to me that I was suffering from postnatal depression until the day I found the strength to hang out the washing. I had lost so much blood during labour that I could barley get out of bed without feeling exhausted. I went outside and felt terrified! It was one of the darkest loneliest feelings I’ve ever experienced.

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Once I started confiding to my friends and family about the way I was feeling it became instantly apparent that most of them had already sensed my feelings, long before I had even recognised them.  That loss of self awareness and control hurt the most.  It was like some dark force had assumed control of my life without my permission!

As I had witnessed my mother do all those years ago, I did the best I could as a mum. My reaction to the postnatal was to not allow anyone to help me, wanting to do everything myself. Returning to work when Aria was only 8 months old was when I truly started to take back what I felt I had lost. Me!

Aria loved her routine of day care some days and Nana on others whilst I had restored the balance of work and home life. Things were awesome. As Aria grew older it became clear that it was time to give her a baby sister or brother so one quick holiday to Perth later and we found out that we were going to have another baby.

Another girl! We were so excited to have Maia come into this world only two weeks after Aria’s second birthday. As the time approached and labour commenced I started to feel a sense of determination. This postnatal was not going to get me this time!

Day Maia was born

Day Maia was born

So as you do (in labour!) I got on-line and registered for the Tri-Women’s Triathlon, which was due to kick off in just eight short weeks. Maia came into this world at home in our birthing pool without a hitch. A quick, short, sharp labor. Our darling little girl arrived into this world but this time not so quiet, it almost sounded like a little Raptor! She was simply perfect.

Darling little Maia

Darling little Maia

One week after having darling Maia we all started our training. I wasn’t going to miss out on my time with the girls so they came with me. It wasn’t easy! Getting to the end of the driveway wanting to pass out or pee definitely put a sense of challenge into training.

Training begins, Maia 1 week.  Aria 2 years.

Training begins, Maia 1 week. Aria 2 years.

Training in freezing cold seas – thanks Dad Mack. Walk/jogs on blustery cold evenings once the kids where in bed – thanks Mum. Cycling on a weekend around the local area. Behind it all was Eric – thanks for being such an amazing Dad to our girls!

Well the eight weeks passed and I did it! I started it in the 300 meter swim and did it without stopping. Got on my reasonably old bike and rode 7km then ran the entire 3km run to the finish line with both of my little girls waiting. Aria laughing and running with me and eight week old Maia ready and raring to go for a feed! Straight over the finish line to breast-feed my darling little girl.

Me swimming the 300mtrs

Me swimming the 300mtrs

I started it and finished it without once thinking about winning in-between. I won in my eye’s. I won the achievement of completing my first ever Triathlon.

Believed! Achieved!

Believed! Achieved!

Thanks to Treasures magazine my story was published for other mothers to see. If my achievement was able to reach out and help just one mum then for me that is a success.

So I have my little girls to thank! They are my inspiration. Through darkness and light they have given me the mental and emotional strength to see me through anything I wish to achieve and through anything that life has to throw at me.

Bring it on and live this wonderful life of yours I say!