Stuff Worth Sharing Poutū-te-rangi 2019

Kia ora e hoa mā,

Welcome to 2019. Note to self: there is now zero tolerance for anyone writing 2018 in the date field. It’s truly been and gone. 

I know, we’re already nearly 70 days into the year, this is a late welcome. But for me, mid-February is when the new year feels real. Until then, it’s kind of still an excited toddler learning to walk.

The shock of being back at work is long-forgotten, and if you know about it, you’re looking forward to those couple of whispered-about-weeks in April where you can take 4 days annual leave and get 10 days off work.

If you made New Years resolutions, I hope this isn’t the first thought you’ve given them in 2019. I hope you’ve made steps towards whatever changes you thought were worth making at that one point in the year when we all remember how important self-reflection and growth are. But what about your March resolutions? Or next week’s do-differents? If you know you can do something better, don’t limit your growth to an annual event.

If you did set New Years resolutions and didn’t stick to them, why not? Were the goals not right, or did you not follow through like you thought you would?
If holding yourself accountable on your own isn’t working, try the accountability partner idea (here), I’ve done this with mates and it can work well.

Letter Worth Sharing – Making The Most Of The Moments

Dear Huhana and Kāhu,

I’m writing this sitting on the mattress at our marae, Whakarongotai, back against the wall, laptop on my knees. Huhana, you’re top-and-tailing on the other side of the whare with your cousin Amalia. Our cousin Vicky passed away on Monday, and tonight as we shared our memories and stories while she lay in her casket, a woman who was new to the whanau stood. She didn’t have a memory to pass around the room, but after hearing ours, she wanted us to know how lucky we were to have had someone as beautiful as Vicky in our lives.

Read more…

The cool bits about being awarded the NZ Local Hero of the year award by Kiwibank

I don’t especially love recognition and/or being celebrated, but there were (at least) three really cool things about being given this at the New Zealander of the Year Awards. Aside from the privilege of being there on behalf of the thousands of hands and whānau across the country who bring the magic of our project to life, my three highlights of this kinda crazy situation were:

1. Remembering we live in a country where companies spend money to support, enable, and give a platform to initiatives that do good for society. The awards are a sponsored showcase for so many people and groups making a difference in areas they’re passionate about. The winners of the other five categories were:

Mike King: the 2019 New Zealander of the year for his work as a mental health advocate, dedicating his loud (and crack-up) voice to the topics of suicide, depression and substance abuse. 

Ian Taylor: Innovator of the Year for his work as the founder of Animation Research Ltd. He also helped design a Virtual Reality system to help prison inmates to read.

Kendall Flutey: Young New Zealander of the year for co-founding Banqer, an app to help young people learn financial literacy.

Pillars: Community of the Year. They work to break the intergenerational cycle of offending, by supporting children of prisoners.

Dr. Bill Glass: Senior New Zealander of the Year. ’The Godfather of occupational health in NZ’ – spending over 60 years working on education around substance exposure in the workplace.

And these are just the winners, there were 2000 nominations in the NZer of the Year category alone, and every semifinalist and finalist that gets talked about, is another example the rest of us can follow and be inspired by. Not to mention the platform it gives for telling their story and reaching a wider audience to do more good. Ngā mihi to the companies sponsoring and supporting these organisations and awards. KiwibankSanitarium NZ, Mitre 10 New Zealand, Metlifecare and AUT – Auckland University of Technology. PS, my day-job is with BNZ Digital, and it would be wrong to not shout them out for the 5 years of support they’ve given me in my ‘other job’ of Shoebox Christmas!

2. The second highlight was what Ian Taylor pointed out as he picked up his award for Innovator of the year: of the 15 finalists across the 5 individual categories (not including the Community of the Year), 8 were Māori. That’s 53%. We only make up 15% of the population, and we sit disproportionately high across so many other statistics which we’re not proud of. So my chest puffed up at that one.

3. The third highlight was a bit more specific and a lot more personal. Firstly, Lisa King and Dr. Marewa Glover were the other finalists for NZer of the Year. I love Eat My Lunch – every bit of success Lisa and the team has sends a message to other businesses that enterprise isn’t just about the board or profit anymore. It’s about society. And as a dude who used to ask for cigarettes at the pub, then break them up so my mates couldn’t smoke them, I believe whole-heartedly in the work Marewa Glover has been doing around educating Māori on the harmful effects of smoking.But for me, Mike King winning New Zealander of the Year is a loud cry down the country, reminding us how important Mental Health is. As he accepted his award he talked about the shift he’s seen in the last year. People are starting to spend less breath asking what the government is doing about our national Mental Health problem, and more time asking what WE are doing about it. And it is a problem. We have the highest youth suicide rate on earth. Māori males have a higher chance of killing themselves than any other ethnicity. IN. THE. WORLD. New Zealand youth, regardless of race, are more likely to take their own life than any other children. So YES we should be talking about it, we should be DOING something about it. We need people like Mike King turning up in white gumboots to the NZer of the Year gala reminding us about this. And while I know receiving the award doesn’t make a difference to whether or not he does the mahi, it sends a message to the rest of us watching: this is important. Life or death important. How many people have you heard say mental health is an issue close to their heart? The reason we say that isn’t because it sounds like a worthy concept. We say it because we miss the people we never expected to lose. Or we remember feeling the floor drop out from our stomach when we got that call. Or hopefully, the body-consuming relief and love for someone precious in a hospital bed, safe and alive, before the edges of something, confusion, guilt, maybe anger? Then the cliff-leaning fear that it might happen again if you let them out of your sight. Too many of us know someone that OUR problem has affected. Not enough of us know how to help. I don’t. Mike’s award made me think about what I’m doing, how do I help? I think I’m lucky to have a healthy outlook and resilience. Not because of anything I can claim credit for. The universe decided my role models and some early life lessons, and those things influenced how I live life. So, what can I do to help others who didn’t have the same external factors combine into favourable soil? What can you do? Have you thought about it? Are you OK? If so, are you OK to carry on doing you, while the place you call home has the highest youth suicide rate since records began? I’m not. I think I can do a bit more. I’ll be thinking more about that. I hope you will too. In the meantime, check out Mike’s charity IAM Hope, donate, or just bookmark it to come back when you’ve given it some more thought.

Shoebox Christmas update

I’ve started talking to the schools we’ll be working with this year in Wellington, as well as some of the schools the team has suggested I reach out to. My goal this year is for all school deliveries to be handled by the team, except for the Women’s Refuge gifts (thanks DHL), and for that process to run smooth. I also want the team to be able to talk with the schools for more of their questions as they come up (if relevant to the school, that is). I’m hoping those changes will free up enough head space to improve the stationery starter packs project and give som decent thought to some the mental health and wellbeing maintenance ideas I’ve been thinking about exploring.

I’m heading to Christchurch soon to chat with a couple of schools about how the first year of the project will run there. It’ll be a small start, using the self-delivery model we’ve started using in Wellington. We’ll build up in a controlled way so nobody loses their hair or sanity earlier than expected.

The re-build of the app is going well, I always feel gushingly lucky to know smart women and men like Joachim, Cece, and David who are helping out with the tech. They’re putting in place some of the suggestions and feedback from the team on how the app could work better.

Ways to make a difference

Pillars of Hope

Pillars is a charity focused on children who have parents in prison. The impact of parenting on a child’s life is obvious, and those of us who are parents try to do the best for our kids. But what happens when one of those (or both) parents are in jail? Not only is a piece of the parenting unit not there, but these children also have to answer the world when it asks why their mum or dad isn’t there – this might be self-talk or kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) questions. They have to put up with being perceived as different from the rest of their class, from a “different kind of family” through no choice of their own. Their normal looks very different. Their role models can look different, and again, those aren’t choices the child gets to make.
 Having a parent in jail makes a child 7 times more likely to end up in jail themselves.
Pillars have some great programmes including a mentorship volunteer opportunity. It’s a great way to help out a group of kids who start off life facing challenges a lot of their classmates might be entirely unaware of. Check out their website here.

Books worth reading

I’ve just finished reading Anne Lamott’s Hope: Notes on Almost Everything. She’s written a lot of books, but this is the only one I’ve read.
She reflects on hope, love, and faith (in an open-minded way that’s not overly centred around her own Christian beliefs), and each chapter is her interpretation of one of life’s truths.

I enjoyed most the chapters where she talks about hope in the sometimes scary face of death. She recounts helping others come to grips with their own shortened mortality before they pass on.
 “When all is said and done, we’re all just walking each other home.” – Anne Lamott
These resonated with me and my attempts to acknowledge how finite life is. The chapters were another reminder to use that annoying little fact to enjoy every big day I get. It’s a good, lightly philosophical and reasonably funny read. Because nearly every chapter is a musing on a different ‘truth’, you can put it down midbook, pick it up again, and it’ll still most likely make you re-think something about the day just been or on its way. 
Worth a read.

Video worth watching

15 year old activist Greta Thunberg speaks truth to power at the UN COP24 climate talks. This is awesome not just in the context of climate change, but all instances of power and systemic wrong where too many of us adults are happy to wander on along our timeline without taking action to make things better for the next generation.

Random thing worth sharing – Logitech K480 Bluetooth keyboard

The random comments about this when I’m on the train or at a cafe writing make me think it’s worth sharing. It’s a keyboard for your smartphone, not a new idea by any means, but obviously still something not everyone knows about. If you don’t want to take your laptop with you but have typing/writing of any kind to do, these are gold. While our opposable thumbs might have been a massive advantage gripping wood and stone tools after the cradle of civilisation, when it comes to things other than messaging and calls, those thumbs limit how smart we can be with our smartphones. This fixes that. I sit my phone in it and type story ideas/edits, work emails longer than two lines, and any other writing I need to do when away from my laptop. The slot is big enough for tablets too.
They’re about $90 from Harvey Normans etc. and if you spend more than 15 minutes typing on your phone, or put off the writing until you’re in front of a computer, they’re worth checking out.

Quote worth repeating

“There is almost nothing outside you that will help in any kind of lasting way.”

Anne Lamott

And those are the random things I thought worth my time sharing, and your time reading.
For the first half of the year, before Shoebox Christmas really picks up I have the luxurious ability to read AND reply to emails, so if you’ve got any questions or comments, just drop me an email (even if it’s just to let me know that that actually, I’m wrong – none of that was worth your time reading!)

Talk soon,

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