Dear Huhana and Kāhu,

We got back from our first whānau holiday overseas (Bali) a few weeks ago. Huhana you’re nearly five, hopefully, some of those memories stick. Kāhu, you’re eighteen months old so you’ll just have to trust me that you had fun. 

Firstly, travel. 

Once upon a time, I thought I didn’t need any horizon-broadening travel. I grew up in Otaki seeing and doing a bunch of interesting things. What do I need to know about the rest of the world? I was wrong, there’s an entire planet worth of things we can all learn from travelling. Experiencing worlds different to home reminds you that yours is not the way. It’s one way. Travel also forces you out of your head and away from problems that can seem un-solvable when they’re a part of your surroundings.

Travel to grow. Don’t travel to escape. 

Some people holiday to escape their regular life. They count down the days until their 4 weeks of annual leave. Counting down is what you do when you want something to end quickly. I hope you never feel those 48 weeks of non-holiday time are ticks on the clock to speed through. If you think you need to fly to a different continent or drive to a different town for a couple of weeks to enjoy your year, please read this letter carefully. It will make more sense when you’re working but kei te mōhio kōrua, you’re both smart, you’ll get the drift. 

93% of your year is not a holiday to be planned – plan those weeks first.

By far, the majority of your life is not a ‘holiday’. So to enjoy your life, that majority is what you should focus on. 

Before you spend hours planning to escape for a few weeks, spend it examining why you need to get away, and tweaking what can be controlled in the other 93% of your life – there’s a lot more potential happiness in there.

“How was your holiday?” 

Friends ask this question like those are the moments we should enjoy the most. If we let that be true, we’re limited to 7% of the year being awesome. I hope you make more of your short time on earth incredible, fulfilling, and packed with happy moments worth talking about with friends.

Planning your day will make you feel better than any holiday planning.

If work is stressful, dig into what you can do during Monday-Friday to enjoy that time more. Maybe you can’t change the external situations or context, but you can always choose how you respond. As long as you’re being paid to do something for someone else, there will always be pressure. How much of that pressure you turn into stress, is up to you.

If you need a break, to recharge, try planning your days to make them self-charging. For me, that’s time with you two and your mum, our Otaki Friday dinners, exercise, my morning routine of meditating, writing and learning before I go to my BNZ mahi. Every day is a planned recharge cycle. That day-planning has more impact on my life than any holiday-planning ever will.

What’s in your kete? 

When you do travel, think about what you bring back. What will you put in your kete that wasn’t there before? Memories are nice. Trinkets for the shelf are pretty. But what taonga are you carrying back from that two weeks to make the rest of your year better? Take note of the things you enjoy about holidays and weave them into your day at home. Again, they’re your days. Plan them. Own them. They’re 93% of your life. Some people pay holiday planners to design the best vacation ever, but don’t put as much intention and thought into the rest of their life.

Bali was filled with meditation and yoga retreats. People go there to spend time meditating. If that makes you feel good, kei te pai tēnā, that’s cool – meditate. You don’t need a retreat to create that calm (and that’s kind of the point of meditation). If my day at work has been crazy, sometimes I’ll go to a quiet room and do it there too. That’s part of my day-plan.

We went out to breakfast and lunch and enjoyed the time together as whānau in Canggu. We could sit down to our kai together more often in Tawa, and make it quality time like our Otaki Friday dinners. We do. We have a slow breakfast mid-week, we could do more of that, I hope we do.

You both loved the time we spent at the waterpark. Aotearoa is filled with beaches. Some of my mates go swimming in the sea in their lunch breaks. If I thought I needed to, I’d add that to my plan.

It’s easier to notice the moments on holiday, because of the headspace that break gives you. But you can create headspace intentionally. Be present and appreciate the exchanges between whānau, friends, and workmates – being on holiday doesn’t make those interactions different. Enjoy the view of the harbour as you walk at lunch, listen to how the waves scratch the shore, I don’t think that sound gets better with the price of a plane ticket. Appreciate the smell of the bakery on the main road as you walk past. It’s the same delicious scent as the one you’ll find on holiday. You being present and taking the time to enjoy it is the difference.

Imagine if you looked forward to each morning the way you anticipate a holiday. You can, they’re your mornings and days, you just have to plan what they’re made of. Do that before you spend time holiday-planning and counting down the ticks of ‘ordinary life.’

Do travel. But travel to grow, not to escape. Plan your days so the 93% isn’t something you need a break from. Enjoy them. That’s what they’re for.

Love you,

Dad.

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