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Making the most of the moments

Dear Huhana and Kāhu ō te Rangi,

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 Spratt 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.

You’re lucky to have loved ones in your life. Remember that, and tell them when you do.

Pera Barrett - Cousin Vicky

Every Christmas morning we visit my sisters, and our other whānau at the urupa in Waikanae. Erena and Taina were 8 and 6 when they passed away. Two beautiful little girls who never had the chance to grow into your beautiful older Aunties. 

I grew up with their pictures on the old, off-key piano in Mum and Dad’s lounge. The photo of those two cheeky little smiles isn’t just a snapshot of their faces, it’s a reminder they left us much earlier than we thought they would, that mum and dad, your koko and mater, said goodbye to their precious little girls too soon. They didn’t have a say in that.

Life ends, and it’s not up to us when.

By the time you’re reading this, you will understand that nobody lives forever. Huhana, you’re four years old and already know in theory that we all die. But I hope as you come along to visit your Aunties, and dress their headstones in flowers like the ones we put in your hair, the same putiputi Mum and Dad never had the chance to give them on their 21st birthdays, or their wedding days, you come to truly know it.


Every July, more than every other month and morning, I acknowledge the day I crashed my car and took the life of Lorna. I was 21 and nearly lost my own life too, if my head had hit the steering wheel on a different angle, I wouldn’t have been breathing as they cut me out of the car.

Pera Barrett Car Crash

In the years following the crash I’ve made an intentional effort to live life on my terms. I’ve made decisions and changes to do justice to the life I’m lucky to still have, since Lorna doesn’t have hers. Since my sisters don’t have theirs. I have the only say in if I make the most of my life or not.

Life ends, and it’s not up to us when – but the way we spend it, is.

This year and last, we’ve been to a lot of tangi for my friends’ parents. We go as another feather in the korowai of compassion. But I hope every one of those tangi, and moments of death, teach you something about living your life. Your Uncle James and his sister said at their dad’s funeral: “I told Dad I loved him more times in the last three months than I had in the thirty years before he got sick.” They had three months notice to make the most of those moments, so they did. 

You came along to aroha Uncle Sam as he said goodbye to his mum who passed away without any notice – I saw Sam make the most of every chance to tell and show her he loved her.

So, Huhana and Kāhu, to start with, I love you – that’s true however much time we have left – I say it to you every day, and I’ll keep doing that even when you’re older and it’s awkward.


Now let’s talk about life. 81 is the average life expectancy of a New Zealander. It’s actually lower for you two; life expectancy for Maori females is 77, it’s 73 for Maori males. You’ve got mine and your mums genes both, though, and I’m optimistic, so I’m sticking with 81. 

I’m 35 now, this is what my life looks like:

It has a start, and then a finish. I don’t have control over either of those ends – but I do decide what happens in the middle.

Life ends, and it’s not up to us when – but the way we spend it, is.

I want that middle section of the line to be happy. Stripped down to the basics, that’s about it. One of the things that makes me happy is time with my whānau, you, your mum, my Otaki whānau and our extended whanaunga. While I’m sure we’ll have our moments, I’m going to assume you enjoy time with us too.

I was lucky enough to grow up in Otaki with both Mum and Dad until I was 17. I saw them basically every day. Then I moved to Wellington to study at Uni, and saw them once every few weeks. When I started working and rapping, and living my busy life in the city, the times I saw them dropped to once every few months. The moments got less and less. I didn’t realise it then, but by the time I was 17, I had already spent around 90% of the days with Mum and Dad as I ever would have. If I’d moved overseas like I’d thought about, and visited them every Christmas, my moments with them after 17 would have dropped to a single number percentage.

It’s easy to not notice as life rolls by.

Today, my dad, your koko, is 70. According to his life expectancy, he’s got between 3 and 11 years left stomping around and feeding you more chocolate than he should.

If I carried on seeing him once every 3-4 months, that’s 21 moments I have left with him before he’s gone.
21 more chances to say “Hey Dad.” To shake his hand, or, to risk my masculinity and tell him I love him. That’s something I need to do more of.

21 isn’t a lot.

And that’s assuming he lives up to his life expectancy. Erena and Taina were 8 and 6, Vicky was 56, I was nearly 21.

That might sound depressing. But it’s not, it’s life. It has a start and a finish. We’re here for a limited amount of time, short or long, we don’t know until the end. The thought of not stopping to think about that before the tangi is depressing. It’s scary. That’s what this letter is for.

Your mum and I talked about moving to Auckland once. We decided not to. A while back we decided to visit Koko and Mater every Friday for dinner because moments with whānau are important to us both.

Because of those decisions, I don’t have 21 more moments with Dad, I have 416. Because that time is important to me, I try to make the most of those moments, I don’t spend it scrolling my social media feed, arguing, or fighting over things that won’t matter at Mum or Dad’s tangi.

Life ends, and it’s not up to us when – but the way we spend it, is. Make the most of the moments.

You have even less time with Koko and Mater than I do.

The good news is, every one of those 52 weeks, every year between the start and finish of those lines, is full of time to spend with the people you love. After 7-8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work or school, you have 67 hours every week to spend the way you want. 

67 is a lot.

For at least the first 17 years, some of that will be taken up with chores, but we’ll leave you enough free time, promise. Even then, there will be other things you need to do, but you choose HOW you do them. If you can’t see your loved ones this week, pick up the phone. Talk while you walk. Video conference for dinner.

Lastly, again, I love you – that’s why I chose to spend this time writing this letter. Its morning on Whakarongotai now, most of the snoring has stopped, and the blankets around the floor are starting to move.

I hope you choose decisions that make the most of your moments, especially with the people you love. I hope you’re brave enough to challenge yourself and prioritise that limited time with people who make you happy, for moments you can look back on and smile. And I hope you do it today, because you might not have the chance tomorrow. 


Love you, 

Dad

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What a Car Crash & Death Taught Me about Life & Happiness Pt.1

Dear H,

This one is pretty personal and there’s a lot packed into the paragraphs, so take your time reading them. These first three letters were the hardest for me to write. But I did so instead of sitting down with you when you’re older, because it’s still easier for me to catch in writing everything I want to say. And because while the lessons are for you firstly, they might be helpful to others too, so sharing them is the right thing to do.

When I was twenty-two, I was driving the car in the picture on State Highway One. I was heading to Palmerston North to buy a friend’s birthday present. Something cool from the city.

I didn’t make it to the mall.

I crossed the centre line and crashed head-on into a van coming from the opposite direction. You can still see the driver’s seat I was sitting in, and if you can imagine what happens to soft skin, bone, and tissue in a collision where a car’s steel gets that twisted and bent, you can probably picture how I ended up.

I was in a coma for three days, then lived in a wheelchair and hospital bed for about four months. I suffered serious head trauma, a snapped thigh bone, shattered jaw, punctured lung, one foot reduced to bone dust, and more pain on most days than I’d experienced in my life so far.

Reading that in isolation you might feel sorry for your dad because while “suffered” isn’t a word I like to use often, that’s what I did. You might feel bad about all the times you pieced together the words for your “Daddy carry”demands, knowing now that I’ve got arthritis in both feet and that those days carrying you or jumping up and down for your amusement physically hurt.

Then when I tell you the woman driving the van I hit, passed away at the scene, and because I crossed the centre line, a husband lost his wife, and her friends lost a mate, you might feel a bit less sympathetic. You might wonder if I was drinking or high. If ‘Boy Racing’ is still a thing you might ask if I was racing or speeding. You might even feel a bit angry with your dad.

How you decide to interpret any situation or facts, will influence your response and how you feel.

I wasn’t drinking, high or speeding when I crashed. I don’t actually know what happened. I don’t remember anything between stopping at the petrol station for a coffee and waking up as they were cutting me out of the car. A man in a bright fluro vest told me I was going to be OK.

I do know I crossed the centre line, and as a result, the woman in the other car lost her life. Her husband did lose a wife, and her friends did lose a mate. I’m not going to write her name here – for some reason, it feels less wrong to call her the woman than it does to use her name.

About a week out of my coma, a uniformed policeman visited your confused, scared twenty-two-year-old dad. He stood up straight at the foot of my bed. “Mr Barrett, we are charging you with careless driving causing death.” His voice was flat. At least he took his hat off.

That sad Saturday was nearly eleven years ago today. It’s something I’ve never stopped dealing with, and never will. I learned some good lessons as a result of a bad turn of events, and they were really expensive lessons to learn.

So I’m writing this in the hope that you can learn them too, without paying the price I did. A lot of it centres around resilience and happiness, I talked about how these affect children over here but you can apply these lessons to your adult and teenage life like I do. I’m not a psychologist, I haven’t studied any of this in laboratories with test cases across decades, I’m just your Dad, and this is just how I dealt with some tough setbacks, and what I learnt in the process.

 

LESSON ONE: HAPPINESS AFFECTS EVERYTHING, SO WORK ON IT

I was in my third year at university studying Marine Biology and working part time when I crashed. While I was recovering, I put my studies on hold and, thanks to ACC and my boss at the time, I managed to keep paying the rent for my room in the city, while living in a rented hospital bed at your nana and granddad’s in Otaki. But once I could walk again, it was back out to the life I lived before I had nearly lost it.

The times over the next few years I spent down and out about the accident, are the times I got sick easily; they’re the times I drifted away from friends, didn’t do well at work or uni, and overall, wasn’t doing justice to the life I was lucky enough to still have. That’s because anxiety, prolonged stress, and self-doubt all make your body and mind behave differently from ‘normal’. While stress is designed to get us out of threatening situations quickly (fight or flight), just like self-doubt and anxiety, it’s really unhealthy in big doses. Those three assailants had two battlefields to attack me on. The first was a focused assault in the months leading up to my court date, the second scuffle was, and still is, a longer term battle over the years following.

The months leading up to my sentencing in court were the most stressful of my life so far. I was scheduled to stand in front of the people who loved the woman I’d killed. I had exchanged letters with her best friend, and mum and dad went to her funeral while I was in hospital, but I’d never met them face to face.

This was also the day I would find out if I was going to spend my 23rd and maybe 24th birthday behind bars, in jail. I dealt with those two things very differently.

To help process being responsible for her death and prepare myself to see her family, I wrote. A lot. That helped me understand and self-explain emotions that I’d never felt before and helped me be comfortable in the discomfort of them as best I could. Most of that writing was music. I made a bunch of songs like this that were pretty much pages of me processing what happened and coming to grips with it in a setting that was comfortingly familiar (hip hop). But if I didn’t write music I guess I would have worked through that pain & confusion with regular writing to get to the same clarity. I talked about the benefits of journaling in any form here – if you don’t already do this, I hope you start. The next twenty years will drop a lot of first-time experiences on your doorstep. I hope you talk with me and your mum about some of those, but if you don’t want to, writing them down will help turn those emotions into clear thoughts that will be easier for you to understand.

 

Get comfortable explaining your thoughts to yourself, before you need to explain them to the world.

Preparing to spend nearly ten percent of my time on earth in jail, was different. I had to understand and believe that the judge’s decision was outside of my control. There were things I could change, like what I would achieve and get done when I got out. And what I could do there and then before the big day – but everything else? I didn’t have a say in it. There’s not a lot of preparation for jail you can do from a wheelchair other than the mind-set you take in, so that’s what I worked on.

By court date, I believed I was ready.

I was still scared, and when I let myself think I didn’t deserve it, I was still angry that after making the life choices I had thought meant I wouldn’t be following some of my friends and family that were headed for, or in, jail, I might end up going for something I didn’t remember doing. I was anxious about missing out on life for any stretch of time, but two years isn’t twenty, and I would still be a young guy with things I wanted to achieve when I got out.

If something is outside of your control and affects you negatively, all you can do is adapt. Do what’s needed to get something positive from the situation.

You need to understand what is and isn’t within your control, sometimes the right thing to do is fight and change the outcome. But you’re smart like your mum, you’ll understand when to adapt and when to put up your fists.

Adapt to the things you can’t control, and own the things you can.

The judge decided it was truly an accident with no mitigating factors. I wasn’t speeding, drinking, driving dangerously etc. The thing about accidents is they can still cause pain, even if you can’t figure out what you should have done differently.

It was hard to take responsibility for causing the accident when I didn’t actually know what I did. But I did cross the centre line, so it was my fault. So while I don’t understand how it happened, I understand what the impact was, and I strap that accountability on my shoulders every morning I get out of bed.

I can’t go back in time and swap seats with her or stay sipping my coffee for 10 minutes longer, so it’s not something I can control now, and I adapted to that.

The Judge didn’t see a need to make an example of me and recognised that I was truly sorry. So I was allowed to go home and right the imbalance I caused on life’s scales in whatever ways I saw fit.

Over the longer term at times I forgot that lesson about adapting to what you can’t control and owning what you can. That’s when I found myself on the second battlefield where anxiety, prolonged stress, and self-doubt would attack me again. Those were the days and weeks I let the accident, and disappointment in myself for causing it, creep into the rest of my life’s lanes. I didn’t keep it wrapped around the car crash and centre line. I would listen to the voice telling me that I cut her life short and questioning what right I had to be enjoying myself after doing something so cruel. I would bring that voice with me and it would drown out all others. The longer I listened, the further it narrowed my vision and my experience of life.

I dealt with those days differently, sometimes I wrote the voice down, again music or journaling played their part – putting it on paper meant that voice and emotion was something I could interpret and control rather than listen to passively and absorb. Sometimes I would exercise and let the thump of blood moving around my body drown it out. Both of those coping techniques gave me the breathing room to remember to adapt to the things I can’t control and own the things I can. I can’t control the impact my actions had in 2005, but I can control the impact I have every year after.

I know now that the part I play in the world isn’t limited to or defined by that car accident and the pain that came after. These days my world is often only as big as you and your mum, sometimes it’s the forty odd people at work I’m responsible for, or the thousands (OK hundreds, OK, sometimes dozens,) of people I reach with my music. It doesn’t make sense to apply that guilt, sadness and grief to those worlds – it wouldn’t be fair to you or the other people I’m responsible for leading. And limiting how much I enjoy my own life wouldn’t be fair to me.

Make happiness your goal in life. Understand what will bring it to you, then go out and make that happen

Knowing that now, I intentionally chase happiness and only make smaller more specific life goals if they fit under that umbrella intent – I try and do as many of the things that make me happy as I can (that includes making you and your mum happy – because that makes me happy too).

Across the 8760 hours in a year I try and balance my energy and time across what makes me happy, what I’m good at, what will pay our bills, and what adds value to the world – this helps make those goals as sustainable as possible. (That’s not an equation I came up with – but the maths seems to work).

 

When you have your ‘car crashes’ in life – big or small – do your best to deal with it there and then rather than letting the impact spread over the rest of life’s lanes, and remember your ability to do one thing isn’t based on your ability to do another. It took me a long time to start driving again, but I drive every day now, an accident eleven years ago doesn’t mean I’m a bad driver today. If you’re not good at drawing, that doesn’t mean you’re going to suck at netball. Come back to those drawings later if you want to practice – for now, put the bib on and see how you go.

Love you,

Dad.

PART 2 – HERE

I don’t write these letters very often, but when I do I’ll let you know.

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Sign the Petition Make semi-automatic firearms illegal in New Zealand

People will always be the problem, I get that. But on Friday we saw the scale of pain those very people can cause with a semi-auto. Do we need them? What if the cost is the chance of another fifty innocent lives? Is that a risk your hobby is worth?
from Pera Barrett http://chng.it/PDhh54LGBr
via IFTTT

There’s a lot of love in Aotearoa. Right now, all of it goes to the whānau and loved ones of everyone affected in Christchurch. But there are also bad people, racists and fascists in our country. Āe, even here in Aotearoa. Any minority, especially, can tell you this. It’s never been hard to see, but I imagine it’s easier to forget when you’re not the one living the countless effects of systematic bias, hatred, the second looks, the hurtful names. Or worse. Nobody wants to imagine the worse that happened yesterday. But we could have. There are fascists here. If you are not them, WORK AGAINST THEM. You do this with love. Love for your neighbour. If all your neighbours look the same, walk down a different street. Spend time with people different from you. Get outside your circle and understand more about that person at work who doesn’t share your belief system, your skin colour, your preferences or way of life. Lots of us move in circles of people just like us. Step through the wall of that circle, even just for a bit. Spend some time outside it, get to know those people different to you so you can remember, underneath it all, when you get down to the things that matter, they’re not different at all. You’ll learn things you never knew. You’ll remember that yours is not the only way. And you’ll be working against the hatred. The people who are scared of those who aren’t like them. Those people are threatened because they don’t want to share OUR world with ways of life different from theirs. They’re scared of not being right. They want those walls to exist, it makes them feel strong. They’re not strong if we don’t let them be. Go and show somebody different to you some love. That’s how you beat hatred. Do it today, especially today we need it.

from Pera Barrett https://ift.tt/2tGadtM
via IFTTT

Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference 15 year old activist Greta Thunberg speaks truth to power at the UN COP24 climate talks: “My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden. I s…

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkQSGyeCWg
from Pera Barrett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkQSGyeCWg
via IFTTT

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. https://www.iamhope.org.nz/


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,
Pera

So you think you’re Māori? – E-Tangata I was rehearsing a speech in Māori the other day when my 10-year-old son interrupted me to ask if, at the end of my total immersion reo Māori course, I would graduate as “a full Māori”. I had to pay him 20 bucks to use that quote in a public forum. That was the deal. …

It’s been a minute since I read something as 100% correct (…from my perspective, which is just one of 4.7 million!) https://ift.tt/2Vz8xLy
from Pera Barrett https://ift.tt/2Vz8xLy
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‘Frozen’ in the desert – figure skating Māori girl melts hearts When a little Māori girl twirled around the ice to a te reo Māori song in the Middle East recently she had no idea that her life was about to change. In the…

Ātaahua
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Percieve – Always be there Percieve video clip by James Simpson, produced by C1.

Tēnā rawa atu koutou mō te aroha. Thanks everyone for the love. One of the highlights of picking up this award last night on behalf of the Shoebox Crew, was the fact someone from New Zealander of the Year Awards spent the time to find this oldie and play it as I walked to the stage.
Kinda felt like Otaki was there with me.
#waywayback #glitteryhoods

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZZITWDjEf8
from Pera Barrett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZZITWDjEf8
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