Are you singing with me yet? I’m singing from the safe embrace of a hospital ward after experiencing just that. It’s been a month since my last blog which was typed while standing at the kitchen bench because I found some relief from the discomfort I was experiencing. It is now the date that I ended up in hospital following a series of heart attacks. My body had had enough of being ignored. She had been hinting for a while that something was amiss. I just put it down to being unfit despite spending a lot of time outdoors. The more I attempted to increase my fitness the more frequent the breathlessness occurred even on the flat a short distance from my home. Be careful what you wish for. I purchased a book recently and kept saying I was dying to read it. Mmmm, maybe not.
What I have learned is that a woman’s heart attack is very different from a mans and is often dismissed as stress or indigestion by both the professional and the sufferer. A toothache, tightness in the throat, ache across the shoulder have all been heart attacks experienced by women. I did not think I was having a heart attack but I knew something wasn’t right and was feeling very scared.
Suddenly, that desolate campground at the base of the rainforest listening to the babbling river accompanied by the sound of pattering rain went from being heaven on earth to my potential (ar)resting place. I phoned my daughter who suggested I call an ambulance. How many of us have not done that? Dismissing the idea as extreme. Instead, while trying to make the pain go away by pacing, standing outside in the rain on the earth barefoot, inhaling as much oxygen as I could I packed down the home ready to drive despite the continual pain.
My brain should have said “Call that ambulance” or “the ranger” but no. It said, “prepare to drive”. My brain had also learnt that what isn’t put away crashes to the ground when I drive so it told the body to pack down the home and drive to the doctors up over a steep hill into suburbia. That natural survival instinct to move to a safer place could have been the very death of me. Worse, others.
By the time I arrived at the doctors my heart was happily pumping away so tests showed nothing wrong and I questioned my own sanity. Feeling relieved and wondering if I had worked myself into a panic I cooked my daughter, who had since joined me, lunch in my home in the carpark. All laughing and joking came to a halt as another wave of pain came over me. This time she drove me to hospital 20 mins away. Again, by the time I arrived the pain had subsided and I was assured it was probably just severe indigestion. Something I never suffer from generally and on the rare occasion when I did, it felt nothing like this.
Waiting for hours in an emergency room surrounded by people who were visibly more unwell than I. The feeling of clogging up a health care system for a potential false alarm meant that the desire to head back to my home and back to the tranquility of the mountains was very strong. But for my student paramedic daughter’s insistence. I stayed. At one point I ducked into the toilet to wash my face with my tears. Never have I been more torn between wanting them to find something and not wanting them to find something. Nothing wrong would mean I had just inconvenienced an overworked emergency department.
The bittersweet news is I am now waiting for a triple bypass. Who’d have guessed at my age and lifestyle that I would be here. Looking around the room at the woman who surround me of different ages, sizes and ethnicities. It just proves that sexy gorgeous women can have heart attacks too. I have also learnt that a bypass does not mean they go in around the side of the heart through a little hole.
My guardian angels should have just said, “we need a break! It’s been years since we drank our cuppa hot!” In truth they were trying to tell me for months and now they can finally sit and indulge themselves while I wait contained.
How many of you recall roaming the countryside barefoot, rain or shine. For those of you who were not allowed to. It is never too late.
Wrap up warm and put that raincoat on and feel the earth under your feet and between your toes.
Call it a free massage or a form of reflexology
Releasing your inner child
Kōrero with Papatῡᾱnuku (Talking to mother earth) through the soles of your feet.
Feel your worries and stresses fall away (assuming you aren't squeamish or cold).
Improves blood flow and the list goes on.
I can testify that it feels great and those who have joined me have all confirmed that.
Sadly, the best time to walk on fields of grass is winter because in summer there is an abundance of prickles and that's a form of acupuncture lol.
Having said that. There are still places we can go in summer immersed in native bush.
The worried look on my face is not the feet in mud. Its my technical skills. We are not all gifted in all things.
How long depends on you personally.
Saying "I love you" to the water you drink is a good place to start the journey of healing for both ourselves and our environments.
Knowing that we are mainly water and that water is life.
We are a part of our environment and not separate from.
The moon has influence on water.
Water can move mountains and carve rocks.
Scientific research has found that water responds to the energy we give it.
They say that water has memory and the water in you has a life time of memories of places and people and emotions.
There are many indigenous beliefs that the harm we do to Papatuanuku represents the harm to ourselves and others.
Wairua means ‘two waters’ . In Te Ao Maori (Maori worldview) all living things have wairua or two waters of energy. Waiora which is pure divine energy from the source and Waituhi which is the memory water stores of everything we have done both good and bad.
We can cry rivers of joy and sadness.
Start loving your water/yourself.
Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au
I am the river, the river is me.
I fell in love with the West Coast on a family trip as a kid. Sullen photos in the family album might beg to differ 🙂 but it's so uncool hanging with family when you're 13. Ok so moody 13 year old lol. Coming back I can see why I did. Credit to my parents. Railings did not exist in places like Punakaiki. I was a nervous wreck just imagining us as kids running around the place.
Enroute, I spent a weekend in Duntroon with others living in a 'Kea' motorhome. Interesting observation. Automatically, everyone formed a horseshoe as a response to coming together as a community. The circle is timeless with a neutral shared space in the middle. Normally parking is done in rows like a carpark.
I confess to driving a bit fast on a self-imposed time limit and motivated by the borders opening soon and rising fuel costs.
Decision making can be hard enough at the best of times with no one to bounce ideas off. I'd ask my ancestors but they have a wicked sense of humor with a dash of sarcasm so I'm very careful what I ask for. Therefore, I frequently consult the magic 8 ball and get a second opinion from the coin 😁.
Poor Nala. On those occasions when she can't come with me I leave 2 fans going, bowl of water, vents open, a cooling pad and something to chew. Imagine if I loved her.
Highlights. Guided tour in the Limestone Caves at Oparara. The guide started the tour by saying that all birds are Robins and all plants are Coprosma but then proceeded to name all the plants by their Mᾱori name, common name and Latin name including the whakapapa/genealogy. The challenge is to try to retain as much of that as I can or at least exceed 10% retention. Magical.
Watching approximately 100 blue penguins coming ashore in Oamaru. No photos permitted so as not to disturb their natural behaviours.
Some words to ponder that were shared with me. “I like walking along the edge of the waves because I feel like I'm walking in two worlds at the same time"
Revisited some childhood places thanks to the affordability of railway cottages and a time before they were tourism hot spots. On a walk up Conical Hill in Hanmer I gratefully accepted a stick from the barrel gifted by the Men's Shed. I passed lots of local people on their phone up and down the hill. I wanted to play Rafiki from the Lion King but I resisted 😁.
The friends and people I have met.
Seeing the conservation efforts being made to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna.
Ended my journey with whanau. Spent a few days offline in Kaikoura by the coast in a remote spot.
The path to the beach was twisted and bumpy and overgrown with grass. After a night of rain Mum said it would be too wet and challenging. I accepted that but without a word my brother was seen clearing the track of the grass (not natives).
Parked up at Waiharekeke/Blenheim racecourse. I once got paid to get the race results from the two commentators in the grandstand after each horse race where I then biked like crazy through the golf course and across town to deliver to the post office so it could be wired out to all the TABs. IM NOT THAT OLD.
I went to cut through the same golf course but didn't fancy dodging abuse or balls. Saw a couple heading towards me wheeling golf bags. They kindly escorted me across the green in exchange for my riveting conversation 😁😁😇.
After two and a half months I returned home to Te Ika a Mᾱui/North Island. Ironically, a week after I return there is a meeting of motorhomes in the suburb I left in Dec
Nala and I no longer collect rocks. Instead grains of potential rocks... sand I mean sand.
Bittersweet posting stories when there's unrest abroad (Ukraine/Russia). Blissfully unaware of most things in the news but that gets through.
To share some highlights and hopefully inspire one person to hold the vision of their dreams as others have done me. This is one of those bigger ones that supersede the day to day goals but know they can happen.
I'm glad I couldn't go before now because on one tour there were typically 800 visitors to the glowworm caves PER DAY. Only 20 on my trip and two trips a day scheduled. A double fuel tanker used to travel to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound twice a day and now does the trip once A MONTH. While I feel for the economy, it's got to be good for the environment and locals like me and you. The tour guide said it had got to the point where tourists from overseas flew in to Queenstown and did Fiordland Tours, often asleep on bus and boat.
In Tuatapere a woman at a local café kindly gave me a dollop of 15+ Manuka honey for my foot. Glad she said foot because you normally get sauce with a sausage roll.
Combine an indecisive person and Doubtful Sound and you get clarity. I'm sure there's some basic science in there. Doubtful Sound.. I've heard is magical in the rain but Tāwhirimātea chose wind and I was not going inside. The rules around Covid in the current climate with Omricon starting to creep its way down the country meant that wearing a mask outside the boat as well as inside was compulsory. The downside was that many masks ended up in the water due to the wind hence the hood of the raincoat to prevent mine from escaping my face.
I visited the takahē and Kākāriki in Te Anau. A Kākāriki sat listening attentively while I said a couple of karakia to it. When I had finished they picked up a leaf and put it on the the ledge on my side. Three possible reasons 1. I'm paying you to stop, 2. Thank you or 3. The sign said don't feed the birds and they were trying to show me how it's done.
YES I have kept that leaf.
It takes a whole village to raise a Heather and I just revisited a special village Aunt from my childhood. We don't need more therapists in our village. We already have lots living amongst us. Spent a healing magical week there. Was also nursing a wound on the fleshy part of foot for a month. I dislike wearing shoes and so I hadn't been giving it time to heal.
Turns out I didn't need a tetanus shot, antibiotics or professional help (subjective I know). Just a couple of caring village Aunts.
A friend of theirs dropped some cream off which was very poignant (pic attached).
Once foot felt better we went back into the Catlins for the day. I don't think I can stand on the Petrified Forest often enough.
I decided to go for a drive solo one day with no Google maps and ended up in Bluff. On a sunny day I sat and chatted to an 83 year old woman called Noelene for an hour. A young man asked if we knew where the famous signpost was. Typical, I didn't even know it was metres from me and I was parked facing it.
Enroute to Fiordland I parked up at Monkey Island Beach and finally caught up with a seasoned traveler who has been living on the road for four years now.
What saddens me the most is the vast amount of farmland everywhere I go and lack of Native forests.
Omgosh there's no wifi 😟... sharp inhale and plan to move on... Omgosh there's no wifi... slow relieved exhale and stays longer 🙂
Arrived in the Catlins where wifi is sketchy. Really really do need to buy that plb.(personal locator beacon). No cell and its very humbling to think that if something happened to me. No one knows where I am.
If you see a middle aged woman appearing to cackle to herself on the road. That's me listening to Google maps. Definitely needs a lesson in Te Reo. I think she has a wicked sense of humor. Instead of going around the mountain she takes me straight up and over. Tight steep 85° angled roads that are windy and about 1000m above sea level. The last one had signs telling trucks to use air brakes.
What's for dinner tonight.. tossed salad again 🙂.
My whanau/family in the north who know I don't listen to the news warned me of forecast wind and rain so I hunkered down in a DOC (Department of Conservation) campground in Papatowai. Heard a few strong gusts in the night but felt nothing.
A fellow camper offered some biscuits she had made. She couldn't believe it when I knew they were called snickerdoodles. Mum made them all the time.
Highlights. Visiting the Albatross Colony and the Dunedin peninsula in general. Although driving up and over the hill into Dunedin with poor visibility in the dark was challenging. I couldn’t pull over because I couldn’t see to get back onto the road so the traffic had to crawl behind this otherwise courteous camper for a few kilometres.
Finally reaching the Petrified forests in the Catlins and standing barefoot.
Those catchups with people that really shouldn't be as long as they are between visits.
The people I've met who have become friends.
Got a hug on the street in Kaikoura.
I used to collect rocks everywhere I went and like my companion, so too does my dog. Through my studies I learnt that rocks have 'mauri' which means life force or essence in Mᾱori to put it simply. This belief is common to all indigenous people of the world despite the terminology being different the essence is the same. Now I pick up a stone or rock, have a thought (I'm an overthinker so unlikely I will have just one) or ask a question and before I leave thank the stone or rock and leave it behind. I give myself the same instruction as I do my dog. 'Drop it" and 'Walk on" lol.
My precious dog kept everyone awake at night except for me while our home was being repaired.
She ran around the house whenever I moved so she could see me (in photo she has found steps so I can be watched from kitchen window). At night she whined because she couldn't see me so I decided to sleep on the deck the following night. Enjoyed it so much I spent the next three nights on the deck.
Once repaired my adventures recommenced as I headed once more down the East Coast of Te Waipounamu/South Island only this time I now have my copilot and all my belongings.
My first night back on the road was in a park that can accommodate 100 motorhomes 😬 and here's me avoiding crowds. I have no doubt that there is a solution to the housing crisis and the opportunity to make living with limited resources a part of education.
I confess... I talk shit!!
Parked up with my rear facing the coast and the road. I observed many fellow campers walking past regularly throughout the day and evening....
I ass-umed there must be a Cafe, restaurant, fish n chip place or walk up the road worth a visit.
In the morning I asked a neighbour. Where is everyone going? .. .. A PUBLIC TOILET ! was the point of interest.
All my networking so far has been at the dump stations and apart from Where did you come from, where are you going ( are you singing). You guessed it, we talk about .....
My favourite dump station is at Tahunanui Beach and is situated right next to the McDonald's drive through literally. I arrived right on lunchtime in the height of summer. I must confess I did stand there for far too long deciding whether I should put them off their lunch .
I have 95litre of water to use. Couldn't figure out why I was needing to refill it regularly but no waste water coming out... then I clicked... I'm regularly emptying toilet cassette.. I'm filtering my own water.
To all those of you I've caught up with... my talking shit is the opinion of the listener . I am prone to embellishing stories a wee (pun intended) bit.
I'll see you at a dump station near you .
Beachfront property!! Woohoo.
Feeling taukumekume this week. A little lost despite the freedom. Traveling with a dog has its blessings and challenges. I don't enjoy crowded places so found I kept wanting to move on from the summer hotspots. Hanging about the top of Te Waipounamu/South Island while waiting to book my motorhome in for repair and knowing that I need a place to kip for me and the dog.
Life's ironies. A place called Ngahere meaning bush or forests is a sawmill yard. Just one of many.
Highlights: Hands up the driveways I visited with lots of love, hugs and laughter. Catching up on too many years that had elapsed. Making it the year I don't just say "let's catch up for coffee sometime".
Traveling from Middle Earth (Lord of The Rings, Rivendell, Kaitoke) to the centre of Aotearoa.
Waiting for insurance to contact me while they were waiting for me 🤔🙃.
Needing to just stop and ground myself I pulled up at Kina Beach. While I was pulled over on roadside checking the map another motorhome must have past me and got the last park on the beach front.
Fortune favors the indecisive. It turns out that my spot got TV reception apparently but the beach front park didn't. Woohoo. Swap.