You are stronger than you realise! At 12.02am on Monday NZ and our world was shaken up again. I hadn’t written for a while because we had been to damn busy snorkeling around our own we world that hadn’t been up for air! This week brought with it a huge mixed bag of emotions and in the past writing has helped keep my heart rate down and many have asked for advice on how to cope. At first I was struggling to put it into words, but today we executed our own personal emergency plan, as Riwai caught a helicopter to work, and the fire service reassuring me he was safely in Kaikoura to do what he does best, I thought of the list that helped me survive, helped me get through! Who knows if anyone will read this, but I hope if you do and you have a loved one in distress that these few words my help you navigate the fear that is before you.
The night’s are the hardest,
I go through my EQ routine from years of practice, each aftershock I check my light and we have power, I turn on a tap, and it runs clean without clonky pipes! I can text my family and get a reply.
On Monday I did all of this and then ………..shit! If we are ok with that sort of force who the hell is not – put those thoughts aside – do what you can here. Wake up hubbie as he will probably not felt a thing… luckily for my stress levels my animals didn’t stir either!
I can feel my heart rate come down, Clever Facebook allows us to let loved ones around the world know we were ok.
I stumble to the light switch, nonchalantly fill the jug with water and boil the jug for a cup of tea, open the fridge and the light shines brightly back at me! With phone in one hand watching my social newsfeed and message service fill up with messages and reports, the aftershocks come and I realise how far we have come since Sept 2010! My anxiety was in check and was ready to snuggle back down to bed…………….
Then reports of the Tsunami warning come in and with family up and down the coast line my panic and nausea came in like the waves due in a few hours! Flooding back memories of sheer desperation and heartbreak! Shit are the water bottles rotated, have we got enough perishables, medication and animal food, will there be more? Have I got milk? Is the gas bottle filled up, how is the next door neighbour? How is the community? …… Far out what about the rest of NZ? A million unanswerable questions and I could feel the anxiety taking hold!
Thank goodness for the hugs of loved ones at the door at 3am. We called them refugees as that’s what they looked like. Ripped from their beds with nothing as evacuations begun up and down the coast. Everyone took it in their stride. We are alive, we have utilities and our loved ones are safe.
As things simmer down and the dawn sun arrived, Riwai was off to work. The enormity of the evenings events sets in as Wellington are on a knife edge and our loved Hurunui and Kaikoura cut off from the world. We turn our attention to our wider group of loved ones and supporters, checking on those in the Hurunui, Kaikoura, Marlborough and Wellington Districts. Life ahead for many of them will not be easy and since then I have been sharing the same advice. BE KIND to yourself and others and heres a few survival tips from a pro!
1) Use the Isabella ABC Count – When I was scared in 2011, a young girl called Isabella held my hand and said “Cate just count to 10 before you get scared” And it has worked ever since.
A) Count to 10
B) If you are still moving at 10 move to safety and count again to 20
C) If you are still moving at 20 check on loved ones and execute your safety plan….
This method has kept my anxiety levels down ever since and given me the strength to be there for others….
2) The short of it is that the first few months are shite but you are stronger than you think!
3) Sleep deprivation means your normal gets thrown into disarray
4) Create your own routine and sense of achievement for the day
5) Find a distraction to take your mind off all that is happening – movement, walking, stretching, music, meditation, books, card games
6) It’s ok to feel exactly how you are feeling, don’t let anyone tell you how your should be or feel
7) Find peeps to connect with
8) Don’t trawl social media – get informed using sites like GeoNet, Emergency Services Sites and Civil Defence
Where were you on September 4 2010? This one question will be with all of us for ever. There is a long list of negative words to describe the ordeal and five years on the impact is still wide felt, just this weekend I took down a light shade that tinkled each time we walked past it, unlocking a memory of the aftershocks, and having me still reach for my phone to see how everyone is.
On the flip side this month marks my five year anniversary of leaving my safe, rewarding government job and stepping out into the unknown I was working at one of the welfare centres set up in a high school hall to support East Christchurch in the after math of the 7.1. It was the first big aftershock I had felt at work – it was the Wednesday following. We all scrambled under an old trestle table, I was with a youth who grabbed my hand under the desk. He had been with me at a seminar a few weeks earlier where I dressed up in my PJ’s to show Youth that wearing what you liked was not the best for job interviews, we then did an exercise on following your dreams. As we lay on the wooden floor with the lights waving around, he grabbed my hand as I was shaking “Miss, is this job following your dreams” He was quoting me back what I had taught them about Walt Disney.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” Walt Disney.
I remember hitting my head on the table as I came up and that I inappropriately starting laughing – not because of the earthquakes, but because I knew he was right, I was also chuffed he had listened. Still till this day I can’t remember his name, but he certainly was a piece of the puzzle that led me to do what I love every day. It was a moment that had a big impact.
We forget that technology was not such a big part of our lives. I began using Facebook and Twitter a whole lot more, who knows I might have anyway but I believe that my increase and presence of Social Media helped me not to smoke or drink in the tough times! It was a great distraction and way of keeping connected and communicate with all walks of life. Being awake so much also meant that I googled a lot! If only I had blogged – what wonderful memories I would have to look back on.
I did however find this quote that I discovered the first week of September 2010.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
It is the mantra that I draw strength from on the hard days, in the beginning I would read it during the long nights when I became afraid of being alone, which eventually became a fear of the dark. In the morning when getting ready to face the day was challenging. It was there for me during the horrific days, the guilt ridden days, the overwhelming days. Now I read it as the balance of our lives is returning, There are days of celebration, days of connectedness and recently Riwai and I both looked at each other and were able to say there are days of elation and happiness.
Over the past year those days have turned into weeks and those weeks are turning into months. We know that soon we will just be people full of happiness that have normal ups and downs. We will be able to say “Yes we were in Christchurch in 2010 & 2011. We survived, We lived through the horror and we gained strength, courage and confidence because of it.
I went to high school for only four years, my tertiary education was scattered over the years and universities. This last five years is the one university I stuck out, until the end! I took all the bad and found good where I least expected. I studied myself through all this turmoil and I learnt an incredible amount of insight into who I am and who I want to be.
Graduation day is not far away, when the good days are more than the tough days and when it happens I am sure Riwai and I will get dressed up and celebrate our graduation from the University of ChchEQC.
We will graduate with a new mantra – The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient and sensitive. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it
And then a new chapter of my life will begin – because somehow doing all this study on myself I went from celebrating my 37th birthday to somehow being in my 40’s! My wonderful nan did use to say the 40’s are great years! I wonder if she meant the 1940’s or being in my 40’s!
Either way I am ready to take on what ever life brings next!
In life you realise that there is a role for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you, some love you and some will teach you. But you must hold onto and remember the ones who are truly important are the ones who let you be you and bring out the best in you. They are precious and amazing people who remind you why it’s worth it!
Today I worked hard to follow my own advice of being kind to everyone I meet. I wanted to empathise with the overworked people following a process that’s not working. I wanted to give the poor communicators some of my smiles as it felt like they might need them, especially today. It seemed they might need it the most.
Sadly it is just so hostile, so rude and unnecessary. I attempted to dig and deep, to continue to be considerate as I could hear my nan and grandma remind me to find the good in everyone. I am polite, ask reasonable questions, in an attempt to gather the information so I have what I need to make big life changing decisions, in the end it is ridiculous and impossible so I add to my ever growing list of OIA requests so I can see our own paperwork trail.
I hang up, sit on the couch in the sun and realise I am emotionally exhausted, that the last four years has been more taxing on me, my health and my relationships than I wanted to admit . We had believed in a process and that common sense and decency of human nature would prevail. It hasn’t. We feel let down and are fighting over small silly things that should not have been missed. I feel like a broken record. We never wanted more than what we were entitled too. If the people in charge of our file had taken to time to walk with us and the decency to follow their own process then it wouldn’t have been so taxing on any of us.
So today it is time to draw a line in the sand. It’s time to let go (as she sings Frozen!). It’s time to put my energy into things that matter – getting well and working with the people who bring out the best in me.
We have asked those more qualified than us for help. We are no longer doing this behind closed doors.
Today is 1000 days since my world changed for ever. It has been a roller coaster ride and it is so so super exciting that my new world has really only just begun. May 31st 2013 marks a tonne of reasons why I shouldn’t be in business, a tonne of reasons why I shouldn’t be in Christchurch and a tonne of reasons why I should really be in both. Mother Nature dished us a cruel blow and followed it up with thousands of aftershocks. I have been blessed to continually open up the gifts of opportunity that present and make the best of what I have been given.
Today I decided to celebrate by doing a random act of kindness for every hour I was awake today. What a most magnificent day it turned out to be :
6am – Despite enormous pain I did not cancel any clients, had a dose of Vitamin P (pet cuddles) and thanked my husband for being awesome.
7am – Sent a text to Thank a LeapStar for all she has done for me
8am – Offered to do a special plan for a special lady
9am – Lent out my phone so a stressed lady could find hers
10am – Yelled across the car park and told someone that they looked fabulous in purple
11am – Hugged someone and told them they were amazing
12pm – reminded someone what a great job they do and what the mean to me then shouted lunch
1pm – thanked two local businesses for their great service
2pm – opened a gate for a lady lifting a heavy gear bag
2:30 – delivered flowers randomly to someone who just made a big life decision
3pm – visited a classroom of young children and told them how cool their teacher was
3:30 – let a grandad cross the street not at the crossing because he and the kids looked super stressed – even though I held up traffic!
4pm – delivered someone’s overdue study for marking because they were at work and weren’t going to make the deadline
4:30 – shopped for party items for a 4yro because her daddy is in hospital and her mummy is under alot of pressure
5:00 – wished a random man in the a street a happy birthday (after overhearing him say it at the bank) and then rang up and thanked the bank for its great service today and always!
5:30 – delivered some flowers and a card early for someone’s birthday to help cheer them up.
6pm – wished the team at the chemist and the doctors a magnificent weekend
7pm – thanked medical team for staying back late for me
8pm – rang the after hours duty manager to thank the afterhours nurse for all her help
9pm – thanked the on call GP for his patience and honesty
10pm – arranged for my hubbie to take some of our friends kids to the rugby tonight.
11pm – promoted a local business via Facebook
12am – posted my blog to inspire others to do many small things often and have many blessons throughout life 🙂
It was a very humbling day. in amongst all the giving i was also balancing my own trapeeze as my medical team worked with me to avoid a hospital visit. Kindess and patience won the day and this one tonne post eqc milestone that will forever carry beautiful memories. It reinforced that please and thank you are still Magic words do make a difference in someone’s day. I also have an amazing brooch and bundles of special memories now attached to it. It is made from an old map of chch so was a perfect match for me today. It will always be a reminder that smiles, hugs and random acts of kindness really do make us count our blessons :).
Sometimes when you have low expectations it turns out for the very best.
It was cold & miserable, if the tickets weren’t a hundy each we would no doubt talked each other into staying at home. But it was Ireland & with that we dressed for Antarctica and headed to sit outside for 2 hours 🙂
But we were at the New Christchurch Stadium for an historical test match – the first in the city PostEQ and what a spectacular we put on. As we sat down the winter weather had turned into Rugby perfect – taking us back to cold afternoon games at Lancaster or Athletic Park. There was the familiar black attire, patriotic flags, face paint & fancy wigs. The intimate crowd was a sea of black, with dots of Irish green around. Then exploded from the tunnel came the teams…. the crowd stood, the anthems sang and the Haka set the scene.
This temporary place had made its mark! Ireland burst out with passion & pride. Keeping the AB’s on the back foot they score first! The niggles early showing Ireland were ready to Risk it all! For sure, he who hooked SBW was surely dared, perhaps as was the half time naked streaker – who left a string of clothes down her aisle, as she leapt free, tossing her bra at the goal posts, and baring before she was tackled to the ground! For a split second the world as I knew it stopped as I pondered the intrigue & wonderment all that happened in 50mins!
It was a positive sensory overload & worth every cent! The second halfdidn’t disappoint either – the match hits being echoed like dolby surround sound as the bodies crunched on the turf.
It was an old fashioned grunty test match fought & battled into the dying minute!
Risk, Rugby & Relief!!! this rugby nation held its breath as carter lined up that drop kick!
A win!! 22-19! And the crowded roared! Thank you Ireland! Your battle was just what I needed! There was something magical tonight! To be sure, to be sure 😉
Dawn 1. To begin to become light in the morning, 2. To begin to appear or develop; emerge, 3. To begin to be perceived or understood.
When I was little my nana said to me “Dawn is the best part of the day. She was so right! There is something quite magical about the stillness, calmness and wonderment at the beginning of a new day. As the sun peeks through the horizon it sparkles and smiles on our landscape and gives us the nod to wake up and go forward.
This week we were blessed to show some amazing friends around our city. They had not been to Christchurch since Mother Nature started her party in 2010. We shared hugs, tears, and stories of horror and survival. We drove around and stood by the iron fences and signs of Extreme Danger – Do Not Enter. We stood arm in arm in silence remembering those who had lost their lives and those that were still piecing their lives back together. In that moment it was almost unbelievable what we were going through. My friend looked at me and said “You guys are a part of world history. But it is like a War, even worse than War. You have no reliable intelligence, you can’t plan your attack. You have no idea when the next attack is coming and that must take incredible strength”. I stood there and blinked silent tears, as they fell on the pavement, it dawned on me and I remembered what Nana said! “Tomorrow is a new day so as long as the sun comes up we have hope”.
At that moment a bird flew through a glassless window. I blinked and refocused and looked up and down the street; more birds appeared, trees appeared, flowers poked through the gaps. We continued around our city of ruins but my view had changed, in that one moment it was like a daytime dawn. Through the stillness, calmness of our broken city nature had kept going. I saw a different city full of magic; there were flowers, plants, grass, trees, birds, bees and it was beautiful. It is a city full of wonderment.
Sometimes we just need to see things in a different light. Sometimes we need to have the patience to see what appears and emerges. Then there will be a time for new understanding and new perceptions.
Thank you Nana for teaching me the power of every dawn and thank you to J & S for sharing with us this week xx