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Its been ages since I last blogged.

While I have been way busier as I’ve got a 20hr a week job with the Salvation Army, I think the real reason for my tardiness with blogging is that I’ve got no clear thoughts to expunge. It seems everything about our lives at the moment is in transition.

However my garden is starting to look blooming amazing so now we’ve finally recharged the camera’s batteries I can show the world the developments.

So photos to follow.

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I spent last week at a beautiful marae in Akaroa with a bunch of late teens and early twenty somethings.

It was a really interesting time and it has also given me time to reflect.

A thought that I’ve had is how we change over our 20s.

I turn 30 tomorrow and hanging out with 19, 20 and 21-yr-olds makes me think how idealistic I was at their age.

At 20 I still hadnt had any knee operations, and so I sure I was going to be awesome at some sport, be it marathons, cricket or soccer.

I also harboured dreams of living in England or Pakistan. I was single, but I thought i’d be married within the next 3 or 4 years. And career wise I was pretty keen on being a PE teacher. I also thought I was a big deal, and expected that great things were going to be coming my way.

Ten years later, I’m a married semi-retired ex-journalist, living in Mangere working as a part-time office administrator, op shop volunteer/ gardener.  I haven’t played cricket for 5 years or any sport at a decent level and I’ve had two knee ops and one still gives me a gnawing ache as I write this.

In that time the Warriors have made two grand finals, of which, I’ve been once.

I’ve travelled a bit around Europe, America, Africa, Asia and through the Islands but  without doubt mygreatest achievement in the last ten years is marrying Jo. She has kept me grounded in so many ways.

I used to be really goal driven for the first five years of my 20s, but after not achieving a number of them and also realising that I was too externally motivated I’ve shifted to trying to aim for a lifestyle, rather than a set plan.

I hope to live well now, rather than straining to live better later. This has been quite freeing, as I’m learning to just enjoy life but its also a bit stressful not knowing that my future is all taken care of, or has a decided direction.

I hope my 30s are less messy, less highs and lows and just incremental growth. I hope the fears and insecurities of my 20s can diminish as I become more comfortable with myself and with my foibles. I think I’m still pretty idealistic, but one clear scar of my 20s is an over-functioning cynicism. So perhaps I can work on this a bit too.

Something New: Tena koe. That’s the formal greeting we learnt at my Te Ara Reo course. Most of learning is done by singing or chanting. And there are lots of games, running around and free coffee – making it the ideal night class as it’d probably fall asleep if it wasn’t so interactive.

Something Old: My neck is also aching and I can barely lift my arms. That’s from my first rugby training. I haven’t played proper rugby since high school. Whether my body can stand up two intense sessions of beatings a week, followed by an even more intense match will be another matter – but the experimenting continues. It’s just an under-85kg team, and so I’m only 10kgs lighter than most of the guys. But it’s the fitness which is killing me already. I’m probably one of the fitter guys on a team run, but being able to hit rucks, make tackles and get back into a defensive line – is where I’m really struggling. It’s like an all-around fitness that I’ve never needed for any other sport, except maybe surfing. Getting through at least half of season of games before an injury would be my goal. I love watching rugby and talking about it and loved coaching it last year, so to actually play for a team which is highly motivated, well-coached as this one seems to be is just so cool and hopefully I can achieve a life-long ambition to smash someone in a Eroni Clarke-style tackle.

Something Borrowed: Last weekend we had dinner with friends and did a book and clothes swap. Managed to get a mean Al Green CD and a book I’ve been coveting for many a year. Totally loving the whole book swap thing, as I probably spend $50 to $100 a year at bookshops, but as it turns out my friends have pretty similar tastes as me, so swapping books is a way cheaper way to freshen up the shelves.

Something blue: Jo would like to get rid of a vase – similar to this one. Any takers?

E noho ra.

Here are some recent observations about the differences between full time and part time work.
1. Less money
2. No one is in the park when I go for run at 2pm.
3. If you don’t have washing machine, you can’t just go buy new one. And you’re pretty stoked when a friend offers you a free one.
4. I’m drinking less beer and eating less pizza from Sal’s.
5. I have more time for reflection, but also Good Morning television too.
6. I still don’t have more time for cleaning the house?
7. I have more conversations with neighbours.
8. I don’t have after work drinks on a Friday.
9. I get to read more.

Something that has been on my mind for a while is how far is too far for a government to go before its citizens must make a stand. When does a government’s actions go beyond what’s reasonable and become untenable? When must people rise up and protest if necessary? I’ll post more on this later but you’re thoughts on when one should act would be most appreciated.

My friend Mark raised a good question about whether living simply means not buying a house.

This is a tough issue to make a call on, as there are lots of good reasons to own a house and lots of reasons against it too. And everyone has their own context with which to decide in.

For us right now we have decided owning property isn’t a priority.

We prioritised an overseas trip, which we took over January and February. The reason was that we felt the experiences we could have travelling was more valuable than committing to a mortgage.

But what about your retirement you might ask? The government won’t be paying pensions out forever, so how will you support yourself?

That’s a pertinent question and my answer is simply that life is in session and we have to be present, as the alternative could be straining for a future that may never eventuate.

When I was a reporter for a community newspaper I interviewed countless couples who had the same story, of working hard all their adult lives and reaching their 60s only to be struck down with a terminal disease or to have their investments ruined by a variety of things out of their control.

So by living in the present we hopefully will have less regrets in the future.

The second reason is that a mortgage requires a commitment to an area, a job, and a lifestyle for at least 15 to 20 years.

Choosing the area is the easy part, but deciding on a career for such a long period of time is not something I’m prepared to do at this stage. One of my thoughts since moving to Mangere is that I’d like the place I’m living in to choose what I should do, rather than I choose what I think it needs me to do. And if that means trying out some different things, to see where I can fit and what needs there are that I can fill then so be it.

Thirdly, there is a lot of anectdotal evidence out there ( which is obviously not enough to form a thesis on but still somewhat relevant) that being tied into a hefty mortgage is detrimental; to a healthy marriage, to recreation and to being able to contribute to community projects as the priority is in paying off this monumental debt. But I’d like to add we have also seen many couples who are able to organise their mortgage in such a way that isn’t so taxing.

Fourthly, I’d like to think there are other ways to save for retirement, eg the stock market and in your own skills. So another part of the plan is to be skilled in a variety of areas. Instead of locking myself into one career path, I think using my 20s and 30s to gain experience in a number of areas will mean I’m useful in a variety of ways which should prolong my employ-ability in an age where medical science is able to prolong our work lives. I guess I also don’t intend to hang up my work clothes at 60 and play golf for the rest of my days, as I’d like to think I can still contribute to society into my 70s and possibly longer.

So while i’m aiming to be present in the now, I also plan to be just as present in whatever endeavour I take up in the future, and if the need arises to buy a house then we will do it, but not as a necessity to ensure our retirement is comfortable but to serve our needs at that time if that is the requirement.