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February = one big fat fail.

Good riddance to you!

May March be healthier, wealthier and awesomer.

This week’s links

The dilettante’s approach to a career

An awesome guide to starting an Etsy business 

How to find out about work-life balance when interviewing

Smart observations on jealousy (timely for me)

How much do you really hate the thing you hate?

 Happy weekends!

Webstock 2015: Three takeaways on life, writing and equality

Webstock 2015 highlightsI don’t think I’ve ever attended a conference purely for the sake of attending. I’ve always gone wearing a media pass, keeping an ear cocked for tweetable quotes and story angles that might justify my presence, to be typed up furiously in the breaks in between.

Webstock - probably best described as the conference all the cool kids are at – was a pretty good intro to conference-going in regards to, y’know, being a regular member of the audience. I picked up some digital goodness that’ll be useful in my line of work, but also some nuggets of personal inspiration:

Elle Luna

There is dignity in all work. Doing something for money doesn’t make it dirty.

A job, a career, and a calling are all separate beasts.

I’m glad that we seem to have progressed past the simplistic DO WHAT YOU LOVE movement and toward something more realistic. Your passion may not be what you do for a living, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing –  or, conversely, that your 9-5 isn’t worthwhile, either.

And I loved her tip for tapping into your ‘must': Think back to what you loved to do as a child. Ask your parents, if you can’t remember!

Kate Kiefer Lee

Say what you mean, and say it nicely.

Words to live by. As she pointed out, Maya Angelous famously said that the one thing people will never forget is how you made them feel. I am definitely guilty of letting my moods spill over into curtness in emails from time to time.

A handy tip for getting started writing when you’re stuck: Pose the topic to yourself as a question. Think of it as a conversation with someone. Write out what you would say as an answer. And then you’ve got a first draft!

And one for editing: Take out the boring parts, and the lies (courtesy of writer Anne Lamott).

Janet Crawford

A study found that mothers overestimate the crawling ability of male infants, and vice versa for female infants.

Talk about a punch to the gut – gender bias runs so deep in our society. Hers was a rousing call to action, a reminder that simply believing in gender equity isn’t enough – and women are fucking tired of carrying that mantle.

Tips? Check your job descriptions for gendered language – you might be surprised what you find upon closer inspection. Consider the types of social activities your workplace does. And think about your office setup/decor – this too can be pretty exclusionary.

Overall, I appreciated the mix of male and female speakers, and the fact that there were a few local as well as international talks. Designer Kris Sowersby’s self-effacing presentation (I still don’t quite get the technical, optical stuff, but I learned something about typography!) had us all in stitches, while  architect Nat Cheshire’s quietly devastating prose sent chills down many a spine and brought tears to my eyes (now we just need that kind of obsessive creative nature turned toward fixing the housing crisis). Oh, and learning about Banqer, a new startup that’s all about financial literacy – founded by a woman, to boot! May they be crazy successful.

What was the last conference you went to? Is there one you dream of attending? (Mine’s probably SxSW)

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nzmuse link love roundupI’m curious: Among the couples out there, do you both always get sick when one of you does? How do you cope?

If you don’t always both get sick … how?! Is having a spare bedroom the answer?

As I write this, it’s the middle of the week and I’m still not over whatever it is that’s had me sick for nearly 2 weeks. Guh. By the time you read this, hopefully I will have been to Webstock in Wellington and had a blast and learned lots – it’s a conference I’ve always dreamed of going to. Yeah?

This week’s links

It’s okay not to be okay – we’re all broken sometimes

Thoughts about the comparison game

How lifestyle design blogs can stop you making a living online

What you wanna do ain’t always what you wanna be – so what are you willing to do in order to be what you want to be?

The trouble with copying successful people

The privileges that some of us start with

When you’re done with travelling

Musings on love

The 12 commandments of marriage

When you’re not the marrying kind

The show that sucked me back into reality TV

What’s a gal to do when tucked up in bed sick in the middle of summer?

Start watching TV – reality TV, even – again.

Normally I can’t stand reality shows, which is one of the reasons I’ve never watched The Block (despite my thing for houses). But I have been a little curious about Our First Home, as it’s something new…

The basic premise is this: Three families (one set of parents, one kid + partner) compete against each other. They have to buy a house in Auckland – bankrolled by the parents, obviously – live in it, renovate it, and sell it. Profits will go to the kids to use toward their own first home. The family that makes the most out of it, percentage wise, gets another $100k – a nice sum to go towards that down payment.

If they do well, they could come out sitting pretty, although in this case their profit might be taxed. (It’s all about the intention you have while buying, and this is a pretty clear cut example of intent to flip a property for profit, one being televised nationwide! NZ has no capital gains tax, however.)

To be perfectly honest, a part of me hates the privileged premise of this show. How many families can afford to take 10 weeks out of their lives to do something like this? And do we really need more people fueling the market by flicking on houses solely for profit? (All 3 families have a dad in the construction industry, to boot.)

But hey, at least this is an honest reality show – most first time buyers in Auckland need help from their parents. And they’re out there competing with everyone else for the same houses.

I was pleasantly surprised when one family, looking around a house that they really liked and was due to go to auction that afternoon, bowed out. After being filmed on the phone to the bank, they decided it was too much of a financial stretch. Shockingly sensible.

We see another family missing out by miles at an auction (a budget in the $500,000s gets you nowhere around here). We see mould and damp. Kitchens and bathrooms, untouched since the 50s or whatever. Features that don’t have council consent.

So far they’ve all managed to buy a house – a small one in a leafy setting, a big one on a busy road, a do-up in every sense of the word in a reasonably central area – and now the rest of the work begins. Guess what I’m doing tonight?

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Based on purely anecdotal evidence, I’ve reached the conclusion that Kiwis tend to find it easy to adjust to coming home after an extended trip.

Basically every single RTW blog I’ve read (mainly by North Americans) has bemoaned the impossibility of re-acclimatising.

Aside from finding the city really SMALL at first, we felt like we slotted right back in. And I just keep hearing the same kind of thing. I guess we’re lucky to live in a relatively awesome place, expensive though it may be.

This week’s links

It’s time to forgive yourself

Chasing that sweet travel high

The tools at your financial disposal

Have those big conversations in the car

What a decade of earnings actually adds up to

 Happy weekends!

Would you tell your boss you were looking for a new job?

Should you tell your boss you're looking for a new jobLife’s biggest transitions, I’ve found, are usually conducted with an air of secrecy.

Take moving house, for example. You’ve got to find your next place to live, wait to go through the approval process, then give notice and line up the dates. Last time was relatively easy as we were crashing at my parents’ and could move immediately; the time before that we had to give notice, and balance this with getting a reference from the current landlord, who obviously didn’t know we were looking to leave. (I’m always paranoid that things can fall through at the last minute, and being homeless is my biggest fear. Like this, but without the happy ending.)

It’s a similarly delicate dance with changing jobs. Again, you never know how long it will take to find a job, and for all the processing to be done at the hiring end. Plus, that balancing of references is even more crucial here.

When I came across a blog post discussing whether you should inform your boss that you’re looking for a new job, I did a double take.

I’ve always had great bosses – but I have never had that kind of open relationship with them. Perhaps general chat in broad terms about career paths, ambitions, next steps … but I would never come right out and say I was actively looking elsewhere.

And yet, people do. I was recently chatting to someone who’s been in the same company for nearly 7 years. There were a few times, she said, when she was proactively interviewing elsewhere. Feeling stuck with nowhere to go, she’d voiced her frustrations to her boss – only nothing was happening. He was willing to act as a reference for external jobs, even. (In the end, she had leverage enough to get what she wanted, and accepted a counter offer to stay.)

Would you ever tell your boss you were job hunting outside your workplace?

Ridiculously beautiful New Zealand spots I want to hike

I love west Auckland’s bush and coast, but staring at epic landscape imagery all day at work has convinced me I really am missing out on other parts of the country.

Active is not a word you’d use to describe me – but there’s so much natural beauty here, and the best way to experience it is just to get out amongst it. And the best thing is our national parks are free to visit. Here are a few New Zealand hikes I’m pretty sure will be worth the walking.

Tongariro Crossing

Tongariro Crossing - Places I want to hike in NZ
By: Harry Lund

Aka the greatest one-day walk in New Zealand. Just look at the colour of those lakes. Middle-earth in real life. Just a few years ago I would’ve been all ‘Go walking for a full day? Are you nuts?!’ but here I am.

Mt Aspiring

Mt Aspiring - Places I want to hike in NZ
By: oh_jojojo

Glaciers! Valleys! Tussock! Boulders! This region really has it all.

Mt Cook

Lake Pukaki - Places I want to hike in NZ
By: Andrea Schaffer

I just reeeeeally want to see Lake Pukaki with my own two eyes.  Oh yeah, and the tallest mountain in NZ.

Will you be better off than your parents?

There’s been lots of talk about how our generation may be the first to be worse off than that of our parents. I’m fairly certain it’s going to be true in my case, and Christmas really cemented for me how huge that gap is.

I swear, I am going to lose it if I hear one more thing along the lines of how we should just buy a house. For the love of god. Anyone who keeps up with the news knows what’s going on, and the latest round of updated council valuations backs that up. My parents’ property is now worth more than 3x what they paid for it – and that’s just the council valuation, which around here is always less than actual market reality. Have incomes also tripled/quadrupled/etc? No, no they have not. I’m not saying it was easy back then, but it is a hell of a lot harder now. There is no way I will have a paid-off house by my 40s in Auckland.

It was a hard year for me and T, and while our family are experts in Not Talking About Things, it doesn’t take a genius or a mind reader to figure out that we’re still nowhere near a down payment, particularly when I VERY OBVIOUSLY shut down the idea of affording a house every time the topic comes up (which has been constantly since we got back to NZ).

Look, there are some things my parents went through that I will never understand. Leaving home and going to university in a strange new country. Being denied promotion outright because of my skin colour, in the country of my birth. Reaching the point of frustration in my marriage where I’m making inappropriate disclosures to my teenage daughter (that’s what professional therapists are for, guys).

Likewise, they won’t understand the lack of job security today, or what it’s like to enter the workforce during a global financial meltdown. And to be fair, I’m not immune either. A growing part of me sometimes just wants to scream ‘how have you gone on that many interviews yet still don’t have a job? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?’

Really, I only feel comfortable discussing successes with them, and there haven’t been any of those to report on in a long time. Maybe it’s a terrible reason to avoid my family, but it’s a sanity-saving defence mechanism.

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Soooo, we’re well and truly into 2015!

To say it’s been eventful so far would be an understatement. Unfortunately, that looks set to continue for the next little while. The only thing keeping me sane is getting out into nature. Luckily this week I got to go out on a boat cruise on the harbour, and hiked about half of the stunning Te Henga Walkway (good practice for the Tongariro Crossing at some point).

This week’s links

An unhealthy obsession with job hunting

Fessing up to financial secrets

It costs nothing to be a better person

Growing a business – but at what cost?

Life lessons by way of cultural/generational difference

The secret to surviving any travel adventure

And finally, here I am offering my top recommendation for travel destinations in 2015, along with some other kiwi bloggers