Monthly Archives: April 2014

Faking it, not me….

I am not so good at it these days. A whole lot of reasons really, sometimes I think I am just too old for that crap these days, but am I? I gave my children some money to spend on clothes the other day, not a whole lot but enough for a few things and then I did something I haven’t often done, I stood back and left them to it and they went and bought clothes. My daughter, a beautiful young woman bought herself a pair of boyfriend jeans, similar to these but with a few more rips and frays etc.  I remember once saying to myself as a friend bought some “pre stressed jeans” bloody hell, paying extra for half worn out s..t!

Well my only instructions to my children were to consider the season, we are going into winter and she did that, they were not shorts! Well my daughter proudly showed me her loot and produced these jeans and then asked me if I liked them, and like George Washington and not Bill Clinton I could not tell a lie and said I didn’t, she was devastated.

I was at pains to assure her that actually it didn’t matter what I thought as it was her choice but she was still disappointed. Now should I have said something different? Well so it is with my life. I can paint on a grin for a while but when things are not so flash it is not hard to read me. I was reminded of this the other day when a student was really concerned about me, I re-plastered my grin and said I was fine when on the inside I was far from that. Most people who know me are not that easily fooled.

I have been told before that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I guess I do in a lot of ways, I can be very professional and have had to be at times when dealing with trauma and damaged children, with dealing with offenders who are repugnant to me I have remained relatively dispassionate and nearly always professional, rapists, killers, pedophiles I have worked with them all. I have had friends who are racist and bigots, although these days most of them are gone by the wayside as I am want to be truthful with them.But if you know me then you will know, if you ask a straight question you will get a straight answer.If you ask me how I am I will tell you, it may be the edited version but it will be authentic. Sometimes it may be warts and all, and sometimes that is not so pretty. But like I say often, never ask a question that you do not want to hear the answer to.

I read this little piece in Relevant magazine a few weeks ago it said that “authenticity begins with acknowledging, rather than hiding, that we have shadows in our souls” In some ways I count the ability to be truthful with others as a burden because to be truthful to others is to be truthful to yourself first.   In doing so we face our own shadows, our imperfections, foibles and frailties. On a personal level, authenticity begins with acknowledging, rather than hiding, that we have shadows in our souls.

Often in reply to being asked how I am I say that God is good and his mercy is everlasting because I am a terrible sinner at times. I try to be authentic as much as I can, as a teacher when I read a piece of work I look for something to say that is encouraging and truthful like hey that’s great so much better than last week, here is what we have to do to improve it. You won’t get bullshit from me however, if it doesn’t meet the mark I will tell you whether you are a student, a boss, a politician, lover or friend. It is a risky business at times because there are many people who cannot handle authenticity because I think that it exposes the shadows in their own souls, for some they are shadows that have not seen the light ever or for a very long time, and people can be very afraid that should those shadows see light they may consume them and shake their worlds beyond that which they can handle. They often remain crippled by doubt and making the same mistakes in life and love over and over again, and yet I am told it is that authenticity which makes my writing compelling and interesting, a reader wrote to me that they felt almost like a voyeur reading my writing, almost like looking in my lounge window yet they felt drawn to read more.


So for me being authentic remains at my core, it drives my belief in family, friendship and love. It would be so much easier to be less authentic and I am sure that I have paid what at times seems to be a high cost for authenticity and I may be about to pay the price again as I grapple with decisions I need to make but I know this for sure that authenticity is that which gives me hope for the future, it enables me to have relationship at all and to look in the mirror. Authenticity gives me integrity and without integrity I am nothing merely dust on the soles of a dirty pair of shoes.

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

With Aroha,



Don’t let others determine the outcome.

There are many things in our lives that we have little control over, I was reminded of this as a truck crossed the centre line this morning, this juggernaut, hurtled towards me and the side of the bridge was way too close for comfort. Whilst it was a close call I have had a few closer, it was not one of those seminal moments where your life flashes before you but as I am want to often I did reflect on it. I know that bridge is narrow, it is not the first time that it has been close for me on that bridge, it was a wet day, I had adjusted my speed already my lights were on and I made sure I was well within my lane. Apart from not traveling that way there is little else I could have done to avoid that situation.

I wrote in my last blog about decisions and choices, this week in an article I read about dealing with stress, one of the headlines caught my eye “don’t let others determine the outcome”. In the middle of crisis, such advice could be seen as incorrect, insensitive or even inflammatory.   I have learned through experience that even in amongst situations where the outcome seems determined already there is still choice.

Outcomes are varied and are sometimes far more complex in their endpoints that what they look like initially. We live in a material world where we are used to immediacy, Look at the furor over flight MH, the demands for answers, the soul searching, calls for consequences, and here we are over a month later and the outcome is still undetermined.

Pike River Mine disaster is another classic example of this. Whilst the narrative around disaster is always a social construction, culturally driven and very different it is still affected by a need to do something, to have something to hold onto and in many ways that is an example of not letting others determine the outcome.

I want to talk about the micro view of outcomes, rather than the macro. At a Global, International or even Local level we may have little individual control over outcomes as we have little control about the circumstances we find our selves in. In fact many times we have little control over the physical outcomes. As I wrote at the start of this blog, whilst I had taken as many precautions as I could, there was little else I could do in that situation, so it is if we choose to engage in life.

If in fact that truck had been a little closer, there can be little doubt about the final outcome of that interaction, Truck one, me nil. So you may ask what control would I have had over that outcome. I am not going to talk about the meta physical right now, because if the truck had hit me prayer would be all that was left and I didn’t even have time for that!

So how could I “not let others determine the outcome” if in fact the worst had occurred and that was my last drive to Putaruru, or in fact anywhere? Well here it is, in a situation like that if I have lived my life well, prepared my children for success, told them often that they are loved, given them the knowledge that they are fantastic and can achieve then that would be enough.

On a more everyday level, I have had circumstances dictated to me for a long time, I have been slowly taking back control over the outcomes of this over the past four years, sometimes more successfully than others. I am on occasion even putting myself first and not feeling guilty about it. I am learning to be assertive but not reactionary, learning to breathe first and act later and realizing that I am good enough and that what I expect and fight for with others should be accorded to me as well.

I am learning that immediacy does not mean the best answer or outcome occurs, that silence and reflection can be very strong answers and that whilst I am a good listener to others I need to listen to myself as well.The close call with the truck reminds me that the immediacy of death helps to sort priorities in life. It helps me to live a less trivial life and to remind myself of my motto, to rather be condemned for passion than mediocrity.




The Art of War (Choice)

Choice is sometimes difficult, I am not talking about chocolate versus coffee here (give me coffee in the morning, chocolate in the afternoon) but rather those choices that are important in our lives, choices around integrity, anger, family, relationships. In my last post I wrote of my confrontationist type background and spoke about picking your battles. Well this week I have been battling.


There are people often around who set out, Continue reading

My Name is Paul and I am a

My name is Paul and I am a recovering confrontationist. IMG_3212I recently had an education day in which the theme of the day was around confrontation. Type confrontation into Google and you get somewhere around 47 million references. Yes that’s right 47 million. That is a whole lot of pages about confrontation and here I am adding another one. Now I have blogged before about my need to be right and how a long time ago I would beat down anyone else who disagreed with my accepted position on life. I think I have arrived at a more reasoned approach these days.

Don’t get me wrong, Continue reading