Encounter #1000speak

You are blessed. You are worthy. You are enough.

Yesterday I cycled around handing out Easter eggs for The Angel Zoe Kindness Project (and to burn off calories from consumption of Easter treats). Everyone I met was happy to take the Easter eggs and exchange a few words.

On my way down to the cycle-way, I encountered someone I see from time to time asking for money outside the local supermarket. When I see him I usually give him a couple of dollars or buy some food to give him on the way out. Sometimes he’s left before I come back with the food, even if I ask him to stay. Continue reading

Improbable gratitude #1000speak

Zoe and one of the anaesthetic technicians

Zoe with one of the anaesthetic technicians, She improbably looked forward to seeing the team every day of her six weeks of radiation.

How can you learn gratitude from something that wreaks havoc, turns lives upside down, tortures children and families with unbearable treatments and choices (that are somehow borne anyway) and takes lives?

On the day of Zoe’s diagnosis, I could never have imagined that I would owe childhood cancer any gratitude. But in a strange and improbable way, I do. Continue reading

The friendship seat #1000speak

It still haunts me to know that being bullied was a feature of the last few months of my daughter’s life, that in the beginning it wasn’t handled very well and that I failed her in this.


Early in her second year at school, around the time she turned 6, Zoe told me that some older girls were seeking her out every day at lunchtime to tease her, particularly about the way she spoke. Zoe had some speech issues relating to nerve damage either from her cancer or the radiation treatment. She had undergone surgery to her palette before the school year started and along with speech therapy, this was greatly improving the situation, but it was enough to single her out as a victim in the eyes of these girls (I want to say bullies, but that label seems to make them less human than they really are).

I took her in to school early one morning to catch her teacher before others started arriving and explained to the teacher what had been happening. Her teacher’s first response was “Well, I hate to tell you Zoe, but some people just aren’t very nice.” She went on to say that the next time it happened, Zoe should find the teacher on duty and point out who the girls were. While I was a little shocked at the comment, I felt there was a plan of action. And as a busy working solo mum, I didn’t want to rock the boat and be “one of those” parents. I assumed the school had it’s way of dealing with these things.

Continue reading

My tribe #1000speak

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people


Mosaic heart made at the Stepping Stones family camp,

Around a year ago, along with my laptop, camera and kindle, most of my jewellery was stolen. Thankfully all of my photos of Zoe were backed up on a hard drive I kept at work, but I was devastated, because much of the jewellery was a memorial to Zoe. Jewellery she had helped me choose the beads for and “supervised” the making of, lockets with pictures of her, pieces with hearts and butterflies I had collected, been given or made in her memory and the thing it hurt the most to lose – a little glass bottle pendant with a lock of her hair that I cut after she died.

After a week of dealing of dealing with the police, insurance companies and the initial shock of feeling vulnerable and violated, I thought about where I was at. “I should be feeling worse than this” I thought. “But I feel fine – even better than fine.” Here’s what happened in that week.

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Compassion is hereditary #1000speak

I inherited compassion from my daughter

You know that saying – “Insanity is hereditary, you get if from your kids”?
Well, I think I inherited compassion from my daughter.

Until recently it was widely believed (in Western cultures anyway) that babies were born innately selfish, that it was our moral duty as parents to turn them from self obsessed little savages into beings fit for human society, through training them with reward and punishment. It seemed to make sense – after all, newborns are famously demanding in getting their own needs met no matter how exhausted their parents. Continue reading