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*You need to play this track while reading this post. It really adds to it!


The next update in my year of FREE is the part where I go ahead and chuck in my job. And that is exactly what I have done. 

I am sure that last year I was experiencing what is becoming more well known as a quarter-life crisis. Over the last five years I had put all this pressure on myself to be the best, the top, work hard, never disappoint or let anyone down – and suddenly all that pressure built up into overwhelm and insecurity.

I feel that since forever I have been encouraged to be my best (nothing wrong with that!), that I could be anything I wanted to be. It was expected that I went to university (not that I begrudge this at all!). It was the middle class expectation to be in a job that your parents are proud of, and can boast about at dinner parties “Oh Leah? Yes, she is working for xx – getting such great experience!”

When my parents were growing up, kids went to uni if they wanted to, or if they were highly academic (neither of mine did). It wasn’t expected. Working in a bank, or as a receptionist, or in a shop was a perfectly legitimate career – and to have the same job for 10 years was fine. Having a JOB, any job, was a sign of success. It was A-OK to just have a job -you didn’t necessarily need to have a CAREER.

Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my years at uni and the career I have worked hard at so far. I loved working hard, long hours – and being busy and stressed by work seemed to be the way I showed that I was successful. Being made redundant from my first job and coming out unscathed with a fancy job lined up immediately in Sydney was just another feather in my cap. Eventually moving up the career ladder was what I WANTED.

Or so I thought.

Last year, the Quarter Life crisis was in full swing. Is this what I want? Do I even enjoy this work anymore? What If I have done all this study/career ladder climbing and it’s not me? I can’t start again can I? Do I even know what I am doing? I can’t believe these people are paying me to tell them stuff I am making up! Am I making it up? Do I know what I am talking about? I am too young to know what I am talking about!

So instead of trying to answer those questions, I threw myself back into it with gusto! I became even more of a “harry hardout”.

– I had this fancy job title, working for one of the countries top company’s, being flown around the world. TICK.
– I won the Young Practitioner of the Year. This was something I had my sights set on since I left uni, so I went out and DID it. TICK.
– I sat my APR course of study & exams, becoming one of the youngest APR qualified people in the country. Why? Coz I COULD dammit. TICK.

And how did I feel after all of that? Proud? Yeah. Satisfied? Not really. I still had the exact same questions – what am I DOING WITH MY LIFE? (I know, deep right?)

Right now, I don’t actually know what I want to DO anymore. I have lost the clarity and focus, and it all seems so fuzzy and inconsequential. I do know, that I don’t want my career choice to be the only thing that identifies me. I want quirks and hobbies and interests – and more than anything, I want to get away from it all and FREE myself to find out exactly what this job/career thing means to me. I am not scared that I don’t know what’s ahead, instead I take comfort knowing that the right thing will present itself to me. The right thing for me is out there.

So…what am I DOING about all this?

BIG NEWS (which has already been splashed all over twitter and facebook so you may quite possibly be more than well aware!) is that both Jase and I resigned from our jobs last week. We have a loose plan – fly to Vancouver at the beginning of May, and find work. Not career work – but some form of employment that pays the bills, and buys us a beer at the end of the week – be that in hospo, retail, admin – I don’t care. After six months or so, we want to head to one of the mountains, again get work – and learn to snowboard. We are calling a massive TIME OUT to just be us, have fun, and forget about all the pressures we both had. Time out to be FREE.

After a year, our tickets take us on to the UK where it is likely we will seek out jobs in our professions again (as we are both good at our jobs and it really would be silly to be on the bones of our arses when we could be making a few bob). I am hoping the year of freeing my mind will allow me to relax, destress, and get through this quarter-life crisis!

So I’m FREE, to do what I want, any old time!

January - Kayaked & tramped the Abel Tasman, tripped around the Westcoast, and camped at Holdsworth

February - we glammed up for a wedding, and I crewed for a media team at Coast to Coast

March - my beloved Granny passed away after a long struggle. I locked myself in a room in Rotorua & wrote my award entry in her memory. I am smiling, but my eyes are sad - I think this picture says a lot

April - a weekend of wine tasting in Martinborough and seeing the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra perform

May - visited the bestie in Brisbane, met up with girls I went to school with when I was 14 and hadn't seen since (nothing has changed!), and won Young Practitioner of the Year (for Granny)

June - Spent the month gallivanting around Greece and sailing through the Greek Islands - on the Mamma Mia tour 😉

July - I turned 26. Emily came to stay and we had a ragey night out on the town

August - we visited Staglands, Maranui cafe, had a Wellington Day Out and went to Parliament! I also started this blog 🙂

September - I sat my APR exams, we went to Otaki beach for a blow out and I completed my Learn Something New Every Day Album

October - I passed my exams (yay!), went to Somes Island, went camping at Catchpool Valley and caught the Overlander to Auckland for my brother's 21st

November - Graduation! Also the month of moving out of our house and selling up large

December - a trip to NYC, time spent with Mina, Christmas parties and ended with family and friends at the beach. Byebye 2010!

Goodbye 2010 - Hello 2011

I just LOVED how Christmassy New York was – the holiday spirit was alive and well. While I was there I noticed that it was “cool” to wear a sweater with a reindeer on it, or a scarf with a snowman – and you know what, I really liked it! Here in New Zealand we are just a bit blase about it all – a few decorations thrown at a tree and that’s us, done. But in the states EVERYTHING is Christmas themed. Every door has a wreath, every corner/ building/ doorway has a tree, every shop is blasting Chrissy music. I loved it all and just wanted to absorb as much as possible!

Trees for sale on every corner


Giant Christmas Lights


Roasted chestnuts smelt amazing on every corner


Giant Christmas baubles


At Rockerfeller Centre


Even Sushi can be Christmassy


Crazy Christmas Shopping Crowds on 5th Avenue


Mina & I with the Rockerfeller tree at night


Just a few shoppers at Macy's


Believe in the Christmas Spirit


Waiting to see the REAL Santa at Macy's


Marching Band


Marching Band


Marching Band


Hark the Herald Angels Sing


I Love New York!

(yes, I did actually say that – out loud – in the presence of males with dirty minds. Needless to say, I got my big finger!).

With my big finger at Madison Square Garden

I headed along to the New York Rangers vs Islanders (big rivals!) game at Madison Square Garden while I was in New York. I managed to grab a ticket off a scalper, and was seated up in the gods, while my colleagues were down in the $250 seats right near the ice. They ended up having a spare seat next to them, so I slipped past the security guards and enjoyed the game from rink-side!

Go Rangers!

Things were getting a bit blurry by the end!

Let’s Go RANGERS! Was stoked that they won, although a bit disappointed that there was only one decent punch up 😉 I love Ice Hockey & can’t wait to watch more games!

Thanks Kent, Nick, Rej & Danny for taking me to my first big game….and giving me a big finger 😉

Let's Go Rangers!

Sunrise over the city? Yes please…

Good Morning New York City!

Well folks, I finally made it. I am writing this from my hotel room in New York City. Remember way back when I said it was one of my goals to get here for work – well, here I am!

But DAMN that’s a long flight! Throw in a bit of plane malfunction and flight changes, and about 28 hours later I made it to my hotel. The first Air New Zealand flight (AKL to SFO) was a dream – dinner, a couple of movies and then slept until they woke us up for breakfast. United Airlines? (SFO to JFK) – yeah, not so much. Middle seat, no individual tv screens, crap programming, no food…oh and did I mention plane malfunctions? yeah.

Anyway, after a good while of getting horizontal on the plushest bed ever, I was ready to face this:

View from my hotel room

My dear Mina (a native New Yorker who I studied with) came and picked me up in the afternoon. We quickly jumped on the subway and caught the Staten Island ferry right on dusk. The sky changed through amazing colours as we cruised past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty

The ferry ride was really cool – we stood outside both ways, and braved the icy wind (it’s about 3 degrees here). definitely needed the scarf & hat!

Mina & I on the Staten Island Ferry

By the time we returned the sun had gone down (4.30pm!) and the bright lights of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge were lighting up the sky. So beautiful! The Empire State Building is currently lit up in yellow, orange and red for Thanksgiving – I am waiting for it to change to red & green for Christmas!

Manhattan lights

We hopped off the ferry & headed uptown to Bryant Park (to see the cute Ice Skating Rink) and Times Square. The last time I was here was New Years Eve 2005 (the coolest night ever – but would never do it again!) so it was neat to see all the lights. So much has changed – there are new stores, new billboards and new lights. I love the hustle & bustle of it all!

Times Square!

We had soup, salad & breadsticks (felt weird to be ordering soup, but it was delicious!) from Olive Garden before heading home for the evening. I love how in NY state they are required to list the calories of every meal on the menu – makes you think twice about what you are ordering! haha!

Before I jumped out of the car, Mina gave me a gift bag filled with goodies to welcome me back to NYC. I wanted to share just how many items of awesomeness are in this wee bag:


– bottles of water (tap water = yukky)
– A notebook with a lovely letter from Mina
– snacks including chocolate covered pretzels – yummm
– socks to keep my tootsies warm
– A Michaels gift card (can’t WAIT to go to this store & get some stash)
– A bottle of wine
– A corkscrew to open the bottle of wine
– A christmas themed wine glass (so gorgeous!) to drink the wine in
– A subway map
– the T-Shirt from the 5K Thanksgiving run that I didn’t get to run due to flight changes 😦
– Gorgeous NYC embellishments (for when I get to put these pics down on paper!)
– A Mamma Mia CD……..


– TICKETS TO SEE MAMMA MIA ON BROADWAY! YUSSS, I cannot wait for next Saturday night! I love Mamma Mia (refer the whole “sailing around the Greek Islands on the Mamma Mia tour” blog post) and seeing the show on BROADWAY no less will be amazing.

Best goody bag ever! Thanks Mina!!!

Ok, better get to bed – the working part of this trip starts tomorrow!

xx Leah

Last weekend we headed up to Auckland – on the train.

Most of our friends/ family thought we were slightly crazy. Yes, it was going to take us 12 HOURS to get to Auckland from Wellington – a distance we could fly in 1 hour (even the bus was faster – getting in to Auckland 2 hours earlier than the train, and cost $8 less).

But travelling by train was something that Jase and I both wanted to do – check out the countryside, sit back and relax and see where the train took us. It was an ADVENTURE!

Boarding the train

We were up bright and early to board The Overlander at 7am. A quick look around confirmed that yep, we were the only ones without grey hair!

Grey Grannies on the Overlander

Once we got going the scenery was beautiful. Some of the time the train followed along State Highway 1, but other times it ducked through countryside we had never glimpsed before. I spent most of the time like this…

Snapping pics out the window

We read the paper, our books, played cards, chatted, people watched. We went for a walk through all the carriages (a lot harder than it sounds, getting rocked & rollicked the whole way) and ended up at the open air part of the front carriage. I was enthralled by watching the tracks whizz by under the train…

Whizzing tracks

A highlight was going through the Rangitikei Gorge and then a tunnel while on the open air deck. Such great views!

Rangitikei Gorge

Jase & I

We were really impressed with the Overlander – they gave a wee commentary throughout the trip which meant we learnt lots about our own country as well. The Raurimu Spiral was definitely more interesting being on the train (rather than going to the lookout – which is up there on the list of Most Underwhelming New Zealand Attractions). The back of the train had an observation lounge where we sat for a while – a lovely place to share lunch with your fellow train goers 🙂

The view

We stopped at Ohakune for a pie & a coke (it’s what you do when you travel train styles apparently) and then we were on our way again. The scenery became more standard the closer we got to Auckland – and by 3pm I was ready to just hurry up and get there. The train stopped at Pukekohe, then Papakura, and then Middlemore and I was starting to groan, thinking we would be late into Auckland if we stopped at all the suburban train stations. But then we turned onto the eastern corridor, shot through the back of Mt Wellington, Kohimarama and then suddenly we were cruising into Britomart! Arrived right on time, 12 hours later to Auckland.

It was a great trip, really interesting and scenic, a wonderful service, stress free….but once was enough! 😉 Glad we have done it!

My favourite part of the trip? Seeing the matching Christmas jumpers that this gorgeous couple were sporting…GOLD.

Oh those matching jumpers!

Over the weekend we loaded up the ute(-erus – Jase’s wonderful nickname for his vehicle) with all our camping gear and headed over the Wainui hill to Catchpool Valley.

I am a camping addict – I love sleeping in a tent and cooking on a portable cooker. I feel like camping is the only time I truly relax – there are no cellphones/ internet because generally you are in areas out of service (or you turn it off because you just don’t care); and there is no time – you get out of bed when you wake up, you go to bed when you are tired, you eat when you are hungry – not because the clock tells you to. You read, you relax, you tramp, you wander around in the sun, you breathe fresh air – I love it all.

Peaceful Catchpool Valley

Over the last couple of years Jase and I have camped our way around New Zealand – and we both love staying at DOC campgrounds. We have built up our camping cupboard and now have pretty much anything and everything you might need – even a camping kitchen sink!

Back to Catchpool. We headed over on Saturday morning, quickly got the tents up and headed off on our walk. I am a 4 hour maximum tramper – and definitely was hurting by hour 3. It was a beautiful flat walk in along the Orongorongo track, and we reached the valley quickly. We had a quick fuel stop there, and chatted to the DOC ranger before setting off on a steep climb up the Cattle Ridge track. Quite a toughy, and my left calf started seizing up quite a bit (have been having problems with this for a while). Once we were up on the ridge it flattened out & was quite enjoyable. After 2 hours we finally hit the Butcher track which led us steeply back down for 45 minutes to the campground.

Orongoronga Valley

Happy Trampers

Well deserved beers & wines followed, and we rugged up for a night of nacho’s and fondue. YUM.

On Sunday the rest of our camping buddies headed back to town, and left Jase & I to relax in the sun, read the paper, have an afternoon snooze, cook up some burgers for dinner, play lot’s of card games (which of course I won) and have an early night and a big sleep in. Nothing beats listening to a river, the rustle of the trees, and being snuggled away in your tent.

All in all, it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to get the tent out again! The next time will be New Years – we are heading to Otaki Forks for a few nights, Castlepoint for New Years and then to Waiohine Gorge to end up our holiday. LOVE IT!

I wanted to say how saddening and shocking it was to come home and hear the news about Rose Ives. Rose was shot dead by a hunter while brushing her teeth at a DOC campground in Turangi on Saturday. Such a freak accident, but one that shouldn’t of happened. Many of our friends and colleagues were concerned when they heard the news that the girl was me – 25 year old female, from Wellington, camping with her partner and four friends at a DOC campground. I fit the bill (almost) perfectly – except we never planned to go to Turangi. So tragic – and my heart goes out to her family and partner.

The incident did make me think a lot about taking extra precautions when camping, and here are a few of my tips:

A couple of camping tips:

  • ALWAYS tell someone where you are planning on going camping – and don’t change your mind. If you do – let people know!
  • When you go tramping – even for a day walk – leave a ‘note of intention’ in your tent, or sign the intentions book if there is one. We wrote a quick note with our names, our planned route, our time of departure and our expected time of return, and left it inside the tent. If someone is looking for you – it’s likely they will check your tent.
  • Talk to people you see on the track – say hello, stop for a chat and talk about your planned route, or mention where you are off to. Often DOC Rangers are out on the trails and they can give you good advice on the track conditions etc.
  • Be prepared. Take the right clothing, have the right gear, take food and water – and be sensible.
  • Finally – respect the wonderful country we live in. Pick up any litter you see and carry it out of the parks. We need to keep these beautiful places in pristine condition so we can use them for years to come.

Talking to the DOC Ranger about our planned route


All in all – Catchpool was beautiful. And only 45mins from Wellington – go check it out!

Catchpool Valley

Day 04. A photo of somewhere you have been.

This one is easy. I spent the month of June swanning around the Greek Islands and one of the coolest places I got to visit was THE church from the Mamma Mia movie. It’s name is Agios Ioannis Kastri, or the Church of St. John. Only accessible by boat, or a bumpy uncomfortable and probably quite dangerous 1 hour scooter ride.

Lucky (oh yes, VERY lucky) for me, my family were on a yacht. I wasn’t kidding when I said swanning – we actually sailed our way around the Sporades Islands (Skiathos, Sporades, Alonissos). Bliss. Ok, enough gloating – on with the photo:

Here is me, on the boat, church in behind:

We climbed all those stairs, humming ‘The Winner Takes It All’ (how Amanda Seyfried did it on the back of a donkey I do not know, because those 202 stairs got pretty steep at times!). This is what the church looked like inside. For those who have seen the movie, you will realise that there is NO way all of those interior wedding scenes were filmed here. They were actually shot back at another church at Skopelos port (yep, we visited there too – totally did the Mamma Mia tour you see 😉 ).

Text says:

It is naturally impossible
for man to accomplish
Look closely at
The imposing site of St. John

Look how the giant rock
is layed out
Where St. John came
to live alone

Surrounded by the sea
waves breaking
while atop
priests meditate

If you come in memory
of St. John
you may think
that paradise is up here

Paradise it really was.

Yes. That’s right. I have FINISHED an album.

When I say that, I mean that I have completed all the layouts I wanted to do for that album, I have done a title page (for want of a better word) and even scrapped a wee insert for the photo pocket on the album cover.

This is the first time I have finished an album. All the rest of my albums are sitting on my shelves, waiting the final touches, embellishments or a spark of creativity to hit me. My 21st album? 99% done…but still not finished. My baby album? Probably 90% there but there are still a few more pages I want to include…but haven’t quite got around to it.

So, to celebrate my completed album, which was our 08/09 New Years Northland trip  – I thought I would share some of my favourite pages:

I even scrapped a piece to include in the album cover.

Enjoying a trumpet (the quintessential kiwi ice cream) at Cable Bay.

I love this page. I created the tree tops by cutting fabric flowers in half and securing them with different green brads. So simple yet effective.

Hehe – the best thing about my Kai Iwi Lakes page was that I was able to hide the top of a beer bottle that Jase was holding under that red brad. Before that I thought the photo was a little less than perfect – thanks to Jase’s ever present Tui bottle!

These Pebbles Inc twist ties are so cute!

Finally – a real ‘title page’. I don’t like calling it that, but it’s the only thing I can come up with. Does anyone have another name for the first page in their albums?

Happy scrapping!


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