You won’t believe what Ashton Kutcher has to say in this video

I’d be the first to admit I’m not a huge fan of Ashton Kutcher’s work. He’s lanky and yelly and Dude Where’s My Car is not my idea of funny.

His personal life was always a bit more interesting – marrying Demi Moore and being what sounded like a great step dad to her kids for example – made me think there was a bit more to him than the in-your-face hyperactive antics that MTV’s Punk’d would suggest.

He recently won the Teen’s Choice award, and to a stadium filled with screaming teen and pre-teen fans he gave this somewhat unexpected thank you speech:


My Own Christmas Miracle

Christmas can be a really hard time of year. While some people are celebrating and spending time with family, others are struggling with finances, loneliness, or lack of things to look forward to.

My friends know that for the better part of a year, I’ve been battling depression. It’s really hard to explain to people who have never felt it, but mine comes in waves of quiet, empty nothingness which totally clean me out, leaving me stranded and gasping for air.

It became so bad that I would sneak off to the toilets at work and cry several times a day; Not because I was sad, but just because that was what my body was doing. Leaking. A lot. It was totally irrational, and weird, and a bit scary.

I knew that when I started thinking things like “there’s really no reason for me to exist,” “my life is exceedingly pointless,” and “I wonder how I can just make the world stop”, I needed to see a doctor.

It’s been a mixed bag since then. I suppose I was expecting drugs to be a cure-all, and they are not. That’s okay, life is a journey, right? But I am getting better, little bit by little bit.

Sometimes you reach a milestone, where you stop for a minute and take stock. Today when I was driving home from work, I saw a little old man walking with a little old woman – a scene that would usually have me thinking about the futility of love and aging – but I felt peaceful. I felt like in that moment all was right with the world. I felt entirely like myself again. It’s my own little Christmas miracle.

But it also got me thinking about those around me who I haven’t told about my journey. I’m ready, and I think it might help others who are struggling.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, dark thoughts or maybe a deep and abiding emptiness; Know that you’re not alone. Know that it can, and does, get better. You need to be very brave, and talk to a doctor or a trusted friend. Please get some help.

The holidays can be a battlefield for those of us who fight against the darkness, so arm yourself.

You are not alone.

24 Hour Telephone Counselling via Lifeline: 0800 543 354
For more information on depression, see


Everything must change
There’s a mirror showing me the ugly truth
These bones they ache with holy fire
But I’ve got nothing to give, just a life to live

If your world is without color
I will carry you, if you carry me

Every little thing’s gonna be alright


I am awesome, and so are you!

In our day-to-day lives, we are bombarded with the images of “perfect” people who we will never be. People who look a certain way, act a certain way, have their lives seemingly sorted – all the things you think you’re not. It’s easy for the world to beat you down and tell you you’re shit, so who doesn’t need encouragement every now and again?

Inspired by GoKaleo’s blog, I put a call out for people to contribute to our own version of “I am awesome and so are you!” – thank you to these brave people who sent me their photos and messages. I hope they touch you as much as they did me.




iamawesome1 0001GQ

LatteJunkie tara




Dear 20-year-old Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the time I wasted when I was younger. I wish I could go back ten years and tell myself all the things I know now.

It seems I’m not alone in that.

I put a call out on Twitter, explaining I was writing this blog and was there anything you’d say to 20-year-old you? I got about 50 replies in a matter of minutes! I’m sorry I couldn’t put them all up here – there were many beautiful thoughts, and a few themes emerged. See if you can pick them…

Dear 20-year-old Tara, save some money. even if its just a little.
Dear 20-year-old Aimee, don’t rush into a serious relationship – enjoy being single!
Dear 20-year-old Anna, say thank you. And AVOID DEBT.
Dear 20-year-old Amy, don’t quit uni.
Dear 20-year-old Steve, your 20’s will be gone in a flash. Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.
Dear 20-year-old Chris, stay up all night. When you’re older you won’t be able to do it and recover.
Dear 20-year-old Kimi, don’t be afraid to fuck it up, just make sure you learn from it.
Dear 20-year-old J, don’t get a credit card, let alone three.
Dear 20-year-old Allen, plan for the future, then toss out those plans and enjoy the now. Life flies by too quickly!
Dear 20-year-old Kevin, the next 10 years are really going to suck – try to make the most of it, but don’t marry the lesbian. Also, buy shares in Apple.
Dear 20-year-old Orchid, don’t get credit cards or loans because they hold you back.
Dear 20-year-old Matt, take your guns to town, son, don’t leave your guns at home
Dear 20-year-old Nick, don’t propose.
Dear 20-year-old Kat, your flatmate is bad news. Move out before she ruins you. Punch her in the ovaries first.
Dear 20-year-old Josh, get a girlfriend, loser.
Dear 20-year-old Simon, get your act together and don’t miss opportunities.
Dear 20-year-old Stu, listen to your parents. They have lived life and know what’s in store.
Dear 20-year-old Vince, You can be indecisive about ‘work’. DON’T be indecisive about relationships. Work less, holiday more.
Dear 20-year-old Keith, don’t get pissed on your 21st.
Dear 20-year-old Lorne, no credits cards.
Dear 20-year-old Nick, don’t forget to floss. Teeth are expensive.
Dear 20-year-old NF, it’s going to get worse, but then it’s going to get much, much better. Then worse again, but that’ll be okay.
Dear 20-year-old Janine, PLEASE go see as much of the world as you can – broaden your horizons. Being RESPECTFUL of the cultures and the places you visit.
Dear 20-year-old Katherine, uni will always be there. Take the chances you’re given and explore… the world… other employment opps.
Dear 20-year-old Becs, life is not supposed to be shit. Seek professional help.
Dear 20-year-old Alexandra, buy more shares now, don’t be afraid to tell people you love them & wear sunscreen.
Dear 20-year-old Andrea, no one is judging you except you
Dear 20-year-old Sam, you shouldn’t have given any fucks.
Dear 20-year-old Danielle, you’re 20, so you are obviously totally cute. Stop worrying about it.
Dear 20-year-old Stacey, you are a fucking rockstar. stop apologising and stop letting other people tell you what you should be.

If you’re not picking up what we’re putting down: Here it is…

Respect yourself and others. Don’t be a dick with your heart, or with money. Listen to your gut. Be kind to yourself.

And as for 20-year-old Cate? All of the above, plus she needs to know that things really will be okay.

Cos they will be.

Feeling brave? Please add your “Dear 20-year-old me” to the comments. x

Words for a memorial: We will get through

We love Christchurch

A year ago today I wrote:


Words just seem so futile at a time like this. The entire dictionary – even every word ever uttered – can’t describe what’s going on right now.

A nation sits in shock. This isn’t our burden, surely? This isn’t our event? This is what happens in some foreign land, some distant place, to people who aren’t us.

But no, this is our place. This is our event. This is our land.

As a mother hen gathers her chicks in close, so New Zealand gathers its people together. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who have lost everything. We protect those who are weakened. We guard those we have lost.

Nightfall is coming. The rescuers will continue to search, and we will continue to hope. ‘Recovery’ is a word still far too raw to be uttered. Until we have our people back, we will hold fast.

We will get through this.


As I look back on what happened, I can’t help but admire the people of Canterbury. Those who worked selflessly for others. Those who ignored frayed nerves and kept on. Those who had everything taken away – everything but their smiles. Those who made the brave decision to stay. Those who made the brave decision to leave.

I don’t think I’d be overstating the case to say that New Zealand changed as a nation that day. We all took a knock on some level – even those of us who didn’t feel the quakes with our bodies still felt it in our hearts.

We watched on, desperate to help, wanting Cantabrians to know how much we cared. We longed to make things right, but couldn’t really do anything. And as the quakes kept coming, we despaired with those who continued to suffer.

They say these things make you stronger. I agree, but what a fucking painful growth spurt. Almost one you don’t come back from; one you maybe don’t get through in one piece.

But the people of Canterbury did get through it. They will continue to get through it.

And we will all continue to stand with them.

Kia kaha, New Zealand.

The Postsecret and the Swamp

Reading the weekly Postsecret offerings is a bit of a ritual in my world. As I think about each one – sometimes in passing, sometimes at length – I often see reflections of myself.

I found one particularly touching:

As I read it, I felt really sad.

I lived in a swamp for a long time. I had an overwhelming feeling that it was my destiny, that the hard drudgery is what life is… That to escape from such a place requires a miracle not offered to those in the depths.

I think many people have felt the same way.

If you’re in that place – where the path out of the swamp feels too hard – don’t give up. Life is not all roses and sunshine like we often expect it to be. Life is hard work, it can be rough as guts, and it can hurt. But there’s a very important thing you need to know: The swamp – the place you were born into or now find yourself – is not a reflection on how precious and important you are.

Because you are so very precious, and do not deserve to live your life hidden away in a dark place.

So what can you do about it?

It’s time to start walking out of the swamp. Today. Right now. Change a mindset, change a habit. Stop talking down to yourself. Reach out to someone who can help you. Whatever your swamp is, now is the time to look towards something new.

It’s going to hurt, because hope hurts the heart that’s not used to it, but, trust me, even though the pain and scariness of change may be greater than the pain of living where you are right now, it’s worth it.

Think of it this way: You get a nasty infection in your elbow, which causes it to seize up. You’re not having any joy moving the joint, and you can’t carry much weight on it, but it’s functional. It doesn’t really matter that you can’t do everything, does it? Then a doctor takes a look at your elbow and suggests that cleaning out the infection will fully heal you. You agree to the treatment, and the doctor starts work.

It hurts. It fucking hurts.

You have a choice. You can persevere, or you can give up. You can fight through, or you can succumb.

Hand on heart, from someone who has walked the path out of the swamp – out of multiple swamps – it’s worth the fight. Don’t ever let the pain of healing rob you of your future.

Because what a future you can have.

This was a Postsecret that reminded me of how far I’ve come, and hopefully, it’ll inspire those who read this and need to hear it – you matter, your life matters, and it will get better.

Be brave.

We are like trees

If you’ve ever studied a tree stump you’ll know all about the rings. Looking over them is like caressing a lifetime. You can see exactly how different events in the tree’s life affected it. The grafting, the pruning, the good years, and the bad years – they are all right there in those rings. The events are so woven into the tree that they shape it and give it character.

In many ways, you and I are like trees. We are shaped by the events around us – the good and the bad. But unlike trees we have a choice about what we prune.

Maybe you are an emotional spender. Maybe you jump from relationship to relationship. Perhaps you feel jealous when others succeed. Whatever it is, it’s costing you peace and wellbeing – and possibly some friends too.

There is a model that’s really helped me clear out some of the emotional junk hanging around my life: Face, trace, replace.

Face the fact that you’ve got a problem. This might sound easy, but sometimes self-awareness is one of the hardest things to learn. Don’t let shame stop you – face up to your issues and the underlying feeling, be it jealousy, anger, sadness – acknowledge it. Get to know what triggers it.

Trace the problem to its root. The inappropriate emotion you’re feeling harks back to something earlier – where did it start? How did it start? What lies did you learn at that time – “I’m not good enough”, “I’m ugly”, “I don’t matter”, “No one listens to me” are examples.

Replace the lies with truth. Whatever you told yourself that caused you to go off on this understandable tangent, replace it with honesty. “She really didn’t mean to overlook me, it was a mistake. She loves me”; “I am beautiful, even if he didn’t say it. He probably didn’t know how to say it”; “I really do matter. They were just rude and horrible and I don’t have to believe what they said”… see what I mean?

I’m not a counsellor. I’m just telling you, from a person that’s struggled, that this worked for me. Yes, it took a long time. No, I’m not perfectly healed… But this is a big step in the right direction.

So next time you see a tree stump, stop to admire the rings… and know that you have a choice.


The thing about baggage is that it falls into one of two categories: You’re carrying it because you’re going somewhere, or because you’ve been somewhere.

If you’re like me, carrying baggage because you’re off somewhere is great. Your suitcase is tidy, full of clean clothes and extra space, ready for all those little nick-nacks and pressies you’re thinking of bringing back. You’re off into the unknown and it’s exciting and perhaps a little scary.

If you’re carrying it because you just got back, then those bags are going to be heavy, full of laundry and random crap, and you’ll be tired from the trip. So what do you do when you get home? You have a rest, then you unpack. Maybe a couple days later, but you will unpack.

At the very least you’ll put the suitcase down, right? So why don’t we do that, emotionally speaking?

You came from somewhere, having collected a heavy load of stuff – some helpful, some not. And years later you haven’t unpacked it all. It’s all still sitting in baggage that you’re dragging around your day-to-day life. Perhaps you figure it’s easier to ignore it, pretend it’s meant to be there, that it’s really a part of you now. Maybe you don’t know who you are without it.

I don’t know your story. But mine has caused many, many suitcases full of crap to gather around me. I’d sit on them, use them as a fort, use them as a reason to not do something.

But there comes a time in life where, to move on and be ready for the next adventure, you really need an empty suitcase and a spare hand to hold it with.

What suitcases from journeys long passed are you still refusing to put down?