That time I almost died, and how it saved my life

In July 2016 my life changed in ways I’m still just discovering now, almost 18 months later.

I was the most stressed I’ve ever been; I’d quit my job and was working out my notice while setting up a new business, I was beyond exhausted all the time, and was desperately trying to hold it all together.

I’ve always been a pretty independent and self-reliant person; I struggled to ask for help, and I don’t get deeply connected with other people, not even my own family. I felt like if people saw me at my worst, crying and messy, needing them desperately, without answers or jokes, they wouldn’t like me at all.

Living alone made it easier to hermit. It also meant I was responsible for everything. I paid all the bills, fed the cats, did the chores, fixed the things. It slowly wore away at me in ways I can’t even quantify. I’d tell myself that I didn’t care that I wasn’t getting hugged, that there was no one to cook dinner when I was tired, or that I had to sort out replacing the batteries on the smoke detector.

But I cared. And I was profoundly lonely.

To cut a long story short, in the middle of all this, my body gave out. I ended up in the HDU at North Shore Hospital with a tube pumping the contents of my stomach out, a catheter, a spinal tap for the morphine, an array of drips plugged into my arm, and an oxygen machine keeping me, well, oxygenated. In other words, I was entirely dependent on hospital staff to do even the simplest of tasks: Wash me, deal with my bodily fluids, calm me when I was scared.

My father drove up from Wellington. I didn’t find out til much, much later that he’d been warned that I had a 15% chance of fatality and he had to make some tricky calls around what to say to the rest of the family. One of my brothers and his partner took care of my cats, and getting my house cleaned, which was hard for me to deal with. To be frank, before the ambulance came, I’d been having a full body evacuation and I was ashamed of the state of my house. If it weren’t for the cats, I’d never have given them the keys.

But I had to.

I’m not sure I’d been so physically or emotionally vulnerable in my whole adult life. I’m crying now just thinking about it. I’d been building a self-sufficient empire where I didn’t need anyone, and now a nurse was taking bags of my urine away to measure as I lay in a bed, struggling to stay conscious, while my baby brother navigated my dirty washing and piles of vomit. Good times.

Everyone was so gentle, and so kind. Washing my face for me, feeding me ice chips, organising a fan when I was burning up, and reading me encouraging messages from friends. You’re not allowed flowers – or friends – in the HDU, so mates sent magazines and fruit, and messaged my dad for updates hourly. Every time I came to, my brother was sitting beside me, telling me jokes or letting me know what was going on.

The staff asked if I wanted to see my minister, and having him pray for me when I was so confused and anxious was, well, a godsend.

I had no choice but to be loved on, in an intimate and vulnerable way. At the time, I was just focusing on what was in front of me, but on reflection, this was a hugely transformative time.

It didn’t stop when I got moved to the ward. My body struggled to get used to food after a week of the drip and things got messy. I felt humiliated, but the staff were so respectful and even made me laugh about it. I mean, what else can you do when a stranger is scrubbing your butt?

Friends sent flowers – so many gorgeous flowers – and loving messages. They dropped by with treats, and hugs, and gossip, and lip balm, and wax strips for my unibrow – after a couple weeks, things really go to seed.

Then when my Pop died, the other patients in my room gathered around me, pulling the curtains closed and just being there while I grieved. It’s something I would have normally done in private, but having them right there forced me to talk about it, talk about him. And as I couldn’t get to the funeral, that was a very good thing.

In the weeks and months that followed that time, I’ve allowed myself to become more and more open with the people around me. To let them in when I’m having a meltdown. To let them cook me dinner, or pay the bill every once in a while. To explain more about what I’m feeling. To share my losses. To love and be loved more deeply and fully than before.

There’s power in being vulnerable, in owning your brokenness, in not having the answers, and not trying to be perfect. Letting others in doesn’t make you weaker, it really does make you stronger. I don’t have many answers, but this one has started to change me more thoroughly than I thought I had the ability to be changed.

It’s connecting bits of me I thought were broken beyond repair, and now I’m beginning to truly live.

That’s my miracle.

Stuff I like: January 2015

We are long overdue for this installment of Stuff I Like so lets get stuck in!

This motivational message

Acapulco chairs.designerchair

I know it’s really uncool to buy knockoffs but there’s no way I’m putting two $700 chairs out the front of my house. But I really like the way acapulcos look AND thanks to my friend Sal, who runs an amazing design blog at Covet & Co, I picked up two in black from Bunnings for $89 each.

Bunnings have a fab range of colours, too. My local (at Three Kings) had black, white, orange, and blue. I kindof regret not getting the blue because it’s such a summery colour but that’s okay.


Kerastase touche finaletouche-finale

Meanwhile, I bought some of this anti-frizz/polishing serum on a whim and BAM, it’s awesome. It will set you back $45 for 30mls but you use so little of it that it’s pretty good value for money. Looking at some of the reviews online, yup, it’s a keeper.



renee-chin-insertRenee Chin

When I was wandering around Victoria Park Market the other day, I spied a tui wearing a hat. Not really, but artist Renee Chin was there with some of her drawings, and that was among them. I had to have it, so snapped it up and it now sits happily with my other weird and wonderful pieces. Don’t worry, you can buy the print, as well as have it on bags, and tea towels. Check out her Facebook page for more.


This Girl Can

Just… Watch.

Stuff I like: The November 2014 edition

Here’s some of what I’m enjoying right now!

Alex and Corban winning The Block NZ
After literally months of people slagging them off, tall poppy styles, saying they didn’t deserve to be in the competition because they’d built a high-spec house before, Alex and Corban won The Block NZ 3. Cue outrage. But then, being the total GCs they are, they gave $30k of their winnings to the couple who only made $10k. Suddenly the haters are silenced, and people can see that they’re just a young couple, making something of themselves, and refusing to do it without honouring those around them. What a wonderful example of good winning out over gossip.

Taylor Swift – Blank Space

What is that app about?!?? TELL ME MORE.

Evie Kemp’s fine art prints


Evie is an Auckland artist who makes amazing, bright animal prints in various sizes. I’ve seen them in shops before, but only just realised that I follow her on Twitter! Check out her website, for all kinds of goodies.

She also has this useful guide on displaying your art!

Patrick Gower’s Instagram
The inner workings of parliament and politicians being dorks, as well as Paddy’s journey through life. Awesome.

Russel Norman waits for Glenn Greenwald interview to start.

A photo posted by Patrick Gower (@patrickgowernz) on

Finally, This video

Tiny apartments done right

With all the talk about Auckland’s housing crisis, and the poorly designed, soulless, tiny apartments being the only affordable option for people like me, I thought I’d show you some of my favourite tiny spaces abroad.

A bedroom that only fits a bed. Sounds ominous, but it’s actually wonderful. Okay, so it does have a dressing room to the side, but this is an example of smart design making tiny livable.

This lady has such wonderful ideas for tricking the eye into thinking the space is so much bigger than what it is. Using dark colours to provide depth, a glass desk to make her workspace invisible, and more

While I really do not like the stairs to get to this place, she has some smart ideas for storage and that terrace makes the place!

Finally here is a really great video showing how to create areas in a bedsit/studio – the sheer dividing wall as really got me thinking that this could be something I do in the future.

The key, I think, with all of these small spaces, is the light. In many of the apartments I’ve viewed in Auckland, natural light is a luxury. Many of the bedrooms have small windows that either overlook the kitchen, or a shared landing with people coming and going at all hours. Yuck.

Beautiful finishing touches such as bay windows, decorative molding along the walls, polished wood floors can take a standard apartment and make it feel like a real home.

There’s so much work that needs to be done to make Auckland housing amazing. It’s not about having the biggest or a whole lot of land – it’s about smart design with good structure.

Your move, developers.

In which I attempt to buy togs

I have fat on my body. A lot of it. It’s pretty obvious when you look at me, and I’m not alone in this. Lots of us have fat on our bodies. Surprise!

No, you would think it was a surprise given what I went through today.

deniseRecently a famous NZ fashion designer said that clothes just look better on slim people. Strange that she’d exile those of us with extra girth to the “never look as good as skinny folk” pile because she’s one of us. Am I allowed to say that?

I don’t think saying we’re second-class in the looks department is reasonable. I think different stuff looks good on different body types and if a designer is so a) shit at designing or b) lazy that they can’t make something look good on someone with more bodyfat, then they need to get out of the game and become a cleaner or maybe a CEO or something.

Anyway, I like the beach. I like swimming. You know what I don’t like? Having poorly designed togs ride up my bottom, or fling one of my mammaries out for public view. I like being covered. Not like a nun, but, you know, decent. And I want to swim. We’re told to move our fat asses, to get exercising. To do something.

So today, I went togs shopping, for something I could actually swim in.

I went to a department store at the mall and saw they had a decent selection (read: three pairs) of togs in my size, so I grabbed a handful and made my way to the torture rooms changing rooms.

First pair did something wonderful to my tummy. It was flat! But as my gaze moved upwards, I saw where the extra flab was. Coming out the sides, under my armpits. I’m not even sure how that was physically possible, but there it was. Breathing is optional, right?

The second pair got on as far as cameltoe would allow. Sure, they were wide enough, but the designer obvs has never seen a chick with really large boobs before, because a pull on the straps make things appear where things should not appear. I had basically created a slingshot for myself. Think Borat, but less sexy. That is how Cate do.

The third pair were created for a flat chested fat woman, of which I’m yet to meet a single one. Imagine a tube with tiny triangles on top. And they wanted $70 for tubey-triangle togs! At least cameltoe togs were only asking $45 for the, um, pleasure of wearing them. I also appreciated that all three pairs were in sullen tones, becoming of a woman who treated a trip to the beach like a funeral. Nothing says DON’T LOOK AT ME like poo brown.

The solution was to go to the fat lady shop and fork out $110 for a pair of togs. Good thing poverty and obesity aren’t linked because ho- wait. Never mind.

city chic togs

Thank you, City Chic.

But I’ll look great, my boobs will be contained, and I’ll be able to swim knowing I’m not going to give myself a black eye. Bring on summer!

Link love:
The bikini in the main picture, City Chic
The one piece I purchased, City Chic

Stuff I like: October 2014

It’s been a while since I published a Stuff I Like post, but here we go!

Taylor Swift’s latest – Out Of The Woods – is on repeat. So good.

Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashesruby-sub
If you’re like me and like the look of false lashes but get really fucked off trying to stick them on and end up gluing your eyelids together, I have a solution for you. My friend recently started selling younique products, and managed to convince cynical old me to try this mascara after posting this pic of her daughter to Facebook.

And it works! This isn’t a photoshop job. If you want to order, it’s $50 delivered.

It takes a little practice to get it right, but once its on, it stays on, and is pretty easy to remove at the end of the day. Or, you know, the next morning. Or the day after that. No judgement.

Skins Season 1
I got the dvds from my friend Kat about six months ago and left them on the shelf, thinking I’d get around to watching them at some point. Well, that point was last weekend.


How have none of you made me watch this before now?

Skins revolves around a group of British teenagers and how they cope with crap parents, trying to find a girlfriend, getting beaten up, etc. Each episode focuses on one teen, and shows their world in relation to the others. It’s intimate, gripping, funny, and sad.

Shadow Boxes

Yay, they’re back!

I bought a shadow box from Typo, who have some really great designs at the moment, but you could also build one if you’re so inclined. I’m not, so $40 later, I now have a box hanging on my bedroom wall, displaying my bangles and bracelets.

Countdown delivery discount codes
What’s better than not going to the supermarket? Getting it delivered to your door. Better still, when that delivery is free (or heavily discounted!). Yes, Countdown is no Pak ‘n Save when it comes to prices, but I will pay extra to not deal with being inside Pak ‘n Save. I get so overwhelmed, and the high packed shelves freak me out. So. Countdown. They deliver! And it’s about $15. A quick Google search can get that shiz down to about $5. So so so so so so good.


5 reasons why Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass is not the female empowerment song we hoped it was

By now you will have heard Meghan Trainor’s catchy ditty All About That Bass. On the surface, the song seems to be about loving yourself, but a cursory glance over the lyrics and you’ll be having a serving of WTF with a side of no thanks.

I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do
Oh, so we’re supposed to be shaking it now? Says whom? What if I don’t want to shake it? WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO SHAKE IT? *drinks heavily*

Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top
I’m not perfect. No one is. That doesn’t mean we are not awesome. In fact, it’s my imperfections that make me awesome. Jog on.

My mama she told me don’t worry about your size. She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
Shit! As long as a man likes my fat ass, I’m validated! Wooho- wait. I’m single. No male gaze is telling me my size is acceptable. Hmmmm, now what?

I’m bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.
There’s nothing like putting someone else down to make yourself feel better, eh. Oh wait, it’s okay cos they’re skinny! They’re our oppressive overlords!

Because you know I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
What does this even mean? Your song would sound terrible if it had no treble. It would be all doof doof doof doof and then we’d figure you were some pimply teenage guy in a Subaru. Unless this is a euphemism, and then I guess I don’t get it.

All About That Bass
is one of the most popular songs in the country right now, and yes, it’s a sweet tune and catchy as hell. But… I want something more.

We’re so close. So. Close. Next time, lets get some true body acceptance across the line.

Stuff I like: June 2014

It’s time for another edition of Stuff I Like!

Balloon lamps

I stumbled across balloon lamps on a blog I frequent, and tweeted about them.

Judging by the response to this tweet, you all like them, too! Unfortunately, they’re pricey. Like, 400 Euro pricey.

This YouTube clip


maleficent-playbillOther than Girl, Interrupted, I’m not a huge Angelina Jolie movie fan. However, I had heard good things about Maleficent, and being a Wicked fan, I was interested to see how Disney would present the other side of the story.

This movie was great. She was convincing, the fight scenes were strong, but most of all it told an interesting story of a woman wronged who didn’t need no man to rescue her, which is a very unusual bent in Hollywood, let alone Disney.

Anyway, I won’t say too much on the subject, other than I really, really liked this film and will be getting the DVD when it’s out.

Painted Plates
I’ve been collecting upcycled/repainted plates from Niki at Odd One Out for a while now. These aren’t your nana’s wall-hangings! I really love her style, and if you get in touch with her directly she can design something just for you. I’ve had her put friend’s tattoos onto plates before. They make great pressies and look amazing!

Tiny Houses


Some of you know I’m obsessed with tiny houses. I’ll blog about them later, but if you’re interested to know more, especially the tiny house movement in New Zealand, check out this website.

This Anderson Cooper burn

‘Nuff said.

Stuff I Like: May 2014

Sorry it’s been so long between drinks on the “stuff I like” front – I’ve been busy! I finally visited the RE:Start container mall in Christchurch, which has inspired a couple of these entries. If you haven’t had a chance to get to Chch post-quakes and see what’s going on down there, I strongly recommend it. Anyway, into the stuff!

Tove Lo

I blogged about Tove Lo a while ago, and it’s been great to hear her now playing on radio in New Zealand [/humblebrag]. Her music is sad and strong, and just the right balance of pop and indie rock. Check her out!

This gif

Bow ties on babies

Not even sorry.

This is a cool kid.


That bow tie and a bunch of other amazing NZ products are available at HAPA – a Christchurch store in the container mall, but more importantly, ONLINE! Boom. There goes your afternoon.

CODA: Stuff Kat Jenkins likes
Serial by The Honest Food Company
This stuff is grain free, and packed with protein to keep you going all morning. It’s one of those rare cases of something that’s good for you also tasting incredible. The texture is unique – managing to be satisfyingly chewy and crunchy at the same time.

A little goes a long way. You only need a couple of tablespoons mixed with some yoghurt and fruit for a fast healthy breakfast at your desk. I’m loving it with The Dairy Collective’s Coconuts yoghurt and some fresh fruit.

Available at