Welcome to the very first of my Wonderful Women profiles, that I am personally very excited about and hope will be a great feature on this blog!
It was an easy decision about who to bring you first, as she has been instrumental in helping get this blog up and running with her beautiful photography of yours truly and of our little family. Far more than simply being my boss for the past 15 months, she has inspired me in so many ways, taught me numerous lessons - both on photography and life - and become a very dear friend in the time that I have known her. I have absolutely loved watching her work, inspired by the way she handles people and diffuses tension with her effortless humour and good nature. It has often amazed me how she manages to capture timeless moments every single time - she definitely deserves all of those photography awards she's won. I have observed her as a photographer both in front of the camera and hard at work behind the scenes, as a well respected member of NZIPP amongst her peers, as a business owner, as a mentor, as a speaker at a women's networking group, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and as a friend. She has enlightened me with her calm, kind motherhood manner and dazzled me with numerous bits of parenting wizardry. She has proven that with hard work, dedication and a clear focus in mind you can achieve greatness. And she has reminded me that things don't have to be perfect to be beautiful. More than anything, however, she has made me laugh! At a stage in my life where that was not always a daily guarantee, she found a way and for that I will be forever grateful.
So Nicola, I thank you for the lessons, I thank you for the laughter and I thank you for the love... x
Now over to you:
1. What does Lovelyness mean to you?
Lovelyness is the sun coming up on a foggy morning revealing layers of hills and trees that look like they’re straight from a painting. It’s sitting with the sun on my back in a moment of solitude. It’s my kids laughter when I crack a joke (usually a terrible pun). Lovelyness is the moments when I look up and notice that an ordinary miracle is happening right in front of me.
2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?
I’m happiest when I remember to be happy. I believe it’s a conscious choice to look for and find the happy wherever I am.
3. What are you most grateful for in your life?
I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue my passions and to make mistakes and change my mind. I have had choices and I know that I have been very fortunate. And I appreciate that every single day.
4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life?
My number one priority is that I need to feel that I have made a difference…that I altered the course of the river ever so slightly for the better. This priority affects everything else I do. Second priority is generosity…I want to be able to be generous with my time and resources and I get resentful of circumstances that prevent me from doing this. Third priority is optimism…I need to find the upside or the silver lining or the bad pun in every situation. I firmly believe that nothing is ever a waste of time if you learn something …as Jason Mraz says “I reckon it’s again my turn to win some or learn some” so I’m always looking for the learning or the win.
5. Who’s your current role model and why?
I am inspired by lots of different people at different times but the most consistent has been my husband, Stuart. I really admire his ability to have really good conversations with people. He asks great questions and listens really well. In that way I want to be more like him.
6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)
My Mum is lovely, she’s beautiful in a way that you can only be when you’ve spent your whole life smiling. Her face is this living record of 65 years of smiles and I think that’s the most lovely thing.
7. What's your favourite type of food?
My favourite food is pizza because it’s passionate, hands on, unpretentious and delicious. It’s a social food; eaten with your hands and shared with friends. And you have to eat until your pants need loosening because holding back and restricting yourself is like rationing the lovelyness and that would be crazy!
8. What are your favourite pastimes?
My favourite way to spend time is to hang with my kids one on one…not that they’re not lovely all together…but there’s something special about really hanging out and just going with whatever they want to talk about or do. I always end up being reminded that they’re actually pretty awesome people.
9. Do you have a favourite quote?
I have so many favourite quotes! At the moment my very favourites are about embracing change and trusting my intuition. If I had to pick I would choose this bit from Steve Jobs' Stanford Graduation speech “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
10. Where’s your favourite place?
My favourite place is wherever my people are…my family or my friends…my tribe. Failing that it is wherever I can sit with the sun on my back and write in a notebook or read a book.
11. Which is your favourite season and why?
My favourite season is honestly whichever one we are just moving in to…in the depths of winter my favourite season is early spring. I get very emotionally attached to the first daffodils! In summer I look forward to the last long days and the beginnings of Autumn. I think it would be good to be completely in the now but I am always looking forward a bit knowing that good things are coming.
12. Do you have a signature style?
I love old things with some story to them and so I guess that influences my style. I like a dining room table with the imprint of long-forgotten homework pressed into it and I like quirky, vintage clothes that have lived a bit before they find me. I like the unexpected treasure.
13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?
I hope my parents don’t read this because they might be sad that I’m not saying them but actually the people who influenced me most were book characters. Jess and Leslie in "Bridge to Terabithia" taught me that you can love something so much it is all consuming (and that’s a wonderful thing), that reality is merely a starting point…and that it can all be snatched away in an instant. Oh, and that one amazing teacher can change everything. "Anne of Green Gables" taught me that there is always something really great just around the corner, that mistakes are just things to learn from… and again the difference that one really caring person can make. There are so many others… I was such a bookworm as a kid. I used to walk home from school and stop at the town library and read until they shut before finishing my trip home… and sometimes I read as I walked too!
14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?
I love it when the people around me make me laugh, I love it when they are kind and generous with their time and energy. And I love it when they’re smart, when they challenge me to see things in different ways.
15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?
I have decided that my worst attribute is my inability to notice when people are acting like douches. I am so tolerant and I’m always giving people a second chance…when I was teaching it was an excellent attribute because it meant I never gave up on a kid, I always believed they could do/be better. But in business it hasn’t served me quite so well! I wish I were a better judge of character, and quicker to make those judgments. Meanwhile I want to claim optimism as my best attribute… and I know I can’t have it both ways! So I choose optimism and I’ll figure out the douchebags eventually.
16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?
I want my friends to say that I’m funny and smart and kind. And that I made the world a better place.
17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?
I actually quite like Hamilton as a place to live, possibly because I’m an optimist and possibly because I know I can be happy anywhere. But if I could live anywhere I would love to live in New York…maybe just for little while. The minute I set foot in New York the very first time (I’ve been back three times) I felt like I was home. I love the excitement, the bustle, the honking and the sirens and the sass that only New Yorkers can do (I want to live there long enough to develop a little bit of NYC sass). There is so much to see, so many people to watch… it’s my kind of heaven.
18. What are your aspirations for the future?
My business is about to change again and I’m looking forward to gaining some more creative freedom. I’m ready for a new challenge and there’s something really great just around the corner.
19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?
- Song: “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds…makes me cry with lovelyness.
- Movies: “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith…just makes me so grateful. “Inside Out”…it’s been the beginning of some amazing conversations with the kids.
- Book: “Danny Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl. He was such a talented author. I had forgotten after not reading any of his books for years, but they are quite lovely and you get the feeling they were written to be read aloud – there’s a great rhythm to the sentences. Danny is probably the most ‘real’ of all his books, the villains seem believable, they’re not flesh eating Giants for example!
20. Any Lovely Last Words?
The thing about loveliness is that the more you look for it, the more you find it.
Now I’m done :)