About Me

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I am a full-time mama with a passion for writing and talking to fascinating people. I live in a one horse town with a Cowboy and my son. Thank Lord for cyberspace! I lived a colourful life in Sydney for a number of years. Working in advertising and journalism for FPC and the Sydney Morning Herald. During my time in Sydney I competed in a Dragon Boat race, choreographed a dragshow, used the Share Accomodation advertisements as a way to meet men and was told by Noiseworks frontrunner Jon Stevens that I was a bitch! Then came the decision to move back to country for 3 months to help out my Father with newspaper business while he was having treatment. Convinced I was a city girl I was caught by surprise when I fell in love with a farmer (and no, he didn't want a wife... still doesn't it seems!) convinced him that we needed to see the world, popped off to Vietnam to teach english in Saigon - before realising that the "food" in Nam didn't agree with me... turned out to be Monte - my son who is now with the Cowboy and I back in country NSW! I am in a wonderful stage of my life where I am focusing on the things that really make me tick. Including writing these chronicles.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inspiring Lady of the moment: Nikki Griffin!

I'd like to introduce you to Nikki.

This gal knows how to make the most of life and of the moment.

Nikki and her hubby recently moved from Sydney to New Zealand on a whim.

They threw out the tellie, grew a veggie garden and are discovering a whole lot about themselves in the process!

Loving the whole living for the moment notion of it all
She lives in a remote part of NZ with even less horses than mine!
NZ looks so beautiful I might whip up and go there myself.

(apologies to Nikki her beautiful photography doesn't pop up in the proper parts of the story - because, well.. I dumb with formatting. )

You can visit Nikki over at her Learning to be Me blog

Tell me a little about where you live and why you decided to move there?

My husband and I live in a tiny little town called Kingston on the South Island of New Zealand. We are a 30 minute drive from Queenstown, (which is where Luke – the hubby - works) but we are quite rural, our town has less than 200 residents and we don't have access to town water or even mail delivery to our house!

We've been here for about 4 months now and so far we really love it. We came to New Zealand for the first time in January this year for our honeymoon, and spent just under a week exploring the area in our little hire car. Less than an hour after our flight landed I absolutely fell in love, the incredible views, the lovely people, everything about the area really appealed to me, so, once we got back home to Sydney in February we started thinking about whether we wanted to move here or do some more backpacking instead.

At the end of April I was killing time at work by browsing through realestate.co.nz and I saw our house up for lease. The moment I saw it I knew I wanted to live here, so I applied online - sight unseen - and we decided that if we got approved for the house then that would be our sign that we should move here, and if not, then we would head to India instead. This may seem like a bit of a kamikaze approach to deciding on such a momentous decision, but it’s quite good, saves a lot of sleepless nights that would normally be spent agonizing over the logistics of each option!

Obviously we got the house and so we both gave notice at our jobs and now, here we are!

You are handy with a Veggie Garden I believe?

I hate dirt under my fingernails (no I'm not a princess) and I couldn't keep a cactus alive - but would love to have a veggie garden - and would love to teach Monte how to look after one in the future.

So, means I need a crash course.

Where do I start? Please inspire one who is not dirt orientated how to start a veggie patch...

I’m not sure I’m the person to ask for veggie garden advice!

This is our first attempt – after 7 years of living together, this is our first house – but I do understand being green thumb challenged, I’m yet to keep a houseplant alive for a significant period of time, even those peace lilies that are supposed to live forever!

BUT, here is what we did:

1. Find where you want to plant your garden and dig! Make sure you pick somewhere that has good sun. We turned the soil down to about 20cm, the quality of the soil was really great (because we are next to a national forest probably) but in your very dusty one horse town you may need to add some good stuff to the soil.

2. Pick your seeds, obviously what you choose depends on your climate and the time of year etc, but all that information is on the back of the seed packets so that is easy enough.

3. Poke holes in the ground and put the seeds in (wear gloves so you don’t get dirt under your fingernails – or, better yet make the cowboy do it!). It will say on the seed packets how to plant, how far apart, how deep into the soil, etc etc.

4. Water everyday, usually as it is getting dark (or in the morning before the sun gets too high if you are a morning person).

5. Wait.

6. Wait.

And then? Well I don’t know from there because we are still in the waiting stage, everything is growing really well and every day we both rush outside to see if we can pick anything yet but so far everything is still too young. If you are too impatient for all this waiting maybe you should go for seedlings instead of seeds. That is what I might do next time!

You aim to live a simple life from what I understand, tell me about life since you threw out the television?

We didn’t have one for the first 4 years of our relationship and then my Mother bought herself a nice shiny new flat screen and so she gave us her old TV, suddenly I realized that so much of our time was being sucked away, and then, to make matters worse we got Foxtel as well!


Suddenly our life was revolving around the TV guide and we were talking about people in TV shows like we actually knew them, it was all very sad.

When we left for New Zealand we left the TV on the side of the road and I’ve never been happier!

Our house is so calm and quiet now, we have music playing more often, we read books, we have conversations about things other than people on reality TV shows. It’s lovely!

Living without a TV has been really wonderful change for me.

We do still watch some tv, we still download our favourite TV shows and watch them on the computer, so we aren’t completely cut off but it’s nice to have some kind of control over what we are watching.

I’ve really noticed how little I’m subjected to advertising these days and it’s really a nice feeling. In Sydney we had TV advertising and billboards and those big ads on buses and in bus shelters and all over the train stations, and we don’t have any of that anymore, as a result I really notice advertising when I see it, even in movies and things like that where it’s all placement advertising, it’s really obvious to me now, whereas before I wouldn’t even notice it because I was so bombarded.

The one not so great thing about not having a TV is that we don’t really have much of an idea of what is going on in the world, we really have to make an effort to keep up with current events (thank goodness for the internet) otherwise we would just live in our own happy little bubble. Which isn’t a bad thing I suppose.

In what other ways have you simplified your life?

Moving house also gave us the opportunity to cut back on a lot of our belongings.

I made the decision to give away 101 things I didn’t use anymore – as part of my 101/1001 day zero project – and so we really made the effort to get rid of all the things we were holding onto that we didn’t use or need (or clothes that didn’t fit!).

We gave some of it away to friends and family, donated a lot of it to The Smith Family.

We have a lot less clutter now!

The next thing, and probably the biggest thing for us, was making the decision to stop shopping!

I watched The story of stuff which made me think really differently about the way that our products are created and the impact on the environment, so we made a pact that we would stop buying things.

Of course not buying *anything* is just unrealistic so we have some rules.

Like, wherever possible we buy second hand stuff (so that it doesn’t end up in landfill) or we buy hand made (Etsy is your friend!!), I am also trying to teach myself how to sew so that I can start making things for myself.

There are other things too, but they probably have more to do with living in an environmentally friendly way and not so much to do with living Simply, like, we only use environmentally friendly washing powder and dishwashing liquid, we carry re-usable water bottles with us (Klean Kanteen!) instead of buying bottled water, cooking all our meals from scratch instead of using processed items etc.

How does living in NZ compare to Australia?

We both really love New Zealand, it is so visually spectacular, which really inspires our creativity, it’s a lovely feeling.

Mostly though, it’s easy to forget that we are living in a different country, things are really similar here.

There are some differences, the biggest thing for me is finding food supplies! I am a vegan, and after living in Sydney where there are so many specialty shops and things like that, I find it SO difficult to find some things that I used to take for granted – like Tempeh!

The one thing that really does stand out is that everyone is so relaxed here, I have to really make an effort sometimes to chill out, I’m the kind of person who is always early for everything, I’m such a control freak like that and I really need to remind myself that things don’t really work like that here, part of it has to do with being in the country as well I suppose, everything seems to run at a much slower pace.

People are much friendlier here as well.

Just yesterday we took a drive out to Invercargill and we stopped on the way home because we saw this Ostrich (!?!?) in someone’s yard and I wanted to stop and take a photo for my blog.

And the owner of the Ostrich came outside and started talking to us, we stood there for almost half an hour chatting with him about his lovely pet.

That kind of thing happens all the time here.

Your blog is called "learning how to be me" what does this mean and what have you learnt?

Originally I had a whole bunch of different blogs, and in each one I would write about different things that were important to me.

It got to the point where I wasn’t investing myself in any of them because I was compartmentalizing these little parts of myself, so I created ‘learning to be me’ in the hope that I would have the courage to put all of these parts of myself together, not just in blog land but in my life as well.

What have I learnt?

I’m not sure!

I think in the end all I’m really trying to learn is how to be more comfortable in my own skin, how to live according to my ethics and to not be afraid of talking with other people about the things that are important to me.

I think I’m getting there, but like it says on my blog “one day at a time” !

Do you find the kiwi accent annoying?

LOL! I used to date a kiwi boy when I was living in Melbourne in my –very- early 20s and when he spoke the hair on the back of my neck used to stand up in frustration (obviously this relationship didn’t have a lot of potential!), so I was really worried about how I would cope with the accent, funnily enough though I very rarely notice it. Practically everyone who lives in Queenstown is an international so we hear other accents much more often than we hear the kiwi accent, which means that when I do hear it’s kind of a nice surprise, I’m starting to find it really endearing!

Thanks Nikki - love it!

Now where are those gardening gloves... I will get onto that right after I finish watching The Apprentice (just joking! I would love to throw the tv away too but Cowboy loves it too much, plus he could say the same about the computer... one day....)

- you'd probably really enjoy reading Eileen's blog which has some great ideas about living simply without consuming (much) if you don't already ...


  1. Thanks Sharni! I loved being a guest blogger on Chronicle of Sharnia!! :D

  2. Thanks for sharing this with me! Really loved the interview. I have always wanted to move to the country sometime...makes me want it more!

  3. Oh that is my dream, too. I am so in love with NZ. South Island especially. We were there last year, just driving through the mountains and I keep telling the hubs I would just like to have a little coffee shop in Hanmer Springs so I can just gaze at the snow covered mountains. Bliss.

  4. Great post - in my perfect existence I live in New Zealand for half of the year and in tropics for the other half. I fell in love with NZ last year and am counting the sleeps until we go back in March.

    Well done Nikki for living the dream.

  5. Yes she is an inspiring lady!

  6. THank you for following my blog.
    I am soooo jealous that you get to live in New Zealand!!!
    It is soooo beautiful......swoon. Ijust became a follower and will definitely be back.


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