Monthly Archives: April 2015

Ideas Worth Spreading: TEDx Queenstown – Illumination

TEDx Queenstown

“Live for Awesome” – Cam Calkoen

Anyone who’s read this blog regularly since I started winding words together in early 2013 will know that Queenstown New Zealand, of Middle Earth & bungy-jumping fame, is not only one of the most beautiful and vibrant places in the world – it’s where I make my home. It’s where I wrote my first book and where I founded my business. And I love it here.

I can go on and on about the mountains and lakes, the activities and aesthetics, the bars and buzz, and, yes, the real estate and rentals… But have I said enough about the people that put the extreme-ideas-capital of the world on the map?

It was my great privilege to volunteer at TEDx Queenstown this weekend. Queenstown’s movers and shakers have fingers in a great many pies, but the creative cooks of this fast-paced, entrepreneurial hub came together to put on something particularly special when they took up the TED mantle.

For the uninitiated, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s a non-profit devoted to communicating ‘ideas worth spreading’, mostly in the form of 18 minute talks. It all began with a California conference the year I was born, 1984, and since then has whipped its way across the world with the help of TEDx events, where the x indicates the event has been independently organised by local volunteers to bring the spirit of TED to the community. All talks are recorded and made freely available on the interwebs.

This year, over 4000 hours of volunteer work went into illuminating Queenstown with the words of some of the finest inspirational speakers the world has to offer. Volunteering, I didn’t get to see everyone live, but those I did get to witness absolutely blew me away.

I’d been looking forward to Trey Ratcliff, local travel photographer extraordinaire, but all I caught was the thunderous applause from the other side of the door I was guarding – needless to say I’m looking forward to the recording! I nearly had a heart attack when I saw he’d followed me on Twitter.

My highlight from setting up on the Saturday was getting to see Graeme James rehearse. On the Sunday I was lucky enough to catch his show-stopping speech, with its powerful instrumental punctuation proving how you can reach people through music.

Mark Balla‘s toilet humour was a juxtaposition to a serious message that really made you stop and think about the things we take for granted – his organisation aims to make sustainable sanitation a reality for the whole world. Jamie Fitzgerald‘s rousing talk was as motivating as they come – inspiration to succeed from an adventurer who’s walked unaided to the South Pole and who holds the world record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.

Closing off the day’s brilliance was a name I didn’t previously know but will now never forget – Cam Calkoen. He is beyond a doubt one of the finest and most incredible people I’ve ever heard speak – a standing ovation tells me that more than one person will have walked away believing, like him, that absolutely anyone can live their dream.

And that’s the truth. Anyone can make their mark on the wall of the world. Not only the speakers proved that to me, but the people behind the scenes, seeing it run smoothly, but, above all, making it possible for inspirational ideas to spread – for people to catch fire and light up others upon leaving, in keeping with the theme of illumination.

How wonderful, how powerful, how world-changing words can be.

Who is the most inspirational person you’ve heard speak? Are you a TED fan? Have you ever been involved behind the scenes of something special?

What To Do When It’s Impossible To Park


I’ve not felt like I’ve been very inspirational or motivational here lately, mostly because I’ve been struggling with finding inspiration and motivation for myself. Since being stirred up by compassion posts for #1000Speak, I’ve mostly floundered finding something meaningful to say. And my latest manuscript has been moulding.

But today I woke up feeling different to the new normal (partly due to the cold – winter is coming (and, on a tangent, DRAGONS – bring it on GoT! (Gosh it’s been a long time since I parenthesised in parentheses))… but partly something else). Still with me? Good.

I’ve been waiting for it – a turn, a switch, a flip. I knew it was coming. Week by week since The Return, I have felt better. There have been smiles & laughs amidst the crash landings; I’ve found my feet amongst old and new friends; I’ve taken up old and new tasks. There have been challenges around the setbacks – but overall, an upward curve that’s becoming a grin. Heartbreak’s a bitch, but what kind of writer could I be without being eviscerated once in a while? And if you’re never brought low, how will you know how good it is to fly high?

I have a million things to do, so I’ve been writing and re-writing lists rather than achieving much of any of them. I’ve fire-fought – dealing with the urgent tasks and letting the important-but-not-immediate ones slide into the next day’s list – Future-Sara’s issue. I have been kinder to myself when it comes to time and goals. And I have thanked my lucky stars for my friends and for my resilient sense of humour, which between them have softened several assaults on my recovering sunny nature with their sense of the ridiculous.

One wee issue I’ve been wrestling is my faithless steed, Imp Lannister. Many of you will know by now that, much like my love for people, my love for inanimate objects can know no bounds. Take Bella (“I neglected to realise that while living in her would be a dream, getting anywhere would be a nightmare”), Enid (“Life always throws a herd of cows in your way when you want to get somewhere”) & Nicki (“A teddy bear can be so much more than a possession”), for example.

I adore The Imp, and it breaks my heart that he’s on his way out. But I still have him on the road at the moment. And the roads are busy. It’s often a nightmare finding somewhere to park – sometimes plain impossible.

Life can be like finding a parking space. A massive pain. You can sometimes be over-ambitious or under-discerning, attempting to fit into a gap where you just won’t fit, whether due to the lack of space, your lack of spatial awareness, or your pure inability to parallel park. This can lead, at best, to jokes, jeers and jibes, at worst, to bumps, bruises and insurance claims.

You can find yourself circling the same spot, the same taken spaces, close to your destination, hoping for an opening, feeling frustrated. You can curse those who take the places you were aiming for, nipping in before you.

Or… you can go a bit farther afield and make peace with a longer walk to where you want to be. You can practise patience. You can understand that if you don’t give up, you’ll find somewhere eventually.

At the beginning of the year, I was turning in frustrated circles, cursing people stealing my parking spaces but obstinately refusing to change tack and make life easier for myself. I was wasting time. Now, I’ve realised I needed to keep driving. I’ve woken up more willing to walk a little to make it work. Even uphill.

Anyhow, in a week, I’m moving into town from the ranch, where I will retire my wheels and learn to use my legs again (Yes. I am moving. Again.). Life is a lot like walking – but that’s a story for another day…

Who hates parking? Who has felt that turn – that twist that’s like coming back to Spring?

Dropkicked Heart – A Song


Dropkicked heart

You’ll be okay

What’s a war wound anyway?

You’ve had ’em before

And you’ll have ’em again

Dropkicked heart

 You know you’ll mend

Dropkicked heart

Who can say

Why it is they walk away?

You know, you know

They’ll come and go

Dropkicked heart

It’s how you’ll grow

Dropkicked heart

Don’t you cry

A waste of time to wonder why

Climb and climb

And rise above

Dropkicked heart

You’ll find true love

Many times before you’re done

Many times before you’re done

If you walk with coat cast off

You’ll find the ones who’ll be enough

To keep you laughing everyday

You’ll cry out when they’re off away

But keep on trying

Keep on flying

Keep on going

Keep on flowing

One day you’ll be scooped right up

And treasured like a precious cargo

They will go as far as you’ll go

Help you heal forever and oh

Dropkicked heart

You’ll keep the scars

But they’ll be stories

They’ll be ours