Monday, 1 December 2014

Happy Roots - Day 2

Day 2
2 is the smallest, first and only even prime number
The evolution of the number two, to the shape (glyph) we now recognise, is:
In Japan and China 2 is still depicted by two horizontal lines.

Today's post has travelled a long way to get here and is a continuation of a story that was started in 2012. It is written by Zoe Mounsey, who was the Head of Business Intelligence and Change Management at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain before taking time out to study and then emigrating to New Zealand, with her family. She is currently a Researcher at Massey University, looking into the psychosocial impact of the Canterbury earthquake on healthcare professionals. Zoe is a longstanding and popular voice on Twitter (you can follow her via @zoemounsey).


I feel like I am writing to a long lost friend as this is now the third post from me in the advent series. My first was in 2012 which was all about the starting of a new journey as we were about to move to New Zealand. In 2013 I shared the story of our first year and some of the key lessons I had learnt from the journey. Transition was the key theme for 2013 as we settled into our new lives. 2014 has been about putting down our roots. We had both sets of parents come out to visit this year so there was that sense of showcasing our new lifestyle to see if it met with approval. I am very conscious of the hurt and upset our decision to emigrate caused some people so there was a desire to show off everything New Zealand has to offer from stunning scenery, amazing food and wine to the freedom that living in a small community offered the kids. We also bought a house – the process was much easier and quicker than in the UK – so feel more settled living somewhere that we can make our home.

Vineyards, New Zealand
For this year’s Advent series we have been asked to reflect on the theme of ‘Paths and Perceptions’. This is quite pertinent for me as 2014 has been the year in which I have turned my focus on myself and thought about the path I want to take in the future. My focus in recent years has been very much on others as you would expect it to be in the early years of having children and last year was about helping everyone to settle in New Zealand. So this year I have turned the spotlight on myself and thought about what makes me happy, what helps me to feel fulfilled – thriving rather than just surviving.

I have fed my passion for learning by doing a few MOOCs (online courses) in different areas – indigenous studies to learn more about Maori history and culture, irrational behaviour to understand people better, science of happiness as I am really interested in how we think about happiness and organisational analysis to have a better understanding of how work is organised. It has been very different to my previous studies, which were very academic in nature with lots of assignments and deadlines. This was more relaxed and self-paced, especially as I was doing it out of interest rather than the desire to achieve a qualification. I have also taken myself out of my comfort zone to connect with others more – a fantastic trip to Auckland to meet lots of Twitter peeps and attending Tedx Wellington were highlights. I feel I have broadened out my areas of interest and paid attention to wider ideas and thoughts. I have also started writing, but this is pretty hit and miss to be honest – finding it hard to let go of the idea that writing should be easy rather than hard work. I took on the physical challenge of walking from Wellington to home (some 50kms over two days), which has reminded me of how much I enjoy walking and losing myself in the landscape.
Walking near Wellington, view of New Zealand's 1st lighthouse
In all of this I have been considering my future path, thinking about what I want for the future for me. I haven’t really come up with any clear answers so, rather than trying to come up with a five year plan, I am trying to be aware of the values that drive me and use that to guide my way. An opportunity came up recently would have ticked many boxes for me professionally – working with smart people on issues of health and happiness for New Zealanders, with a good salary and status to boot. But the more I learnt about the organisation the more it didn’t feel right – there are good people there doing good work, but I wasn’t sure I would feel at home there. I realised that in following some of my ambitions I would still have to compromise my ideals in other areas of my life. Lots has been written about whether or not you can ‘have it all’ – a fulfilling career alongside a happy family life. I am not giving up on it – not yet - but I am recognising that there are still compromises (mostly mine) to make. My current role may not meet all of my aspirations in relation to a career, but it provides me with challenging work that is contributing to a better world (I hope) and gives me the flexibility I need to still be there for the kids. I hope my path for 2015 takes me closer to finding the balance between meeting my own professional aspirations and maintaining the family lifestyle that we enjoy.

Psychosocial impact of earthquakes -
illustration from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1886
depicting garden wall collapsing during the Charleston earthquake
So 2014 has been a bit me, me, me but as a wise person (@projectlibero) once said to me “if you are not happy, then no one else will be happy” so, by focusing on me a bit more, hopefully, I am adding to our overall family happiness.

Merry Christmas to everyone and may 2015 be everything you hope it to be


PS living in New Zealand is still awesome


  1. Well, my dear Zoe, I would have expected nothing less than this sparkling gem of a blog! How I've loved reading about your journey, here's to a lot more future ones, each one surpassing the previous one because of its content...your life! Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New year to you and your lovely family. xxx

  2. Fabulous reflections and forward thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Season's greetings.

  3. Thank you for your reflections and sharing them - I hope 2015 is a great year for you. Merry Christmas to you and your family,

  4. Thanks for sharing, lovely blog :)

  5. Great post Zoe and I did not realise that we shared "drug roots" :-)