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Things to do in Whanganui with kids: Paloma Gardens

25 minutes out of Whanganui lies a not-so-wee gem that is perfect to explore with your kids for a day: Paloma Gardens.

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A private garden that has been a labour of love for Clive and Nicki Higgie – who are sort of like rock stars in the botanical world – Paloma Gardens boasts a staggering collection of plants and trees from all over the world, and countless fine examples of New Zealand flora.  Paloma Gardens can be found on Pohutukawa Lane, just past Fordell.

There is an entrance fee – $10 for adults, and children under 15 are free.  Compared with similar gardens I have visited overseas, I think this price is a bargain.  You really could explore this place at your leisure all day, it’s that big.

There are wonderful sculptures all around the garden, such as this:

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And this:

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And there is even a sculpture walk:

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(This bit is probably not the best for rambunctious toddlers who want to touch the precious sculptures, but there is plenty of garden left to explore.)

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The garden beckons

Paloma Gardens has many parts to it: the Desert House, the Palm Garden, the Garden of Death, a wedding lawn (they host many weddings here), a labyrinth, a lake and much, much more.  The plants and trees are incredible, and there are delightfully quirky touches all over the gardens.  It’s obvious that the owners have an irreverent sense of humour.

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I loved it.

My tots had a brilliant time exploring the wonders of the garden:

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We inadvertently took a wrong turn on our way to the lake and ended up taking a rather long hike.  The climb back up the hill from the lake is very steep, just FYI.  My two were knackered from all the hill climbing and exploring, so we didn’t get to see all the gardens before they needed to head home for a nap.  Parts of the gardens are buggy accessible, but if you have a wee one you’d be better off with a front/back pack.  Due to the gardens being situated on a very hilly site, only parts of Paloma Gardens are wheelchair accessible.

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We’re already planning our next visit.

Thanks Clive and Nicki!

 

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Rebel with a cause

I put my back out doing the vacuuming.

(I know, right?!  I keep saying that I need to get a better story than that.  The truth is more boring than fiction in this case.)  

I spent the better part of a week, getting intimately acquainted with my bedroom ceiling as my injury meant I couldn’t sit or stand for long.  There were two unexpected bonuses to giving myself excruciating pain: I got a five day break from caring for my tots – but still got to see them and have unlimited cuddles; and I had a lot of time to think.

I’d been feeling rather down on myself because I’d lost my THM mojo and couldn’t seem to really get back into it.  I wanted to, especially considering my success with it, but I kept self-sabotaging.  I’d also been battling a virus for a couple of weeks that had left me really tired so I hadn’t done much exercise during that time.

I was frustrated at how flimsy many of my good habits are, and how difficult it was to create them in the first place.  Last year I’d devoured Gretchen Rubin’s book on habit formation, Better than Before, and discovered I was an obliger.  Gretchen’s research led her to the discovery that when it comes to habits, most of us fall into one of four categories, which she calls the ‘four tendencies’:

  • Upholders are rule-keepers.  They have no problem sticking to New Year’s resolutions, and are the sort of people who follow their doctor’s advice, to the letter.
  • Questioners –these people question any expectations placed on them by others, and will meet them only if they believe it’s justified.  Questioners tend to do research before embarking on anything like a new diet or form of exercise, and resist arbitrary rules.
  • Obligers are people-pleasers, who find it easy to meet the expectations of others, but not for themselves.
  • Rebels resist expectations from others, and from themselves.  Rebels like to do things their own way, and hate being told what to do.

(Discover your habit tendency on Gretchen’s site here.)

I was stoked to be an obliger, as the best strategy to help obligers stick with a habit is some sort of external accountability.  I’d inadvertently done this with my other blog, Giving Up Sugar.  I ‘d discovered that I couldn’t in good conscience blog about giving up the white stuff without actually doing it, so I knew this strategy worked.

Back in February I asked D to hold me accountable to sticking to THM, and signed up for roller derby.  Other than getting back into skating and making new friends, I hoped the pressure of making it to derby training each week would be all the incentive I needed.

As I lay there, pondering how badly the past couple of months had gone using the above strategies I had to admit that they hadn’t worked.

If you’d been a fly on the wall, I’m pretty sure you could have seen the cogs in my brain whirring and a little cartoon light bulb above my head.

Maybe I’m not an obliger?

Maybe I’m something else.

I decided to re-take the test.  I am the sort of person who takes multi-choice tests at the speed of light.  Unlike my darling D, I do not ponder all eventualities when answering questions about myself, I tend to go with whatever pops into my head.  The worst thing is that as I’ve studied psychology I am quick to spot categories and tend to answer in the manner of the particular category I think is desirable to be in!  (Not very helpful when you need an honest assessment.)

So as I took the test for the second time I paused and reflected on each question.  I tried to answer as the Angela-I-actually-am, not the Angela-I-want-to-be.

It turns out I’m a rebel.

I was like, whaaaaat?  Me, a rebel?  I’m one of the most goody two shoes people I know.  I’m a people pleaser, I follow rules, I do what others ask of me.

As I digested this information, I suddenly had the urge to laugh.  Because of course, I am a rebel.  The signs were there.  They’ve been there all my life.

I was the kid who hated ballet and art class because I hated being told what to do.  Sure, I loved to dance and be creative, but I wanted to do it MY way.  I was the kid who hated team sports because I liked to be the one calling the shots.  When asked to describe me as a kid, my Mum usually says ‘Oh, Angela marched to the beat of her own drum’.  And I did.  As a kid, I didn’t give a stuff what anyone thought of me.  Oh, how I wish for that sort of confidence these days!

As an adult I’ve lost count of all the money I’ve wasted on classes, gyms and workshops that I really, really wanted to do at the time I signed up – only to have any enthusiasm for it wane immediately and usually not complete what ever it was.  I’m a workshop flake.

I get a kick out of breaking rules, or flouting people’s expectations of who they think I am.  For instance, I am nice and kind and a goody two shoes, but I am usually the first one to bust a move on the dance floor at a party which raises many eyebrows from people who don’t know me well.

Most tellingly, any time someone asks me to do something my immediate gut reaction is to do the exact opposite.  I struggle against this of course – because you have to if you want to get along with others – but I particularly struggle if someone is telling me what I ‘should’ be doing.  On the outside I may say ‘oh yes, okay’, but on the inside I’m like ‘yeah, whatever, I’m going keep doing it my way.’  This is a common trait for rebels, and something that frustrates both them, and the people around them as we’re not always right!

After this a-ha! moment, my next thought was ‘oh no!’  Because of our self-sabotaging ways, according to Gretchen rebels have the hardest time creating new habits.  I have created habits that (mostly) stick in the past, but that’s because I’ve done them in a way that suits rebels.  A strategy that works for people like me is what Gretchen calls identity.  People identify with a habit; such as ‘I’m a runner’, or ‘I’m artistic’, or even ‘I’m lazy’.  In my case, I identify with things like being ‘sugar-free’, a daily exerciser’ and  an ‘op-shopper’ (the year I got married I’d vowed to only buy second-hand for the entire year.  I’m proud to say I completed this challenge.  I got married in a second-hand dress and second-hand shoes and was perfectly happy).

Take my exercise regime for example.  I’ve tried making rigid plans to exercise, mapping out what I’ll do each day for a month.  But I never, ever follow it.  Never.  Ever.  Now I know why!  Instead, I always do whatever I feel like.  Some days I run, some days I walk, some days I skate, some days I do a HIIT workout, some days I do yoga.  It doesn’t matter what it is, I still do something.  This is a perfect rebel strategy.  Because I am a ‘daily exerciser’ I’m okay with not choosing the ‘when’, but I do get to choose the ‘what’.  And it works for me.

Other rebel strategies are choosing habits that deviate from the mainstream (such as a man taking up ballet as a hobby), and setting themselves challenges.  A good way to get rebels to do anything is to tell them ‘I bet you can’t do such-and-such’, and off they’ll go to try and prove you wrong.

I’m going to try these strategies, like setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and see what happens.

If you are struggling to start or maintain a good habit, it may be that the strategy you are using to do it just isn’t you.  You might be an upholder, or a questioner or an obliger.  I highly recommend Better than Before if you want to make a change in your life.  I’ll keep you posted about mine.

 

Which of the ‘four tendencies are you?’  What habit strategies work for you?  And if you’re a rebel, hit me up with your ideas!

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A room of one’s own

I never knew that a teeny, tiny room could give so much happiness.

My office is a wonder.

It is my sanctuary.  My hallowed place at home.  It’s mine.  All mine.  Ok, all mine except for the printer which has nowhere else to live.

When we moved into our home my office was a hallway.  Coming off the main hallway through our house, it led to a door that only ONE person has ever knocked at during the entire time that we’ve lived here.  The hallway was dead space.

Here’s what it looked like:

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An archway framed by hideous gold velvet curtains, and ugly fixed stairs going to an attic space.  Totally unusable and awkward space.

We had a whole bunch of renovations done almost immediately after moving in, and in the middle of it I suddenly had the thought to close off the hallway with a door, replace the fixed stairs with a folding ladder, and turn the hallway into an office.

It turned out to be a very serendipitous idea as the work was completed just as the weather began to get frosty and D discovered how cold it was to work out of the garage.  The office was his home for over a year and served him well.  There was barely enough room to swing a cat, but D got a desk and chair in there comfortably.  (The hideous gold curtains made wonderful dress-up capes, by the way.)

When he went into business with a friend, they got digs in town and the office lay fallow for several months, until I got a desk.

And then I staked my claim.

Despite having my stuff strewn all over the house – because let’s face it, I make 96.5% of the decorating decisions in my household – I didn’t know how badly I needed a nook of my own until I got it.

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My office, my love

It’s brilliant.  I can leave whatever I’m working out scattered all over the desk and shut the door.  No more tidying up to protect my work from tiny hands.  When I get overwhelmed by the noise my kids make, I can retreat in here for a minute’s peace.  I can set up my sewing machine and leave it out.  Okay, so I haven’t actually done this yet, but I could if I chose to.  I can work and blog and shut the door to the world.

In it, are things that make me smile – like my ‘board’ (See above.  It’s not a vision board really, it’s just filled with things that are beautiful and uplifting).  It has a terrarium that one of my best friends gave me.  It has a funny fox hanging thingee that my BFF gave me as she knows foxes are my totem animal.

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Sometimes when I look at it, I think of my friend R, and and reminded how lucky I am to have so many lovely people in my life.  People who ‘get’ me (and my totem animal).

It has my beloved pencil tin that I found for 50 cents at an op-shop, bought because it’s Mary Englebreit and I love, love, love her art.

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I remember having no one around that day to share the glee of my find with, because Mary’s not that well-known in New Zealand.  But I know you Mary!  You rock.

Having my own spot within our home has made such difference to my contentment levels.  I’m fortunate that I am able to have one and suspect that if I didn’t, I would have commandeered a corner in another room.

Not that I ever want to move again in my lifetime, but if I do, I will be sure to carve out a wee spot just for me.

 

Do you have a spot that’s just for you?