I found my heart on Waiheke

It was a warm Friday afternoon as the water lapped at the waterfront. The ferry departed back for the city of Auckland that I had found an escape from. The corporate life lay behind me and there was nothing but creativity and discovery ahead.

I gazed out to the water, blessed by how my life had allowed for such an opportunity and how my anxiety had kept itself009 at bay to let me find inner strength to step out of my comfort zone.

I was soon met by my compatriots for the weekend and the wonderful Shelly Davies, responsible for my attendance at this weekend, was her usual full-of-life self. Something I find infectious and the type of person I need to spend more time with.

It was a short drive round the beautiful Kiwi streets, the inlets bordered the suburbs in unrivaled splendor. We arrived at the Marae within a quick moment as the afternoon began to wane into early evening. Protocol in the Maori culture is one that I find ever intriguing. There’s rites of passage that speak the ages of time, yet don’t seem to hold the formality of a service that dregs time away from you. We were welcomed onto the Marae in honoured tradition. The language, to me, was foreign, yet entrancing and instantly welcoming. I sat at the back, Shelly patiently translating for me the words of welcome into English and I felt myself wholeheartedly accepted by strangers. They accepted our creative spirits, the grief we carried with us, and everything about us as whole. There was something about this that particularly moved me.

After the welc008ome, and traditional greeting, I removed my shoes and stepped into my first Marae. Blue, red and white ta moko designs adorned the ceilings, a mural of nature was painted on the back wall, and photos of those who had passed, smiled down on us, guarding us and watching over.

A community meal soon followed, which would soon become one of my favourite parts about the weekend. I usually eat alone, so sharing food and new beginnings with people was a nice change. We returned to the Marae and continued our introductions long into the night.

The start of a new day broke earlier than normal on the Saturday. It was still dark outside, my eyes were blurred and deprived of good rest, but I didn’t seem to care. By six a.m we were all bundled into a bus and were headed up to one of the highest points on Waiheke for a dawn ceremony. Spirituality teachings mixed in with history of the Island and, despite the cold, I found my soul reawakening and small pieces of my old self that have once been lost, return to me.

After breakfast, workshops began. I signed up for a Fiction workshop with the engaging James George. A wonderful instructor who I learned a lot from in our short two hours. In this time, a  exercise was set and from this, I’ve rediscovered a new beginning for an old novel that I wrote that’s now out of print, and I’m now re-writing it, bigger and better and with more passion than ever before.

The break for lunch, gave me time to indulge in my other passion of photography. Photos for me capture story as much as words and I try to capture the beauty of New Zealand as a way of telling my story with this country that’s become my home.

My last workshop for the day was of course with Shelly, where creativity met business and it made me think of things that have been missing in my life since my father passed away four years a go. As I travelled back to Auckland on the Saturday afternoon, I found myself thinking how can I find more creative things to do in my work, how can I become more inspired by what I do?

The last weekend was a blessing, returning to the reality of office life was hard. By Tuesday I was grumpy, but when I realised it was because my life has been on hold while I was grieving for my father, I then came to the conclusion that my life is now re-beginning and I couldn’t be happier. 24 hours on Waiheke gave me more than I could have hoped for. It gave me back my future and sense of self.