Posts filed under ‘New Zealand (2011) Photographs’

4 Things I Learned from Going DOWN the Sand Dunes

I may never own/drive a red car. But I can boast that I've sand boarded with a RED sled. Isn't it just humming with life?

March of 2011 I took a trip of a lifetime to visit a friend, Trish, in New Zealand. She took me all over the North Island. One thing we did was take a bus tour up to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea butt chests.

Along the way we  . . .

  • Attended a haka, Maori dance. Our busload of tourists was treated to this small group of people doing a haka. At the end we all were invited to make faces. We were either welcoming the dignitaries in our group or scaring away our enemies. Who knew that bulging your eyes and sticking out your tongue had that kind of power?
  • Saw ancient Kauri wood carvings at Ancient Kauri Kingdom. This shop had plenty of food and gift offerings. We even walked up and down a gigantic Kauri tree stump that was carved into stairs connecting the 1st and 2nd floors. The photos at this post are some of the wood carvings
  • Drove on the beach highway known as the 90-Mile Beach. Just as the Bus driver/Tour guide was telling us this was a fairly safe drive unless it is raining, the rain started coming down.
  • Sampled food. We ate a packed lunch on one of the countless gorgeous beaches that New Zealand possesses.  Of course cups of tea from Thermoses were passed around. A stop at a small shop for an ice cream cone was mandatory and appreciated.
  • Sand Duned DOWN huge dunes which was a first time event for me. One of the highlight events was sand boarding down the dunes at the Te Paki quicksand stream. I am not keen on heights, fast speed, or difficult hiking that involves three steps up and one step back.

But I did it and I learned 4 things about going DOWN the dunes.

You control the speed of your life by controlling how much you do each day. Make sure you even schedule in times of doing "nothing."

ONE. You control the speed. You want to go fast? Keep your legs and feet up. You will z-i-p down those dunes fast! Are you a scaredy-cat like me? Then you keep your feet down and watch OUT for that spray of sand that is sure to spurt right into your open, screaming mouth (all the way down)!

Life is like this too. You can control the speed. Mostly my life (unlike my sledding) goes way too fast. This is because I am not cautious about what I add to the calendar. I add regularly occurring (good) things, but don’t take away anything. So I end up zipping from one event to the next, screaming (inside) because of the insane pace I keep.

Life is an area where I want and need to control the pace better. Two books have helped me on this are: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, And Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson and Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. Time to read them again and practice the advice.

Besides taking things OUT of my life, I need to thoughtfully and prayerfully add things to my life. Just because it is a good thing, doesn’t mean it is best for me to do.

Finally, the speed of my life is best moderated when I have ample time in prayer and Bible study. These twin acts help me to hear and obey the will of God for my life.

Related Posts . . .


Friends who offer encouragement through words, listening, hugs, and other actions help us make it through those long treks.

TWO. You can make the l-o-n-g trek with breaks, a friend, and encouragement. I don’t know how tall that sand dune was, but it was TALL.

3 steps up and 1 back meant that we walked 3 times the length. Right? Half way up I was panting (didn’t think to use my inhaler before going UP) and weak knee-ed. Not just me either.

Bunches of folks were taking a break. Even my friend Trish.

I stopped and looked down – we came a fair distance. I looked UP and saw we had a LONG way to go still.

After Trish and I rested, we decided to go for it. I was nervous because the bus driver only gave us 15 minutes and we were gone at least 10 minutes already.

That break with an encouraging friend is what I needed. Because of both, I was able to make it to the top.

Life sometimes feels like an uphill trek with more steps backwards than forward. Some days, some weeks, some seasons feel very l-o-n-g. That is when I/we need help from a friend who encourages us with words and actions.

At these tiring times in life, we need to make sure that we take breaks, that we have at least one encouraging friend, that we practice margin, and that we control the speed of life well.

Related Posts . . . 


Why is it that new adventures often make me fearful especially the older I get? I don't care that fear keeps me off roller coasters. But I do care that it keeps me from pursuing worthwhile things.

THREE. The ride was exhilarating and I am proud of myself for facing a fear. Looking up that TALL hill I knew that I’d have to face my fear of heights and speed coming D-O-W-N the dunes.

I was also afraid that I’d crash and hurt myself. I don’t care for pain or broken bones. But I did face that fear, step-by-step. I didn’t let myself concentrate on what “could” happen. I concentrated on the journey and my friend. Therefore I was able to make it to the top.

I sat down and whoosh I was gone.

Even though I screamed the whole way down, I discovered I LIKED the ride. The speed was exhilarating, although I didn’t care for the sand in the teeth. And I was so proud of myself. If we had time, I would have gone up again. Or so I like to think. 🙂

Sometimes life throws fearful situations my way. It is easy to let fear control my actions. But when I know this action is what I should be doing, it helps to conquer the paralyzing sting of fear and move forward.

I like to say to my kiddos, “Don’t let fear make your decision for you.” In this case I didn’t and I was rewarded.

Related Reading . . .


We may not be as unique as this rose, but we are unique. So grab a hold of those once-in-a-lifetime chances. And GO for it!

FOUR. Not many get to do this. It was a cool once-in-a-lifetime experience since I don’t live near New Zealand. Focusing on that and the other above 3 points, helped me to get up that hill and then sled DOWN.

Once on top, I could have forsaken the sled and walked DOWN. But I didn’t. I took the opportunity in front of me.

Life also throws once-in-a-lifetime opportunities our way: A speaking engagement, a new job, starting a family, mastering a subject, going to counselling, a new relationship. All of these have the potential of not working out, of being out of our depth, of causing pain, embarrassment, failure or seeming just too hard to do.

But God has a unique plan for my life and yours. He has given us the tools to tackle these opportunities. Even when there are glitches in the process, we can still learn from these unique challenges.

Let’s make a deal. Let’s choose to tackle the obstacles that stand in our way. Let’s really LIVE our life going after those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Related Posts . . .


RECAP .  .  . 

  • Remember you control the speed. Take the time you need to accomplish this step. Declutter your life so you have the emotional and physical stamina needed. Live a life that you control. One that is set at a reasonable pace.
  • Remember your arsenal of helps: breaks and a friend who encourages. How you travel , with whom and with what kind of people are under your sphere of influence. So choose wisely.

    I haven't read Don Quixote De La Mancha YET. When I do, I want to read it in Spanish.

  • Remember to enjoy the ride and to pat yourself on your back for a job well done. I often forget or neglect to reward myself for a job well done. I will say “Thank you” to others (verbally and with cards), but neglect to tell myself “Thank you.” That’s not right. It is okay and good to do
  • Remember to take on those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Life is an adventure. Take each one as it comes your way.

My next scary (to me) adventurous “sand dune” is checking out and then attending a 2 week Spanish immersion class in Mexico or South America. Just the thought of it brings stampeding elephants to my stomach. But, oh, won’t I benefit sooooo much by doing this?

Your Turn . . .

  1. So what “sand dune” do you need to climb up and then sled DOWN?
  2. What tools will you use to help you make it?
  3. What advice do you have for us fellow “athletes”?
  4. Go ahead and brag. Tell us about your “sand dune” experience.

Related Sand Dune (real ones) Posts . . . 

NOTE: This post is inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. The word is DOWN.

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Peaceful Ending to a Wonderful Day in The Land of the Long White Cloud

‘Surfing soothes me, it’s always been a kind of Zen experience for me. The ocean is so magnificent, peaceful, and awesome. The rest of the world disappears for me when I’m on a wave.”  Paul Walker

This peaceful scene greeted us after dinner. The gorgeous sunset brought an end to another magical day.

While I am not a surfer – and due to my innate clumsiness I should never be allowed on a board – I can understand about Walker’s awe for the ocean. I, too, crave the peace it brings.

The rest of the world disappears for me when I’m walking the beach. The loud, unceasing crash of the water upon the sand stops all thoughts in my head. I zone out, peacefully existing. My heart beating and blood pumping in time with the ancient pounding waves.

Walking along a beach that is lapped by the South Pacific Ocean: Orewa, New Zealand.

Time walking the ocean’s shore is too infrequent.  But when I do, I come away rested in body and spirit. I think this is because my mind has rested well. I came home from New Zealand refreshed, in part, because of the beach time.

 Schedule for Day 8 in New Zealand: The front part of the day included visiting a glow-worm cave, seeing sheep dyed pink and blue, walking along the Goal Island Bay Marine Reserve, and eating dinner at Muldoons in Orewa. We ended our time walking along the beach of Orewa.

Plucked clean shells littered the beach.

5 Facts about Orewa

1. It is on New Zealand’s North Island.

2. It is on the Hibiscus Coast.

3. It is 40 kilometres north of Auckland.

4. It is a popular tourist spot.

5. It had the most beautiful beach I saw during my 17 day vacation. If ever I could retire in New Zealand, I think this town is where I’d live. And I would walk the beach ever day and night.

No birds were seen as walked along the shore, but it was evident that a large crew had been scavenging. Perhaps they were there at the same time Trish and I were eating dinner. We had Fish and Chips.

Besides being covered in just-cleaned out shells, many sand dollars were stranded on the shore. Trish had never seen this many before. It was fulfilling to toss them back into their life-sustaining home, the ocean. True, we didn’t make a huge difference in terms of ecological balance. But we made a difference to the few we did save.

A sand dollar is purple when it's alive.

Another “peaceful”quote is fitting to end this peace-filled day. “So let us welcome peaceful evening in.” William Cowpter

I am retelling the New Zealand adventure I took in March of 2011. I visited and toured the North Island with my Kiwi friend Trish. I am finally doing something with the 2000 plus photos I took.

I linked up to the weekly photo challenge sponsored by WordPress. This week’s theme is “peaceful.”

Your Turn . . .

  1. Where do you go or what do you do to get that peace-filled feeling?
  2. Have you ever thrown a sand dollar back into the ocean?
  3. Where is your favourite beach?
  4. Where would you like to retire? Why?

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Taking my Hobbies from Plans to Implementation to Finishing

It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation,” (Walt Kelly).

At one time this octopus was a drawing on a page. It was on someone's to-do list. Luckily for us, the artist did more than plan, s/he expended energy and launched this plan of carving this ancient Kauri tree into art.

Oh, I am good at planning. I have pages of plans. For me that is the most fun part of a project.

But, as Walt Kelly said above, energy has to be expended in order for them to become reality.

As I noted, I have pages of plans. I am excited about many opportunities. This post talks about the many hobbies I have been into over the years. As you can see there are so many that it is hard for me to narrow down the list to just a manageable few.

I start this and that project and oft-times, they don’t get finished before I am on to another project. (Luckily this tendency does not stalk my work habits.) This is more true of projects that take a long-term commitment. I.e. Knitting a scarf will get done, but an afghan is harder for me to finish. While working on the project I start thinking about what else needs starting and what needs finishing. Or I become paralysed by these thoughts and don’t do anything creative. It is all very exhausting.

Here I am hugging a turtle carved from an ancient Kauri tree (New Zealand 2011). Some of the literature says these tree trunks are up to 45,000 years old. No matter how you do the dating, they are OLD!

No more! This year is the year of focus. I will narrow the field of my activities.

This week I read a blog post by Katrina from Callapidder Days about Hobby Focus. Katrina said she’s been a dabbler, not becoming proficient in any one hobby. I can echo that.

Katrina is doing something different this year too.

“But I decided that this year, I want to spend some time going a little deeper in a few of them. I want to bring a bit more focus to my hobbying.”

Katrina hopes to become more proficient in a few hobbies, to see if she’d like to pursue them long-term, and finally to discover if dabbling is more to her liking.

What am I hoping to gain by narrowing my activities?

A close up of the turtle carving.

First, I want to finish what I start. By knowing there will be only a few hobbies to pursue this year, I am hoping I can stop my hobby-hopping and concentrate on the few. I am hoping this thought process will bring a freedom to finish because there will be time (later) to work on what’s next.

Second, I want to concentrate on what I am doing. By keeping my thoughts on the present, I hope to better learn the mechanics, enjoy the process, and feel the peace that comes with being satisfied with doing that one thing. There has got to be less stress if I am not bombarding myself with thoughts of past and present projects.

And third, I want to discover what hobbies are a good fit for me now. I realize that as I go through my list, I will find that some hobbies I used to enjoy will no longer interest me. I want to let go of expectations of pursuing them and get rid of any of its hobby-related items.

Trish "swimming" with a dolphin. We did go out on a boat for the purpose of swimming with dolphins. However, they did not slow down enough so that we could join them. This dolphin was obliging & photogenic.

The top three hobbies (besides blogging) are cooking, photography, and sewing. I don’t have a set plan for how I will engage in them. I will most likely jump from one to another. But here are the goals I have for them in the coming months.

  • Cooking – I want/need to get back into healthy cooking. I enjoy baking. It will be fun and relationship building to cook with my nieces, even if only once a month. I want to put family favourite recipes on my blog so that I don’t lose them.
  • Photography – I am going through my photos from New Zealand. I will post some on my blog and/or Facebook each week. And I want to make a photo album with my photos. I have like 2,000 pictures.
  • Sewing– I have some quilts I want to make. A friend, Theresa, is going to show me

    Close up of a dolphin carved from a Kauri tree.

    how to use a rotary cutter next week (next week). I also want to make a wine tote or two.

    I will have time to launch many projects. But I will have time to only finish a few. Therefore, I need to carefully craft a plan that will launch these projects into action.

Your Turn . . .

  1. Can you relate to either Katrina or I regarding our hobbies?
  2. What kind of hobbyist are you? A dabbler or a pro in one or two areas?
  3. Do you finish all you start? Or do you have UFP’s (unfinished projects)?
  4. Do you have a new hobby plan for this year? If yes, what is it?
  5. Do you have any (kind) advice?

Related Posts . . . 

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