Returning Home to Aotearoa

Sometimes in life you’re almost forced to make a big life decision because, well, it just becomes too hard to not make it!

I made the decision to move home in February after climbing the walls with a kind of manic anxiety… which forced me to pray, sit down and do some writing and get clear on what was going on! My heart told me “Enough is enough – it’s time to go back to my homeland”; I wasn’t even conscious of it being Waitangi Day that day but upon that realisation it felt like another confirmation.

This was accompanied by a great sense of peace and acceptance that it was the right thing to do… for me this is what I look for when making a big life decision now… God’s peace. That feeling of peace at the time of making the decision is something I have had to continually remind myself of right through the process, until now.

Sometimes we are pulled uncontrollably to a decision. A decision based not on rational thought but on the indefinable heart’s yearnings. Suddenly we are thrown from our mapped course and find ourselves in a place seemingly without an anchor.

Yet we hold onto that moment of clarity, of great peace that occurred at the junction of letting go of what we know and have planned, and upon contemplation of this new path. Yes, that feeling, that seemed significant, upon it I will build this new life.

Life in Melbourne was good, great even. I was comfortable with my routine, my friends, my hobbies, my plans for the future. It has been hard to let go and consider an alternative to what I had in mind. The decision to come back was a heart level decision, and it’s taken my mind some time to catch up and accept this on a kind of rational level… although I think I’m still processing it!

It’s difficult to come home without a job to go into, waiting on the financial security before establishing a home of my own (thank God for kind and patient family that are happy for me to stay short-term). For someone who is happiest with routine and structure to her weeks, this time has been challenging. Some days I’m able to enjoy the freedom, other days I get sick with worry and fall into a kind of daze that sucks the energy from me.

After being here a week or so I decided that Marlborough is really where I want to stay… after all I made the move to be close to family and be involved in their lives, yet a few weeks have passed and I’m yet to even be asked for a job interview. The jobs available are few and far between and often are simply not a good fit for me.

People are telling me to go door knocking but the idea repels me, and where would I start? Everyone has a different opinion on where I should go and what I should be doing – which is difficult to navigate – “No, I don’t want to work for a winery. Why? I don’t drink! I have no interest in working for a company whose product/service I don’t believe in.” “No, I can’t do sales… No I can’t do retail… No, I won’t do vineyard work”… picky I may be, but I also know that the ‘success’ of the move back here will depend upon my level of work satisfaction. I know from the past I cannot do a job that doesn’t mentally challenge me, or is overly repetitive or monotonous as it interferes with my mental health. And thus I am reminded of how difficult I find this; staying strong in my own convictions for what is right for me in the face of my family’s expectations / lists of ‘should’s. So now I am again considering Wellington or Christchurch for the meantime… somewhere that’s still close by, and I’m able to get back for a weekend easily enough… but I am also able to find a role that gives me financial security and a professional satisfaction.

This is a challenge for my faith, and through all this I keep talking to God, I am trying hard to trust, and I keep reminding myself to make no fear-based decisions – simply do the next right thing, and wait for God’s peace for the big decisions. I had envisioned a few weeks here before finding my way, so I am reminding myself to be patient, everything will come to pass in His timing and He has good things planned for me.

x Jess

Returning Home to Aotearoa

Good Vibes & a Skate Family

Last year I took up longboarding, something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was teenager. I love that every time I step on the board I have to push through fear, perhaps it is this that gives me the sense of joyful freedom I get whilst on the board. This article was written for a job application as a reporter at my hometown newspaper. Sadly I did not get the job… however I am pretty proud of this piece… and loved spending the quality time with Jesslyn (the amazing woman who taught me to skate) to really find out what drives her. 

On a Sunday afternoon in the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne you’ll likely come across a diverse group of people on long skateboards in various shapes and sizes with large wheels without the usual harsh staccato of ollies and kick flips.

There’s people doing runs down a steep slope, others cruising around the gentler paths, and yet others attempting to ‘dance’ – on their boards. You might be a little surprised to note that there’s many girls present too, and everyone seems friendly and considerate of others using the paths.

Jesslyn Mooi has been the driving force of Sunset Skate Sessions, a local longboarding ‘crew’ that is attracting a diverse range of people from all over the world. Having taken up the sport only recently, she may seem an unlikely person for the job but a chat with her quickly dispels any doubts as to where the group’s success is owed.


Born in Malaysia, Jesslyn and her family immigrated to Australia when she was 16, and she completed years 11 and 12 at Kew High School, going on to study at RMIT and completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media Studies.

Her career until recently has been working in management roles for Big Box companies on a good salary. “But I did not feel inspired. I never woke up excited. I needed something that would give me a lifestyle, and inspiration to grow.”

During a trip to the US to visit friends in 2013 Jesslyn had been introduced to longboarding, and experienced the joy and sense of adventure that cruising along the boardwalk on Venice Beach and around Santa Monica brought.

When she returned to Melbourne she continued to longboard but quickly grew tired of skating alone and began inviting friends to come and join her, initially teaching a couple of girlfriends to skate.

“I really like the community aspect, the activity with friends. It’s so much more fun with a group of people who enjoy the sport as much as you do – that’s what made it.”

“When I started posting photos on Facebook that’s when people started getting interested. People started asking when the next session was, and I grew tired of asking “Well when are you free?” and as people were looking to me for the organisation I thought I might as well make it a regular thing.”

A recent Sunset Skate Sessions Sunday session at Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne.
A recent Sunset Skate Sessions Sunday session at Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne.

Settling on twice a week, Wednesday evening as a “happy hump day” and on Sunday evenings. The name Sunset Skate Sessions was settled on; “It was initially a girls only crew so I wanted a soft brand name.” However soon she had boys begging to join in and she relented.

When buying her longboard Jesslyn had met Jamie Edwards, the owner of Twelve Board Store in Richmond and he got behind Sunset Skate Sessions, Jesslyn proudly remembers “He’d never met a girl with a crew behind her before”.

A few months later Jamie offered Jesslyn a job at Twelve, and she had to consider whether she could give up her career in corporate management for a retail and service role “I was really ready for it, I knew financially I’d lose, but I’d personally gain. It was a tough choice to make but I realised that at the end of the day it’d make me a better and happier person.”

“In small business who you are as a person comes out more. You’re not bound by limiting terms and conditions as in big companies. I meet a lot of cool people who you are giving a lifestyle to, not just a thing. You’re changing their moments, changing their life, rather than just selling them an object that depreciates in value.”

For Jesslyn the focus is on people and relationships “The personal payoff is when people come and show their appreciation. There’s a lot of personal stories about how longboarding has saved lives; being in a community and the new friendships formed have bought so much joy into their world.” She relates the story of one man struggling with the emotional turmoil of a divorce and separation from his young children who finds a reprieve in the sessions.

While initially insisting that everyone in the crew is over 18, she gave in after meeting an 11 year old with charm and great talent. “Parents thank me for being role models to their kids. We’re literally like a family, we have people from 11 to 55. The dynamics are really great. Dinner is the highlight for me, when everyone gets excited talking about the session, and they start learning about each other, then we go back to skating.”

Jesslyn has a big vision for the future of Sunset Skate Sessions “I want it to be known to anyone that travels to Australia, and interstate… I want everyone to feel like we’re family, that everyone feels welcome.” She’s planning more skate adventures and activities including a scavenger hunt around the local area drawing on local businesses support.

When questioned on what she gains financially from the group she affirms “There’s no charge for the sessions. I don’t expect anything but great vibes – that people like coming and it makes them happy.”

What does the future hold for Jesslyn? “I’m planning on skating Europe when I’m over there for a friend’s wedding. You see the city with a different eye when you skate, and you experience it differently. And you meet so many people organically.”

And longterm plans? Jesslyn’s eyes twinkle as she shrugs her shoulders and says “The only way I plan is so that there is always something exciting just around the corner.”

Sunset Skate Sessions can be found on Facebook, Instagram and online.

Photo credits: @rosepophalf

Good Vibes & a Skate Family

Déjà vu & new beginnings

Well it’s almost two years on from my last post and I’m back in New Zealand, Aoteroa, for another family holiday. So much has happened in the past two years, yet coming back to this blog seems like a weird déjà vu.

I always come back to an intense desire to write, to express myself in words and visuals… yet so often I get hung up on the WHYs. Why am I doing this? Why do I think people will want to read what I write? Why do this if there’s no material pay off? And then I’d get confused about the line between my business (photography) and personal, and guilty about not maintaining a business blog and I’ll get all… well… tied in knots and well and truly STUCK.

So here I am again, starting to write, having arrived back at the beginning after a long journey in a circle. I originally named this blog Envious Creature, but I always come back to the positive, and joy has been a central word for me, so I have since renamed myself a Joyful Creature and this blog is now My Journey : My Joy.

Today I am battling the odd anxiety that comes at the beginning of a holiday when the mind can’t quite come to terms with the absence of things to urgently DO and DO and DO… wind down dear mind of mine, it’s all ok, it’s time to rest, time to recharge, time to renew. Find joy in the present, in your surroundings, in the clean fresh air. All is well. All is well.

Déjà vu & new beginnings

Where my roots lie – my holiday back to New Zealand

It is now mid jan. I’ve been back in Australia for 1week. As my holiday back to NZ begins the journey into fuzzy half-rememberance I want to halt the process for a moment and pull out those little moments that are still shining bright.

My brother’s face as his bride came down the isle; the biggest smile he’s capable of mixed with laughter and love and probably a million other things.

The water sparkling in the evening sunshine as I attempted backstroke in the cool dark water of Whenuanui Bay.

Seeing old friends and the sense of freedom to be completely myself.

The early morning peace of water lapping, the sun-on-water reflections on the ochres of the point of Whenuanui Bay.

Squeezing a woman’s hand on her wedding day, feeling the shock and beauty of a shared history and the emotion of what is to come.

Early morning phone calls from my mum just to chat about what the new day held for each of us.

Walking up to an eagle-ray in the water and seeing it turn to look at me – was it judging me as a threat or enjoying seeing me up close?

Having an indoor picnic with a little friend and his gorgeous mum.

Slowly stepping through the Big House, camera in hand, feeling the pull and persuasion of an object, light, composition… memories fusing with the present…

Being with my mum, dad and brother on Christmas eve… looking for ferns and cuttings for our ‘christmas tree’… gold pine cones… talk of boats… pancakes in the morning.

The jaw-dropping beautiful greys and blues and whites of the wind whipped clouds over the Wither Hills as the sun was setting, making me pull the car over to take photographs.


Sitting down for a delicious-looking meal of takeaway Chinese on a little round table in the dappled evening light with my Aunty, just her and me, excited about our shared little luxury.

The quiet request for a little note in her new notebook, two more requests soon to follow, all capped off by some lovely cuddles to say goodbye. Three new little friends close to my heart.


Where my roots lie – my holiday back to New Zealand

A Love Letter to my Computer

My Dear Companion,

We’ve spent so much time together you and I in the last two years. Ive depended on you for so much and you have certainly worked hard for me, we’ve achieved so much!

I guess my expectations are vey high and lately, well, I’m sorry to say you’ve just been lacking.

I’ve sent you to specilalists to work through your issues and I’ve even given you some extra space hoping you might find your way. There’s been small improvements and I’ve been joyful at the perceived acceleration in our relationship, only to be disappointed when you again take a turn for the worse.

Here I sit, watching and waiting for you to make my wishes come true and you are saying you need more time, or could it be that you are just seeking to annoy me? No, I know that you don’t do this on purpose, how could you? No, it’s a sickness yet to be diagnosed, and until it is your state of mind worsens.

I wish I could jumpstart you back to your youthful vitality but alas I haven’t the ability. Here I wait helpless against your sickness hoping and praying that you’ll at least make it to Christmas, people are depending on you! I will be a mess without you.

Can you please please just give me a few more days my dear dear computer?

Much love,
Your owner.

A Love Letter to my Computer

Envious creature: the list

This blog is named ‘envious creature’ due the fact that I discovered recently that I can write pages of examples of who and what I’m envious of.

I shared this yesterday with my psychologist and she reinforced my viewpoint that such a list can indeed be very helpful as showing me clearly what it is I desire in life.

As long as I’m not winding myself into green-faced negativity over what I don’t have, a little twinge of envy can show me what it is I wish to have for myself, and I can perhaps begin to put in some action to work towards achieving that.

Some examples from my original list:
“Friends who have purchased houses… People falling in love… People who eat healthy… People who are happy without money or success… People who can sew… People who can plan well… People who ooze serenity and acceptance… People who volunteer and do good in the community…”

Some make we squirm with discomfort when I read them, others make me laugh, some show me what I’ve been neglecting. Some are contradictory! Some are truly trivial and can be forgotten, others need to be noted.

I am truly very grateful for what I do have… and in that lies the antidote to the true ‘sin’ of envy. Gratitude for the skills I have, the beautiful house I live in, the friends in my life, the ability to choose my career, and the freedom to work towards things I admire in others.

A little treasure found while out running yesterday shows me that my faith in love is being restored. Perhaps I’ll be one of those “people falling in love” one day soon…


Envious creature: the list

Darkroom Treasures

When I studied photography at high school it was still all darkroom based and we were taught to develop our films, do contact sheets, and make prints from an enlarger and some old smelly chemicals. Girls would throw pieces of paper from one tray to the next, never timing anything as you should, swishing the chemical over the paper with their bare hands, dunking once, maybe twice in the water. The result? Flat lifeless prints, fingerprinted, scratched, and various shades of purple.

If you’ve ever tried to master the art of darkroom printing you’ll know that it’s about precision, fresh chemicals and a lot of time, and even more care. It’s an art requiring dedication and a real love of the seeming magic of watching a print emerge on the paper in the developer.

In this age of instant digital printing coming across a real darkroom photographic print is… like discovering a treasure. You know that someone labored over the print, spent time getting the exposure right, maybe going on to tone the print, or even to handcolour it with special inks.

These prints I came across in a second hand store in Yea a year or so ago. I love the different textures of the papers, the different formats, the imagined history behind them. I’ve been wanting to frame them, to elevate them from loose old prints unceremoniously dumped in a basket in a second hand store.

I love camera markets where there’s several stalls with boxes of old prints, mostly old professional portraits, and I’d happily flick through them for hours if it weren’t for the serious collectors impatiently waiting to do the same. But really I prefer the amateur looking prints, mostly landscapes, or even old family snapshots. I’d love to raid my family archives and create a wall of framed original prints, if only I didn’t have to share! There’s boxes and boxes of old slides of my Poppa’s (my father’s father) which I’d love to explore. My great uncle (on my mother’s side) was also a keen amateur photographer and I’d love to explore his old work although I think much of it was given to his camera club following his death (along with many beautiful cameras much to my disappointment). Geography gets in my way, as my family are all in NZ.

Perhaps in the meantime I will start to collect these other lost and forgotten prints and give them a home where they’ll be treasured and admired as they possibly never have been before.

Darkroom Treasures