Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A post by Kyle: "The experience we call life..."

I am not one to blog or write about much that goes on with life, but I have had a few changes in my life recently that have made me come to realize that sometimes things that are expressed and shared can really make others open up and embrace a challenge they would normally say "I wish I could" or "That would be pretty cool to experience".  There are things that we do every day, little challenges we take on, or come across that, that really shape and mold who we are, both in our careers and in our lives.   And there are some that people look at them and say “no, I couldn’t do that, or that is just crazy” when it may be more doable than you thought, and will have such an impact that you would say “I was crazy to not give it a go!”  I know because I was that way…

I guess what got me thinking about this was a short while back someone said to me "What are your aspirations for your career, what do you want to accomplish?"  Normally I would think, "I have an answer for that strait away"... but on the spot, I froze.  I had to think, and even after a long think about it, I still did not have a really good answer.   I knew the answer, but I didn’t at the same time.  Growing up, and during college I thought I knew the answers to that question.. go to school, get a degree in engineering, start out with a good firm, and learn the ropes before starting a engineering company for my self… how cool would that be right?.. That was always what I saw myself doing.  I had gone through the first parts of that plan.. and got to a point were I was happy, working hard, exploring and learning every avenue of civil engineering. Working long hours, but loving it at the same time. Almost to the point where I thought "something is wrong with me... I must be sick in the head to want to work 90hrs a week!”  One can only do this for so long until you realize that you have the rest of your life to work, and you need a healthy balance, while continuing to challenge yourself in your career.

About three years ago, in the middle of my craziness, I managed to meet someone pretty special… incredible actually!!  She happen to be 10 hours away, and many people thought it was crazy, but I figured “I can work as much as I do, and manage to find time for a long distance thing to work.. right?”  I got a lot of “you’re crazy’s, what the heck’s, and how the hell’s” from a lot of people.  And all I can say as that, you may never know how satisfying a challenge can be, until you try.  Not just with meeting someone that will change your life, but also with choices you make in your career.

My big change happened to be a combination of both things, with a small bonus shot of adventure in a new country, that got me feeling like a kid on Christmas. It was a very much anticipated opportunity to be with Katie, and experience a new lifestyle together, coupled with an opportunity to explore an unknown adventure in my career.  Both opportunities, like any, didn’t come with out a risk, mainly being the unknown.  I was happy in Michigan, I have the best friends anyone could ask for, an incredible family close by, I had a nice home, two loving pets, the best roommate a guy could ask for (those of you that know Dan are probably laughing, but he seriously is a fantastic friend and I really enjoy having him as a roommate).   That all being said, I guess a part of me felt like I was not challenging my self with life enough for my liking.  You only live once, and you need to make the most of that right?

Katie got an opportunity to move to New Zealand, and I had no idea where the hell it was other than what I had seen on TV, with hunting and skiing shows.  Once I started to look into life here, I was amazed…I could not believe that I did not have it on my bucket list to visit!!  It was really my minds creation of paradise all in one place.  Full of new things, new sights, different lifestyle, and most importantly new challenges!  Again I got a lot of “your crazy’s” when I starting thinking about leaving a good job, and the life I had, to make this move.  I have to admit, I was torn, I had a good job, and loved where I was at. But after talking with a few friends that give some pretty damn good advice, both in life and career, I said “You know what, think I’ll give it a go.”  It wasn’t until I starting applying for a work visa, and looking for jobs, finding a home for Zoey and Tiger, and looking for a one way flight, that it hit me… “holy shit, this is terrifying!” Followed shortly by, the feeling that I was only terrified because I had relaxed my ambitious mentality to always challenge my self, and get the most out of life, to the point that I was scared of change.  This circled back to my reasons for making this change in the first place to always continue to challenge myself and keep my life fresh.

I can not say that it has all been peaches and cream.  It was very emotionally draining my last day at my old job, the last night Buddies with all my friends, my good-bye with family, and especially the day I left my house, Dan, Mom, Tiger, and Zoey.  Zoey especially in her condition, made it so incredibly hard. I can’t begin to express how much appreciation I have for Dan and my family for helping with that aspect of this.  I know she is in good hands when I left.   Once Mom left me at the airport, and I was waiting to board the plane, I thought one last time.. “What the hell am I doing!? This is not just a vacation, I have packed all I need to live somewhere new, on the other side of the world, and who knows when I will come back!”  After 15 hours in transit and skipping an entire day in the calendar, I landed, and the wide-eyed excitement began!

I landed in New Zealand knowing that I needed to find a job, get us a car, find a more permanent place to live, and settle in here with Katie, but all I wanted to do was hit the roads and see what I had read out!  I had forgotten how much work writing a good resume, or finding a job was! On top of that Kiwi lifestyle is pretty relaxed and most places are closed for three weeks over the holidays…I landed on Dec 24th…finding a job would have to wait!  :)

Knowing how tough it can be back home to find a job, I was a bit concerned, but at the same time, New Zealand was heavily looking for civil engineers, and I felt my experience brought a lot to the table for me.  I have always felt that experience trumps education in what a civil engineer does, but couple it with a great education, and you are in pretty good company.  Having confidence I had that working for me, I had to balance it with the fact that it was an uphill battle to land a job where all of the standards in design and construction are different from what you knew and were taught.  It’s part of the challenge I was looking for right!?  Once the holiday shut down was over I began to make progress, and with in a short time I was interviewing.   I had my eye on a small firm that I found via the internet before I came.  I had made contract with them before I came with little luck, but I figured I would give it one last try once I landed.   My phone rang almost the second I hit send on the email!!  This was the one I wanted!!…. With little practice to freshen up my rusty interview skills, they wanted me in next day!  Excited as hell, I was a bit nervous to say the least, but as soon as I sat down in the interview, I felt at home in there office.  I couldn’t tell in the interview who was more excited talking about work and projects they had been a part of, me or them! It was a truly fantastic experience and a huge compliment to my experiences to that point at HNTB. The place is run by three Kiwi guys that are some of the nicest people I have ever meet, and the office is full of talented and easy going people.  It’s a pleasure and I feel blessed to be there… most days. ;)

I can not stress enough, to all my friends, and especially fellow civil engineers, your career is what you make of it, and you can not replace or put a price on your experience.  I have never felt more challenged with my career as I do right now… Some days it is incredibly stressful and frustrating, but the mind has a way of working through solutions, and making the outcome build you up to prepare you for the next one.  There is defiantly a strive at the place I work to create a fun atmosphere, and allow everyone to feel like they are a vital part of a team, and balance a healthy lifestyle with a normal 40hr a week work life.  I was “thrown into the fire” if you will from day one, and I welcomed the challenge.  New standards, new methods of construction, new clients, and the new challenges create a great opportunity to really grow and learn new things every day!  The one key thing that I am realizing is, no matter where you are in the world, when you work with other engineers, the engineering brains have a similar mentality, and it is that talent and mentality that makes a good engineer.  You can learn new standards, but you can not teach someone to think like a good engineer.  I am blessed to have landed amongst great engineers both at home with HNTB, and here in New Zealand with Blue Barn!

It may have been 75% a desire to be with and explore this country with Katie, and 25% looking for a new challenge with my career, that brought me to New Zealand.  But I can say that now that I am here, and really had a chance to reflect on it, it is 100% the desire to challenge my self, and get the most out of life, that is keeping me here for now.  It truly is an incredible feeling to be somewhere as beautiful as New Zealand, and to call it my home for now, makes me feel spoiled a bit! It is very tough to be away from family, friends, and so hard to be away from Zoey being sick like she is, but I am doing something that never in my 28 years would I have thought that I would… and I can’t wait for what the next day brings!

To anyone that took the time to read this… my advice to you, while you are still young, is this…  There are so many opportunities that you never would have thought existed, if you want to challenge yourself a bit.  There is so much to learn outside of your comfort zone, and outside of the US.  If you ever come to a point in life that makes you say “it would be so cool to try that, or to live there”  or “I am getting a bit stuck into a routine where I am at, and I need to refresh” or even “man I wish I could take on an exciting new challenge in life or my career”   two words.. Do it!!  Don’t think, “I can’t”, “it’s too hard”, “why would I leave what I have”, or “I’m afraid to leave my comfort zone”.   Just do it!!.. those things will be there when you come back.  Even if you make a change, and are unhappy, you can always return and no one will give you any grief for trying something new.  You only live once, and there is so much satisfaction by taking on a challenge in life like this!  You will not regret it!  :-D


long time coming update

Haha, so apparently all it takes for me to stop writing regularly is a week and a half without internet!  YAY!  They cut our internet access at work too, so its been difficult to keep up.

Quick update for everyone:

Things are good, busy as always.

-Marathon training is in full swing, did our Half Marathon training run on Sunday and it went well.

-I got sick for the first time since getting here, meaning a week off training for me (last week), and a seriously stuffy nose / cough / all-that-fun-stuff-that-comes-with-a-cold-ness.  Better now, but now Kyle is sick!

-We are headed to Queenstown on Friday for our 3 year anniversary!  It will be the first time we've ever been on a plane together, and first time to the South Island.  Fingers crossed we make it home with no broken bones from Skiing!!  And look for some epic photos to appear.... I can not WAIT to take in some of the scenery!

-We spent a week and a half at the beginning of the month House Sitting for Kyle's boss.  It was AWESOME having some space to ourselves and some peace and quiet.  We got to take care of two cats, a dog, and chill with some sheep too!  Haha.  Did some difficult runs out there.  The area was called Dairy Flat.... and let me tell you, it is FAR from flat!  Great challenging 9 miler out there.  I though I had posted about that, but looks like I didn't get to (thats when we had no internet, I couldnt get my computer to log into their server).

-Work is good, Im working on Robot and Monster now for a while.  My second episode of Penguins just aired on Saturday as well!!!!  Youtube:  "Operation: Vacation" part 1, for a look at what I did!

-Getting toward the end of winter finally, and getting SUPER excited about some beach time this year!!!

-ASSASSINS game at work: Haha, so far, there were 16 of us that started the game..... and now there are only 5 remaining.  Im in the top 5, and I've had the most "kills" at work so far.  AND, Im the only girl left........ ;-)

But yea, things have been great!  More of a solid update to come.  I know, sometimes Im super bad at keeping up with this :-D


Monday, July 11, 2011

This made me stop and think for a second...

So today I started looking at a blog that Matt had posted on the forums at work.  I was really impressed by it... its the drawings of a 16 year old named De'Von Stubblefield....and he's amazing.


Check out the blog here if you're interested: 



I read this post from him though... and I was SO impressed at what he said.  And it made me want to do these things...to try and get back some of that creativity I feel like I used to have.  He's completely right about how daily life sometimes changes us, and gets rid of the ways we used to feel about certain things.  Read on:



"Whatever happened to that childlike sense of Wonder?

I’m pretty sure this question pops into most of our minds from time to time.  I don’t know if there really is a definite answer, because everyone was brought up differently.  But at some point I think mostly all of us werre at the peak of our vast imaginations.  We saw the world in a different light.  Our imagination provided endless oppurtunities to create.  But as we began to grow older something happened.  The things that used to fascinate us no longer did.  Reality slowly crept in with all its worries and its troubles and we began to lose sight of what ignited our imaginations.
Maybe it was negativity, stress, responsibility, criticism, or peer pressure that lead us astray. What happens is that once you block the flow of your creative mindset, you will start to drift into the world of black and white.  You start seeing things in its simplest states.  But how does one step back into that seemingly distant world of technicolor?  The answer is simple, start taking different routes to your daily destination.  Begin asking questions about why things are the way they are.  Look at things through diffent perspectives, be it mentally or physically.  Listen to a song that brings back a memory.  Don’t just listen to it but resonate in it.  Start to observe what makes people happy and ask them (or to yourself) what makes them feel that way.  If you have the time go for a walk, a bike ride, read something (in a book), write down a list of things that make you happy and why they make you feel that way.  Once you begin an of these things your black and white world will slowly but surely be filled with technicolor."

Just something to think about as you go along in your daily life :-)  I know I will be.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mmm what a day

Good day, what can I say? Started out at the Otara Market, which we hadn't checked out yet. We go to the Avondale market on Sundays regularly. This one turned out to be pretty similar, but we still had a good time. Started with a great big coffee for each of us, plus a hot sandwich with beef, onion, and egg for Kyle, and one with bacon (the Canadian kind), and egg for me. YUM.

Onward we wandered through the stands, admiring everything. Picked up some great local produce too, three bags of fruits for $11!!! AWESOME. Good times

Came home after, and got ready for our weekend long run. Today was 7 miles, 11.2km. And what a run it was! Started off beautifully, gorgeous, sunny and warm, with a bit of wind. We were running along the water front toward Mission Bay (where the recent Auckland earthquake just occurred, lol), and the moment we hit half way, ready to turn around, we were hit with pretty much a mini hurricane!!! CRAZY! I mean the wind had picked up, and the waves had gotten really big in the harbour, but we didn't expect this! It was INSANELY windy. I mean, so windy you could lean into it, and coming right into our faces. Not only that, it was pouring, and it hurt so bad that I though I was little hail!!!! Haha. We kept running though because we were literally in an area with no cover, and had no choice. At one point though, It got so strong that we ducked by a parked car, because the rain was so horizontal that we stayed dry when down next to it. Crazy! It literally lasted less than 5 minutes too, and then it was miraculously back to a bright, clear, sunny day!!! CRAZY! New Zealand weather is literally so unpredictable. It was quite epic. We made our 7 miles too! On the dot. My ankle held up as well, until he last mile when it KILLED. I had double-wrapped it to see if that would held stabilise it more. Kinda worked! Got home and iced it and wrapped it again after the run.

Then, off we went to run some errands, including getting ingredients for CHILLI!!! YUM! As I am sitting here I can smell it. So awesome. So, since then we have been chilling out at the house watching master chef. :).

Great end to a great day. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dogs, sheep, hiking, and good times.

Aiight... soo little update.  Been a fun week (from last Tuesday) thus far.  Lots of things going on.  Marathon training is in full swing... and my ankle isn't feeling stellar right now after yesterday's run... BUT Im proud to say Ive not skipped workouts!  In fact... I think I did more than I needed to.. haha.

Well, starting with last Tuesday, we usually do Trivia night now at a local pub.  1/2 price pizzas and all that.  Its a good time.  But this time, Pierre was sick, and Kate wasn't feeling great either (apparently sickness is going around now...), so we all skipped out, and Kyle and I went to see X Men: First Class.  LOVED it.  Great movie.  We got some chinese food, then some ice cream, and then headed to the movie.  Had a really good time!

Then, on Friday, I was supposed to head out to Blue Barn where Kyle works to do a Poker night with them after work.  Unfortunately that got cancelled, but I still headed out to Kyle's office for the evening, because his boss, Matt, had invited us to dinner.  Matt asked us if we would house-sit for he and his family while they are away on vacation for a week and a half!  Looks to me like Kyle has made it in good with his boss!!  Haha, anyway, he's a really really nice guy, and his family is fantastic.  We had a really nice dinner and enjoyed hanging out with them.

They have a dog, 2 cats, and 4 sheep!  So we get to look after those while they are away.  Really cool too because they have the type of dog that Kyle and I have considered getting one day when we head back home / settle in somewhere.  Her name is Sky, and she's a labradoodle.  SOOO cute, and so incredibly friendly.  Big too, and she's only 18 months.  She's more lab than she is poodle (1st generation labradoodle I think they said...), so she still sheds and smells kind of dog-ish (the one thing about dogs I dislike is how they smell..), but shes awesome.  I think we'll have a lot of fun hanging out with her.  And we get to feed the sheep too!!  haha, they have one ram, and 3 ewes.  That sould be fun!  Their house is really nice too; heated (which is STELLAR since ours isnt), wood floors, a stereo / sound system, a PROJECTOR to watch movies on.  Its going to be a good week.  Plus, its out in the middle of nowhere... quiet, peaceful... theres hiking trails around, and its close to the water.  Who could complain?!  So yea, it will be nice.  I'll have somewhere new to run as well for a week.  Yay!

So, after a very nice / fun Friday evening, Saturday Kyle wanted to check out some hiking trails out at Bethells beach.  So, after a lazy morning (I got some drawing on Evan's tattoo finished, and then we headed to the French market for some coffee), we geared up with our backpacks / cameras / food / snickers bars :-) and headed off.  About a 40 minute drive,and off we were.  Started out with some HUGE sand dunes, and people were sliding down them into the streams below, and just hanging out.  Black sand everywhere.  It was really unusual.. seeing this farm land / mountainous landscape... with this huge ass sand dune in the middle!  haha.  Really cool.

From there, we headed down to the lake... and here is where it got muddy.  And I mean... MUDDY.  I was really thankful I had finally bought some cheap hiking shoes that had some tread on them (sadly I had never owned a pair before that!)  I had some trouble at first, cause it was all up hill in the mud and I kept slipping, but Kyle found me an epic walking stick that helped a lot. 

We heard ALL kinds of birds... LOTS of Tui hanging out in the trees, which was so cool.  They make such an interesting sound!  They have two voice boxes, so they have distinctly different types of chirps.  Kyle LOVES them, so it was neat to see / hear a bunch all over.  So, the hike continued on, we followed along a ridgeline, finally got out of the mud, and hit some really really nice views.  Kyle has all the photos on his camera (sorry), but we got some good ones.  The weather was perfect too.  A lttle chilly, but not cold / not hot.  Shaded for the most part too.  We saw some wood pidgeons as well, one scared the crap out of Kyle when it came out of nowhere and landed on a branch above his head.  MASSIVE birds!  Seriously.. like... 3x the size of a regular pigeon.  Really pretty birds though, they have kind of a greenish-teal color to them.  Pretty cool!  We saw King fishers too.  Lots of birds for sure.  Not really any other wildlife though!  No squirrels, thats for sure ;-). 

Anyways, we are almost done with the hike, heading down toward Bethells beach, and we come across what looks like an Army Training compound.  SO weird.  Right along the trail!  I mean, there were tanks, wooden training equipment... it was crazy.  Pretty neat / random.  We also realized we covered quite a bit of random terrain... sand dunes, to mud and grasses, then to clay and rocks, then through a pine tree forest with a sandy floor, and then down to the beach.  SO weird how many different things you can encounter in one place.  Turns out... once we finally reached the beach.. we had hiked 12km.  WOW.  Quite the hike!  So we hung out at the beach just as sun was setting, and enjoyed the views. What a day!  We had a great time.  Those Snickers were AWESOME too :-D  Great hiking food!

Next day, we had our 10k run.  Went good for Kyle, rough for me though.  I just wasn't into it.  We did it though!  Just wasn't in the mood for it, you know?  But it got done.  Then we did some grocery shopping, nothing too exciting.  Chill day for the most part.  But it was good.  We managed to get in our 5k run on Monday too.. but man my ankle was killing me.  Took yesterday (Tues) off though, and didn't cycle.  Feeling better today.

Last night was fun too, no one was in for trivia again, so Kyle and I went out anyway on our own to do something.  When no one can come to Trivia its kind of becoming like... a regular Date Night.  Fun!  We have some vouchers for fun things that we've purchased on those "Grab One," or "Daily Deal" web sites, so last night we used one I had gotten.  It was for a "tasting platter and a bottle of wine," at a restaurant up the street from the house that we had never tried.  Awesome, cause I got it for $30, when it would have normally been $70 ;-).  So we enjoyed hanging out over our platter and bottle of wine.  Some interesting food in there.. funky cheeses and meats, bread with this AWESOME Capsicum (red pepper) spread, and olives.  We were still hungry thoguh, so we decided to order dinner as well.  Lucky enough, we were there on Tuesday, meaning it was "get any two mains for only $30!"  SO... what did we do?  Order the two most expensive things on the menu!  :-P  HAHA.  Kyle got a Venison Shank with some AWESOME garlic mashed potatos, and I got the mixed grill which had every kind of meat on it.  And let me tell you... their food is GREAT.  We will definitely go back there agian, I was really impressed.

So in the end... we spent $60 for like... $130 worth of food and drink.  WOOHOO!  Bargain shopping = TOTALLY WORTH IT. 

Twas a great night.  Its so nice to spend quality time with Kyle :-)  We have some fun together.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

S is for Surfing... and coincidentally Summer too...

Haha, ok, so over the weekend a group of us went surfing again from the office.  Around 14 of us were there this time.  And let me tell you... its now officially winter here in NZ.  Granted that doesn't mean its NEARLY as cold as it would be at home.. but it still gets cold!

Needless to say, everyone wanted to go anyway.  Im not all the stellar at surfing, so I just went and rented a wet suit to body board with Kate while everyone else went surfing.  Thank GOODNESS we had winter wet suits on... cause it was EFFING COLD.  Apparenly wind chill made it like... 50 or something?  Maybe cooler?  Not sure... but NOT the weather Id want to be in the ocean in.  Thankfully it was sunny out for the most part.  We had a good time all in all, but I think that'll be the last time I go in winter.  Kyle seemed to be fine, Pierre as well, but MAN Kate and I were cold!  haha.  Too much for us.

So it was a good weekend all together.  I woke up that same morning and went to do my 10k before we hit the road to surf.  It was a great run.  Hard at the start, but ended well.  Im running some fast miles these days!  I duno if its because ive been riding just about twice a week on average, or its the walking to work, or all of the above... but Im definitely faster.  I was doing some 8:30 miles for about a mile or two straight, and feeling really solid.  Only problem is: I seem to have acquired some ankle pain.  Its been hurting after a few runs now, or toward the end, but I kind of let it go as one of those just nagging "this will go away later" pains (which sometimes happens).  But no... I can run about a solid 3 miles before it really starts hurting, and Monday, after the run the day before, my ankle was KILLING me.  So I bought a support brace, and fingers crossed it helps.

Skipped the run Monday because of it, but still rode yesterday.  STRONG ride too, I felt good, and Im getting faster on the bike too.  The group definitely pushes me to go harder.  Got to run a short 5k tonight though, so fingers crossed it goes ok.  Then on to biking Thurs, running Fri, and another run Sat.

Marathon training FTW... hoping it goes well.  Im failing at morning runs these days.  So it'll be after work.  Gotta get up early Friday though!  :-)

Alright, back to work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Haha, Pierre TOTALLY just whooped my ass in our run this morning.  Kyle, Pierre and I went on a, just under 10K run, through some neighborhood hills, etc.  We essentially did a route Kyle and I have done twice now... backwards.  Unfortunately this meant, the hills were just that much steeper to go up!

Anyways, we started out the run fast anyway, Pierre can run like, a > 7 min mile I think, when he's pushing it, so I ended up trying to keep up the pace.  So I ended up running the first mile or two at an 8:30 pace.  EPIC for me.  Wiped though.  THEN we get to the hilly part.  hahaha.  TOTALLY got my ass handed to me on a silver platter.  Pierre was running up them like it was old news!  CRAZY!

Haha, just goes to show I need to really start working.  I am impressed that I was able to mostly keep up though, even though that was a slower pace for him.  I WILL be sore tomorrow...

Thank goodness I have at least been riding semi - reguarly (btw, last week's three rides in a week totally failed.  I had a wiped out week for some reason, was just SO tired all week long).

Marathon training starts in a week......  *dies*  Fingers crossed we can keep this up.....