What’s your mountain?

Right as Washington state went into lockdown, I received some really exciting news. I have been selected for the ROMP 2020 Elite Team to climb Cotopaxi and some other Ecuadorean volcanoes in September. I want to outline here what that means and talk more about this exciting endeavor.

The Range of Motion Project is a non-profit with a cause that is very close to my heart. ROMP, which runs entirely on donations, provides prosthetic care to amputees without access in Ecuador and Guatemala. A stunning statistic from the W.H.O. is that more than 9/10 amputees in the developing world do not have access to prosthetic care. Growing up in a modern healthcare system, this fact is very hard for me to process. It’s hard to imagine, and it also lays bare yet another of the many privileges I have been granted being born in the right country, at the right time, with the right complexion. 

Every year a team of amputees and non-amputees get together in Ecuador and climb mountains. While doing this they are able to raise money to support ROMP and their patients, as well as bring needed visibility to this issue and set an example of what humans are capable of when empowered with mobility. ROMP believes that amputees are not disabled by a missing limb, but by a missing prosthesis.

Receiving this news in quarantine was bittersweet. This is a goal I’ve been very much looking forward to diving into this year, but at the same time there is so much uncertainty right now about travel, and the difficulty of fundraising in a financially difficult time. We’ve Zoomed together as a team a couple of times now, and while we know we may not be climbing Cotopaxi in September, we are aware of how important our fundraising is for the ROMP mission. The world may be shut down right now, but the need for prosthetic care for amputees is not. 

When I think about my own experiences during this quarantine period, one of the surest ways for me to alleviate  my own insanity is to get out of the house. This looks like long walks in the sunshine, or bike rides along the waterfront. I think this time in our lives has caused most of us to lose mobility in some form; our movement is restricted, and we are experiencing confinement. When the curtain lifts and we can move freely again, we’ll think back to this as a kind of blip on the radar. For some, this type of confinement is not temporary. Your donation to ROMP can help some of those people move around again, or maybe even move around for the first time ever. 

I’m asking for your donation today, and will be doing so regularly for the next few months. I’ve set a lofty goal of fundraising $5,000 to empower roughly five other amputees to gain mobility with a prosthetic. With the world closed, this fundraising is much more difficult. If you can give, I really do ask that you give generously. If you can’t give, that’s cool too and thank you for reading this; maybe you could do me a solid and share this with your friends and family.

Click here to donate.


Dear USA,

You look kinda like New Zealand right now. 

The last few weeks have seen our lives change drastically. Our days of consuming have been put on hold. Work places, stores, cafes, restaurants, and even outdoor recreation are currently off-limits. Our everyday busy lives filled with routines and social activities have been replaced by our kitchens, living rooms, backyards, and the people with whom we are closest. This week (at least where I am) the sun also came out and suddenly it’s a balmy 70 degrees outside.

I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia right now. At Christmas time in New Zealand it also happens to be summer. When December 24 rolls around, the whole country shuts down and goes on holiday for a month. Seriously. In New Zealand the minimum annual leave a company can give you is 4 weeks per year, plus 10 statutory public holidays. Four of those holidays are at Christmas/New Year, so you can spend just 6 annual leave days to get 2 consecutive weeks off. Almost everyone does, and most people take more weeks after that. The country goes camping, does yard work, plays at the beach, and spends time with family. It’s not uncommon for your local coffee shop to be closed for a couple of weeks. Basically everything that is not an essential service shuts down. What work places remain open operate with a skeleton crew.

It feels to me like much of the US is experiencing this right now. I’ve never seen so many people walking around my neighborhood. My social media feed is filled with people working on interesting projects at home. People are stocking their pantries and cooking; I think 70% of my friends now bake bread. Everyone. Is. Gardening. 

The government is pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into unemployment, building housing for the homeless, letting folks out of prison, and talking about paying essential workers more money. Society is realizing that the people compensated the least are in fact the most important to us (grocery workers, delivery drivers, caregivers, undocumented farm workers). There’s a lot of bad, and a lot more to come, but for right now it seems like many of us are being given unique insight into what life is like when it isn’t centered around a job. Not to mention the lesson in how much collective power we have when we all stop spending money for a single week. 

Most working people I know in the US have somewhere between 0 and 10 days of paid vacation time — and many companies only allow it to be taken in one week intervals. Many spend their week off work traveling and playing, because that’s the only time they have. It’s fun, but not necessarily restorative. Taking a week off barely allows your brain to switch from work to play. I grew up in a country with a much more balanced lifestyle, and I’ve been fortunate enough to take periods of time away from working. There’s something about taking large chunks of time off work that gives you a space to think, and a space to discover. Many people are now being forced to have that time and that space. It may come at a ridiculous cost, but it’s happening all the same.

USA, I hope you emerge from all this holding on to some of the lessons here. I hope that there are more voices calling for fair minimum wages, for healthcare access, for more reasonable work accommodations (contrary to what your boss told you last month, it turns out your job can be done from home). I hope people see that things like unemployment assistance, housing, healthcare, paid time off, fair compensation, and prison reform are not ‘socialist’ ideas but simply ideas centered around people. The government has shown these last few weeks that many of these things are actually possible, and in the interests of everyone.

And if you told a Kiwi that vote-by-mail was an issue in 2020, I doubt they’d believe you.

Respectfully yours,


Deep Scottish Love

Before I visited Scotland I read some blog post on the internet where this person was talking about a concept called Deep Scottish Love. Basically DSL is the feeling you experience when you visit Scotland and fall completely and madly in love with basically everything. It took less than a week of exploring Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands before I was starting to come down with my own case of DSL.

The minute I got off the train in Edinburgh I was awed by the beauty of the castle and medieval buildings which looked as if they were carved into the side of the rock face. I couldn’t help but stop and marvel for some minutes on my way to the bus stop, the setting sun casting reflections as if mistaking the buildings for a tranquil pool of water.


Old Town, Edinburgh.

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The Motherland: Bath

The day after my excursion to Brighton I took a train to Bath. Navigating trains in England is such a breeze compared to getting around in Asia. Firstly I can read all the signs, and secondly if I get stuck I can ask literally anyone for help. After all the travel that I’ve done it’s funny to think that this is my first real trip to an English speaking country (unless you count Australia, which I don’t).


I spotted Cho Chang on her way to school

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The Motherland: Brighton

It just so happened that I flew to London on my mum’s 70th birthday. Originally from England, she hasn’t been back since she left in 1966, at 17 years old. Like my brother did at my age, I decided to take the trip down to the town where my mum spent her childhood. I wanted to walk the streets and get a feel for the place, it seemed fitting that if I couldn’t be in New Zealand to celebrate my mum’s 70th, I could at least go and visit the place she grew up.


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Playing Monopoly in London

Cold, wet, miserable. London felt much like a slap in the face on a winter’s morning. Given it’s rich history, dense population,  and iconic land marks, London has always held some intrigue for me. When I thought of London I imagined a world from a Dickens novel, or West End theatre shows, or parades for the Queen. I thought of high-end tea houses and old pubs on every corner; the latter of those certainly holds true. Mostly what I found however was a dreary, cold, soulless city; filled with dreary, cold, miserable people. And corner pubs.


Every corner.

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Veganism is magic

“Hippie vegan shit,” is a phrase you may well have heard me use to describe food. Tongue in cheek, but certainly meant to poke fun at a way of life that I, for the most part, have failed to understand. My religion forbids it; the animals are treated badly; the environment. The first two reasons simply don’t resonate with me, but the third gives me pause. The environment, what does that mean?


Highland Park street art, LA life.

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Backpacking my balls off

A year ago I was restless. I woke up each morning, I took a shower, I fed the cat, I made breakfast, I drove to work, and I sat in a chair all day. Some days I worked out, some days I ate out, and some nights were spent cooking. Life felt mundane, the daily grind of my routine leaving me unfulfilled with a yearning for more. I was bored with my life as I knew it, and I wanted to see the world.

Working the real life.

Working the real life.

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