Liz (one of our coaches) reflects where she was at a few years ago…

“Rewind a bit to 2017, I wasn’t doing great.  It wasn’t all doom and gloom by any means, but there was some tough stuff going on and tough stuff that I was ‘dealing with’ by drinking more booze.  One ‘Sunday Funday,’ I was looking down the bottom of a bottle of wine wondering what was going on, this wasn’t the plan I had for my travels, for this chapter.

It was time for change. 

I hadn’t done a lot of travelling when I first came over to New Zealand, so I decided it was time to explore a bit more, get on the road, make some stuff happen, reconnect with my original goal of travelling to do life differently.

Over the next few months, I put that plan in to action. 

Back in Christmas 2016 had me vowing to myself that I would be in a different place emotionally and financially.  I didn’t know what that was going to look like or how, but it was a promise.

December 23rd 2017 saw me heading out of Auckland, having given up my rented accommodation, given a lot of my stuff away, put some in a friend’s garage and the rest packed in my car, along with a cheap tent and sleeping bag.  

Christmas 2017 saw me camping at Stony Bay in Coromandel. I had kept my promise, I was in a very different place.  I remember that afternoon thinking all I needed now was a bbq to finally get my ‘Kiwi Christmas,’ but I was happy with the snacks that I had bought.  (Hadn’t upgraded to a gas stove at that point!)  In the afternoon a guy walked off the beach and we got chatting and he invited me for steak and all the trimmings for dinner!  Whoop!  Christmas BBQ after all!

My travels took me exploring the North Island and some of the South, and I was in Cambridge when it was starting to get a bit chilly in my tent, and the plan was to find somewhere to volunteer for the Winter, have a base and then move on.  

Putting my plan out on Facebook, a friend said she had seen this place on GoodSorts (TV programme).  So I got in touch with Taranaki Retreat and after a few conversations back and forth, I was down there staying on a friend’s bus and embarking on this chapter of ‘three months volunteering!’.  

I have told this story many times, and you may well have heard it before, but as I write this time and pause to think back as to the version of me I was then, who had zero expectations of where these three months would take me, was just rolling with what was.

It has been such a beautiful relationship with the team, such a healing one.  We often talk about how we are all on a wellbeing continuum, we move up and down.  At some points, I felt like I was literally scooting up and down that continuum like nobody’s business!

For a long time in my life I never finished anything, had all these ideas but quietly let them fall away.  I think this is one of the reasons why this journey alongside the Retreat has meant so much and been so pivotal in my healing journey.  It made me stay in one place, it made me face what I had been avoiding, and supported me as I faced the wounds and the pain.

We often say it’s been x amount of long years.  But these haven’t been long, they have just been ginormous, and I am so incredibly grateful. 

2024 marks six years with Taranaki Retreat and Waimanako.

This isn’t just a celebration for me.  It’s a celebration that life can be done differently, it doesn’t have to look a certain way. Is it easy living on the other side of the world to my family, who are all in the UK, no I miss them every single day.  But I believe I have found what I am meant to be doing and where I am meant to be doing it right now, and I am trusting that.

Just know that if things aren’t great right now, that life can be different.  

Learning to open our hearts and say yes to life can be a great first step.