July 2020

31 Jul Last Day of #DryJuly

So here we are – Dry July, done and dusted. What did I learn?


I sleep better. I genuinely thought I needed a glass of something to relax and get off to sleep. Turns out I would lie there thinking, “I will never get to sleep, now. Look at me, all wide awake. This is going to take forev… Snore”. Plus I’d sleep the whole night through like a dead log. So long as I didn’t overdo the chamomile tea, sure. But dead-weight deep sleep. None of that donut-hole in the middle as my body processed the sugar in the alcohol and woke up for a dance at 4am and my mind got busy. Better sleep, then.


I eat less. They’ve done some experiments on mice (is it wrong that I would quite like to see a drunk mouse?) that shows that alcohol increases their appetite. Inconclusive if that works the same way on humans, but I am definitely someone who gets greedy after a glass of wine. Maybe I’m just relaxed enough to want to shovel all the food in my gob, or maybe there really is something that gets triggered in my brain by alcohol to set off “starvation mode”. But certainly, one lamb chop seems enough now and my pants aren’t quite so tight.


I spend less. The supermarket bill has dropped markedly, which is a bonus in these post-Covid times. I am living on a tighter budget these days, but it feels less tight than it otherwise might. A bit like my pants.


I am just as forgetful. I blamed my inability to remember what I did on Tuesday on Monday and Wednesday’s wine. Turns out, I still can’t quite remember Tuesday. So maybe that’s just me. Though person woman man camera tv. You know what? Maybe Tuesday just wasn’t that memorable. I am also capable of sending out wonky late night tweets and the second prosecco can’t be blamed for that either. It might be the darkness, or the tiredness, or maybe I’m just a wonky tweeter. Good to know. I will bear that in mind.


Also good to know is that largely no one notices when I am not drinking. It doesn’t ruin their dinner if I am having a soda water. I kind of knew that because of my pre-show rule about not drinking, and yet people who have known me for years still offer me a drink before I’ve finished work – my years-old rule hasn’t been noted. And I like it that I can choose not to drink any old time without anyone making a song and dance about it. That will be handy.


Long term goal? I am going for the 5 & 2 – I want my week to have at least five non-drinking days in it. Make drinking a special occasion, not a daily habit. Because of the sleep and the chops and the dollars. And because I would like to be in charge.


Thank you to everyone who has supported this reset – with dollars and with encouragement. I am thrilled about raising this money to support friends with cancer, and about learning a couple of things along the way. Ngā mihi nui.


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01 Jul End of Life Choice – Why I Am Voting “Yes” in this year’s referendum

In her final months, my mother would say that she wasn’t afraid of dying, but that she was afraid of pain. She had been traumatised – we all were – by my father’s death two years earlier. That had been long and slow, excruciating for him and almost unbearable to witness. We had all done everything we could back then – for him and for her – but there were frustrations and regrets, and wishes that things could have been gentler. Grief is a messy beast, and harder to live alongside when it comes with what-ifs and why-couldn’t-we and how-could-we-have-done-better.


So after her own terminal diagnosis, Donna was clear about what she most wanted for herself. It wasn’t more time – she was philosophical about reaching the end of her life even when we weren’t. What she wanted was as little pain and as much dignity as could be managed. Her life had been about graciousness and elegance, and she wanted her final chapter to match the ones that had gone before.


She got that, I think. I am certain if I could ask her now, my mother would use that phrase, “a good death”. We were lucky – privileged – to arrange hospital level care in a rest home, staffed with extraordinarily kind nurses and caregivers. Donna’s body was frail, but she remained sharp as a tack until her last day. I was lucky – privileged – to be able to stay right beside her to be her voice when she could no longer use her own. I channelled my mother’s assertiveness to argue, insist, make calls, seek help, call for back-up. Not everyone is able to arrange their lives to do that.


I felt there was a tension at times between what health professionals need to be seen to do in terms of protocols and medications, and what the patient might choose in terms of being – as my mother said – “floating through it”. The scales are tipped towards keeping someone on the planet rather than helping to ease them off it. You need a loud voice to find the balance. Not everyone can find a loud voice when they need it.


Death (and I know my mother would agree with this, because we talked about it many times) is one of life’s bookends. We work hard to make the other bookend – birth – as safe, as free of pain and trauma, and as welcomed as we can. That’s what the End of Life Choice Bill aims to achieve for terminal patients – an acknowledgment that when death comes, we can allow people to leave with the least pain and trauma, and the most dignity. To let them continue to have a voice, even in their final moments.


We have just marked one year since Donna died. You never go back to being the person you were before, but you learn to wrap the grief more gently into the person you are now. You find ways to honour them. Which is why I will be voting Yes for Compassion in this September’s referendum.

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01 Jul End of Life Choice Referendum – Yes For Compassion

In September when we vote in the elections, we will also have a couple of referendums to vote on. (And yes, I am assured the plural is not referenda – shush, now.)


I will be voting “Yes” for the End of Life Choice referendum. I have written a personal piece about that here:



There are some moving stories and videos on the YesForCompassion website here:



And you can sign up to be part of the discussion on Facebook here:



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