Catalysts for positive life change

The last time I wrote a blog for KIN it was about a revelation I had after a PATH planning session and the development of my Mokopuna Ora vision. That was more than a year ago and I wanted to share that I have completely reinvented myself. There were three major catalysts that gave me the motivation to change, so I will share those catalysts first and then let you know what I did about it.

When I enrolled for the Doctorate Health Science (DHSc), I was renting a small unit in One Tree Hill and moved around a bit for work as a lot of the jobs were short term contracts. I had a health scare and needed surgery in 2011. The end of one contract meant that I could take some time off work as my employer at the time paid me for research leave. It was a golden opportunity in disguise as I needed a longer recovery time because of my poor health status at the time. I stayed home to finish some contracts and concentrate on my studies. I had a new job by the time that three months was up and I started commuting to Henderson every day for work. The organisation I worked for decided to close four branches including our one so we were looking down the barrel of redundancy. That was a first for me being made redundant. Another golden opportunity presented itself and after only one year I was paid out the equivalent of four months salary. It wasn’t going to put a dent in my student loan but it helped with day to day costs of living so I could devote myself to studying instead of going to work. I also managed to get some scholarships that helped me a lot as well as the AirBnB guests that I hosted.

I was chugging along with the thesis and then my flat was put on the market. This was the second catalyst as I had to find a new place to live with only two months to submit. When I got the news I suffered an anxiety attack. At the time I thought it was an angina attack so I packed a little bag and made my way to hospital in a taxi. I rang my friend Abigail McClutchie and she met me there. After a night in hospital under observation, a chat with a social worker and the kaumatua who said karakia, I was told that I had an anxiety attack and was not going to die so I would be okay to go home. My daughter and two moko came to pick me up from hospital. So this was also a blessing in disguise as after my first surgery the anaesthetist told me that if I did not get my blood sugars under control I would be a heart attack candidate so I was already aware of this when I went to the hospital.

I told my landlord what happened and he took my flat off the market to give me time to finish my thesis. I was so grateful to him for that support. It was then that he told me his son was a PhD living in California and worked for NASA. So little did I know that he understood a bit about what I was going through having supported his own son. A few months beforehand, I had found a masseuse who was working for a local community group in the back room of the opportunity shop near my place. Ally Birtwhistle is a Reiki healer and used natural aromatherapy oils and she made oil blends for her clients to work on emotional aspects of themselves.

I submitted the thesis in November, packed up my flat and moved in with my relatives who worked for Māori Television. I was applying for jobs but I was a bit despondent and depressed. I was supposed to be preparing for my exam but I was so sick of looking at my thesis that I could not read it again. It was while I was avoiding my responsibilities that I met someone who was to become the third catalyst for change. A year later when I found out he was back with an old girlfriend and was seeing me on the side, I broke it off. I was heartbroken but I was also relieved as the attraction between us was powerful and it was unhealthy in so many ways.

The separation was the third catalyst/ blessing in disguise as I was able to concentrate on resubmitting my thesis. A few months earlier I had moved to another friends house and while I was away for the week my beloved Burmese cat Bunny was injured by stray dogs and I had to have her put to sleep. A day or so later I spoke to my 4 year old grandson Micah on the phone who asked me if I was okay and then he asked me if I was also going to die. It was a question that kind of jolted me to my core. I told my mokopuna that I was not ready to die yet and I wanted to be around to see him grow up and get married and have babies of his own.  He was satisfied with my answer but that left me with a few more questions for myself. I have had diabetes for over fifteen years and was on insulin injections that I hated. I was also taking a lot of oral medications and I just felt sick and tired all the time.

I had started working for Māori Television and this gave me the means to make the changes I needed physically and mentally. I had started house sitting for another friend at the time and Abigail introduced me to Isagenix nutritional supplements. I lost 7kg in a few weeks and started a workout regime with a personal trainer Miriam Hummingbird Tio who is a world Muay Thai Kickboxing champion. I lost another few kilos working out twice a week. I also found a nutritionist Eugenia to help me develop my eating plan and I had some sessions with a life coach / counsellor Rihi Tenana to plan the next steps of my life. I set some new goals and continued to work on my thesis that I resubmitted in December last year. I found a place of my own that I love, got a new car and reversed the ravaging effects of diabetes. I am now injection free, and take a lot less medication. I reached my weight goal and am maintaining it with diet and exercise and feel great. I have also been through a spiritual transformation that has changed my outlook drastically. Because this is only meant to be a short piece, that transformation will be the subject of my next blog.


  1. huka

    I’m lying in bed today with an infection, scrolling the want ads for jobs, waiting for my creative supervisors to review the last lot of the edits they demanded I comment on (there were hundreds)…I felt they were being a bit mean. My love life is messy – urgh, why do I fall in love. The last part of a PhD is torture. I know my work is good and I want to share it…I’m just waiting in a weird mostly unemployed and unfunded holding pattern. Reading this today has given me some kaha. Thanks Ruth x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth Ann Herd

    Tena koe, thanks for your comments and glad it helped. You are not alone in this journey. I was asked to speak at a hui about my doctoral journey and I told Dr Kahu that I wont be sugar coating it. lol. I was introduced as a stand up comedienne, because if you cannot laugh about what we have been through then we really didn’t get it was for our personal growth as well. When people ask me what am I doing now, I say that I am in limbo. I have a job that is kind of okay but it is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. As a result of speaking at the hui I was invited to facilitate another hui on suicide prevention. If anything this tough journey prepares you for tough topics and I learned that I have a knack for public speaking and facilitation of hui of this nature. I decided to start my own consultancy maybe partner with others doing similar things. I met a few movers and shakers at the hui the other day. So I encourage you to get out and network when you get better and find out what is waiting for you out there. I am sure you are going to be doing awesome things. arohanui xoxox

    Liked by 2 people

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