New Zealand sabbatical

My employer has an amazing benefit – after 5 years of employment with them, they offer a 4-week sabbatical (and after 10 years, 5 weeks; 15 years, 6 weeks!). I have to say looking forward to my sabbatical definitely kept me going during rough times over the past 7 years (I’m overdue taking mine) – I wonder how much it affects retention for them. And now I’ve only got 3 & 1/2 years til my next one!

Most people seem to use their sabbatical to travel, and I was no exception. I opted to spent three weeks in New Zealand with my grandmother (my dad’s mom). She’s very special to me, not only because she’s a connection to my father, who died in a car accident when I was 13, but also because she’s a truly exceptional woman. She’s intelligent, keeps up with current events, has opinions about everything and loves to discuss them with you. She’s insightful and strong and beautiful, and cares deeply about her family and friends. She also has some pretty amazing stories from her past – like something out of an amazing novel.

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Grandma’s passion was (and still is) dancing – she became a show dancer in her 30s after she had 4 kids! Her days of dancing in cages are over, but she still does Tai Chi, and occasionally dances in her kitchen when I play music for her.

This trip was my fourth to NZ (fifth if you count the trip I was a stowaway on when my mom was pregnant with me!), and I’ve seen a great deal of the sights, so the purpose of this trip was really to spend time with my grandmother, read a bunch of books, go for a few hikes, and just relax. It was a real retreat for me. I learned a lot about myself, and when I came back to work, even though my boss had actually quit while I was off, felt very calm and in control. Now that it’s a month later, I would say that feeling has somewhat left me, but all I have to do is think back to NZ and I feel a little more peaceful.

Here are a few of my favourite shots from NZ:

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Grandma’s Kitchen

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Oamaru Opera house nightly light show.


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Finger guitarist Richard Gilewitz putting on an awesome show at the Penguin Club in Oamaru.

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Oamaru harbour from a scenic lookout.

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Walking through the woods in Oamaru. See the tiny orange triangle on the tree in the distance? That’s the trail marker – felt like I was exploring the woods of Narnia or something.

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Selfie by the Pacific Ocean on a hike.

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Tide is in!

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Cliffside path by the sea. This reminded me a lot of California actually.

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Paua shells on the beach – I collected about 30 for Grandma’s garden.

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Whisky tasting at the NZ Whisky Co in Oamaru!

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Golden hour on a hike.

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The Moeraki Boulders – we always go here for a walk on the beach and a coffee.

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Cheese tasting at the Whitestone Cheese Factory.

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Whitestone Cheese with the girls – Norma, Grandma, and Me.

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