Finding inspiration in unlikely places
Be the most honest version of yourself you can be, advises Louise Giltrap.
In December I spent a week in Otorohanga working for my old boss Sean at the barber's shop.
To say I was nervous about that is an understatement, not because of my ability to cut hair but at being in an environment where I knew I would come across a few people who read this column.
That's farmers who have lived in the area for decades and have known me for years, people I have a lot of respect for and whose opinion I would class as wholeheartedly truthful.
After the year that was 2016 in this house, I wasn't 100 per cent sure how I would hold up if someone chose to say something less than flattering.
Not that everyone should like or even read my column, but my gas tank for inspiration was running pretty low to the point I was considering pulling out of writing it.
Well, clearly that didn't happen because that week in Otorohanga was pretty close to one of the best weeks of the year.
The conversations, the laughs and the genuine bear hugs were the reinforcement I needed to keep writing. I was also able to catch up on everyone's family news from husbands whose wives used to be clients of mine when I had my salon in town.
It really was a great time and I thank all of you gentlemen who took the time to spend having a yak with me, you know who you are.
I stayed with my second daughter Brittney. Now this kid has kids of her own and she has always been quite forthcoming with her opinion of me as her mother.
Always the negatives, of course, directed at me with volume and expletives. She never likes being hugged and can be a touch impossible at times. Apparently she gets the "being impossible" from me... I don't think she does but anyway that's not the point.
She had had a rough few days before I arrived and wasn't in the best of moods when I picked her up from her friend's house after a late night teaching her sorrows to swim.
The nights at her house were spent dealing with the grandsons' routine and then talking for hours after they had gone to bed.
One night my husband Geoff texted to say a wee parcel had arrived for me and it might be a book that one of my readers had emailed me about.
Bud Christensen had read my column 18 months ago about taking my granddaughter Mollie to her first day at school. Bud is a retired teacher and had always wanted to write a children's book. At Christmas I received two copies of his book, one with a message for me that read "Thank-you for your inspiration" and one with a wee message to Mollie.
The book is Good Golly Miss Polly, It's My First Day at School. Miss Polly takes her favourite toy to school in her backpack… a doll called Molly.
Proceeds from the book's sales have enabled Riding for the Disabled to buy a new pony.
After relaying that story to my daughter over a wine, she simply said "That's pretty cool Mum". I have to be honest, I wanted her to be a little bit more excited, because I thought it was very cool.
The conversation turned to me saying I hoped someone would give me the inspiration to write something fabulous in 2017 and do some good with it like Bud had.
Brittney looked at me and said "Oh, good luck with that Mum", while rolling her eyes. I immediately took the defensive: "Aw, so you don't think I could write something that could do some good?"
And what she said next provided the final bit of inspiration I needed to keep writing.
"Mum, how the hell can you expect anyone to inspire you when you're already inspired to write fabulous things that inspire others, for Gods sake. Do you want another wine, old girl?"
So here's the thing. Dare to tell your story wholeheartedly because it makes you connect with others... especially your children.
You don't need to be famous or loved by strangers to make a difference.
Be the best and most honest version of yourself that you can be; no one else on the planet can do that better because being you is enough and it's what makes the difference.
Louise Giltrap is a Northland dairy farmer. She loves to hear from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.