Layers of love – romantic

I can sometimes be a bit cold when I see others performing romantic gestures to and with one another. I go through my phases. I find myself being bitter that the gesture is used as a means to get something from that other person. Sex, money, attention or favours; something driven by selfishness. It doesn’t help with the space that I work in and see these same things play out in other peoples lives in its full glory.

However, I can also appreciate how it can make those people feel in a shared moment; together. The warmth, connection, and selflessness from the person performing the gesture to the other. To show the other person that they are loved and cared for; and that they mean something to someone in this crazy world. I sway between both emotions pending my mood any given time.

I think romantic love is idealised and overrated these days (I don’t know to what degree that applies to indigenous societies in history, however, I do know that village and island connections were strengthened through non-romantic unions – romance was a perk, hence the runaway-bride disease). Like most young-twenty-somethings, I’ve experienced limerence several times, which I think is the slightly shallower-phase of romantic love. I’ve also experienced romantic and committed love at enough of a depth to identify it for what it is and enjoy it for the space it creates between you and another; a space where you feel safe and protected.

I didn’t bother to take the time to differentiate and understand romantic love as an experience and what this type of connection with someone means. Well, no one really explained this to me – I figured it through the process below, self-reflection and reading lol. For a long time after my first serious relationship and attempt at romantic love, I numbed the discomfort from my experience with a few toxic behvaiours (yoyo weight/bfs, career armouring, partying etc.). These behaviours started affecting close friendships and people that I had a different love for and connection with. I.e. my toxicity spilled over into my other relationships. So I did a lot of reflecting and booked myself a mental GP/behavioural check-in if you will. I didn’t want to wake up after 5 years with a set of bad experiences and realisations that I could have had much faster with a bit of therapy, self-reflection, and alone-time. Since doing that, I’ve thankfully had an improved quality of relationships, life, and knowledge of myself (who I was and what I wanted/didn’t want).

At therapy, I learned that I had blocked out the hurt or any risk of potential hurt, that I was also blocking out the joy and anything constructive. Duh. Joy became forboding (quote courtesy of Brene Brown – highly recommend her lit and talks). And I deceived myself into believing that I didn’t deserve joy because of the hurtful things I had done in those relationships, for fear of doing them again. That I wasn’t worthy of joy. So I drifted through “doing” without actually experiencing any deep-set emotion. Only fleeting emotion that I used to trick myself into thinking that I was fulfilled – but not feeling it. Relationships just became transactions for mutual benefits.

I remember the moment when my therapist did some therapist-voodoo where she took me through an exercise that I had mini-breakdown. The exercise was used to address the fear I had around worthiness, belonging, connection, abandonment, rejection, and vulnerability. After the tears subsided she said “it’s ok – some people well older than you never get to this space of realisation in sessions”.

I had been using my career armour, like most yo-pro millenials that have several social enterprises on the side, to be too busy to ‘deal with it’. It was easier to say I’m too busy than address any of it. It could’ve led to high-functioning depression, who knows. But I’m glad I’ve stopped and taken sometime to reconnect with myself – the most important relationship of all.

I’ve had two serious relationships. And even though the last one ended over two years ago, I’m still learning so much about myself from them. I like to think I still astound myself with this self-learning, and I do – not to be self-centered, but to increase my self-awareness. So that when I am in a new relationship, I can share the best of me and even when I am at my worst, I know what I need to do (or what I may need from my partner) to get out of that space, be constructive and overcome. Sometimes when I think back, I am astounded because of the level of self-deception I can weave into my actions lol. But, regardless of the tricky situations I experienced, I am also astounded at the values and strengths I can offer when given the space to.

Getting to know yourself is difficult because you get so busy doing life that it’s not easy to pause deeply and assess why you act the way you do and what it says about who you are. It helps to have good friends who call you out on your bs when they see some of these “whys” so that you can address them. Hence why this space is carved out for active reflection regularly in mini-bursts.

Regardless of who I share my life with for the long-term in future, its definitely important to maintain a reflective practice for nurturing this type of relationship in the various va.

Like me

I hated studying criminal law at university. It’s a compulsory paper so it was endured. Granted I was intrigued at the health system and criminal justice system overlap (or lack thereof) particularly in relation to insanity, dealing with offenders with physical/mental health issues and so forth.

The main reason I went to law school was to bolster my understanding of public law to apply that to health policy/health-anything. A lot of my family have died due to chronic disease so I took an interest in the systemic levers that influenced such things happening; from studying all the “isms”  from a health perspective (there are obviously several alongside the intersectionality of the isms etc.) to individual agency.

I almost hated it as much as studying criminal law. Because the stats you played with for your policy research papers showed that brown people were too fat, too depressed, too dumb and too naughty. In criminal law, brown people were too violent so I switched off immediately; although there is no denying the data. However that’s a later blog post – and numbers never disclose the full story anyway.

Advocating for change from within the health system takes decades. Of course, I should have known that. But I didn’t know that several years ago. My parents worked in factories all their lives. The most political discussions we had were about family affairs and how the church was taking out yet another loan to do something for God. So was it wrong of me to take at least a little bit of the university marketing to heart and believe I really could make a difference after getting a degree? That view naturally dissipated as I got closer to graduating.

My parent’s saw the same marketing so it had a compound effect.

Chuckles in polynesian cycnism.

On application when I finally started working on business cases, projects and operational issues within a DHB context, there were several issues I couldn’t stand. The system is so noisy with bureaucracy that if you’re not the loudest (i.e. with authority) then you’ll wait until you’re in your mid-fourties with a postgrad until someone listens and acts. That’s the average age of the health workforce by the way – real issues there. And… I don’t like being loud without evidence-base, even if I do think I have strong intuition. So forget being a loud young-person because I don’t feel like it’s my time to make noise music yet.

I left because I felt like my salary was better absorbed in meeting the baseline clinical needs – I.e. a grad nurse is probably more necessary than a grad wannabe manager right now. And I feel like everyone wants to be a manager but not actually do the work, so no thank you.

Almost 2 years ago after taking the leap into practicing criminal law, I’m trying to predict a possible long-term career in it. Or at least something for the next 5ish – 10ish years (then maybe move into some in-house DHB role? I don’t know, there are heaps of options). There are characters from every angle, complex propositions/arguments to deal with and personal/professional challenges galore. It’s exciting stuff. Albeit stressful – but from what I see of my seniors, it’s the standard junior/grad stress of trying to do the most. But when a win is a win – it feels worth it. What type of wins are a win is for a later post too.

I like this job enough to stay in it for a while but it will depend on my growth over the next two to three years with grappling with the trial basics re advocacy. And then figuring out my style.

Anyway, now that I get to experience an angle of “frontline” work in criminal law, I’ve managed to use my moderate grasp of Samoan language to explain legal processes to a client. I’ve also gotten to do some advocacy on a sentence appeal which considered a s 27 cultural report. And I’d like to think I’ve been able to build rapport even with the most difficult of clients (although I took some shit that I shouldn’t have – the MAFS clients are the worst because of the inherent disrespect for women so I can’t even do my job properly).

I’ve also seen an old neighbour appear for a bail hearing, family members at Court and an ex who now works in Corrections. Which has been a little too close to home.

I like to think that I don’t get attached to clients and their stories, my main reason being that I’ve got enough of my own problems to deal with. But from time to time, there are some stories that resonate with me, not because I have been in their shoes necessarily, but because they remind me of some of the people I grew up with. I grew up in a state house in Onehunga before the gentrification started and the income gap grew. As I grew up, I noticed some of my peers go down pathways that bought them to similar situations that have brought clients before me. My peers could have ended up like me, quite a few of them that had great potential. I know some of them ended up dealing with the criminal justice system (sometimes frequently) instead. I think of this one Tongan boy who went to all of the same schools as me; who I thought had a lot of potential and so did others who invested in him. He is now in prison serving time for manslaughter.

I’m aware that those predicaments are not just a factor of their agency; there are the structural and environmental factors which have A HUGE impact on where your life is headed.

In acknowledging that environmental/structural factor, I’ve met other young lawyers working in criminal law who see how broken the system is and want to make a change. I think I’ve found my fit and what I want to do for a while. It feels so cheesy to say that. SO CHEESY. However, I like to think I’ll be able to do some good work. Even if it’s just in a small way for now. For a little while.

A running bucket list I started in 2013

Pretty self-explanatory. I’ve added to this since then, my list only started with about 50 things back then.

1. Find God(s) – Tick

2. Tell the truth – Ticking

3. Make a best friend for life – Tick

4. Go to a lecture inebriated – Tick

5. Go on a hike with a bf -Tick

6. Wear a onesie in public – tick

7. Have a celeb best friend – Tick

8. Make friends with a DJ – Tick

9. Do a marathon/fun run – Done

10. Go to the Teuila festival – Tick

11. Go to the Te Maeva Nui festival – Does the one in NZ in Oct 2019 count (?)

12. Go to the South Island, NZ – Done

13. See the snow – Done, in Japan in 2015!

14. Kiss under the Aurora –

15. Have a road trip – Tick

16. Go to a game at the RWC – I’m stupid because it was in NZ in 2011 -_-

17. Go on a blind date – Tick

18. Go to a firing range – Tick

19. Slap someone in the face. Hard. – Tick

20. Go to a concert – Tick

21. Give a lap dance – Tick

22. Check out a film festival – Done

23. Check out the Apollo & Broadway – Broadway DONE Apollo

24. Go to TePapa – Tick

25. Go to the Lourve –

26. Fall in love…and if it happens, get heartbroken – Tick

27. Do an electronics detox for a month – Kind of done when I was in Mitiaro. There really is no point having a phone on that island lol ❤ 

28. Publish something in Verbatim – Tick

29. Take on a leadership position – Sick of ticking

30. Make someone’s day – Tick

31. Check out a strip club – Done more than once

32. Make friends with a stripper – can anyone be a stripper (technically?)

33. Take a class in a faculty i hate – Tick

34. Go deep sea diving and get PADI certified – 

35. Dedicate a performance/piece to someone – tick

36. Talk to a really shitty homeless person at the mission – Done

37. Spend a whole summer away – Tick

38. Pull an all-nighter (study AND party in one night) – Tick

39. Visit the Petra in Jordan –

40. Join a dance crew – Tick

41. Get kicked out of a club – Tick

42. Get taken home by the cops – Done twice (town)

43. Take a ride in a cop car – Done

44. Smuggle something banned on a plane – Tick

45. Design and make someone a wedding dress – 

46. Organise a mint graduation dinner/thanks/celebrations – done

47. Do a year long gratitude diary – done

48. Learn that new skill: Salsa, Guitar, Brush up piano, Textiles hmmm –

49. Go on a romantic date – Tick

50. Teach someone a skill – Tick

51. Go see a play – Tick

52. Make a snowman –

53. Go clubbing in another town – Tick

54. Go skinny dipping! –

55. Explore all the different religious/spiritual beliefs…except maybe Satanism – Tick

56. Learn/Relearn a new language –

57. Perform in bare necessities – Tick

58. Express my opinion – Tick

59. Write a letter thanking someone for their friendship – Tick

60. Sing and compose a song for my Grandmother – 

61. See the statue of Zeus in Olympia, Greece –

62. Stop procrastinating – Tick

63. Start procrastinating – Tick

64. Go to Machu Pichu and do one of the several trails –

65. See Chichen Itza, the Mayan Ruins –

66. Exercise 😉 – Tick

67. Move out of home – Tick

68. Stop worrying – Tick

69. Go to the old city Jerusalem –

70. Give another person a lot of TLC – Tick

71. Just be me – Ticking constantly the more I get older

72. Meet a great religious historian (are these called theologians?) –

73. Have the awkward feeling for once – Tick

74. Tell someone how I feel – Tick

75. Go on an overseas group trip – Tick

76. Have a pen pal – Tick

77. Meet someone exactly like me – Tick

78. Meet someone completely diametrically opposite to me – Tick

79. Get stuck in an elevator – 

80. See a ghost – 

81. Go to the Grand Canyon –

82. Meet a cryptographer if they’re still called these –

83. Go to a vineyard in Italy –

84. See Mount Everest –

85. See the Colosseum in Rome, Italy – 

86. Go to the Bolivia Uyuni Salt flats –

87. Meet Gabe Bandoc, Justin Nozuka and Matthew Lowndes – I saw Matthew Lowndes ❤ ❤ ❤

88. Develop my creativity – Ticking

89. Go to Rio de Janeiro –

90. See the stonehenge and heavens trail –

91. See the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa in Egypt – 

92. Get culture shock – 

93. See the leaning tower of Pisa, Italy –

94. Visit the Hagia Sophia in Turkey –

95. See the Taj Mahal – 

96. Visit the Cairo citadel –

97. Lose myself – Tick

98. See Victoria falls, Africa –

99. Love my mum and dad and show them – Tick

100. Travel the world with my friends – Ticking

101. Graduate 😉 – Tick

102. Go to the Galapagos –

103. Fight for someone – Tick

104. Do legal volunteer/work overseas – done

105. Dye my hair randomly – Tick

106. Hold hands with someone over the water in Venice – 

107. Throw something over the Brooklyn Bridge, New York – DONE

108. Travel to Easter Island/Rapanui –

109. Perform a dance duet – Done

110. Write a love letter – tick

111. Own a business – 

112. Become a CEO – 

113. Become a mother – Tick (my cat)

114. Have a studio/workshop – 

115. Make a positive difference to indigenous women –

116. Do a paid modelling shoot – half done

117. Compose a song –  

118. Present a paper –

119. Stay in an underwater hotel – this is some influencer bs, I don’t know if I still want to do this

120. Visit the haiku stairs in Hawaii

121. Visit pig beach in the bahamas 

122. Ride in a limo – I rode to the school ball in a bus lol 

123. Spend a new years overseas – done

124. Visit the biggest library in the world (US Congress, DC) –

125. Set foot on all 7 continents – I don’t know how I feel about my carbon footprint with this -_- 

126. Spend a night tree camping – Is this safe for Samoans lol

127. Visit London and try butterbeer, hogwarts stuff, the rain room 

128. Dye my hair a crazy colour – done

129. Ride in a hot air balloon – see Samoan comment above 

130. Go zorbing – 

131. Scuba dive in the great barrier reef (before it dies) – 

132. Swim with whales, dolphins and turtles (Turtles DONE) – 

133. Do a hike overseas – Mount Vaea counts in my books

134. Try the international zipline between spain and portugal – 

135. Ride in a helicopter – 

136. Enter an amateur fight (but practise longer than 12 weeks cause I don’t want to die): 

137. Learn to surf

138. Do a 100km Oxfam walk 

139. Learn to ski and snowboard 

140. Drive a boat and race car 

141. Live overseas for 1 year 

142. Have a dinner party – tick

143. Read 100 books in 12 months 

144. Eat at a Michelin star restaurant 

145. Go camping overseas 

146. Do shave for a cure 

147. Go into an active volcano 

148. Visit a crime museum 

149. Raise a rescue puppy/kitten – tick (stray?)

150. Buy a house or land – x

151. Build a house in Samoa or Mitiaro/Rarotonga – 

152. Stay in an ice motel 

153. Ride the Glacier express 

154. Check out all the second book stores in New Zealand and buy a book from each of them

155. Study at an overseas university 


Mental health days (MHD) are important. I took one recently. And behold – I still worked from home; standard detail as I find it difficult relaxing and genuinely sitting still. It’s a goal to do this more often this year. I’m tossing up a solo-trip in some South-East Asian country or in the Pacific (not to “find-myself”) to take a break, spend time reading and to sit still for a bit.

I took a MHD mostly due to general life-workload, some anxiety about a work issue and not having a break for the past few weekends. I do project work and a bit of actual work on Sundays, Saturday’s are my actual days off.

If it isn’t the consequences of my own actions. We meet again lol.

On Sunday nights when I look at the week ahead for work and life in general, I sprinkle some guilt over my conscience for not spending my weekends reading/ learning/ practising how to be a better advocate i.e. for my actual occupation. I’ve got the tools, just not the time because I’m spreading myself thin across these extra-curricular activities. My actual workload is manageable I think.

Filemu means to be still (i.e. nofoaga filemu). To “keep calm”. Be at peace.

If I’m honest, I haven’t been still for a long time, to sit, listen, be at peace and absorb that peace. For fear of not growing to meet the next milestone that demands a more refined version of me. However, the constant “doing” has me questioning that ownership of that milestone at the moment.

When in reality, my intuition is telling me that in order to reach that level-up, I need to be still and listen for a bit. The busy-ness is now counterproductive. A longer hiatus maybe.

There is power in the pause.

Waru, Vai and reflections


Last weekend I went to watch Waru and Vai with a girlfriend. I absolutely love supporting brown creatives when I can, so it was such a treat to go out and see this despite my busy work schedule and week ahead (and the fact that I had been working that Sunday afternoon).

Waru is a film directed by 8 female directors. It follows 8 stories in sequence around the tangi of a small boy who died as a result of child abuse. It is confronting.

The first sequence is at the Marae. An aunt, Charm (Tanea Heke) of the boy is in charge of food preparation and making sure everything is prepared for the tangi. She sees the mother later in the sequence who is a mess and wants to see her pepi.

The second sequence is of another mother Mihi (Ngapaki Moetara) who has children at the same school as the boy. She is on the benefit and doesn’t have enough

The third is of the boy’s teacher, Anahera (Tanea Heke) at school. She is having difficulty dealing with it and blames herself for not spotting any signs of the abuse. Another colleague urges her to attend the tangi with her.

The fourth is of a female tv presenter Kiritapu (Maria Walker). She is a young Maori woman and heads the sports segment on a news show. She takes over the racist news piece by a Hosking-like character and shares her own views on child abuse in New Zealand.

The fifth is of the paternal grandmother attending the tangi to collect the boy’s body and take him back to his father’s land for burial.

The sixth is of a struggling mother Em (Awhina Rose Ashby) who returns home from a drunk night out to find her baby on the kitchen floor nestled. Alone.

The seventh, which was the most heart wrenching for me, is of a young female teenager Mere (Acacia Hapi) who stands her ground against a dirty uncle who is attending the tangi.

The eighth is of two of the boy’s aunties, Titty and Bash (Amber Curreen and Miriama McDowell) who live nearby. They are aware of the abuse and are on their way to the boy’s whare to collect him and other children there who aren’t being cared for. There is tension between the aunties struggling as to whether or not they should go collect the children. The headstrong aunt wins out in the end. When they arrive, there are drunk men littered around the front of the house telling the women to fuck off. The boy whispers, that at that point in time, he was still alive. He was still here.

Lindah Lepou is the costume designer – which I am an absolute fan of because she came from state house life like myself. And I love seeing state house kids making it, breaking stereotypes that we’re dole bludgers, etc.

My reflection

The story which hit me the hardest was Mere’s; based on my own, but likely correct, interpretation of the sequence. I cried. I hurt. I reflected on why I cried and hurt. I’m not the recipient of the trauma referenced in this sequence but I have or have tried to absorb it because three women close to me have had this trauma. And they have let that trauma shape them into three completely different women. One is strong. Another is angry. The other has imploded.

I think I can see how far this trauma seeps into my loved ones’ behaviours, words and sometimes, intentions. And want to help mitigate its effects. But instead, because I don’t need to put my emotions where they are not needed, I should really just see this understanding for the rebuilding in the wake of said trauma.

I struggle to deal with piecing together what to do next in my own familial story of unbecoming and rebuilding. I struggle because there are layers of unbecoming that happened all at once between late 2017 and early 2018. The physical death of a patriarch that, if he knew, may have provided direction forward with dealing with this. The death of familial trust in several relationships.

My father is not outspoken. He is quiet.

My mother is the complete opposite. She is loud. She is certain. She is tenacious.

I have struggled because, when my grandfather died, he was the centre of our family. But… instead of mourning who will take up this gap in our family and looking for some direction, my grandfather dished out enough tough love and direction during his life for me to figure it out on my own. Instead of trying to find his replacement or become his replacement, he gave me enough discipline and focus to find this within myself. Not to be a centre – but to find direction. On this.


Like Waru, I love how this story revolves around the strength, vulnerability, and essence of Polynesian women. There is so much depth.

Vai is directed by 9 Polynesian film-makers. All women again, all amazing.

The link goes over the different sequences, I only included the ones for Waru because I couldn’t find a link for it. For the sequences in Vai, its hard not to connect most with NZ born Samoan Vai. She works to support her family, has good grades but isn’t getting support from her tutor.

This story in Vai reminds me of a time I cried in my lecturer’s office about struggling with an aspect of the paper. I was 25 at the time.

I like to think I’m quite a composed person but, unlike Vai, I did not hold myself together. I burst into tears when my lecturer asked me what was wrong. With my mother breathing down my throat about Housing New Zealand trying to pressure my parents (and then my mum on me) to find a private rental because we were paying market-rate, working full-time and an unhappy familial and intimate relationship, I just burst. I don’t tend to get fixated and stressed over a single issue, it’s usually a combination that gets me to breaking point.

I got a B+ for that paper – health economics. Not the happiest of results but considering the circumstances, I made peace with it.

I’ve decided against going back to postgraduate studies until I had a bit more balance on the personal, financial and professional front.

No doubt I’ll probably have more reflections on these films as time goes by but, for a breather on a Sunday, it was well loved and enjoyed.



Photos from Rarotonga, The Cook Islands (we’re picking a new name yay!). Thanks to my girlfriends who continue to be my models and let me bounce my creative ideas around with them. Hopefully more to come in the coming months.

Disclaimer: All photos are raw & unedited. I haven’t used a DSLR in a very long time, let alone an SLR; so I’ve completely forgotten all the photography principles around lighting, aperture, and focus. That being said, this was still fun to play and get used to shooting again.

Taha tinana – taha hinengaro

Last weekend I got to do the Oxfam 50km trail walk with friends down in Whakatane. It was a lot of fun. I got to spend time with close friends and enjoyed it for the most part. I was in one of my extroverted moods when I started coordinating this and kept our team on track with training, logistics, and fundraising for the 5 months following. I was only slightly emotional just prior to reaching the finish line (as lawyers shouldn’t be emotionless) because I decided on doing Oxfam about 5 months prior and managed to coordinate us up to this point; I was sad it was over but elated that I had gotten us to the end, together.


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We finished in 13 hours and 14 minutes with about almost 2 hours worth of “break time”. A decent effort overall. The fastest team finished in 7 hours. The competitive streak in me wants to get closer to that time eventually – but that’s another post.

This weekend I had arranged to volunteer at a youth camp – but I called in a few days before to say I couldn’t participate. The previous few weekends had been full of life, new/nurturing connections and high energy activities. I attended a wedding the weekend before, had a load of life-admin the weekend prior, a 40km walk with our crew prior and was in Wellington for Te Matatini the weekend prior. This weekend, I needed quiet time to reflect. And I did get to do that. I slept most of the day (no hangover from the CBA dinner the day before thank goodness) and got to have some quality alone time.

I’ve realised that I’ve been doing this for 5 years, doing volunteer work for UN Youth NZ, Pacific Society of Reproductive Health and suite of other smaller groups that I jump on the bandwagon for here and there. I’ve helped organise conferences, events, administrative/project work etc. Which has been GREAT in terms of adding to my skillset but ABYSMAL at filling my soul cup directly (It fills my cup indirectly because they either go towards achieving wider career goals later in life or because I get to travel for free – plain honesty there).

On a tangent – the reason I over-extended myself in the first place in 2013 was because I was in a relationship that wasn’t constructive, so I decided to do what ENTJs do best – try to address it but when I couldn’t, work more. I remember the evening I made that decision quite clearly – when I decide I want something, I’ll do everything I can to get it. I’ve had some life-changing experiences because of that decision.

I’ve known for the last 6 months, that I need to step back and fill my time with activities that actually make my soul sing. I used to dance a lot, with Ura Tabu, and I’ve been nostalgiac to this for a while now. I used to paint, draw and play around with photography. And my soul has been craving this creativity since leaping into the world of criminal law and general litigation. I’ve enjoyed this career turn (I hated criminal law at university) but this means I have little emotional energy during my personal time because I’m instead giving it to service. I want to avoid any depressive apathy and that downward spiral when one start’s to lose the humanity in their actions.


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Litigation is a high-pressure environment that requires positionality, which is fine in my opinion – if I had activities outside of work that I intrinsically enjoyed on a regular basis. Creating on my own and creating with others is a deeply satisfying experience. Conceptualising some work and then making it. There is a level of connection to self and environment that “creating” can give, which I miss. That may not make sense to some, but I’m confident the creatives would understand.

I’ve got a meeting later today with the two organisations I volunteer with; one as a “coordinator” and the other as a committee member. Both are going through busy periods but I’ll be leaving them both by mid-year and giving myself 12 months beyond that to practice saying “no”. Being a Pacific Islander, one is generally hyper-aware of others’ interests ahead of their own.

Here’s to committing to myself, the comedown after a 5 year joy-ride and the pre-30s reinvention.