Our Brave Girl’s Birth Story – from daddy’s perspective

As a soon-to-be dad, having a baby can be an incredibly romantic thought. The dream looks something like this…

Your wife shares with you she’s pregnant – news met with joy and anticipation. You go through the pregnancy weeks with her chatting away endless nights about names, what the sex of the baby might be and the person you hope baby will become.

The day comes for baby to arrive and you support your wife through a challenging but ultimately satisfying delivery. Then you hold your baby in your arms, support your champion wife in recovery and lead them home to begin your perfect family life of happiness and hope for the future.

This is the scenario dreams are made of. And our story definitely began this way, but on delivery day, that scenario for us went out the window.

Our delivery day started to plan. My wife was delighted when she told me her waters had broken at home (she was five days overdue at the time) and contractions started slowly but indicated that meeting baby was just on the horizon (how exciting!).

Our 4am drive to the hospital was relatively uneventful (except for a couple of discomfort stops) and things began well once in the delivery suite. My wife’s contractions were happening on time, and though they looked painful and uncomfortable for my champion wife, they were happening exactly the way they should.

But here is where our story began to change.

Our baby, who had been in such great position to be delivered the whole pregnancy, decided delivery day was not the day she was going to cooperate.

She positioned herself in a way making it difficult for her to be delivered naturally. Not only that, after being engaged in labour for the best part of a day, baby had become distressed, restricting oxygen to her brain while trying to enter the world. Her heart rate dropped quickly and was not rising again fast enough.

Well all this was going on, I was oblivious to it.

All I knew was that after spending a day supporting my wife through labour, suddenly doctors were flooding our delivery suite.

I was told to quickly throw on scrubs and trail my wife’s swiftly moving bed to the hospital’s main operating theatre.

Was everything ok? What was happening?

The operating theatre was a hive of activity. About a dozen doctors were buzzing around my wife’s bed preparing her for what they had termed an ’emergency’ c-section.

Their ongoing reassurance was extremely helpful for us – they clearly talked us through what was happening while the procedure was taking place (potential ploy to divert my wife’s attention? I think so).

I’ll never forget the final question one of the doctors asked my wife and I the moment before baby was born.

‘Do you know what the sex of your baby is going to be?’ to which we shook our heads. He was preparing us for the announcement.

And in that moment my life changed forever.

‘Congratulations! You are the parents of a beautiful baby girl.’

I can’t explain my emotions at that time. We expected a boy, and here I was, looking at the girl who would change my life forever.

In that moment, I remember feeling a peace about our baby girl and a closeness with my wife that we’ll be able to share for an eternity.

After a brief introduction to our new daughter, she was whisked away to a table at one end of the operation theatre. There an oxygen mask was applied to her tiny little face to help her breathe on her own.

‘Dad, would you like to come over and meet your daughter?’ the doctors said, to which I hurriedly accepted their invitation.

I leaned over her and instantly fell in love.

As she fogged up the small breathing mask attached to her face my natural reaction was to pray that God would be with my daughter through what would have been an extremely distressing time for her. Fear has never been a feature of my family, today wasn’t the day that would start.

After these initial introductions to my daughter, my wonderful wife met her face-to-face for the first time, and then she was taken to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for monitoring and treatment.

We didn’t get to hold our baby girl when she first arrived into the world.

I remember feeling a relief that my daughter had been safely delivered into the world but also a sense of hopelessness that there was nothing daddy could do to help her in this situation. Daddy could not save her in her first challenge of her life, and I had to rely on others (professionals, doctors) to give my baby girl her best chance.

I remember arriving at the neonatal unit for the first time. There was a warmth there, but it’s still not the place I’d dreamed of being moments after the birth of my first child. Shouldn’t I be halfway home now with my beautiful new family?

Approaching our girl in the unit for the first time was a surreal moment. She was lying in an incubator with what looked like a thousand wires coming from all parts of her tiny frame. She had a small oxygen mask attached to her face and was surrounded by machines that dwarfed her parents let alone our sweet little girl.

Was she going to be ok? Was her distress at birth going to impact the rest of her life?

I remember the one thing I did do at this time was assure my wife of the wonderful work she had done in birthing our new treasure. She had done everything within her control to give our girl her best chance. It was now about being there for our baby girl in her life’s first battle.

It was here, at the neonatal unit, we learnt that our girl was going to be put through a cooling treatment, for three days, to help her with her oxygen flow (particularly to the brain). They would monitor her to determine any issues that may have arisen from her labour experience. They assured me she was a mild case.

A mild case. What does that mean in a situation like this? Was she going to be ok? Was she going to be able to play like any other little girl aspiring to be whatever she wanted to be? These questions and more flooded my mind over the next 24 hours. And then 48 hours. And then 72 hours. Sleep was difficult for me during this time to say the least.

After a successful round of ‘cooling’, our fighting girl was eventually discharged from the antinatal unit with a clean bill of health.

Her brain activity is the same as any other little newborn girl and she is now doing all the normal things that babies need to do when entering our world like learning how to feed:)

I held my daughter for the first time on the fifth day of her already eventful life. It was bliss – one of life’s truly great experiences if you are gifted with a son or daughter. Absence really does make the heart grow insanely in love.

She is lying on me sleeping now as I write this. She is an absolute treasure.

I wanted to write and share my experience, from a dads perspective, for a couple of reasons:

One, it has helped me process what has been an eventful first week of my daughters life and our lives as parents.

Two, I wanted to give other new parents hope that sometimes, when pregnancy / delivery doesn’t go to plan, there is hope that things right themselves eventually and the unique story you create out of these situations may help the next couple who’s birth doesn’t quite go as planned.

My little girl is a treasure and in her short time on earth she has taught me more about what courage looks like than anyone I’ve ever met – and for that I’ll be eternally grateful to her.

Hopefully this provides some hope to soon-to-be parents pursuing that ‘perfect’ birth. Our story wasn’t perfect, but in the face of its challenges, it was definitely blessed. I’ll always be thankful for that.

Baby girl now has the hiccups on me. Lol. I better help her out with that.

Be encouraged.

Written by Jesse Boyce

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When God’s love, trumps our fear

smiling homeless man

It’s hard to explain exactly what happened to my wife and I over the last week or so – so to stay true to the story I’ll keep things as factual as possible without embellishing it.

Last weekend my wife and I were at our local vege market doing our usual weekly vege shop. As we were leaving the market I passed a man begging for money sitting on the concrete by one of the market exits. I was happy to pass the man sitting on the ground – turns out my wife wasn’t.

As my wife, Jen, sat next to the man and listened to his story, I sat in the car (which was parked close by where I could see them talking) waiting for her to finish her conversation thinking, ‘My wife is awesome. I married up’.

Jen then got up from the ground beside the man, whose name was Anthony, and came toward the car – I thought we were on our way for the rest of our day’s errands – I was wrong.

‘Hunny I think we should pray for that guy’, she said. Confidently I agreed and opened my car door without delay to go and join Anthony sitting on the ground – but my heart had fear in it, fear of failure (what if the prayer doesn’t work?) and fear of people (what if someone thinks I’m weird?). And my mind was sceptical.

So I knelt down next to Anthony and started some light conversation with him before getting into what physical ailments he had. Anthony’s face was scarred – the remnants of past fights he’d been involved in and one of the most telling signs of this was he had lost sight in one of his eyes. It lacked the ability to focus, was partially closed and looked dysfunctional.

I asked Anthony if Jen and I could pray for his eye which he willingly agreed to briefly sharing with me his family had prayed for him before. So Jen and I prayed for him.

I put my hand on his eye, Jen put her hand on his shoulder and we prayed for him. It wasn’t a long prayer, it wasn’t a super spiritual one either – we just prayed that his blindness would be gone and that God would restore full sight into his eye.

Once I’d finished praying (we’re talking like a 30 second prayer) we asked Anthony if there was improvement in his eye and he said that things were starting to become clearer in that eye, but there was no full recovery. So we briefly prayed for him again. Again after asking him how it felt he said again he felt like his eye was clearing.

On that I told him I felt like his eye would be healed by the end of the day – and these weren’t empty words, I truly felt like something was happening in Anthony and the healing happening within him wasn’t done. After that we said our goodbyes and moved on.

Once at the car, Jen and I put an appeal out on Facebook inviting others to pray with us for Anthony in the belief that God was doing something here but we were unsure what. People generally responded well indicating they were praying from wherever they were in the world for this guy, at our local vege market in little old New Zealand.

Fast forward a week…

I am returning from some work I was doing further north in New Zealand when I get a call from Jen. She is beyond super excited on the other end of the phone. What she is about to share with me is something I’ll never forget…

The guy we had prayed for, Anthony – his eye was healed.

She had bumped into him that morning and she said his eye looked unbelievably better – clearer, brighter, with the ability to focus. He told her that he could see out of it again – that it had been 5 years since he’d seen out of it last. Our brief phone conversation was filled with excitement, awe and disbelief. It’s fair to say the rest of that day was one of thankfulness – and hope.

The above story is amazing on so many fronts. It’s amazing that Anthony’s eye got healed (and I believe is still improving as I write this post). It’s amazing that God involved two everyday people like Jen and I in what he wanted to do in Anthony.

But above all this, to me, what makes this story amazing is that God used this prayer, Jen and I, the prayers of our friends and family and the healed eye to show Anthony that He loved him. Regardless of my unbelief, regardless of my fear of people, my fear of failure that the prayer may not work. God’s love for this guy wasn’t contained by my lack of faith or sin or knowledge about how this sort of stuff should work – because His love can’t be contained. God’s love trumps our fear – and this is something we all need to remember next time we have a sense to help someone else in need.

To end this post I want people to understand Jen and I are not the heroes in this story – God is. Love is.

I want to sign off this post with the prayer we prayed for Anthony’s eye:

God, thank you that you love Anthony. I pray that blindness would go – and that full sight be restored into Anthony’s eye. In Jesus name. Amen.

God – thank you for answering our prayer.

photo credit: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7083/7192839330_06a7ea2d38_z.jpg

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What the Church Hasn’t Learnt Yet

homeless1

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog.

I’ve written over 50 drafts all of which are unfinished, considered different ways to share ideas conceived in the most obtuse places and situations in my life, but the one idea that has stuck with me the longest over the last few weeks, is the idea that I probably know least about.

It came out of a conversation I had with the CEO of a mission organisation in New Zealand.

I’m unsure of how our conversation got to this point, but our meeting turned into a discussion about where the church is weak – and I can speak frankly about this because I’m a part of the wider church I’m talking about.

An idea came out of our discussions which blew my mind. It rocked how I see one of our (the churches) biggest shortcomings.

I do understand that for some smarter than myself this may be something that has been on the radar for quite some time, but in my world this idea really shook me for the first time ever. The idea came out of this story.

The person I was speaking with told me a story of when he and his church at the time had organised an outdoor event celebrating a special date in the history of the Christian church in his country. He told me they had planned the event with aplomb, plenty of seating for all guests and an airtight programme for the events proceedings.

The event started, members of the hosting church began to speak and everything was going to plan – until members of the public began to respond to the event.

People passing by stopped and listened, others heckled, others sat around those seated to participate in what was happening – and this was not the plan. The person I was talking to told me they began to panic. He told me as people began to respond to their event in ways they had not anticipated – they were not ready. They didn’t know how to respond to those who weren’t invited.

This struck a chord with me. I couldn’t help but be reminded of other situations I had experienced of churches being ill equipped to respond well to the – ‘uninvited’.

I’ve been to churches where the doors are locked if people don’t arrive to church on time (this also means the ‘uninvited’ are locked out too). I’ve been to churches where they’re more concerned with a smooth running church programme than embracing the ‘uninvited’ who walk in off the street wanting to know more about the love the church so boldly preaches about. I’ve even been in churches where the ‘uninvited’ have been asked to leave fearing more for the flow of the service than for that persons immediate need.

I’m unsure if this has been an issue in the churches history, but in my experience this is definitely an issue in the churches present.

In my experience – a large part of the western church (especially in the middle class) are still novices at responding to the ‘uninvited’. In our pursuit of ‘righteousness’ we’ve isolated ourselves, grown scared of the people and groups that we should be drawn to. Our concern has become more about the comfort of our 99, than the outright priority of the 1.

This has turned into a bit of a rant and to be honest I don’t even know where this piece is heading. All I know is that our admission as a wider church that we have been rubbish at dealing with the ‘uninvited’ could spark a real movement in making the ‘uninvited’ the priority again in our meetings, in our communities, in our lives.

Am I going crazy? Have I missed the boat or should someone be screaming at me DILLUSION? I’m not sure. But that’s the topic that has stuck with me most over the past few weeks. Feel free to add to this conversation if you think I’m nuts. Thank you for humouring me.

Rant over.

Image credit: http://blogs.psychcentral.com

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GUESTPOST: Can Miami “Three-peat?”

3peat

Check out my man Stephen Foote dropping science on the Miami Heat’s upcoming season.

***

By Stephen Foote (@Aotearaw)

Not ONE, not TWO, not……THREE?

The Three-peat. It’s the holy grail of the NBA and an accomplishment exceedingly more difficult than it sounds.  And it sounds pretty damn difficult.

It’s nigh on 11 years and counting since the Diesel-powered Lakers crushed the Nets to complete the NBA’s last  triplet of titles, so what of the chances of this 2013/2014 Miami Heat team?

A squad which has emerged from unparalleled derision (albeit utterly self-inflicted) , and a 2011 Finals capitulation without which they may have been prepping that third banner already (taking nothing away from the brilliance of one Kaiser Nowitzki), to back-to back NBA Championships and the exoneration  of one of the most polarising players in the league’s history. Mettle has been proven, multiple Game 7s conquered, but just how far is that final hurdle to the legendary status which automatically accompanies three straight Larry O’Brien’s?

A once diluted Eastern Conference is now the strongest it’s been in years, and although it lacks the depth of its Western cohorts, it’s at the top where it really matters, and that’s where things are (suddenly) rather heavy.

The Indiana Pacers, who pushed Miami to the absolute brink last season (perhaps merely an ill-advised Hibbert benching from the NBA Finals), have had an exceptional off-season, Larry Legend finally adding some bench depth in the form of Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, and CJ Watson. Add to those pieces the return of former All Star Danny Granger, the continued gaudy ascent to superstardom of Paul George, and another year of deep playoff experience to the wily Coach Vogel, and you have yourself a legitimate Eastern Conference Champion in the waiting. All this with barely a mention of Mr Roy Hibbert, who after being persecuted through the first half of the regular season, stuck the proverbial thorn in the side of the Heat, terrorising the interior and just generally being awesome at being a seven footer. The man was a walking embodiment of Heat Kryptonite, and will be frothing at the prospect of going at least one step further.

Everybody’s favourite Russian magnate, Mikhail Prokhorov, has boldly pushed forth his Brooklyn Nets’ sizeable stack, going all in for the upcoming season. In what some would call a shameless shot at short-term glory, he’s extracted the cream of the 2008 (note, 2008) Boston Celtics Championship team in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and lured his compatriot Andrei Kirilenko with the promise of a Harem and a paltry million or two on the side. Combined with the existing triumvirate of Williams/Lopez/Johnson, and a rookie coach coming fresh off his own 22 game score-free streak, it makes for a compelling team, but undoubtedly one of the strongest starting line ups in the league.

But it’s in the Windy City where Miami’s greatest challenge will likely arise. After riding nothing but a Nate Robinson hot streak and the most hard-nosed of defences to the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, it’s difficult to quantify just how much better this Chicago Bulls side will be after ‘The Return’ of Derrick Rose from his lengthy rehab stint. Rose has dispelled any notion that we may see a less explosive, more tentative version of himself with some stellar pre-season play, displaying all of that trademark pogo athleticism, and even a more consistent three point shot.  He bore the brunt of considerable criticism with his cautious approach to rehabilitation, but early results speak for themselves. Also, have we even seen what he’s capable of with a legitimate option at shooting guard of which he now has in draft night robbery – Jimmy Butler?

There’s no shortage of squads with the firepower to take that throne from the Heat (and I’ve only covered the race in the East) however the internal challenges lingering in the Heat camp are almost equally significant, and at the top of that list….health.

It has to be noted that, since the ‘Big Three Era’, Miami has managed to remain relatively injury-free, save for one near-catastrophic abdominal tear in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semis to lone effective big, Chris Bosh. Those were uncertain times at best, and CB1 left gaping weaknesses inside which were effectively exploited by the Pacers and (to a lesser extent) the Celtics.

You could dismiss that as but a blip on the radar, but the fact remains that Dwyane Wade, despite continued assurances otherwise, is operating on knees that would make Vince Carter wince. Bone bruises, deep tissue damage, strains, tendinitis, arthritis; only a Pete Doherty-esque cocktail of pre-game drugs (including shock treatment) prevented him from completely breaking down during the 2012 run, and it became even more pronounced during the 2013 Playoff stretch. Wade would go missing for large chunks of games, stranded in that no man’s land of attempting to be effective and accepting that just maybe, you may not be able to be.

It’s a testament to his mental strength and will to win that he’s come this far, and a throwback Game Seven performance against the Spurs – which set the platform for Heat victory – proves that he still has the skillset to compete at the most elite of levels. Perhaps a combination of prolonged rest during the off-season, shock treatment, and the re-introduction of guru trainer Tim Grover may be the antidote to squeezing at least one more deep playoff run out of those knees.

One thing is certain, Wade can’t continue to subject his body to the kind of reckless punishment he did as a wiry ball of energy fresh out of Marquette. The most prudent course of action has to be a re-invention of sorts. Not so many flailing forays to the rack punctuated by thuds to the hardwood, and more of the mid-range money- in-the-bank and use of the size advantage he has over most of his fellow shooting guards to back up and employ that lethal post-up game.  It’s as much a mental barrier as anything else, coming to accept that he’s no longer ‘Flash’.

Having said all that, Wade has looked spry in pre-season, and talk from within the camp of a renewed energy in his game bodes well.  Few players hold a grudge like Wade does, and he’s certain to carry the chip born of the stinging criticism of his play through last year’s playoffs (where he posted career low numbers in points, rebounds, and FG%) firmly on his shoulder throughout this season.

He could do worse than looking to now ex-team mate Mike Miller for inspiration, whose own knees have both been to Nam and back and deserve their own Purple Heart after the cameos he’s rung out of them. Unfortunately, The Don Pat Riley has called time and forced Miller and his array of haphazard prison tattoos back into Free Agency, only to be regathered by his old chums in Memphis.  Although his regular season statistics were modest at best, his ability to provide those intangibles and step up at opportune times to rain game-sealing/stealing threes (16/36 at 44.4% in ‘12/’13 Playoffs) will certainly be missed.

It’s hard to argue with Riley’s reasoning to invoke the amnesty clause on Miller, and it’s indirectly opened the door to two hugely intriguing off-season signings in Greg Oden and Michael Beasley.

Rehab projects don’t come much bigger than this (literally), and Oden is generously listed at 50% health after THREE YEARS without a solitary NBA game. Heat staff are doing their best to downplay his match fitness in order to lower expectations, but there’s no mistaking the impact he would have, even at just 75%. It’s apparent that the most direct path to defeating Miami is by overwhelming them in the low-post, and if they were able to squeeze 20 minutes per game out of Oden it could go a long way towards winning number three. The Heat hasn’t had a legitimate post-scoring option since Shaq and Alonzo, and that coupled with his shot-blocking prowess would be of immeasurable worth. Never will you see a more cherished two points and two rebounds of pre-season basketball like those we recently saw from Oden, and it was patently obvious from those Heat bench reactions that they’re aware just how much value he could add to the Heat rotation.

Of course this is a near best-case scenario, and considering Oden has played a paltry 82 games since being drafted in 2007, it’s going to take a serious amount of work to get back to legitimate health and production.  It’s almost just as likely that he goes the Brandon Roy comeback route, plays 0.5 games and then fades back into obscurity. But there won’t be any shortage of motivation, the burden of being labelled ‘Sam Bowie 2.0’ can’t be an easy one to bear.

The same can’t be said for Florida Springs Rehab centre inductee #2, Michael Beasley, whose lack of motivation and off-court antics have contributed to back-to-back grim seasons littered with poor decision-making on and off the court. He bottomed out last season with Phoenix, shooting barely 40% from the field, resulting in a career low 10.1 points per game. That combined with an assortment of questionable decision-making behind (or in some cases, not so much) the scenes resulted in a plummeting in value and a demoralising waive by Suns management.

It’s a not a question of physical, but mental health for Beasley.  There is no denying he has the tools to succeed in the NBA (19.2 ppg/5.1 rpg in 2010/11), the everlasting question is how willing he is to apply himself to the craft. Returning to the team that drafted him and a positive, winning environment surrounded by proven veterans coming off a championship season, AND a reunion with former mentor Dwyane Wade….if he can’t make it work with this equation,  it’s never going to happen.  If  he does manage to right the ship, it would add serious offensive depth to a bench short on the type of just-add-water scoring that is so chic in today’s league, as well as a more legitimate back-up option for LeBron.

But perhaps the above is simply analysis for the sake of analysis. Ultimately, the success or failure of this season rests on the shoulders of LeBron James. This Heat team will go as far as he can take them, and if history is anything to go by, the greatest basketball force on the planet is going to be even more of a force this season, which is almost difficult to comprehend.  In his minimal pre-season outings so far he’s already showcased a more fluid fadeaway jumper from 18 feet, both elbow and baseline, perhaps another weapon added to an ever-expanding arsenal.   With the demons of 2009 and 2010 now twice exorcised, the proposition of defeating LBJ will be more daunting than ever.

It’s also probably safe to say that never before has a team coming off back-to-back Championship seasons had more pressure on them to win a third, and it’s a predicament for which this Heat squad only have themselves to blame. Sports fans have long memories, and the stink of that shameless prancing of Heatapalooza in 2010 will linger for as long as they aren’t winning rings. Anything less than #1 will always be deemed a failure, no more so than in their own eyes.

That in itself may be all the motivation the Heat needs.

***

Author:

Stephen is a hopeless NBA addict, shameless Heat sympathiser, and Fantasy Ball fiend. For all Basketball banter, and a host of other non-sensical musings, follow him at @aotearaw

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Inspiration Only Goes So Far

Peter Snell

One of the awesome benefits of my blogging journey so far, have been the stories I’ve heard of people inspired by my writing to dream again, to do something remarkable, to throw caution to the wind and risk failure for freedom.

So in the interest of not wasting anyone’s time, this post is not for the guys I have just mentioned. You guys can go back to dreaming big and doing cool stuff.

This post is for ‘the inbetweeners’ (and I’m not talking about the brit comedy) – the people who read my posts, tell me they are loving what I write, indicate their 100% agreement with it, and then go back to their day-to-day lives.

I find you lot frustrating – and possibly because in a way you reflect my own internal struggles to turn inspiration into action.

You see the thing with inspiration is inspiration only goes so far. Inspiration will get you to your race – but it won’t get you to your prize. It’ll get you pumped about what you want to do, but it won’t do it for you.

You see if you want to do something remarkable – you need to involve yourself in your dream beyond just being inspired by it. You need to lace up your proverbial Nikes, do your stretches and get beyond the starting blocks and into your race of turning your dream into a real life journey, possibly for all of us to witness.

Now this message isn’t for those who are content with their current situation. If what you dream about is where you are now, then congratulations, you are the envy of millions of people who want to live in their dream like you, or at least live in real pursuit of it.

No, this post is for those in the space between ‘I’ve been inspired to pursue what I dream of’ and ‘I’ve started making moves turning my dreams into my reality’.

Inspiration may be the birth of your dream – but it’s beginning to live out that dream that really gives it life.

So if you’re one of those people who has been following my writing, and have been inspired by words that have been given to me for you to hear – I dare you to take the next step in making your dreams real. I dare you to leave inspiration in your wake and to pursue what’s been placed in your heart for all of us to benefit from.

That’s a part of why I started this blog. As this blog develops, you watch part of my dreams unfolding. My hope is that as you journey beyond inspiration, I will also have the privilege of watching and applauding your dreams unfold as well.

Photo credit: enricovivian.blogspot.com

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Review: The New Lorde Album – An Instant Classic

Lorde

I listened to the new Lorde album, Pure Heroine, over the weekend. New Zealand, I think we may have an instant classic.

Now I’m mindful that I may be a little biased by the fact that I am a patriotic Kiwi and Lorde is one of our own, but evidence for this album’s substance (get it substance) is found in the quality of the work, not my opinion – and judging by how Lorde comes across in her interviews, I think she and her team would have it no other way.

The album from start to finish intrigues you. Lorde invites you into her mystery that gradually unfolds throughout the album but never becomes fully realised. The album is like a piece of music that takes you on it’s journey that doesn’t reslove back to it’s root chord – a space where Lorde and her team have us right where they want us.

And musically, there’s so much to love about the album.

Lorde’s vocals and music are refreshingly unique. In a world of pop princesses who lack differentiation, Lorde’s sound has the world trying to figure out exactly where she fits – and I believe that’s exactly how Lorde and her team would have it. If people can’t decide where Lorde fits in the music industry, she remains out of the box, unlabelled, uncompartmentalised.

Some have tried to compare her to others in her music peer group, saying her sound is similar to artists like Lana Del Rey, but I think this minimises just how unique a sound Lorde has. To me, Lorde and her team have done a great job in beginning the crafting of a new sound which is why people are getting so excited – people want to join a new journey, one of new discovery,  of fresh potential unlocked – and in this 16-year-old from Auckland, New Zealand, people have found just that.

The drums on the album are something to behold. Simple but intricate. Understated but full – still artistic in nature, understanding that music can be found in the empty spaces of pieces as much as in the full bass lines and deep drum loops.

The production and songwriting on the album is also quality, meticulously measured, ordered in a way that best reveals the mystery Lorde and her team want the world to be part of.

It was difficult to choose my favourite tracks on the album (and to be honest I think this may change as I listen to the album more) but I would have to say my favourites on the album at this stage are Buzzcut Season, White Teeth Teens and Ribs. All very different, all great in their own artistic ways.

For me, this album goes down as one of the best albums to come out of New Zealand in recent memory with Lorde being one of our (New Zealand’s) most interesting artists. Her worldwide appeal is, and will be, birthed out of what makes her unique and that’s what really excites me about her and her music.

If this is the debut full-length album project, it’s frightening to think of the heights, and audiences, Lorde and her team can reach with their sound more refined, realised and shared. And the world eagerly awaits how that will play out – but in the meantime Pure Heroine will provide plenty of mystery and food for the soul until that time comes.

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7 Reasons Why New Zealand is the ‘Bestidest’ Country in the World

anaura-bay-is-a-beautiful-place-for-a-holiday-gisborne-new-zealand+12876276759-tpfil02aw-18318My name is Jesse.

I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up in Onehunga and then Orakei. I am married to the beautiful Jennifer Jayne. My mum is Abigail Boyce, and my dad is John Kaafi. My mountain is Maungakiekie. My river is Wairoa River in Auckland.

I have always loved New Zealand – Aotearoa is home.

For us that live here, we know our land holds something special – but for those that don’t, there is a large misunderstanding of why Kiwis have such an affection for our homeland.

So for those who don’t know much about New Zealand or for ex-pats missing the place they’ve forsaken for this season in their lives, here are 7 reasons (or reminders) of why New Zealand, Aotearoa, is the ‘bestidest’ country in the world.

7 Reasons Why New Zealand is the ‘Bestidest’ Country in the World

1. Because in New Zealand, New Zealanders know what ‘Bestidest’ means

Here we have our own lingo. The real Kiwis understand it, the rest of the world wonder what the heck we’re talking about. ‘Bestidest’ means ‘whatever you said, but better than that’ and was a word we used or heard at primary school, along with ‘meanest’, ‘oosh’ and depending on where in New Zealand you’re from ‘ow-fulla-baye’. There’s plenty more lingo where that came from – but that’s just a taste.

2. Because to New Zealanders, the start of this post means more to us than just an introduction

In New Zealand, we believe that you are not just you. You are a part of something much bigger than yourself. You are a product of those who came before you and you’re closely connected to the land that’s around you. We don’t always introduce ourselves like this but knowing this is important to us.

3. Because in New Zealand, the people are ‘too much’

The other day on my walk to work I stopped and had a conversation with a stranger about the glorious weather and day ahead overlooking the Wellington waters from one of our mountains just by the CBD. Those conversations happen a lot. The people here are friendly and we look out for each other. That’s our people.

4. Because in New Zealand, we have the most gorgeous country in the world – bar none

I’ve done my share of travelling, but New Zealand is God’s country. Our whole country is a coastline, lined with glorious beaches and bays and in-land we’re surrounded by gorgeous mountains, lakes, rivers and bush. Summer’s here are about more than the weather – its about connecting with our land and connecting with our people. Hard to match that in any other part of the world.

5. Because in New Zealand bombs are a good thing

Here in New Zealand, whoever does the meanest bombs is the King of the river, lake, waterhole or pool they just did their bomb in. A bomb is jumping into water and trying to make a ‘meeean’ splash. To us it signifies fun, artistry and relief from the sun, not what other countries think bombs are. I think other countries have got it wrong.

6. Because in New Zealand, lifestyle is king

In New Zealand, we place a high level of importance on lifestyle. All kiwis know that in December and January, our country pretty much shuts down. We’re all at the beach, in bachs, down at the river and spending time with family and friends. This is who we are.

7. Because to New Zealanders, Aotearoa will always be home

All points here have their outliers, but the majority of our people know exactly where they want their life journey to lead to – ultimately back home – where the land is plentiful – where the lifestyle can’t be matched – and ultimately where our heart is.

So that’s just 7 of the many reasons why Aotearoa is the best country on the planet. This is why all us Kiwis love coming home.

This is why New Zealand is the ‘bestidest’ country in the world.

Bring on summer.

P.S. If you think of other reasons why Aotearoa is the bestidest, keen to know your thoughts. Chur

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