Road Trip Adventures In
The Coromandel

Google maps said the trip should have taken about 4.5 hours to get to Hahei, but due to the torrential downpour and stops we made exploring random roadside attractions, it felt more like I spent a whole day driving. My friend Jemma did well to stay awake considering she drove from Fielding the night before - she climbed on the top bunk bed just before 2am. I made sure my usual 5am alarm on my phone, not that I needed it these days.

Road Trips With My Mother And The Dog

Road Trips With My Mother And The Dog

Every fortnight, my Mum, the dog and I drive an hour and half to a little town called Te Kaha. JC, my dog sits in the boot of the Rav where she is just a bit too short - quite amusing since she lives with a household of Asians. She looks like a kid trying to reach the cookie jar on the bench if she rests her head on the backseat. Her gigantic, wagging tongue a great indicator that she likes road trips too because it’s a nice break from the mundane of our suburban backyard.

Why I Said Yes To Travel

Why I Said Yes To Travel

I have left and moved back home a total of four times in my adult life. The first time I was 18 and moved to Wellington to study, and this latest stint I’m now in my mid-thirties. My parents’ home has always been a place where I reset, and each time I leave I’ve been in a good headspace.

Space Clearing

Space Clearing

Next year I’m going on another journey - I’m moving to South America. At the start of all this, I promised myself that I wouldn’t run away, and I’ll only leave this town when I’ve found peace and ready to move on. What I’ve learned is that when you experience emotional trauma, peace comes from conscious acts of forgiveness. Isn’t the real gift from all of this is that before I leave, I will no longer take for granted this beautiful place I’ve called home all these years? When I speak of my hometown, it will be not where I was broken, but where I became something greater than what I could have ever imagined.

# 61 Playdough

# 61 Playdough

The date on phone tells me it’s 18 April - today’s my birthday! Facebook had reminded people it was my birthday and they have been steadily posting on my page all day. I'm on a plane somewhere over the Tasman Sea. You can say that I’ve spent my 34th birthday getting somewhere, as much as my 33rd was spent trying to run away from something. I don’t know what the next chapter of my story will be, for now, I just want a break from having to think so much.

# 58 Three Ladies And A Baby

They say friendships change when you have a baby. Shelley, Susan and I have been friends since high school. For most of our adult lives we’ve lived in different towns. Then two years ago Shelley had her daughter, Katelyn.

We would see each other on occasion, that in itself was no easy feat as it seemed like our schedules always clashed. When you add kids into the mix, you have to make a conscious effort to evolve your friendship.

One day, after realising that we had not seen each other in over a year, we made a plan to do a road trip together - with a toddler in town.

As we sit here in our PJs and eating chocolate biscuits - Susan and Shelley sipping on a glass of wine, me with a glass of milk, it’s a long way from our party days. Not that we mind. The reason for this trip is to reconnect, not to revert back to our youth.

We booked a cabin at a campground in Waihi Beach, not wanting to risk pitching a tent in case it rained. As three women, sure, but not such a good idea with a two year old.

By 9.30pm, we had crashed out. I fell asleep to the sound of Shelley reading Katelyn a story and making farm animal noises.

Campground culture is interesting. With daylight savings almost over, it’s 6am and still in complete darkness. I have been sitting outside in semi-darkness for over 30 minutes because I couldn’t remember which light switch turned on the outside light (not wanting to risk the wrath of grumpy room-mates.)

The communal bathroom light turned off on me - obviously signalling that I had been sitting there for too long. The rest of the campground was lit well enough to explore without a flashlight.

From outside our cabin, the majority of guests filled the cabins, camper vans and freedom camper conversions. A scattering of tents could possibly be a nod to the cooler nights of Autumn. I wish brought my slippers.

Is that a sign of adulting, or am I just getting old? Just old.

The moon overhead reminds me of a half eaten M&M you might find stuck between the sofa cushions. The initial find is euphoric, then you realise it’s been there for months accumulating fart particles. If it was a full moon I wouldn’t need the harsh glow of a man-made contraption.

Everyone is still asleep - except for the cicadas who seem to be on a 24-hour rotation. I heard Katelyn cry briefly, probably from a nightmare. She settled once Shelley comforted her, she’s good like that.

Our friendship is changing - and what remains is the mutual intention to grow in life, even if we’re not always in other’s orbit.
— fivefootronna

I have been awake for over an hour now. The stars have faded, giving way to the sunrise. I wish I walked to the beach, but it was dark earlier and I didn’t want to go alone.

Maybe I don’t like sleep at the moment because I love getting lost in my thoughts and I can express myself in my writing (I feel lighter for it). Though I do find my dreams allow me access to my subconscious, where a more honest and less filtered version of me lives.

I’ll just nap in the car.

If Susan gets her way we’ll get pancakes for brunch. If Shelley gets her way, Katelyn will want to sleep until 9am. Most of what makes us happy are the simpler things in life - so why most of us choose to be so complicated?

Like us, friendships are made to evolve - we choose our happiness based on our priorities, life choices and who bats for us in our team.

The three of us all lead very different lives now, and in that car, this weekend, it feels like we’re learning more about each other. We’re not as youthful as we used to be. Our friendship is changing - and what remains is the mutual intention to grow in life, even if we’re not always in other’s orbit.

# 35 The Search for a Unicorn Amongst Donkeys

# 35 The Search for a Unicorn Amongst Donkeys

I put this phase of my life to the feeling that, for the past ten years I measured my desirability as a woman in the fact I was married. Being single can be like searching for a unicorn among donkeys, that mythical creature that only leads to overthinking and frustration.

# 31 All The Single Ladies

Exploring the old mining ruins at Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

Exploring the old mining ruins at Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

When you find yourself single after a long-term relationship, it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to jump back straight into one. I resisted that urge because, let's face it, I'm just not ready. When you're dating, there are so many unanswered questions that it can drive even the most level headed woman crazy, aka this one. I thought I understood men, but now I second guess myself.

I went to Elemental Potential’s ‘Yes To Love’ workshop on The Body Language of Love and Attraction on Thursday night. It catered for singles, as well as those in existing relationships. Run by my friend, Steph Holloway, it was held at a bar on Fort Street, Auckland called Rich Heart, and was an intimate group of eight women, and one man. Dan, who worked at the bar, floated in and out, but his girlfriend was with us. It was an interesting mix of women, who had their share of stories and woes.

Most of what was covered I already knew, but a refresher was still handy. The most interesting part were the tell-tale signs of deception, and how to spot a player. I also picked up a couple of new dating terms like ghosting and benching. Ghosting is where the other person just cuts off contact completely. Benching is where they have a few people on the go, and will only contact you at their convenience, aka the player.

A common misconception about body language is that it's the physical reaction to your thoughts, when actually it's the emotional response. You can learned to mask it, but if you know what to look for, people tell a whole different story to what comes out of their mouth. It's certainly fascinating to me.

When you're feeling down, let it be

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself today, not sure why, maybe I’m just tired and can’t be bothered with the world. Then it hit me. Her profile popped up on my recommended list. Yes H-E-R. Her old profile had me blocked, so I guess she made a new one, and you can’t block people you aren’t already friends with. I saw it, them together. I could be sad, but I’m not. Relieved, yes. That they’re finally putting it out there. Still, sucks to be single.

Maybe sometime in the future I’ll be ready to date, just not yet. I thought about organising those “Singles With A Cause’ type of events, where singles mingle while volunteering for a charity. Sounds like a cool way to meet genuine, caring people. There’s bound to be less awkward moments, or the need for pointless small talk, and you get to see the good in people. I think I will look into that!

Most days are good, some days I crash. At the end of the day, as long as I’m moving forward, no matter how slow, that’s better than yesterday.

P.S. I'm sure single men, or men in general find woman just as confusing. That fear of rejection is REAL, just try not to be creepy. If you don't know your level of creepy or don't know when a woman is just not into you, find an honest wing man. Nothing feels more like a kick in the ovaries than a guy being creepy who is hitting on you. Word.

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 29 Rainy Days and Wednesdays

"Raindrops kissed me, first tenderly, then smothered me. I could have hated it, but I stopped myself. It was only saying hello, when all I wanted was to say goodbye." - fivefootronna

"Raindrops kissed me, first tenderly, then smothered me. I could have hated it, but I stopped myself. It was only saying hello, when all I wanted was to say goodbye." - fivefootronna

Rain is beautiful. Except when it soaks your favourite suede shoes.

Today I want to write about happiness, more so about understanding the state of being happy and opening your mind to experiencing it without limitations. I’ve been thinking about what I don’t want, now I’m ready to ask and receive what I do want. That’s a really choice place to be!

Two days ago I wrote this in my diary…

“Today, I feel incredibly lonely.”
— Excerpt from "Sh#t, It Hurts" Journal by fivefootronna

That was the only entry. Looking back on it, it made me sad, but it also gave me hope. Being sad, is ok, there are days I do feel lonely and that no one understands. Or I don’t have the energy to explain and I want to be left alone. Then I get over it. I look forward to those days the most. Days when I give myself permission for some down time, eat Doritos and write.

How To Be Happy

I would love to tell you that there’s a magic formula to being happy - the idealist in me would want to bottle it and pour it into the public drinking waterways. Would that still count as medicating the masses? I don’t know, but it would certainly make morning commute in cities less stressful.

So, how do you enjoy a state of happiness most of the time? What I’ve learned is to do things that DO MAKE YOU HAPPY, then take away the expectation and pressure that it should make you happy or to fill the void loneliness creates. When we take away that expectation, it opens up our mind to experience different ways to receive love.

Ask yourself this… “What makes me happy?”

I used to have a LONG list of things I have and do. In a span of two weeks my life became condensed into one room, and EVERYTHING I needed was there. Well, except for my dog, I’m working on that though. You see, it’s human nature to always want more, to have more. Now I see that it was clutter that distracted me from being me. What makes me happy? LIFE. And its endless potential. I wake up and know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. I wake up feeling unconditional love. I am happy because I am living. That is my state of happiness.

Yeah, But…

I was talking to a guy about how he felt ‘lost’ in life. After two years, he felt stuck and unable to let go of his old life, even though he knew he had to. He missed his ‘soul mate’ and desperately wished there as a magic eraser to take him back before it all changed. There was still plenty of guilt, isolation and loneliness. There was no moving on, no hope.

As he shared a condensed version of what lead up to this ‘defining’ moment in his life, in two years there was no closure, no forgiveness, no letting go. That burden of heavy baggage clung onto him like a life raft. It was his crutch. And it made me sad.

Every time I suggested ways he could try to improve his situation, his answer always started with “Yeah, but…” which told me immediately that he wasn’t ready. There was no forgiveness, and without that there is no healing. Letting go is hard, but it will eat you up if you don’t.

All My Bags Are Packed

I’m off on a mini-getaway to Auckland for three nights. I am notorious for getting lost, all my dance students know it. But you just never know where being lost takes you, that could be the start of a great adventure! I can’t wait to see friends, dance and eat incredibly tasty food.

Best of all, I am finally moving on.

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 11 Moonlight kayaking

Looking back a lot of my big life adventures have been on my own. I have travelled South East Asia and a bit of Europe, but have barely explored my own backyard.

My friend, Julie-Anne and I must have been thinking the same thing, because neither of us have explored Ohiwa Harbour, even though we have lived here most of our lives.

It was a Thursday night adventure - moonlight kayaking at Ohiwa Harbour, out by Kutarere. Kutarere is a small town about 25 minutes out of Whakatane, heading towards Opotiki. Unfortunately it clouded over, so no moonlight, but the darkness meant we could see the phosphorescence in the water. That is one trippy plankton I tell ya!

We went on a guided kayaking tour with Kenny at KG Kayaks, and the kayaks launched just down the hill from his house. As a local, I knew of him, but we had not met formally until that night. Kenny is quite the character, a well known local, always up for a yarn in his unmistakable Scottish accent. I got the feeling that he genuinely loved the water, the harbour and being around people. 

There were some funny moments, like Julie-Anne taking on the mangroves, and the mangroves won. Lucky for us, the tide was high and a bit of persistence got us unstuck. I love the overhanging Pohutukawa, though some Kenny said were the result of erosion on the nearby islands.

After a couple of hours in the water, we got back to a camp fire where hot drinks and Kenny's wife's home baking were waiting for us. It was a real family business, even Kenny's son took our life jackets and paddles. 

Great company, good yarns and another adventure ticked off. What's next?