love yourself

# 49 A Christmas Tale

On Christmas Day I spent most of the day helping in the kitchen and serving food at the Mosaic Church Christmas Community Lunch. Who knew peeling potatoes, kumara, and getting ‘emotional’ chopping onions could be such a humbling experience. Many were volunteers from the Mosaic Church, and others like myself, just members of the community giving up our time to give others a better Christmas otherwise. For those few hours, all things were right in the world.

This was my first year volunteering, and you can tell the veterans who brought their own knives, and some even came with aprons. I was rusty with my peeling skills, and saw how quick others were at the job.

The hall had been decorated overhead with crepe paper, tinsel and paper stars. There must have been at least 200 people seated - men, women and children, locals and tourists, all sharing a meal.

I got home about 3.30pm and had a nap. That nap turned to a deep sleep and I woke up around 6.30pm, my hair noted from sweat, mouth dry and the room felt like a sauna. The day passed much like any other.

In the Philippines, Christmas Day is a big deal. It’s actually several days of eating starting Christmas Eve and rolls on until December 27, where birthdays were also celebrated. We then have a few days rest until New Years Eve. We would go to midnight mass, and then have Noche Buena, which is a small midnight snack and would open one present each. Then the next day we get to open the rest of the presents and the feasting begins all over again.

Somewhere inside of me are words that need to come out - why am I so afraid of my truth?

Christmas Eve last year I was married, spending the night with people that I knew on a shallow level. I could have slept through the night and they wouldn’t have noticed. This year I spent it alone, going to bed at 9.30pm. I fell asleep to something on Lightbox and woke up in the middle of the night hungry, realising I forgot to eat dinner.

I left for Te Araroa on Boxing Day, camping for a couple of nights and hoping to break my writer’s block. The laptop stayed at home, and I went back to the old paper and pen. Somewhere inside of me are words that need to come out - why am I so afraid of my truth? JC and I arrived at the campsite early afternoon, and pitching up my small tent took what felt like an eternity. Tired from the morning drive, I fell asleep around 9.30pm to the sound of laughter, birds and sheep. JC slept outside, like a good guard dog.

The next day I found myself waking up early, and JC was restless. I walked her around the campsite and that seemed to calm her down. Around 7am I found myself standing in the laundry room, as I promised to keep checking in with my family at least once a day. Social media is good like that.

On a trip to Cambodia, our tour guide said that temples had a steep climb because the path to heaven isn’t easy. The climb to the East Cape Lighthouse wasn’t easy either, yet the view was worth it. I have done this climb many times as kid, but I don’t remember the drive taking so long. I passed a feather on the steps and smiled, it’s like my angels were saying, “Left this here so you know we’re thinking of you.”

New Year’s Eve is in two days, yet again no plans. Maybe I will spend it alone, stargazing somewhere. Maybe I will have a midnight kiss. All I know is that next year will be better, I will be happier, and when love comes calling, I won’t be afraid anymore.

# 36 Poem: Emotions


There it is, the half moon rising
The hungry moon is silent
Street light flickering, masks its beauty
Speak I say
But it doesn't hear me.

I see it at the end of my finger tips
Yet still so far away
The silences frustrate me
I just want someone to think of me
Like my shadow clings to my back
I try not to feel lonely, but moon is so pretty
And no one thinks of me that way.

No one closes their eyes at night and wish they would wake up
next to me
I wish I wasn't lonely, but the moon is so pretty
And no one thinks of me that way.


Image credit: Moon

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.

# 32 Thinking Out Loud

It's always 3am somewhere in the world, right? It seems I'm a woman of the world, because my body loves to wake up at 3am.

Last night I went to a political campaign launch for our upcoming local elections. I felt rather adult turning up to such an event, and even wore heels. Then I saw the eclairs and turned into a nine year old drooling over chocolate cake at a birthday party.

I struck up a conversation with a woman in her 60s - she had chosen to leave a loveless marriage, yet she feels like she's the one being ‘punished’ for wanting to be happy. That one choice took away the family home, the holidays, financial security and to some extent, even though she didn't miss him, the warped version of companionship.

She meditated, extensively. The theory of ‘letting go’ is ingrained in her thinking, but admitted it was a struggle to see her friends enjoying, living, the life she so desperately craved. In her pursuit of happiness, she found loneliness and fear. Where to from here, how much more does she need to learn before it felt like she would get a break? Perhaps it wasn't about letting go, it was more seeing that the ideology of ‘fairness’ is self serving.

Self serving, yes I said it. I just think trying to qualify what is ‘fair’ is subjective, and biased based on how it affects each party. That's just how I see it, doesn't mean it's right.

She had to take a phone call and our conversation was interrupted. By the time she returned, she had to leave the campaign launch and I didn't even get her name. I would have loved to hear more of her story, if she asked, I would have offered this advice.

Yes, you deserve to be happy, and you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting that

I heard her say, “Deep down I don't feel I deserve to be happy.” There it was, her stumbling block. Why did she feel like she had to settle for a lesser version of true happiness? Her husband may have also been unhappy, but he didn't leave. That's her gift to him, it may seem like a cruel twist of fate, but by no longer being together, opened up the doors to their own versions of a more fulfilled existence. Right now she sees the reality of her material existence, and it’s sh*t, but that's her ego talking. Who I saw was a woman that was so close to being free. All it takes is self-love, forgiveness and time.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action

Her world was her family, more so her children. She did feel a lot of guilt for leaving, and held on to the marriage a lot longer than she should have. Maybe she needs to start by forgiving herself.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action. I started by realising that this ‘moment’ in my life, and the emotions I felt, were temporary - a mini-chapter in my story. The labels that come with it, the stigma, they will fall away, and it's up to me how long they stick, if they do at all. Persistent action.

By making the decision to forgive, we choose happiness over ego. It no longer matters who is right or wrong, but simply that you are moving on. Trying to lay blame just keep you swimming in that toxic thinking, we make those choices everyday.

Most days I am excited about how my life has the potential of a blank canvas. Some days it's daunting, the starting over part. Then I get tired and get too much in my head. I know the hardest part has already passed, so after I get through that episode, I smile.

The best advice given to me by a friend was this: Forgive, release, let go.

Forgive the person, situation, even yourself. Accept that the past is only a constant heartache if you try to change it. Life lessons can harden you, or it can make you better.

Release the emotions, ALL of it, if you're sad, let the tears come. Angry? Go run it off.

Let go, don't let it define YOU. You are not a situation, or the emotions you feel. However, you can allow it to CHANGE you into a better version of yourself.

A better version of myself, yes indeed. Today may feel like growing pains, but each day gets easier and the ‘not so good days’ visit less and less.

I am like the arrow, shoot me forth and I will go.

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.

# 28 The Burdens of an Eternal Optimist

JC, my day one dog, beach lover and explorer.

JC, my day one dog, beach lover and explorer.

I met another eternal optimist like me, he too was dealing with a recent break up, and it was fascinating to listen to a male version of my thoughts. One day we must have both been feeling low, and I talked to him about the burdens of being an optimist.

"What do you mean?" He asked.

You see, as an optimist I can't help but see that the glass is half full, or the big picture that something or someone great is just around the corner. But I'm human, and I still get impatient. That kind of thinking gets things done, but only in the short-term. When I get down, there's one side of me that feels and shows that frustration, and another that won't. He put it simply, “Some days I just want to say F@*k it, I'm tired, I can see the good in this later.”

Days when you want to buy silver top milk and Oreos and just be left alone.

That's the burden of an eternal optimist.

He asked me if I had faith, and I said yes, more than anyone can know. Hold on to that, he said, it's what gets you through days when you feel like you're stuck, or in the rapids without a paddle. Faith grounds you and gives you hope.

I also feel the pressure of where society expects me to be at my age - settled down, popped out a couple of kids, walking along the beach with our dog. Ok, I have the dog, check. And I work with kids. Days like these I stop, breathe, and realise how incredibly blessed my life is, even when I haven’t quite figured it out. Walking alone on the beach with my dog, I am reminded, this moment, these emotions are temporary, and the bigger picture is actually quite awesome.

Last night we farewelled one of our dancers, Rieke, who is going back home to Germany after a year in New Zealand. We spent one incredible year with her, and I truly feel blessed to have known and taught her. Hearing her laugh is like going for a swim on a really hot day, or finding out your favourite chocolate bar is on special at the supermarket. Simplistic joy. She will be someone who will impact many lives, we are just a few.

Each dancer shared the love, like really shared the love. And there I listened, in awe of these kids, their honesty and giving a part of themselves without hesitation. Rieke is their friend, forever part of our family. Giving time is truly the greatest gift.

So, what is the burden of an eternal optimist? It’s being patient with yourself, as much as you are with others. Taking your own advice even though it isn’t what you want to hear right now. If you want to be sad, be sad, just don’t stay there too long. The sun is shining, and the dog wants to go to the beach.

An awesome life isn’t about everything going right, it’s living in the right now.

Ronna Grace Funtelar 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.