Friday, May 12, 2017

Abel Tasman, Citizenship and 6 month Retrospective

Seal pups
It has been 6 months since we left Boulder. Bill has been clear as NZ beach water that we will retrospect at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years, celebrating every milestone along the way and being intentional at deciding what’s next. The outcome of our 6 month retrospective is to stay another 6 months to see what this NZ winter is about. Everyone seems to be dreading it so we want to experience the misery.
Abel Tasman National Park
We celebrated this milestone with a trip to Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay on the most northern part of the south island. We booked a trip through an established touring company (they sure know how to organize trips - awesome!) and enjoyed kayaking and tramping (hiking) with 2 other kiwi couples and their 26 year old feisty independent daughter (she made us miss Shelby!). It was a real treat to share the adventure with kiwis instead of tourists. We absolutely love the northern end of the South island: sunny microclimate and all kinds of fun activities - biking, tramping, kayaking, wildlife, scenery, wineries, cute towns.

Abel Tasman National Park

Housing-wise, after considering a more private place, we decided to stay put in our little dwelling. The rental market is so crazy and our landlords are taking good care of us, pitying me when I was laying our bed sheets to dry on the outside drying rack that they are replacing our washing machine with a washer/dryer so we can ‘survive’ the winter damp.

In order for a froggy with a green card (yours truly) to stay in NZ longer than 180 days at a time (says the US government), I had to complete my US citizenship application in Denver this month. I was sworn in on Shelby’s birthday (so I’ll never forget the date), 30 years after arriving in the States. Ironically it just had not been a priority until we decided to stay out of the US for longer than 180 days (6 months). No, it does not mean I will start eating hot dogs and drink cheap beer, thank you very much, and for the record I am franco-american. The certificate of naturalization is a bit presumptuous at listing France as my “former” citizenship, like I would drop my French roots. Phfffft. I think I butchered the anthem but with the other 38 people from 21 countries singing along, don’t think anyone noticed. Work in progress. The best part of the naturalization ceremony was President Obama welcoming me (on video) as a US citizen. Thank goodness the new administration had not yet recording the new one yet. The icing on that cake for this long trip was to meet long-term friends and our kiddos, starting with Shelby in California who took me on a whirl of house showing as she and hubby David are looking into buying a house. Then spending time with Spencer buying tools at McGuckin and hunting for winter clothes in our garage packed with our stuff and our current tenants stuff, as they opted to un-furnish our house and put all our furniture in the garage. Sigh. Being back in Boulder was great fun I must say.
US citizenship celebration with Catherine and John

Work-wise, Bill is settled at Vesper, taking on a product owner role so he is my #1 client but does not pay me squat, as usual. He does enjoy cooking for dinner so I settle for that. As for me, I continue experimenting being an agile coach. It has been and continues to be an interesting ride. I did not quite know what I was getting myself into with that one but I still have a strong sense that at this point in my career it is time to pass on my experience to others. As Bill said in the previous post, asking powerful questions (the #1 skill of a coach I hear) does not quite come naturally to me :) so I took a 5 day breakthrough life coaching class, I am reading many books and blog posts, and I keep practicing. I am now solely working with the #1 health insurance in NZ, supporting their agile adoption. They are kind to me and eager to learn about agile from

We finally signed up for a rec center membership to exercise other muscles than the legs that take us everywhere. We still don’t have a car - which shocks many people - although we still have the itch to discover what’s driving distance from Auckland. Work in progress. In the next 6 months, we hope to find creative ways for our children to come visit us. They are already in the hum of active US working life with pitiful amounts of vacation time, so it is turning out to be a bigger challenge than we’d like.

Winter is officially coming in June. It is getting chillier, and we’ve seen several late season cyclones dump their remnants on us. Downpours are actually fun to watch... from inside…

Recent learnings and fun NZ facts:

  • Many kiwis look forward to an OE (Offshore Experience): spending a year or two in England or Australia as a way to experience life off the island. As a result, the card section in bookstores has an unusually large section of “Bon Voyage” cards.
  • Tourism just surpassed dairy as the #1 export income, with China now the largest tourist population just passing Australia. As a result, more cities such as Queenstown (the Vail of NZ) are suffering the same housing shortage we see in Auckland.
  • Kiwis use the F word a lot. For some people, it’s just as common as any other words. For people (like me) who taught my kids not to use that word, it takes some getting used to.
  • NZ has produce I have never seen anywhere else - feojas, tamarillos, persimmons. They also love smashed avocados!
A year ago we started this blog to document Alizée's story and other adventures we had no idea about at the time. Although we have done very little sailing since we arrived in the city of sails, we made some progress on the kayaking part of our dreams. The Alizée story published in the June edition of Woodenboat magazine filled out hearts with pride. Hope you enjoy it too!


  1. New Zealand sure looks like a wonderful place. Do keep sharing more about your adventures here. Looking forward to the next milestone trip. Have fun.

  2. immigration matters, while seemingly straightforward to the untrained eye, can turn into an immigrant's worst nightmare if she omits something in her paperwork or admits something that gets her into immigration trouble that she wouldn't have otherwise been in. eu citizenship


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