Goodbye, Ness In New Zealand


, , ,

When I sat down to write my very first blog post for Ness in NZ, it was with the excitement and anticipation of the unknown. I was recording a journey like no other I’d ever experienced, about to be taken to a land far away. At first I wasn’t sure exactly how I would use the blog apart from a kind of log – maybe as a way to stay in touch with friends and family, or to connect with others like myself and P, taking the big leap from long distance to in person.

Instead, I discovered fairly quickly after moving to NZ that the reality of life vs. the spirit in which this blog had been created, had taken divergent paths. I never really felt as though my blog had a clear direction or a strong voice, and I’ve found it difficult to keep up with things because of this.

I’m still Ness. I’m still in New Zealand. And P and I just celebrated 5 years together. But it’s time for me to move on.

After two years of drive-by blogging, self-doubt and incredible growth, I finally have a renewed focus and better understanding of what I want this blog-life to be.

This is my last post on Ness in NZ. For now, I plan to leave the blog up and publicly accessible, though this might change in the future. A week from now I will disable the comments, and anyone wanting to get in touch with me can do so through the Contact form.

To those of you who subscribed, lurked, interacted, read and shared my writing over the last two years – thank you.

See you around,


Tips for hiring a face painter


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here in NZ, it’s just about time for school holidays, and holidays are usually a busy time for face painters and other children’s entertainers. If you’re thinking about hiring a face painter for your child’s birthday party, private celebration or even a corporate event, read on for some tips to help you get what you’re looking for. If you’re a charity, then you’ll also want to read my upcoming post especially for charities looking to hire a face painter for their events.

Let’s talk $$$

People often don’t take face painting seriously as a profession. We’re asked to work for free, ‘for exposure’ (how did you find us in the first place?!), or they’re surprised that it costs ‘that much’ for ‘a bit of paint’.

Truth is, not only is face painting sometimes a significant part of our living income, but professional artists sink time and money into developing our skills and becoming experts at what we do. Attending workshops, practicing, purchasing high quality cosmetic skin-friendly paints and all the accessories and gear we need to create a great experience. Factor in admin, marketing, insurance costs, travel time and cost and the fact that we often work on the weekends at other people’s celebrations instead of spending time with our own friends and families, and as you can see, face painting is not really much different from other types of businesses. Booking ‘free’ events also mean we miss out on potential paid opportunities in the same time slot.

Watch out if you’ve been able to find someone willing to paint for free. While we all had to start somewhere, if someone is very new to the business or just ‘doing it for fun’, as whenever money is an issue, you get what you pay for.


Ask for what you want

Do you want Justin Timberlake or Adam Sandler to provide the music at your event? There are face painters of all skill levels and even styles. Ask to see examples of your potential face painter’s work. It should be their own work – a confident, professional painter will not be passing off stock photography or other artists’ work as their own, and you want an artist who will deliver on their promises.

Most experienced face painters can paint between 10 – 12 full face, detailed designs per hour. This is 5 minutes per child, to get them into the seat, help them choose a design, prepare the material, paint, show the child their reflection and work through all the fidgeting in between. Pretty fast when you think about it! However, there are other options, such as providing a limited selection of less detailed designs to choose from, which can help increase the number of face painters painted in an hour.

Tell your prospective painter what your expectations are, and a good company/artist will be able to offer you their best solution for your requirements.


At the event

Don’t forget to factor your face painting – entertainment – into your event proceedings. At corporate and public events there’s nothing that wastes more time than shoving your face painter into a congested kiddies area where they’ll spend more time managing chaos than actually painting. The other extreme is placing them so far from the action that they have to hawk their service to attract people.
I’ve also been at private birthday parties where everyone disappears off wholesale to other activities or to eat cake, and I’m left twiddling my thumbs. Apart from chasing your guests with a brush – not recommended! – there’s not much I can do, and if you think about it, 15 minutes wasted on an hour booking is you losing a quarter of what you’ve already paid for.

Talk to your face painter about the layout of the event and what your plan of action is. They’ll be able to suggest good ideas to make sure you get the most out of your booking on the big day. Really, we love painting, so it’s a win-win situation!


If you’re in the Auckland area and looking for a face painter for your event, I’d love to be involved. Message me or send me a tweet. You can see some of my face painting work on Instagram

I also work for a company that provides fantastic face painters, balloon artists, glitter tattoos and more in a few cities across NZ, so if you’re outside Auckland or looking for supplies for yourself, message me and I’ll get you in touch. 

Things to do in an LDR


, , , , , ,

Last time, I blogged about 3 things I think are important if you want to have a happy, healthy LDR. One of the things was to not forget that the online aspect of your relationship, until you are together in person on a more permanent basis, is your relationship. 

What am I talking about? Obviously I can’t speak for all long distance relationships – the difficulty of the challenges you will face in an LDR are dependent on many factors, including how far apart you are and for how long, what your financial situation is, and of course who you both are and what that means for a relationship at all. But if there’s one issue that I think affects the quality of the relationship, it’s that people in LDRs often forget that talking to someone is not the same thing as sharing your life with someone. 

LDRs are not really that different from conventional relationships in the beginning. There’s the meeting, the falling into infatuation, the period of bliss when cheeky texts till the wee hours of the morning are par for the course – in an LDR, this might mean waking up at midnight to steal a few sleep-drunken moments with your loved one on the other side of the planet while they grab a coffee on their lunch break at work. In this early phase, it seems like you can spend hours on the phone or Skype talking about everything and nothing.

But how many relationships – including friendships – have you had where all you did was stare each other in the face and talk for a few hours each day? While LDRs can be great for forcing couples to really engage with each other without the ability to indulge in sexual attraction, at some point you will become bored, run out of things to say or even feel like you just don’t have the energy or want to have an intense one-on-one. 

Firstly, don’t freak out. It doesn’t mean the relationship has lost its spark or has become boring. It means that you’ve become stuck in a rut. Even when you meet with a friend for coffee, you are not solely focused on one another for an hour at a time. You are sharing an experience. There are things happening around you. 

The trick is to recreate or find new ways to create shared experiences with your partner. If you can’t go to the movies together and do things you would in person, then what are your options? 

Fortunately, if you’re embarking on an LDR in 2014, there are plenty of people who have navigated these treacherous waters before you, and you can find heaps of tips online for ideas on how to build a richer LDR. 

Here are a few of my own.

Write one another letters and send handmade/selected gifts. A lot of LDR activity sounds like terribly romantic schmuck, but when you’re missing the physical affection that comes with dating in person, the next best thing is to be able to touch something that your love one has touched, especially something made with you in mind. As with any good gift-giving, take time to think of something your partner will enjoy and appreciate (besides nekkid photos!) and adapt the ideas you find online to that. It doesn’t have to be sickly sweet. 

If you have video-calls and can afford to spend time online, think of different ways you can spend the time instead of sitting and staring at each other. Find online games to play together – Facebook is great for this, try Tetris or UNO – or a movie you can watch at the same time. You could even switch on your cam and just do work, read or cook. Not only does this not remind you constantly that you can’t touch the other person, but hearing one another get on with daily activities while you yourself are busy with something has a very comforting, ‘normalising’ feeling. This is also helpful when you are juggling tasks that need to be done as well as spending quality time with someone in a conflicting time zone. 

Include your partner in on events  by sharing them in real-time. Today most of us have a smart phone on hand so there’s really no excuse to not take a photo of where you are or what you’re doing and send that to your partner so they can feel ‘in on the action’ in some small way. This way you are also reminding your friends and family that your partner is an important part of your life, weaving the connections that will come in handy when you do visit one another. Apps like Whatsapp are really good for sending media cheaply and quickly – my family often doesn’t get texts I send, but they always get Whatsapp messages. 

Have any LDR activity tips of your own to share? 

3 tips for online relationship success


, , , , , , ,

Mum always said that ‘when it rains, it pours’, and our first month in the new house brought a veritable monsoon. If moving in with family (and a toddler, at that) hasn’t been challenging enough, we’ve had a ridiculous spate of misfortune. 
Luckily I have a darker sense of humour, but challenging times are also a reminder of why P and my relationship works. There’s a lot to be said for the rigours of Long Distance Relationships (LDRs). 

This year we’ll have been together for five (five!) years, and we’ve almost spent as much time together in person that we’ve spent apart. When this all began in 2009, I didn’t know anyone personally, who was doing what P and I were. Every now and again when I think about what it’s taken to get here, I’m struck by the idea that we’ve been incredibly fortunate. 

In 2014, LDRs – even the kind that begin online, like ours – are much more commonplace. Attitudes are still catching up, but thanks to shows like Catfish and the ubiquity of social media in our day to day lives people are starting to understand that you don’t have to be desperate or somehow socially deficient to get into an online romance, and they’re not all the result of intentionally seeking out a relationship. 

I even saw an artice on online LDRs the other day that asked readers if they believed that LDRs are genuine relationships. I was amazed to see that compared to similar posts a few years ago, many commentators were saying that they themselves were currently in an online relationship, or knew someone who was. Several people in my own social circle have their own experience, and a friend here met her now fiance through a Skype conversation with a mutual friend – this year she’s getting married and moving to his home country! 

It’s this topsy turvy nature of online LDRs that can be simultaneously exciting and daunting, and I think very much the reason many online relationships don’t work out. In the end, dealing with negative friends and family and dropped Skype connections is one aspect of being in and LDR, but to me there are 3 things that strongly impact whether your LDR will be successful:

Both of you as individuals have to be upfront about what you want out of a relationship, period. And LISTEN to the other person. So many LDRs-gone-wrong do so because someone ignored the signs the other person was giving in favour of a preferred fantasy. If you’re not interested in something long-term, it needs to be said. LDRs are difficult enough for people who are trustworthy and committed, let alone for someone who is only interested in a fling or a flirtatious friendship. That’s because there is a lot of room in online relationships to build emotional intimacy. If you’re not honest, someone is going to get hurt. 

This is your relationship (for now)
One of the easiest mistakes to make in a LDR, especially after the initial infatuation phase has worn off, you have made a goal to meet or have already met once, is to forget that the online aspect of your relationship actually is your relationship until you’re together in person on a more permanent basis! If you don’t make the effort to build your relationship while you’re apart, when you get together you may discover you’ve actually grown apart. No relationship is built soley on staring at one another and talking, which is often the mainstay of an online relationship. Talking is great, but you have to find ways to share a life together even while you’re apart. You can’t simply ‘check in’ daily until your next meeting.  

Set goals 
Most people would agree that talking about a ‘successful’ LDR is basically talking about one that is ‘LD’ no longer. If you’re both on the same page, committed and realisitc, then aside from very few exception, there should be no reason you’re not making plans to meet up in person. In fact, if you’re in a genuine LDR, this is something you both want and do everything to make happen. If you’re new to an LDR, learn the LDR red flags. I highly recommend watching a few episodes of Catfish. Finding the silver lining in being apart is helpful for maintaining your sanity in an LDR, but most people woudn’t count those as long term benefits preferable to over the ability to spend time with a loved one, in person. 

Are you, or have you been in an online relationship/LDR? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

Solomon vs Bullard – why it matters


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To me it’s one of those rare cases where newsmakers making the news actually adds value to a conversation. Read more on the Solomon/Bullard rape debate here.

Does anyone else get the feeling that it seems like Bullard’s real issue with Solomon is that she’s made a ‘career’ out of her experience as a rape survivor? He doesn’t like that. He thinks that if she was a ‘genuine’ rape victim, she would have had her rapist arrested and wouldn’t be talking so much about it now, so many years later.

Firstly, even if Solomon’s thought path to becoming an anti-rape and women’s rights activist was the implausable “I’m going to leverage my rape experience to make money”, it’s not exactly uncommon for people to build careers influenced by their personal experiences – see motivational speakers of all breed and grass root community leaders. They know what they’re talking about because they’ve lived it, and they want to make change.
Secondly, who in their right mind would be jealous of someone whose public persona cannot be untangled from such an experience as rape – not that Solomon has anything to be ashamed of, but that’s the type of immature reaction you’d expect from the kind of person who is clueless as to how this rape thing actually works (see Lena Dunham’s recent tweets on the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen case for succinct enlightenment). Clue: it’s not “I’ll talk about my rape and they’ll shower me with money and awards”.

Third, if Bullard finds it at the very least unappealing or ‘exploitative’ that a woman speaks out about her rape experience and encourages other rape victims to do so, to the point that he will accuse her of being a ‘false’ victim, then all he has done is expose in a frighteningly ironic manner, a clear cut example of one of the prevailing attitudes about rape and rape victims – and women who are strong and speak out – that we need to counter and dispel. We need to break the silence, to talk about our experiences in order to free others from their prisons and be heard. This is exactly what people like Michelle Solomon are doing when they speak out.

About Solomon’s objective in threatening to out her rapist (who was never charged with the crime) on social media, as I understand it was said in a moment of angry weakness and it might do some good to note that she has not actually gone through with the ‘outing’. While we can question and challenge our justice system both in the ways it treats rape cases and rape victims, even the ugliest amongst us are granted the due process of law. We don’t claim rights by removing another’s. With Solomon’s status, if she wants her rapist’s identity to become public knowledge, the right way to do this would be to follow the law and have him charged with the crime – lest it become an encouragement of vigilante justice which does those fighting against violence and for women’s security more harm than good.

Again, here Bullard’s implications (shared by so many other South Africans) that her failure to formally charge her rapist is an admission of ‘guilt’ – that she is lying about the rape or fudging details of the encounter to make it appear more than it was – is a self-serving example of just how incredibly naïve so many of our country people are when it comes to understanding the real issues surrounding bringing a rapist to justice in our country. Solomon is not exempt from the challenges that rape survivors face when they are forced to confront their rapists and answer to a justice system in a culture still proving it’s inability to grasp simple truths about rape and it’s social and individual impacts.

In fact, if there’s anything that Bullard’s ‘arguments’ prove, it’s that whether or not you like Solomon, agree with all her viewpoints and the manner in which she expresses them (yes, shock, horror, feminists disagree! And so sorry about not being sweet and meek when we’re talking about brutal injustices!) – we in fact badly need more people like her. More Solomons speaking out and providing a platform for other women to speak about their experiences until the sound of our collective voices swell to a roar and we can no longer be ignored.

So my opinion is, let the Bullards speak – they hang themselves and keep the conversation going.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 409 other followers