In the past I have been very susceptible to people who carry negative energy – I could be happy and full of excited anticipation for the day and then crash just as quickly when someone dealt out a negativity blow. I am learning to cope with this. In times gone by when this happened I would descend into gloom and the hours would get progressively worse as negative energy filled the remainder of the day before I slept again!

I am not saying avoid people who have worries or problems – these folks we can and should help. I am perfectly happy providing a shoulder to cry on or lending an ear to people who want to off-load their troubles or anxieties. I will help anyone who has a desire to help themselves. I will help anyone who is struggling to see light. The people we need to avoid are the ones who are grouchy and cantankerous; the ones who wake up with a crabby attitude who have no intention whatsoever of releasing it. They hang on to that snappish and petulant behaviour like a dog holds on to a bone and they enjoy taking everyone around them down too. They have the sort of ‘if I’m not happy then I’m sure not going to let you be happy either’ type mind-set! They are vindictive and fully intend to spoil your day.

If you are happy in your own skin; resilient and strong, then taking on these people can prove to be a positive experience for both them and you but if you are struggling to keep your own head above water, these are the people you need to steer clear of.

We all have choices. Every day of our lives we have a variety of choices to make; some of them minor and others earth-shattering! Some of these choices only have impact on ourselves; others effect those around you too.

I finished the short-term contract I was working on when Rowie died. I was tied in to a District Supervisor role with Statistics New Zealand. I had worked for them on the 2011 Census when they pulled the plug due to the February earth quake in Christchurch. As a ‘results orientated’ body, I had made a commitment at that time to take part in the next Census (whenever it was to be) so that I could see one through from start to finish.

My District Supervisor role was one that selected, interviewed, recruited, trained and supervised seventeen collectors for the Census. 2012 saw the recruitment process commence for the 2013 Census (the rerun of the 2011 Census). My area was vast. It covered South Balclutha down the coast to Fortrose, Waikawa, Curio Bay and inland to West Clinton, Pomahaka, Tahakope, Mataura Island.

Rowie died during the Christmas break and at a time when we were bang in the middle of interviewing and recruiting the collectors. I was buddied with a bordering Supervisor, Nikki, which meant that we interviewed and trained our collectors together. I had to make the decision (or choice) at this stage, as to whether I continued to work through the Census or resigned and left them to find another to take my place. The decision was made, albeit in a haze of grief, to continue with the role. To be honest, I don’t think I really even considered resigning – I just presumed I would continue without even questioning it. Hindsight tells me that my ‘buddy’, Nikki, was an extremely patient, compassionate and long-suffering buddy! She led me through many of the processes like a guide-dog would lead his charge and I will be grateful to her for ever.

I saw the Census through; our contract finishing in late April. When we finished I flopped. I realised at that stage that I needed to take some time to process my grief that had been stored away in some dark recess.

My break from full-time work lasted for two and a half years. I did some part-time work as relief Practice Manager at the local medical practice and I read a lot, wrote copiously and spent many an hour researching, buying and then creating healing bracelets with crystal gemstones. I made the choice not to work full-time over this period because I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to concentrate enough to carry out a full-time job successfully. Not only did I have a menopausal brain (similar to baby brain); I had a grief brain too! A positive liability to be sure!

During this time I did what I do best; I cooked up a storm! Historically I have loved to spoil my boys with food (Chris, Francis and Rowan) – and after Rowie’s death I turned up the kitchen a notch – I continued to spoil Chris, Francis and his wife, Maree. They were all working and I was at home. I cooked meals for us all – sent meals home with Francis, invited them here; made up batches of food for us all to freeze for another day. Francis learned he was to become a father – I continued to cook like a mad thing! After Harri was born Chris and I would take the Sunday roast down to cook at Francis’ house so that they didn’t have to pack up the baby to transport her up to our house just for tea; a very useful two and a half years!

I have been very lucky in my working life; I have always had the pleasure of working with professional people who have respected my abilities and professionalism. My choice was to qualify as a medical secretary for this very reason – so that I could work within a caring profession and with compassionate, sensitive people.

After this period of assimilating my grief I decided the time had come for me to return to gainful employment. The choice made, I started looking for work. I asked the Universe to show me where to look and I very quickly was pointed in the right direction by a warm and funny friend of mine. I have been back working full time now for ten months.

Now aged sixty, I feel privileged to have spent my forty working years with team players who have respected my role as much as I have respected theirs. Should this ever change, I am lucky enough to be able to stand back and make a choice; stay with the negativity or move on. And, above all else, as an old friend said to me the other day, “don’t allow negative people to live in your head rent-free Sue”. Good advice Vicki. You can choose to experience each high and low in fear, in sadness, in anger, in joy, in excitement, or in love. As the leading star in your own life’s movie, it’s completely down to you.

So many lessons learned in the last four years Rowie xx