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  • Writer's pictureTai John

Toppin' Up the Tea

It's 2024. It's wild to not only say we're in 2024 but we're already 3 months in! Time flies even faster when you're living, learning, loving, & growing along the way. Being in New Zealand for 1 year, 6 months, & 19 days (at this point) allows plenty of room to do just that & I can humbly say, I have in more ways than one.

To top up the tea, January flew by so fast, that I can't pinpoint too many note-worthy moments outside of the usual outings with friends & myself alike, which you can see through my pics below, but February is a whole different story. No, I am not being biased because February is my birthday month, it just felt good, the whole month through & through. February felt like the purest forms of love from work colleagues, friends (near & far), family, strangers & (not surprisingly) myself.

I went from not having any plans for my birthday to easily whipping up an itinerary for my 2 celebratory days. On my birthday eve, I took a 2-hour solo road trip for a hike to see The Omarama Clay Cliffs, which are quite a stunning site to see in person. I then took about a 20-minute drive to Hot Tubs Omarama for a 90-minute soak sesh. The hot tubs were not as easy to relax in as I was used to because they were boiling! I need to revisit during the colder season because going to an outdoor hot tub where water is heated by burning logs will have you feeling like a chicken in a hot pot if you don't go during the right time of year! Later, I danced my evening away at a Hip Hop dance class & after enjoyed a late, but great celebratory dinner at Ayrburn, courtesy of a good friend. Safe to say, I enjoyed my pre-birthday.

February 13th, my birthday, was filled with nothing but love from others & myself alike. I started my day with a beautiful brekkie at the infamous Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen with two friends, then spent an hour indulging in a massage, before doing a little shopping around where I intended to treat myself but, ended up buying gifts for others. The evening was spent dining at Botswana Butchery for dinner & sipping on a couple of drinks at Perkys Floating Bar & watching the sunset with my friends. A day well spent.

March. Where do I even begin? We're already halfway through the month & it feels like I've already hit the climax of my year. What I mean by that is, do ya'll recall in my last post where I mentioned that my working holiday visa was going to expire on March 3rd & to stay tuned for what's coming next? Well this is next, I've been having a "homeless holiday", as I like to call it hahaha. As of March 3rd my working holiday visa expired & since the next visa I applied for in January hadn't come through yet, by March 4th I could no longer work per the terms of my interim visa (bridging visa).

It's March 22nd here in New Zealand (21st in the States) & I have yet to be back at work due to lots of back & forth & miscommunication with the insufferable New Zealand immigration. While I could go into great detail as to why there's been such a major delay in the processing of my visa, there is no need to bring up traumas of the past & repeat the tale I am quite tired of re-iterating to those who ask out of curiosity or concern.

I have been staying in an Airbnb for almost 2 weeks, as I left my prior accommodation (which was almost as insufferable as the New Zealand immigration) & was well on my way to my new place but decided to refrain from moving temporarily until I got everything sorted with my visa. I didn't feel it made sense to get too comfortable in a country where I was in between staying or going back home. Regardless of all the back & forth with immigration & not being able to work for almost 2 weeks now, I've put so much money, effort, & time into this visa application as well as created quite a little life for myself here in New Zealand & felt like I owed it to myself to see it through as opposed to throw in the towel & return home (there was a breaking point). So I decided to stay in the country for 3 weeks to ensure everything got sorted with my VISA, work, & housing or the opposite, selling, packing, & returning home. That's where I currently am, waiting in limbo & honestly fine with things going either way. I'm happy to have the opportunity to continue my journey in New Zealand & just as happy with redirecting home to the States for a little while. God has the final say.

The waiting game is not my favorite game by any means, but what's left to do after I've done all I can? Nothing. Pray, think & speak positively, keep productive, & stay patient. Easier said than done because it has been a roller coaster for me, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, I've been all over the place. You'd think that not having to work for a few weeks & having the freedom & time to do whatever & go wherever would be the creme de le creme moment for anyone, but not me. I'm not the workaholic I used to be in the States but I always pride myself & feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose more when I'm doing meaningful work so when that piece of me gets stripped away, it's hard for me to adjust accordingly, to go with the flow, take it easy, create new routines, etc. I still struggle with change & it showed in my insomnia spiking (staying up unconsciously until 6 AM some nights), overthinking, overeating/undereating, lack of motivation, mood & emotional changes...long story short some days have been messier & more miserable than others.

While I had my lows I also had my highs. I started spending my days more intentionally & efficiently once I turned my mindset around & started putting some action behind it. Even though I am "homeless holidaying", I can still use this time to truly slow down, create new routines, do things I may have been putting off, do things that will better me now & in the future, having little (affordable) adventures, & making the most of the time I have in this beautiful country over the 2-3 weeks. Because life doesn't stop while you're in limbo, it's up to you to make it beautiful. Life will only always be as bad as you allow it to be. That is one of many lessons I've learned during this waiting period: to be grateful for what is & make the most of every moment given.

There was a time when I prayed to start a life overseas & I did that in 1 year & some months. I don't take any of it for granted because it has truly shaped me into the woman you see before you today. I'm not the same Tai I was when I left the States in September 2022 & I think if anyone from home were to meet me today, they would say the same. I have evolved in ways I would have never imagined & know that the highs & the lows are preparing me for everything that's coming next.

Something that's kept me going in a positive direction is the idea that every day is afresh & new with something to look forward to. I've been looking forward to returning to Texas on April 2nd to spend 3 weeks with my family & friends! If you're reading this & you miss me, love me, or both, I hope we'll meet up while I'm there! It has been a long time coming, the last time I was in Texas was August 31, 2022. It feels like it has been too long to be without the people, vibes, culture, & food that make up home to me. I'm also excited to be escaping the start of the winter season here in New Zealand & heading back in time for the warmer weather since it will be Spring in Texas. That's the tea. Hopefully, my next post will be about my VISA getting approved, my housing situated, working again, & heading home in time for my holiday. Prayers up, fingers & toes crossed, wish me the best! Keep your cups ready for the next tea time!

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