I was born in 1958, a 60’s kid. My mother Annabella was born in New Zealand, her parents were Polish and Irish. Dad Herbert (who only knew his mother) is from Austria. He came to New Zealand as a migrant pastry cook/baker, his passage on the six week boat trip was paid by his employer.
Theirs was a love story. They met in a dance hall, the very same one where Grandpa and Grandma met. Dad couldn’t speak English and mum couldn’t speak German. They had seven children, I was the oldest. I have wonderful memories of my childhood. Dad literally brought home the bread he’d baked and plenty of it. Dad was in charge of the Yeast Division in a large bakery, making small goods like Sally-Lunn (a large bun topped with mock cream and coconut). I can smell and taste it as I write.
Dad and Mum loved their garden and as we moved around Christchurch, set up garden at each house. It was how NZ’ers lived back then. I remember one year Dad decided to just plant strawberries, the whole back yard was a mass of red. Beautiful and very tasty. I remember Dad also kept chooks and when a special occasion came one would be eaten. I remember Dad chopped a chicken’s head off with the axe and the chook flew over the fence (a memory I’ll never forget).
Mum’s role was to bring up the children and keep house. As I grew up I was her little messenger. We ate a fairly regular NZ diet in those days. Cereal with milk for breakfast, whitebread sandwiches for lunch and meat and three veg for dinner. Luckily Dad discovered there were fish in the rivers, trout and salmon. Over the years they became a staple of our diet. I remember every time I had a sniffle I was off to the doctor and would get antibiotics (the new wonder drug). I had plenty of them.
On Sunday afternoons Dad would take us to his work. He would prep for the next day and we were allowed to run around this huge factory, knowing where all the most sugary things were found. Icing sugar flowers were our thing, packets full of them. Can you imagine how hyped we were when we got home. We had a sugar habit and I would feed it wherever possible from then on. Of course never thinking anything was wrong with that. On Fridays at school we got in a bus and went to the Murder House (the dentist) where lines of potential dentists drilled our teeth, filling them with amalgam. Later in life I had all my fillings removed and replaced with white ones.
I was one of those kids who loved school really, every aspect of it. Looking back it was the social aspect that was important to me and biking to and from school. I knew where every fruit tree, bush and grapevine was in our wider neighbourhood and would feast on the fare. My first memories of cooking were of Mum giving me carrots and potatoes, some pots and pans and I’d sit outside pretending to cook dinner, I guess I was about six, I just loved it.
Fast forward to my working life, I started in a bakery before and after school then. I got a job as a cook, moved to Sydney at sixteen and started cooking. ‘My apprenticeship’ was that I worked in no less than sixteen restaurants in four years. All sorts of cuisines, French, Greek, Italian. I learned lots but I disliked the hours and split. I had a few friends that were hairdressing and loved going to have my hair cut and coloured. It was a real expression and the Seventies were all about expression.
Believe it or not NZ had the best standard of living in the world in the Seventies. I decided to become a hairdresser when I was 20 and so after one year of training and one cutting seminar I bought my first salon in Bondi. With the help of my girlfriend we raised $15,000 and I started creating. After seven years the business was a success. I lived in Sydney for 14 years, loved the cosmopolitan feeling, people and food from all over the world. A real contrast to Christchurch.
I love hairdressing being creative and chatting to people all day. But when I was about 46, I was cutting a lady’s hair, as you do, I asked what she did for work. She said she was an iridologist and before she left looked into my eyes. After seeing her in her practice several times, she delivered my diagnosis. It was toxic. 28 years of chemicals had caught up with me. She said the only thing that had saved me from being really sick was my exercise (as I sweated a lot), so many toxins had passed through. Soon after that I decided to get healthy and so I gave up hairdressing.
Another defining moment in my life was giving up smoking after 20 years. I’d tried ten times, I definitely needed help. When I achieved this it gave me such inspiration and belief that I could do anything, I set about changing everything in my life starting with becoming a vegetarian. I had also had my fair share of alcohol and recreational drugs, luckily I had a built-in ‘enough is enough’ mechanism.
The drugs were gone but alcohol still played a big part of my daily life up until August 2015. I really jumped out of the frying pan into the fire when I gave up hairdressing, in favour of house renovating. My creative side loved the design and colour but there were many other aspects to this role. The choice to do the landscaping and painting. Overall I Project Managed the renovations.
I became very good at painting and started a painting company. Oh no, more toxins. But as we all know you’ve got to put food on the table. After approximately eight years of this and now in my 50’s I gave it away for a desk role organising a painting and building company. Now the threat was the computer screen and a lack of movement (exercise) as business got so busy. Along with bringing up twins (though this has been exhausting, a great experience). I remembered one day when I was so overwhelmed with work etc. I sat at my desk and just couldn’t think or do anything. It was burn out at the door. Stop, I said to myself a week in Fiji is needed.
The children – at 48 I was single after a 20 year relationship, on the road to health after looking after myself and spending time with myself. Since being a teenager I had been lead to believe by the medical fraternity that I could never father children due to a sport injury. Well how powerful is a healthy lifestyle and a bit of divine intervention, I met the mother of the twins, Raphael and Sophia now eight years old. OMG! My Dad still can’t believe it.
At age 57 I made a decision to become vegan, dropping coffee, alcohol and dairy from my diet, with a desire to live the rest of my life as healthy and vital as I could. My goal is to live to 100+, I decided to create a home based business teaching the things that I had learnt and was living. With cooking as one of my passions, I have become a great vegan cook and have always loved teaching people. Whether it was hairdressing, painting and now cooking.
I also have a new passion now which is fasting. After reading and exploring many books and using my own body as my test tube. I am well on track to live to be a Centurion. I have many new friends who are of like mind and are totally dedicated to helping other people get healthy and vital to a ripe old age.