11 November – day of the crazy, St Maarten or just an ordinary NZ day when good things can happen

On the 11th of November in NZ Armistice Day is celebrated, the end of WW1, a great contrast to what the day means in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, in the area where I grew up, the 11th of November was day of the crazy. The official start of the Carnival season at 11 minutes past 11. The number 11 always played a big role as the crazy number. Carnival being a very big party, with lots of dressing up, comedy, and total craziness. It was also St Maarten, a Saint that cut his cloak in half to share with a poor homeless person. What a hero!

On St Maarten we also had a tradition that was very similar to another Dutch tradition Sinterklaas on 6 December. In the evening st Maarten would come around and throw handfuls of candy into our house. I remember as a kid being terrified by the arm that showed around the door that threw delicious pepernoten (gingernuts) and schuimpjes (a type of very sweet and coloured meringue type) into our living room.

My inspiring coach Frances from find my forte challenged me today on starting another little project. To commit to writing one thing everyday that I have done that has contributed to the good. No matter how small, every little bit counts. In St Maarten’s great spirit, and as Carnival this season ends on 17 February, 98 days from now, it is almost too perfect to not take up this challenge!

I’ll post my daily updates on my twitter account with #somethinggood. Will you join me finding the good things you already do?

Zest-zone New Zealand

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Is it coincidence that zest is related to orange and to a life full of energy, passion and enthusiasm? And that these zestful oranges grow so well in New Zealand?  I don’t think so.

New Zealand is made for zestful living and most New Zealanders definitely seem to do so.   According to the OECD happy life index more then 83% of New Zealanders say they have more positive then negative experiences every day in life.

And how could you not. Unemployment is very low, and although wages are not the highest in the world, money certainly can’t buy everything. Life expectancy is higher then the OECD average, and there are so many things to enjoy for free!  Go on hikes or mountain bike trails of any difficulty level, go fishing in rivers and the ocean, identify the Southern Cross in the brightest starry nights you have ever seen, explore active and dormant volcanoes, discover the shy but very cute native birds and marvel at trees as big as a large apartment building. The climate is great for the biggest part of the year to be able to enjoy the great outdoors. Even if it rains, it generally doesn’t last too long as clouds just fly over the fairly thin New Zealand land mass between the two oceans.

So no, I really don’t think it is a coincidence that you see so much Zest here.  New Zealand is just one big Zest zone.