Well! Ralph, Stratos and Peter are a hard act to follow but I love this idea, so will keep the ball rolling. It's a little long so get a cup of something and feel free to just look at the pictures!
I come from an awesome family - 4 siblings and 2 parents - that's me in the top left of the pic.
The younger two of us are adopted - as a child my mother always told me, “you are our special ones - we chose you”. As a child growing up, the image in my mind was my parents walking up and down rows of babies in a nursery (like a pet shop) saying, “we’ll have …… that one!”. It was quite a shock the day I asked my mother how many babies she had to choose from when she got me. She was puzzled and then said, “oh … just you!”. My response was, “oh. I didn’t realise the choice was take it or leave it!” The other thing I like to give my mother a hard time about was that when the hospital said that a baby was waiting for her, she said “oh, can you hold it? I am off to Australia for 10 days!”. (My mother insists it wasn’t like that … but hey … she was in Australia, and I was at the hospital!!). Like Peter, I have had the privilege to meet my birth mother and am forever grateful that as a young woman she had the courage to give me up to my family. My father passed away at the age of 49 from cancer just before I turned 21. I am forever grateful that I have amazing memories of my dad and that he did not suffer for years and years.
In terms of who I am in my career, I am still trying to figure it out! I am currently a counselor working in an international school in South Korea … I have worn many hats in education over the years - teacher, music specialist, technology specialist, mid level admin, technology coach/mentor, and now counselor. I also have the privilege of speaking and presenting at conferences internationally and I love seeing people learning and the light bulbs go off! My current work as a counselor feels more aligned with me as a person than any of the other hats I have worn.
2. Something about myself that people would be surprised by.
I really enjoy crossfit. This surprises people who have known me a long time because I am non athletic, seriously uncoordinated and apart from field hockey, swimming and horse riding as a kid, was never into sport or fitness. Some traumatic health events in my late 30s/early 40s changed the way I viewed my health and I became more proactive about caring for it. In crossfit I love the community, the variety of workouts and weightlifting. I have also started to get into photographing events and athletes … a whole new area of photography for me.
3. Things I Love To Do
Living internationally has given a great deal of privilege in terms of travel. I have been fortunate to travel far and wide … sometimes for work, but often for fun. As part of travelling I get to indulge my love of photography - particularly wildlife photography.
African safaris, trekking in Uganda to see the mountain gorillas, dogsledding in Colorado, swimming with wild dolphins at home in New Zealand and an orca kayaking trip in Canada have been definite highlights.
In more recent years, I have started to combine travel in 3rd world countries with visits to community projects. I am really interested in grass roots projects that make a difference in the local community.
Along with an interest in community projects, I am passionate about service. For the past 17 years I have been privileged to partner (through my school) with the Eugene Bell Foundation, an NGO that runs an amazing Tuberculosis program in North Korea. They particularly focus on multiple drug resistant (MDR) TB. They provide training to the local doctors and nurses and improve their treatment protocols. Every patient in the program gets their own customized box of medication for 6 months at a time, tailored to their specific drug resistance and the monitoring of patients and high success rate for treatment is wonderful to see.
Over the years I have been involved, our kids and school community (through 5 - 6 fundraising weeks each year) have raised about $750,000 towards patient medicine and supplies. I have had the rare privilege to travel with Eugene Bell on several trips within and around North Korea, using my photography to document their work and help with fundraising. It had been a joy to see the hope and practical help that they provide to everyday people who have little, and who, without a program like this would die. It’s also been a life lesson in how when we step up and offer the little skills we have that we take for granted, amazing things can happen.
My other big love in life is music. I particularly love making music with others and have played different instruments (main instrument in piano) and sung BVs in a few different bands over the years. The past few years have not left a lot of time for this, but I would like to get back to it. I love arranging.
How Did I Get Into Watches?
As a young wee thing growing up in New Zealand, watches were expensive. For some reason (probably tax related), Fiji was the place to go. I remember my parents coming home from a trip with multiple watches up their arms … none of this double wristed malarkey … they were hard core - quadruple armed! I was 7 years old and I remember desperately hoping that one of those was for me. From then I begged for a watch. My parents were like, “Not until you can tell the time?”. I learnt quickly.
For my 8th birthday I got my first watch … a beautiful dial, leather strap (I have always had a thing for the leather straps - even back then) and the best present ever. I wore it with pride (and here it is, next to my newest acquisition ... I think it's smaller than a dime!)
A few years later, digital came along … In 1980 my Mother, brother and I boarded the plane to Fiji! Sand … snorkeling … and WATCHES! I had saved hard and for the grand price of $36, I purchased a black, water resistant, plastic, sports casio digital watch with white trim and all the bells and whistles. I had only managed to save $18 so my mother agreed to fund the rest if I paid her back with my paper round money when I got home - at $1.50 per round, it took quite some time!
Several years later when I was 13, I had yet another watch from a parent trip to Fiji. I wanted a dress watch and something less “sporty” for those special occasions. For my birthday my parents purchased a beautiful rose gold, navy leather strap ...CASIO digital! So much more elegant … only one push button sticking out instead of four! I carefully tucked that watch into a sweatshirt on the side of the hockey field a few months later, picked up the sweater at the end of the day and bowled on home. Two days later, I realised where I last seen it and scoured the field looking for it. Unfortunately, the tractor mower had been through and I found the metal back and a piece of the strap.
15 years old … Hello SWATCH! New Zealand was still expensive, so this time, my swatch came from Australia. Fire engine red with the coolest dial.
As I got older, I got pickier. I went through a few versions of watches, but spent many in between years without, as I found nothing that satisfied.
The Panerai and Paneristi Connection
One night, a couple of my closest friends in Korea (seen above with me having a spot of bother with trolls in the garden) came home from a trip overseas. My friend’s husband walked in the door sporting a very big grin and a Panerai 112 on his wrist. I was smitten. The dial! The crown guard. The numbers. The lume. And hey … it was Italian (I have an ongoing love affair with Italy)! We talked price … and I was like … ok then. That is that. No Panerai for me.
2 years later, I finished a very long drawn out Masters degree and was celebrating with the above friends in Singapore. He told me that I should really enjoy a Panerai boutique experience, so off we went to drool over Panerai. He was trying watches and his wife and I were looking on. I am not quite sure how it happened, but suddenly it became about what I liked! Before I knew it, I was walking out of the store with a 351 strapped to my wrist. That began my love affair with Panerai. That day (as mentioned on a post recently on here) my friend told me that it would be the beginning of dreaming and scheming about the next Pam. My famous last words were ... "Nope. This is a ONCE in a lifetime watch". And now (thanks to one of the executive members of the enabling club and Chuck!) ... number two has just arrived ...
I discovered Paneristi.com shortly after my 351 and lurked for more than a year before I started posting.
As I watched and lurked, I was really impressed by the community spirit. Like a family, there were some spits, hisses, grumbles and roars from time to time, but for the most part I saw a community of generous people - people quick to help others in sharing knowledge and expertise and passion for the brand and it’s history. I have learnt a lot here over the past couple of years and am really grateful for that. Where I first saw the heart of this community was at the Cleveland/Ohio get-together (although I was not there) when the community gathered around Greg and his family in the midst of their tragedy. Complete strangers reached out, embraced, connected. It’s about people. In New Zealand we have a Maori proverb that I love:
He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
This to me, is what Paneristi is all about. Sure, we come together over a passion for a watch brand, but ultimately it’s about the people … connecting … caring … heart. Thank you for welcoming me into this community. I look forward to meeting some of you at my first PDay G2G in Hong Kong.