Life is a journey and not a destination (and how five minutes with two toddlers reminded me of this)

I recently returned to New Zealand with Anthony for my Grandad’s 90th birthday. It was a glorious trip and has inspired a torrent of writing as it reminded me of the aspects of my life that are necessary for me to feel alive and well.

For me this is family and loved ones, nature, beauty, community, friends, meditation, rest, connection and New Zealand. My next few posts are going to be following this theme and tell me, what are some of the most important things to you and how do you make sure you incorporate them in your life? 

My nephews immediately make me feel alive. They are little rascals, but I love them to death.

Several weeks ago I found myself fixating on something. To the point of exhaustion. I was so intent and obsessed with achieving it and winning that big shiny trophy that I was forgetting to enjoy the steps along the way. This was swiftly brought to my attention by my nephews as I watched them immersed in play.


There I sat, perched on the corner of their sandpit, careful not to get sand on my jeans. There they stood stridently in front of me, two pairs of small feet planted firmly in the ground, encouraging me to come closer and get involved.

Isaac heaves his diggers about him chaotically; banging them to the ground, claiming the biggest as his own, before handing me the smaller, less effective truck. ‘That yours,’ he says.


We sit and we dig. Me effortlessly and absentmindedly, with very little investment in the task; them, huffing and puffing away beside me using both hands to plough their plastic spades into the sandpit that was so neatly constructed by my dad, and Wilco (Isaac’s dad). I think they got as much enjoyment out of building the fort and the sandpit as the boys do playing in it. I am taken back to when I was a child and spent hours constructing glorious houses and cities for sylvanians and dolls. The enjoyment was always in the doing, rather than in the outcome itself.


They slowly and methodically pile sand onto the back of their ‘twucks.’ Each small spadeful aiding in the process and every step as important as the next. They flatten down the sand with precision before heaving the truck onto its roof, eyes wide with glee at seeing the sand piled high before them. They look to me, waiting for me to flatten mine before grabbing my twuck and upturning it into the sand.

The boys work as if their life depends on it and they enjoy it, every step of the way.

Here are some photos of them playing at the beach, it was a joy to watch and to join in the fun.

Today I remind you to play, and enjoy it x







So there you have it, two little creatures showed me a thing or two about life and how to enjoy it today. I would love to know some of the things that keep you feeling alive, just hit reply and leave a comment.

Live for today x

11 comments on “Life is a journey and not a destination (and how five minutes with two toddlers reminded me of this)

  1. Oh Tess this is great, the hours / days / weeks I spent playing as a kid with Rachel still sticks in my mind as some of my favourite memories ever. And you’re so right, those little boys are so focused on the doing and that’s where the pleasure lies for them.

    • Thanks Emma! Playing outdoors as children holds some of my fondest memories, it is so important for little kiddies to have the opportunities to do this. Thanks for your comment x

  2. “Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” – a great thought, and these are lovely pictures of two boys who bring joy to everyone who spends time with them. Thanks for writing this Tess.

    • Thanks Jedd, very kind. It’s such a great thought and something I seem to be applying to my life more and more. You’re right, these two do bring pleasure to all, they are just so adorable.

  3. I just love watching the bird life where we live. The other day I got absorbed watching a magpie and a willy wagtail playing together and when they were tired, they sat on a meter box side by side. Pure joy to see x

    • Beautiful Jane 🙂 I also love watching all the birds, especially the fantails in New Zealand. They seem so mischievous. It really is a joy to see, you are so right x

  4. Thanks Tess. I really enjoyed reading this and seeing the pics of me old mates. My brother and I used to play in the sand pit with Tonka trucks (diggers), action men, a Gremlin and the Millennium Falcon. It all got pretty heated and real most of the time.
    Usually ended with action man being pegged into a neighbouring yard and then tears of rage.

    Reading this, I started thinking of Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. In it he describes being at a point in his life where he is struggling with a feeling of ‘disorientation’, ‘constant inner pressure’ and ‘psychic disturbance’ from which none of his usual methods of therapy will reconcile or release him from.
    So he says to himself, “Since I know nothing at all, I shall do whatever occurs to me”. The first thing that occurs to him is a memory of playing with building blocks as an 11 year old. Of building miniature houses and castles, using bottles and stones and mud as mortar. And so, as an adult, he begins to do the same thing. He gathers stones from around the lake where he lives and begins building miniature cottages, castles and villages. Gradually, through this process of building or ‘playing’, his thoughts begin to clarify and the inner disturbance and pressure begins to shift.
    “…I was on the way to discovering my own myth. For the building game was only a beginning. It released a stream of fantasies which I later carefully wrote down”.
    In conclusion, I’m considering a trip down to the muddy banks of the Yarra with He Man and Skeletor. Thanks again.

    • Thanks Anthony, I loved reading this! It is often through creation and doing that we find some sort of peace and it seems that children – and Jung – know this.

      “Gradually, through this process of building or ‘playing’, his thoughts begin to clarify and the inner disturbance and pressure begins to shift.”

      This insight is amazing, and so very true.

      Thank you for your comment x

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