Discovering Yourself in New Zealand tells the tale of how Pallas Hupé Cotter and her family embarked on an adventure in 2011 after her husband was offered a job in New Zealand. Pallas, who had been a longtime news anchor, decided she and her family would take the plunge and move halfway across the world from Sacramento, California to Wellington, New Zealand. Pallas had long been moving at a frantic pace, working long hours at her job as well as being a wife and mother to two boys. She realized it was time to slow down, reinvent, and rediscover herself, so she embraced this move to New Zealand as her opportunity.
As Pallas states early in the book, “Life is about saying yes, going through open doors, and getting involved, but it’s also about knowing how to downshift to a gear that allows you time to reflect on your journey. Whatever gear is right for you.”
Pallas learned how to shift gears in New Zealand where the pace of life was a lot slower, and this book is her invitation to the reader to downshift with her. Discovering Yourself in New Zealand is not only about how Pallas and her family discovered themselves; it’s also about how readers can discover and reinvent themselves. Pallas uses her personal experiences as springboards for readers to pause and reflect upon their own life choices and the possibilities that await them. Each chapter ends with Reinvention Questions focused on various topics to encourage readers to make their own changes in life.
Pallas herself experienced many forms of reinvention after moving halfway across the world. She learned to slow down the pace. Rather than work a frantic job with long hours outside the home, she built her own business from home-after all, New Zealand is known as the best place in the world to start a business. Pallas also embraced the opportunity to become a public speaker, including giving a TEDx talk at the first TEDx Women’s Event in New Zealand. She also started to exercise more by joining a women’s walking group. She even learned to cook.
The changes in culture that New Zealand offered helped Pallas to make many of these changes. She found that she had to slow down because in New Zealand one doesn’t just rush in and out of a grocery store. If she went to the market, the vendor would make sure she tasted his apple cider before she was allowed to purchase any. She found that people wanted to take the time to chat with her, and she didn’t want to be perceived as a rude American by not doing so. She also discovered that many customs and traditions were different in New Zealand. Halloween was not at all as popular a holiday, but the Christmas season was truly a time to relax-often at the beach since it’s summer in New Zealand during the holidays. And then there were all of the fun language differences she learned to understand and embrace.
In addition, New Zealand was full of fascinating things to explore. Pallas arrived during the height of the hoopla over The Hobbit movies being filmed and released in New Zealand so she experienced firsthand the influx of tourists looking for Middle-earth and all the commercialism and excitement that went with it. She also visited Christchurch to see how it was rebuilding itself after the devastating 2011 earthquake which left her feeling sober but also admiring the resilience of its residents. And she and her family experienced an earthquake themselves in Wellington that left them shaken but grateful.
Throughout the book, Pallas highlights her adventures from moving to New Zealand with a series of full-color photographs that will delight and awe the reader. They encompass everything from costume parties and fashion shows to breathtaking scenery and family photos. I really had no idea how beautiful New Zealand was until I saw these photos. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
When I finished reading this book, I felt a desire to see “Middle-earth” for myself. Who knows? I might even move to New Zealand myself at some point. But more importantly, I felt like my eyes had been opened to the myriad of possibilities that life has to offer but that are so easy to forget when we get caught up in our daily routines. As Pallas makes clear, reinvention is possible whether you travel or you stay at home because there are always new things to discover.
At the end of the book, Pallas reflects on her adventure so far-after five years, she and her family are still enjoying their New Zealand odyssey but also questioning what the future may hold. Pallas states:
“I feel grateful and blessed that I was given this opportunity to reinvent. But I have learned that it didn’t actually require a move to the edge of the universe. You can recreate your life, and make it an epic experience, by pushing pause and asking yourself, ‘Is this the life I want to be living? What can I do to change it?’ And not letting anything stop you.”
I invite readers to pick up a copy of this book, explore their own possibilities, ask themselves the many reinvention questions posed, and rediscover themselves. After all, it’s the journey that matters.