Monday, 28 July 2014

How to stay safe - some tips

Hi there! 

Welcome back.  Good to see you!  

Now I have a quick apology to make.  Yup, this is another long post.  Lots to cover on this topic.  It is a little bit New Zealand centered, but applicable in other parts of the world too. 

A fairly new couple of questions I find I'm being asked these days (aside from when I'm going to run some self defence classes), and seem to be mostly driven by the increasing media coverage about bad things becoming far more regular, in your face and comprehensive, are; 

"How can I stay safe?" and "Do you think the world is getting more violent?"

As far as I am concerned, not much has really changed locally or even nationally here in NZ. I don't know about internationally as haven't been much of an international traveler yet so have nothing to compare it to, but there has always been violence here in NZ, possibly much less than most places around the world though.  And by violence, no, I'm not talking similar to the war in Iraq where people are dying in the streets by any means, what I'm talking about is your common street thuggery and crime.  

Things that if you're smart, can mostly be avoided.

Now the main difference about violence in all shapes and forms is that now, everybody is much more aware of it.  It's in the newspaper, on the inter-web and on the TV every single day.

Now sure, I'm no expert in staying safe - I have a whole mis-spent youth I'm sure my poor Mum would be happy to regal you about with a few shakes of her head and perhaps a valium - but there are a few common rules that you can follow that will make you less vulnerable and "less of a target" for street crime.

So first - to understand it.  There are a few trends that most in law enforcement (and probably those on the other side too) know about and are well versed in.  Most crimes - violent ones included - are generally born out of something as common and obvious as "opportunity".  

Be it the opportunity to prove themselves to their mates or their gang, a misplaced view they think they can take someone out perceived as weaker than them, or maybe its just that one mean-spirited individual who has nefarious intentions (or is desperate) who thinks they can steal your cash, your smart phone, credit cards, shoes, the groceries you're carrying etc and most importantly, get away with it. 

In all cases, the person or people will wait for the moment they think they can roll you, and do it.

Now this post isn't designed to frighten you, it's designed to provide you with a few helpful tips for you to stay safe.  I kinda like having you around.  

In this piece we will deal with only crimes of opportunity, not any revenge, under the influence or anger motivated attacks - those are generally born out of something else and much less common. They also tend to be less premeditative and more emotion fueled

So, a few things; 

1. Don't walk around with headphones on (or in) listening to music. How many joggers listening to their iPod get attacked in parks? Yup, quite a few. Why? Because they're easy targets. Not only are you minimising your own awareness of the world by having your music blaring, but you won't notice if someone is nearby or running your way. You also won't notice traffic, or trains as have been a few accidents in recent years. Be safe, ditch the tunes when you're out on your own. 

2. Consider the time of day - wouldn't it be wise NOT to go for a run just as it turning dark? Male or female, doesn't matter. If you need to run, run during your lunch-break or join a gym. If you are going to run, take your dog if you have one. Cats don't seem to be able to keep up and they generally look funny on a leash.

3. Keep your handbag close, hold around to your front, and keep it closed - this one's specifically for you ladies (and any of you men who might use one too). If you have a handbag, make sure you have your arm through both handles, over your shoulder and it's not unzipped or open. Thieves can sidle up behind you and reach in and take your house keys, your purse, your phone etc. if it's unzipped/clasped, but with your arm through both handles and it zipped up and you carry it mainly around your front, you are less likely to be the victim of a snatch n grab n bolt. 

You'd also be amazed at how many hang-bags get snatched and then that same person's house gets burgled a few weeks later. If you get your handbag stolen containing your keys, change your locks.

4. Don't flash your cash/technology around ​- that old saying that someone is always watching you? Yeah, trust it.  Whether or not you know it or see it, there are generally eyes on you whenever you are out in public all the time. The majority of people don't "see" you and are just like you, zero criminal intent, but there will be some - if you are looking like an easy target - who will be paying you unwanted attention.

5. Trust your instincts. How many times have you been through a crisis and realised that you had the worry/fear something bad was about to happen before it all kicked off? Yup, probably many times. Very few dangerous situations happen out of the blue. There is generally some kind of a warning.  If you are paying attention to the world around you, you've got a much better chance of seeing something coming.

But the number one thing to keep yourself safe when you're in a dangerous place?

6. Don't be there in the first place.

Simple.  This one is a lot like when someone tries to punch you in the face. 

Best defence? Yup.


Now this "don't be there" doesn't always work if you're travelling to a new place/new country etc. You just don't know where the dangerous places are.  However, if you are travelling, use guides, the internet or do your homework on the areas you're going to. Be smart, pre-plan. Now quick point - it's okay to be a little bit paranoid but it's not okay to let it rule your life. Find some middle ground where you're at least "prepared".

Now, an example of "don't be there"; I was recently in Oamaru in the South Island of New Zealand  - No! Wait wait! Lem'me finish! 

This is not a bad reflection on Oamaru! I love Oamaru!

Click here - All About Oamaru 

Trust me, read on. :)

So I was down there to deliver my teams performance reviews, was in a Hotel for a few nights, and I decided to go for a walk around 11:30pm since I couldn't sleep. I was heading out for some fresh air. 

And yes, it would be about now in this story that my Mum would be shaking her head and looking to make a "soothing" cup of tea. 

I headed downstairs, wandered a block or two down from my hotel, looking at all the architecture, took a couple of pics with my work iPhone and was generally acting like the out-of-town tourist that I was.  A few minutes went by and another block, when two guys came walking towards me. 

The one on the left nudged the one on the right when they saw me.  ​

The one on the right smiled.

Now, what would this simple exchange between them mean to you? 

They were about to offer me some free McDonald's vouchers since it was just across the road? Uhhhh, probably not.

Or perhaps I was about to get offered an all expenses paid round trip to the Moeraki Boulders in a limousine and a free foot-sized penguin to take home in my carry-on luggage?


The exchange between them showed "plausible intent" and since we were the only 3 people out on the street and that I was outnumbered, "plausible opportunity".

As we passed each other, the one on the left actually asked me "What are you looking at?" in quite a confrontational manner.  Luckily since I had been aware of the exchange, I had already put my head down and had moved out slightly wider (beyond striking distance) as I was going around them. Thankfully, neither of them stopped to pursue the question further.

Could that situation have escalated? Sure it could have. 

I could've replied.

Now in all fairness to Oamaru, I was told later that that kind of stuff really doesn't happen there, which I absolutely believe as its an awesome chilled out place, but I wonder how many people (like I was) wander around acting like a tourist, flashing an iPhone at close to midnight and are out on a school night...

Yeah, I'm betting not many either.

But this situation illustrates just how easy it is to avoid trouble.  Did I need to go out? No.  Was I in a town I don't know a lot about - yes.  Was my behaviour risky? Of course it was.  Did I get a warning that something was about to happen? Absolutely.  Could I have turned around or even crossed the road to avoid the confrontation?  Yes.  Did I? No. Should I have? Yes. 

I can picture my Mum's eye's rolling even now...

You do always have a choice on where you go and when.  I know plenty of places that are great/safe/fun to visit in the daytime, but that I would generally avoid at night.  There are also lots of places I've been during the day where I had nothing but problems.

But - lets be realistic.  If for whatever reason you DO find yourself in a dangerous place at a dangerous time, you should first call a taxi or a friend/family member and get out. Don't wait, just do it. There are no medals for being a hero.  In the Oamaru case, I should have stayed in the Hotel.

But as life is what it is, occasionally things can go pear-shaped no matter what decision you make. 

If you have no way of getting out of a dangerous place - I recommend following the following steps to ensure you have the best chance of survival.

1. Make it your first mission to find a friendly public area and head there immediately - a Burger King, a  McDonald's etc - get to these places and ask the staff if you can use the phone etc.  In the Oamaru case, there was a McDonald's right across the road I could've gone too should things have gone pear shaped, I think it might have been closed however... 

2.  Use "safe" shadows if during night time. These are categorised as not dark alleyways or behind buildings. Safe shadows are ones you can quickly move from out into the bright open areas if you have to. Your objective using "safe" shadows is to minimise the amount you are actually seen. Use them sparingly however as sometimes not being seen can be as dangerous as being seen.

3. Blend in where you can. This is all about being less conspicuous in your surroundings.  Most people know of "dress for the occasion" - same rules apply for wherever you are going. If you find yourself over-dressed, make an effort to change that. Clothes can be replaced.

4. Be aware. If you find yourself in a place that scares the #@%! out of you, no doubt you will become hyper-aware which is a survival state brought on by adrenaline. Use it. Look for place markers like a familiar shop, or a bank so you can get your bearings if you become lost and look for landmarks to help guide you out.

5Keep your emotions under control - lock them down as much as you can. Any of the following four pictured below will mess with your chances of getting out of the predicament you've found yourself in.

You have to be thinking as clearly as you can.

Back when I was much younger I developed a method of getting myself quickly into an appropriate mental state in order to handle whatever crisis I found myself in. 

Now listen up because this is somewhat of a secret I generally only teach to martial art students. 

I called it..........Crysis.

Yeah.  Okay. Laugh all you like.  I know it's a bit lame naming this mental state and even the name itself is quite geeky sounding.  BUT this technique does work for me and for many others I have taught it to. 
Call it a coping mechanism, call it fooling your "fight or flight" reflex briefly until it can become second nature.  Whatever you call it, it is a tried and tested method of bringing about control in generally uncontrollable situations. 

To explain - "Crysis" is a mix of the original word "Crisis" meaning a highly charged problem or incident and the word "Cryonics" which is the low-temperature preservation of humans. You've seen it in science journals and in movies, snap freezing someone.  Yes - this is absolutely nerdy.

It came about when I was younger and somehow managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time far too often.  I found that by developing this state, I was able to cool down quickly (as fear heats you up), no matter what the scary situation.  
Yeah, I know, sounds crazy right? But it works.  And on adults too.

So before you poke fun, have an open mind and give it a go.

As a starter, you can generally get close by following these steps and in order;

1. Remove all emotion from your thinking - see all for facts only, what it is.

2. Become highly analytical - analyse all factors quickly for risk, non risk. 

3. Ascertain what the threats are and how you can best deal with them. 

4. Remain "cold as ice" (fear heats you up). 

5. Tense muscles and relax them - you are burning off the adrenaline.

6. Become calculating in your approach - best outcome is the only outcome. 

7. Breathe slower than normal until your heart rate settles from following first 6 steps 

8. Breathe normally.

9. Know you're now "in the zone".

10. Stay there until the crisis is over.

Sure, words are great but with practice, an adept is able to enter this state almost instantly and keep fairly emotionless, allowing them to only deal with facts and detail required to get themselves (and their close ones if needed) out of any bad situation they're in. 

It was developed to help people (me to begin with) cope first with frightening problems and for in the ring when the another fighter was attempting to mess with their opponent.

I am sure that fire fighters, ambulance and police officers will all have similar methods of dealing with things mostly deemed un-deal-able. 

Above all else however, your best form of defence to any crisis/violent crime is being smart, staying calm and out-thinking your opponent and the situation, no matter what your skill level is in self defence.  

There is ALWAYS a way to improve your situation, even if its just by millimetres and walking wide​. 

And there is ALWAYS a sign something is about to happen, you just have to be looking to see it.

Like the old saying goes;

"Those who go looking for trouble, are never usually a problem for those who are ready for them"

Be ready.

And as always - questions are welcome.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Something to think about.

Negativity and YOU

As part of my role as a Team Manager for the business I work for, I take it upon myself to keep fairly up to date with technology, opinions and business shifts and innovations that get reported on within the media. 

Subtle shifts in thinking and changes in forecasts can have fairly large impacts nationally and globally for the products we deal with such as Fibre, Broadband, phone lines, power, gas etc

One of the favourite sites I utilise to do this is our local New Zealand based site; as it has just the right mix of depth and reasonably accurate reporting both nationally and globally that I find helpful and I like. Bit of humour in there doesn't go astray either. 

So this morning I opened up this little beauty; 
and for a change, I found myself getting just a little bit annoyed, along with a few of my fellow Kiwi's (*slang term for a New Zealander) as you'll be able to see via the comments section below the article. 

You might be shaking your head going "so?" since this is about Politics, but stay with me. 
I'm not a fan of politics either but I still have a point to make.

Now, if you're not a New Zealander, then odds are you'll need a bit of a back story for this to make senseDavid Cunliffe is the current leader of the opposition, the Labour Party. The National Party is currently in power, led by John Key, our Prime Minister.

Now David Cunliffe is no Barack Obama by any means.  According to a few polls, he has very little media charisma, is thought of as "a bit dull" and is generally shunned by lots of people, even politicians within his party. 

I wonder if the step up to Party Leader he just recently made was a step too high. He seems like a guy who needs more personal and professional development.

Not an easy spot  him to be in, he seems in over his head. 

So what annoyed me then?  Even though I'm not voting Labour and I don't see this guy as any kind of leader for NZ in any way shape or form - I got a bit pissed off at the fact he was being given a seriously hard time for spending time with his kids on school holiday so close to the next election.

Why would this rattle my chains I hear you ask. Good question.  

The answer is - "Negativity

Let's relate that to the above news article. So okay, the Labour Party is miles behind in the polls and yes, the election is just around the corner, so it should be all hands on deck at Labour Party headquarters, right?

Maybe. But not definitely.

Consider this with a bit of empathy and think about it from David's point of view.
This guy does this for a job, just like whatever job you have or have had.

Based on the article, it's pretty much inferring that unlike you and I, he shouldn't be entitled to take a couple of days off to spend it with his family. 

I'm pretty sure he gets sick days and is entitled to annual leave time, same as everyone else here in NZ.

So why the big deal? Given this entitlement, no one should be questioning this fact in the first place...right? 

But they are. 

So where does this kind of attack come from? Why are they complaining so bitterly? 
Is it because they think he's not working hard enough, even if he is working 18 hour days and has been for months possibly years?

In their perception - yes, that's exactly why. 

Which brings us to my point.  These complaint's have very little to do with David Cunliffe himself and has more to do with THEM, the complainers themselves.

But how? And why? And why should you care about this?

In my experience, over the last 5 years I have seen an increase in "Short poppy syndrome" happening more and more in the public eye. It is the opposite/yet remarkably similar to "Tall Poppy Syndrome".

What? Oh. Right... 

My apologies, you've never heard of either. Possibly because I've made the "short" one up [awkward]. 

So allow me to elaborate.

"Tall Poppy Syndrome" is a common syndrome around the world which has people making cutting remarks against people who are doing well, and against people who are being successful by those that aren't. It comes a lot from jealousy and an over-inflated sense of entitlement.  It's fueled by resentment of other peoples success or talent.

"Short Poppy Syndrome" is a very similar condition I consider to mean people being resentful because someone "should" be being successful due to their talents or position, but aren't. The complainers feel ripped off, robbed.

And here is the kicker. Negativity is like a virus - it will breed and spread at every opportunity. Tall or Short poppy, both will spread infection every chance it gets.

David Cunliffe is a perfect example of short poppy. He seems to be a nice guy, he must have displayed talents to get where he is today, is obviously good at getting people on-board because he was voted in as the Labour Party Leader (albeit not an easy task) and he's also very smart based on what's been reported about his background and rise to leadership.

And yet he's failing. Miserably. 
And this pisses people off, especially those who vote Labour, and those who work alongside him. 

So he's now a target, someone to be aimed at with even more negativity because they're not doing as expected. Talk is he will be forced to step down soon too.  And yes, that will bring more media negativity too.

See where this is going?

Because he's not doing so well, he is a target - a cause to prompt even more negativity. It gets to the point when you wonder if people are actually reveling and celebrating it.

It seems the people who should be siding with him - his own people - aren't. They are all distancing themselves, worried they'll catch the bug that is ruining his career.

Like I've said before, Negativity is easier to dish out than positivity and it sells more newspapers.

The media haven't once said how much positive work David Cunliffe may have put in trying to right these issues his Party keeps running into and bring them up higher in the polls. 
If he does something, or even says something great, there's always a back-handed compliment that almost says "when pigs fly". 
The media could be playing you for the fool. 
Not always, but consider how much personal input the reporter, the news-desk, the producer of the news etc all put into the stories they cover...

Then think about how often your own views on subjects can be wrong based on your own bias.

Think the media is any different?  

I used this article to demonstrate how the media has chosen to report on how insiders are choosing to freak out over Mr Cunliffe taking two days off to spend with his family whilst his kids are off on school holidays, like a good Dad. The negative has been applied to "draw you in".

They want you to think he's a bad man, he's neglected his party to spend 2 days skiing in the South Island with his family.
Oh Yes. The HORROR 
My point - this approach from people is something you need to be aware of, especially if you are a manager, coach, teacher, instructor, even as a parent. It's being taught in the media as normal, even encouraged. Molehills into mountains. Sensationalism is rife and now Negativity is much easier to swallow than Positivity.

I myself was ridiculed only a week ago for chosing to see the positive in a situation rather than dwell on the negative. 
I couldn't change the outcome but I could choose to move on and learn from it. Shit happens, I learnt.

To illustrate this a bit better, let's bring it closer to home.
Lets say you and I are in a meeting. I'm your boss and you trust me. I tell you a dozen times how awesome you are, yet once during I mention how I need you to work on a tiny mistake you made. 

At the end of the meeting, what fact do you remember?  

Are you happy because I told you over a dozen times how great you are?

Or are you thinking about that one tiny mistake you made...

The majority of you will agree. Like I said, Negativity is far easier to swallow than Positivity. 

I don't know why, it just is. For further insight, I suggest googling it. Or going to see a psychiatrist. 

In Mr Cunliffe's case, the fact he spent time with his family since he's going to be working more coming up to the election, should have been sold as a positive, he should've been congratulated, not condemned. Way to go dude, great family values!  But no, that isn't sensational enough.

He should have also been told to stop working 18 hours a day, regardless of how close the election is or how many people are trying to cut him down. 

Ask yourself - if anyone is going to be an effective leader, shouldn't they be less stressed/tired and more clear headed and happy than anyone else, even their own teams and supporters? In most cases, yes. In reality are they? No.

But when you're happy and calm, do you perform better? I'll bet you do.

Same goes for this guy David Cunliffe. And John Key. And Barack Obama. These guys should be chilling as much as possible.

It is vital that you understand these two concepts regarding negativity and standing up by not buying into what you're being fed.  This post is a helpful reminder that you should do your best to teach those closest to you how to combat the negativity and go "old school" on it by bringing up your Mum's saying of "always looking for the silver lining".  It's great advice.

Don't believe everything you read or see on the inter-web either. Even my posts are from my perspective. I'm not necessarily 100% correct either.

Now I'll take a quick second to apologise here too, I'm not some politician "wanna-be".  I don't even like talking about Politics generally, so referring to politic's is a bit of a one-off. 
And I'm not campaigning either. Watching paint dry or grass grow would be more exciting due to all the "hollywoods" that go on in Governments around the world.  

To me, Governments seem so much like soccer (football) games at times, teams just opposition parties.

If it can be seen as a foul, the player will hurl themselves to the ground and scream like a banshee on the chance of getting a penalty/a few more votes/more media coverage/the chance to run their opponent down/get a win.  

Yet it's funny that whenever I've been in an airport lounge, there's always politician's having drinks together, irrespective of what party they're in. Great mates, laughing and enjoying each other's company. You can see the camaraderie - probably a result of the combined negativity they are all subjected to via both the short and tall poppy syndrome attacks

Although perhaps it has more to do with the fact most talk a good talk and can divert most pointed questions without actually answering them. 

It's clever, but its dishonest.

In the media, the fact they all get along couldn't be further from the truth, they dont want you to see that "we all get a long" stuff. 

They want the drama, the gossip and that spell-binding negativity that sucks you in since it gets you tuning in. Negativity can be addictive. Gossip shows like Entertainment Tonight are predominantly negative but they sprinkle in happy "feel good" stories too. I heard once that Entertainment Tonight is the most popular gossip show in the World with millions of viewers globally. They mostly cover drug addicted celebs doing stupid things.

Tall and Short poppy syndrome at its best.

In David Cunliffe's case, since politic's features in the nightly news, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and it's never 100% positive, he's ratings gold. They need a drama, need a problem, otherwise what could they report on? 

Right now its David Cunliffe's turn and has been for a while. Tune in a see for yourself.

In all honesty, I know this stuff is well known and look, I'm not trying to convert you at all. I figure just like you, I have the choice to either complain about what I see and try to change it or actually get into the ring and do something about it, which is the only reason why I'm writing this. 

Regardless, this isn't my announcement that I'm running for Prime Minister or World Leader. Although if I was, I'd call my Party, EXTREME.

Like all the other posts I load up, this is just about attempting to expand your awareness to your surroundings, not increasing paranoia's or creating weird cults. I like the idea of you being more aware after reading my posts of what you're being fed so that you have the choice to eat up, or put your hand up and say no thanks. It's always your choice.

When it comes to Politic's, I can't help but wonder if David Cunliffe is just another idealistic politician who has gone into politics thinking "I can make a difference!", only to be railroaded by the sheer weight of "this is not the way we do things, newbie" old school rules and the media juggernaut stacked up against him. That and he doesn't know the rules of the game.
They're playing soccer and I think he's playing badminton...and poorly.

Regardless, hopefully you've had enough advice here to be more aware of the negativity around you so that you have the opportunity to fight it.

It's true positivity makes you happier, so school up those you care about most to do the same.

After all, what's the worst that can happen?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Proposal - She said YES!!!

I still can't 100% believe it.  

She said yes.

Just how did I get so lucky? And how did she get so lucky to have me asking her? 

Hahahaha yeah, right. First one for sure.

But seriously, she said Yes.  Whoa

And no, don't look at me like that either. Yes, you're absolutely right, I shouldn't have been as nervous as I was or have my hands STILL be shaking just a little bit now more than 24 hours later. Those of you who know me, know I'm not one for gushing.

But this is all so DIFFERENT. It's so weird.

Funny facts: 
I am 6 foot 2 inches tall and I know a lil' bit Jiu Jitsu, am Bujinkan Taijutsu (Ninja) trained, have fought semi-professionally in Muay Thai for a bit with lots of wins, studied some Nam Wah Pai, learnt (and taught) a bit of Kendo, spent time learning Tai Chi Ch'uan and Chang Ch'uan plus dabbled in some Shaolin Temple boxing and a few others. I'm strong willed, a manager of around 30 staff for a big nationwide company, I'm not arrogant, not a dick, and am relatively confident. 

Yup, I do alright and can look after myself.

So, like anyone, I would've expected this martial art history and personal make-up to mean that I should - according to most men's opinions - have great big shiny balls of polished steel, plenty big enough to stand up in front of the world and proudly take on any situation head first.......right?

Yes! Of course! 

But as it turns out......ahhh.......No. 

Not even close.

Y'see, it seems that I have discovered a reasonable weakness to my considerable armour (aside from my family) - and she's a girl.

Andrea is a woman who is just on 6 foot tall, doesn't know how to fight at all (unless she's gettin' her Invercargill on) so isn't scrappy, is regally elegant like royalty, likes the finer things, is beautifully kind hearted, full of empathy, is sensitive and beautiful inside and out, is my best friend, strangely loves me to bits, is able to keep me in line (also strangely), is encouraging, is a great Mum/Step Mum and is unlike any woman I have ever known. 
No offence to any ladies reading this.

She's the uptown girl to my downtown guy.

After that 7 hour hang out in the Holden "just talking" date - I was pretty sure I found my "one" and hadn't even known I'd been looking. A few years later and that feeling hasn't changed one bit.

Now, I have faced up to many difficult situations that I'm sure would've broken lesser men in my past - both violent and non-violent, all crisis of varying degrees, all handled fairly well if I do say so myself.

So, to find this freakin-out feeling happening whenever I was dealing with her?

Yup, whoa. 

Which landed me in a whole other level the moment I decided to propose.


See those capital letters? Yep, that scared.

Being the upstanding Matamata boy that I am, the terms "Girls blouse" and "Woosie" came to mind about myself, as uncomfortable as this is to think about one's self.  
I might have even hazarded a guess at giving myself a hard time at being a bit "delicate" or perhaps "Flimsy" with a nice soft floral pattern.  

Having these Feelings? Bah. Even worse, about a woman?? 
Oww...dude...harden up. Cup of concrete bro'.

Now hopefully - in order to regain some of my usual Matamata boy reputation - I assume that most people performing this act of a proposal are gibbering idiots too, all complete with the hot flushes, dry mouth, shaking hands, and heart beat banging up into their eyes, just like mine were. Pretty sure it goes with the territory.

I barely managed to contain any semblance of "cool factor" prior to the moment and couldn't eat, sleep or concentrate for days before.  I am pretty sure I mighta been acting a bit weird too. For weeks.

And with this post? Yeah, I'm still being weird even now. 

So are you curious as to how I did it? How I popped the question? 
Okay, fair enough, stop here, click away. Go watch the rugby, change the channel to motor sport. I'm going to after I get all this out.
If you do want to know, keep reading. 
I warn you though, it might get a little bit.... 
E   m   o   t    i   o   n   a   l

Hahahahaha, no, don't worry. You'll be fine, I promise.

Months and months before the 14th July 2014, I had hunted down the perfect ring with a mate who works for Michael Hill, boy, he had to work ridiculously hard for me. Around 10 rings he got in, I whipped in during lunch breaks to check them but none of them were "it". Same styles - elegant - but too many occlusions or not the right amount of sparkle. 

When I found the right one, it went in my pocket wherever we went. For months.

Hundreds of amazing ideas on how to propose filled up most nights. Friends offered some great ideas too but these never quite panned out or they just didn't feel quite right.  

Finally I made my decision. My moment was going to be about four weeks out. 
I decided that I am who I am, so this proposal had to be in line with that, and genuine, but most importantly, it had to be great for her. 

And so just like her sister Rach has since named it, this proposal had to be "Ninja" because after all, one should always go with your strengths. 
How to do a Ninja proposal I hear you ask? 
Well...goes a lil' som'thin' like 'dis...

1. Her Mum was to arrive for her school holiday holiday (she works for a school). Timing equals good. Andrea and her family are wonderfully close, her Mum cool as can be. Tick.

2. What is the most unexpected day of the week for anyone on earth to propose? Easy. Has to be a Monday. Tick.

3. Best time to do it? After dinner just when everyone has wound down and most at rest. Much like infiltrating an enemies fortress at 4:30am - higher likelihood all will be sleeping soundly and unaware.

4. How to get everybody into the lounge for the moment? Any method possible, but STAY COOL.

5. How to best put Andrea well off the scent? Get home and do nothing. Yup. NO-THING. Even if asked to do something, especially if asked to do something. Lull her into thinking I'm being difficult.

6. But most important thing of all? Tell. No one. 

Now to figure out the best "how" to actually do all this and propose? 

Ninja up. Read on.

Andrea's Mum has a very bling ring that Andrea always steals when her Mum arrives. 
Andrea wears it to work on the finger next to the engagement finger and laughs at how often people do a double take, thinking she might be engaged. It's a very pretty ring, very eye-catching.

Sunday night we picked up her Mum from the airport and Andrea nabbed the ring to wear Monday. So far so good.

Monday work-day came and went, I got nothing done as was far too busy freaking out and trying to keep my heart from making my head explode (sorry boss).

I arrived home from work after her, around 5pm and tried desperately to keep my cool, somewhat successfully as it turned out. No one noticed or suspected a thing.

Andrea was complaining of sore shoulders and asked if I could rub them for her. I said no. She wasn't happy with that. I couldn't risk me fixing her up because the ring and case were in my front pocket, she may have wondered at it.

10 minutes later she asked me to please go make our bed (as we'd been a bit rushed that morning) and again, I parked my ass on the couch and said no to that too. Her frown almost made me catch fire.

Dinner went by (I hardly ate but did my best so as not to gain suspicion) and all the normal end of day things played out - her son Finn was doing his reading words and homework, my son Trey was doing some chores, kids hanging out, TV going on to wind-down etc

Finally (after managing to keep my son in the lounge with us too) I remarked at the ring of her Mums as she lay almost asleep on the couch.

"Anyone make any comments about your Mum's ring today?"

Barely eyes even open, she was still fairly dismissive, which was hilarious. She was still pissy at me for not helping out after she had cooked me dinner as well. I think Mum might not have been thinking too much of me at that stage either.

"Nah, not really," she sighed from between slightly clenched teeth. "A couple of people noticed, maybe one or two, but nah, not really..."

That moment I was up and moving over toward her, hand in my pocket and pulling the ring out. 
I went down on one knee in front of the couch Andrea was laying down on, next to where her Mum was sitting;

"Well you better give everyone something really to talk about then."

Shock crossed her face. She sat bolt upright, her Mum hooted like an owl and I popped the question. She shrieked, freaked, cried, was stunned, the works.

And the rest is now grinning history. Kids were over the moon, Trey even cried tears of joy.

Yes - if I have to admit it, I do still have those warm fuzzy things goin' on and no, you egg, I'm not taking about fluffy bunny slippers or towels on a heated towel rail. 

Best explanation is it's kinda like a low power cordless drill motor spinning inside your guts, not the drill bit part (that would be gross and weird).  
It's slightly jittery inside, makes your skin wobble, yet is oddly satisfying.   

It's been more than 24 hours now since I proposed and she thankfully agreed that yes, I am absolutely the most awesome man on the planet (ok, ad-libbing this bit of course, but I'm sure it's obvious that's what she means). 

I am still getting chills. Friend of mine said I'll have these for a few days at least.  Chills like this are a very good feeling.

I've got the REAL BIG happy now. Buzzing away like a little turbine.

Must admit though, this smiling like a goon thing is messing with my rep. People are wondering what I'm up to all the time.

I am engaged to be married to a truly wonderful woman, and I am thankful at how I have gotten so very lucky. Our door frames perhaps don't feel the same as both of us have managed to walk into them after kissing each other a few times. Embarrassing yes but well funny too.

So I guess some things are just meant to be. 
I'm just stoked that my hands have at least stopped shaking. It's really quite hard to write when you try gehfl;hiIHLIEHRFC.