My Story |Who is Leonie Henskie part 2

This is part two of my life story, covering adult life and Entrepreneurial leanings.

Heretaunga is where I met my husband to be.  I was doing Pharmacy school and he was doing Business Computer Studies.  We met in the common room of the Halls of Residence.  He and a mate were throwing darts at a photo of one of their tutors and it caught my attention.  We hit it off as a group of friends immediately however it was not until the third term that Alan and I officially started going out.

One of the tings that happened to us at Heretaunga was we got caught in the middle of a street fight.  One of the members of our group saw his sister been hassled by some drunk children and he stood up for her.  The boy said I will get my big friends onto you and we did not think anything of it.  When we were heading back to the train station after we had done our time in Upper Hutt. We were accosted as a group.  Two of the guys in our group had Martial arts back ground and Alan was a brawler however he got the brunt of the attack.  The guy that attacked Alan caught him in the jaw so as we raced to the station to get help we were also working out that we would be calling for medical help as well.  I remember spending some time with Alan in Lower Hutt hospital while they took xrays fortunately he did not have a jaw that needed wiring however he was on complan ( a meal substitute for about a week afterwards.  The police caught the guys and when the rest of our party that were not in the hospital went to identify them they were barely recognisable as they had resisted arrest.

In the halls of residence at Heretaunga you each had your own dorm room in a community.  I was in a community of mainly pharmacists and podiatrists and where we did all our socialising was the kitchen area of each community.  This was a totally different kind of halls of residence to what we had in Dunedin but you were able to have your privacy.

Unfortunately I found out at Pharmacy school that exams and I did not agree.  I had been near the top of the class for a number of my subjects during the year but as soon as exams came along I failed a couple of subjects and even after doing specials for those papers I still failed them.

Instead of getting a job this holiday or going away with the family my Christmas holidays that year were spent studying for the Specials exams.  I was also keeping in contact with Alan so that may have been a distraction, but I remember studying at my grandparents over the holidays while the rest of my family went away as usual. When I went back to sit my exams I remember I still had access to the Halls of Residence but while I was waiting for the results I was staying at Alan’s place.  When I got the results that even after Specials I had failed two subjects, my parents said that it was not worth doing a year of only two subjects and it was time for me to find a job.  They also said that it was better for me to stay in Wellington as job prospects in Christchurch were not good at that time.

Alan’s family took me in until I managed to get my first flat and job.

So that was my first real experience of the big bad world. I went through a short term role and then was lucky enough that a relative was able to refer me to a job at an insurance company where they had worked most of their lives. I went through a temporary job doing records filing as my first introduction to working for someone else and then I got my first permanent role.  I was with that company for 4 and a half years  until I resigned and went temping.  As soon as I had my first real job I got into my first flat, that was great until the owners decided to sell it out underneath us. This was a flat share situation with two other people and we all got on very well.  It was a great introduction to flatting for me.  When we all went our ways  I found another flat closer to the main shopping centre in our suburb which was OK except that the flat was owned by a male that expected me to do all the “Female” chores and did not share responsibilities very well. When I had enough of that I moved into a flat with another couple and Alan was eventually able to join me as a flatmate.  In that flat we had such a great time.  The other couple were fantastic and we still see them from time to time locally. We had a lot of fun there and I even had my 21st birthday there , well the Wellington celebrations anyway.  I also had a formal 21st birthday in Christchurch with all my family and childhood friends.

For my 21st my parents gave another chance to travel before I settled down.  They gave me an 18 day Contiki bus tour where I got to join a busload of youth, all under 35 from Sydney to Adelaide and back again.  It was an amazing trip. There were people from a number of nationalities on there and we all got very communal.   I saw some amazing scenes and one that stood out to me was at Mt Buffalo the Lorikeets were so tame they would use you as a perch. I learned a lot on that trip.  It was the first time I had been away by myself ever and I had a ball.  My parents sent me on that trip in the hopes I would meet different guys as I was spending all my time with Alan. It was great I had a wonderful time but my heart was still there for Alan.
Alan got the opportunity to accompany the international Diplomat bag over to Sydney with his job while I was away so gave me a big surprise and turned up in Sydney when I was there for my final few days.  That time is special to me as it is the first time Alan proposed to me, but at that stage I said let’s wait and see because I knew there was conflict with my family. We lived together for another few years as flatmates until we finally committed as I had decided then that I could take anything Alan could throw at me.  We have now been married for 23 years.

When that couple who were the leaseholders decided to move into their own house we found our first flat together which was for us only. It was wonderful, we got to know each other really well and we had other flatmates come and join us from time to time. After a couple of years of this we got serious about looking for a house of our own, decided we would rather build new than buy existing and started looking at plans.  When we told my family that we were buying a house we did it in the wrong order and said we are buying a house together and we are getting married.  It should have been said the other way round.  I basically left most of the Wedding arrangements to my family. As far as Alan and I were concerned we just wanted to be together, and we always say that the day we practiced our vows with the Minister is when we really felt the commitment.  My family set the date for the 19th of September as it had history I do not know the relevance but to me it is the most wonderful day as it was when Alan’s and my life really started together.  We moved into our new house on the 23rd October a month after marriage and we are still there today.

Wedding photo

We started getting involved with ML M and other entrepreneurial ventures a long time ago.  The first one we got involved with was a company called Echos and they were doing a high quality imitation of the big name perfumes.  We had a bit of success with that company and enjoyed the products.  I can’t remember exactly what happened with that company but after that we did our first stint in Amway, then I found Neways which I loved and am thinking of getting back in again because of the products, then picked up Amway again and as soon as possible I got back into Neways, and then we did ACN while I was still doing Neways as a wholesale buyer.  We have also done Indian Perfume and Oils importing,  and organised some big dance parties and more intimate public events and imported and wholesaled magazines and other products not readily available in New Zealand, so we have always had an entrepreneurial spirit.

Over the years Alan has been in stable work, in fact through company changeovers and outsourcing his history is 20 years with one company.  However I have moved around a lot including been home-based for 10 years which is when I first started exploring Internet options.  Over the years I have been a temp, a contractor and a permanent staff member so for me getting made redundant was not a big issue except that the job market this year has been crap. In the past when I have been made redundant or out of work Alan has always had a steady income.

When Alan got made redundant at the end of last year he was excited because of the fact he was going to start his own business and I was fully supportive of that. He started doing all the research and trying to network which was fine while I was still working but when I was made redundant as well in August things started getting tough.

We have worked through this and all I can say is thank goodness I was with Empower Network as it has given me the courage to keep going, to remain positive no matter what comes my way and know that no matter what happens things will work out.  For instance we were just about to request assistance from the government when I got the temp assignment I am on now and that has kept our heads above water for another month. I am enjoying my assignment but really I want to get to a stage where I can enjoy spending time with Alan and not worrying about whether we are going to have a roof over our heads.  I have enjoyed my taste of freedom and I want more of been able to devote my time to this business and enjoy the full entrepreneur lifestyle.

When I came across Empower Network,  Alan had just been made redundant and was looking at setting up his own Business Coaching business and I loved the products and could immediately see the potential so I went all in.  The potential I saw was that the information provided by the products could be used by any business owner to improve their business and having a fully supported blog platform where all the hard work was done for you was fantastic.  Since then I have done two boot-camps, been made redundant myself, and generally been through the school of life in one year.  I have learned so much about myself and know that as soon as possible this business is going to be Plan A because the job-market is very bad and I just want freedom to spend time with my husband and friends and not stress about how the basic bills are going to be paid.  I want to be able to enjoy travel and everything else I have missed out on over the years because we have been doing jobs for people.  Ultimately I want to be able to help people achieve their freedom and also give to charities that are dear to me in time and money.

I know I have missed out heaps of highlights and influences. As I am writing this I am remembering more and more things so I will share more about things that have happened in my life.

I want to share more with you, but to do that I need you to come along on this ride with me.

Have a great day

My Story| Who is Leonie Henskie Part one

Today I talk about my childhood, the death of my mother, school and travel

I was the oldest child in a middle class New Zealand family in Christchurch.

We did all the normal things growing up however, it was only once I was an adult that I realised that we did a few more of them in luxury compared to other people.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. So I lived with illness in the family from a young age.

My siblings were two and three years younger than me so they did not really know what was happening but in the last year Mum was in and out of hospital a lot.

The year before Mum died our dog was killed on the road.    The day that our dog was killed on the road the school was told and I cried a lot.  That was Standard 1 New Zealand schooling – equivalent to 2nd grade, or Year 3 in modern NZ schooling.  Not long after that the family got another dog which was still alive when I left home.  During this time we also had a cat which we had found as a stray when she had kittens. We had found her under an old house and I had the privilege of naming her and when her kittens were old enough we gave them away to friends.

I was leading a fairly normal childhood at this time, I was doing ballet and guitar, and as the oldest I was allowed to see my mother in hospital as well.  When I had to have my adenoids out in Standard 2, Mum came to hospital with me.  That year I also broke my arm and I had to make the decision to stop ballet or guitar.  I stopped ballet as I was never very good or light on my feet.  Then nearer the end of the year Mum died.  We were told in the morning before we went to school and then we went to school as normal.  We were considered too young to go to the funeral and I do not remember crying again for the rest of my childhood until I was 21 when I finally grieved for my mother.

I started at the school my mother had enrolled me in as an infant in Form 1 or middle school equivalent. I only recently acquired all my documents and in them was the fact that when I was only 1 year old Mum enrolled me in Rangi . I loved school and met some wonderful people who are still friends now. I had seven years at that school and it gave me a lot of privilege. I was able to excel in sciences and we only worked with the boys schools from time to time.

My first form year was also the year that my family decided to give us a taste of travel.  I was the only one over ten and treated as an adult so it was a good time to travel.  My extended family went to California for the August school holidays.  We hired a car and we drove from LA right down to Tijuana Mexico and all the way to San Francisco and everywhere in between.  Memories I have of that trip was my first introduction to hotcakes and maple syrup for breakfast.  Numerous TV Channels which we had never dreamed of, at that stage I believe we only had two TV channels in New Zealand. Going to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, and Universal Studios.  Universal Studios was amazing seeing how props were used on films.  Disney we had a ball of a time going on the monorail each day and one of the rides I will always remember is Small World.  Another highlight for me was seeing squirrels at Carmel on the 90 mile Drive.  An eye opener for us all was when we did a day trip from San Diego to Tijuana Mexico.  We went through the border and drove through to Tijuana.  We had never seen anything like this in our lives.  It was the first time this middle class New Zealand family had ever seen squalid conditions.  We stayed in the car the whole time and couldn’t get back to the border fast enough.  To us this was not a good introduction to Mexico.  The other main highlight of this trip was going to the Yosemite National Park and staying for one night at Lake Tahoe.  One side of the hotel was in California and there were no slot machines or anything else.  The other side of the hotel was in Nevada and the adults were allowed to gamble.  Yosemite National Park was amazing and we went through just before the winter season so there was no one visiting and we had the park to ourselves.  We only drove so did not see much of the park but what we saw was stunning.

The next time we travelled was in my third form year and that was also a car trip from Brisbane to Sydney.  Highlights I remember from that trip were going to the Grundy’s amusement Parlour in Surfer’s Paradise and winning a number of ornaments which I still have to this day.  I remember we stopped in Coff’s Harbour and saw the Pelicans there and another place we went was the Pineapple Plantation on the Gold coast.

That was the last of my international travel until I turned 21 when my parents gave me an 18 day contiki bus tour with some extra days in Sydney for shopping purposes.

School went pretty smoothly I was a B student most of the time that hung out with a lot of the A students.  I was goalie for the school B Hockey team, got involved in Cricket when we started a girl’s cricket team and dabbled in soccer when we tried to convince the teachers it was a good idea.  In my sixth form my parents went away for six weeks and instead of getting someone to look after us at home we all went into the boarding facilities at our schools.  I loved boarding for the short time I was there.  The comradery from the girls was amazing compared to what I was used to.  I only really made one close friend at school and that was Jane whom I see occasionally now and she was my Matron of Honour. I was heavily involved in drama and I did Speech and Drama upto grade 5, I remember in, I think it was the fourth form, doing a recital of Pam Ayres “Oh I wish I had looked after my teeth” in front of the whole school assembly of about 600 girls and the teachers. I think I stopped Speech and Drama in the fifth form however my friend Jane went on to do Speech and drama up to teaching level, and became a speech therapist.  I continued to dabble in drama and was involved in school plays every year whether on the crew or actually on stage.  I even did it in the seventh form when my parents wanted me to stop that extra-curricular activity so I could concentrate on final exams.

I was involved in theatre a lot over the years and even spent time as a prompt and tea lady for the Canterbury Children’s theatre.

Camping was a big part of my childhood. My one set of grandparents were in the local caravan club and when I was young used to go camping often with them.  At Christmas every year the family would take us first to Woodend and then to Alexandra where we would meet up with other relatives.

Another big part of my early childhood was Hamner Springs. Part of my family had a business in  Hanmer Springs so from a very young age we were sent up there for weekends and most winter holidays.  I remember the fun we used to have playing around the grounds, visiting the hot pools  going walking up Conical Hill, doing forest walks and when it snowed using sacks on the hill round by the camping ground.  We spent so many happy times up there totally unaware of what was going on at home.  Hamner Springs was also where we went for our Standard 3 school camp. I loved it as I was able to show a lot of my classmates a lot of my favourite hangouts.

When I was at high school we started camping on the side of Lake Aviemore, one of the hydro lakes in the South island.  The parents had a fully self-contained caravan with shower, and 12 volt facilities so the fridge and all the power could run off the car battery.  My siblings and I had our own pup-tents so we got the idea of proper camping even though the caravan was just beside us. We had a canoe and would swim all day in the freezing lake. Starting in the morning with a wake-up wash and swim.  We had many good years at Lake Aviemore. We even started learning to drive there so we could assist with backing the boat trailer around.

One holiday I remember just before I started high school we did a tour of the North Island, we stopped in all kinds of places and we went all the way from Christchurch, up to Russell in the Bay of Islands where we saw the Treaty House and a few other memorials of New Zealand history, stopping wherever we felt like it in the caravan.  One place that stood out to me was Tolaga Bay just north of Gisborne.  The water was amazingly warm and I seem to remember picking up some very unique shells on the beach.

My parents made sure that we knew our country before we travelled.  I remember from a very young age travelling all over the South Island so later in life we knew what people were talking about when the said the had visited such and such a place.

We also used to go camping or picnicking at a number places within a couple of hours drive of Christchurch. For Easter we would often go to Coe’s Ford and in winter we would go with a group of people to Lake Linden and play on the ice and in the snow.

We were lucky when I was growing up that the indoor ice-skating rink was just around the corner from home, so, I think it was every Friday night or Saturday Afternoon during Winter I would go skating.  I was not any good but it was a fun activity.  We also went Roller-skating with our youth group and other friends once some roller rinks opened in Christchurch.

All of my school holidays were spent working in the family business.  I worked in the family business until my first University holiday when I went Cherry picking with the other students. As a result  I was taught a strong work ethic from a young age.  I did driver’s education through school and as soon as I was confident I was given a company branded Escort van and a weekend job to do.  I was allowed to take the van to school in the seventh form and another friend of mine who lived on a donkey farm and I used to take turns car-pooling. When I went to Otago University in Dunedin to study Pharmacy,  I took the van down with me so I could continue to work in Dunedin.  I was privileged because of this job and had a steady income so I was able to afford to do things all year. I was not the typical struggling student.

Because I had the van in Dunedin I was able to take a group of us swimming regularly up at the main indoor public pool and a few other activities that others might not have been able to do otherwise.  I was also involved in Hockey and Soccer socially in Dunedin so got to see quite a bit of the city by car.  One of the things I remember in Dunedin was the first time that a number of the students in the halls of residence saw snow. They were amazed at it.  Of course to me it was just another hazard I had to deal with when driving, and soon got used to it.

I had a lot of fun in the halls of residence in Dunedin.  The comradery  was great and I made some good friends some of which I still run into from time to time.  Sharing a dorm with another couple of people all year was good.

My second year of tertiary education was in Wellington.  I went to Heretuanga Central Institute of Technology because I was accepted into the Pharmacy school there.  One of my other students from my halls of residence in Dunedin also came up so I knew someone else when I got there.

See Part two for the continuing story