Grab Life by the Horns

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By Mike Milstein

Marina Gosnell believes that life is to be lived fully. Her life mirrors this belief. She was born in Holland, but when she was eight her parents immigrated to New Zealand and settled in Dunedin. She remembers that it was “difficult at first with the language. Basically you were told to get on with it and learn.” Impressively, it took her only three months to gain sufficient English proficiency. After completing her tertiary education she moved to Rotorua where she was a teacher, but after seven years she, her partner and their two teenage children moved to Nelson where they have remained for the past twenty years. 

Marina seeks out opportunities for change and growth. “I like projects. Part of being happy and going forward is having a good job and I really like my job as manager of the Nelson Budget Service. It gives me lots of problem solving to do, which is like working out a puzzle. It’s fulfilling. Contact with the clients is the best part of it, meeting so many people. Helping them really makes me feel good and I hope it makes my clients feel good too.” 

In her search for change and growth Marina has tackled many different jobs. “I started off being a school teacher, but made a conscious decision to start again in Nelson for “the good life”. Neither my partner nor I had jobs when we came here. I wanted a career change. I got a job in a laboratory testing products and then became the manager for ten years. But that began to feel routine and I’ve done different bits and pieces ever since.”

“I don’t want to go to my old age and think I should have done this or that. Sometimes things don’t work out, but at least I’ve done it. There may have been things I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I do them, and then find they are really not me at all. I can then put them aside and say okay, I’ve done it, it didn’t work. It wasn’t what I thought it was and I carry on and do something else.”

Marina doesn’t let fear get in her way. “Bad things can happen, but if you don’t do anything then good things can’t happen either. You can get run over by a bus tomorrow. If something bad happens I’m sure I’ll get over it. I always think of the positive. I like to take life by the horns. I don’t want any regrets. I don’t ever want to say I wish I had done that. It makes you bitter and twisted if you think like that.” 

Marina realizes the importance of keeping her mind active. “I play games. I do the crosswords and sudoku every day. I play games with friends. In fact, according to my nephews our house is known as the place where you play games.” 

She is also keen about travel. “I’ve always wanted to travel and now I can. I didn’t do the big OE in my twenties, but now we’ve decided to do it. We’re getting ready to go to Europe for six months while we can still have fun, do things, and maybe work. We are leaving behind my daughter and grandchildren and my mother who needs a bit of help from time to time, but my sisters are there for her.”

Now in her fifties Marina realizes that retirement, whenever it occurs, “will be a big project. I’m not sure what we are going to do. I haven’t actually thought about it much. We have a house that can be used as a bed and breakfast, which could help us make ends meet and connect with people from all over the world.” 

Living well for Marina means “doing what you want to do, doing new things, and having enough money to do what you want to do. You don’t need a lot of money but you do need enough to make life comfortable. I’m also lucky to be living with someone who wants to do the same things as I do and who has the same attitudes about life.”

Note: This article, which was published in The Leader on May 6, 2010, summarizes an interview aired by Fresh FM that was conducted by Dr. Annie Henry and sponsored by Age Concern, Nelson. If you want to share your thoughts with the Conscious Ageing Network (CAN) or wish to know when interviews will be aired and when CAN articles will appear in the Leader, send an email to .