February – what a crazy month- #WBOYC

February is almost over – and its been such a busy month keeping the house clean and ready for potential buyers to view. 

This year I’m focusing on life through the lens of happiness – my #WOTY. I’m recording my monthly activities using  this mnemonic GREAT DREAM – 10 keys to building a life of  happiness and fulfilment. 

Giving           (Do kind things for others)

Our local SeniorNet committee is arranging some practical help sessions for anyone who needs support to complete the Census forms online.  I have been busy organising venues and people to assist. Apart from being helpful to others, it should be an interesting day. 

Relating        (Connect with people)

This month we joined a community meeting to share ideas for future access into our damaged roads following the extreme weather event we experienced in August 2022.  It was a volatile session at times as people vented their frustration, and yet, there was also a great sense of connection with and between so many people. Relating with others gives a sense of power in uniting together for a common cause. 

We decided on a day trip to Nelson to attend the home and garden show. We hoped to get inspiration and information for our new home. Whilst we were there, we met up with some of our old neighbors whom we hadn’t seen since our early parenting years. It was so good to have a chat about what they were doing, what their children were up to, and yes, even how many grandchildren we each have. How did those years go by so quickly? Such strong connections were formed as we struggled with the joys and tribulations of parenting. It felt good to share those happy memories together again.

Exercising    (Take care of your body)

I got plenty of exercise in the few days when we were dog-sitting our grand-dog  Flick. She is a very cute Jack Russell terrier. 

I took Flick for walks on the beach every day at low tide or brief walks around the garden if it was raining or the tide was too high. She refused to walk on the wet grass though. Precious pooch! Maybe I should dog- sit more often as it is an enjoyable way to exercise. She certainly made herself at home – and yes that is a laundry basket she chose for her bed one night.

Awareness    (Live life mindfully)

“There is a positive connection between art and mental health—artistic activities such as sculpting, painting, or drawing are known to lower stress levels and promote mental calmness. Creating art takes your mind off of your everyday life and provides a relaxing distraction.”  

And so ….  I continue to practice mindfulness through my daily drawing or sketching. I’m currently exploring neurographic art.

Trying Out     (Keep learning new things)

“There’s no age limit on the learning process, given good health. The theory side is straightforward and everyone learns how to draw using the same methods. It’s a new skill and you can learn it. You can progress and get better at drawing.“

I’ve been  trying to improve my skills at sketching body parts –  eyes, hands, mouths and ears. 

I’ve discovered this is quite a challenge so back to the Pinterest and YouTube tutorials I go. 

The only thing is I do get distracted and meander down many rabbit holes. My Pinterest boards are getting rather larger and even more diverse.

Direction       (Have goals to look forward to)

A goal for this month was to spot the comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). 

I spent an enjoyable evening under the stars searching for this Comet. Discovered some time ago this is called the ‘Green Comet’ and is also known as the Neanderthal comet as it was first passing Eatth around 50,0000 years ago.  I didn’t find the comet but it was fun trying.   It’s now heading off in another direction and won’t be back for 55,000 years! That may be a tad too long to wait around. I’ll have to seek a new direction to look up to amongst the stars. 

Or maybe I’ll just stick with sunsets.

Resilience     (Find ways to bounce back)

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – or so the saying goes. And it is so true.  

There are plenty of lemons, limes and lemonades ripening in our citrus orchard this month. We are enjoying the boost of extra Vitamin C in hot and cold drinks -and of course the limes go well in my gin and tonic. I hope that makes me more resilient (and happy)  too. 

Emotions      (Look for what’s good)

This month I have been looking for good ideas in house design, storage options and furnishings.  There are many things to consider when planning and preparing to move house. I have felt both confused and excited; and at times, quite frustrated. Will we build or should we buy?  So many choices. 

So many emotions as I let go the old and embrace the new.  Letting go of all those old redundant clothes in my wardrobe was indeed therapeutic. I’m looking forward to filling that walk-in wardrobe with some bright and colourful new clothes. Bright colours make me happy.

Looking for what is good is more positive and healthy than dwelling on the negatives.

Acceptance   (Be comfortable with who you are)

This month I have indulging in my love of reading even more often than normal.  As my kindle battery is giving up, I have to use the kindle app on my phone instead.  The only problem with that is that I keep getting updates on how much screen time’ I have each day (and night). It almost makes me feel guilty and yet, then I remember how reading is such an important and valuable pastime.

Meaning        (Be part of something bigger)

Quiz night at the local tavern again: 

I always look forward to being part of the friendly banter within and between the teams. We have a lot of fun, and twice now we have nearly won.  Second prize (out of 4 teams) isn’t too bad for us.  Its better than being fourth! Whilst it may not really be being part of something bigger, it is a highly social evening, and I get a night off cooking. We are eternally optimistic that we will win, our team name is The Optimists! 

The tourists:

They come for coffee – or so we thought……. A very good friend of ours from our tourism business days brought his clients to visit us for coffee.  They wandered the beach, they went swimming, they ate lunch, and some did actually drink the coffee. I think the picture is self explanatory,  We had such a fun afternoon and wonderful conversations. 

Overall February was a big month – oh, and we got an offer on our house. Watch this space. 

It must be time for more GREAT DREAMS.

So here goes with my January #WBOYC 

In keeping with my #WOTY Happiness I thought I would try to record my monthly activities using  my happiness mnemonic/guidelines – GREAT DREAM

Giving           (Do kind things for others)

I am decluttering my cupboards in preparation for selling and downsizing.  Does gifting to people who have more need than I do for these items qualify as doing kind things for others? I just wish I could gift essential articles like bedding and clothing to those unfortunate people in Auckland who have been inundated with flood after flood this week. I will give useful items into the local charity shops instead.

Relating        (Connect with people) 

We had visitors for much of January. Firstly the family stayed for 10-14 days.  We had lots of fun and laughter, sharing bonfires, baking and bbqs. Happy times indeed. They left and the house was so quiet. 


The son of our old friends arrived to stay (with  his four kids) for a few days which morphed into 10 days!  That was an interesting  exercise in relating to 3 teenagers, a 10 year old and their solo father, all of whom were more involved in their digital devices than our great outdoors or even each other. 

Exercising    (Take care of your body) 

Swimming and walking at the beach. Eating lots of salads to balance out the sweet treats consumed over Christmas. House cleaning is exercise, isn’t it?

Awareness    (Live life mindfully) 

I am aware I would benefit by spending less time on my own digital devices,   I am mindful about how often I use my kindle for reading in preference to reading an actual book these days.  

I’ve read 6 books so far this month. Most are fiction – either historical or fantasy or a combination of my 2 favourite genres.  However, I also read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. That was intriguing to learn about thoughts about his writing process. Maybe I should expand my reading horizons and check out his books.

I have started doodling/sketching again as a mindfulness exercise. Besides most of my art materials are already packed away so sketching is easier to manage.

Trying Out    ( Keep learning new things)

Quiz night at the local tavern: 

I usually do some online research in preparation for the fortnightly themed quiz on general knowledge, sport, history, geography, music, entertainment and the dreaded picture round. Our quizmaster compiles a couple of pages of seemingly non-related pictures which we then have to guess what they represent (once he has given us the subject). 

As he’s a total Star Wars nerd, there are  always some obscure Star Wars questions he manages to squeeze in too,  no matter what the theme is. This means that I feel obliged (not really as I’m a bit of a sci-fi fan myself) to watch some of these movies or at least google some Star Wars trivia. I’m a staunch believer of lifelong learning anyway. I’m  just not into math- based games like Sudoku. Ugh.

This month’s first quiz theme was Pop Culture. We scored well on the music round which was all about Elvis. What can I say, I was influenced by my mother who was a huge Elvis fan too.

Update: on the last day of January, our team got second in the quiz – bonus point. A great end to the quizzing month. And every day I learn something new.

Direction       (Have goals to look forward to)

Preparing the house and grounds for real estate photos and drone videos kept us very busy this month,  We had to wait for weeks to get the good weather combined with a high tide first.  As luck would have it, the best day finally arrived- and so did our visitors on the very same day.   That was a juggle with the real estate photographer in the house. I had to directour visitors to the nearby reserve where we all sat in the hot sun to keep out of range of the drone and the camera. All I really wanted to do was drool with camera envy (and keep the house sparkling clean and tidy for a couple of hours), not an easy task with 4 children around. 

At last the photos were done and we could relax until the very next day when we had a ‘house viewing’ booked in.Once again I had to do a clean and tidy up in a hurry before we ‘left the building’.

still, 2023 means a new direction for us and that means lots of goals to look forward to. 

Resilience     (Find ways to bounce back)

I must be exercising my resilience coping with visitors as well as juggling the provision of 3 meals with extra cleaning up each time there is a house viewing booked. 

Emotions       (Look for what’s good

It’s an emotional rollercoaster making such a life altering decision to move house after 30+ years. Looking forward means looking for the good opportunities and a different lifestyle. New hobbies to try, new friends to make and new  house decor to plan and design. This will be exciting and joyful

After I get over the initial sadness at leaving, I will focus on getting back to doing the things I really enjoy – the things that make me happy

Acceptance   (Be comfortable with who you are) 

It has taken sometime but I am comfortable with this big life decision. I have accepted that moving on and moving forward with new life adventures is both inevitable and exciting.

Meaning        (Be part of something bigger) 

3 things that make people most happy are doing things that you enjoy, feeling interested in and connected to others, and feeling like what you do matters.  This makes life meaningful. 

What does this mean for you?  What are your Great Dreams?

Maybe next month I can manage the deadlines a bit more punctually.

Written in response to  #WBOYC  January 2023


Day 28: Describe your perfect birthday cake.

I don’t have a favourite birthday cake but I am rather partial to banana cake with chocolate icing especially when baked by my granddaughter.

Day 29: What is something you learned recently?

As a procrastinator, I am very skilled at avoidance – and it is only just 2 February.

Day 30: What would you title the chapters of your autobiography?Why write an autobiography! 

Life’s for Living. Every. Single. Day. Each chapter of my life has many, varied stories to tell: 

  1. The Early Years – oh to be that young again and know what I know now!
  2. The Midlife crisis – was it really such a crisis?
  3. The Life Review – hey, it ain’t over till it is over, Rover!

Life’s for Living. Every. Single. Day.

Day 31: Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

On the beach which is but a short stroll across my front lawn! Or sometimes even out my kitchen window. Cooking the evening meal is often delayed as I grab my camera.

And the sun has now set on Bloganuary. It has been enlightening.

Bloganuary 2023 4th week selection: 

Day 21: Who is your favorite author and why?

Without doubt my favorite author is Diana Gabaldon. Her Outlander books have been a huge part of my reading since 1992 when I first read Crosstitch, and they still entertain me. Whether it’s the tv adaptations, the compendiums, the novellas, or the audiobooks, I love them all. 

It is difficult to describe the genre. There are so many covered in her books. 

Diana herself has described it thus:

Day 22: What was your dream job as a child?

Photographer. Getting  my first camera as a ten year old  ensured I was instantly hooked

My first real job entailed hand- coloring aerial photos. That was such fun. Alas,  that skill set was made redundant with the advent of colour photography. 

Another favorite photographic job was creating large aerial photo mosaics of rural properties. Also superseded by modern technology in mapping. 

Learning to develop and print my own photos was immensely satisfying to me. A camera upgrade from a point and shoot to a Pentax SlR required a steep learning curve. I loved it all. 

The move from film to digital cameras brought yet more learning challenges and much enjoyment.  

Over my teaching career, I used cameras to record and illustrate children’s learning stories, to  document teaching practice, and to plan and improve  early childhood learning environments. 

Whilst not employed as a ‘photographer’ I managed to include my passion into my work career. 

Now in retirement I have even more time to pursue my photographic passion. And I do. 

Day 23: What’s a lie you tell yourself?

One day I’ll get fit!

Day 24: How do you show love?

Kindness, caring, compassion and passion. Shouldn’t everyone? 

Day 25: What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why? 

Not one but two songs speak to me. ABBA’s new album Voyage instantly appealed to me.


A while ago, I heard the sound of children's laughter
Now it's quiet, so I guess they left the park
This wooden bench is gettin' harder by the hour
The sun is goin' down, it's gettin’ dark

I realise I'm cold, the rain begins to pour
As I watch the windows on the second floor
The lights are on, it's time to go (ooh
It's time at last, to let him know

I believe it would be fair to say
"You look bewildered"
And you wonder why I'm here today
And so you should, I would

When I left I felt, I've had enough
But, in the shape and form I appear now
I have learned to cope, and love and hope is why I am here now

And now you see another me, I've been reloaded, yeah
I'm fired up, don't shut me down

I'm like a dream within a dream that's been decoded
I'm fired up, I'm hot, don't shut me down
I'm not the one you knew
I'm now, and then combined
And I'm askin' you to have an open mind

(And I won't be the same)
I'm not the same this time around (ooh)
I'm fired up, don't shut me down

Will you leave me standin' in the hall?
Or let me enter?
The apartment hasn't changed at all
I've got to say, "I'm glad"
Once these rooms were witness to our love
My tantrums and increasing frustration
But I go from mad, to not so bad
In my transformation  

And now you see another me, I've been reloaded, yeah
I'm fired up, don't shut me down
(Don't shut me down)

I'm like a dream, within a dream, that's been decoded
I'm fired up, I'm hot, don't shut me down
I am not the one you knew (I'm not the one you knew)
I'm now, and then combined
And I'm askin' you to have an open mind

(Now, I'll not be the same)
I'm not the same this time around (ooh)
I'm fired up, don't shut me down
You ask me not to leave
Well, here I am again
And I love you still and so I won't pretend
I have learnt to cope, and love and hope is why I am here now



I still have faith in you
I see it now
Through all these years that faith lives on, somehow

There was a union
Of heart and mind
The likes of which are rare and oh so hard to find

Do I have it in me?
I believe it is in there
For I know I hear a bittersweet song
In the memories we share

I still have faith in you
And I will say
I never really thought I'd feel this way
But I remind myself of who we are
How inconceivable it is to reach this far

Do I have it in me?
I believe it is in there
For I know I hear a bittersweet song
In the memories we share

We do have it in us
New spirit has arrived
The joy and the sorrow
We have a story
And it survived 

And we need one another
Like fighters in a ring
We're in this together
Passion and courage
Is everything

I still have faith in you
It stands above 
the crazy things we did
It all comes down to love

Do I have it in me?
I believe it is in there
For I know I hear a bittersweet song
In the memories we share
Do I have it in me?

We do have it in us
New spirit has arrived
The joy and the sorrow
We have a story
And it survived

And we know that we need one another
Like fighters in a ring
We're in this together
Passion and courage
Is everything

(I still have faith in you)

And we still have it in us
We've only just arrived

(Do I have it in me?)

We stand on a summit
Humble and grateful
To have survived

I still have faith in you
It stands above 
the crazy things we did
It all comes down to love

Do I have it in me? 

Yes, I do have it in me to survive, especially if I am not shut down! These powerful lyrics speak to me. 

I play these constantly whilst creating my art, it is relaxing and affirming.

Day 26: What language do you wish you could speak?

Te Reo Maori- it is one of the three official languages of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Alongside English and the NZ sign language.

I do understand more Te Reo Maori than I speak and love listening to waiata/songs.

Day 27:   What are the pros and cons of procrastination?


“Giving you more time to think, allowing you to gather and process more relevant information before making a decision. It helps conserve your energy when procrastination leads you to postpone a task that ends up being canceled.” 

Bonus point!


“Over-thinkers are some of the best procrastinators out there. Why? Because they let their thoughts eat up their momentum. While brainstorming and preparing yourself mentally for work is a good idea, overthinking takes what could be a proactive thought and turns it into a worried, impenetrable wall of inaction.” 

Yes that’s me too! 

But wait, there’s more – if I can only just get around to it. Well maybe ‘a round tuit’ is just what I need.

Bloganuary – 3rd week selection

Day 13: If you had a billion US dollars, how would you spend it?

Firstly, I would check the exchange rate.  Currently, that would give me half as much again in NZ currency. That is $157,000,000NZD. Hmm-probably this would be  enough to splash out on a few trips around the world, donate to a few worthy causes, clear the extended family’s mortgages, etcetera, etcetera……..

Seriously though, I don’t give too much thought to having  this huge amount of money . It’s either a pipe dream, or a nightmare in the making. 

Money isn’t likely to buy happiness   And that is my WOTY focus this year. 

Day 14: What is your preferred mode of travel?

Shanks pony “One’s feet or legs, regarded as a means of transport” – yeah nah,  not really  just give me a car or ute these days.  It carries my rubbish and my groceries though not at the same time.  The Ute also tows the caravan which offers a slower mode of travel to explore the beautiful country views. And that makes me happy. 

I used to enjoy horse riding but found it to be a bit too hazardous to my health after my horse bolted with me on too many occasions.  

I did some cycling  over my early years.  I got a brand-new bike when I was 11 years old and I was so proud of it. I cycled everywhere  – to school, and to the horse paddock each weekend. It was my only mode of travel until I got my driver’s licence in my early twenties. Then I drove everywhere instead.

I did a pro-drive course when I started a job that required extensive travel over rural roads.  I remember driving home from the course practicing all that I had learnt. Then  a few weeks later, I collided with a runaway cow on a dark night. My newly acquired skills kicked in and I almost avoided a head-on collision.  I hit the cow but I survived -alas the cow did not.

I fell off an e-bike and tore a  few rotator cuff tendons. Surgery followed by 6 weeks in a sling over summer cured me of that mode of travel.

Armchair travel is now my preferred mode of travel.

Day 15: What fear have you conquered?

My fear of falling from a great height. For much of my life, I had a fear of falling downstairs.  At one stage, it got so bad I would just freeze at the top of the stairs. Taking that first step was just too hard. I envisaged myself falling and landing in a crumpled heap at the bottom for days, waiting for someone to find me.

Until I did actually fall.  In the middle of winter, one morning when I was running to catch the bus, I slipped off that icy top step of our outside stairs. My life flashed before my eyes. That didn’t take long as I was only 18.  I landed in a crumpled heap, but I picked myself up, brushed off my embarrassment, and made it to the bus on time.

Since then I have even mastered escalators!

Day 17: Describe the happiest day of your life.

This should be easier than I am finding it so far. 

Happiness is my WOTY so why am I finding it hard to describe the happiest day of my life? 

I have had a long and fortunate life (so far) and I have had so many happy days to be grateful for. I guess there are  too many to count to specify any particular day. 

The day we got married nearly 52 years ago, the birth of each of my three sons, the challenges of study and a new career, my many memorable travel experiences over the last 20 years, the birth of each of our seven grandchildren, and now having more time in retirement to pursue new creative activities. These  have all brought me joy and happiness. 

I’m forever grateful that the happy days have far outnumbered the sad, stressful days. I am thankful for them too as without sadness how can happiness be known or appreciated?

Day 18. What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Smoked salmon, asparagus and creamy mushrooms. It’s delicious, its easy to prepare, it’s healthy (mostly). And asparagus is a springtime seasonal treat and that is my favorite time of the year. 

Day 19: What color describes your personality and why?

Purple. I love purple although I can never quite explain why so I went searching for meanings. 

Some definitions:

The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.“


Purple as a favorite color is said to represent an artistic and unique individual, who is often very intuitive and deeply interested in spirituality. Lovers of purple are said to be a good judge of character, and a visionary with a great need to participate in humanitarian issues.”

Well I’m not sure about the “deep interest in spirituality’ but I do try  to be creative and artistic in many different ways.  And perhaps, just maybe, I’m a good judge of character??  I’m definitely a unique individual. And I’m okay with that. 

Day 20: What irritates you about the home you live in?

Nothing much irritates me about my current home except perhaps our recent road closures,  and the ongoing  isolation.

We have had 30+ years living our lives here at the beach. We have a warm and comfortable home. The birds flit through the native bush and along the seashore. The spectacular sunsets are often followed by dark skies which display a multitudes of stars to sparkle and intrigue me.   Plenty of photo opportunities abound here. 

That’s why it has been such a hard decision to sell up and move into town. 

To be continued……….

#bloganuary #goals

Sunday Stills – Plunge into 2023- Wherever that leads.

Plunge  – Wherever that leads, let’s just do this. 

The first time I distinctly  remember taking a plunge is when after many attempts when my dad had tried to  teach me to dive without bellyflopping, the camera was at the ready even if I was not.  At the last minute I held my nose and jumped into the pool instead. OK, I was only 10 years old. 

A few years later, I plunged headlong into a gorse bush when the horse I was riding refused to jump and I flew over his head and landed in the prickly gorse. “Enough”  I said as I pulled the gorse prickles out of my tender bottom. No more plunges for me! 

Except there are many times since then I have taken the plunge. 

Marriage – was definitely a plunge into the unknown. 52 years later and that plunge was indeed a worthwhile endeavour. 

Motherhood – another plunge, a lifelong commitment  and now it continues into the delights of grand-parenting. 

I plunged into a new career direction. Now that was an amazing  experience that took me on so many adventures. 

Whilst I have tried to make positive decisions about where I would take the next plunge into the great unknown, I have since discovered that sometimes the best thing to do is just hold your nose and jump into that pool.  

I wonder what plunges I will take in 2023. Whatever happens,  I will just do this again and again. 

Life is like that. Life is for living. Every single day.

Bloganuary 2023 – Weeks 1 & 2 – a selection

Last year I started yet did not complete Bloganuary -maybe this time I will.  

Day 1: What is something you want to achieve this year?

I have rather a big item list. 

Finish my memoir

Sell  our property and build a new house. 

Undertake a road trip  in our caravan. It may be that we will be living in it while the house is being built?

Revisit my photography:  I have been lacking my phojo for the last few months of 2022 so this year it’s time to revisit and hone my techniques. And I have a new lens to play with.

If I achieve all these I will meet my WOTY ‘happiness’ goal. 

Day 2:  How are you brave?

Just being on here and sharing my thoughts and photos is a brave action. But also facing my fears and doing it anyway is something I continue to work on. Last year I toyed with the idea of having a WOTY. It was going to be courage but I chickened out due to all sorts of challenging circumstances. 

I recently got a health concern checked out and facing that fear bravely was courageous enough. 

Maybe I will commit to a WOTY this year?  That would be brave.

Day 3: What is the earliest memory you have?

Getting chased by a jumping jack firecracker when I was about three.  I was wearing a red coat at the time. I still hate the colour red!

Day 5: What brings you joy in life?

I lift my Kaleidoscope towards the light 

What do I seek?

Twisting patterns and tumbling shapes

Behold the joyous colours  of my life.

Day 6: Why do you write?

Writing to me is a way to record my inner thoughts and to make sense of the feelings and thoughts that wander through my mind. The more I write the better I think and the more the creative juices flow. 

Day 7: Write a short story or poem about rain.

The first raindrops pattered gently onto the parched soil. An earthy aroma arose to assault her senses. She inhaled deeply. There it was. That illusive scent of musky dust  yet there was something else lingering in the air.

The rain sparked a memory of long ago when life was bountiful. a time when  leaves gleamed a soft light green.

The fat raindrops became heavier and more persistent. Rivulets of water grew to become streams. Flowing faster now, the streams began to fill the cracked earth. The earth took on a richer hue. Green shoots suddenly appeared where once there was dust. 

The drought was over. Life could begin anew. And with it came her sense of relief and renewal.

Day 9: What is the most memorable gift you have received?

A surprise visit from my Swedish son for the big 70th birthday.  He was back in New Zealand for just 6 days before departing  just before the country went into lockdown. It was the best kept secret and memorable gift I have ever had.

Day 10: Has a book changed your life?

All of the very many books I have read have changed my life. No way could I pick just one book. I am just addicted to reading.

Day 12: What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

That would be those repetitive housework chores. It’s not that challenging just really frustrating and repetitive. Other more pleasurable activities are way more challenging but they are not chores. Still I much prefer spending time and energy on something much more creative.

Maybe I can manage these prompts a daily basis from this day forward. That is not a chore but is still a challenge

WQ #1 Resolutions, Goals and Word of the Year

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” The best way to predict the future is to create it. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” 

– Unknown

I used this quote for Sunday Stills Year in Review, and then it just came to me in a flash of inspiration.

Happiness just has to be my WOTY in 2023. 

It’s not that I am unhappy. It’s just that I wish to be more intentional in recognizing and showing gratitude for the gift of happiness in my life.

Being aware of one’s values helps people live authentically, which ultimately leads to sustainable happiness.—

Colleen Reilly, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022

At Christmas time, the song I kept humming along with was “all I want for Christmas…… is for people everywhere to seek joy and happiness in their lives. 

Forget about the conspiracy theories. Stop scrolling through and down those social media rabbit holes – and find something positive and creative  to do with the time and energy you save yourself.

Some definitions…….


aa state of well-being and contentment 

ba pleasurable or satisfying experience

Capturing these Fairy Terns was both pleasurable and satisfying

3 things that make people most happy are:

1.PLEASURE -doing things that you enjoy

2 ENGAGEMENT – feeling interested in your activities and connected to others

3 MEANING – feeling like what you do matters

And so I will take much pleasure in engaging and finding meaning in everything I do this year.


10 Keys that tend to make life happier and more fulfilling:

Giving           Do kind things for others

Relating        Connect with people

Exercising    Take care of your body

Awareness    Live life mindfully

Trying Out     Keep learning new things

Direction       Have goals to look forward to

Resilience     Find ways to bounce back

Emotions       Look for what’s good

Acceptance   Be comfortable with who you are

Meaning        Be part of something bigger

Together they spell GREAT DREAM

Courtesy of https://actionforhappiness.org

What are some other words for happy?

  • pleased.
  • delighted.
  • satisfied.
  • glad.
  • thankful.
  • thrilled.
  • joyful.
  • joyous

I think I will have plenty of choice for future goals and actions going forward.  

And just to leave you with an ear worm -have a listen to these lyrics.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Song by Bobby McFerrin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWXUWepSak4

Some of the lyrics….

“Here’s a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry, you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy

Don’t worry, be happy now

Don’t worry (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy (Ooh-ooh-ooh) 

Don’t worry, be happy (Ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) 

Don’t worry (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy (Ooh-ooh-ooh)

Don’t worry, be happy”

We can always find something to worry about. Don’t worry. Be happy.

And here they are- My goals, my WOTY, and my resolution – all wrapped up together.

2022 – What a Year that was!

“Instead of finishing the year strong, why don’t we finish the year soft? why don’t we finish the year restful and grateful for making it through yet another crazy cycle on earth?”


So 2022 was a hard year. To ease the stresses of storms, road closures and health issues, I decided to create a space for art in my life. 


I struggled with my phojo most of the year – well after our 7 weeks caravanning around the South Island.  We travelled from January to early March and ticked off some bucket list items. 

From a visit to Rakiura/Stewart Island to exploring amazing seascapes in the Caitlins, and the majestic waterfalls of the Milford Sound ,we loved it all. Here is a sample of the places I photographed.

Visiting family and friends as we road- tripped around was so good. 

There is always a great selection of birdlife in the bush or on the beach.

April and May were calm and  the weather was relatively settled. I managed to photograph the alignment of the planets in May.  And I was very excited to capture the total lunar eclipse photos in November.

Then winter set in.  June, July, August were wet, wet, wet, and cold, cold, cold.

Little did we realize that the winter months were going to be such a challenge. A very wet winter culminated in a particularly ferocious ‘atmospheric river’ in August. 

“Atmospheric rivers are massive plumes of moisture that move from the tropics to the mid-latitudes. Weather experts describe this week’s atmospheric river as an exceptional winter event, long lasting, with a very anomalously large moisture content.”

“The weather event has involved more than 300mm of rain falling across the top of the South Island in 24 hours.”

Our roads were closed, there was no public access  and very little communication from the local council. 

We did receive some urgent medications from the emergency services although some urgent dental appointments required a scary trip out over  the ravaged roads which were still being repaired after the 2021 storm event. This was much, much worse.

When we had an urgent trip to Nelson for emergency dentist appointments,  I found a different beach to photograph  Even this beach also shows the erosion caused by the recent stormy  weather.  Building driftwood huts is an ongoing activity around here.

There was severe damage to many properties but the roads had born the brunt of the damage.  We had no power, internet or phone access for five days.  We could only get our water from one garden tap that didn’t rely on power to run the pump.  Thankfully, we could also still flush the toilet!

Our food was rapidly thawing in our powerless freezers so we cooked either on our little gas canister cooker or on the bbq. Romantic candlelight dinners for two became our daily routine. 

In hindsight, this was to be life-changing for us.

Creative activities:

June/July – ICAD 61/61 (index card a day artwork)

Participated in and completed Inktober 2022

December doodling got off to a colourful start but my mojo fizzled. 

Instead, I took some time out to create a costume for the Sci Fi quiz theme at the local Tavern. What to wear??  I decided the answer had to be 42:  Life, the universe and everything. I made a lighted galaxy skirt, a universe headband, and a DON’T PANIC aka The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was a fun night  although our team didn’t win. The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was strong yet delicious.

I am not sure why I love dressing up as various characters but once every month or two our local tavern hosts a themed quiz night. Over this year I have been the Scarlet Witch, a Mexican dancer and the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything – #42

Also in December, we loved attending our granddaughters’ dance show The Wizard of Oz. They both performed brilliantly. They were dancing jazz and hip hop. The whole academy of dance was full of variety and all were  such a joy to watch. The tap dancing, the Irish jigs, the hip hop and the jazz all told the classic story of Dorothy and friends. 

Our eldest granddaughter finished primary school. It was wonderful to attend her Leavers Assembly and watch her so confidently perform the actions to  the school Pride song.  We are very proud of her. She is such a great all- round achiever. Hard to imagine she is off to college next year.

Books read: Total books year to date – 83.

Reviewing my book reading lists, I have realised that I have had a particular leaning towards scifi, fantasy, crime thrillers and time travel. Some books I have read this year have included many of these themes in the storylines. . A great form of escapism for me. 

Life Events:

November and December 2022 were busy and anxious months.  

Preoccupied with a concerning health issue – X-rays, ultrasound and punch biopsy. a nervous waiting time for results…..  At last came the good news – no cancer cells detected. Now just a bit more waiting for that surgical review. At least my stress levels have lessened (for now).

At last I felt that I could plan and prepare for Christmas.  

Our road is still closed to public use and for ’residents and essesntial services only’ but we were expecting our ‘non- resident’ families to arrive en masse anyway. They are ‘essential services’ to us as they arrived to spend a Christmas summer here. 

We are practicing just a little bit of civil disobedience as we are so frustrated by the council’s uncommunicative attitude to supporting those of us still in limbo since the August storm.  

After months of waiting for safe access, it only took three weeks for the trucks and bulldozers to clear the muddy slips and do a little bit of patching up. The road is at least driveable now.

In true bureaucratic form, next year….  they will do a ‘scoping’ strategic review BEFORE they do any real planning or scheduling to actually fix the roads. This could take years even though they have prioritized and fixed most of the rest of the 600+ kilometers of damaged roads in other areas.

It’s been depressing and frustrating. We want to enjoy our lives again without worrying every time it rains. We don’t have that many years left and our mental health is already suffering, so… 

We have made the hard decision to sell up and move into town.

The signs are up. It’s official – the house is on the market. Now to see how quickly it sells. Falling house prices and rising interest rates do not bode well but we have to hope the sunshine weather will bring out the interested buyers. 

In the meantime, we are enjoying a hot summer – and our visiting families. 2 awesome sons, 2 great daughter -in- laws and 5 amazing grandchildren – oh and the 3 grand-dogs.  It’s such a pity that our third son is unable to visit from Sweden. 

We have  been  swimming, boating, fishing, making a driftwood reindeer, moon photography, gardening and games – lots of games. Cards, corn hole, board games, bbqs, and maybe some wine times. And  we partied the rest of the year away with a bonfire, fireworks  and roasted marshmallows.

And so we say farewell to a challenging  2022.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. 

Bill Vaughan

Me? I just wanted to party with my family with a beach bonfire (did I already mention the marshmallows? It was indeed a ‘soft’ ending to a fraught and heavy year. 

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” The best way to predict the future is to create it. There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting”

Let us hope that 2023 brings exciting adventures, peace, happiness, love and laughter to ever