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?”

Unknown

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. 

Photography 

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

The complexities of aging – and courage.

I used to be courageous. Whatever happened to that trait?

I used to be resilient. Whatever happened to my bouncability?

I used to be persistent. When did I give up trying? 

I used to be carefree. When did the anxiety begin?

I used to be adventurous. When did that bravery fade? 

I used to be blonde and long- haired. I still am albeit with some streaks of silver amidst the gold. 
My crowning glory is just that. Gloriously gold and silver and left free to fly in  the wind.

This notion that older women need to conform to the  short grey hair norm?  What is that all about? 

It’s more practical (they say). You will look ten years younger (they say). But who actually wants to lose ten years of their life experiences and memories? Every year of my life is memorable and valued. These deserve recognition and acceptance. 

Why is the flexibility of youth overcome by the frailties of age?  Should it? What can we do to take back our freedoms?  

Should I accept old age gracefully?  Or will I retain the courage of my convictions and keep bending the rules of societal expectations. 

Ok, so I can’t actually bend my knees as well these days  but my mind surely goes off in many flexible directions. Especially after midnight – I still burn the midnight oil in the engine of my brain. And it’s freeing to know that I can sleep in the next day if I need to catch up on sleep. 

I find myself rebellious against societal expectations of how older women should be. Just let us be!  Let us be free to be ourselves.

My goal is to retain my own true self rather than give up and conform to societal expectations. This insidious concept of the invisibility of the older woman continues but why?

What does age really have to do with it?  Yes, I do struggle sometimes with creaky achy joints but my brain still refuses to weaken. My creativity is taking another direction ( or two). I’m still alive and at last I have the time to indulge and develop new interests which may yet become passions.

The complexity of my life increases with each new direction, each new interest I find. I wonder sometimes what I am searching for yet then I decided it is just a continuation of how I have lived my life. Taking on new challenges as they arise. Seeking out and finding ways to keep my brain and body active. 

I have glimpsed my own mortality. It calls to me although I am not yet ready to go as I have too much still to discover and do, to think and to experience. Too many of my friends have not had that chance. In some ways I do this for them as well. I will continue to use every single day of my life to expand my creative options and live my life courageously and even outrageously! 

Life’s for living: Every. Single. Day.

I will still need courage to fight against the ageism in society.  After all, I have been courageous at different times of my life. Why should I stop now? 

This year I will work on regaining my courage.

“Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. 

And 70s are ****@#* awesome!”

~Helen Mirren

“Courage is when you dare to be yourself, in whatever ways you want to be

 – to not be afraid, to just do it.” 

– Loung Ung