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

#WQWWC : Relaxed – “If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.“

“Trust that little voice in your head that says, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’; and then do it.”  Duane Michals 

So with these encouraging quotes in mind, here I go with my favourite ways to relax….

PLAYING WITH ART“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Either John Lennon or Laurence J Peter – the jury is out on who said this first!

My latest foray into creative expression is when  I started a 61 day ICAD (index card a day) challenge from 1st June and ending 31st July – and of course I am still playing catchup.   I made a bargain with myself – 30 minutes on the exercycle first then I am free to play with index cards, paint, crayons, stencils and gel pens. I even made a home-made gel plate for printing  I put on my music and relax into my art.  Here is a small selection from June and July. It is working so far.

READING:   “You can find magic, wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr Seuss

This is most certainly one of my ‘go-tos’ for relaxing, pouring myself a cuppa, curling up into a comfy chair and getting lost in a good book – and there I am –  relaxed into the magic of words and other worlds.  There is a reason I have always loved reading fantasy, science fiction and time travel – it is such an amazing form of escapism.   It will be interesting to see how many books I have read by the end of the year – I’m up to Book 54 so far.


I have my favourite genres, and then I have my “impossible to put into any specific genre” genre. 

Some books just require you to read, re-read and re-read again. And it is not because you can’t remember the stories, its because they are so good, so full of complexity, twists and turns they need to be read again to catch even more details with each read through. 


I’m currently re-reading books 1 – 8 of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon in preparation for the release of book 9 in November. There is an online book group doing a read – along and is great excuse for me to re-read. It is very interesting how much more detail you notice on the next journey through the ‘ stones’.  


I enjoyed reading the first book Crosstitch (which has since been renamed as Outlander) when it was published in 1991. I swapped some of the next few books with my sister in law over the years until other work-life priorities intervened.  Luckily for me, I not only rediscovered the series a few years ago but also realised I could download the rest of the books onto my kindle. For those that are not yet familiar with this series here is Herself’s description.

Alternatively or as well as – there is the tv series to avidly consume – seasons 1 -5 to date with season 6 scheduled for release early next year.  I have to admit to being seriously addicted to Outlander along with several million other readers.  I’m not sure if this addictive reading behaviour is actually relaxing or not – hmm?


Whilst waiting for the next book, there is a selection of novellas based on individual characters and a Comprehensive Companion guide (or two ) filling in some background history.  It keeps me relaxed.

Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.” – A. Edward Newton, author, publisher, and collector of 10,000 books.

By the look of my piles of books which I can’t seem to fit into my bookshelves, and constantly struggle to let go of, it could be said I might be afflicted with this ecstasy too.  It reminded me too of this bit of lighthearted relief found online during last year’s lockdown. Read the titles which have been placed in order by a librarian with a sense of humour. Always look for the bright side of life – and stay relaxed

PHOTOGRAPHY:  Relax and trust, knowing the universe has set a banquet of abundance for you”

I found this quote chalked onto a blackboard outside the Langford store in Golden Bay last year. I’m not sure who authored it. I do like the emphasis on “relax and trust”.

Wandering with my camera is when I am truly in my relaxed and happy place. There is always an abundance of subjects to capture – and it keeps the brain active.

WRITING: “It is how you see life that matters, rather than what you have done.”  – Patti Miller,   “Writing true stories.”

Writing for me is a way to record my inner thoughts and to make sense of the feelings and thoughts that wander through my mind. Playing with words is a form of relaxation for me. It can also be a trip down memory lane.

Elizabeth Gilbert writes that:
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to discover those jewels – that’s creative living… I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”


So now I have written about creative pursuits I enjoy, I’m feeling rather chilled out and RELAXED  

https://alwayswrite.blog/2021/07/21/chill-out-with-wqwwc-and-relax/

Art-ache and pain

Super Moon
A wearable work of art
Once again I lie awake pondering 
Is it just another sleepless and restless lunar night? 
It must be a full moon. 

Is it the thoughts rattling around in my brain. 
Or the pain in my shoulder again?

Popping painkillers  might ease the aches  but what to do about my sore heart?

I’m feeling bereft and saddened. 
What can I do to be happy again?
And then this morning- I found this quote .....


"Art, undeniably, is conductive to happiness.”   Unknown

Now I know why I must do. Return to my art - ASAP 

I’m looking forward to 2021 and moving forward with my photographic art.

Creativity craves Companionship not Criticism

 Is this true for you?

My mind is buzzing with ideas to release my creativity yet I procrastinate – why? 
Is it a fear of failing, of falling into a black hole,  or being criticised?

Yes that is likely to be biggest fear of all – why do I struggle with criticism so much? Even when it is constructive although more often than not it is destructive.

It may be human nature to criticise and blame another for perceived procrastination – but – the big BUT – why should it matter? As long as I am doing what is necessary for a harmonious life – eg cooking, housecleaning, bill paying and gardening spring to mind. Surely after all the mundane tasks of life are done and dusted (yeah nah  maybe not the dusting) then I can soar free into my creative zone. 

Seek inspiration from nature

The sun is peaking out from behind the clouds, the sky is blue in patches, the sea is calm and ‘flat as’. The early birds are out making tracks in the dew as they hop, stop, listen then bury their beaks into the soft turf, emerging with a wiggly worm for their breakfast. I love watching their steady progress across the grass. This is much better than throwing out some bread crusts. I wonder what the earthworms think about the sudden intrusion into their underground world?  

Here they are, minding their own wormhole, burrowing deep to chew and spew the leafy mould, turning the detritus of autumn leaves into soil. These little magic munchers are such super soil turners.  They help to fertilise the soil by bringing nutrients closer to the surface. They live in soil at depths of up to 2 metres and feed on decaying organic matter in the soil.

Did you know?

“Earthworms are hermaphrodites where each earthworm contains both male and female sex organs. The male and female sex organs can produce sperm and egg respectively in each earthworm. Although earthworms are hermaphrodites, most need a mate to reproduce. … The slime tube will form an “egg cocoon” and be put into the soil. Both worms create offspring.”

Double the luck! Very creative and good companionship, I reckon. So maybe creativity does crave companionship? So that was another interesting ‘rabbit hole’ or should I say ‘wormhole’ I went down. I’ll never look at an earthworm in quite the same way again.

Create- don’t Procrastinate

I have planted a germ of an idea for creating a circle of creativity in the neighbourhood.  I thought it would be very cool to create some art each day but it wasn’t easy to get art supplies during lockdown so let us just share the resources we all have in our cupboards.  Over the coldest and bleakest of the winter months we will meet in my little cosy corner downstairs.  We will bring our own projects and just create – whilst we listen to music, chat and drink coffee. Hopefully this will accomplish a couple of goals I have. 

  1. complete a couple of art projects I have had on the backburner for a couple of years
  2. spend intentional time developing my skills and becoming more creative

I am hopeful this will help to keep the winter woes from the door for us all.  Whatever happens will happen. Lets just  see where this journey takes us? And maybe, just maybe, I will enjoy my creativity in good company and be able to ignore that criticism.

LianaB