Reflecting on the year that was

It’s time to reflect on the past 12 months.  Personally, it’s been a year of change – shifting back to Whanganui, changing jobs, campaigning for election, buying a house and shifting (again), starting as a councillor. 

Phew, I feel weary!  Not quite bone tired, but getting close.  I’m thankful I get a proper break away from working and parenting – I have a full week without my boys.  While I will miss them, I will enjoy the change of pace. 

This year has been the first that I have had Christmas work functions for quite some time.  The last five years of working from home were great for flexibility and focus, but haven’t offered the same amount of face-to-face fun times.  Working with Te Kaahui o Rauru has been amazing and so enjoyable, even if I’ve been coming to grips with the everyday frustrations and complex constraints faced by iwi, Treaty settlement or not.

My connections with my Horizons colleagues still have a way to go but positive signs are coming thick and fast.  I am impressed with the excellent first steps being taken around carbon-friendly action, and was pleased to get my first motion through after a bumpy start.

Apart from my personal foray into politics, which was both exhilarating and exhausting, 2016’s global politics sucked a bit extra out of me.  To be honest, Trump’s election makes me more than nervous, and the unbelievable horror of Syria continued on.  As I read on Twitter the other day, from a book shop: “dystopian fiction is now in the current affairs section”.

Plus the earthquakes – I’m no fan of earthquakes and the widespread shakes this year have me on edge.  Another hottest year on record too – can it be turned back?  Oh, and David Bowie died – there’s a meme going around that it was Bowie holding the fabric of the universe together and his premature departure is somehow to blame for the crazy year.

If you’re looking for some youthful optimism however, at least at a NZ politics level, check out the intelligent and talented Green Party candidates heading into the list process prior to next year’s general election.  All aged 35 or under, these four women leave me with hope – Chloe Swarbrick, Hayley Holt, Leilani Tamu and Golriz Ghahraman.

Another optimistic practice I read about recently (which will also help next year’s wrap up column!) – throughout the year, writing down your successes, small or large, or experiences that have made you happy, on a small piece of paper and putting it in a jar.  Then, at the end of the year, you read over them and focus on the positive.

I already use my personal Facebook page as a filtered diary of sorts, capturing the gorgeous images of my children growing up, and, for the most part, ignoring the challenges.  From time to time, I’ll post a more honest anecdote about my warts-and-all reality of raising children, and usually get a swarm of sympathetic responses.  But I like my Facebook feed being the edited highlights – it makes for some nice Facebook memories, at least.

So my advice about social media is don’t believe everything is as good as it looks and hold a bit of space in your heart to be kind to others who may be doing it tough, shiny happy posts or not.  Actually, look after yourself too – especially at the end of this torrid year. 

Some more good advice, thanks to social media, again:  “Treat yourself the way you would treat a small child.  Feed yourself healthy food and make sure you spend time outside.  Put yourself to bed early.  Let yourself take naps.  Don’t say mean things to yourself.  Don’t put yourself in danger.”

Finally, spare a thought for those still doing long hours during the festive season when some of us are unwinding – our police officers, ambulance officers and other health workers including those caring for the elderly, plus people in hospitality and in tourism, and more.  Thanks for taking care of us.