My phone flies through the darkness and lands with a thud/ knocked there by an outstretched hand and my muffled laughter/ I muffle the story too/ a small, but necessary death// #tinytwitterpoem
I haven’t done a reflection blog for the past couple of years. I mean to, and then January starts to unfold and I don’t quite get there and then it just seems silly to be writing one in February or March. But I’ve felt the lack of it. The space it gives me. Space to collect my thoughts, to gather together the loose threads of the year and do my best to make sense of where I’ve arrived and where I might be heading next.
These reflection blogs are too long and unwieldy really, more a space for me. It’s the process of writing them that is actually useful, and maybe I shouldn’t bother publishing them at all. But I remember the little glimmers of golden thread I find in reading the reflections of others. The ways it helps me to see others navigate the(ir) mess.
This year was big and hard. I knew going into it that it was going to be (the choices we’d made heading in meant that it was going to be challenging even without the extra things life always throws). Knowing it was going to be hard didn’t make it less hard. There was a lot to carry, and no buffer (time, money, emotional space) for things to go wrong (which they always do). I entered 2022 feeling like it was a year I was just going to have to get through.
The word I chose for 2022 was “cherish”. It was to remind myself to cherish the small moments, to hold my loved ones close, and to do my best to protect and care for myself within there too. It was a call to action for me to cherish (love, protect and care for) everything that is important to me. To keep what really matters in focus. I kept forgetting what word I’d actually chosen, but I managed to carry the intention close anyway.
I really did cherish the small moments. And in turn, I felt so very cherished. By my loved ones, and by my wider circle. I have felt so surrounded by love and care this year. It has been an incredible gift. A thread to hold me steady.
I’ve really needed that thread this year. My self-talk is possibility the worst it’s been since 2014 and I’ve struggled all year to maintain perspective about anything. I knew this year would be hard but I’ve still felt like I’ve been failing everyone (including myself).
This year felt like three years in one, and I know I’m not alone in that feeling. So many of us are exhausted by the cumulative impact of the past couple of years. It’s been a lot.
There was a lot of juggling in our lives this year and I found myself referring to things that had happened “last year or the year before” and having Nic and others correct me with “that was this year!”, so here’s a couple of little lists to remind myself of the key things I was actually doing in 2022.
My (external) paid work this year (ie. dayjobs):
- Continued as a casual part of the Community Awareness Team at headspace Berri, supporting the hERO (youth reference) group and the new Community Awareness Officer. I was the Community Awareness Officer from September 2020, and handed over the reins to Jordii Enright to take up the role of Statewide Regional Manager for Writers SA in 2021.
- Continued as the Statewide Regional Manager of the Writers SA No Limits program. My job title transitioned to Statewide Program Manager mid-year when I also took on the seasonal literary program, including in-person Adelaide events and online events for all ages & locations, alongside the final delivery of No Limits. I decided to finish up with Writers SA at the end of 2022, and my last work day was 16th December 2022. On November 25th 2022, No Limits was the recipient of the Arts South Australia Ruby Award for Outstanding Regional Event or Project, which was a pretty spectacular way to close the year.
- Commenced part-time with Riverland Youth Theatre as the Digital & Community Artist (a new role supported by Variety SA), which will be my primary dayjob in 2023 for two days a week.
Independent/freelance projects this year:
- Further development and refining of the script for Guthrak. Guthrak will premiere at the dreamBIG Festival in Adelaide in May 2023. Tickets for school shows are on sale now and general public sales will open early next year.
- Part of Things. Although we did less visible work in some ways in 2022, I felt more proud than ever of the impact this initiative is having. Some of the visible work:
- Our Stories collaboration with Our Town, Berri.
- 2 x projection outcomes carried over from last year’s Barmera and Glossop Centenaries.
- We hosted another SALA exhibition and a scratch night as part of Adelaide Fringe.
- Provided a venue for Writers SA Riverland activity led by Kirste Vandergiessen, and the Barmera venue for Zacharie Steele’s weekly Delving Around Gamez group, and the birthplace of P.O.T. Luck by Jess Weidenhofer.
- Wrote 3 x short sci-fi scripts for Illuminart’s Constellation project. My stories were featured on the Wallaroo Silo Light Show, Quorn Silo Light Show and Port Pirie City Park Projection. Constellation has been nominated for the Australian Street Art Awards (finalists will be announced in January 2023). One of my favourite parts of this project is that the story I wrote for the Quorn Silo was illustrated by the same artist who did my beautiful wrist tattoo back in 2017! This was entirely coincidental, as I wasn’t the producer of Constellation so had no hand in selecting any of the artists/team. I adore Danica’s interpretation of my story & characters, a real highlight of this year.
- I was a member of the Minister for the Arts’ National Cultural Policy Expert Advisory Group. Our role is largely finished now, but we’ve been asked to provide comments on some final drafting. We are expecting the final policy to be launched in early 2023.
- A participating artist in OSCA’s Rethinking Participation workshops.
- The chapter I co-wrote with Claire Glenn and Dr Sarah Peters, was published this year in The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Young People. Our chapter is called ‘Making space: a community-engaged youth theatre practice grounded in care’ and is a celebration and honouring of all the brave, creative, clever and complicated young people we have collaborated with individually and together.
My formal learning this year:
- Completed the final unit for the Bachelor of Creative Writing I started in 2019. Some background on my very big feelings about this here. My graduation ceremony is in February 2023.
- Completed a Certificate IV in Celebrancy, and became a registered marriage celebrant *just* in time to officiate my very dear friend Kimberlee’s wedding to her beautiful new wife Amanda. I got the final registration clearance a week out from the wedding (we had another celebrant complete paperwork ready to transfer to me) so it was tight! Kimberlee is also a celebrant and officiated the ceremony for my husband and I back in 2014, so this was a very special full-circle moment.
- Started and completed a Graduate Certificate of Creative Business with University of Canberra and Compton School. I’d never heard of this program until it was mentioned to me by Kirsty Stark after a Zoom chat during my Regional Arts Fellowship last year (2021). The biggest value for me in this course was the rest of the cohort (including Kirsty, who is an absolute gem). All of the participants are at various stages of starting or running their own creative ventures. I was focused on exploring some structural ideas to underpin the creative vehicle in development from my fellowship. This is ongoing work for me.
- I did a great job of avoiding COVID all through 2020 and 2021, but it finally caught me in June this year and really knocked me around. I still don’t feel 100% in terms of my fitness since having it (I get puffed and tired much more easily).
- In April we sold our first home, after it was trashed by our tenants, they owed us many (many) thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and I had to report them multiple times to the child abuse report line. There is a really long story attached to this that I’m not going to go into here, but everything about all of this was hard and horrible. I cried a lot. I am incredibly grateful to my brothers who loaned us money to help ease the strain of this situation over the past 18months.
- I put my hand up as a candidate for the City of Mount Gambier in this year’s local government elections. I wasn’t elected (and never expected to be) but created some wonderful connections and conversations in this new community I’m now part of for the foreseeable future.
- Oh yeah, and my husband and I, and our 8yo daughter, moved nearly 5 hours away from the Riverland to Mount Gambier. Nic came down in January, with my daughter and I still based in the Riverland and going back and forth between the two communities for the first six months. We joined Nic full-time from end of July. My grown-up son decided to stay in the Riverland (in our house in Glossop) because his life and support networks are all in the Riverland. All of this has been challenging energy wise and financially. It’s a big thing to move away from the place you love (and many of the people you love most), to a new and unfamiliar place. I have a lot of complicated feelings about this still.
- There was so much driving this year. I spent a lot of time in my car, solo or with my daughter sleeping in the backseat. This gave me a lot of thinking time.
My word for 2023
connected; connecting; connects
- to become joined
- to transfer as a step in traveling to a final destination
- to hit the intended target
- associate or relate (something) in some respect
- to have, or establish, a rapport
- to join or fasten something together
What this word means to me for 2023:
connect to (this new) place
connect to self
connect with others
connect values to actions
connect skills, interests and curiosities
connect opportunities with resources
connect the dots
A small selection of significant things/places/people that inspired me, shaped me, moved me, or made me in 2022:
- The Truth Project by Dante Medema.
- Don’t You Worry by Electric Fields.
- Eliza Wuttke and Kirste Vandergiessen and Audrey Menz, and our work together on No Limits.
- Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhales: Every Heart Sings national tour.
- Sunflowers growing on the side of the dirt-road leading to our house in Glossop.
- The Riverland Youth Theatre hall, and all of the creative and off-topic conversations I had there this year (after some years of not feeling welcome there).
- Fleur Kilpatrick and the growing team at Riverland Youth Theatre.
- The lighthouse keepers, including Fleur, Anastasia and Sarah.
- Riverland Pride March #2 (and reflecting on #1).
- P.O.T. Luck and the joy of watching Jess Weidenhofer host & perform. I wrote this little poem at the P.O.T. Luck held directly after Riverland Pride March capturing a little of what it’s meant to me.
- Packing up my beloved home in Glossop and moving to Mount Gambier.
- How Decent Folk Behave by Maxine Beneba Clarke.
- The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman.
- Meena Shamaly‘s Facebook posts about video game music.
- (A lot of) crying in my car.
- Re-reading and re-watching the Bridgerton series.
- Having brunch with Michael Winkler and his wife in Berri (Mic is the writer of Grimmish, which I haven’t read yet but is on my TBR for 2023).
- Finishing my Bachelor of Creative Writing.
- The Bengsons Keep Going On Song.
- Watching the river slowly rise and rise (and rise) over the closing weeks of 2022.
- The many dedicated, hard-working people in my circles who put their hands up to run for local council in South Australia this year. Special shout out to the always excellent Ella Winnall (who always inspires me) for being elected as the Mayor of Berri Barmera Council.
- Seeing Bianca Feher perform live on the stage of the Chaffey Theatre. Bianca went to primary school with my eldest child and I first met her when she was in reception. It was a joy to see her skill and stage presence as a young adult musician.
- Rory Green‘s Twitter writing prompt bot.
- Orlando by Andrea Gibson, featuring Mary Lambert.
- To throw a wrench in the blood machine by Guante.
- Authority of Creeks by Luke Patterson.
- Kate Larsen and her work & advocacy on arts governance.
- Travis Akbar, Nelya Valamanesh and Katrina Irawati Graham, and their individual work. I met Trav, Nelya and Katrina as a fellow participant in AFTRS Talent Camp programs (2019 & 2021) and I’ve felt so much vicarious joy watching their projects and other work this year.
- Gregory Fromenteau‘s illustrations in my Twitter feed.
- Ida Sophia’s durational performance Regret (which I experienced second hand through other people’s retellings of it).
- The incredible brain of experience designer Bianka Kennedy (who I’ve gotten to know through Guthrak).
- Listening to my husband and our daughter play the piano (separately and together).
- Learning to roller skate (very slowly) down my tiled hallway.
- My familiar friend grief—with more deaths of old friends, colleagues and mentors.
- Zines, always zines.
And my theme song for 2022 was The Bones by Maren Morris.
This ocean of stars/ tethering me to memory and joy and the sharp grief of both/ gravel driveways and lead pencils undo me/ they carve the edges of this year into my throat/ I swallow it down/ all the things I might say/ when you ask/ are you okay?// #tinytwitterpoem
See you in 2023.