One word to sing a new year in/ to lure gently in, to sit softly perched/ on my shoulder/ my lap/ my heart/ to be welcome// #tinytwitterpoem (2015)
I enjoy marking time as an opportunity for reflection and growth. So for me the end of one year and the beginning of another is a beautiful time to gather my thoughts, say thank you for the year that has been and invite the coming year with intention.
My 2016 was on the less great end of the scale. As the year unfolded, my resilience and health unravelled. It was the cumulative impact of multiple personal losses (the deaths of friends and family in particular) as I tried to navigate a challenging professional year and the meat grinder of small but relentless personal and professional failures. The wearing down was very much exacerbated by some really shitty self-care on my part – physically and mentally – and I’m sharply aware of my own complicity in the year’s struggles.
IMAGE: Photo of cross stitch made by Jamila Main (@xcrossbitchx on Instagram) that hangs in my office.
Subjectively and objectively comparing it to other years, 2016 has not been my worst year, but it has been one of the toughest emotionally. It’s rattled me in a way that some of my worst years never did.
2016 was also a year that was filled with some incredible highlights and soul-filling opportunities for gratitude.
Including (in no particular order):
- Presenting my solo fringe show, Another Elusive Maybe. It was personal and vulnerable and outside of my comfort zone. The beautiful soundscape my friend and collaborator Ryan Morrison created for the show was a special gift. Watching and hearing people interact after the show gave me so much joy. And some very generous and heartwarming reviews, including this one from Jen St Jack at Great Scott.
“Amidst all the rabble about the true meaning of Fringe, I can tell you that this is it. Real art that pushes the boundaries – art that is completely different to anything you’ve experienced before.
Another Elusive Maybe is truly special. It’s an intimate and absorbing experience that cuts you off but leaves you wanting more.”
IMAGE: Another Elusive Maybe, reflected selfie with the audience at Smith Street, February 2016.
- All the beautiful and love filled weddings AND funerals I attended. These opportunities to be in the company of people I loved to share joy (and food), celebration and grief.
- Nurturing so many rewarding projects with Carclew and City of Onkapringa as the Creative Producer of ExpressWay Arts. In particular in 2016, Brienna Macnish’s The Third Place, spending a number of weeks with Girls Yarning Group at Christies Beach High School and Kids Against Humanity’s Losing Faith in Unicorns.
- Working alongside so many inspiring, supportive and excellent humans in my paid role, my independent projects and in my community.
- Continuing to quietly make connections with the residents of Manifold Portrait at my own pace. This project, more than any other, is teaching me all the things.
- The many other creative projects and opportunities I had, with special mention to Vitalstatistix’s Aeon Adhocracy residency, Spoken Word SA and City Library Poet in Residence program and Country Arts SA’s artist retreat.
- Joining Adelaide Sword Academy’s long sword classes. Fun, rewarding and unexpectedly life affirming.
- A perspective shifting and precious two weeks in the Kimberley as a participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. Followed by a week of getting to know the other participants in Melbourne and the knowledge that we have another 10months together in 2017.
IMAGE: A tired, dirty and grateful me towards the end of our Kimberley adventure. Ft. busted boot. Photo taken by Nova Peris on mobile phone, August 2016.
- Interstate trips for art and reunions that cemented how grateful I am to have this exceptional life.
- All the delightful, generous and thoughtful emails, texts, facebook messages and tweets I’ve received this year from a host of excellent people. In particular those people who have reached out with kindness when I’ve been struggling and those people who have supported and encouraged my creative practice at its best and its worst.
- Six (SIX!) amazing people who became my patrons in 2016, providing financial and moral support to my creative practice.
- Watching my toddler grow and discover the world. Little people are such a source of joy and perspective.
- Seeing my teenager growing into himself. Overhearing him tell his friend “Yeah, but you have to put yourself out there and try things.” This, of all the things in 2016, has felt like the biggest win. By itself, but in the context of history most especially.
- Another year sharing this journey with my life partner. We’ve both struggled this year separately and neither of us have had the reserves to fully support each other, but even so, our life together is a great gift. I was also really proud of him for being a finalist in a state teaching award and kicking some of his own professional goals across the year.
IMAGE: iPhone screengrab, conversations with my love, 2016.
- Developing some new friendships, deepening existing friendships and reconnecting with some old ones. Friendship is always something I’ve found difficult. I’m introverted (life is a kind of theatre too) and nervous and find making friends fraught with anxiety so the friendships I have are deeply treasured.
- Beach visits, making time for running, living in a beautiful home, the resources to live and eat, visiting and experiencing SO MUCH thought provoking, life affirming, inspiring art in all its forms.
2016 has been brimming with highlights, joy and excellence and with heartache, unhealthy stress, disappointment, hurt and loss. Neither cancels the other out for me.
I have felt and do feel both deeply.
I have struggled (hard) this year, with situations and with myself. I have felt gratitude this year, deep and real and filling gratitude.
Thank you 2016.
Your difficulty has forced me to face myself, to see what I really want and to ask for it. Your grace has given me the support and energy to find my way through a year that wrecked me. Now I’m ready.
IMAGE: Past, present and future audit/artwork at Country Arts SA artist retreat, facilitated by Lenine Burke. Ft. my feet, November 2016.
Some people hate the idea of New Years resolutions and some people love them and commit (or not) to a special personal goal every year. A specific goal has never been my thing but I really like the process of choosing one word for the coming year. One word as a guidepost, intention, tone. In the same way that as a host I might think about the music I choose for an event, the music doesn’t guarantee that my guests will have a particular experience, but it helps set the mood to encourage one environment over another. Think playing screamo versus folk/indie. Neither is better or worse music but they create very different vibes and experiences for the people who are there.
Choosing a word for the coming year is an opportunity for me to consider the kind of space I want to shape for myself. To think about how I live in my values, to bridge the gap between who I am and who I want to be and to let go of any baggage I’m carrying from the year that has been.
My word for 2017 is:
- Organize and encourage (a group of people) to take collective action in pursuit of a particular objective
- Bring (resources) into use for a particular purpose
- Make (something) movable or capable of movement
2016 brought into focus what I really want and what needs to happen to get there, so 2017 is taking the first steps to realize my way there.Mobilising myself, my resources, my communities to bring to life the best in all of us along the way.
See you in 2017, my loves.
A small selection of the things that shaped me, inspired me, moved me in 2016:
Joelistics, Blue Volume album
Electric Fields, Inma EP
Anohni, Drone Bomb Me single
Tina Arena, When You’re Ready single
Bruce Pascoe, Dark Emu
Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicles
Guy Gavriel Kay, The Fionovar Tapestry (again)
Shane Koyczan, a bruise on light
Andrea Gibson, Pole Dancing to Gospel Hyms
Lisa Fa’alafi and Candy and Kim Bowers, Hot Brown Honey
Emma Beech, Life is Short and Long
PACT, Rapid Response Team