Dear friends,

It could be said that New Year Resolutions are merely ‘To Do’ lists for the first week of January. If so, now that we are in the second week of January 2017, I can feel free to share some thoughts with you about life in general and to bring some positive energy into our lives and our shared communities and world. I have been thinking about this notion because my friend (and publisher) Galen Garwood said to me recently that as artists and writers we have a responsibility to strive to achieve our very best, to bring beauty and harmony in all we do, and so send a positive vibe into the universe.  Fanciful or wishful thinking perhaps, but I am sharing this idea with you as, frankly, anything positive is heaps better than the tonne of negativity about all and everything that passes as news these days. This idea can be applied to anything – if you have a nice smile, then smile more often and with people you don’t even know; if you like cooking then experiment more and offer your creations not only to friends and family but invite new neighbors or colleagues to share your meals; if you are handy with tools, don’t just spruce up your own house, check if others need your advice or help – the list could go on and on. Of course, we must still all hope for some reconciliation and progress in the major issues currently facing the world, but rather than drown in a sense of hopelessness and helplessness that we too often feel, we can make our own small contributions to harmony and peace among people.

Thinking along these lines, I scrolled through my recent photos and, using them as a basis for this first blog of the year, I would like to share these jottings and thoughts, in no particular order, with you.  I apologise in advance if I’m being a bit schmaltzy or cliched, but humour me just this once …… it is a new year after all. So here goes:

Make time to meet with old and new friends, be affectionate, make plans and share experiences. 

When you are beset by the shadows of doubt or anger or remorse, recognise that these feelings will pass and, as one of my recently departed heroes, Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.

Seek out and comment on little details that are often overlooked – a friends ‘new style’, the craftsmanship of a building or artwork or piece of clothing, a particular sentence in a novel which ‘speaks to you’ …..

Be attentive, keep an open mind, observe, question, listen to and share opinions, learn about and digest new ideas and trends.

Go to places you have never been before, or return to places that you have loved and embrace all that is different or strange.

Take time out for yourself – to relax, to chill, to dream, to recharge your energy.

 Find a quiet corner to talk with friends, share their joys and sorrows, give or take advice about problems.

Delight in, protect and nurture all life forms on our planet, from the smallest to the largest (although I do make an exception for mosquitos and some other disease-carrying critters).  

Learn about endangered species, their habitat, their welfare and their survival, but don’t believe all diatribes written by the ‘armchair activists’ who spout off with only a modicum of facts or reality and a heavy dose of righteousness.  

Enjoy the seasons, the changing weather, be it sun or rain, snow or blustering winds, the sunrises and sunsets,
they are all nature’s own dramatic palette of colours and patterns. 

Show your true face to the world. Don’t hide behind a mask or cloak your feelings, emotions or opinions –
there will always be those who will argue with you, dislike you or love you – let it be. 

Always take that little bit extra time to make even the simplest pleasure or treat be the best it can be.

Plan a meal with friends, eat outdoors and share your food with as many people and as often as you can.

Celebrate your achievements and those of your friends and family in the best way possible.

Follow your own path, your own dreams and make each day and each step count.  Life is too short to fritter away days
yearning for things you cannot have or envying others for what they have.

Let this year unfurl at its own pace, enjoy all that it has to offer, share good fortune if it comes your way,
and console and support those who suffer misfortune.

Notice and enjoy everything and everyone around you, in the small and larger tasks accomplished – an exam passed, a cake rising, a project taking shape, an event successfully organised, a new skill mastered, a delicate bloom colouring your garden. 

So there you have it, my meandering thoughts and ideas for the coming twelve months until we once again celebrate the promise of a new beginning or a change, and consider another set of New Year Resolutions. I’ll keep you posted through my blogs on what my year brings and your comments and questions will be welcome.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and successful New Year 2017.