Tag Archives: new year

The Wishing Tree


It’s that time of year again. The new time of year. We look back, we look forward, and we look at where we are. We start sentences with, ‘This time last year…’ and see how far we’ve come.

I stumbled across a wishing tree soon after moving to Vancouver, and it stopped me in my tracks. It was fascinating and often heart-rending to look at the hopes people had hung there for anyone to read. In a way, when we look forward to a new year, it’s like decorating a fresh wishing tree with longing for the fruit we’d like it to bear. We reflect on our lives and revise our plans. We dream. But for our trees to flourish and our dreams to come to fruition, we need to do more than plant them, more than just write them down. We need to nurture them. We need to give them life, light and room to grow.

When I look back on last year, I came a pretty long way in terms of distance, but not in terms of dreams. While business smiled upon me and adventures were around every corner, I didn’t write as much as I wanted. And that was no one’s fault but my own. However, I have to let that go now. That’s last year’s tree. I didn’t water it enough. But I can change that this year.

And it’s not like I have lost anything. The time wasn’t wasted. I lived so much life last year, saw so many new places, experienced so many incredible things. Took so many pictures. I’ve heard those actually say a thousand words, and if that’s the case, perhaps I can claim I actually wrote a hell of a lot, just not in the way I envisioned.

But, like I said, that’s last year. Let’s look at where I am. Am I happy? Yes. Am I further than I was? Yes. Am I free to move forward? Yes. So that’s a start.

What of the year to come? I want to continue to immerse myself in beautiful places, in discovery, adventure and nature, but I need to find more words to go with the pictures. I need to find my voice again. I want my writing to thrive, wherever I’m living, whatever I’m doing.

I’ll keep snapping, appreciating every remarkable moment in time, but I want to move on with things as well as around places. I want to leave more of myself for someone to pick up and read. My published works consist of an only child at the moment, and that was never the plan. So this is the year I pull my trilogy together and climb my wishing tree, reaching the hopes and dreams hanging from its branches. Because I bet the view from the top is spectacular.

What are your resolutions? Can you let go of last year and nurture your dreams?

The Year Of Resolve & The Hunt For The Holy Grail


My hard-fought shot of the elusive Okarito Kiwi

Out on the wild west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, there’s a wee place at the edge called Okarito. It is beautiful, mostly beach and bush, and it hides the Holy Grail – its own species of brown kiwi (smaller than a unicorn but larger than a dragon’s egg), along with a guide who’s actually sanctioned by DOC to help people catch sight of the elusive critter. I was there only a couple of magic days and mysterious nights, but it pretty much summed up the year for me: I was on a mission.

The guided tour to see the country’s most famous resident was fully booked, but never one to say never, I took myself out into the bush in the middle of the night to find one for myself. The maiden voyage saw me venturing out with an elite team of highly-trained explorers (a pair of likeminded souls who fancied the thrill of the mythical chase, highly skilled in the art of Googling a kiwi’s call before braving the dark). The second night, I went solo. It was same, same, but different. Same – in that the kiwi avoided me, not even so much as calling out to tease at it had on the first expedition. Different – in that I’d forgotten I was terrified of possums and had no one to giggle with nervously in the pitch black when they swooped out of the forest to eat me alive (wait, that was the sandflies; the possums stood there and tried to put the evil eye on me. Sneakier than direct attack.)

I’d driven past the sign to Okarito more than once, distracted by the monumental glaciers to its right. But I was so glad I finally found it and its beautiful beach house. During the days, I filled the wait for kiwi O’clock with other things. Like cycling Enid along the empty roads, visiting Andris Apse’s home to see his beautiful gallery and learn his incredible story, climbing the Trig, walking on the beach to watch the sun set behind the headland, and sailing the lagoon.

There were other things to see. Life went on. Life turned up. In the dark, I didn’t just dodge the perilous possums, I saw glowworms blinking in the black, and I could only see them because the lights were out. On the lagoon, I saw the kind of mirrored reflections I thought could only exist in paintings. I took a boat tour with Franz Josef Glacier, Mt Cook and Mt Tasman as a backdrop, and though I didn’t see a kiwi in Okarito, a startling array of other birdlife popped by to say hello, including tui, oyster catchers, black swans & their cygnets, a great white heron and a bunch of bar-tailed godwits. These guys fly about ten days straight from Alaska without stopping or eating just to hang out there – the least I could do was be happy to see them.

And, while I didn’t sight the Holy Grail of mythical creatures, hearing the kiwi call gave me hope. They are out there – fighting outrageous odds, given the invasion of their lands by forces of evil committed to their extinction (that’d be those possums again). Now I know where the sign is. And the guide (whose services I’d recommend, having cornered him in his own home to demand photographic evidence, ending up discussing my quest at length while his cup of tea got cold). I’ll be back.

This time last year, I was down. But I wasn’t out. I’d lost something precious. But I was on a mission. A mission to hunt happiness – that elusive Holy Grail that life’s possums are always trying to do away with. So I didn’t indulge too far my sorrow for that which was gone. I didn’t turn my face only backward to mourn or only forward to search for a distant date when I would feel better and could begin to have a ball again (it was something like May 7th). I turned my face from side to side and looked all around. And even though Happiness didn’t magically, immediately appear, I saw beauty in the moments I did so. Life went on. I went out and lapped it up. I laughed. I faked it for a time, sure. But this year just gone, I fell in love again. I fell in love with the life all around me – and my own life just as it is, looking to no one else to make it amazing except myself. (It helped that the mountains saw snow the likes of which hadn’t been boarded in several seasons.)

This year I have seen lambs genuinely frolicking – hopping and skipping like bizarre ballet dancers. Fish jumping, like funny jack-in-the-boxes. Baby seals paddling, a waterfall their playpen. I have heard tui warbling and kiwi calling, waves lapping and wind howling. I’ve smelt the smoke of campfires and courageous cooking. I’ve tasted salt in the sea breeze and touched sand and snow, rock and rain.

Are you a new year’s resolutions kind of person? I am. And I usually win at them. But last year, I had to start below scratch and resolve just to find some resolve. It’s there if you want to hunt it down – just dig deep.

It’s a new year. A lot of us are looking at fresh starts (whether we wanted them or not). Find your resolve. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. And don’t just look back or forward – look around you. Appreciate what you see. And see the signs. Take the turns. Hope will be there. And magic might happen.

A moment of reflection in Okarito

A moment of reflection in Okarito

There And Back Again – Finding Direction In 2015

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Midnight 31/12/14

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Midnight 31/12/14

Happy new year! Here we are in 2015 and I hope it’s a wonderful one for you all! The festive road trip has finished and I’m back in Adelaide with much more movement to look forward to. And who knows where I’ll end up? I certainly don’t.

But that’s not a bad thing. A steady state has its comforts and attractions, but life has been a wonderful whirlwind since I left London three and half years ago, and the volatile roller coaster doesn’t seem about to stop. Coming to the beginning of a new year and looking back as well as forward – life has more highs than lows. Sometimes you just have to seek them out. Sometimes you need to take a shovel.

All I know is that it was a brilliant idea to end up in Sydney to see out the old year and in with the new – with the biggest of bangs. I adore fireworks and want to live my life like one – going off in all directions, popping, fizzing, delighting, colourful, crazy and illuminating. It doesn’t matter which way you’re going as long as you’re causing a ruckus on the way, filling as many lives as possible with light, laughter and love.

Many people will have so much they want to achieve this year, having achieved so much already – best of luck with it. Just don’t forget to stop, look around you, smell the roses, watch the sunsets, notice others, and leave the people you pass the happier for having known you. Strive as much as you like, but enrich those around you as well as yourself. Sing and dance, but invite others to add their voices and join the foxtrot. Put being plentiful in the soul before the pocket, and share.

Technically, ’tis the eleventh day of Christmas (who knew the twelve days start rather than end on Christmas day?!). So here’s a parting gift from my lovely friend and wonderful illustrator’s collection. As the familiar festive sights and scents fade away for another year, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas around and enjoy the whole twelve months ahead giving, loving and hoping. Everyone will have a better time for it.

What do you hope for this year? I hope it finds you.

Eleven Pipes Piping

(c) 2013 NKW-Illustration. All Rights Reserved.

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Looking for something new to read this year? Enter the world of The Night Butterflies and join the search for hope amidst horror…002.5_Night Butterflies

The First Sunrise Of A New Year & Other Highlights


‘For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.’

– Robert Burns

Tonight, two of my favourite things are going to happen – fireworks and new beginnings. I’ve never been one to bemoan the perceived ‘anti-climax’ of New Year’s – any excuse for a party and I’ll find the fun. I’ve had a good time every New Year’s eve back as far as I can remember. January blues I am guilty of, but I always see the old year out and the new year in with a bang!

This year, I’m road-tripping oe’r the holidays. I’ve been camping over Christmas and exploring more of New Zealand’s north island before arriving today back in Gisborne, on the east coast. It’s a carnival-spirited place that will the be first in the world to see the sunrise of a new year.

I’m going to invite you all to join me in one of my evening’s activities and play ‘highlights’ – a game born of myself and my bestie (Amster of Pride and Projection fame) many years back, which we still play periodically, especially at New Year’s (the drinking is, of course, optional – though not really for me and Amster).

Sometimes we start with lowlights – raising a glass to drown the bad points of the past year, those that brought us down and sometimes out, those that we don’t remember fondly. I could pretend here that we toast the learnings that have emerged from the negatives we’ve experienced, but mostly it’s more of a ‘…And remember that happened? Wow that sucked. 2 fingers.’

But the highlight is always the highlights – remembering and drinking to all the best things that have happened to us. They invariably include each other. They have ranged from promotions and resignations, relationships and relocations, to ‘…Hey, I love this song! 3 fingers.’   

New Year’s is always a time to look forward, making resolutions and hoping for a better year, regardless of whether the last was particularly good or bad. Remember to take a moment, for auld lang syne (‘old time’s sake’). Don’t just focus on what you want to go / do better – play highlights. Alcohol often induces bonus rounds – it’s amazing what you can think of to celebrate when there’s a good reason! And drinking to resolutions is also encouraged.

This year I moved into my dream home (2 fingers), set up my business (3 fingers), incorporated my company (2 fingers) and wrote a novel (down it). I became the accountant for a charitable trust (2 fingers). I went part-time at the day-job (3 fingers). I saw lots of friends from home I’d not seen since I left (finger per friend). I… ooh! I love this song! (many fingers). Next year I resolve to publish the book. I will make my business bigger and better. I will eat less fried chicken and do more exercise…. There’s more to say, plan, do, drink – but you get the idea!

What are everyone’s highlights / resolutions? Highlights cancel out lowlights. Resolutions cancel out last year’s failed resolutions (I make the rules here). Enjoy whatever you have planned for your tonight! For many of you this will be in my tomorrow. See you next year! Happy highlights 🙂