Well, here we are at the end of what can only be described as an incredible year. On 2 January 2020, I wrote my last yearly review – ominously titled 2019 – the end of a decade or the end of days? This time last year, Australia was being impacted by the fiercest bushfires on record and Canberra was enveloped in a blanket of smoke for over three months.
It seemed like the smoke had only just lifted and we were globally hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting in ways unimaginable only 12 months ago.
On a personal level COVID-19 served up job losses for our family, adult children moving home, and the cancellation of residencies and holidays overseas. To add to this scenario, our beloved fur baby Oskar disappeared at the end of May, never to return. I wrote about the notion of resilience and its limits – personal and ecological. My mental and physical health was challenged by my own change in life, presenting as night sweats, depression and anxiety, as well as a host of other related health issues.
One would think that this array of challenges would make for a shitty year, but on reflection I am very grateful and appreciative of so many things. Time to think and create, time to study, to spend with family and time to give to new friendships and interests. I continued my Masters of Science while training in Reiki, Change Management as well as taking courses in Animist Psychology and the Bateson Institute’s Warm Data Lab + People Need People host training.
Even though most of my year was spent within the confines of my suburb, it felt profoundly expansive. Here is the breakdown month by month:
- January was a fairly quiet month with the exception of taking a contract with the Department of Infrastructure to work on the South East Qld (SEQ) City Deal. Most of the month we were all on high alert with the extreme bushfire situation in Australia. It was incredibly hot, we could not go outside because of smoke or put on the air cooler. No wonder not much else happened!
- In February I took a big step towards my work with earth healing and wellbeing, doing my Reiki Shoden Level I training with Diana Fels. I also headed to SEQ to:
- do certification training in change management with ProSci
- present a paper at the BEST conference where I met many wonderful people including the amazing Liz Sweigart who is now a collaborator. I am also an advisor on her PhD in Ethical Leadership.
- spending some time at Yarun (Bribie) to see my parents.
- Overall, March was a bit of shamozzle with a few highlights:
- We headed to Sydney as part of an early birthday celebration, just before COVID19 hit. While we where there, I created a walk as part of the Groundworks Landlinks project. Later in the year I was interviewed by Kel from Groundworks, which was good fun.
- Participating in the Old Media Orchestra as part of the Art Not Apart festival at the National Film and Sound Archive was a wonderful experience. This event was pulled together by archivist and filmmaker Louise Curham who I am now starting to work with on other projects.
- I continued my Reiki training with Diana, completing Reiki Okuden Level II.
- I was meant to have an exhibition at the Link Gallery Ginninderry in April but that was not able to go ahead because of COVID19. Fortunately, the exhibition titled The Rivers Edge went online as the first web based exhibition for the gallery.
- May was a a month of peaks and troughs. We sadly lost our little kitty cat Oskar which was devastating for our family. In terms of the positives, it was very creative and virtually social with:
- presenting a talk on eco-activism with the walk · listen · café, organised by walk · listen · create
- doing a guided tree walk meditation as part of the Urban Tree Festival
- giving a report on the urban trees around Canberra also for Urban Tree Festival
- In June, I started to collaborate with the Living Data / MEASO project, invited by Lisa Roberts. So far our group has co-authored a journal paper and many of us have contributed to a wonderful map designed by Cat Kutay. I am looking forward to continuing to contribute to this wonderful project.
- July was also a creative month. I participated in the:
- Supercluster / Kings College Geolocative Media Summer School. We worked in teams to create maps based creative works. It was wonderful to work with a wonderful group of collaborators to create Arboretum.
- Iso Topics – an online exhibition of work from researchers and staff from the Faculty of Art and Design at University of Canberra at the Belconnen Arts Centre.
- Nordic 5 Arts exhibition on the theme of water at the Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School in the US. My video After the Fires was included in the show which will run until 25 April 2021
- In August:
- I participated on a panel titled Community responses to Crisis: Pandemic / Food & Land as part of the fantastic Beyond Crisis Series organised by The Valley Centre, Pingala, the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, Future Dreaming and the New Economy Network Australia.
- Ruth Cunningham and I released our collaborative project, a video titled Star of the Sea – Stellar Maris. This work was featured as part of the Virtual Madonna Rising course at Chartres in August.
- September was a month of celebration as my partner Marty turned 60. We also focused on developing Treecreate, supported by the Mill House Clinic program where we worked with some interns to develop a marketing plan to promote our social enterprise.
- In October I did another treewalk meditation via Instagram live for the Women’s Eco Arts Dialog (WEAD) Arts and Healing series.
- November had some great highlights including:
- being offered an adjunct role with the eXtended Reality Collective at Charles Sturt University. This will be a wonderful way of linking my research and interests in technologies more-than-human connections.
- collaborating with Louise Curham and the Urambi Hills Parkcare group we did a pilot walk at Urambi Hills with knowledge keepers to connect to place. I am looking forward to this work evolving as part of an artist residency.
- December brought some wonderful gifts:
- I was given a bursary from the Sci Tech faculty at University of Canberra
- The National Parks Conservation Trust offered me a role to manage their communications and social media strategy and delivery
- A gig as a User Researcher – a long term contract with a government agency working on projects focused on vulnerable Australians
- Our family adopted a beautiful fur baby from the RSPCA. We named him Odin and he is settling in very well.
On New Year’s Eve, I joined a group of like minded women on a zoom call to reflect on the year and to set some intentions for 2021. At the time I was not sure what to say as I needed some time to think about it. On New Years Day, I pondered some more, did some gardening, spent time with my husband, played with Odin, laughed a lot, did some writing, my laundry and had a nap. I remember being told that what you do on the 1st of January shapes the year ahead. If today is an indicator of my intention then it is a good start. Managing chores with playfulness and joy, being creative, enjoying the company of loved ones and taking care of myself are all such simple acts but as they say, “our actions become our habits” and if this is true then I am happy with my lot.
All the best for 2021. Stay safe, love each other and hold hope close to your heart.