December 2020

Who would have thought when the coronavirus pandemic began back in March there would even now be areas of the world suffering extraordinary numbers of cases and still having harsh restrictions in place? We have been extremely fortunate here in Queensland and though a great deal of suffering has been evident, we have also seen some innovative and creative things happening as people strive to bring some normality and routine to their lives.

Perhaps the thing that has been most evident is the opportunity for families to become closer. An example came from a member of my writing class who became “governess” to her two small grandchildren for two hours each afternoon, giving their mother the chance to focus on her own working-from-home job. It was a win-win situation for everyone, with the children establishing a close bond with their grandmother (and finding out how much she knew about the world).

During the month of August, I took part in a MOJO challenge with the Australian Writers’ Centre. It provided a daily challenge to stimulate the mind and gave me a chance to look at things a little differently.

Embracing something creative is a great way to take your mind off other things and focus on a task at hand. This can of course include writing, but also other adjacent tasks such as painting, baking, woodwork, gardening, candle making, jigsaw puzzles – really anything where you can immerse yourself in a finite activity. These kinds of things tend to work better than open-ended goals such as learning an instrument or new language, which may take longer to master.

So perhaps it is times like now, we can finally try something we have always wanted to do, but never had the time. For myself, I went back to colouring in — something I had not done since childhood. Because my drawing skills are pretty well non-existent, I have always kept a fair distance from anything connected with art, but with the wonderful new range of things available now, even I can come up with a pleasing picture. There is a wide variety of colouring books for adults, some more challenging than others, and it takes patience and planning to achieve a good result. Various pencils and pens now have an extraordinary range of colours, allowing a subtlety of pallets to choose from.

On a personal note, 2020 has been an eventful year for Mal and me as we celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary. With greetings from the Queen, the Governor General and the Prime Minister we felt as though sixty years married was really something special. We both admit it sounds much longer than it feels—it seems only a short while ago we were walking back down the aisle after being declared “man and wife”.

I think this is one of the most fitting of our wedding photos considering how much we enjoy going out for our coffee now we are retired.

So with the end of the year in sight, I will wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and hope that 2021 will be a positive and joyful time for you and your loved ones.

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