A balancing act

Recently someone contacted me regarding the local newspaper and I felt the need to explain I have little spare time (not that they had pressured me at all – the need was in my own head). That said, my life is a bit of a juggling act, and I’m fortunate to have the support I need to keep the balance. Tony has always supported me to do my art and be involved in the wider library profession, and my family and friends support me in myriad ways.

What’s going on in my life? Here’s a snapshot of most, but not all, the things:

  • I work fulltime as Libraries & Cultural Services Manager at STDC; I manage 7 libraries, the museum and an arts position
  • I’m Chair of the Professional Registration Board with LIANZA, which means I’m also ex officio to the LIANZA Council
  • I’m 3/4 of the way through the Papa Reo course with Te Wananga o Aotearoa
  • I mentor a couple of librarians around the country
  • I have a month long art exhibition coming up October with the lovely and talented Dimmie
  • I travel for work, and art, fairly regularly
  • I teach art classes locally, and am teaching in the South Island in July
  • Tony and I publish the local monthly newspaper
  • I have some ongoing health issues, and am waiting on a 3rd MRI (2nd on my spine)
  • I’m a food addict and, following weight loss surgery, need to make sure I do the right things every single day
  • Tony has some serious ongoing health issues which are increasingly restrictive
  • Tony has PoA for his cousin who has dementia, and I support him in this

Don’t get me wrong – Tony and I have a good life; we’re fortunate and this busyness is my (our) choosing. But the health issues are an unwelcome complication that mean I make sure we both get enough rest, and there’s “uh oh” flexi-time built into our schedules. Taking anything else on just isn’t a goer for now.

Tony & I 20190504

As 2018 ends

It’s time for me to look back at my year. At the end of 2017 I said I don’t have major goals for 2018, in many way it’s just more of the same, but perhaps a bit more refined. So, my aims are:

  1. Painting more
  2. Doing art/craft regularly
  3. Stay at goal weight while eating a little more normally
  4. Drinking 1200 mls a day, every day
  5. Walking 4,000 steps minimum, every day
  6. Connecting with people who feed my soul, through snail mail and Twitter
  7. Making sure I am a positive influence in the world

I have painted more, I even did a joint exhibition with Dimmie Danielewski and hope we can keep working together. I’ve also done very regular crafting, including ding all the ColourMePositive weekly challenges.

I’m walking more than 4,000 steps every day (sometimes 6,500 steps, which is a lot for me), drinking 1200 mls, and eating fairly normally. I got a bit too thin, down to 60kg and looked scrawny. In trying to fix that I’ve tipped the other way, sitting at 69kg, and working my way back down again. I think 65kg is about right. It’s tricky learning how to keep that balance! I haven’t been in hospital at all this year and, although I still have some health issues, I’m so much healthier than I was at 139kg.

Tony and I have been together almost 27 years. His health issues cause some difficulties but we manage ok. We’re fortunate compared to many, and lucky to have each other. One of the things we know is when you’re in pain, and limited in what you can do, companionship matters so much. 

I’ve connected with amazing people, both online and in person. A real highlight of the year was my trip to the West Coast to meet Penny Kirk, a fellow WLS success and art journaller, who works in community development – so we even share similar social concerns. We talked honesty about our lives and how we ended up so overweight, did art together and ate a fab brunch at a local pub. I stayed with Alan Fowlie, an old family friend, and did the tourist walk at Hokitika Gorge. The shapes of the river beds, and the colours of the water in the gorge, have made a strong impression on me and I’ve been doing a lot of art since then, trying to capture what is in my head.

Work has been great – I’m proud of my team, and enjoy my workplace. Of course there have been challenges but without them it would all get a bit boring. I love that we make a difference in people’s lives. Some changes in the structure at work as 2018 ended mean there are some additional challenges for 2019 – bring it on!

I’ve been doing the Papa Reo course through the Wananga this year. It’s not the first time I’ve tried to learn Te Reo and it’s hard going for me but I’m finally making progress. I won’t go on to do the next level, but at least can meet, greet and do the basics now.

Do I have any goals for 2019? Nothing concrete just to continue being happy, creative, and connected with people who matter to me, while trying to make a difference in the world. The words that spring to mind for me are kindness, authenticity, diversity and creativity – not bad goals for any of us I guess…


Art journalling to clarify thoughts

I don’t just art journal to have fun and play with cool supplies – although there’s nothing wrong with that, and I do a lot of it. I also art journal to record my thoughts and clarify how I feel about things; sometimes this is about my job, as well as personal stuff. Today’s first journal page is a work-related one. I like how it turned out.

journal page

A theme emerges

Mum’s funeral service, conducted by a local JP who had a lot to do with Mum, has made me think about what I do and don’t believe. Mum was an atheist, as was her dad. I spent some time in the church as a teenager but I suspect that was about belonging more than anything. I certainly don’t call myself a Christian. Thinking all that through seems to be a recurring theme in my journal, as does my changing relationship with my now-retired husband, and career/art time, now that Mum is gone. Here’s what I have been creating with all this in mind:

image0-004 image0-003 image0-002 image0-001 image0

In the middle of the muddle

In my last post I mentioned that I need to make 20 A4 size mixed media pieces for a Pecha Kucha presentation I’m doing at the LIANZA Conference in late September. I’m almost at the half way mark and having a great time. I’ve stencilled, stamped, painted, weaved paper, cut, glued, ripped … and, as usually happens, I forgot to put gloves on before I got started. Here’s the evidence:


Choosing art over (almost) everything else

In November 2007 I posted about finding time for art. I am going to repeat that entry below, because it is something that is as relevent to me as ever. Perhaps more so, with social networking taking up more time than 2 or 3 years ago.  So tell me, do you make your art your #1 priority, after self and family? Or is art right at the back of the line? It’s a choice we can each make every day…  (I may put a couple of edits in – and will make sure it is clear they are changes form the original)

Do you ever stop and think and what your responsibilities are? And how best to juggle your time so you get things done and still have “art time” or “me time”. It’s a topic I often come back to.
I work full time as a librarian, study art by distance learning, publish a monthly community newspaper and Tony and I are Mum’s caregivers. Am I going to gripe about how busy I am? No way. I think that is one of the things we do wrong. People seem to play “I’m busier than you are” like it is some sort of game, and I think all it does it drain your energy. Accept you are busy and get on with it.
So how do I get art time? Well, for starters…I employ a housekeeper for 3 hours a week, someone comes and does the lawns once a fortnight, and someone else tames the gardens from time to time. (we now have a dishwasher as well, and all the laundry goes in the clothes dryer. Hey, it’s only a power bill, right?)
Due to serious health issues, the medical system provides a breakfast helper, lunchtime helper, and home delivered midday meal for Mum on weekdays. (We still have this level of support, for which I am grateful. I should also have said, my sister comes down once a month for the weekend, to visit Mum and help out. I love her to pieces.) That way I can go to work and not be worrying about whether she is okay, out of bed, had her breakfast and meds etc. Night time is my responsibility. Two days a week a rest home collects her for day care so she has some other company, and I pick her up on the way home from work. Weekends the care is up to Tony and I. So, we are getting a good level of help with Mum. Even though it can be really tiring, I am very grateful that we still have her with us; not everyone is so fortunate.
So, what else? I forgo television. Yep, that’s right. Except for the news, and some art programs, while Mum and Tony watch it while I head for my art room. I try to do other jobs in batches, like paying bills etc, rather than fluffing round endlessly with that sort of task. I try and relax about the state of the place; whilst clean enough and tidy enough, this is no show home.
In the end is comes down to – what would I rather do with this moment, these moments? This, that, or art. Unless my family wants or needs me, art wins most of the time. For me, it’s about knowing what my passion is and going for it heart and soul.
What do you choose most days?

Back home, and off again

I have been away at the annual LIANZA (Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) conference, held in Christchurch this year. I flew down 36 hours early so I could visit our daughter Yasmine, her partner Adam and our 2-year-old grandson Rory. It was wonderful to see them. The photo is of Rory and I (also known as Grandma Cath).  [I can’t believe I am putting a photo of me on the internet – yikes! Amazing what a grandchild makes you do…]

As always, Conference was very inspiring – I have a had full of ideas, things I want to try, people I want to email, new services to trial. Of course time, money and resources will mean there is some serious prioritising to be done! The flip side of all that is that I am very introverted, so being with so many people for 10 or so hours a day is just exhausting. I have done the Myers Briggs personality test twice, and both times I have scored the top score possible for introversion. It means that at the end of the day I head for my hotel room and lie in the dark for a bit – no radio, tv, lights – nothing – just me and some peace and quiet.

Tomorrow Tony and I are heading of to Wellington for two nights in a good hotel for some r&r. I don’t remember the last time we went away together. My sister is Mum-sitting for us, which is much appreciated.

rory cath 1

Getting back out there

I haven’t entered much lately, or applied for many exhibitions either really, compared with what I have done in the last year or three. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was tired, listening to too much recession talk and being a bit lazy. Today I decided it was time I got over myself and got back out there. So I have …

I have booked exhibition spaces, applied for art awards, put my name forward here and there. To keep track of all the due dates etc I have printed out a new timetable that’s now on my whiteboard directly above my work desk. No more excuses!timetable

New Mt Egmont painting – looking at the values

This week I have four days off work, and I intend spending the whole time painting. I have to get some big works done for an exhibition in Auckland. BUT this coming Friday is Waitangi Day. It’s the day New Zealand celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the document that more than 150 years ago was signed between Maori and the Crown detailing how this land would be in the future. It gives Maori equal rights in law – amazing for a colony in the 1800s – and probably one of the reasons New Zealand has, in the main anyway, thrived as a bi-cultural society.

This Friday my town, Patea, celebrates with an event called Paepae in the Park. It’s a massive day with music, food stalls, speeches – all celebrating our diverse community (Patea has a high percentage of Maori, as has this area generally). Businesses are closed but to support the day I open the library, which is next to the park where the event is held. A top NZ band, Katchafire, is playing this year, and we expect about 5,000 people to attend. The library has disabled access toilets, and offers people time out in the shade and quiet. I also think it is good for the library, and me as library manager, to be seen to be involved in events within the community. Last year the event did not go ahead because of a massive industrial fire in town on the day. The year before I had more than 700 people through the doors on the day – amazing, because at that stage our usual weekly footprint count was only 500.egmont-and-cowsWhat does that have to do with painting? Well — I am going to do some small, 4×4 or 6×6, acrylic paintings of Mt Egmont to display – and hopefully sell – in the library. The Mountain (Maunga) is very important to local Maori. When they have been away form the area, seeing Mt Egmont signals that they are ‘home’. So I have cropped a favorite photo of the mountain to square-ish, and turned it to gray-scale to make  the values more obvious. And tomorrow  head into my art room to get messy. Love it.

Looking forward to 2009

Some of us in the NZ Art Guild have been looking back at our art goals for 2008, and thinking ahead to 2009. I did reasonably well on my ’08 goals; some are ongoing and well enough entrenched as to be habits now. Others turned out to be “not such good ideas” and have been left behind. So what have I decided on as my goals for 2009. The short version is:

1. A body of paintings that hangs together around a theme or process (don’t know what yet).

2. A small body of textile work to exhibit as a whole.

3. Some charity work so I can give back.

4. To market myself more systematically.

Here’s the expanded version – with the where’s and whys:

1. A body of paintings that hangs together around a theme or process (don’t know what yet). This is the big one for the year. As it says, I don’t know yet what it is that will bring cohesion, but I do know that cohesion is what I need form my work this year. A body of work that I can hang in one place, and one time, and have it say “one artist did this and it works”. How hard can it be!

2. A small body of textile work to exhibit as a whole. I am planning a series of experimental work with TLC tutor and artist Trisha Findlay. We’ve yet to work out the details but essentially we’re talking about a monthly challenge with a view to exhibiting the work at the end of the process. And speaking of process, the challenge is likely to be around process, not size, or subject etc.

3. Some charity work so I can give back. This is about donating the occasional work to charity auctions etc. Not too much or too often, but enough to know I am giving back. Why not too much or too often? Think about this – when do you think was the last time your accountant or mechanic was asked to donate his time and materials to a charity auction? Yet artists are not big earners to start with…

4. To market myself more systematically. I do some marketing but it is a bit haphazard. I need to think it through more, be more systematic; less scatter-gun, more bulls eye!

Have you been thinking about what you did in 2008? Do you have any goals in mind for 2009? I’d love to hear your thoughts on either, or both.