2020 A Year of Endings

“Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”

– L. Frank Baum,The Marvelous Land of Oz

It was a year of endings. We knew that going in.

The Eldest Son would finish his Masters of Software Engineering.
The Middle Son would finish his Bachelor of Arts degree.
The Youngest Son would finish his final year of school.
The Husband would finish his employment at a company for whom he had worked for 32 years.

Me? Mostly I was rolling along as before. But there were endings for me too. Changes. A new way of being.

“At such times the universe gets a little closer to us. They are strange times, times of beginnings and endings. Dangerous and powerful. And we feel it even if we don’t know what it is. These times are not necessarily good, and not necessarily bad. In fact, what they are depends on what *we* are.”

– Terry Pratchett

Of course, like all of us, we weren’t expecting the added extremity of a global pandemic.

Finishing in midyear, would the Eldest Son be able to find work?
What would living on a university campus that was mostly shut down be like for the Middle Son?
How would an unmotivated Youngest Son cope with remote learning?
Would the Husband be able to find another job?

And how would I manage my mothering role of carrying the mental and emotional load for us all?

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So what happened in the end? We survived.

The Eldest Son had a successful ending and a new beginning. He found a job within weeks of finishing his course. It was initiated by one of those ‘right person at the right time’ scenarios but given the company hadn’t intended to employ someone for another year but after interviewing our son, put him on right away, he totally got this on his own merits.

The Middle Son managed a not-quite-ending. He moved home temporarily in the first lockdown and when restrictions eased made a brief return but when the second more severe lockdown came into force, we moved him out permanently. After he contemplated pulling out of his course midyear, not being a fan of remote learning and struggling to achieve at the level to which he was accustomed, he pushed through and succeeded in all but one subject. He’ll catch that up this year.

The Youngest Son seemed destined for a rocky ending to match an unprecedented final year of school. He was lucky to be able to experience graduation, even if his family had to watch it on the tv at home, like it was the Oscars or something. Practice exams did not bode well for final results but somehow he pulled it off, passing all his subjects and gaining an entry score that would gain him admittance to his first choice of university study.

A graduation photo to show the children and grandchildren.

After remaining unemployed all year and just as I was beginning to wonder if I would need to find a temporary job as a barista over the non-teaching summer holidays, the Husband landed a job that ticked a lot of boxes. Managing a small staff for a not-for-profit organisation, four days a week and with flexible hours, it will hopefully make us all a little happier. It’s only funded to June but we’ll trust in the continuation.

My ending is happy. I find myself, weirdly, in a better place than I was a year ago. And I’m excited to discover what new beginnings await in this coming year.

“Celebrate endings – for they precede new beginnings.”

– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

What endings and beginnings did you experience in 2020?

A Claytons Resolution


It’s June. We’re almost at the middle of the year 2020.

So, how’s it going for you so far?

Yeah. I know.

I doubt any of us is experiencing the year we thought we would on January 1. Nothing quite like a global economic downturn on the back of a global pandemic to put a kink in your plans.

Although, as the world protests and campaigns against racial injustice on a scale not seen in decades, I can’t help thinking that this forced global awareness and time to reflect has some up sides.

I’m wondering if you made any New Year Resolutions for this year and how they’re faring in this “new normal”? Are you still on track as planned, on track but in a modified form or have you abandoned them altogether?

Did you give up on “going to the gym every week” or just adjust it to online classes? Did the lockdown actually make it easier to “learn a new skill”? Did it become just too challenging to “spend more time with friends”? Did you lose your job making it impossible to “save more money”?

2020 new year resolution

At the end of last year, I announced that I wasn’t making any resolutions for 2020 because the family was already facing enough challenges with an ending of long term employment and high stakes final years of education. Just surviving the year intact was enough of a goal to achieve.

But now, at the midpoint of a year that threw in even more challenges to exacerbate the ones we were already facing, I’ve realised I actually did make a resolution of sorts. A Claytons resolution. The resolution you have when you don’t have a resolution.*

At the end of last year, on the back of some work I had begun on improving my mental health, I made a commitment that in 2020 I would put my wellbeing first, closely followed by the needs of my own family. I would no longer be “on call” to others and if something wasn’t right for me and my wellbeing, then I would politely refuse/withdraw.

I also took on a mantra from a card I read early in the year: “I did not cause it. It is not my job to cure it.”

This wasn’t easy. I’ve been known to answer the call when unwell, when it inconvenienced my own family and when it probably wasn’t appropriate and it’s in my nature to want to step in and make things better in any way I can. But I knew I couldn’t go on the way I had the last few years and for my own health I had to change.

Of course, when the pandemic and subsequent restrictions hit, it became even more important to try and maintain this promise to myself as anyone who has followed me through the last three months will be aware.

But with support, I stuck to my plan. And, as it turned out, reaped the rewards.

Lessons Learned:

  1. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact you owe it to the people around you to do so.
  2. You can look after your own wellbeing and good things will still come your way.

Even in the midst of all the challenges this year has wrought, I have been blessed. I’ve reached out and discovered the true friends in my life, been acknowledged and respected in my work, found joy in running for fun and explored new places to be fed spiritually and creatively.

Looking at stars


My wish for you at this midpoint of A Year For The Ages is that you are finding the kindnesses in life and that the route you are travelling while occasionally bumpy has stretches of smooth straight road in the company of people you love and who love you just as equally.

Blessings from my heart to yours.


*This phrase comes from a drinks commercial in the 1970s whose catchphrase entered the Australian vernacular to mean anything that you have without it really being that thing. More info here. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a video of the original ad with Jack Thompson but here’s a blooper:



You Say You Want a Resolution

Well, you know, we all want to change the world…

(Apologies to Lennon and McCartney)

As the year ends and another begins, it behoves me to check in with my resolutions for the year and see what progress was made.

Hang on.

Just gotta go back and look up what they were…

Oh, that’s right.

1. Decline to take photos of other people when asked

Result: Failed

It’s hard to say no when someone asks you take a photo of them standing in the snow with the Himalayas behind them. (Apology: I never posted about this trip. Life got busy and complicated and I never quite got around to it. It’s still in the pipeline so keep an eye out in the coming weeks.)


Obviously the photo I took is on their camera but here’s where we were at the time

2. Answer a question with another question to avoid talking about myself

Result: Failed

I do not possess this skill. Guess I’ll never be a politician. Sometimes failure has benefits.

3. Write all emails and messages in 25 words or less

Result: Mixed

I started out well on this resolution and was becoming quite adept at not only limiting my words to 25 words or less but managing to hit 25 words exactly on many occasions. It became something of a challenge. But some people were unhappy with my restricted words and once you make one exception, it’s hard to remember the rule as you go on. I still think it’s a worthy goal and may re-institute it for 2020.

4. Limit my consumption of American late night talk show monologues to once a week

Result: Passed

I pretty much stopped watching them altogether. Too depressing.

5. Go to the gym more regularly but not talk about it on social media

Result: Gold Star

Okay, so the actual gym attendance side gets a ‘Mixed’ result because I did drop off in the middle of the year but as I’d been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in May, all my exercise goals kind of took a nosedive. I did make up for it later in the year, going every day, but as it was part of getting caught in a dieting trap, that’s possibly not good either. However, I get a gold star for the social media thing. I did not post about it at all. How good is that? Okay, so it’s because I quit social media but it still counts. I ditched Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in April and have never regretted it. I wish I could say it means I spend less time on my phone but I’ve just switched to reading the news and doing brain puzzles (currently addicted to Picture Cross puzzles). I may be wasting time but at least my brain is getting a workout.

Picture Cross

Picture Cross puzzle – Maths and Art in one puzzle!

So it would appear that my New Year Resolutions took the way of most resolutions and landed in the ‘seemed like a good idea at the time but who can be bothered’ basket.

I’m not making any resolutions for 2020. The year ahead already has enough challenges in it and I’ll be too busy navigating those to set myself up with additional goals.

A very Happy New Year to you and I wish you the bestest of all things in the year ahead.*

Have you made any resolutions for 2020 or are you just going to wing it?


* I will not be wishing you luck for the next decade. My congratulations on completing another decade will be made at the end of 2020. Honestly, when did people stop being able to count to 10??

And in case, like me, my post title put a certain earworm in your head, here’s the full song. It’s gonna be all right.

Resolutely Not Resoluting

So, it’s the end of January. We’re 1/12th of the way through 2019 already. How are your New Year Resolutions going? Are you living in a world of success, despair or meh who cares?

Me, I’m basking in the light of victory because I have, as I predicted, broken every single one of my resolutions already. Go me.

One month in is a good opportunity to review our goals for the year. Did we make good choices? Are our resolutions SMART?

No, I’m not shouting at you. SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.

Because everyone keeps a spreadsheet of data to measure their progress on a New Year Resolution, right?

Ha. I was only joking. But, actually, come to think of it…. be right back.

[2 seconds later]

Yeah….nah. I’m going to need a resolution to create data sheets for my resolutions. That can be 2020’s goal.

So, here’s where my resolutions stand:

Most Forgotten Resolution

Resolution 1: Refuse all requests to take photos of other people

I actually forgot I made this one because so far nobody has asked me to take a photo of them. If this keeps up, I may actually achieve this resolution by doing nothing.

Most Likely To Succeed Resolution

Resolution 5: Go to the gym more regularly

In nine days’ time I have a 10km race,  six days after that I fly out to Nepal for three weeks, three weeks after I get back I’ll be walking 100km in 24 hours for Oxfam and six weeks after that I’m running in the Great Ocean Road Marathon (44km). Motivation is a beautiful and useful thing.


Most Broken Resolution

Resolution 4: Limit watching late night talk show monologues to once a week

Who was I kidding? I will continue to break this resolution and I don’t care. It beats curling myself into a ball and whimpering at the state of the world.

Most Unattainable Resolution

Resolution 2: Answer a question with a question and don’t talk about myself

What I failed to realise in setting this goal is that one must first possess the skill of asking spontaneous questions about someone in a conversation. I’ve managed it a few times but only because I’ve predicted the beginning of a conversation and rehearsed the reverse question beforehand. Then the conversation continues and I’m screwed. Are there online courses on “How to conduct a conversation in person” or “How to deflect attention away from oneself in three easy steps”?

Most Worthwhile Resolution

Resolution 3: Limit messages and emails to 25 words or less

The main reason for Resolutions 2 and 3 is that I have grown tired of slapping myself in the head because I said or wrote something stupid,  clumsy, inappropriate, unnecessary or untimely. I know. Strange but true. My masochism has boundaries. (Okay, very wide boundaries, being a marathon runner and having signed up for the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker for the third time, but there are definitely boundaries.)

Limiting myself to 25 words won’t eliminate the occurrence of stupidity but it does lessen the likelihood. The three occasions when I have broken this rule in the past month have proven it a worthwhile endeavour to pursue. No more will I cry “That’s not what I meant!” to the heavens.

Obviously there are limitations on this resolution. If I’m organising the next training walk or fundraising effort for my Trailwalker team, limiting myself to 25 words is likely to leave out important details and I will be wondering why they haven’t turned up at the location and time I failed to mention. But for general chitchat, this is a handy guide.

It also reduces the “Gawd, why did I talk so much?” post-messaging head bashing because sometimes when I think I want to say something, I wonder how I can do it in 25 words and then decide I didn’t really need to say it after all. And relief abounds throughout the online land…

Plus, in the end, I love a challenge. And maths. Figuring out how to say something in limited words is good brain work.

And if I get enough practice, I might be able to put it to use in actual competitions and win some cool stuff.

It’s a winning resolution.


Well, this sounds good.

So how’s your year going so far?

Another year over

A new one just begun… (almost)

I believe it is customary at this time of year to make resolutions for the year ahead. I’ve never been a fan of New Year Resolutions. It always feels like setting yourself up for failure.


But I’ve been reviewing my resistance to resolutions.

Common areas for improvement have traditionally been based around losing weight, getting fit and giving up some vice or other.


I don’t need to lose weight. Even with a chocolate-laden diet. Lucky me.

I already belong to a gym and have control over my fitness. It’s what allows me to have my chocolate-fuelled diet. It’s all about motivation.

I don’t smoke and I don’t….oh. Well, okay, I could probably make alterations in my imbibing rates at times. I like wine. And beer. And gin. That’s grapes, wholegrains and berries. I’m pretty sure all of those appear in the healthy section of the food pyramid, right? So I’m all good there, then.


So I have been musing about resolutions and their purpose and have concluded that they are about improvement of oneself and benefit to others. In which case, I’ve come up with the following resolutions for 2019:

1. I will politely decline whenever anyone asks me to take a photo of them. I am a shocking photographer. This will reduce disappointment in the world.

2. I will perfect the politician’s skill of answering a question with a question thus avoiding talking about myself. This will reduce eyestrain in the community as people are no longer required to dart their eyes to the side looking for a way out whenever I am speaking, especially after a couple of glasses of wine.


3. I will write all emails and messages based on the competition standard of 25 words or less. Then I will delete them. Only if I can be bothered rewriting them will I send them. This will increase productivity across the land.

4. I will limit my consumption of American late night talk show host monologues to once a week. This is for my own general wellbeing and mental health. It will also reduce boredom in those less obsessed with US politics.

5. I will utilise the gym more regularly but will not talk about it on social media. (Okay, so I lied about having control over my fitness. Seriously, who doesn’t drop the ball over Christmas/New Year?)

In the tradition of New Year Resolutions, I expect to have broken every one of these by the end of January.




Got some New Year Resolutions of your own? How do you think you’ll go?




Life Lessons From The Doctor

And no, I don’t mean “an apple a day”.

One of my favourite gifts last Christmas was from a dear friend – a page-a-day calendar of Doctor Who quotes. It rotates through each of the twelve doctors, starting the year with the first things they said after each regeneration (in the case of the ones that followed the original Doctor in a piece of inspired programming to replace an ailing actor).

Doctor 1

I was a bit slow and forgot to open it on the first day. When I turned to the page for the 2nd of January, I knew I was in for an inspired year.

Doctor 2

I laughed. Loudly and continuously throughout the day.

A calendar made for a Jack of All Trades.

So how else might the Doctor inspire this new year?

Doctor 3

Sometimes it is advisable to concentrate on essentials.

Doctor 4

It’s okay not to know everything.

Doctor 5

Tell me you haven’t had one of those moments.

Doctor 6

Ah. This is a common one for a Jack of All Trades.
Always reinventing themselves and surprising the people who think they know them.

Doctor 7

Always take time out to recharge.

Doctor 8

Yes, who am I? Exactly.

Doctor 9

For all you runners out there. And for anyone who isn’t a runner, why aren’t you?

Doctor 10

Don’t get distracted by the small things. Stay focussed on what’s important.

Doctor 11

Sometimes life is strange. You will meet strange people. It’s all a part of the tapestry of life. Jump right in.

Doctor 12

Don’t take things at face value. It’s okay to question the status quo.

That’s the first round of twelve but the ones since have been just as inspiring, including this pearler that turned up on a day when a discussion of bending rules arose with another blogger:


Freaky, huh?

Did any of these inspire you? Do you have your own inspirational calendar quotes to share?




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2015: A Year For Doing Stuff


Every time a new year rolls around I think “What the heck happened to the old one??” I get to the end of the year and wonder what I did with it. It’s a time when thoughts of all the things I was going to do and didn’t float to the surface. (I still haven’t set up that cubby house as a writing studio.)

It was only when, out of idle curiosity, I clicked on Facebook’s “Your Year in Review” thingy that I realised that I had actually done stuff this year and not just provided people with fodder to make moth jokes at my expense for the next twelve months.

January – A Month for Rowing

I compete in my first rowing regatta at Rutherglen and come home with two gold medals. I decide that maybe competitive rowing is not so bad after all.

February – A Month for Beginnings

We send off the Eldest Son to university and the Youngest Son to secondary school for the first time. I can’t believe I’m old enough to have a child at university and wonder if can get away with telling people I was a teenage mother.

Another first day I'd swear wasn't that long ago.

Another first day I’d swear wasn’t that long ago.

March – A Month for Yankees 

I travel to New York with The Husband for a party-avoiding celebration of his 50th birthday. We leave the three offspring to fend for themselves for two weeks. While in New York, I run in Central Park twice, once wearing a tartan glengarry.

April – A Month for Running

I run in my first half marathon event, finishing in just over two hours and wonder why on earth I do these things to myself.

May – A Month for Shakespeare

I appear in the Theatre of the Winged Unicorn’s production of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona as a servant in the first half and as an outlaw in the second. The knitted version of the #beardselfie is born.

June – A Month for Running Again

I run another half marathon at Forrest in the Otway Ranges. This takes longer because it’s up and down muddy tracks. I wonder why on earth I do these things to myself. I also wonder why I have such a short memory.

July – A Month for Connecting

I journey to Sydney for my first “Meet the Blogger” occasion, full of nerves and neuroses. Both are unfounded and unnecessary and a great time is had by all except the blogger’s cat.


“So when are you leaving?”

August – A Month for Baking

I manage to keep a perpetual cake alive for four weeks. Then I kill him off. It’s not always about positive achievement.

September – A Month for Writing

My blog post on Voluntourism is ‘Freshly Pressed’, a WordPress concept disbanded not long afterwards and thus now unfamiliar to any new blogger reading this post. I don’t know if I had anything to do with its disbandment.

I achieve my first publication and have a letter published in the local metropolitan newspaper magazine in response to a very annoying article. It’s a good month for writing.

Fame at last

October – A Month for Changing the World

I travel to Nepal with World Expeditions to help rebuild one of the village schools destroyed in the earthquakes. We also get to trek through the mountains and view Mt Everest one early chilly morning. It’s an experience never to be forgotten. This is my most favourite event of the year.

Nepal Trek

Builders, trekkers, friends.

November – A Month for Falling (and I’m not talking about leaves in the Northern Hemisphere)

The universe decides that I have achieved quite enough impressive physical feats for the year and forty-eight hours after returning safely from overseas, I am felled by a small moth and end up in hospital with six broken ribs and a punctured lung. This is my least favourite event of the year.

December – A Month for Memories

My nephew gets married and having written the song for the wedding service and already earlier agreed to play the piano for it, I achieve this physical feat even with broken ribs. We rejoice but also mourn in this significant life event for my sister‘s eldest child.

Two Weddings

Twenty-three years older but they still look so cute in a vest.

2016: A Year For ????

I’m inclined to hope for 2016: A Year For The Mundane And Ordinary but I suspect I wouldn’t be able to stand it for long.

A Very Happy New Year to you. May it bring whatever you might wish of it.




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2014: Countdown On A Year Of Change

Change. Life is all about change.

I just wish it wouldn’t change so fast.

This year has seen more than its fair share of change and transition. Looking back over the past year, I can’t help wondering how I managed to get this far with my sanity intact.

Mostly intact.

A little bit intact.

Did someone say sanity?

Change Quote 6


We embark on the new school year in the knowledge that this will be one of moving towards change. The Eldest Son in his final year of school, the Youngest Son finishing his time in primary school. And we move into the difficult middle year with the Middle Son. Change is all around us.


We send our Middle Son off on the adventure of a lifetime to spend eight weeks in Thailand with school. It is a time of challenge and change for all of us as we let go just a little bit more.


Twenty years after the death of his wife and daughter, having raised two young boys into fine young men on his own, my brother-in-law remarries. It is a day of great joy tinged with sadness. He moves away, begins a new career with a new family. The extended family space changes and adapts once more.

Change Quote 3


A dear friend dies suddenly and we are confronted with the reality of the struggle with ageing and illness. Life is changed not only for his family and friends but for the local theatre scene of which he was such a large part. (http://wp.me/p3OKST-d9)


Along with my three team mates, I successfully complete the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km challenge in 25 hours 35 minutes. More importantly, we raise $6,500 and change the lives of hundreds of people we will never meet. (http://wp.me/p3OKST-ft)


I get my first work for the year in a special school for children with severe disabilities as a relief teacher. It will be a change of career that will come to feed my soul.

Change Quote 1


My father dies. And life is changed forever. (http://wp.me/p3OKST-pi)


One of my dearest friends undergoes a heart transplant. I marvel at the miracle of science and what can be done to keep a person alive. In such a transaction, however, it is more than one life that is changed. It is a new stage of life for both the recipient of the heart and the family of the donor. Life and death. Life in death.


The Eldest Son turns eighteen. I change into a parent of an adult and I wonder how on earth that happened. (http://wp.me/p3OKST-we)

Change Quote 5


A friend issues the challenge to enter my first “fun run” (the most obvious oxymoron ever). Not inclined to do things by halves, I accept the challenge to run a half-marathon. I change into a Spreadsheet Slave as I commit (as I only I can) to the suggested training regimen. How many more months do I have to do this?? (http://wp.me/p3OKST-AZ)


The Eldest Son graduates from secondary school. One stage ends, another begins. What change is ahead is only a guess until results and offers come through in the new year.

The Youngest Son turns thirteen and I change into a parent of three teenage boys. I don’t know how that happened either.


The Youngest Son graduates from primary school and after thirteen years, we are done with the junior years forever. We await the impact of the change to secondary school for the ‘baby’ of the family, confident that he will make his own mark just as his brothers have before him.

Change Quote 2


Change. Life is all about change. And as we journey into 2015, it will continue to change and to grow.

A new adventure awaits.

Change Quote 4



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2014: Sailing Away From The Safe Harbour

It’s a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world. 

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them. 

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. 

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.

– Neil Gaiman, 31 December 2012

I took Neil Gaiman at his word in 2013 and did a number of things that scared me. It’s not that I joined the Peace Corp and went to a war zone but I pushed myself to do things that were well outside my comfort zone.

I left a highly comfortable and easy job to venture into a career where I really had no idea what I was doing. I started a blog, recorded some of my own songs and put them on SoundCloud, sang a solo for the first time at my community singing group, submitted a book to a publisher and attended a number of workshops that pushed me into unfamiliar territory.

All of these things frightened me but also, once achieved, brought great joy.

I usually prefer not to make New Year resolutions. I don’t need a year of guilt that I’m not doing what I promised myself I would. I tend to be the Make It Up As You Go Along type.

But for 2014, I resolve one thing: To continue to do the things that scare me most and to always find the joy.

There’s a quote, often attributed to Mark Twain (falsely as it turns out), about sailing out of the safe harbour and pursuing your dreams.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

This is my resolution for the new year and my wish for you.

Chase your dreams and find your joy.

May the coming year bring you new adventures and
may your trade winds always be favourable.




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