Marica's meanderings

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Final thoughts for 2005

2005 is fast coming to a close. I am sitting here reflecting on what has been an incredibly busy and intense year, and I can't help wondering what 2006 will bring for me. I am typically morose at this time of year because I tend to dwell on what I haven't achieved rather than on what I have achieved. It is always seems so much easier to beat yourself up and be negative instead of celebrating the successes no matter how small these are.

Just before Christmas I was looking through my digital photos as I was searching for images to print off for an album I was creating for my mother as a gift. I must admit I enjoy no longer having to look through packets of photos which haven't yet been put in albums and then try to find the matching negative to get a print of the photograph.

I stumbled across a series of photos of our garden taken at this time last year. I looked at them initially and wondered where this place was, before I realised it was our home. The colours were beautiful. I remember enjoying sitting out there last summer feeling immediate calm in my beautiful surroundings.

A loved and well tendered garden
Colour everywhere
Brings a smile to my face

I looked out the window at this same garden, except it was one year later. I realised this described 2005 for me perfectly:

The neglected garden
Where have all the flowers gone?
My poor herb garden has been taken over by weeds
Wow, what a year I have had and there is no immediate let up. Mostly though this image of our garden is a reflection of what happens when both you and your husband are studying and trying to complete your Masters degrees. There are so few hours at either end of the working day and this year most of them were spent in front of a computer for both of us. As a consequence our beautiful garden has had to take a backseat, as have so many other things in our lives.

It never ceases to amaze me how nature continues to do its thing no matter what. Our garden may not look as pretty but it has survived and will continue to do so no matter what we do or do not do. It may not be exactly the kind of garden we would like but it is still a garden. All it will take to restore it is some hard work, love and attention. Every now and again you find a treasure - a beautiful flower that has raised its head to let us know it is still there. Isn't this so much like our lives? Do we recognise the treasures and acknowledge them. Weeds are flowers too. They are simply growing in the wrong place, from our perspective off course, and not theres.

So many wonderful things have happened this year for us as individuals and as a family. I am heading into 2006 with renewed optimism for an even better year ahead. I can almost guaranetee it will be filled with ups and downs. However, I hope to still be here this time next year, just as my garden is, ready to face whatever lies ahead and also ready to put what has been behind me.

In 2006, I want to tend my garden, in all its various shapes and forms.

I hope your New Year starts in a way that excites you and that this excitement continues throughout the rest of the year.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Family roots

Our Christmas was loud and noisy as it always is when we all get together as a family. This year was no exception. We are an animated group of unique individuals who love each other and who love being together. This year we all congregated at my parents home, Mate and Danica Sevelj.

My parents are two amazing human beings. They set off over fifty years ago for the unknown. They left behind family and the security of their homeland of Tucepi, Croatia. They arrived here in New Zealand with a suitcase. They arrived independently of each other because of various circumstances. Life was so different then. They were brave. They took a risk. They were determined and motivated to create something better for themselves and the family they hoped to have. They have worked very hard to realise their dreams.

Over time my parents created three daughters - my sisters and myself. I am the oldest. Then there is my sister Diana (2 years younger than me), and my sister Valentina (9 years younger than me).

Mate and Danica Sevelj and their three daughters: Marica, Diana and Valentina.
My sisters and I have managed to produce 12 children between us. Diana and her husband Miro (of St Jerome wine fame - yes, we have a winemaker in the family!) are responsible for producing half of these children.

So two people has now become a total of 20! Our family tree is well and truly established. The roots are solid and the branches are growing and developing. We decided that opportunities for us to all get together were becoming rare so we decided to capture this experience photographically.

The Sevelj Family on Boxing Day 2005
The photos I am sharing here were taken today by Neil Mackenzie. He is a professional photographer who makes experiences like photographing a group of 20 people of a variety of ages fun. It was a beautiful Wellington day. We were down at Princess Bay. The entrance to Wellington Harbour is to the left of the photo above, and the expanse of water behind us is known as Cook Strait. The photos Neil produces always stun me.

The photo I really want to share with you is the one of my own family. We are a relatively newly created family, or as my husband Lynsey described us - we are a grafted family.

The Sevelj, Gedye and Miliszewski family. A typical 21st Century family with five people and three surnames!
My family roots are strongly connected with the sea and it is fitting that these photos are by the sea. I have always loved water, especially the sea. It has calmed me in times of extreme stress and I always find myself drawn to it. I look at this photo and think of how well we have done. We work together well as a family unit. We are constantly faced with challenges and yet somehow we manage to work through them by supporting, encouraging, and loving one another. We celebrate each other's successes and console each other when disappointed. We work as a team even though distance or circumstances may separate us.

I learnt so many things from my parents about loving and living. I have endeavoured to pass on what I have learnt to my children and to others that cross my path by being me. This is not always easy just as the road my parents have travelled has not been an easy one.

I have come to realise that I may not be finanacially well off but I am rich beyond compare because I love and I am loved. I wish this for all of you as well.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Christmas in New Zealand - the Pohutukawa tree Sretan Božić
Merry Christmas

I have only ever experienced Christmas in New Zealand. Christmas has always been for me a time of family, reflection, and being thankful for what I have. It is summer in our part of the world. There are no fires to sit in front of. There is no snow. It is warm not cold. Instead, we all wish that Christmas Day will be a wonderful sunny day. Many people don't even have the traditional sit down meal but opt for a barbeque either at home or at the beach. Everywhere you go you will see the Pohutukawa Tree - our New Zealand native Christmas tree. I love its bright red flowers. Most people think of Christmas as a time away from work to relax and enjoy life.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I wish you all the best at this special time of year. No matter what your spiritual beliefs are, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families peace, love and joy which I hope stays with you throughout the coming year.

Take care and look after each other.

New Zealand's native Christmas tree - the Pohutukawa

Friday, December 02, 2005

Half full or half empty

All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions.
Leonardo da Vinci

The way we perceive things makes a big difference. I was feeling really bad yesterday because I hadn’t met the goal I had set myself – to have my first draft of my research completed by 1 December! This morning in the shower (yes, again it came to me in the shower) I suddenly realised there was another way of looking at the situation. I am actually at least 50% further on than I was a matter of weeks ago. I have written thousands of words, I have done a lot of thinking and re-reading, and some clarity is starting to emerge. So why am I beating myself up because I am not where I had hoped to be by today?

If I was truly creative I would turn this situation around. It is all about the way I perceive this situation. I need to create a new perception by focusing on the success achieved and leverage this to keep moving forward and achieving the ultimate goal. Perhaps I set myself an unrealistic goal in the beginning. Did I set myself up for failure?

So is my glass half full or half empty?

According to Peter F. Drucker perception and mood are key factors in finding innovative opportunities. Describing a glass as half full or half empty, has vastly different meanings:
Changing a manager’s perception of a glass from half full to half empty opens up big innovation opportunities. A change in perception does not alter facts. It changes their meaning, though — and very quickly. It took less than two years for the computer to change from being perceived as a threat and as something only big businesses would use to something one buys for doing income tax. Economics do not necessarily dictate such a change; in fact, they may be irrelevant. What determines whether people see a glass as half full or half empty is mood rather than fact, and a change in mood often defies quantification. But it is not exotic. It is concrete. It can be defined. It can be tested. And it can be exploited for innovation opportunity.
Source: Drucker, P.F. (2002, August). The Discipline of Innovation. Harvard Business Review.

Have a look at this Dilbert cartoon.

Here is another view of this concept of how full is your glass.
The glass is always full, it just depends if you want the glass to be full of air or water.
Source: Four Groups blog

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes that the way we look at the problem is the problem. He comments that Albert Einstein observed:

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. (p.43)

And here we are, Sir, the usual: a glass hlaf empty.


I need to, and more importantly want to, change my thinking. How do I turn this around?

Is the glass half full, half empty or is it 'becoming'?I am now more than half through writing up my research. I am ready to start analysing my data. There is still a lot to do. However, I am a lot clearer about what I am trying to achieve and how I am going to go about it. Huge progress has been made. Yippee!!!!!

My glass is neither half full nor half empty. I have decided it is in a permanent state of 'becoming'. After all what will happen when it is full? Does this mean it is all over? For one project maybe, but in the bigger scheme of things aren’t we always striving for more. Flow is not about stopping at a particular point, it is about always moving. The pace is not continually the same but there is always movement of some kind. Once I’ve finished my Masters (and by the way, I will finish) I want more. I have plans.

In the morning my husband and I leave for Brisbane. I am attending the Ascilite Conference. I have also been involved with a poster accepted for this conference. A conference blog has been set up where my colleague and I will be able to engage in a discussion with anyone who is interested in pursuing the topic of our poster further. I thinkthis is quite innovative and I haven't come acroos this before at the conferences I have attended.

My husband Lynsey and I are both attending a workshop as following the conference being facilitated by Helen Barrett at Queesnland University of Technology on e-portfolios and digital storytelling. I am really excited about this. In between all this 'working' we hope to be able to spend some time together just being – something we don’t get much time for these days.