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Oh What A Year!

2021 has not been easy for so many of us.

I've had my moments but mostly I feel it's been a year of positive learning as a small business owner and CEO and as a person.

I founded Creative Matters Ltd in 2015 and it has become a thriving business with a good reputation. I'm very proud of what I have achieved, our philosophies and values, my amazing team of artists/educators and the service we provide.

The thing I've found the hardest about Creative Matters not operating to capacity over a number of Auckland lockdowns this year is losing the momentum of growth and development. It has felt like we just get on a roll then BANG we're back to barely operating. But what I have found encouraging is that CM has been able to get back to where we were before these disruptions pretty quickly. Thankfully it hasn't been a long road to recovery for us.

BUT it takes willpower to remain positive and involved in your business when it's down.. I've tried hard to keep Creative Matters "front of mind" for people (thanks business mentor Pete) over this time and I've continued the emails, social media posts and stories as if nothing has changed. This hasn't always been easy. Sometimes I have felt like I'm talking to myself and putting all this stuff out into the universe and no one is seeing it let alone appreciating it. I worked on my mindset to keep those thoughts in check!

Although we had to have a short forced hiatus, my podcast was a shining light in my weekly lockdown routine. The research, communication with artists, Zoom recordings and blogpost creations each week gave me a focus which I really needed. I'm not good with not enough to do. Thank you to my dear podcast guests and listeners!

I also used this time to develop a new online art programme which I've decided to continue to offer in 2022, it was so successful. and well received. These online classes were weekly, face to face on Zoom and taught by me. I would start the class with the teaching and exploration and then we would create together for 90 minutes. The children seemed to get a lot out of this way of working and I honestly loved it. Again, it was a positive focus for me in which I would prepare for the lesson and then do some creating myself, which I enjoyed! And the company of these little ones made my day. The best parts of making art and learning about art at home is that the projects can be continued or new projects can be inspired and started in the child's own time, parents and siblings can make together, children can share what they are doing with their families and for many families the logistics of home learning works. I have been surprised at the way children find online learning easy and how you can still connect and build relationships via a screen, just as well as in person.

On a personal note I had a few extra challenges and delights over this time. I broke my leg just above my ankle in week 1 of Auckland's (more than 100 days) lockdown and was mostly immobile for 9 weeks, due to X-ray and diagnosis delays. For a daily enthusiastic walker with our dog Mazzy and keen gardener this was a blow, made worse with the 'home detention' and isolation of lockdown. Walking in the forests, bush and beach where I live in Muriwai is so important for my well being - again, I had to work hard to not let myself get affected by this mentally. I stayed busy with my own art practice and my business which definitely helped.

I also have a heart condition and have had 2 open heart surgeries in my life and I'm due for my third heart operation. I have lately had to get my head around starting to feel some symptoms at times and the fact that the surgery may not be too far away. I've always been very private about this side of my life but as part of accepting and coping with this I am starting to share what I'm going through.

A true gift for me this year was the birth of our first grandchild Rocky in May. He bring us so much joy.

And as for Creative Matters and Mandy 2022 - I'm looking forward to growing our after school and holiday programmes next year, continuing with my podcast with a new episode published each week, reaching more schools and teachers with my visual arts professional development courses, working in my newly built art studio in my garden, developing my own art practice further, gaining funding for more community art projects and working on our next Muriwai Arts Group Show. And riding my new electric bike with my dear husband George of course!

Some of my latest thread paintings, inspired by the natural lines created by the wind in the Muriwai Sand Dunes.

SO! If you've managed to read all the way down to here, thank you! And thank you for your support and involvement in my life and/or business. I love what I do so much and feel very grateful to be living my best life every day.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a well deserved break. See you next year!

Mandy xx

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