2023 – A Year in Review

December 13, 2023


It’s that time of year where we pause for a moment and take a look back at the year that will soon be over, taking stock of what obstacles we’ve overcome, what joys we’ve experienced, what lessons we’ve learned, and take note of what strengths we have within us that has handled it all, and be grateful for every bit of it because this is life.

The highlights of my year would have to be these two things:

  • precious time spent with my mother in our family home (my childhood home)
  • a beautiful 3 week holiday in New Zealand’s south island with the tennis player

You’ll notice that those two items above feature quite heavily in posts throughout the year. Let’s take a look back at the year on the blog that was 2023!


In January I cautiously welcomed in the year and for the first time in a long time I decided to try choosing a word for the year. The word I chose was ENOUGH. I said:  

Basically – ENOUGH with all the negative thinking about myself. ENOUGH with giving a toss about what others think of me, and time to embrace the fact that I AM ENOUGH (and . . .more holidays and more fun)! ~ Min 

I still want that and I still think that word was appropriate for me because I am ridiculously too hard on myself BUT the word of the year thing just doesn’t seem to work for me. I completely forgot about it. I never checked in with it. While I do appreciate it works for others (and at one time it did for me too) I think that my life lately is just too full on to focus properly on these things. I won’t bother to select a word of the year again for myself. I believe that I can have intentions without declaring them. 

In January I also interviewed Natalie Lynch from Studio Yellow as part of my Art Chat series. I did art mentoring classes with her and I continue to be a member of her ‘Club Yellow’ which is similar to a social club. She’s such an inspiration. If you haven’t read my interview with her then I highly recommend you do. Congratulations to Natalie too for her recent win of Best Beauty, Health, Wellbeing and Fitness Business with Bayside Community Awards.


In February I had begun planning for our holiday in New Zealand and I introduced a new concept to my Art Chat series of  ‘Draw Your Day’ – see this post and this post.


In March I wrote about The Vagus Nerve as part of my Gem’s of Zen series. I continued sharing my Draw Your Day contributions via Art Chat. I wrote about Empaths and Creativity, a post for Empath Corner which I haven’t contributed to now for quite some time now as I decided to shift focus on the blog elsewhere. And of course I did my first quarterly Taking Stock post for 2023!


In April we had a few days away at Moffat Beach, Caloundra which was lovely! I shared some more Draw Your Day contributions via Art Chat. I had a worrying incident with Mum and was feeling a bit stressed and stretched and hence the post Juggling all the balls


In May I shared some more Draw Your Day contributions via Art Chat and I said Ciao mo tenei wa / Ciao for now as I prepared to jet off for our New Zealand holiday. 

May is a big month of birthdays in my family – my daughter, Mum, a sister-in-law, a niece, the tennis player and myself!  


Once we returned from our holiday road tripping around the south island of New Zealand, I began to share my experiences. First – South Island of New Zealand – 20 observations from a first time visitor. Then NZ Trip: Christchurch, New Zealand which covered days 1-3 of our trip. Then I shared my first sketches in my travel sketchbook – in the renamed Draw Your World (rather than draw your day) as part of Art Chat. 


I wrote the next NZ Trip post covering Day 3 where we caught the TransAlpine train from Christchurch across to Greymouth and after collecting our rental car and visiting Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes we stayed the night at Hokitika.  It was then time for my second quarterly Taking Stock post. Next I shared more ‘Draw Your World‘ sketches from my travel sketchbook as part of Art Chat.


The next NZ Trip post covered Days 4 and 5 – Fox Glacier and Wanaka. Next came some ‘Draw Your World‘ sketches from Fox Glacier in my travel sketchbook shared as part of Art Chat. 

My sister had done extra shifts over at Mum’s to cover for me while I was away in New Zealand and so I did the same for her when she and her husband had an overseas holiday. When she returned I was feeling the need for a break from domesticity and took the opportunity for a quick getaway the Bunya Mountains.

The last post this month was the next NZ Trip post – Wanaka to Queenstown.


This month kicked off with Draw Your World – Days 6 and 7 of the New Zealand trip – Wanaka and Queenstown, captured in my sketchbook and shared as part of Art Chat. Next, Days 8 and 9 – Queenstown & Arrowtown – of the New Zealand trip was shared. Then Arrowtown & Queenstown sketches were shared via Art Chat and we wrapped up the month with the third quarterly Taking Stock post.


October kicked off with a Draw Your World – Art Chat post (in and around Queenstown NZ) which contains one of my favourite sketches done from the New Zealand trip of a collage artwork by a Thai artist, Virut Penchabuse. 

I proudly share a post about the upcoming Wynnum Fringe Festival held in my local area and founded by local Tom Oliver and following the closure of Denyse Whelan’s blog and linkup, I introduce the new weekly blog link up Wednesday Words & Whimsy #WWWhimsy


November was a big month on the blog! I kicked it off by sending my Dad many heavenly happy returns of the day. Twin 1 and Twin 2 had a birthday this month too but I didn’t blog about that. Next I added to the Corona Chronicles series for the first time in over a year with Corona Chronicles #11 and with good reason – during October I had contracted Covid for the very first time and had been quite sick for a while.

Then was Day 10 of our NZ trip – a day trip to Glenorchy, and I shared that it’s been a lot for me lately with Mum falling out of bed during the night and everything that unfolded thereafter. 

The last post for the month was a Draw Your World – Art Chat post with sketches from Day 10 in Glenorchy of our New Zealand trip.


I completed my final quarterly Taking Stock post for 2023 and here I am in this post looking back at 2023, quietly patting myself on the back for all that I have accomplished and survived during the year. No year is perfect. They are generally full of ups and downs, but each year is time full of moments that must be soaked up, remembered and enjoyed for all that they are, for I have learned that these moments will one day be little gems of joy that our future selves will draw on and appreciate to help us through challenging times and just to have as special and wonderful memories.

As you can see, this year there was a very strong focus on sketchbook art, our trip to New Zealand, and in all my Taking Stock posts & weaved into other posts you’ll most likely see a strong focus on caring for Mum. At the beginning of the year though I’d have never have thought that we’d end the year with Mum in Residential Aged Care and be facing the prospect of having to sell our family home in the new year – my childhood home that has been available to me my entire life with all it’s memories and comforts that come with them. I wouldn’t change who I am, but sometimes it can be tough being an INFJ, an empath and very sentimental person! However, I just have to take one day at a time and know that I am stronger than I think which I’ve proven to myself a lot over the last six years!

Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome ~ author unknown

It’s interesting to notice how my areas of interest are always shifting and changing too. For example, it was only in September 2022 that I decided to create Empath Corner. I had realised I was an empath and this was an area of great interest to me. However, I realised it probably wasn’t as interesting to everyone else, so I backed off on the idea a bit and besides my art chat posts and the posts related to the trip to New Zealand were filling up my one post per week quota anyway (one post a week is all I’ve been able to manage this year). I might do a post as part of Empath Corner again one day!

There will be one more post for this month (and this year) and then I’ll be taking a 4 week break before posting again on 17 January 2024 (see the note below my signature).

By the way, on the day this post publishes, myself and a sister will be at a Christmas lunch and concert at Mum’s new Residential Aged Care facility, so there will be a delay before I reply to comments and read and comment on posts but you know me, I always do these things eventually, and sooner rather than later!

Ciao for now,

NOTE FROM MIN:  Heads up that the last #WWWhimsy Linkup for 2023 will be on Wednesday 20 December (so next week!) and the first #WWWhimsy Linkup for 2024 will be on Wednesday 17 January. That gives us all a 4 week break. I believe in Self Care and I think that some digital detox time over the Christmas/New Year period is a good idea. Of course you’re most welcome to keep on blogging away between those dates but the linkup will be closed for that 4 week period. Christmas is getting close! Eeek!

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  • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 December 13, 2023 at 6:10 am

    Hi Min you have been more than ENOUGH this year with all that you’ve had going on with looking after your Mum. Well done to you for maintaining your artwork which is just beautiful and I hope you continue. These posts are a great idea because sometimes, especially when life gets tough, we can forget the snippets of joy and yes, even fun that we’ve experienced. I’m so pleased you achieved your NZ holiday and some short breaks away. Thanks also for taking the baton with the Wednesday link up. Wishing you and your family a very special Festive Season and look forward to joining you next year for #WWandWhimsey. Love Sue xx

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 5:55 am

      Hi Sue, and thank you! I did manage to do a bit of art through the year (not as much as I’d have liked) but in recent times it’s been many weeks (possibly months – I’ve lost track) since I have done any. I think it’s great to look back on the year to appreciate all that has happened – the joys, the challenges, the lessons etc. The NZ holiday was so needed and therefore very much appreciated and the two short little getaways helped me to revive and survive when my tank was feeling very low. Taking on the Wednesday link up has been one of this year’s joys because it’s meant keeping the blogging world connections that mean so much to me. One more post for the year – hope to see you again next week! xo

      • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 December 14, 2023 at 6:48 am

        Hi Min, I’ll be here next week!

        • Reply Min December 15, 2023 at 7:04 am

          Fantastic! See you then! xo

  • Reply Debbie Harris December 13, 2023 at 6:25 am

    What a year it’s been for you Min! I can understand why your New Zealand was such a highlight, it’s such a beautiful country. Your art and sketches made it even more whimsical, you really are talented and more than Enough!
    I hope you and your sister enjoy the concert with your mum today, it’s certainly been a big year for you. Take care and thanks again for the linkup, hopefully it’s a distraction and not too hard for you to manage. It’s always fun to join in and see what others are doing!

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:02 am

      Hi Deb – thanks so much! I haven’t yet seen the North Island of NZ but the South Island most definitely is beautiful! To be surrounded in the beautiful nature that it offered for 3 weeks was so healing for me. I loved every moment, and of course it’s made good sketching material! The lunch and concert with Mum was enjoyable! I’m heading back for another visit today. The linkup has been a good distraction. I’ve managed fine so far but the 4 week break is much needed. I always miss the blog when I take a break though LOL but I know I need it. I love the #WWWhimsy community and like you I really enjoy catching up on what everyone is up to! Hope to see you for the last 2023 #WWWhimsy next week! xo

  • Reply Joanne Tracey December 13, 2023 at 6:56 am

    I loved following your “draw my day” sketches, but especially those you did in your travel journal. It’s certainly been a tough year for you with your mother – enjoy the Christmas celebrations at her new home.

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:02 am

      Thanks Jo – I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed them. I’m hoping I can get back into my art again soon. It has been AGES since I’ve done any!!

  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid December 13, 2023 at 7:53 am

    What a year it’s been – you’ve certainly packed a lot in both on and off the blog. I especially enjoyed the armchair adventure you took me on with all your New Zealand posts and I’m very grateful to you for taking over the link up. I appreciate all the time and effort you put in to keep us all connected. I hope you have the happiest of holidays and really enjoy the break – you have really earned it. Love to you and see you next year!

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:06 am

      Hi Sammie – I’m very glad you’ve enjoyed the armchair travel to New Zealand. As for the linkup – it’s been my pleasure. I would be lost without a weekly linkup where I catch up with my bloggy friends and what they’ve been doing. I couldn’t bare the thought of losing those connections. The little #WWWhimsy community means a lot to me and hosting #WWWhimsy brings me great joy. One more post next week and then a 4 week bloggy break. I might even get in my pool (haven’t yet this summer)!! Lots of love back at you Sammie! xo

  • Reply Natalie December 13, 2023 at 8:04 am

    Hi Min, It’s been quite a year for you to care for your mum. I’m glad you have a wonderful holiday in NZ and a few short breaks to recharge, as well as keeping up with your art and blogging. I hope you enjoy the Christmas lunch and concert with your mum and sister. Thank you for hosting #WWWhimsy. Have a great week ahead!

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:09 am

      Hi Natalie, it sure has been quite a year! Those interests of mine (blogging, art etc) plus the holiday to NZ and two little getaways have helped me through. The lunch and concert with Mum was enjoyable. Hope you’re having a great week too – thanks Natalie. xo

  • Reply Denyse J Whelan December 13, 2023 at 9:10 am

    Wow Min, you did so well with this summing up. What a year. Not ending in any way you could have predicted but there you are now, at your Mum’s new place of care. Thinking of you lots. And because “I” now have covid for the first time, I have linked up a post about gratitude because we can always find something to be grateful for!

    Thank you for linky.


    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:11 am

      Hi Denyse, at the beginning of each year we never do know how the year will end do we? I hope you’re doing ok and that your symptoms are starting to subside now? It seems to be the year that Covid finally gets those of us who’ve remained Covid free all this time! Hope to see you again for the last 2023 #WWWhimsy next week! xo

      • Reply Denyse J Whelan December 14, 2023 at 7:35 am

        And big congratulations on the success of the Wednesday linky when I closed mine after all that time…it’s a joy seeing you take it on and now I know “I can still link up” from Substack I will be around in 2024 too. I am sure. Thank you and see you next week. Denyse

        • Reply Min December 15, 2023 at 7:04 am

          Thank you Denyse! I’ll look forward to seeing you here again next week! xo

  • Reply Christie Hawkes December 13, 2023 at 10:31 am

    What a year it’s been, Min. I can’t believe we are already nearing the end of 2023. It seems like we were just reading about each other’s selections for Words of the Year. I do like taking time to look back and celebrate the accomplishments of the year past before jumping into what we hope to accomplish or focus on for the new year. Here’s to us!

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:14 am

      Hi Christie, it’s fun and interesting to look back on the year and all that has happened within it. There’s usually been a lot more packed into the year than we realise! The years seem to be going by too fast nowadays though don’t they? The older we get, the faster the years seem to speed by. I do like the feeling of wrapping up a year and the beginning of a new one. It’s like turning the page, a new chapter, a clean slate, a fresh start! Usually full of hope and optimism! Cheers to us! xo

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au December 13, 2023 at 11:06 am

    Merry Christmas Min – it’s certainly been a big year for you. I hope 2024 is a steadier one and that all goes well with your Mum in her new place, and relieves some of the care responsibilities you’ve been carrying this year. x

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:18 am

      Merry Christmas to you too Leanne – so lovely to see you here! Yes it’s been a big year for me but on the plus side I do feel proud of myself for all that I have managed and in knowing that I’ve done the very best I could do. I really hope 2024 is a good year too and that Mum is happy and settled and well. Cheers to hope for a drama free, happy & healthy 2024! xo

  • Reply Jennifer Jones December 13, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    I’m exhausted after reading about your year Min. But seriously it sounds like you’ve had many positives. There is also the Wednesday linkup which I thank you for as it’s a highlight in my blogging week. Thankyou for giving us the opportunity to connect.

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:20 am

      Hi Jennifer, it does look a bit exhausting doesn’t it?! Lol But yes – lots of positives! It’s so nice to hear the linkup is the highlight in your blogging week. It’s mine too! It’s why I decided to take it on – because I would’ve been lost without a linkup where we all connect and catch up each week! xo

  • Reply Cathy December 13, 2023 at 8:21 pm

    Strangely for most of us, what is normal/usual 12 months ago is not that way today. You’ve experienced an awful lot in the past 12 months Min, as well as the fun and happiness of daily life you’ve had to deal with the ups and downs in your Mum’s life – so many changes that it’s a wonder you can remember half of it….and that’s where your fabulous habit of recording most of it here comes into its own. Thank you for sharing all those moments with us.

    Merry Christmas to you and all your family – and to the Wednesday Whimsy Linkup family as well

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:25 am

      Hi Cathy – it’s been a big year – lots of worry but lots of joys too. One of the great things about blogging is that it’s like a diary. I can look back at any month of any year (since I’ve been blogging) and see what I was doing and thinking at the time. I can capture important things. It’s fabulous! Blogging is in my blood now (been blogging since 2012). I can’t imagine not doing it! I love hosting #WWWhimsy because I’d be lost without coming together with our little community to connect each week. Hope you’ll be back for the final #WWWhimsy for 2023 next week. Merry Christmas to you and all of your family too (in case you’re not back next week)! xo

  • Reply Joanne December 14, 2023 at 4:09 am

    I have that same problem with picking a WOTY! I tried it for a year or two and then gave up on picking words.

    • Reply Min December 14, 2023 at 6:26 am

      So glad it’s not just me Joanne! xo

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