It was 10 days before Christmas when I arrived back in New Zealand and I bumped into a person whom I had not seen in about five years. So naturally our conversation started from where we last left off. As we were talking, I realised how much has happened during the period with which had passed and how much this person had missed out on in my life and vice versa. What struck me the most about our conversation was reflecting on the numerous experiences and developments which have transpired and how those experiences have shifted me from what was, to what exists in this present moment. Some of the questions that this person had asked during the course of our conversation made me feel grateful for God’s grace upon my life.
It was timely that I had bumped into the person mentioned above because prior to departing Sydney, Australia to return home (New Zealand), I had facilitated talanoa sessions with 16 students whom I have worked alongside over the past couple of years at Western Sydney University. The talanoa sessions began in mid-November of this year when I shared with the students that I was in the process of writing my plans for the next five years as part of projecting a trajectory for my life academically, professionally and personally. It was 15 years ago when I started writing five year plans and I am about to enter my fourth cycle. I explained to the students that once my plans for the next five years are finalised, then I will uplift it all unto God through prayer as I have faith that He will establish the plans accordingly. The 16 students were inspired to follow suit and in mid-December of this year, they each wrote their hopes and plans that they have envisioned for themselves for the next five years. I read their writings on my flight home to New Zealand which was truly heart-warming. The students and I have agreed that we will reunite in five years time for a catch up and to revisit what they have written. I am optimistic for these 16 students and their hopes and plans ahead.
Moreover, it seems serendipitous that when 2017 arrives, it will mark five years since I started this blog. It was my love for poetry, spoken word and all things creative that inspired me to create this blog in 2012. Did I expect to have almost 200,000 visits to this blog when I first created it? No. But it has happened and I am truly grateful. To be able to share the stories and lived experiences of others on this blog has been a blessing. In addition, to be provided with opportunities to host talanoa sessions with creatives over the past five years and to feature them as special guests on this blog has been a wonderful experience for me. It has not been an easy task to host this blog over the past five years as I have had to multi-task and manage competing deadlines. One of those deadlines was to complete my post-graduate studies which, by the grace of God, I managed to and in 2014 I graduated with a PhD in Education from The University of Auckland. Also, over the past five years I had to set aside time to engage with community work, to write and perform spoken word pieces, to present my academic work at international educational conferences, to deliver on speaking engagements at various church and community events, to create and enjoy memorable moments with my family and friends and the list continues. So I am grateful for the many lessons that I have learned along the way and the positive outcomes that have been achieved.
Upon reflection, I am content that I am not standing in the same place as I was in five years ago. I have been strengthened by the challenging situations that I have encountered. I am honoured to have been led into the direction that God had intended for me to go. I am thankful for the successes that I have had this year and over the past five years. Furthermore, I look forward to what lies ahead in 2017 and beyond, as I walk with God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-12.
On that note, I would like to extend my gratitude to you for reading, following and sharing posts from this blog. I am truly grateful. Thank you also to the people whom I have had honour in sharing their stories and lived experiences on this blog. I appreciate your time, support and love.
To conclude this post, below are a few questions for you to reflect on as we transition into 2017:
- What are your hopes and plans for the next five years and why?
- How are you going to work towards making your hopes and plans become realities?
- What are you going to do once you have achieved all that you have set out to accomplish?
Feel free to comment below or send through an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any enquiries.
Wishing you all the very best for 2017. I look forward to connecting with you in the new year with gratitude and grace.
Dr. Maryanne Pale