Hey friends, are we there yet?
This year, for me, has felt a little like a slow crawl to an ever-distant finish line. But now I’m suddenly staring down the barrel of shopaholic Santa and, despite my disdain for certain elements of the silly season, I have to admit I have a sleigh-shaped space reserved in my heart for any celebrations that bring us together.
Because that’s the thing. Togetherness is the key. It’s been a rollercoaster year for Peppermint, and me personally, after the Brisbane floods destroyed our office in February, washing away nearly 15 years of precious memories, furniture and belongings. I’m sure, unfortunately, many others around the country (and world) understand how this feels – with many experiencing much worse than we did. For me, it was the final straw in a cavalcade of chaos over several months, resulting in my mental health being washed away with the mud-soaked debris. It’s been a long, slow rebuild, for both the office and myself, but it’s all finally rising back to the surface. The incredible Peppermint community has played a huge part in this – the support was overwhelming, and I, and the team, are eternally grateful for the outpouring of help we received.
As the paradox of life plays out, amongst the murky waters of 2022 were also waves of wonderfulness. We produced four more beautiful issues, brimming with heart, hope, soul and inspiration, with our covers speaking volumes about our values and our vision. Issue 53 saw Indigenous photographer Bobbi Lockyer create a stunning self-portrait amongst native blooms, saying “With this cover, I want little Indigenous girls to see a familiar face looking back at them. So they can dream big and know that one day that could be them.” Iconic artist Rachel Castle picked up her brightly coloured brushes for us on Issue 54’s cover, with the much-needed message of ‘I Got You.’ The next issue saw the intersection of politics, arts and craft with the woven tapestry of Atong Atem based on her incredible self-portraiture work. And then of course our latest beauty, rounded out the year with a splash of colour, joy and lightness (because we all need some of that right now!).
We were recognised in several award ceremonies: we received an Australian Good Design Award for Communication Design in Print; the Mumbrella Publish Awards gave us a Highly Commended for Cover of the Year and Lauren, who recently became our Editor, was shortlisted for Young Writer of the Year (she was the winner in our hearts!). We partnered with (and attended) lots of fantastic events, from Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Finders Keepers in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and even held our first-in-a-few-years, in-person launch party at It’s Still A Secret (a fabulous bar and vintage store that provided garments for our Issue 56 cover and secondhand summer shoot). It was lovely to be celebrating with our community again after events being off the (COVID) table for three years!
And the biggest applause goes to my incredible team for navigating all of this – the good and the bad – and coming out stronger and even better than before. To Lauren, Michelle, Caitlin, Bonnie, Mara (and Desta, who moved on earlier this year) – you are all immensely talented, strong, creative and hard-working and I couldn’t wish to work alongside a better group of women. As a work team, as humans, as well as the content we create, is a constant reminder that what we do here at Peppermint is good, meaningful and worthwhile. That’s a very privileged position to be in, and one I am extremely grateful for.
There were many, many good things to be grateful for, and not just in a flippant “good vibes only”, toxic positivity kind of way. It was a year with alllll of the emotions, sometimes at the same time, and a year that reminded me that that was ok. And importantly, it was ok to be honest about it. Only showing your highlight reel creates division and isolation; connection comes from honesty and understanding, and recognising our messy selves in others.
Now it seems that 2023 is almost here, regardless of how we feel about it, bringing with it the same cocktail of COVID, climate crisis and global concerns. It can be hard to find hope, right? But here’s the thing – hope is known scientifically as “wishing with a plan”. It’s an “active process”, says John Parsi, executive director of the Hope Center in Arizona. “Dreams and optimism are just belief structures. Hope requires a person to take responsibility for their wants and desires and take action in working towards them.”
Much like 2022, next year may not be “so-called” perfect, but we can still create our own hope by making plans to get up, step up and be part of the solution. Togetherness is a big part of that. Enjoy and appreciate your holiday gatherings, if you’re lucky enough to have them. Celebrate the little things. Be good to each other. Appreciate what you have. Rest. Recharge. And then we keep going. As the Japanese proverb says – “Fall down seven times, get up eight”.