Art/Creativity, New Zealand Life, Uncategorized

Galleries Galore.

As my fifth week of residing in Oamaru has arrived, I realised that I haven’t even visited all the art galleries that this town has to offer. How amazing is it that there is still some art to be seen with its abundance on every corner. It definately is the place to be to receive inspiration and see other’s point of view and creative outlets. That being said, I haven’t created much myself lately, although my camera is usually in my hand, but I do hope to start some projects with the youth so that we can encourage each other in our creativity. I do want to write a post called Created to Create. But for now, I simply wanted to share some of the Art I have seen so far while in New Zealand.

Below are some photos of an exhibition in a local gallery.





Gorse- common to Ireland and to NZ. Has the aroma of coconut and the aesthetic of yellow buds, however, it is a weed.










I like how they have used the plate as well as the print.






This particular artist has a signature style in representing portraits, usually of the female figure.

Below are props for some of the fairs throughout the year. You can walk through an alleyway and see them displayed in their quirky and slightly sinister (clown) representation of Oamaru’s history.



I really enjoyed the corrugated work of Jeff Thomson displayed in a museum in Christchurch. Especially the use of colour and shapes using such a common resource.      


More from that same museum in Christchurch. Look at that design work!

This is from the Art Gallery in Christchurch and I just cannot stop staring at it! The colours are so pyschodellic.

Some street art from Christchurch


The next three examples are displayed in Dunedin.

I like the incorporation of the bench to demonstrate the hills of the steepest street in the world, Baldwin St.


Temporary installation in Christchurch, commemorating those who died in the 2011 earthquake.

More from around Oamaru, Forrester Gallery.

Wicked Stitches, on our idea of home.







New Zealand Life, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

When fear is crippling.

Being a newbie to Kiwi life, I am learning and observing lots. One of those things that I knew of beforehand is how much outdoor activities plays a part of every day life and leisure time. There is a difference between knowing these things and then experiencing them. Although, I will never claim to be a sporty person, I certainly love being outside and being active. So when the youth were going on a bike trail this week, I was pretty excited. I thought that a lovely Sunday cycle through the town with a little breeze in my hair and little chats along the way would be a relaxing way to start the week. Sure, I thought that there would be challenging times since Oamaru is a town built on steep hills but I didn’t really antcipate the trail that we ended up taking. It wasn’t like we were biking on the edge of a cliff or anything like that but it was quite a narrow trail through a forest with lots of bumps and steep tracks. As the teens whizzed past me, I began to realize that I was cycling out of my comfort zone. It made me fearful, not only of nosediving into the ground, but what others may think of me. I had to make a decision of how I was going to respond to this, would I allow fear to cripple me? 

We all face fear in various forms and at various stages of our life. Some may include a fear of physical harm and others coud be inward that nobody even knows about it! But this is what fear can do:

Fear can immobolise you. Every been in a situation where you know what the right thing to do is but too afraid to step out and do it? I’m afraid what they will think of me. I’m afraid I won’t succeed if I put myself out there or give it a go. I’m afraid I will hurt someone or step on their toes. I’m afraid I will be lonely. I’m afraid my friends won’t support me. I’m afraid my parents will be disappointed in me. I’m afraid. Fear can make you ineffective in your workplace, at school, in your dreams and can stunt your personal growth. So why does it have such a strong hold of us? How can we be brave? Does having courage mean that there is an absense of fear though? I am just thinking through these thoughts myself so don’t necessarily have the answers for you right now.

Fear can tell you lies. Most of the time there is some sort of lie that you are believing in when you allow a fear to take hold of you. I am not good enough to do this task. I will look silly or crazy. I might die if I attempt that activity. As a christian, I wonder if its a way that Satan uses to make people ineffective in living fully for Christ. Perhaps we are believing in some of his lies but that is somthing that you need to ask yourself.  Whatever it is that isn’t true, sometimes it is strong enough to rule our lives and I guess that brings me on to the next point in that it can make you a slave to fear.

Fear can make you a slave to it. All week I have been playing a song which includes the lyrics ” I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” If a fear saturates your thinking and effects your decisions then I guess you are to some degree, a slave to it. Reminders of who you really are ( a child of God) , and identifying the lies of that fear, can empower you to say no to it.

Identify the fear. Sometimes we have a feeling that unnerves us or makes us uncomfortable but not quite sure why. In order to know what we are really up against, then we need to know what it is. Ask yourself (and others) questions about why you might be feeling that way in such a circumstance. What exactly am I afraid of in the instance? One of the best books I ever read about the fear of what others think is called “When people are big and God is small.’ That book will definately help open your eyes to those fears and identify how they come to fruition in every day life.

Fear can isolate you. I could have let that fear during the bike trail manifest into being isolated from that group and activity. It made me feel uncomfortable to be at the back of the group and it saddened me to feel disconnected from a youth activity that is different to what I am use to. I felt like a foreignor and  I think that bothered me too. I admired this group. They seemed fearless and hardcore, and are certainly a lot cooler than I am! We can allow fears to isolate us in many ways. If we don’t push through these feelings or thoughts at times, then we can be left out of connecting with others or without being challenged, and challenges produces growth! Sometimes we can feel isolated  if we keep a certain fear to ourselves and are even afraid to express that fear to others! But expression of fear can connect us with others because it shows our human side and it points us to a God who is bigger than all of those fears! So verbalise to even just one person and encourage one another to step out in courage. A few of the ladies at the back encouraged me with words to keep going and how they found it scary during their first attempt. I’m not sure if I believe them but they were rooting for me when I told them that I wasn’t use to such biking trails!

Fear keeps you from full contentment and joy. Being a slave to fear will always carry bondage that is burdensome and heavy. Because it encompasses your thought life as well as actions, it is hard to escape and unhealthy to run away from. But how freeing it is, when you begin to embark on something that is scary yet you are trusting that God is with you for every step. When you are humble and honest about your fears, then you are invited to enjoy the benefits of that choice. It brings true freedom, true joy and true, lasting contentment. Isn’t that much more better than the life that is hidden behind your fear?  Isn’t that worth it to push through? Isn’t a life trusting in God worth all the unknown along the way that life can bring? I really do love the life that I have right now but I can allow my fear of the future to rob the contenment and joy from the present of today. Are you?

Such a big subject and perhaps I will write on it another day, a few years along the way and see what I have learned. For now, I want to end this post with saying. Listen to God. Listen (or stop listening!) to what others say. And stop listening to your fears! He can strengthen you for whatever you face. (Phi.4.13)



What Georgia taught me.

In 2011, I made the decision to move to Georgia, USA, the state that I was born in but with only snippets of memories to accompany it, as we had seldom visit there over the years. At this stage, I had just completed my BA in Fine Art and was residing in Limerick. Funnily enough, I had been looking into moving to New Zealand but funds were quite low immediately after college came to a close. That summer, close friends of the family from Augusta asked me if I would be interested in moving out there, and unlike my character of weighing up decisions, I had made up my mind by the end of the day. I knew that I was suppose to go here and it taught me a few things while I was there.

1. When returning to a place that accompanies your name on all important documents yet has no sentimental value…well… it’s a strange thing. I was so grateful for the opportunity to return here as an adult and make some memories and connections. Perhaps you have experienced growing up with two cultures present and always wondering things such as ‘what would it be like if I had stayed there?’ or “what would I have been like?’. But these are not questions that we can really answer. It is so easy to idolize the place of your childhood and this cause discontentment in your current place of residence. Not only did I feel like I was making connections with more of the American part of my identity, but it was also a realisation that there are goods and bads about every place and to stop living in the ‘if only’s’ and fantasies of distant lands. It taught me that wherever you may be, to not focus on what is missing but to enjoy and be thankful for what you do have in that place. 

Obviously excited to be in America.. and lights of the south!

2. When you are new to a place, it is important to bring that open mindset and attitude with you. Believe me, no one likes a person who is coming into your country and complaining about everything -the rain, the food, the roads, the people…. Whatever it may be. We are all different and different cultures do things differently so give yourself the time to properly adapt ( and avoid the temptation to verbalise the comparisons to your own country if it will come across negatively or offensively). Although it can be energy draining at first, absorb everything. The language, as even if they speak English there will be some sort of a barrier or misunderstanding at times! The way of life, whether it be quite relaxed or very schedule based. The people, from the common mannerisims to the mentality. It’s exciting to go to a new place so learn what you can. Although, I have American connections, I still had so much to learn when I moved to GA. How was I to know that they said ‘deposit’ instead of ‘lodge’ at the bank and that hanging out your clothes during pollen season will give you swollen eyes and a shower of neon powder? 

My cousin Caleb and I at the zoo!

3. Try not to have too many expectations in your imaginings of a new place or the people who live there. This goes alongside of the open mindset. It is possible that our expectations can limit our experiences as we view them through our narrow lens. Therefore, approach all the newness with a flexibility, allowing yourself to stand back and appreciate what is in front of you- for what it is and not for what you thought it might have been!

4. As well as an open mindset, it is always important to ask questions. Not only will it answer your questions but it will always be an opportunity to talk with others and sometimes that is even more important than what you may be looking for.  It can also display an interest and usually those who are from the area are eager to highlight with a sense of local pride.

Paddy’s in Savannah! 

5. As human beings, we are not meant to do life completely on our own so no matter how scary it may be to reach out to those around you. Sometimes, having a job is an easy way to do this or meeting with others at church or in a group with common interests. There are places, perhaps small towns, who are quite happy to continue on with their own circle of friends and are not so inclusive or inviting but that can be a lesson too. Maybe, one day you will be the person who is the first to step out and welcome a new person to town because you will have experienced being on the other side. I’m not saying that this happened in GA but it was one of the things I thought about while I was there. I ended up becoming friends with this chica whose works hours and thirst for outdoor activities matched mine. She was also from out of town so perhaps that made us more available to get to know each other quickly. That is one thing I enjoy about life- when you meet those people who for such a short time, leave some sort of impression for years to come.


6. Say ‘YES’ to acitivites and invitations. Perhaps a games night or the sport they are watching, isn’t exactly how you would spend your free time at home, but if it’s the chance to get to know people, then jump right in. Or before you know it you may have missed out on some quality time for building relationships. Everyone needs some sort of family unit so don’t shy away from this possibility just because you are uninterested in the activity!


Rock for Dough, Concert at a golf course during the Masters.
7. There are kind people in every part of the world and when you are in a position where you don’t know many others then this kindness stands out even brighter to you. Be grateful and be generous in your kindness back. I am still thankful for the Meier family who accomadated me with more than just a house and a car, they accomodated me with a family-like love. I haven’t forgotten how a local artist brought me around to the galleries and out for some fried green tomatoes! And for all the others who invited over to eat or for random trips to Atlanta. THANK YOU!

Jon and Michelle Meier

Acting like kids at Georgia Aquarium.

8. Be adventurous and try new things. You might not ever be able to sample that unique food or experience a foreign tradition again, so why not expand your horizons with these. Hello? Deep fried oreos. Need I say more?  I love the sun so I espeically said yes to all the outdoor adventures like hiking with my family or kayaking and camping. This allowed me to open my eyes more to the landscape differences there are to Ireland.

Sampling deep fried oreos.

I have been thinking about all of these things lately as it has made my transition to life in New Zealand that much easier. Perhaps you are about to move to a new place for the first time and you might consider some of these thoughts expressed. Perhaps you have already lived through it and have some additional points to add to it! Or maybe you have people of other nationalities arriving to your town often and this could open your eyes to what it’s like to go elsewhere.

Wow, we live in such a beautiful world. God is an awesome Creator and I encourage you to take in all of that beauty that is around you. And remember that beauty can be found everywhere. I am just so excited about experiencing all that New Zealand has to offer this year with it’s majestic mountians and serene colour palette of water and landscape! So thank you, GEORGIA, for leaving me with what you did. I do miss you but perhaps, I will return to live there again one day, just not for now…


Personal Growth, Uncategorized

When the heart is healing.


                                                                          The Art College Archives, circa 2009
I think we can all agree that a broken heart or  being hurt is one of the most difficult things to work through and work it does take. I also believe it is one of those things that is unavoidable and at some stage a form of hurt will come our way, whether it be intentional or not. I would like to write about what I have particularly learned and pondered this year. I want to share what the experiences have taught me and I want to discuss some thoughts for both those who have been hurt and for those who have done the hurting. Through all this, I want to convey a humble, compassionate deposition and hope it doesn’t come across any another way. So here are a few things to note about when the heart is healing….

      When I am hurt…

  1. Its hard to forgive. Forgiveness is a word that we can make into some fluffy feel-good notion. However, it is anything but. In fact, it is a very strong word with a power to change lives. To the one who has been forgiven it is sweet and can soothe the deepest of wounds. To the one who has to forgive, it can be the same but it also comes with great strength and effort. It is not as easy as verbalising the word like it is some magic spell and all will go back to being right. You might have to choose to forgive someone (or yourself) over and over again until one day the pain is starting to subside a little. You may not ever hear the words ‘I am sorry’ and yet still have to come to a decision whether to forgive or not, in spite of not receiving any recognition of wrongdoing. This is a tricky one and requires an intentional effort to not keep those record of wrongs that could so easily fester in our hearts. At the end of the day, we have to make the choice whether we want to give this person or circumstance the hold on our lives and make us bitter. Or we can decide to forgive in our hearts, thoughts and actions and allow our wounds to be healed and not infected with resentment or thoughts of revenge. I suppose another difficult situation that is tough to forgive is when we have been hurt by others and when it actually isn’t our fault…
  2. Its not my fault. It comes natural to us to think that we are the victim and the other party is solely responsible for any pain caused. Therefore we need to really examine our actions (including our motives) with the same lens that we focus on the other person. However, there are those times when you are in no way responsible for the blow that hits you; of which happened to me recently. Again, it goes back to the word ‘forgiveness’ and asking what does it really look like or what does it really take? Are the boundaries for my forgiving and loving others conditional? Sure, we may not have deserved to be treated in such a way but it is no healthy road taking the one filled with resentment. We may wish that they would get what’s coming to them and pay for what they did. But this has no room in forgiveness and simply put, it’s one of the most difficult things to get on with. That being said, I really do believe that no one gets away with anything. It may appear as if they are loving life, but if they intentional in hurting or just too selfish to consider others, then they can’t be at total peace with themselves. I think that God can make known these convictions and we just have to trust that He will be at work in it and it isnt our place to interfere with that sometimes. You need only to be still, the Lord will fight for you. Exodus 14.14 and He will fight for what is right, whatever your opinion of what that may look like may be. 
  3. Its hard to accept. You can spend many hours invested into over thinking ( perhaps you are the opposite and try to mentally brush everything under a rug) But there comes a time when you simply have to accept that what happened wasn’t right but you cannot change people or you cannot fix all the circumstances either. Our situations cannot be fully understood sometimes. I might not be able to comprehend or work it out in my head why so and so treated me in such a way but I will have to accept that it happened and not dwell on it. All easier said then done. 
  4. Who do I tell? Sometimes a hurt can be overhelming or just plain confusing, and we need an outside perspective. Sometimes you might feel isolated in who to talk to because you have mutual friends with the offending party. I was really fortunate that I had people come to me and pour into my life with wise words. My eyes were opened up to some things that I wasn’t so sure about. I would definately encourage to seek people you can trust to confide in and be honest with. There may be the temptation to update your facebook status and tell the world how so and so has treated you. But this is exactly the opposite of healing. Hurt doesn’t even out  with more hurt.
  5. You have to see them. It may be uncomfortable to be around someone who has hurt you but I guess there are some situations we cannot control, and banishing an individual forever out of existence isn’t an option. It is important to relieve the pressure that says you have to still hang around them. However, when we do have to be around them, I believe that saturating ourselves with compassionate and empathetic thoughts about that person will aid in the process of healing. I try to imagine the circumstances they are in or why they might tick in the way that they do. Sometimes this is beyond understanding but it will help in viewing that person as a human with goods and faults, and less of the monster you can create in your head. It can be difficult if you feel like they can be ‘two-faced’ amoungst your peers but you can have no regret when you treat someone with respect, in and out of their presence.
  6. When you move on. As I said before, you have the choice to allow this experience to strengthen or cripple you, for a time or even for the rest of your life. How you react internally and externally will define how quickly or slowly you heal from it. But oh how sweet the day can be when the feelings of forgiving align up with everything else and you are freed from those burdens. How beautiful that relationship can be with that person when we have experienced a little of how God has bestowed grace and forgiveness upon us when we didn’t deserve it! How about the verses in Matthew 18 where Jesus is asked about forgiving and he replies with an abundance of grace for one another. The love chapter is quoted so much at weddings ( 1Corinthians 13) and it states that love keeps no record of wrongs! Makes us question as to whether we really love that person! And thats how God loves, with no record of wrongs, when we seek His forgiveness. He has the power to make ‘beauty from ashes’ ( Isaiah 61), from all of our chaos and mistakes we make. He has the power to heal us from the deepest of wounds!

I’m sure there is much more that could be written and hope you can relate or add insight to these few points. I think a lot of it still applies to those who have done the hurting ( which I can raise my hand to that one too!) but here are just a few more things to note about that.

    When I’ve hurt someone…

1. Be honest. As someone who has hurt others and who has experienced being hurt, it is absolutely necessary to be completely honest. You must be honest with yourself and with others. When you ask for forgiveness, verbalise your wrongdoings because believe me, the person you have hurt (as well as yourself) can see right through the excuses you might be tempted to make. It doesn’t heal effectively and your dishonesty will actually hurt you the most in the end. No matter how good an actor or person of peruasion you may think you are, it just won’t work when seeking the forgiveness of others. It is tough to ask forgiveness and it is humblng, so the opportunity to cover up and make yourself look good is tempting but in the end, you look worse off because you look like a coward. The truth is freeing and it may not make things better immediately but it is always the correct choice to make.

2.Forgive yourself. Sounds lame perhaps but I have been there. You blame yourself and are ashamed of your selfish actions so you keep yourself in a place that plays those moments over and over in your head. You think that if you spend enough time in this type of purgatory then everything will be alright. But that person may not choose to forgive you ( only hurting themselves!) and they in fact, may want to hold you in that place too. I’ll never forget when I did something that brought pain to another and even months later, they admitted that the things they were doing were an attempt to keep making me feel bad. That was someone who struggled with forgiving, but I wasn’t responsible for their response. I had to remind myself that I sought forgiveness and that God had forgiven me, which was the most important of all. 

3. Accept the change. You are only in control of your actions and not the reactions of others. You have to accept that that relationship might not ever be the same, and perhaps a time of mourning so to speak may have to take place. Sometimes however, a relationship can be stronger because its foundation is built on complete trust and a deeper sense of the word, love. Whatever way it now goes, give time and space for that to happen and learn from it all so that you don’t repeat that pattern to others!

And lastly, look to this wonderful example and remind yourself often that :

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving even though we have rebelled against him. Daniel 9.9