It's always fascinating to see how the emergence of spring seems to lift the weight of winter off some people's shoulders.

Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] really is a thing, and its impact on wellbeing is keenly felt by many folk each year. With fewer daylight hours our serotonin and melatonin production can drop, which in turn can have a significant impact on our mood and can also affect our sleeping patterns. Feelings of general tiredness, low motivation, changes in appetite, and anxiety can result. The arrival of a change in seasons is literally enough to lift the spirits. However, be mindful that as our bodies adjust to the changes in daylight hours, some SAD impact may still be felt over the next few weeks. This is a good time to try and increase your time outside, change your office around so you can sit closer to a window and soak up the sun, or make a plan to enjoy a morning or evening stroll with a good friend.

With all this talk about the seasons changing it's a good time to thank everyone who got involved with our recent Winter Wonderfest. The third annual festival programme ran for nearly three weeks and was jam-packed with opportunities to celebrate women and our community, to meet new people, and to be inspired. With music, movies, movement, creativity and even a bit of politics, there really was something for everyone. Huge thanks to all our festival partners, sponsors, presenters, and supporters for making it all happen. The festival certainly finished with a flourish thanks to a super sassy visit from Emily Writes on our penultimate day, in conversation with Nicola Patrick, Emily shared tales and excerpts from her recently released book Rants in the Dark. The packed house at Lucky Bar + Kitchen laughed until they cried as Emily shared her experiences about parenting, childbirth, and the ensuing expectations of motherhood.

Our finale event on August 31, Songbirds and Storytellers at Space Studio and Gallery was one of those evenings that sparkled with so much richness and diversity. Gallery owner Sarah Williams shared an intimate video of her reading a story to her daughter. It was utterly delightful - as was a cameo appearance by her boyfriend Jordan who sang a stunning version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Steph Lewis also revealed her singing talents, reducing some in the audience to tears with her beautiful a cappella rendition of Sarah McLachlan's Angel. Rachael Garland revealed herself by removing the head of her full-bodied gorilla costume, a performance in and of itself. Her reading from a Victorian book articulated the dangers of self-pollution, and we were all left rather thankful that times have changed in that regard. A mythical adventure of daring, written at around age nine, was an original offering from Josh Chandulal-MacKay. After reading aloud the first chapter the audience wondered when it would be made into a stage play, or the movie rights snaffled up by Peter Jackson. More story-telling ensued when Terry Sarten took the floor. Many of us were expecting him to sing, and were rather moved by his original writings about the horrors of life and war in the trenches during World War 1. A couple of sing-alongs were in the mix, Nicola Patrick presented a warm tribute to the late Dr Chris Cresswell which culminated in a chorus of voices with Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi. The dynamic and talented District Court judge, Lance Rowe, performed a rather charming Somewhere Over the Rainbow, including guitar accompaniment from Terry Sarten, and a saxophone solo to finish the song with a flourish. The enthusiastic audience happily sang along with a second rendition, complete with arm waving and body swaying. Christina Emery and Tyler MacDonald tag-teamed for their performance, a good old-fashioned tribute to radio plays, complete with sound effects behind the screen as the story of a former mayor who was murdered unfolded before our eyes. Kathy Cunningham had the audience interacting by asking what spring means to us, and Marianne Archibald reminded us all of our childhoods with an inspired reading of AA Milne's classic poem, Disobedience. Jay Rerekura left everyone wowed with his heartfelt performance of the classic Sam Cooke song, A Change Gonna Come. It truly was a remarkable evening. Standing ovations all around.