This is a descent into year-end like no other ... the past few weeks have felt like an avalanche of news so gruesome it is hard to believe it's happening.

Writing down my rage at the list of events on both local and international stages left me feeling wretched — and noticing the craving for distraction that then arises, because sitting in the fire of those feelings of horror and hopelessness is not comfortable and the search for relief is instinctive.
.

It matters what we choose to pay attention to. So what follows is a round-up of some of the people who have been a source of inspiration this year.

.
I needed to find something between those two extremes — something that would make me willing to get out of bed in the morning, and that would add some value to your Saturday morning.

It matters what we choose to pay attention to. So what follows is a round-up of some of the people who have been a source of inspiration this year.

Advertisement

Thank you to all the traders whose Saturday mornings start so very early, setting up at the River Traders market.

More than a source of local food or weekend brunch, it's a place to hang out and catch up with mates and acquaintances. It's great to see the market help incubate new entrepreneurs like SourBros and Light + Vessel, both businesses I've enjoyed writing about this year.

Full respect to Sarah Williams and all she's done at Space Gallery to nurture new talent and showcase thought-provoking art. It's brilliant news that 2018 only brings an end to Space Gallery in its current form — bring on the bigger version next door in the new year.

I'm feeling grateful to have disappeared into a series of brilliant novels despite the relentless pressure of work, and I offer thanks to the district library and its helpful staff (I'm amused to see how abolishing the modest fees for renting magazines and placing holds has changed my use of the library — I bet I'm not the only one borrowing more.)

I've now had my mitts on three books that made the Man Booker Prize shortlist, and am queuing for a fourth, thanks to prompt acquisitions by the library.

I've just finished Everything Under, a compelling, challenging and thrilling read, all the more remarkable because it's the first novel by its 28-year-old author, Daisy Johnson. How is it possible to be so young and that brilliant? It's very cheering to be blindsided by such towering talent.

Also filling my head is a just-released new album by fiercely independent New Zealand musician Mel Parsons. Her voice just keeps getting better, a great reminder that sticking at your craft and doing the work yields results.

As much as I despaired about the amount of time I spent over a five-month period this year on several feature stories for the Chron about our district's dog pound, it was also extremely satisfying.

I saw parts of the city I've never been to, listened to eye-widening yarns from Bernie-the-ranger and met the most dedicated people who just do not give up when it comes to saving the lives of vulnerable, helpless creatures.

It all seemed worth it when I heard that euthanise rates at the pound had tumbled to just four dogs in November — that's down from a high of 44 in July last year and an average of 26 per month since I've been analysing monthly stats.

There are multiple factors at play but I reckon media scrutiny played a part in nudging council toward new processes that see more dogs rehomed rather than put down.

Another long-term commitment this year has been my Tuesday evening meetings with a delightful man I now consider a friend. We were paired up by English Language Partners, headed by the indefatigable Jane Blinkhorne, and it's been a privilege to volunteer to help my friend with his English.
.

I have new appreciation for just how challenging it is to emigrate, to leave behind a culture and language that is so different from ours. Everyday things I completely take for granted can be so daunting to someone still learning English.

.
As I've slowly learned more about him and his family and his reasons for coming to New Zealand, I've gained fresh insight into many things, starting with what a baffling language English is.

I have new appreciation for just how challenging it is to emigrate, to leave behind a culture and language that is so different from ours. Everyday things I completely take for granted can be so daunting to someone still learning English.

My friend works very hard and long hours and he's a devoted father and husband. He and his wife fit in formal ESOL classes and meetings with their tutors, plus go to church and put loads of energy into their kids.

They have given up so much to come here, motivated in large part by wanting a different kind of life for their children. It's humbling and inspiring and I value all that I am learning from our exchanges.

*Rachel Rose is a Whanganui-based writer. More at www.facebook.com/rachelrose.writer