"Your disk is almost full" – the latest warning message on my laptop.
It tells me I could "save space by optimizing storage". Tell me something I don't already know! The year end is upon us. The crazy slide into Christmas is happening right now – 2018 is nearly over.
My mind has been full for some time now, and my energy and focus starting to slip. A summer break is nearly here, just in the nick of time.
Time for a few reflections – highlights and lowlights, actually mostly highlights. I've had a great year with special people in my life. My children, my parents and I are healthy, and we have a wonderful place to live, surrounded by nature.
On a professional front, there remain a number of frustrations within my Horizons role – plenty of room for more progress. But I'm glad to be there. I continue to learn so much from working with Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi and 2019 will be the year for my Thrive Whanganui social enterprise work with amazing trustees around me.
At a national government level, I've been quietly impressed with the wins from the Greens, particularly around legalising cannabis. Getting the medicinal cannabis legislation to go beyond only those with a terminal illness is the right move. So many New Zealanders, Sir Paul Holmes, Helen Kelly, and probably someone you know, need cannabis to help with pain.
We've just had the end of single-use plastic bags confirmed as coming into effect in the middle of next year. So many people in Whanganui have led the charge on this valuable and symbolic change.
Internationally, the voices of young people continue to gain strength, particularly in the climate change campaigning space. They're not waiting for leadership, they're displaying it themselves.
So I'm coming to the end of an amazing year but am conscious I'm one of the lucky ones. For many, this period is tough for a variety of reasons. I share this beautiful edited excerpt from Rachel Macy Stafford's book Only Love Today that I found on her Facebook page The Hands Free Revolution for those people:
"You never wanted to know the pain of caring for a parent who doesn't remember you.
You never wanted to be the strong one.
You never wanted to know the car could be a safe place to cry. But you do.
You never wanted to know a family could break.
You never wanted to know how to put the pieces back together in a new way.
You never wanted to know a new normal. But you do.
You never wanted to know it's sometimes necessary to sever ties in order to have inner peace.
You never wanted to know how hard it is to say to yourself, "Change begins today. My loved ones deserve better."
You never wanted to know the weight that's lifted when you say to yourself, "It wasn't my fault." But you do. You do.
Perhaps as time has passed, you've discovered that to deny your story hurts more than the story itself, so you've chosen to own it.
To speak out, even when your voice shakes. To tell the truth, even when it's not pretty. To encourage someone else, even when you can barely encourage yourself. To get up and face the world, even when you can barely look in the mirror.
The tears that streak your face at the most inopportune times of the day, at the most inappropriate moments, are the lines of your story. Each time you own them, someone else is not alone in his or her story. Your jumbled mess, whether whispered as a prayer to one or shouted in desperation to thousands, could be the message someone needs right now. And perhaps by sharing, your pain will have an unexpected purpose.
Although you never wanted to own this hard story, it could grow unexpectedly beautiful on you."
To all those I've connected with in 2018, good tidings of joy and Meri Kirihimete.
Nicola Patrick is a councillor at Horizons Regional Council, works for Te Kaahui o Rauru and leads a new social enterprise hub, Thrive Whanganui. A mum of two boys, she has a science degree and is a Green Party member.