Opening the jar of wishes

LillyPilly Tree, decorated by author (Dec 2014)

You know that saying…..the one about cups. Well, it’s always bothered me. My cup is neither half full, or half empty. I’ve suspected for a while that my cup is just about right. Opening the Wishes Jar reinforced this belief.

On New Years Eve 2013, a group of us put wishes in a jar; scribbled lists on scraps of paper. Some wrote resolutions; aspects about themselves that they really wanted to change. Others wrote wishes; things that they would like to do, have or achieve. We wrote these lists in secret, and promised to keep them sealed in a jar until the next New Years Eve, where we would share what we had written. As we had shared a number of New Years together, there was no doubt that we wouldn’t be doing it once again, in twelve months time.

When the calendar came to an end, I had forgotten what I had written. So I had no idea if I was ‘on track’. A couple of days ago, we gathered on New Years Eve for a barbeque and drinks. Eventually the hostess brought out the jar, and we all randomly selected a piece of paper to read out. I was very nervous, even reluctant, to let someone read mine out. Especially before I even had a chance to read it privately. However, I went along with the group norms. And was surprised at what the 12-months-ago-me had set as goals. As someone who never even attempts to write an annual list of resolutions, I was surprised at the outcomes. So what where these wishes?

1. Ride a Motorbike: I think at the time I generally did mean to ride, not own. And I did ride a motorbike. Late one January night, I jumped on the back of a motorbike near Kep, in southern Cambodia. The region’s electricity had just gone off, leaving me in the dark and far from town. A stranger, who I had been having a beer with, offered to take me back to my motel. Being the safest option, and most appealing, I jumped on. First he showed me his amazing shack, with a three-walled bedroom that was open to the sea, facing a pier that fishermen tied up to every morning. I had a great time, riding through the dark, feeling at ease on the back of a bike.

Later in the year, I jumped on the back of a scooter in Bali, Indonesia. It was the best way to get to and from the closing party at the Ubud Writers Festival. In my purse I had a newly acquired International Drivers Licence, hoping to hire a scooter when I was in Bali. Which I didn’t end up doing, as the streets were extremely hectic; I’m not that silly.

When I wrote wish number one, I think I was just wanting to jump on the back of a bike. However, by the end of the year I owned a brand new V-Star Cruiser. Crazy, I know. Now, 6 weeks later and a few instances of wobbling, I’m really loving being back on a bike.

Verdict: Well and truly Achieved

2. See Uluru: Originally I had hoped to see the sunrise over Uluru on the day of my 5oth birthday, in January. Instead, in July I joined friends on a road-trip to see Uluru for another Karen’s birthday. Just being there was amazing. Being there due to the generosity of others was more than amazing. (People answered a plea to buy my book, so I could afford to go on the trip after my job had disappeared).

Verdict: Achieved

3. Publish my Second Book: The Procrastination Bird made a huge nest in my writing room, and invited all its friends to move in throughout 2014. Well, not really. Having hit about 75,000 words into the draft, I realised that the point of view was all wrong. Not only faced with the need to change first person to third person omni, the chronological order was also out. Making these changes is like wallowing in a pit of lumpy custard. It’s just so hard to get out off. And sticky. I’m sure I’ll eventually get out, and book number two will be published late this year.

Verdict: In Progress

4. Go Overseas: Not sure why I put this one on the list. I had only ever been overseas once (Independent Samoa), and had no plans to leave Australia again. Well, about 2 weeks after putting that piece of paper in the Wishes Jar, I found myself overseas. passing through Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam. And not for a holiday. My younger brother passed away whilst travelling. I accompanied my parents to Cambodia to deal with the various authorities, as they had never been overseas before and they are getting on in years. One day I might write in-depth about that particular journey. Not yet, though. The rawness of those memories still need to fade a bit more.

In September, I found myself overseas yet again. Not really planned, but part of my new philosophy of living life to the fullest. I’ve seen enough people I care about leave earth too soon, too suddenly. Being faced with mortality is the kick I needed to stop wasting my allotted time. I also wanted to jump back on the saddle, and not let the Cambodian experience put me off travelling. So off to Indonesia I went, to volunteer at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali. It was a truly wonderful experience, and I can’t wait until the 2015 Festival. I’m also planning to go to Myanmar (Burma) in March, alone, having discovered that travelling solo is very rewarding.

Verdict: Achieved with Mixed Feelings

5. Take a Sunday Mystery Drive: Mystery Drives is something I used to do with a particular friend. Over the years, we are still friends but our lives aren’t the same any more. We didn’t do any Sunday Drives in 2014, despite promising each other that we must do it soon. However, I still participate in mystery drives, on my own. Now that I have a motorbike, mystery drives are not just confined to Sundays.

Verdict: Ongoing

6. Say ‘YES’ to Opportunity: There are way too many instances where I have said ‘yes’ to share here. Many times in 2014 I have taken a different path, tried something new, grabbed life by the horn, and successfully silenced my inner introvert. Turning 50, as well as grief and loss, is the perfect incentive to saying yes to opportunity.

In Ubud I crossed paths with Jenny, an expert in the Art of Yes. An older woman than myself, Jenny has spent a large part of her life travelling the world, saying yes to adventure along the way. Despite being in her company for such a short time, I learnt not only the importance of saying yes, but how practising this fine art can lead one to the Fountain of Youth.

Verdict: Perfecting

7. Meet New People: Perhaps a year ago I meant that I would like to widen my friendship group. Not sure if that happened, but I think that I’ve taken steps to do so. I have tried to be a bit more outgoing in social settings, instead of hiding behind my mobile phone. At the end of 2014, I made myself go to every single network/industry seasonal event I was invited to. It was scary (especially the state Writers Centre drinks, where I didn’t know anyone), but I enjoyed getting out a bit more, and listening to people.

I made more connections in the on-line world, networking and sharing with people on Twitter and Google+. Some of these kind people inspired me to write, sent messages of support during the dark moments, and wrote very touching reviews of my first book. So I don’t care what anyone says: real communities can be found via social media.

Verdict: Just Getting Started 🙂

All up, as my list was read out on New Years Eve, I was pleasantly surprised at all the wishes that had come true. And for those that hadn’t, or were not yet completed, I am confident that they will eventuate in due course.

Everyone else, plus a few extra people, wrote new lists, and placed them in the Wishes Jar until the next New Years Day. I didn’t. I don’t really know why. I just didn’t feel it was the right thing for me to do. Perhaps I’m now happy to accept whatever comes my way. Maybe I’ve got enough to work on at the moment. I wonder if I’m scared at jinxing things, or finding out that what I put in the jar is not really what I want.

More likely, it’s because my cup is just right at the moment. Despite some steep downs amongst the ups of 2014 (some of which I have shared in previous posts, and some that I won’t share publicly), I’m doing more than okay. I’m content with my just-right, half-way cup.


Wishing everyone Happy New Year. May 2015 fill your cup with good health, laughter, love and peace!


  1. Good on you Karen. I love that idea. I reckon I might steal it for New Year’s Eve this year. I reckon it would be a great activity for my teens.


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