2015 The Year In Review – Kerry Botha, the yin and yang of Charlie Brown
Today concludes the series of guest posts, looking back at the year that was 2015; as the year literally wraps itself up. I could not imagine a more appropriate person to conclude the series, than my dear friend Kerry Botha.
When I started my blog in late 2014, Kerry gave me endless hours of input on draft blog posts, particularly in terms of my writing style. Thanks to her tender guidance, I was able to leave behind the business orientated expositions university had taught me to write, and seek out my unique voice. I will forever be grateful to her for this special gift, one that has empowered me to engage my passions through this blog.
Join me as Kerry shares her 2015 with us.
2015 started and ended with Charlie Brown for me – the beginning marking the tragic January 7 attack on the editor and staff of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and its end, an outing with family from Aus to the Peanuts movie. Sadness and joy pretty much sums up the pendulum swings that were the highs and lows of 2015 for me.
A quiet champion of press freedom, I got behind the Je Suis Charlie movement and posted a dejected Charlie Brown cartoon on my FaceBook page.
From Paris, world events rapidly unraveled with the Greek financial crisis, intensification of war in Syria, sweeping terrorist attacks, droughts, floods, and refugees. Not to speak of South Africa’s own tumult with the #feesmustfall student protests and more recently the calls for #zumamustfall, following our revolving Ministers of Finance, which played yoyo with our already poorly exchange rate, and increasing public disaffection with corruption and poor governance.
Bad news aside, 2015 was also a year when I dug deep to find personal joy and peace to counter the external chaos. Deep into my faith and circumstances (I am a Christian) – really questioning my place and purpose on planet earth, and deep into how I want to invest the rest of my life.
I have managed my own PR agency for 27 years, and while I have loved the work promoting others, I reckon it’s time to give both personal and creative expression to thoughts and ideas, I have carried around for a while. 2015 did that for me, the pinnacle of which, was a magical 12-day cruise in the Baltic, and the launch of my travel blog Kerry Travels.
With family, and now my daughter, in the UK, travel has been a mainstay and passion of mine over the years, and I have found real joy in sharing my experiences and impressions of places I have been fortunate to visit. I also had some amazing weekly encounters during my art lessons on a Tuesday.
In the quest for creative self-expression, a few things stand out for me in 2015 – the three days I spent in St Petersburg; a pub lunch and Jesse Clegg concert at Johannesburg stalwart The Radium Beer Hall, both on the bucket list for far too long – and the Luke Daniels’ portrait exhibition at the Jo’burg Art Fair, as part of a wider appreciation for the honesty and abandonment of citizen art and expression.
My cruise on board the Azamara Quest, took in St Petersburg. After slowly and somewhat regally navigating the Neva River, we finally berthed some 500 metres from the Hermitage Museum. The city’s founder Peter the Great was a naval man and so it was entirely apposite to enter the city by ship. Once called the Venice of the North, transport across the city initially was entirely water borne, until the now famous open bridges were constructed in the 19th Century. Peter used his considerable wealth and power to commandeer Europe’s finest architects, designers and artisans to execute his vision of a capital city to rival the finest on the continent.
Today the city overwhelms with the opulence and excess of the Tsars and Russian nobility, the former splendor now settling into slight tawdriness and decay, serving only to enhance the authenticity of the place. The scale and spectre of the sites, and the poignancy of Russia’s modern history so evident everywhere really moved me.
Radium Beer Hall
A pub lunch with my daughter Rachel and boyfriend Philip at the Radium Beer Hall, and later a Jesse Clegg concert with friends at the same venue, affirmed my love for the ugly pretty city that is Jo’burg, and the hidden gems that have withstood the test of time and social upheaval, together with the wonderful peeps in my life that make living here particularly special.
Luke Daniel is a Cape Town photographer. His Tjappies van die Point exhibition involved a photographic look into the world of South African prison tattoos and the characters that wear them. I love the raw honesty and purity of the work, which manages to transcend the harsh circumstances of the lives of those photographed.
2015 was also a year to reconnect with family. Having lost a parent and step parent in the last four years, my eldest daughter now living overseas, with the second, a year or so away from leaving the nest, I have come to appreciate how fragile and transient life is. I am happy to have spent quality time with both my husband’s and my own family this year – coming together recently with a night at the movies watching my all time favorite Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang!
Prospects for 2016
From an economic and socio-political perspective, I believe 2016 will be challenging and transitional offering stark life choices. I believe it will be exciting as well as offering fresh opportunities to do business among other things. I plan to do more writing, continue to explore my creative self, spend quality time with friends and family, do good to those who have been placed in my life, and celebrate all that this planet continues to offer in abundance – I have one life to live and I have never been 56 before, right?! Got to be something in that.