Naomi and Neil’s 2011 update

Given I have not done a blog post for a long time, I figured a lengthy update was required and a good chance to fill in family and friends of some of the things Neil and I have been up to in 2011 – it has been a very busy one, so grab a cup of tea and get comfortable for 10 minutes :) Oh and don’t forget to click on the bold links for more info or photos.

The year kicked off with the launch of Neil’s second Ebook – Photo Nuts & Shots (the second in a series of four). We were hoping for as good a result as we had with his first Ebook Photo Nuts & Bolts and we were pleasantly surprised with the response we got. Thanks to our publisher, Digital Photography School, which has a photography focused audience, Neil’s new Ebook proved a popular purchase yet again. Neil has now sold over 20,000 Ebooks overall, which is a fantastic achievement. He has now finished writing the third book in the series – Photo Nuts & Post, which I am currently designing and this will be launched in a few weeks time.

Neil has been busy with other photography work including weddings, an interesting light painting job for AMP and ongoing sales of his stock photography. One image, a 360 degree panorama was recently bought by the online Smithsonian Magazine, which he was rather chuffed about. Neil continues to update his equipment and learn new techniques to keep ahead of the pack, so he can be prepared to write about it in his books. In February he started assisting Phil Hart, a good friend and brilliant astrophotographer in his new Night Sky Photography Workshops. These are held at Lake Eppalock, Victoria where light pollution is low and there is a large house for all participants to stay in. Neil always enjoys these weekend workshops and hopes to continue these with Phil when he returns from his overseas adventures late next year. If you would like to see Neil’s 2011 top 10 photos from various photoshoots, check out his blog post.

I too have enjoyed getting to know the camera better and it is now very much a shared passion, with me assisting Neil on most of his photo shoots, whether they be for work or play. One of our favourite things to do is to go away for a few days with friends who enjoy being photographed, like making clothes, doing make-up or who are just wanting to be creative. We usually end up with amazing images and great memories of spending time with good friends. One photo of myself, which I love, Neil took when we went away to Hepburn Springs earlier this year. We went with 4 friends, one of them, Annie, who is a great make-up artist and she did wonders with my face as you can see from the results!

My brother Nathan stayed with us during January and February as the rental house he was in was being sold. It was lovely to spend time with him, as we get along so well and he is a fantastic cook, so we were spoiled with lovely food during his stay. Whilst here, Neil took some photos of Nathan, one of which is used on his new album cover The Glow. He headed overseas on 6th March to continue his successful music career and is still there, currently in Chicago.

In March Neil and I spent a wonderful 10 days in Tasmania to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. Tasmania is a favourite Australian destination of ours as it is so diverse and beautiful, making it ideal for scenic photography. We stayed in a number of places from the north west beachside town of Boat Harbour over to the east to St Helens, and luckily avoiding some heavy flooding on our way to Hobart. Our holidays will be minimal in 2012 as we save for our first home, however we are looking forward to joining our friends Phil and Kaz in North Queensland later in the year to witness a solar eclipse!

April saw me undergo my 9th joint replacement. This time my hip, and the 4th replacement in two years. The last four operations on my hips and knees were revisions to the first operations I had over 15 years ago, so they were all in need of a tune up. All four were very successful and by the time this last one came around, I was accustomed to the extra pain that goes along with revisions. I was very happy to have mum stay with us when I came home from hospital as an extra help around the house and for lovely needed company whilst Neil worked. So for the next few years I hope to be operation free, but my right shoulder will be next on the cards, due for revision when pain increases or it loses too much function.

Living with a chronic condition like Rheumatoid Arthritis is not all bad. I have used my experience to help others with the condition and it is something I get great pleasure out of and almost feel my duty to share what I have learned along the way so others can live a better life. My work with Arthritis Victoria (AV) has only grown this year with me joining their Board of Directors – a real achievement for me and an eye-opener into how non-profit organisations operate. I attended a board builder conference in February and was very excited to earn a scholarship later in the year which gave me a full day’s training with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

I am always available for volunteering my time for any of the AV events throughout the year and this year there were many. I did a short presentation at the launch of the Victorian Arthritis Map in front of the Health Minister, a fun role-play with a Rheumatologist at a Working Age Seminar and I spoke to three groups of 3rd year physio students about how patients with arthritis feel when working with a physio and ways to improve communication. In June I attended a 5 day Health Promotion course at Monash University which was funded by a volunteer grant I received. This was excellent and I took away some valuable lessons which I hope to be able to utilise in my work with AV and other arthritis groups. With my continued interest in ‘consumers taking control of their own health’, in July I went to a 3 day ‘Consumers in Health Conference’ in Melbourne with a few other AV volunteers. There were some wonderful international speakers and again a vast amount of knowledge was gained.

Later in the year I led my first Better Health Self Management Course with an exercise physiologist with a small group at AV. The 6-session course was developed by Stanford University and is used throughout the world to teach people living with chronic conditions to self-manage and to live a more fulfilled life. I really enjoyed it and plan to do another one next year.

I also continue to volunteer my time with Arthritis Victoria once a fortnight on their Telephone Information Line – speaking to people enquiring about arthritis and I have done 4 community talks to local groups about arthritis, one of which was to a Chinese group with a Chinese interpreter which I most enjoyed.

At the Arthritis Victoria AGM I was thrilled to receive the Margaret Strang Award for outstanding personal achievements whilst managing a musculoskeletal condition. It was unfortunate that I was unable to personally be there to receive the award but I was not well enough after my hip replacement.

My involvement with running the Young Women’s Arthritis Support Group has continued this year. Much of the support is via the online forum and facebook page which I set up, however a small group of dedicated women and regular ‘newbies’ attend the meeting each month at a local Community Centre. The strong friendships which have been formed over a short space of time is simply wonderful and I get much enjoyment out of spending time with these incredible women who are all living with some form of arthritis. In November the group celebrated its 15 year anniversary, so we had a small luncheon to celebrate this occasion at Arthritis Victoria where we received a special award from the CEO.

To fit all of these things into my life and with Neil worried about me taking on anything more, I needed to give up something in 2011. Therefore, I decided to end my role at the Bead Society of Victoria as editor/designer for the Bead Society Magazine. After producing 15 issues of Connect and struggling to find enough time to complete the quarterly 28 page colour magazine, I knew it was time to say goodbye. I also withdrew from a couple of the committees I was on there but continue to attend occasional meetings and stay in touch with members. I have not done any beading for over a year, but hope to get back to it one day when life is a little slower paced.

Some of the other fun things Neil and I have done in 2011 include going to see the amazing Tutankhamen exhibition with good friends Maria and Antanas, seeing Tim Minchin with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, comedian Bill Bailey and “Whose Line is it Anyway” Wayne Brady’s improvisation show. We also spent a couple of nights down in Sorrento, enjoying an indulgent massage and deluxe pedicure for myself!

In September I flew to Brisbane for a week to spend time with mum, dad and brother Andrew, whom I hadn’t seen for some time, which was lovely. Whilst there, dad helped to spark my interest in watercolour painting again as he had bought some new equipment and had decided to give away the pastels and go into watercolour. I hope to be able to dabble with the paints again in 2012 but need to work extra hard to make this happen!

In October Neil and I attended a 4 day photography retreat with “Snappy Shutters”– a facebook group of photography enthusiasts. We knew no-one but decided it would be fun and a bit different and we were so happy we chose to go. The retreat was on Fraser Island, one of the islands off Lakes Entrance, Victoria. There is a large homestead there which is available to groups for hire. It is a beautiful place and made the ideal setting for learning new photography techniques and making new friendships. Here are Neil’s photos to browse through and a few of mine can be seen above. We have continued to be friends with many in the group and will enjoy seeing them at future events. We have already been to a karaoke night with about 10 of them, which was a lot of fun and their “white” themed xmas party.

In December I attended a small gathering of old high school friends, some of whom I had not seen for 20 years. It was wonderful to catch up and dance the night away to 80s music whilst reminiscing about school days. We hope to catch up again soon.

With all this fun stuff, I still need to fit in some time for work, and this year was a big one. Much of my work was ebook related, with 11 ebooks being produced and launched. Nine of these are from Neil’s publisher, who continues to provide me with ongoing work, which I am most fortunate to have. Two other ebooks have come from people seeing my designs and wanting their books made. I seem to have carved a niche with my graphic design and next year looks like it will be no different, with a schedule to produce at least an ebook every 6 weeks. Given the growth of both our businesses, Neil and I were encouraged to form a company, so we are now known as Creek Studios Pty. Ltd.

The end of year was spent at Albert Park Lake with friends having a bbq and games for the kids, which was enjoyed by all. We spent a lovely Christmas Eve at my sister Rachel’s house and Christmas Day with Neil’s family. The only thing missing was mum, dad and Andrew who are living in Qld. We continue to encourage them to move back to Melbourne as we all miss them and would love to have them nearby so we can see them whenever we want to. We hope they might change their mind in 2012 and make the move back! New Years Eve was fairly low key, having a enjoyable bbq with friends.

Here’s to an exciting 2012 for all of our wonderful family and friends!

7 Responses to “Naomi and Neil’s 2011 update”

  1. Naomi,

    I loved reading your year recap! What a wonderful and successful year you had – you are right, life with arthritis is not all bad :) I am so glad we know one another and I applaud your advocacy work! Love that apple watercolor too!

    Here’s to a fantastic 2012!

    Love to you and Neil and a special hug for Betty!


    • Naomi Creek says:

      Hi Jenna

      Thanks for your reply. I too am so happy to have got to know you and hope one day we can meet in person. You have not only inspired me to push my advocacy work but also inspired me to get back into art again and I really hope to do this in 2012.

      Will give Betty a hug next week when I see her!

      Naomi x

  2. Luke Hope says:

    I really enjoyed the read! It will be good seeing you guys throughout the year, especially our trip in a few weeks. :D

    I hope you find a great new home, and even better that it’ll quite likely be close by.

    Also, the lovely layout of this blog post really shows off your design skills – no wonder you are in demand!



    • Naomi Creek says:

      Oh I am really happy that you read my post Luke. I wasn’t expecting too many other than family to read it as it is so long, so am grateful my friends are taking the time to read it :)

      Yes, will be great to do some fun stuff with you guys this year and am really looking forward to Inverloch!

      Thank you also for your nice comments on the design. There are still some lining up issues and wordpress limitations, but I try to make it look the best I can. I am actually going to try to post more this year without being as fussy with everything. I get a bit caught up with the little things too much!

      Naomi x

  3. Betty says:

    What an amazing year you have had Nomi! I’m not surprised that you havn’t had time to blog:) This is a great summary of your
    achievements. Congratulations on all of them!
    Thanks so much for your comment on my blog post. I’ve met some wonderful people this past year.
    Lovely of the amazing ‘Jenna’ to send a special hug:)
    I’m so glad you married Neil and that you are my daughter-in-law.
    Much love,
    Mum C.

    • Naomi Creek says:

      Thanks Mum C :) You’re a wonderful mother-in-law too!

      This post was focused on what Neil and I have achieved in 2011, not so much on the personal side of life, so didn’t include all the family events and occasions that go on throughout the year, which we love. I hope to include more of those things this year in the blog.

      Naomi :)

  4. There is definately a great deal to find out about
    this issue. I love all of the points you’ve made.

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