Nice To Finally ‘Meet’ You!

Sitara Morgenster. Image supplied by the author.

Hey everyone! It’s time I write this dreaded ‘About me’ piece. It’s weird to write about myself, I’m still getting used to it. I grew up in a time when the teacher could critique your paper with red ink and write idiot whenever you started a sentence with ‘I…’

I learnt to be a writer in the pre-Social Media era, and you were supposed to ‘keep yourself out of the story’. Now it’s often the opposite, especially on Medium, and I’m still training to become a modern-day writer — after a writing hiatus of nearly twenty years!

In the photo…


13 Joan Didion Writing Secrets For Your Own Writing Process

Photo credit: Joan Didion, photographed by David Shankbone | Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes a book forces you to drop everything and just read until it’s finished. Cancel appointments. Put your phone in airplane mode. Leave the dishes. Stay up all night. One such book for me this week was Joan Didion’s ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, which I borrowed from my local library.

Joan Didion has dedicated her life to writing and, as far as I know, still is. The one who ‘cannot think’ and therefore writes. Writing, for her, is a way to find out what she thinks.

Didion wrote ‘The Year of Magical Thinking in 88 days, chronicling the first…


If this sentence resonates in your resilient heart, it will enable you to take the next small step.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I live a privileged life. I’m healthy and have a place to live in a safe country. I get to write to you. I sleep well. To stay resilient and sane, I do breathing exercises, freewriting and dog walking. I make sure I get some sunlight on my skin, stretch my muscles and hang out with cool people. I fix and create things instead of only being a throw-away consumer.

And yet, sometimes, the highs and lows in human life hit me in the chest like they did today.

I allowed a couple of emotional and practical issues to overwhelm…


New Zealand’s New Public Holiday Is Determined by the Stars

New Zealand’s new public holiday will commence next year. (Illustration by the author).

Matariki is the Māori word for Pleiades. Coinciding with Winter Solstice on the Southern Hemisphere, the twinkling Matariki signal the Māori New Year. Traditionally, it was a time for remembering the dead and celebrating new life.

According to Māori astronomer Dr Rangi Mātāmua, Matariki has increasingly become a part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s national identity. Making it a public holiday would encourage more people to learn about it.

“Matariki traditionally was a public holiday,” he told RNZ in May. “It was when Māori stopped working, they relaxed, they sat around, they ate together, they celebrated together. …


Of course not!

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Have you ever experienced a sense of delight or a feeling of remarkable calm? Even while all the drama around you continued, your bank balance hadn’t improved and your latest crush kept ignoring you? Despite the fact you didn’t move a muscle from a second ago, when you were still feeling the weight of stress, worry or burden of other people’s sorrows or your own?

I hope you have because then you’ll recognize what I mean by happiness being your natural state.


Why the Relationship between New Zealand and China Is in Flux

Image provided by author from Wikimedia Commons images.

When a foreign minister tells exporters to diversify trade agreements, and not put all their eggs “in one basket with China”, it’s likely things are about to change. But how, that remains to be seen.

The soft warning came from New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta. She referred to China as the dragon and New Zealand as taniwha, symbols for a bi-lateral relationship of “differences and mutual respect”.

A taniwha is a supernatural creature and guardian of the Māori tradition. “The taniwha, like the dragon, has the ability to understand the essence of its environment and changing conditions…


Increase Your Sense-Arsenal from Five to Eight

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

I had no idea I have three more senses to add to my descriptive powers.

All I needed to do was refer to my songwriting colleagues for inspiration.

“Sense-bound writing turns observers into participants. It is one of the most powerful tools a writer has,” explains Pat Pattison, professor of lyric and poetry writing at Berklee College of Music.

The list of articles resulting from an online search for ‘using your senses in writing’ is surprisingly dull and repetitive, as they all seem to limit you to only five senses.

Many of them contain sound advice on expanding your “sees…


Who is Tusiata Avia, Winner of the Poetry Prize 2021?

Illustration: Sitara Morgenster. Authors image: Governor House, commons license.

“It’s really important [for Pacifica people] to see ourselves [reflected in society]. I never saw myself anywhere, growing up in Christchurch during the Muldoon era,” Tusiata Avia told Breakfast News this morning, after receiving the 2021 Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry, for her fourth poetry collection, The Savage Coloniser Book.

“Being a brown girl in the seventies and eighties was very uncool. I’m so thrilled that our kids get to see themselves reflected back in a number of different places. And it’s cool to be a brown kid now; I love that. …


But to Claim it, there’s One Thing You Must Do.

Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash

His happiness column is popular. He writes for respected publications. He has a new book out. His publisher claims he is a ‘happiness expert’.

Do not be fooled.

He tells you, ‘you have to work for it’. He bases his claims on ‘research in the worlds of science, philosophy, theology, art, and literature’. He will ‘teach you how to have a better life.’

Don’t let this seduce you.

You were born happy. Happiness is your natural state. And you have all the expertise to reclaim it if you feel you’ve lost it. Like the seed that contains a tree. …


For enriched and inspired output

Illustration by the author. Adapted from an NZ Archives image (WikimediaCommons)

My brain often responds like a dead horse when I try to spur it into action in creative ways. When we try to do anything, our nervous system tenses up. This restricts the flow of blood and all kinds of stimulating, inspiring hormones that flush our body/mind system to create the state in which our ideas and output flourish, aka the biology of optimal experience. (By the way, trying too hard is different from trying out something).

This is why I’m forever interested in tricking my brain into stopping internal censorship, to let go, to open up and to release…

Sitara Morgenster

I specialise in not knowing, I find out by writing. * Off-grid in New Zealand native forest. * You can support what I do at https://ko-fi.com/sitaramorgenster

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