It’s that time of year, as December nears to a close, when many of us look back at the year and ponder it’s pros and cons. We consider our achievements, holidays, relationships, happy memories, and sad ones, too. 2020 has been a dark year for us all – there’s no doubt about that. But, I refuse to write it off as a bad year and not think about the positives.
I’ve quoted this before in a piece about grieving for my Dad in 2017, and I’ll quote it again here:
“Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore.
Something I’ve been reminding myself of regularly since we entered the first lockdown in March, is that we won’t get this year back. We won’t get an extra year tacked onto the end of our lives as a year in lieu simply because this one was dreadful. So I’ve been making an effort to seek out the light, make this year count, and recognise the positives where I can.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have had moments of light this year, and I’m very aware of my fortune. I hope that whatever your 2020 has been like, you’ve been able to experience even just a small amount of joy.
Here are some of the things I’d like to remember from this year…
I celebrated my 32nd birthday in the Wye Valley
Luke whisked me off to the Wye Valley for my birthday in January (which honestly feels like approximately seventeen years ago now…). It’s right by the Forest of Dean, and one of our favourite places to go in the UK. Our Airbnb was gorgeous, the sun shone, we went for long walks in the crisp winter air, before snuggling up on the sofa under a blanket and watching films. We also called by Worcester and had lunch at Be The Change, one of our favourite vegan eateries.
I had laparoscopic surgery to diagnose endometriosis
I still need to write about this, but if you read this post, you might know that back in January, I had laparoscopic surgery to determine whether or not I had endometriosis. You might think finding out that I do is a negative thing, but it was a relief to know what was causing me so much pain. My surgeon was able to burn a lot of it away, and now my monthly pain levels are significantly lower. More on this to come!
I discovered EMKFit workouts on YouTube
Emily Thorne, a young Canadian woman, has kept me moving this year. In May, I stumbled across a video of her doing a Disney-themed HIIT workout on her friend’s YouTube channel. It was so much fun, and viewed by so many people that she then launched her own YouTube channel, and has been providing weekly dance-style HIIT workouts ever since. She’s currently on 129,000 subscribers, and I completely understand why. Her workouts have some incredibly fun themes, including 90s club hits, Shrek, classic rock, Taylor Swift, Hamilton, Mamma Mia and more. You can find her here.
I wrote the first draft of my second novel, and the second draft of my first one
It’s been a great year for writing! I started the first draft of my second book in February, and was about 70,000 words in (very close to the end), when lockdown hit. I couldn’t write for months because I didn’t have the head space, but in September, I picked it back up, and finished that first draft. Then in October, I started the second draft of my first novel, and got that finished, too!
Working from home has been the dream
I’m very lucky to have kept my job this year, and it’s very easy to do what I do from home. I work in marketing, and the majority of my work can be done from anywhere, as it’s largely copywriting, designing, and coordinating digital campaigns. The only thing I can’t do from home is organise physical events, but as everything has moved online, that hasn’t been a problem. It was a bit of an adjustment at first, as we all scrambled to get to grips with MS Teams, Skype and Zoom, but I’ve loved having the opportunity to work from home for so long. I don’t have to commute into the city, my work-life balance is better, I can take a step back if I get stressed, and I love being at home with my cat, mocha pot and Christmas tree.
Successful virtual event at work – VE Fest
Speaking of work, one thing I’m really proud of from this year is the Virtual Employability Festival (AKA VE Fest, haha) that I organised with my work bestie. We didn’t know how it was going to go, delivering an online festival during turbulent times, but it was more successful than we could have imagined.
Whilst I’ve barely seen family and friends, I have spent a lot of time with Luke, and that’s been nice
Luke and I have spent a lot of time together this year, and I’m pleased to report we still get on very well, and neither one of us is filing for divorce. It’s been a real silver lining this year.
Another work achievement for this year – I set up Fri-Yay News, a weekly newsletter for our department. I included good news stories from around the globe, team highlights and big-ups, uplifting Covid developments, funny things from Twitter, and other happy things like happy playlists and positive podcasts. Big up to Jodie and Adam for helping me! You’re the best Senior Editor and Social Media Correspondent a gal could ask for.
Discovering some small businesses
Support for small businesses has been so important this year, and there seems to be more awareness of the importance to shop local, and shop small, than ever before. I’ve really enjoyed discovering new businesses that I can support. Some of my favourites include Inky in the Wild, Clemie’s Vegan Cakes, and Junk Jewels.
Christmas – our first one just the two of us!
Christmas was definitely strange, as it was the first one I’d spent away from the family home up north. That being said, Luke, Toby and I still had an enjoyable day. It was very relaxed, the sun shone, we had a delicious Christmas lunch, and then rounded off the day with our usual Fajita Friday. I also got thoroughly spoilt!
I set up a writers’ club for me and my two writing pals
This has been a really nice social event, albeit virtual. Each month two friends and I meet up over Zoom and discuss our current works of progress, as well as share ideas and advice. We all write different genres; one YA, one fantasy, and one romantic comedy, and I really enjoy hearing about what it’s like to write different genres.
We went to the Shropshire hills in the summer for a mini-break
We cancelled our trip to The Netherlands and opted instead to enjoy a few days in the Shropshire hills. We picked a gorgeous Airbnb with a huge floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the countryside – great for watching the thunderstorm on our first night! – and enjoyed a change of scenery together. It was so nice to get away, even for a just a few days.
I’m hoping to make more great memories in 2021. Here’s to a brighter year for us all!