Well Happy New Year to you all beautiful people! Blimey. That was unexpected right? Not sure there is a crystal ball on the planet that could have predicted the wild ride 2020 gave us. Our 2020 diaries have countless crossing’s out and rebooks. Our homes have never been more lived in. Our families never felt more important. I sat reflecting on the year, sparkly pj’s on and a glass of wine in hand on New Years Eve. I let my mind take a mental wander through the months, to remember all that had passed.
Perhaps surprisingly, I found myself smiling, (and not just from the wine..). I found that actually, I felt completely at peace with the year and all it brought with it. I can’t look at the year as awful as my husband had got through the entire year cancer free! Something that we could only dream about for the 3 years prior. It was a beaut of a year in that regard and I feel full of gratitude. I do want to make it very clear though…you are entitled to feel however you feel about our buddy that was 2020. Whether that is peed off, excited, frazzled, whatever. Your feelings are your feelings and they are justified.
So, New Year’s Eve I sat there trying to think of a word that summed up 2020 for me. My first thought was resilience, but then I discarded that as I have had to be far more resilient in previous years! So, if I was to choose a word of 2020, for me it would be Clarity. Ironic really given that I spent a lot of this year wondering where the flip my life was heading next! I had a lot of brain dumping to do to work through the fog. Let me share just a handful of some of the reflections that brought me to conclude that was my word.
Reflecting on the Year
I feel I need to start this part with total honesty. I think my frame of mind was maybe a little different to others as I eased into 2020. Those of you that have been keeping me company here on Kerry Life and Loves, know that my family has had to show resilience by the bucket load the last few years. Nik’s cancer journey brought so many lessons with it, and funnily enough, those lessons gave us great standing to cope with what 2020 threw at us. I felt pretty well equipped mentally to deal with it. I am not saying for one minute that some days did not challenge me. That would be a total lie. Some days I felt like I was losing my mind! But, I realised as I sat reflecting on the year, they were few and far between.
Over the last few years Nik and I have become used to having our wings clipped. While he was on treatment, we were unable to leave the Country and indulge in our love of travel. We learnt to be patient. This skill in being patience came into it’s own in 2020! So many travel plans had to be cancelled. We did manage to enjoy a trip to Sofia which we returned from literally days before the pandemic hit. We also managed a trip to The Cotswolds and a London Staycation when the restrictions eased briefly.
We are so grateful we were lucky with that! The pause in our travel really gave space to reflect on how we travel though. It totally reinforced and clarified my absolute determination to continue to travel more sustainably, mindfully and purposefully. We have missed travel so much!
How do you think you will travel moving forward? Will you travel differently after Coronavirus?
Loss of Income but Found a pot of Gold!
I work self employed, as a facialist and skincare therapist. When Coronavirus hit, my industry had to shut it’s doors. I lost my income over night. I did not qualify for furlough as I had not been self employed long enough since “retiring” from my skincare spa I owned. While I am not pleading poverty in any way, it was tough. Really, really tough to not have my own income. I have worked since I was 13 years old. I have never not earnt my own money. Being unable to work was probably harder mentally for me, than the actually lack of money. It made me feel anxious and vulnerable. I hated it.
But again, the experience brought clarity about the direction I would like to take my work life in. It has actually given me the time and focus to resurrect a business I almost launched in 2017. I had bought the domain. I had paid for branding. I had developed a product line. I was on the very edge of launching, when Nik became unwell. It got shelved, but the lockdown has given me the head space and time to dive back in. I am So blooming excited! It feels so right. I have been working my butt off behind the scenes, and aim to launch in the Spring!!! I will tell you details about it soon (if you are interested, lol). All I will say is it fits my ethos like a glove…..
Appreciation and Gratitude
Being at home more made me appreciate my life more. Does that make sense? It brought crystal clear clarity that actually, life must be pretty good if I was missing so much! That is a good thing right? The small things we take for granted like popping to a friend or family member for a cuppa, seem so precious now. Being able to hug your loved ones. Socialising with your people. Sitting in a pub with a cold glass of wine. Chatting to random strangers in overseas restaurants. So many things that we perhaps, didn’t fully realise how beautiful they were. I am so excited to get back to it all when we can.
“Sometimes, the best way to appreciate something,
is to be without it for a while”
Also, my boys have been home more. I have two grown up sons that live very full lives. As anyone with kids in their late teens/early twenties know, their social lives are immense! They literally touch base for 5 minutes and go again some days. As much as I feel for them being in lockdown, selfishly, I have loved seeing them more. Family film nights. Family meals most nights. Kitchen parties for four. So much laughter! The clarity that I am lucky to have a life I miss, is amazing.
Reading More and Loving it!
Ohhh books have been my saviour so many times in 2020! I have thrown myself into fictitious worlds for escapism. I have deepened my knowledge of places and the planet with Sir David Attenborough books. I discovered the magic of Harry Potter for the first time (OMG). I broadened my mind with lots of wellbeing and self help books.
I have enjoyed reading so much, and I credit my heaving bookshelves to keeping me (almost) sane. I have lots of reading inspiration for you in the books and reading section on the blog if you fancy upping your own reading game. Having the time that the crazy year 2020 gave me, has given me clarity that I need to make more time to read going forwards. In fact, to take time to do things that make me happy! It is so important to make time for the things you find joy in isn’t it.
Starting Healthy Habits After a Stark Reminder
Life is fast paced for most of us. We can neglect making time for our physical and mental wellbeing. I am so guilty of that. Well 2020 kicked my butt. It forced me to recognise that I needed to look after myself more. In the latter months of 2020, I had my own health scare. I had found a lump in my breast in the earlier part of the year. Feeling that my loved ones had been through far too much the last few years, I ignored it for a while. I suppose I did not want to cause them any worry. I was stupid and should have known better than to ignore it!
However, the enforced slow down that lockdown gave me, meant I was having time to think about it. And think about it. And think about it! Forced to face it, I booked an appointment at my GP, who straight away referred me to the breast clinic. The short version is that I had a few appointments back and forth at the clinic, lots of tests and a day stay in hospital to investigate. It turned out the lump was non-cancerous. I had not told a soul that I was undergoing these tests. Not Nik, my Mum, my friends. No one. I did not want to add stress to anyone’s life. You can imagine what they said to me once I told them what I had been going on!
But what this scare reinforced in me was that I had to take better care of myself. I started making more effort to eat better. I also implemented some healthy habits like;
- Having a ginger shot in the mornings (boosts immunity)
- 2 litres of water per day
- A walk outside every day
- Journaling daily (I bullet journal too now, & love it)
- Limiting my time on Social Media
- Writing myself a self-care journal
- Talking (not texting) to my loved ones more
- Getting more sleep
- Started taking Vitamin B and Vegan Multi vitamins
- Taking time to do a proper skincare routine (I will share some amazing, natural sustainable beauty finds with you soon)
- Cooking healthy vegan meals for myself
All these things would not have come about if it was not for the time lockdown gave us. Silver lining right there!
Blog Clarification (finally)
This one was a real eye opener to me. What I thought I truly wanted, I realised during 2020 that actually, I don’t! I had decided at the end of 2019, that I wanted to see if I could turn my blog that I love writing, into part of my regular income. I decided I wanted to pursue securing more brand work and collaboration posts. Maybe due to putting those thoughts out into the Universe, that desire started to bare fruit. I had some wonderful opportunities come up and was grateful for them.
However, I quickly realised that this had a side effect. The way I saw my blog had changed. I started feeling an obligation to be on social media more. I started focusing on numbers, figures and media kits. I started feeling pressure to promote and keep a daily online presence. I started feeling like I had to keep more “niche” and “on brand’, (all terms that make a little bit of vomit come up into my mouth)! The love and simplicity of writing that I had always felt for my blog, was being tainted by obligation and responsibility.
The slower pace of life in lockdown helped me realise that my blog becoming my job was not for me. I do not want to be a slave to my phone. I want my blog to just remain somewhere I can retreat to. Like coming home to an old friend. I want to of course, still share with you lots of travel. But also more on sustainability, vegan food, fabulous eco brands. basically things from all areas of my life. Just like I used to when I started, and not have to worry that it’s all too random. I want my blog posts to return to when they were just like having a chat with your mates. Just a little space for positive vibes, somewhere to share my life and loves, and hopefully provide a little inspiration for you. I will still work with brands, but without any pursuit, pressure or pitching from me. It is amazing to have that clarity and I feel like I have breathed a sigh of relief. I am so glad I gave it a good go to be able to make an informed choice though.
Social Media Break Up
The above could have had a part to play in my total break up with my social media this year. It is a sad tale. Like all great love stories, there was tears and tantrums (that’s not true, but it sounded like there should have been). My relationship with SM broke down. I felt like we had drifted apart. We wanted different things. I wasn’t attracted to it anymore. It wanted me to be seduced by it’s flowing newsfeed. I wanted to put my phone in a drawer and forget about it. It wanted me to feel the pull of it’s vanity metrics. I just wanted to look at pictures of cute dogs. It wanted commitment. I was not willing or able to give the commitment it craved. I’m sorry SM. It’s not you, it’s me. There are perfect matches out there that will be what you need them to be. Im not your lobster SM………..
In all seriousness, me putting pressure on myself was certainly not the only reason. I had become totally disenchanted with it. I’d also become very aware that I was becoming a bit of a mindless scroller. I would literally find I had spent up to an hour a day, scrolling random shiz online. Then I would feel a bit of guilt that I was not posting online enough. I would see other posting daily, story-ing their lives and literally commenting on every person in the wolrd’s pictures, while I was struggling to post 3 times a week! I was stressing about it until I got a hold of my brain and spoke some sense into myself!
I also felt like SM disconnected me from my real life. I have spoken to one of my Insta buddies about this, and she feels the total opposite. She felt that it gave her connection during the pandemic lockdown. I felt that it took real connection away. (I have wrote before about how I feel phones can actually disconnect us. You can read it here if you fancy it). Yes I was chatting and catching up with the people in my phone, and that was lovely. I have met some absolutely fantastic Insta buddies. But, I felt it was distracting me from being truly present at times. Or used time when I could be picking up the phone and talking to the people in my actual life! I had to make changes.
In honesty, some of this feeling could be due to the fact that very few of my friends are into social media. We are just not that sort of group. A few have it for business, but that is all it is to them. A business tool. I felt like by being on social media, I was neglecting the people in my offline life, and I did not like that. I took three weeks off of socials. Then I took another month. It was what I needed and my productivity levels went through the roof. I now have the mindset that I will pop onto socials as and when I feel like it. I have kicked the obligation I felt to the kerb. Now I do not feel like it’s important to try to grow my platforms, it feels like I can just partake in it when the mood takes me. I will pop on to catch up with my Insta buddies on there, but it will certainly not be daily.
Reflecting on the year made me happy
So there you have it. A little insight to how I found the Year-that-never-was. I could go on and on about the year, but we are already at eleventy million words! It was so good for me to have this bit of reflection. Why not try it. It might surprise you how many good things actually came from it. It was an awful year in so many ways, people have suffered greatly. But I personally try to always see what I can learn from ruins. The answer was…a lot! I learnt so much this year. In fact, it has potentially been the year that changed my life!
Have you done any reflecting on the year? I would love to hear what word you would choose to sum up your 2020? Let me know. Oh, and Keep it clean you lot. I know it has been testing…haha