I awoke on Boxing Day and it hit me; this time of year, usually signifying endings and beginnings was in fact very much a ‘middle.’ Loss washed over me, drowning my soul in profound sentences that were shaped by the emotions of shame, isolation (shame’s best friend) and a smidgen of disbelief. This ‘middle’ that we are sitting in, I reminded myself, had months to go. There were months behind this middle point and many months still lie ahead. I pulled up the blanket right up to my neck on that day and pondered how on earth I might make it.
Life has changed in so many ways, in so many different ways for just about all of us. As I overused the analogy of the same storm, different boats, different rescue equipment at all my events, this is undeniably a universal experience that is quite different from other experiences that I can draw upon. This is global. There is nowhere to hide (well, apart from New Zealand it seems which looks dreamier by the day!).
Right up to the bitter end, Christmas for many was going to look like Christmas for the many who are forgotten year after year after year. I felt grateful to have Christmas Day with my children and their partners as they dutifully trotted to have a Covid test before we could commence. And then they left. And I was alone. Again. In the middle. With months to come of this life of living, working and studying at home alone with Milo, my gorgeous canine friend. And while I have adapted far better than I would have predicted, I’m missing the scent of humans, the closeness of strangers, live arts, getting on a train, arriving in a new town, hugging people I’ve only previously met on Twitter, the smell of chestnuts in Leicester Square, the cosiness of home knowing there is a busy world going on out there and I chose home.
Gratitude being my go-to ascension from despair I pondered the year and actually, amidst it all, it has been amazing. So here goes. The highlights. The highlights of 2020; a very different year.
- JANUARY – a month of naivety and ignorant bliss!
- In FEBRUARY I turned 50 which felt like an incredible gift. I am healthy, I am strong and I am still living life with the enthusiasm of 5 year old.
- When my work stopped overnight in MARCH due to being entirely based on travelling, large groups, overnight stays and close proximity to humans, it was not long before organisations I had never worked with came forward and asked me to work with them online. Current clients paid me in advance for work to be done later in the year. I felt held. As a self-employed person, anxiousness about what lay ahead was never far. But the actions of others enabled me to manage my own responses to what was happening. THANK YOU! The word ‘lockdown’ embedded itself to daily chatter.
- I showed up on Twitter live video for 21 days of Self care in APRIL under the hashtag #21daysofselfcare (you can scroll the hashtag and find some of them. They are not slick. But they are honest).
- Also in APRIL I was asked to write a book for Routledge which I agreed to, providing that I could hand it in by 1st October.
- By MAY it was clear that this situation was not going away and I needed to figure out working online properly so I started running my own public events rather than working only for organisations. It felt quite risky but the feedback has been incredibly positive by those who attended.
- In JUNE I realised that if I was going to survive another lockdown I needed to be alone and I needed another house. So I ended a 5 year relationship and put an offer in on a newbuild.
- JULY brought sunshine and a mortgage offer
- The boxes got packed and the removal van arranged because I had managed to go from offer to completion in just 8 weeks. G.R.A.T.I.T.U.D.E. And in AUGUST I moved in.
- In SEPTEMBER I handed in my manuscript, ahead of time.
- Having been accepted at the University of Oxford to undertake my DPhil (PhD), the term began, online and it was intense!
- NOVEMBER was a bit of a blur of working, studying and working and studying, both activities for which I am very grateful.
- And that brings us neatly to DECEMBER; a world of tiers, tears and hope. Yes, hope as the vaccination (our only hope it seems to me) is rolling out across the country.
So there is always much to appreciate, much to reflect upon and much to learn. And of course, there have been the amazing connections with people, albeit virtually. So many friendships and relationships have blossomed and grown during this year.
Boxing Day is a few days behind us now and acceptance has replaced loss as I feel able to move forward, from this ‘middle’ and know that we all be together again soon. We really will…..