We all know that 2020 hasn’t exactly been the best year. It’s had a lot of low points, but it’s really important to keep the good moments in our minds too.
Thankfully, the year hasn’t been a complete write-off. Amongst the lows, there have been some highs and, if nothing else, plenty of lessons learnt. We’ve learnt a lot about ourselves (who knew that such a vast amount of the population would be such amazing banana bread creators!?!), our communities who came together to clap the NHS, and our environment too, as we saw air pollution alone decrease significantly during the first lockdown. I think people will also agree that many of us are more resilient than we ever could’ve imagined.
As I start to look back at the past year, it’s time to reflect on the highs. In the first of a new series of Top 5’s, I bring you my Top 5 moments from what has been the most peculiar year:
1. Welcoming in the new year, and a new decade, in India
On the 1st of January, I found myself waking up in Udaipur, in the heart of Rajasthan, India.
I had dreamt of travelling to India for a long time, and in 2019, I bit the bullet and decided to make my dream a reality. I flew out of London Heathrow on 23rd December and landed in Delhi on Christmas Eve. I would spend the next 15 days travelling from Delhi to Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Mumbai, and finishing in the beach resort of Goa.
I spent New Year’s Eve with new friends, Donna, Klaus and Nathan, who I had met on the group tour I was on through Intrepid Travel, in a restaurant in Udaipur, where we ate copious amounts of food, danced and watched the fireworks as the clock struck midnight.
I spent the first day of the new year walking the streets of Udaipur and enjoying some time alone. I took a stroll to City Palace and blended in with hundreds of other tourists who, as it appeared, seemed to have had the same as me in visiting the royal household.
Despite food poisoning ruining the final few days of my trip, India was an adventure of a lifetime. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go before lockdown began just 10 weeks after my return.
2. Squeezing in visits to family and friends
It’s been a really difficult year for seeing family and friends in the flesh. Yet in many ways, we’ve probably all made more of a conscious effort to stay in touch with our loved ones, and who knew that quiz nights would become so popular again, albeit virtually!?!
I’m grateful that I took a trip home in January once I returned from India to celebrate my Dad’s 60th, and I squeezed a cheeky trip home in just before the travel ban was implemented around Mother’s Day too.
I also managed to make it home in August for a week when I was in between flats. As restrictions were easing, I was able to catch up with friends as well as family. It felt so good to see people after months apart.
Finally, in September, we managed a family weekend away in Pagham, Sussex.
Although I won’t be going home for Christmas this year, I’m grateful that I have managed to get a few visits in this year, and the time we have spent together somehow felt more precious than perhaps it normally would, and that’s certainly something I want to carry forwards into the new year. I need to make the most of the time I spend with loved ones, and make sure I don’t ever take it for granted.
3. Moving to suburbia
Moving out of central London hadn’t even crossed my mind until lockdown began. At the beginning of lockdown, the streets were quiet and there was hardly any traffic on the roads. London felt surprisingly serene.
After 6 weeks or so, my new found peace was disturbed. The street I lived on got busier and busier, new neighbours moved in and were always arguing or playing loud music at 6 am, and fights and arguments were breaking out in the street.
Then came the rats. The small block of flats I lived in had always had a rat problem, but up until the start of summer, the smell of dead vermin had been contained within the communal corridor.
This time, however, the smell of decaying rats was coming from under the floorboards in between my kitchen and the living room.
For almost 2 weeks, I had to move into my bedroom and only came out for food and to go to the bathroom. To make matters worse, the weather had been really good throughout lockdown and the summer was particularly warm, which made the smell of dead rats even worse. The smell was unbearable.
After months of non-stop noise and now the small of the rats, I decided it was time to start looking for somewhere new to live.
Suburbia was calling my name, and within just a few weeks, I had found a lovely little flat in Kingston Upon Thames. In August, I made the move to suburbia and haven’t looked back since. With the river on my doorstep and being only a stone’s throw from Richmond Park, Hampton Court, and Bushey Park, and only a 20-minute train ride from London Waterloo, I now feel like I have the best of both worlds, the city and the countryside on my doorstep.
4. Creating more ‘me’ time
Before lockdown, there was only one word to describe my work-life balance: dreadful.
My job had never been 9-5 (the downside to working with volunteers!), but since my move to London in 2015, my work-life balance had completely gone out the window. My emails were through the roof, and there was an ever-increasing number of evening meetings, which would usually mean travelling into the city from our Fulham office, and not getting home until after 10 pm. I’d have to grab a takeaway or a microwaveable meal on the way home, and eating late had been doing nothing for my digestive system.
Whilst I struggled with adapting to working from home to begin with, I soon found my feet.
I set myself some clear boundaries ensuring I worked no later than 6 pm (7 pm absolute tops) unless I had an evening meeting. I set myself a routine to ensure that I incorporated a workout at the end of the working day, before making a home-cooked meal. This left me with an evening to enjoy for the first time in years.
Even on the evenings when I had to attend an evening meeting, as these were now hosted virtually from the comfort of my own home, I could walk from the lounge to the kitchen in less than 30 seconds, and dinner would be on the table within an hour of the meeting finishing (even quicker on the nights my boyfriend cooked), meaning my digestive system was happy once more.
Having more spare time in the evening, allowed me to focus on self-care and hobbies I had neglected for a long time (I’ve just finished making my Christmas cards which is something I haven’t done since I left the Shire for the big smoke).
It also allowed me to focus on my personal development. I signed up to webinars to enhance my knowledge on improving social media engagement, as well as webinars for women who were making career changes. I also spent a lot of time practising my new-found knowledge and grew my audience, both here on WordPress, as well as across my social media accounts.
I also started to read again, something I hadn’t had the time to do, or been in the right head-space for, for a long time.
Most of these changes came about before my job was put at risk of redundancy in August. Whilst I’m unsure of what’s around the corner career-wise, I am determined to take my new knowledge, skills, and a much improved work-life balance into the new year with me.
5. Spending quality time in our ‘bubbles’
Bubbles had a whole new meaning in 2020! Who knew we would be living in them!
Although we weren’t supposed to bubble up with people at the beginning of lockdown, my boyfriend and I decided early on that we were a limited risk to each other, as long as we weren’t mixing with others.
He started coming to mine more often, and would generally only return home for clean clothes and to feed his pets.
It was a new experience for us both. We were so used to working unsociable hours, we rarely found ourselves with the luxury of being able to spend quality time together. Deciding to more or less live in one household, was one of the best decisions we have made. We adapted quickly to spending more time together (minus one minor red-headed moment from me) and would take it in turns to cook and do the washing up.
Once restrictions started to lift and we were able to travel further afield, our time together became even more precious. We’ve managed to make lots of new memories by going on weekend adventures. Whilst I’m a country bumpkin at heart, and he’s a city boy, he was open to adventuring in the Surrey countryside, which he found himself enjoying.
Lockdown has been tough for a lot of couples, but thankfully for us, it’s made us stronger and has brought us even closer together.
Once I started to think about my favourite moments from the last 12 months, the list grew to far more than the five I have included here. Whilst it’s easy to get consumed by the pandemic and to think it has all been doom and gloom, it hasn’t.
If you’re feeling a bit down about 2020, why not sit down with a good old fashioned pen and paper and think really hard about some of the good things that have happened this year. They don’t have to be big things. I often find it easier to start small. If like me you have spent lockdown in the UK, the weather for one has been incredible, right through from March to the summer, and then we were treated to an incredible Autumnal display, which made the year a lot more bearable. Perhaps you discovered some new music, or re-read a favourite book?
Why not share your favourite moments in the comments below to inspire others to dig deep and to help them find their Top 5 moments too?
Stay safe everyone and keep smiling,
The Mindful Gingernut x