2020: A year beyond redemption? End of year reflect, review, reset …

This morning when I exclaimed ‘What a stunningly beautiful day’ my husband said ‘That’s just 2020 trying to redeem itself, don’t fall for it, it’s beyond redemption’.

Undoubtedly it has been a tough year and in our lives as in many lives there have been unrealised hopes and plans, losses and pain. Additionally I have been acutely aware of the inequalities in life chances, access to education and healthcare etc this pandemic has brought into sharp focus. However, as I grieve all the losses I also give thanks because 2020 hasn’t been all bad … there have been times of being thankful for the smallest of things, the beauty of nature, a mug of tea, a telephone conversation with a friend.

At the beginning of the year I decided to post using the hashtag #photoaday on Instagram as a variation to a gratitude diary or blessings jar/jar of joy. So most days during 2020 I have posted something that is in some way meaningful to me, something that brought joy, something I am thankful for. Most of the shots are literally snapshots taken on that day with my phone, a few were memories. I haven’t attempted to beautify them to make them ‘insta-ready’ because that is not their purpose. As I look through the photos I am reminded of all sorts of things that have been meaningful, brought me joy and given me a sense of thankfulness in this year. These are some of the things I am thankful for:

Relationships. For family, for friends, including many new friends I have made this year and for our dog, who sadly died this summer. For the way many people have shown care for others in different ways in response to the pandemic, putting others before themselves, something I find both humbling and inspiring.

My body. I have been better about pacing myself which has enabled me to continue working to achieve greater stamina and strength. This additional stamina and strength has been evident in what I’ve been able to do compared to even just a year or so ago. From the housework to the everyday (ish) walks, to the C25K, to the up and down cliff top walks, body boarding and swimming on holiday. I have also developed a healthier relationship to food. Growing some produce in the garden, cooking and eating has brought pleasure, relaxation, and a sense of achievement. In particular I love baking.

The high days and holidays. After welcoming in 2020 with our traditional get together with friends January got off to a great start. The 100 Stories book launch was a good excuse for an early January trip to London. We stayed overnight in a hotel in Bloomsbury where my husband was working at the time. I packed a lot into 36 hours and enjoyed visiting the British Museum and mooching around shops like Cornellissen and the LRB Bookshop and slightly further afield exploring Covent Garden, especially The Actor’s Church and Royal Opera House as well as seeing China Town on our way to Soho for a meal out. At the end of the month we visited family in The Netherlands with our son and his girlfriend. We had lots of beautiful but cold beach walks and hearty meals together. In February a friend and I visited her native North Wales to housesit for her daughter. It is one of my favourite places and I love the history, the landscape, the people. During lockdown we were blessed with good weather and after the lockdown had ended enjoyed a few memorable socially distanced family get togethers in the garden. At the beginning of the autumn we spent ten days in the West Country in an area we last visited when our children were young. Cue lots of happy memories. Last week, after we’d all strictly self isolated for a fortnight we were able to spend Christmas Day with my parents which was truly wonderful. The last time we had been able to enjoy a meal together inside was in early March. As I think back I find myself drinking on the memories of the special times this year.

My word for 2021 is faith. So I finish this blog with this poem.

THE GATE OF THE YEAR by Minnie Louise Haskins

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” 
And he replied: 
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” 
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God,trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

Wishing you all a blessed New Year.

With love x

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