While the year 2020 is very unlikely to win the prize for “Best Year”, I am sure we will all agree that in the sludge of the restrictions, lockdowns, bad news, and toilet paper shortages, there were some good bits. I thought about sharing my reflections on last year but decided I would share my 2020 discoveries instead. It feels far more future-focused and actionable than thinking back to what was and could have been. I hope in part to help remind us all of the good bits and inspire us to take them into 2021.
Habits and Routine
If you’re new around here, you might not know about my reverse commute and morning routine. It is something I have had going on for years now and makes my mornings easy, smooth, and pain-free. I get done what I need to get done without much thinking, which means I have the space to think and rest before heading out on my reverse commute. I get up nice and early, feed the cats, make our breakfast smoothies and tea, and prep our lunch and snacks for the day. All before I step out of the door for a four-mile walk (or thereabouts!) It sets me up for the day, removes the need for thinking about food, and frees up my time for later when I want to do fun stuff like knitting or reading.
I know a lot of you think routine is boring, but if you set up good habits (and routines) around the things which need to be done, you can get through them without the struggle around thinking and inevitably procrastinating over them. The bonus with this one is that in times of uncertainty, you have something constant in your life, which actually helps keep propelling you forwards!
Working out in the lounge isn’t bad!
With the second of my reverse commute walks off the cards during the main lockdown, and my gym shut, I had to get creative with my exercise. From PE with Joe, to Les Mills workouts and Bollywood dancing, I gave it all a go. It was fun trying out different things and actually nice being able to work to my own gym schedule. Of course, there were the challenges of Jit and I swinging our arms in all directions in the same room, but it wasn’t all bad. It did help me to discover skipping though, which meant I could get spinny with my rope in the garden while Jit heaved some weights in the lounge.
Lockdown birthdays can be lots of fun
I think in 2020 most of us experienced a lockdown birthday. Mine was at the beginning of April and Jit’s in June. Although we couldn’t do our usual meal out or a trip to the theatre, we were able to make the most of them by getting creative.
For my birthday, Jit came up with a Crystal Maze type riddle hunt for me to find my presents, and for Jit’s I devised an at-home escape room, which was as much fun to make as it was for Jit to play. It wasn’t the usual kind of birthday, but with a sprinkle of creativity, a couple of hours getting lost in Pinterest, and some printer paper, it can turn into something memorable.
My local area is filled with hidden gems
In all honesty, I was surprised by how much I discovered in my own local area. No matter how much I wander, and read, and look up, there are things right under my nose that I didn’t know about. That’s the fun part about being a curious being. I have lived in east Manchester for almost fourteen years now and in the last nine months have learned more than I have in the whole of that time. Having that limitation to staying local meant that I made micro-adventures out of my every day walks, making research projects out of the things that I saw.
It wasn’t always about the big things either. Late in the year as we drew into the auburn-leaved days of autumn, I gained a passion for toadstools. For some reason, there seemed to be far more than there had been in previous years. I know it’s not the case, and were there all the time, but they really caught my attention. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen a plethora of ‘shroomy pictures around that time.
That I need to make more time for reading
Spending more time at home last year featured a lot of reading time. Something I love but don’t always have the uninterrupted time to really get absorbed into. We would take out exercise time early in the morning and be back for lunch, which would make room for me to read, or knit, or crochet. It was wonderful! I wanted to get one of those “My Year in Books” reports, but apparently, I turned off notifications on Good Reads, so forwent that one. I think I read about thirty-odd books though. So this year, I am planning on A) making more time for reading and B) actually record the books that I read. (not that numbers matter, but out of curiosity for what I absorbed in a year.
I miss being creative
While I always have a craft project (or seven) on the go at any one time, I miss actually being creative. Having ideas, playing with them, and fiddling with real things. Having come from an arts background, I loved nothing more than interpreting the world in interesting ways. During the first lockdown, I started dabbling with illustration again and learning how to use Procreate. I also headed out with my big camera to experiment with an analogue prime lens and get some practice photographing people (something I have only just started to enjoy as a challenge)
The last couple of months has seen the dust particles settling on my cameras, so with a fresh new year and new ideas floating around in my head (plus furlough!) I will be getting that bad boy out and about once more.
I have some other fun ideas, which I am sure will be announced here as I would love to get you involved too. We all need a bit of creativity, fun, and connection in times like these.
2020 was definitely a mixed bag. It was strange. It was awkward at times. And boy, have I missed seeing my friends and family in person (I’d love a hug!). But you know what? Nothing lasts forever and to get through the hard times, you need to find the best you can do in them. Whatever that means for you. For me, it was about curiosity and discovery. For one of my friends, it is about hot bubble baths, delicious cakes, and watching a good film. Another loved nothing more than snuggling up in a tent in the garden with a couple of books. We all have our own methods to weather the storm, but we can still look forward to different times.
Don’t think of it as a bad time, just a different time, and you’ll get through it with some great memories of a strange time that I hope we don’t see again for a long time!
Here’s to discovering more, finding things we love to do (at home or nearby), and to brighter days!
Did you share any of my 2020 discoveries? What did you learn or discover last year?
I’d love to hear your experiences, so please share in the comments below.