Goodbye 2021

Goodbye 2021

Here we are again, at the end of 2021 and what quite honestly, feels like the quickest year in history.

As I write this, I have poured myself a glass of my favourite red wine to celebrate my favourite day of the year and getting my first negative lateral flow test! I was hoping to be out of isolation today but was still testing positive yesterday, and the UK rules state that you must test negative twice in a row with a 24 hour period in between, so I’ll be free tomorrow, all being well!

I think this might be my first New Year’s Eve I’ve spent at home in my whole life. I was feeling a little sad to not be seeing 2021 out surrounded by people and celebration tonight, moreso because I was supposed to be spending this New Year with my best friends in a beautiful cabin in the Welsh woodland. It’s been planned for over a year and it has kept us going through numerous darker times. But on Boxing Day, as you know if you read the latest The 5 Minute Coffee Corner: When COVID Strikes… Again, I caught The Rona, and was still testing positive until today. But we’ll rearrange and get there in 2022.

Something that I wouldn’t have been able to do, however, had any form of original plans been happening this weekend is spend a wonderful few hours this afternoon on what I can only describe as the most soothing, wholesome journalling workshop led by one of the most wonderful humans on the planet. Marianne Power hosted a “Goodbye 2021” journalling workshop and I feel that my soul has been calmed, settled, and prepared for 2022. There is something about a zoom call hearing about a bunch of stranger’s experiences of 2021 that can pick you up out of any funk and remind you that there is goodness all around us, even when things feel bleak.

As we head into 2022, I am feeling grateful as ever to be here with my loved ones around me.

Highs of 2021

I relished the prospect of a normal life again this year. OK, things have been far from normal but on the many occasions I’ve been able to spend time with family and friends, going to pubs and bars, other people’s houses, and just being together, I have felt such happiness and contentment. I experienced what can only be described as sheer, profound joy the first time I went back to a gig, and I literally cried with joy at the first Courteeners family reunion gig that we were all used to attending annually. All of the things that years ago wouldn’t have crossed my mind to make this list because I simply took them so much for granted have become the absolute highlights of my year.

I was lucky enough to holiday in Cornwall with my in-laws and go bodyboarding for the first time in over 20 years; me and my gorgeous niece spent hours in the waves and practically had to be dragged out. We camped in beautiful places, ate incredible food (might have eaten my body weight in Cornish pasties) and I loved it all.

I spent a weekend in Anglesey with my family, another place that I adore so much and I truly appreciated every moment of being able to be together, eat and drink in pubs, and do all the things we couldn’t do for so long. And I FINALLY got to go back to Spain, not once but TWICE, because such are the perks of working remotely. I can work from anywhere, so I choose Spain. Always.

Oh, and I also got qualified in wine. Yep, I’m Level 2 WSET Certified now, so not only do I drink copious amounts of it, but I actually understand it and have developed a real passion for it. And yes, there is such thing as a qualification in wine.

Lows of 2021

There has sadly been a few lows this year, but even the lows are not the lows other people have experienced, and for that, I can only be grateful. Of course, COVID is still rife, we started the year with it in our house and we’re ending it with it. I am extremely fortunate however to have made it through another year without losing anybody, as I know so many others have not been so lucky. If this is you, my heart aches for you and I am sending you so much love and strength.

March saw the first of several bouts of burnout. I often think about how much I enjoy working for myself, but this year has definitely shown the downsides. No secure income with a mound of vet bills, no paid time off, no ability to be sick, and none of the perks I was used to such as two days off a week. It was quite a shock to the system this year. My relationships and friendships have taken a hit, I have missed out on a lot of events, and I’ve found myself working 6/7 days a week for the vast majority of 2021. Honestly, I’m tired. That being said, this is all a learning curve and a lot of it is about balance. As a freelancer, it is on my shoulders to earn more money and allow myself time off. Can anybody guess my priority for 2022?!

It is only now that I can accept, acknowledge, and say out loud that my mum nearly died in April, after an operation went wrong and they pierced a hole in her bowel which then led to sepsis. She was unconscious for so long, and nobody could visit her because of COVID and it was a battle trying to get any updates from the surgeons. I was trying to support my Dad, my family, and myself, whilst keeping up with work, and it was possibly the longest, hardest week of my life. I still recall the sheer joy I felt when I received a text from her for the first time, it said “xxx” (which means kisses for my non-UK readers). It was all she could manage and it reduced me to tears to hear from her, it might even be the best text I’ve ever received. She eventually recovered and I have counted my blessings every single day since because I know other people have not been so lucky. I love you so much, Mum, and I’m saying it here because I know you’ll be reading like you do with all of my posts.

My dog has been poorly for most of this year with recurring UTI infections, costing us an absolute fortune in vet bills, and leaving me feeling in a constant state of despair. When people ask me why I don’t want a child, I think about this year, the money we’ve spent and the heartache I’ve felt to know my poor baby is struggling and there is nothing I can do (because apparently even spending all of my money on vet bills doesn’t do anything to help!), and this is one of the reasons. I have found it so difficult and learned I’m really not good at these things.

And as the year began to draw to a close, it feels like it was a race to get as much pain and suffering in before the year was out. I have been surrounded by friends and loved ones who have experienced the most unbearable traumas in these last few weeks and months. Lives have been completely thrown up in the air, relationships have been shattered, people have lost or almost lost those closest to them, and there are numerous ongoing grave health concerns and uncertainties for people I love dearly. And in most cases, I am helpless. The reality of the uncertainty of life and the good fortune of those of us who are healthy has never been more prominent.

Looking Ahead

So highlights and lowlights aside, what’s up for 2022? First priority – BALANCE. Whoop – there it is, my word of the year for 2022.

Balance.

2021’s word was confidence, and I can proudly say that I well and truly hit that goal. Turning down work that doesn’t serve me? Check. Increasing my rates? Check. Setting boundaries? Double check. But in 2022, I will seek more balance. I have taken on more freelance work, left my job at the wine bar, and am looking forward to having a bit of a life again, with two days off a week at the weekend. Or at the very least, one and a half. Consistently. EVERY WEEK.

And second priority for 2022, MOVE HOUSE. We started to think about moving house this time last year, but it hasn’t really been a possibility for us this year. But having put it out to the universe for pretty much the last 12 months, we’ll make it happen next year.

Concluding Remarks

Not quite sure why this post has suddenly become an academic essay with this heading, but I’m going with it.

Some of you may be reading this, particularly my low points, and thinking that I’ve had it good this year. And I have, there is no denying that. I am blessed and I am grateful. But it is also important to me that I am honest and share the good and the bad, however trivial it may seem to some.

I have had some beautiful times this year, and the most joy has come from the things I once took for granted. I swore after last year that I would never take things for granted again, and I have definitely lived up to that this year. Spending time with my family and friends, even in our homes is now a blessing. Going to gigs and feeling the sense of collective joy and unity has been next-level. And finally travelling back to the country that stole my heart when I lived there all those years ago was indescribable. In 2022, I will be making all of these things a priority.

In the journalling workshop I mentioned earlier, we wrote a letter to 2021, and at the end of it, we concluded with “Goodbye 2021, I thank you and I release you.” and honestly, it felt wonderful. So I did this and I would encourage you to do the same. Leave anything that hasn’t served you in 2021. Thank it for the good it has brought, no matter how small, and take forward those people, those memories, and those good things in your life. Make 2022 what you want it to be.

I’m sorry if 2021 has been awful to you, I am a firm believer of allowing shit things to be shit. My heart has broken for friends and strangers alike when I learn of what they have experienced this year. I’ll be toasting to all those lost at midnight. But without hope, we have nothing, and I only hope that 2022 is kinder to you.

Happy New Year, dear reader, I’m wishing you a year filled with an abundance of happiness, joy, and love. May your suffering be minimal and may the year be kind to you. See you in 2022!

2 Comments

  1. Doris

    With tears in my eyes I wish you and James all that you wish for yourselves. I would like to banish 2021 from my memory but I can’t because my Debbie was in it. But, I am looking forward, with hope, that the Pandemic will end and we can all get back to some kind of normalcy. So, Happy New Year to you all. I do hope to see you sometime in 2022. Love to you as always. Doris. x x x x

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