It has been a YEAR, hasn’t it? An absolute, never seen anything like it before year and while it’s not the year I – or anyone else had planned for – it wouldn’t be fair to suggest that it’s been an absolute disaster.

For me personally, it’s been a year of transformation, a year of growth and personal progression and while I haven’t achieved all of the goals I would have liked, some goals have certainly been achieved. The past few years have been huge in terms of my personal development and this year gave me a chance to put much of that into practice.

Despite everything, and while I wouldn’t want a repeat, it hasn’t been as bad as perhaps I might have expected a pandemic to be.

That is being said as someone who hasn’t suffered hard at the hands of the pandemic and touch wood, I’ve not suffered any of the catastrophic events that many have experienced this year. I’ve been lucky in that my family have been safe and I can’t for a moment imagine what others are going through.

And so, I write this blog post with a knowing that I’ve been extremely lucky and for that, I am forever grateful.

But as 2021 approaches, new goals are set and plans made, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year, the big lessons learnt, and the experiences had.

Grief |

My year started off on what seems to have been a defining factor for so many millions across the world, it started with the death of my mother’s partner. He had been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before Christmas, having had it several times in the past, and we were devastated to hear – a few days before Christmas – that it was an aggressive and untreatable kind.

She’d only known him for a year but being her first love since my father (over 29 years ago) he and his twin brother quickly became a huge part of her life. And so, by default, they became a huge part of mine.

On the 8th of January, John passed away leaving my mother, his brother and wider family devastated at the loss. He was without a doubt one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and I’m grateful that we had the chance to get to know him. His brother has fast become a dear friend of mine and while 2020 wasn’t the year we hoped it would be, I can’t wait to spend more time with him in 2021.

For me, this was a really sobering experience, as I’d never had to witness my mother feel that kind of loss and it reaffirmed my love for her. She’s a cancer survivor herself, the strongest person I know, and I can’t even put into words how incredible I think she is.

Despite everything she and Mark (John’s brother) have been through, they remain kindhearted and loving.

Restarting projects |

Ask the entirety of the UK’s population and I bet that 99.999% of people would agree that they have long-overdue planned projects and, of course, it’s no different for me. Because as much as we try, life gets in the way of the big plans that we all have.

I’m an idea’s person, an excitable person and so when those two things combine it can result in one of two things. The first is a well-executed, well-thought-out and well-intentioned project but more often than not I am left with a deep sense of overwhelm. And when that happens nothing gets started.

Hence if you were to stumble upon my laptop one afternoon, you’d easily find 10 started novels and numerous other failed endeavours. But as 2020 turned in to what it has become, I found the determination to use the time wisely.

Earlier this year I finally restarted my Politics4Youth project, something that was initially started over four years ago and in an altogether different format from the one it’s now in.

Since relaunching, I have managed to hit over 900 followers on the Instagram account with two #BlackLivesMatter inspired post amassing over 4000 likes each.

Distance can make you stronger |

For the past decade or so my extended family has been scattered across the country, with the vast majority of them opting to live in the North of England. And so distance is something we are well used too.

But 2020 has added an entirely different meaning to that, because for the first time since they moved away, we – like many, many others – have had to go months without seeing anything of each other in person.

As a result, we’ve been entirely reliant on our devices and WIFI connection, something that has actually restored our relationships and connections with each other.

It’s more than just the Zoom quizzes (of which we also partook), it’s the gifts that were sent on birthdays’ (in a way that has never been done before) and it’s the regular face times between members.

I guess that it’s forced us to make an extra effort and there’s also a sense of gratitude that we’ve all been doing what we can to help with staying safe during the pandemic.

Thankfully, when we did finally get to see each other during the summer months, it was even sweeter than it normally is. We were able to spend quality time with each other with a renewed sense of belonging having not seen each other in so long.

Discovered yoga |

This was something I referenced in my previous lockdown post but as it’s been a huge 2020 revelation for me, it was one that was worth mentioning again.

During the first lockdown, I found myself on a huge health kick and I was determined to find a form of exercise that I enjoyed – other than walking the dog that is. I downloaded a number of Yoga apps with no hope of finding one I enjoyed, especially as I’ve tried it in the past and found that I had absolutely no taste for it.

What a surprise it was to find routines that I could not only do but could really enjoy too.

I think it came from a new sense of understanding of the art of yoga but also in the sense that I could do it. In the past, I’d tried ‘beginner’ routines that were anything but and only found myself feeling embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn’t even get past stretch one.

Eventually, I found the Sweat Yoga studio and started to take some of their online classes, these were what really sold yoga to me. I loved how it made me feel, how my body and breath combined and how I was able to start my mornings feeling entirely present.

Since then I’ve joined their online subscription service and their yoga routines are now a firm fixture of my routines.

If you consider joining, I’d suggest you give the wake-up practices a go, they’re my personal fave.

Fell in love with reading again |

As soon as the coronavirus started to spread across the continent, I started to stockpile essentials and for me, that meant bulk buying books.

I’ve loved reading since I was a child and it still gives me the same kind of excitement and enjoyment that it always has, it’s never felt like a waste of time. Even the bad books are worth it.

Yet, if you’d have told me last year that I would not just own a Kindle but be favouring it, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But then again, that could be said of many of this year’s experiences, right?

I was gifted a Kindle in May and while I still love the feel of an actual book (and still choose physical books for certain editions i.e. Obama’s biography), I have really loved having the kind of instant access the kindle gives you.

That’s just one of the many reasons why I have loved reading this year and why, drumroll please, I actually achieved my reading goal this year….

Harry Potter studio tour |

As mentioned earlier in this blog post, when my mother’s partner passed away in early January, he left behind a twin brother. His name is Mark, he’s 55, super nice and has diagnosed autism, making everything that’s happened this year that little bit harder to deal with.

This year he has lost his brother – and sole caregiver – and found himself living alone in the midst of a global pandemic.

Before the virus become something for us to all worry about, we had made a number of plans with him, arranging to take him on wonderful adventures and trips. But sadly, only one of them was able to go ahead, the disappointment only further adding to his awful year.

(We are now planning on doing them next year, but it doesn’t really make it any easier for him.)

We were able to visit London in September, just prior to the uptick in cases again, and in doing so we took him to the Harry Potter Studios.

I’ve been once before, many yonks ago, but as a huge Harry Potter fan, I loved seeing the new additions and changes that had been made.

More importantly, Mark enjoyed it and while it hasn’t in any way made up for what happened to him

Confidence and challenges |

Before heading to university in 2008, I was a shy, awkward child who hated to be around people I didn’t know or feel comfortable with and while that mostly changed while I was in university, there are some scars that have stayed behind.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s talking on the phone or on camera and for some reason, it’s still something that tends to make me anxious.

I’m not good in those kinds of situations and so, I have a tendency to flake out on those kinds of experiences. Panicking at the last moment and doing everything I can to avoid them.

When I arrange things, I do them with tip-top confidence, but as they approach the walls to come crashing down. Self-doubt knocks me over like a wintertime wave and before I know it I’ve run for the high ground – away from what it is that I was trying to face up to in the first place.

When I decided to interview people for the White House Farm podcast, I feared that it would be much the same. But guess what…I surprised myself didn’t I.

Since starting my podcast – and despite feeling all of the nerves – I’ve done it.

Now make sure you go give it a listen.

And in the end, hope won |

“America’s blue, da ba dee, da ba die’

Ok, so I’m still not over the American election and to be honest, I’m not sure how long it’ll be until I am because I can’t over the fact that Biden won.

Easily the best way for 2020 to end.

Let me know about your year in the comments below.

Kay Page