And so we reach the end of 2020.
The year that I rushed through my passport renewal early on to make sure it had a burgundy cover.
Right now it could be sky blue pink with yellow dots and it wouldn’t make any bloody difference.
In the past nine months I’ve written 23 posts. On a solo travel blog. About not going anywhere at all. What was once a unique and interesting, inspirational, informative or at least half-comical collection of excerpts has turned into tedious, tummy-gazing twaddle. I’ve grown tired of it. And I’m quite sure you have too.
I’ve been under the illusion that my rambling here has been helping my mental health. Getting everything off my chest and offloaded in to the open without having the additional stress of forming the words out loud seemed to be a beneficial thing to do. But I’m now reaching the point where I’m wondering whether that’s the case. I no longer think it’s doing me much, if any, good. As with any obsession or addiction, there comes a tipping point.
What once was therapeutic for me is now becoming not so. I am running a constant dialogue in my head and I want to shut it off. At the moment it’s my belief that stopping blogging and moving away from social media, albeit temporarily, since it does have its good points, will go a long way towards helping me reset my brain.
I am finding the anxiety and indecision, the checking, double-checking and rechecking absolutely exhausting. There is too much vying for my attention and it’s becoming debilitating. I feel like I’m being pulled in lots of different directions, I feel suffocated and I need to slim things down. I’m struggling with my focus; whole days go by and I am unable to quantify how I have spent my time.
I need some time out to concentrate on the basics.
The plan is ditch all the noise and to start concentrating – really concentrating – on waking up well, getting up well, showering well, dressing well, doing my job well, eating well and sleeping well. Although I’ve done all of these things in 2020, as the year has drawn to a close, my attention to them has become increasingly lacking to the point of being slapdash.
As the months after March rolled on and the initial horror of what was happening settled in to something steady but much more lacking in anything at all, I realised that I was relatively unscathed and perhaps even cosseted in all of this. There are some days that I forget how fortunate I am and I have a great big grizzly gripe to all and sundry but overall I am truly grateful for what I have. I have much to be grateful for.
I’ve endured nine months living alone during a quite terrifying era. The majority of that has been spent in a flat which wasn’t home and I was existing alongside things which, for the large part, weren’t my own. Two months of that time I wasn’t even working. I look back and it’s a blur but somehow I made it through a void of nothingness and came out the other side alive, albeit quite a bit heavier and slightly tarnished.
Fat and dull aside, it hasn’t all been bad news.
During 2020 I have had much more quality connection with people than I ever would have done otherwise. I’ve made some new friendships, let some go and cemented others.
My friends have been amazing and have undoubtedly kept me afloat.
I speak to one of my closest pals every week without fail on the phone. She’s an incredibly strong woman and she has been an absolute rock to me. Another is a flipping, flapping superstar, never too busy to share something fantastic whether it’s an anecdote about her brilliant kids or a distanced drunken picnic in a (closed) pub car park on the day I should have been getting married. I’ve friends afar – London and beyond – whom it’s not been possible to see for quite a while now. But they regularly check in to see how I am or send cards and flowers.
They are all, without exception, such good people who care about me.
I bought a new home in 2020. That wasn’t in the plan at this stage of my life. But we all know about plans! It’s a grand little place in a quiet street in a nice part of town. My neighbours seem friendly. I am safe within my own walls during the day and I am warm in my own bed at night. I have space now. A choice of rooms to sit in. Stairs to run up and down. A bath to soak in. I have access to the outdoors. I can open my own front door and breathe in fresh air any time I like. My car is just outside; I can see it from the window and hop straight in to it if I really need to go anywhere that I can’t walk to. I am fortunate that my employer has been mega-supportive in allowing me to work from home. The supermarket will deliver my groceries and I can walk to the outdoor market for my fresh fruit and vegetables. How fortunate I am to be able to limit my exposure to the now-every-day germs and nervousness that this year has brought us.
I still have my beautiful little cat. We had a bit of a scare just before Christmas. It seemed to me that she wasn’t going to make it through. But a week of back and forth to the vet, lots of kitty drugs and plenty of TLC and she bounced right back. I can’t tell you how heart-burstingly happy I am to have her sitting alongside me right now.
I still have all of my arms and legs and fingers and toes and wobbly bits in the middle. I’ll admit that I’m not really liking the way I look at the minute. I feel old and fat and frumpy and I need to sort that one out one way or another. Either I accept it or I do something about it. I’m not really a bad looking woman for my age – what I lack in beauty and glamour I make up for in style. I don’t do contouring or HD brows or yoga or the paleo diet but I like vegetables and getting muddy, I know what colours suit me and and I have a great eye for second-hand accessories.
I’ve tried to be a better person this year but I haven’t always succeeded. I’ve always thought I had a conscience, so far as time and money would allow, but I realise that there is still much for me to work on in this area.
So that’s 2020.
But what of the year to come?
In 2021 I want my sparkle back.
I want to put my self-indulgent nonsense to one side which isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do when you live alone in the current climate. But I want to be able to feed my mind with healthy stuff, or at least distract it in a good way, rather than letting it go round and round and round again before it inevitably disappears down the plughole.
And once I’ve sorted that little lot out, and started to somehow shine again, then yes there are things I want to achieve.
Writing is my one and only true love that I know with certainty I will be able to focus on once I’m in the right place again. I’d like to be able to be free to explore other means of expressing myself. Perhaps start a new blog which tackles other things or maybe even consider the possibility of doing some freelance work. I’ve been writing quite a bit in my job this year and I’ve really enjoyed it.
I also desperately want to get back into travelling once circumstances will allow. This, however, will require more than the disease to dissipate and the borders to reopen. It’s going to take a whole regathering of confidence and some reinvention on my part.
I’m not going to lie. Right now my mental health is a mess. I had hoped that some quiet time over Christmas might sort it all out. But it seems, if anything, that things have got worse. I’m constantly on at myself for not achieving very much and I’m tired of being on my own back all the time. Will sorting out the things I’ve just mentioned improve it? Undoubtedly. Though whether they are the symptom or the cause remains to be seen.
And so to tonight, the last one of the year. I’ve never really been a big fan of New Year’s Eve. The ones in 2018 and 2019 were surprisingly magical, spent with someone I adored but in the end I was destined not to share any more New Year’s Eves with him. Tonight was never going to be an easy one so rather than spending the night moping on the sofa and crying into my champagne saucer I’m dressing up and I’m going to dance all over the house as part of a free virtual event, Rave to the Moon.
I’ve set myself the challenge of covering three miles of carpet while raising a modest amount of money for charity in the process. So far I’ve more than doubled my initial target. I’m dancing in aid of the mental health charity, Mind, and if you would like to donate a pound of two then the link is here —> https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/shaunas-nye-ravetothemoon-challenge
Thank you so much for having been part of my year. I hope that I’ve been part of your year too and that it was a positive contribution, however small. Perhaps it was only a word or two which rang true, a line which made you laugh or an idea that you took away for another day. Whatever it was then that’s good enough for me.
I’m all talked out so finally I’d like to send you big germ-free hugs and the very warmest wishes for a brighter 2021 for us all.
Be bold, be brave, be beautiful.