My end-of-year blog is usually my favourite to write. But this one felt different. It’s taken me a long time to collect my thoughts, process 2021 and decide how I feel about the coming months.
The last year has been really hard for me (and many others, I know). 2020 also wasn’t easy (you can read my last annual summary here) but it felt like I was riding a wave of shock, followed by the very welcome distraction of having my baby girl and then landing a book deal.
In comparison, 2020 has felt like a slog. As the dust on Covid and motherhood settled, I found myself feeling massively disconnected, sad and lonely. It was no doubt in partdue to being digital nomads for years (the result of which meant naturally losing touch with old friends while new friends end up being unhelpfully scattered around the globe) and then moving to a new area at the worst possible time to try to make friends. Alongside that a career I love that gave me purpose is hanging on tenterhooks. And I lost my furlough safety blanket – which although small, was in some way giving me a feeling of worth.
So here I am, feeling lost and fatigued.
The things that need celebrating
Despite all the personal struggles, reflecting has reminded me that there really is SO much good that I can draw from 2021. I actually managed to achieve quite a few of my goals. They include….
….Finishing my debut book Three Stripes South (I even got it in before the deadline) and having an actual in-person book launch. It was dreamy and I’m so grateful that the timing worked out for this to be a reality.
….Delivering talks. Although a lot of my talks got cancelled, I did reach my goal of speaking at 2 festivals (Camp Bestival and Green Man). The highlight really though was chairing a panel at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Did that really happen?!
…(almost) running 5km. I’m happy with my 4km effort, not least because I’m enjoying exercising without putting pressure on myself.
…Having a go at launching a podcast. I called it My Flatpack Family. It was a really fun little project in the last never-ending lockdown we had. It came to an abrupt ending in summer when the book came out (did not anticipate the marketing taking so much energy!). I’d like to pick it up again when I next have a quiet couple of months though.
There have also been some surprise wins from the year. Most notably winning the Shextreme Book Award (wowsers!), having the honour of delivering the best man speech at the first ever Love Her Wild wedding, doing an interview with Clare Balding for R4 Rambling (eek!) and also having a rather brilliant mini-adventure with baby in tow in Dartmoor. And I continue to live in a beautiful home that I love, in a street and area I adore with the joy of waking up every morning to a very babbly, slightly crazy 1 year old who makes me smile lots.
So, it ain’t all bad.
A life on pause
One of the best things I did this year was take a break from social media in December. I deleted Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and even shut down WhatsApp. I knew social media and messaging wasn’t doing me any good. I hadn’t realised how much until I stepped away from it. My days suddenly felt so much less busy, my head a bit less negative and I was able to award myself some space to think about what wasn’t working and what I wanted to do next.
Part of the problem I realised was that my life has been on pause for 2 years. I’ve been waiting for things to ‘open up’ so that I can get projects like the Women’s End2End relay re-launched, my expeditions back on track and my work and finances a bit more stable.
I don’t want to be on pause anymore. The constant canceling and postponing is seriously tiresome. And who knows how long this is going to go on for and even if I’ll ever be able to the same thing again (insurance for running trips is now unsurprisingly sky high).
Realising this meant letting go of a lot of things that I’ve worked really hard for, at least for the time being. But in letting go, I hope I can stop fighting against the tide and go with it for a while instead.
So what am I hoping 2022 will have in store?
Going back to school! I’m super super super excited to say that I’ve applied for a part-time Wildlife Conservation Masters at UWE – a topic I’m hugely passionate about. I’m a bit nervous about the fact that I don’t have a science background but this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m grateful that the course can fit in around childcare, keeping LHW ticking over, talks and writing….and that I’ve been able to get a loan that can make this possible. Plus I will get to finally have some human contact in my life again (fingers crossed that it doesn’t all move online).
The course starts in just a few weeks!
Writing, writing, writing! I’m working on book number 2 and I hope I’ll be signing a contract for it in the coming weeks (double fingers crossed). When I do, I’ll be able to share a bit more about what the book will be about. It’s a very different one to Three Stripes South. I’ve been asked if I’m going to write another adventure book lots and the answer is yes (Kicking the States has so many great tales to tell!), but not until this next book is finished.
Adventure! Doing the Dartmoor adventure with the family reminded me how much I’ve missed being in wild spaces taking on an unknown challenge. It’s my thing! We are planning a couple more mini-family adventures (mostly in Israel as the weather and nature is great and we are hoping to spend a month there in spring visiting family….double, double fingers crossed!). But I’d also like to do something else. Perhaps in a team and probably not too far from the UK to make it more eco and likely in Covid times. I’ve yet to decide what that is – I’m in the annoying brewing-up-ideas phase when you just. can’t. decide!!!
A rewilding project! Like so many, I’ve always had a dream to buy some land with the purpose of rewilding and protecting indefinitely. But how do you do that when you don’t have a big lump sum of money that you can afford to use in this way? Well, me and a couple of mates think we might know a way. It’s early days in the project so I can’t say much more yet but I have a really good feeling about this one. Watch this space!
(Women’s End2End Relay?! Ok, I’m doing this one in brackets because it has been postponed FOUR TIMES. If things slow down by spring though, I’m going to make an optimistic break to make this happen for the end half of summer. When that baton eventually makes it to John O’Groats I’m going to be sobbing like baby)
Rest! Because I don’t do enough of it….
Will you be setting goals? I’d love to hear them!