A joyful review of 2021

OK, 2021: It’s time to say goodbye!

I don’t know how best to summarise this year because it was filled with so many highs and lows – and there are still a few hours to go! If I were to balance the highs and lows, I might find myself in a “neutral” zone. But I know that some of the highs were memorable enough that the year, ultimately, gets to go down in history as good – if for no other reason than that I have moved forward in life in some big ways.

The lows for the year were miserable. I was quite unhappy in my (old) job and as the year went on my stress and anxiety levels increased. Things improved in the middle of the year when I interviewed for (and accepted an offer for) a new job – but then I had to deal with more stress during my three months’ notice period and even more stress with my visa delays. It means I was basically a ball of anxiety for the first 11 months of the year.

However, even when I was experiencing quite unpleasant stress at work (had I been staying, I’d have been filing complaints with HR and the union) I found plenty of moments of joy to keep me going. And that’s what I’m going to focus on here: The joyful things from 2021.

Those joyful things include:

January: The first month of 2021 was a little crazy with a violent, traitorous insurrection at the United States capitol, but by the 20th we were welcoming a new (and improved, although not perfect) President of the United States of America. And whilst I recognise that’s not about me, I do believe that it’s a vital moment in 2021 that must be recognised. (Plus that, there wasn’t anything monumental in my life in January, other than the installation of a new president.)

February: There were two notable joys in February: (1) I celebrated my 47th birthday and (2) I celebrated my first dose of the COVID19 vaccine – meaning I was taking a big step into re-joining society and hugging my parents.

March: I struggled a bit in March as I hit my year mark of being (mostly) isolated. But I managed a really good walk along the River Esk and another random wander around the Roslin Glen.

April: I took a few days off work to allow myself to reflect on my life and found joy in exploring some ruins in the Pentlands – and I made some nice realisations about my grief journey when I met a recently bereaved man in the hills. Life is weird like that.

May: I got my second dose of the COVID19 vaccine, and I enjoyed a great Pentland Hills hike to find an old WWII wreckage site and some geocaches. I also made an application for a lectureship position at Napier. (Spoiler alert: I got the job!)

June: Firstly, I gave notice at my old job at the end of June. So, that was a real highlight. At the start of June, I began to slowly rejoin society, including working with the Roslin Community Garden. Oh, and I did a 15+ mile Pentland Hills hike that included 5 summits over 7+ hours.

July: More walking! Yes, July saw me enjoy a walk to Lasswade Old Kirk and another ramble around Roslin for the Rustie Walk. I even did some more planting for the Roslin Community Garden. I also marked the “milestone” of turning older than Paul which was bitter-sweet and not really a joyful thing, but I feel that it’s worth mentioning here.

August: The most joyful thing in August was my eldest sister’s kidney and liver transplant. But other joys included (finally) upcycling my Biden election sign to create a birdhouse and making my first trip into the city since March 2020 to apply for my new visa.

September: What a joyful month! I celebrated 20 years of Scotland. I took my first bus journey since March 2020. I hit two years of (at least) 10,000 steps a day. And I worked my last day at a job that was killing my spirit. Hooray!!

October: Oh, my. October was a hard month. Visa delays meant the month was spent unemployed and my anxiety grew as the month went on. But I enjoyed a great geocaching walk on the Penicuik Estate, and I had a few nice walks and chats with a good friend who was helping to keep my mental health in check during the stress. (Joy!)

November: Joy, joy, joy! A friend gave me a lovely new (to me) bike. My visa was (finally) approved. And I started my new job. I also marked what would have been Paul’s 60th birthday and I booked flights home to America for Christmas. Yeah… joys!

December: Well, that’s got to be my homeland holidays to spend Christmas with my parents! And, of course, hitting my running mileage goal for the year was nice, too. And making a gingerbread house with my Godson. But most, I’ve got to say it’s been spending time with my parents!

I don’t really know what to expect from 2022, but I know that there will be lots of ups and downs. I just must remember to focus on the ups as much as possible.

So long, 2021. You’ve been a year!

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