So long, 2020

It’s time for another year in review. And what a year 2020 has delivered for the review! As I reflect on my 2019 review and writing my 2020 goals, I can’t help but think of the wordplay I considered for titles, all playing with the “20/20 vision” theme. And now, the theme of “hindsight is 20/20” keeps popping into my head, along with the idea of “a year that wasn’t”. But not only was it a year that was, but it was also a long year. Figuratively and literally!

However, despite the madness that 2020 brought to the world – and 2020 brought a lot of madness with it – 2020 also brought a lot of goodness and joy. Including a bit of success for my goals, which you can read about here.

The year started quite fretful for me, in part because I knew that time was running out on my visa and I needed to find a new job for when my contract ended on the (then) current one. I was worried about what would happen if I didn’t find a job in time and I feared “the worst” (whatever that would have been). But by the end of the first quarter, my visa and job fears were solved, and my fears went to the COVID19 pandemic, which was quickly impacting everything I had hoped for and planned for in 2020.

Yes, many plans were changed or cancelled whilst many more plans needed to be made. My chronic medical conditions (and my lack of a spleen) meant that I was put in “shielding” with advice to avoid The Real World as much as possible – but thankfully as we learned more about the nasty little bug I felt more confident with outdoor adventures in the hills and beaches close to home so I did get outside a lot.

Just Frances in the forest

In many ways, I think it is fair to say that 2020 has been a year of disappointments. However, I have been very blessed in the level of disappointments I have faced. Where others have lost loved ones, lost jobs, been faced with isolation and loneliness for the first time in their lives, and struggled to just stay afloat, I have survived.

Yes, after so many years of widowhood, isolation and loneliness are regular players in my life so I know how to cope with it. And rather than lose a job, I made the seamless transition from one good job to the next with relative ease and the ability to work from my comfortable home office. And whilst I personally know a few people who’ve had mild or moderate COVID19 illnesses, no one I know has been hospitalised or worse, died, from this horrible pandemic. All of these things are blessings, and I must remember that!

Indeed, I enjoyed little blessings and joys every month throughout 2020. Below are some of the highlights from the year.

January: I had a great start to the month (and the year), as I invited a new expat to join me for New Year. It felt good to share my traditions with another human for a change – although I am secretly pleased to be ringing in the New Year alone again this year. Yes, I am now a feral human!

February: In February, I celebrated 10 years of blogging at and I interviewed for a post-doctoral fellowship in Aberdeen! I didn’t get the offer until mid-March, but the excitement of preparing for the interview was a wonderful feeling.

March: I met up with my friend for a mini holiday in London and Cambridge. I didn’t know it at the time, but it served as my “last hurrah” before lockdown. I also started my new job in March, so you could say it was quite the rollercoaster month!

April: I spent April getting used to lockdown and COVID19 isolation. I helped the time pass by making a plague mask and crocheting a little coronavirus (I later made several of them for my sisters, parents, and friends). Sadly, I couldn’t make my annual pilgrimage to Paul’s grave, but I found a proxy solution which helped.

May: May was spent ramping up my running as my isolation continued. There wasn’t much more to the month than running and exploring the estate around my cottage. However, I did get outside to explore the estate quite a bit which was nice.

June: After three months of isolation on the estate, June saw me walking a bit further afield to other green spaces near the estate. I was blessed to have a friend come out with his dog for a socially distanced walk to remind me of what human interaction is like – and I made some proxy hugs for my parents and other dear friends to hold us over until real hugs are a thing again.

July: Wow! I was really stepping up my game in July! In fact, I managed 30,000+ steps on the first and last day of the month. And I knocked out a half-marathon and a few socially distanced walks with a friend.

August: I had imagined that July or August would be holidays home to America this year, but life during a global pandemic meant that I had to make do with exploring places near my cottage in my adopted home of Scotland instead. From castles to brochs and forests to hilltops, I made the best of the nice weather with more socially distanced walks.

September: Things seemed to be going in the wrong direction for COVID19 infections around the globe in September, so my adventures away from my immediate area had to end. But that just meant I enjoyed more climbs in the Pentlands and a visit to a nearby abandoned mental hospital. Oh! And I reached a full year of getting a minimum of 10,000 steps a day and my new visa arrived. Talk about highlights for the month!

October: Despite the increased insolation, I had a pretty active and exciting October that included conducting a tree survey at the nearby Roslin Moat. October also marked the (near) completion of major upgrades to my blog. It was a very emotional process, but I’m pleased to have completed this 2020 goal!

November: Ah, back to full-on isolation. But the month began with a socially distanced walk with a friend that was designed specifically so that I could reach my 2020 geocaching goals. Oh, and when I got home that afternoon, the US election was called for Biden/Harris – a highlight of the month, and the year! (I rarely get political here, but this is an incredibly happy thing for me.)

December: As with my plans for July and August, December was a disappointment as I had hoped to spend this year’s Christmas and New Year’s holidays in the Homeland with my parents. But despite that disappointment, I did find immense joy in reaching my 2020 mileage goals in December. It was a hard slog, given the state at which I began the month, but I did it!

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2021!

Looking forward to 2021, I know that, in the first few months, not much will change for my levels of isolation and avoidance of The Real World. But I will use those months to change me. Or rather, I will use those months to grow as a person, as I try to do all year, every year. But whilst I expect next year to start like this year is ending, I remain hopeful that my year-end review for 2021 will be a positive one – no matter what the world throws at me. And I hope that the same can be said for you.

As for you, 2020, whilst so many people are rightfully angry, upset, and frustrated with how these last 12 months have played out, I want to say thank you. Thank you for providing me with opportunities for personal growth and reflection. Thank you for reminding me and the rest of the world that we are all here together and that we all need each other to get through life’s journey. And thank you for all the goodness you’ve provided – even if we mere humans haven’t always recognised the good that surrounds us.

So long, 2020!

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