"Well, well, well ..." These three words came to me as someone asked me to describe 2020 in three words.
Nobody I knew had the 2020 vision to predict what was going to affect us all globally in the way it has. I know some were predicting the different aspects of what has happened and many may have seen it coming with the benefit of 2020 hindsight. Either way, I think it is fair to say that it has been somewhat of a rollercoaster.
I realise using the word ‘well’ may not be entirely appropriate when you think about it, as it hasn't been all well with the world. And, yet, being threatened with our very survival has forced our focus on our wellbeing and what it takes to be well and stay well, both physically and mentally as well as spiritually.
Well body. Well mind. Well soul.
One of the ways in which I have been keeping myself well during these past twelve months has been to express myself freely and to share my observations in my writing and doodles. I know that by creating and sharing them I have found a way not just to uplift myself, but uplift many who happen upon them.
By way of looking back and honouring this year, I have gone through my doodles and have chosen 20 of them to help tell the story of the tumultuous year that was 2020.
I remember slowly easing myself into the start of the new decade after having reflected on the past 10 years.
No fanfare or bigs goals but a deeper knowing that "... We are not our events. We are not our results. We are not even our emotions...". These were some of the words I ended the last decade with and now, with 2020 hindsight, I see how they helped prepare me for what was to come. You can read the full article here Ten Meaningful Years.
Despite my relatively quiet and reflective start, the world started the year with a bang of fireworks (of a different kind), not only forcing us to focus on our wellbeing, but highlighting the plight of the wellbeing of our planet.
The year started with stories of the terrible bush fires that were out of control in Australia, but not only there. Throughout the rest of 2020, record wildfires were recorded all over the world - from Siberia and Indonesia to the Amazon and the West of North America.
Perhaps these fires are here to teach us that sometimes we need to face total destruction before we are able to accept the need for change. I don't know, but I do know that we desperately need a new way of living that brings more harmony and balance to ourselves and our planet.
Whilst the fires raged, another type of wildfire was sparked.
When the first news of this virus called 'Covid-19' came through, it seemed terrible, yet far away and contained in China. Not for long, however, as soon the highly contagious virus spread out across the world. I noticed how, with each news item, not just the virus but the fear started spreading like wildfire.
When I go quiet and sit with fear, I find I am more able to accept what I cannot change and deal with what I can. It gives me the headspace to create a more rounded perspective and even find humour in hardship - not to dismiss the tragedy but as I connect with my heart, my emotions lift. Doodling helps me to access that place because as I express all of myself freely I open up to joy and joy is also contagious, which is why I love spreading mine.
Fear can make us fight against the things we don't understand and hold on to what does to make us feel like we are in control. It is not always a rational response but rather an emotional reaction because, as humans, we have a deep seated need to make sense of things.
One of the key lessons that Covid-19 has taught us is the importance of staying connected. Restricted travel, lockdowns and the ensuing isolation and deprivation has been incredibly hard on so many.
To find ways to stay connected to family, friends and neighbours has been an essential part of our collective wellbeing.
Zoom became a household name and a lifeline for many - both at home and at work. Choirs, yoga lessons, concerts, theatre and events all had to find ways to keep going by moving online. It gave us so much and brought many strangers together, but it also highlighted that nothing energises us as much as being together in real time.
For many, however, it was a poor cousin to the real thing and for others it just wasn't their thing at all. Whatever our preference, we can be very thankful to the amazing technologies that have allowed us to stay in touch with others beyond our four walls and for the opportunities it has given us.
They always say, when faced with terrible news, look for the helpers, because where there is a villain you will find a hero. Well, 2020 wasn't short of heroes and helpers and they came in all shapes and sizes:
From our doctors, nurses and care workers who put their very lives on the line ...
PS the picture above helped raise over £600 for the NHS Covid-19 fund and below the image of Richard Cree was one of the hospital consultants who worked on the front line in ICU and wrote about his experiences in his blog There are no more Surgeons.)
To the postmen, garbage collectors, police, shop keepers, publicans, restauranteurs, hoteliers, and all who continue to provide their much needed or loved services and many of those whose livelihoods are now on the line ...
To the incredible teachers and the home schoolers - words fail me when I try to describe the effort you have made and the dedication you have shown ...
And finally, to the fundraisers - from the marathon runners and the decorated veteran who ran and walked around their gardens to the food deliverers, the cooks and bakers, the creatives and all those who made a difference.
Captain Tom captured the imagination of the nation and eventually raised over a staggering £32 million for the NHS!
In 2020 we particularly felt our share of loss. It was felt even more deeply because we have not been allowed to mourn our losses in our usual ways. It highlights how much we value our traditions and the power of touch when it comes to grieving and letting go. My heart goes out to all who have lost a loved one.
In the context of loss, another major focus this year has been Black Lives Matters. Yes, all lives matter, but saying that doesn't actually address the real issue, i.e. we still have a long way to go when it comes to racial equality. The movement moved me and gave me much food for thought, some of which I wrote about in my 5 lessons learned post.
And, yet, whilst chaos reigns all around and all loss has been acutely felt, life's other main events still go on. Although many weddings and celebrations have been postponed, love continues to blossom, babies are born and major milestones are reached. We cannot stop the constant flow of the current of life.
Each of these events has shown us how life is forever evolving and changing. It doesn't mean we have no influence, but how we can affect change will depend on how we are able to respond to it.
If, right now, your life is upside down and you feel knocked sideways, may this message land in your heart: This too shall pass. Life may be painful and hard and the burden nearly impossible to carry, but there will come a time when the clouds will lift again.
For now, let's not measure our days in terms of 'good or bad' but in love and gratitude and remind ourselves that it is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.
Whatever this year has brought you, let's hope that there has also been a chance to reflect on what is essential in life and what constitutes a more sustainable way of living.
After all, if we are to create a 'new kind of normal' that will bring a change for the better, we first must look to bring that change within ourselves.
Onwards and upwards.
Ann The Heartworker