2021 Year In Review

I can see how reflection can be an important aspect not just as a nurse to improve our practice, but also in our daily lives to process all that we are experiencing, learning and wanting to strive for. I have learnt alot about myself this past year and although it doesn’t alway result in immediate change it does make me more aware of myself and that is the biggest step in creating more joy in life. My thoughts now turn to 2022 and what I want it to look like, but that is for another day…

There is never a perfect way to sum up any moment in life and reflecting on a year like 2021 is certainly no easier. Whilst I await all that 2022 has in store with some trepidation, I cannot help but look back at all I had hoped for in 2021 and wonder if the goals I set were realistic in the current world we live in. Thinking back to January 2021 it represented a time of great change personally and professionally welcoming a new manager and preparing to farewell my eldest daughter Lauren as she moved back to Australia to commence university.

When I wrote my “21 reasons to love 21” new year goals and ideas, I really did think that the world would soon be returning to a level of normality that was somewhat like the pre-pandemic life we all knew apart from perhaps a few additional measures. I guess like many I wanted to remain positive and “look for the good”, and reflecting on my thoughts back then I wonder whether I ended up achieving some of that. Although I usually create a list of things I want to achive in the year ahead, I ditched the idea of creating a list as such and opted to focus on reasons to love the year ahead with a heavy mention of hygge, relationships, gratefulness, creativity, and how we could instead pivot in such challenging times. I even created word cloud art to make it a little more fun!

I thought I would revist the topics I had explored: online resources, couch travel, local travel, relationships, career, and health. The main goal of course for the year was integrating everything I wanted to be and experience into my life and a few questions may help to share that with you all.

Who touched my life in 2021?

I would be lying if I said I felt completely fulfilled in my relationships throughout 2021 in the areas of both my professional and personal life. Professionally it was a difficult year and at times I felt like the expectations I had loaded myself with were too heavy. I had this crazy idea that if I worked hard enough in 2021 that I would suddenly feel enough, which often results in my trying to be everything for everyone, but of course this then leaves me exhausted, overwelmed, and feeling unappreciated. The unfortunate side effect is that I allow people to take advantage of my good nature and often blame myself for the misgivings of others as if I have a secret power to control all of lifes outcomes. On a personal level I felt much the same with the sheer distance, time and circumstance creating a chasm between myself and my friends both here and abroad, and in all honesty alot of that is because I often expect others to care about the relationship the same way I do. There were some really stand out people in my life this past year who made a significant difference for myself and my family and it would be negligent not to sing their praises. Of course I have to say my husband and children have carried me, embraced my many emotions, listened to all my stories, and genuinely cheered me on – they are the reason I get up and strive for better every day. I adore all my friends but in particular I have been touched by those who have stepped up and stepped into the mum role for Lauren as she navigated her first year away from us. I couldnt have gotten through my expat challenges without Kerry, and my friend Tammy who has also experienced the expat life moving back to Canada during pandemic times. She is inspirational in the way she loves me as a friend and also inspires and supports so many other health care professionals through her job and her podcast.

What did I read, watch and listen to?

We all have these grand ideas about reading more and I am no different, in fact I have countless books still awaiting my attention that I have bought or been gifted but are still gathering dust as I fail to schedule time for myself. I did read a beautiful book about friendship a friend sent, and lengthy amounts of journal articles on clinical supervision for my university module on Professional Nurse Advocacy. The favourite one I managed to finish was the Little Book of Hygge which helped me to find the joy in what is not matter the weather or circumstance, and led to many evenings snuggled under a cosy blanket with woodwick candles aglow. I have managed to respark my interest in podcasts again including my friend Tammys posdcast “The helpers in private practice“, Gretchen Rubins “Happier“, and it has helped me enjoy spending time cooking whilst I listen. This past year we got spotify premium and have been cultivating some wonderful playlists inlcuding alot of indie music and plenty of old classics from the 80’s-90’s.

Where did we go?

Travel was challenging for everyone world wide in 2021 and we too made the decision to stay local despite opportunities to travel abroad. We did manage to spend a week in Scotland with another Australian family from here and that felt a little like going home (except for the cold). We travelled to the Peak District where we enjoyed some beautiful walks and stunning scenery, enjoyed a Christmas market in Manchester, and explored our own backyard finding some beautiful places nearby.

When did I feel my happiest/saddest?

Individually and as a family we felt our happiest this past year when we were able to take walks at the beach for sunrise, exploring nature, and when spending quality time with people we care about – nothing replaces face to face connections. Our sad moments would have to be saying goodbye to our daughter Lauren and as I type this I feel a well of emotion rise up within me and we are so close I feel torn to have missed her 21st birthday and her first year of university, not to mention the times she just needed me and I couldn’t just be there in person. We have also really struggled in 2021 with the ongoing saga of the case against my brothers murderer making it harder to believe the two year anniversary is just around the corner, and my sister in law Carol passed away with us not being their to support family we love. Life can be challenging but it is the difficult moments that make the good ones great even if it does not feel like it at the time.

What now?

Now we are well in 2022 and we have already faced covid again in our household, sad events at home with our family challenged by the biggest floods we have ever known and the war in the Ukraine, it is time to think about what we want from 2022. How will we decide what we want to achieve, what we want to do as a family, and what our plan is for our eventual return to Australia?

How do you plan for the year ahead? Feel free to share your own goals or links to your own 2022 blog articles – I would love to check them out!

Cheers From Kent, Tams

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