So Long 2020, and Thanks for All The $#!+

this too shall pass cedar mountain product photography hannah spray photography
this too shall pass cedar mountain product photography hannah spray photography

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There were positives and negatives, elation and depression. Kind of like every year, but like no year I’ve ever experienced. As the locals in Thailand would often say to us when we asked questions in relation to things we were familiar with, “Yes. Same, same. But different.”

Here are some of the highlights from this past year, and some of the bummers.

SAD times

Over the last few years I’ve really started to notice the pattern of the change of the seasons affecting me. January, in particular, is a consistently tough time for me. I thought I had prepared myself for that to happen as 2020 drew closer, but it caught me off guard and slapped me in the face with depression and a host of other issues cropping up before January 1st could even hit. So there was that. Not a great way to start off the year, especially with all the pandemic junk that came shortly after.

hannah spray photography

The positive here is that while this year has been one heck of a challenge, it has forced me to face some pieces of my past that needed (and still need) tended to. I’ve also found some coping strategies that have been helpful to me, and have become better at communicating the hard stuff to the people that need to hear it.

My New Running Habit

To improve my mental clarity, find some personal space, and care for my health, I started running (in late March, I believe). I found myself a lovely loop route that would take me from my house to the ocean and back, allowing me to pound out some of the excess energy and anxiety while I took in the incredible West Coast landscape of this island.

I ran almost every other day since I started, in the early mornings before my family would wake up, watching the sun rise. Once the skies stayed darker, I’ve still kept up with running at least once a week, on the weekends when I can head out in the light without having to be back in time for the Mister to leave for work (someone has to be here for the kiddo). Seeing as I’m on full-time homeschooling mom duty since March, the chance to be alone with myself and my thoughts without interruption, and have the freedom to go where I want, has become a big-time sanity saver.

Witnessing Humpback Whales in Mexico

Just before this whole COVID thing became our reality, we spend a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, soaking up sun, sand, tacos and relaxing together. It was a very different vacation from our usual family travel adventures, but a much-needed reprieve together from the stresses of the previous few months. The sunshine really does wonders for me.

divorce beach cabo san lucas mexico hannah spray photography travel

While we were there, we were lucky enough to be on one of the beaches when humpback whales (breeding a short way off the peninsula) swam by. I’m working on a post about this experience that will hopefully be ready to share soon. I did share about an interesting glass factory that we visited there, that you can read here. (I’ve been going through some updating and reworking of this website lately, so the posting has taken a back seat until today.)

Routine Exercise

This year I created a habit of working out that has stuck. Most days I fit in 3o minutes to an hour of working out on my yoga mat in my living room. Often it’s in the evening while we watch Netflix, because that’s what seems to work best for me, but I’m looking forward to joining in again on Bellyfit classes through Be Inspired Fitness (an awesome local mama’s business). I’ve enjoyed her previous classes on the beach, but this time we’re going the virtual route. It will be nice to have a morning routine blocked off just for this.

Paddleboarding Adventures

This summer my 6-year-old and I pretty well lived on the water. We took full advantage of our inflatable paddleboard to explore different areas of the lake and other areas. It took us to a variety of beaches we couldn’t have found without it, both locally and on camping trips on Vancouver Island.

The freedom to go out and soak up sunshine and spend the time outside with my little girl felt so good (as did the satisfaction that learning to load and strap the paddleboard on top of our Xterra all by myself brought me).

Communication

My husband and I have done a lot of work this year to become better at communicating with each other. I’m finding it easier to say what I need or talk about things that might be tough to say or for the other to hear. I’ve certainly got a lot of work to keep doing here, but it does feel good to at least feel more confident in speaking up and saying what you really think, feel, or know. If you don’t speak clearly and honestly, everything gets messed up. Clear, direct honesty is what I desire from everyone. If you’re one of those beat-around-the-bush types of communicators, I strongly encourage you to start saying what you’re actually thinking and save us all a ton of time and stress trying to guess at what’s in your head. No one wins.

New Friendships Made

This year was lacking on the social side, but despite not being able to spend time with friends like we did before (we were social butterflies pre-COVID), we were given the opportunity to make new friendships and rekindle previous connections with families that likely wouldn’t have happened if things stayed the way they were before.

Being forced to rethink how we socialize and who it is with has given us new connections and caused us to think carefully about the people we spend time with. Beyond the illness risk, we’ve realized that who we hang out with can impact how we feel, think, and behave in big ways, and when we are selective with the who, we can better be and feel like the people we want to be.

Embracing the No-Plan Plan

Life is very uncertain right now. The past 10 months have taught me that nothing is guaranteed, and that the only thing you know for sure is now. Go ahead and set goals and make loose ideas for what the future will look like, but setting anything in stone right now is silly. No planning allows for things to work themselves out when the time is right for plans to be made, and keeps us from having to shuffle too many things when plans fall flat. Instead of wasting time trying to make decisions that are uncertain, I’m putting a pin in a lot of things that are absolutely in the plan, but just can’t iron out the details yet. Going with the flow.

Boating on the Lake

This year we made it out on the lake in G’s little fiberglass row boat to fish dozens of times. It was easily one of my top ten things about this year.

No More Preschool

As much as I loved my job and the community and the incredibly special space of that one-room schoolhouse I used to manage and teach in and out of, we had to make the choice to homeschool our daughter this year and have me stay at home with her. Pros and cons to this lifestyle change, but I will always treasure my days at the schoolhouse.

Shot My First Wedding

In terms of my budding photography business, this has been a great year. My income from this type of work has more than doubled from last year, which wasn’t huge, but is definitely helpful and growing!

product photography salt spring island

I took on a large product photography project (which I’m looking forward to working with again in the new year). I also had a handful of private photography clients when that was possible (restrictions at the moment make photography work challenging/not possible). The biggest highlight of my year with photography was being hired as the photographer for my first wedding.

I have always maintained that wedding photography was something I didn’t want to get into, but after having that opportunity, I could easily see myself enjoying more of these kinds of events with my camera. You can see some of the photos on my Instagram or Facebook feeds, if you’re interested. I’ll write a blog post on my new photography website in the future, but it has some other priorities to get to first.

We Made Our Wills

This was a huge adulting to-do list item that has sat on the back of our minds for years (about seven of them, in fact) that we finally accomplished. It feels good to know that if anything were to happen to myself or my husband, that our Z would go to a safe place with people we trust to raise her, and that all our finances will be in order to pass along to Z when she’s old enough, and help to support her in the mean time.

Treehouse Build

Building a treehouse was another to-do that was on our list since we bought our home. This spring and summer we worked together and separately to construct a super cool playhouse in our backyard trees for Z (and ourselves, really). It was a really interesting and satisfying experience in figuring out all the steps involved in building something of that scale.

I certainly feel stronger and more capable for having been a part of this big goal achieved.

Meal Planning & Cooking

With the challenge of going grocery shopping as seldom as possible, I was pushed to get back to properly meal planning. It feels like we’re spending more each month because the grocery bills are higher, but we go so much less that I’m sure we’re more likely spending less than when we were popping in every day or so and grabbing countless extra items each time.

I’ve also taken on the majority of the cooking, seeing as I’m the one in charge of groceries and homemaking while I’m at home. This has been a beneficial practice for me, and I’ve gained a fair bit of experience with different recipes and just general kitchen knowledge. Again, I’m a far way off from a pro, but I’ve made progress this year, and it feels good to reflect on.

To Brighter Days Ahead

While 2020 was rich in opportunities for growth, it was also a year I’m glad to leave tucked in the past. Farewell 2020, and may 2021 hold more positive news than disappointments, and more clarity than kindness for all of us.

What Has 2020 Been Like for You?

I’d love to hear some of what the last year has presented to you. Please take a moment to share in the comments something meaningful to you.

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