So, What Happened in 2021?

2021 year recap

This past year went by all too quickly, as times always does when you try to look back at it. Like a shadow following you, it never just lays there neatly behind you exactly as it did when you were casting it on the way forward.

2021 was a less-than-ideal year for many people in many ways. To be honest, I certainly preferred it to 2020: my least favourite and most difficult year to date. I’m not going to focus on the negative this year, but know it was there. I just prefer to reflect on the bright parts of the year here for me to look back on in future.

So what were the positives about this year?

Mind over Stigma – Mental Health Care

Well, for starters, I started off the year by finally taking the leap to begin an anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication I was prescribed a year before that. It was tremendously scary to even consider taking it (as I know many struggle with the same fears when prescribed), but it was a serious game-changer for me. I feel so much more like myself, and am more capable of thinking clearly through what life throws at me without running on fight or flight as a main response to even the tiniest issues.

Maybe you’re like I was: avoiding making that doctor’s appointment for too long because you don’t feel like you need it when you’re in a frame of mind to pick up the phone. Or maybe you’re letting your prescription sit in your cabinet for months on end, too scared of side effects and stigma to actually take it. If this sounds like you, this is a sign to let yourself move forward in getting better. Therapists and medications can really help in ways that seem impossible when you’re sitting in the dark grey of it. I’m rooting for you!

Hike-In Camping

We love to travel, but it wasn’t in the cards for us this year (despite some exciting plans we had in the works the year before). While we didn’t get away to explore a new country this year (for the first time since Z was born!) we did take the opportunity to enjoy more camping trips.

While our isolated walk-in camping spots were a fantastic time as always, the most exciting camping trip of the year was a hike-in adventure to Mystic Beach.

Mystic Beach BC Canada Hike-In Camping 2021
Mystic Beach BC Canada Hike-In Camping 2021
Mystic Beach BC Canada Hike-In Camping 2021

We trekked along the easy trailhead and made it to Mystic Beach in… I can’t remember. An hour? It wasn’t long, and we were meandering with little legs. In any case, it was well worth the hike with our big backpacks loaded on as it was incredibly beautiful there, and we made some fantastic memories on the beach and in the waterfalls that will last us a long time (I hope).


I kept up with my running habit developed in 2020 this year. For the most part I ran every week at least one time (aside for a few weeks in the Spring when I was recovering from an injury). However, I didn’t push myself too hard, and didn’t beat myself up when the run just didn’t happen. It’s good for my mental and physical health to get out there, but sensing my needs in the moment and giving myself grace is a win, not a failure, to me.

Doughin’ Business

Oh hey! Here’s something new this year. I bought a business!

June brought with it the opportunity to take over a local mama’s seed of an idea and build on it with my Early Childhood Education background, and love of (non-toxic) sensory play. Check out Dough n’ Play for when you’re needing some simple and creativity-inspiring toys and tools for your play with dough. We (me and my 8-year-old Z) handcraft the doughs with all-natural ingredients (including bakery grade natural dyes), and even have a line of essential-oil scented and biodegradable-glittered doughs.

Photography Fulfilment

This year has been a huge year for me in terms of growing my photography business. I was pleased to be booking solid and keeping myself very busy with photo sessions and paid projects, especially in the latter half of the year.

I’m still not quite at the income level where registering as a business is required in BC (can I just say how much I love having an accountant to guide me?), but I have a feeling that this year may be the turning point on that if I continue reaching for my goals.

See more from this session and others this year on my Instagram and Facebook @hannahsprayphotography or on my website:

Which I absolutely plan on doing. The amount of absolute joy and satisfaction I feel when taking those photos, reviewing, editing, and sending them back finished is tremendous. This is what I need to do for myself to live a life that fills my soul, and I plan to do it as long as that feeling lasts.

Hannah Spray Salt Spring Island Photographer British Columbia Photoshop
I re-taught myself Photoshop for this client-requested project, and will be offering fantasy photo sessions from now on. They turned out so good, and were so much fun to make!

And if that feeling changes, so will what I’m doing.

Evolve to Give Less Tusks and Damns

That’s one of the big life lessons I’ve learned even deeper for myself this year: Do what you love. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you feel is expected. Even if no one else understands it. You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. However, you DO have to live your life, so make sure it’s the one YOU feel content in, and not the one you feel like you should be living. This is going to look wildly different for everyone, and will probably evolve over time.

salt spring island photographer BC Hannah Spray photography landscape

That’s the magic of life, isn’t it? Diversity and evolution. If elephants are evolving to have no tusks (cool fact someone shared with me recently) because the ones with big tusks kept getting poached, maybe we can evolve to lose our give-a-darn at what others attack in us to try to make themselves feel more important, too.

Don’t poach. Elephants or happiness. There’s a motto for 2022.

Glimpses of Normalcy

With vaccinations coming out for all three of us in 2021, we’re starting to feel like we’re ready to seek out more of the social opportunities we’ve been avoiding for the past couple of years. This summer even offered some chances to meet new likeminded friends and enjoy holding some small outdoor singing circles for wee ones.

Yes, Omicron is running rampant currently, but from what I’m able to glean on that, this may be a turning point in the virus where severity of illness is lower. Crossing fingers it continues to move that direction, and that with the majority of people in our country/province/community having been vaccinated, we’ll be able to move forward knowing we’re as protected as we could be.

If it’s something we’re all going to get at some point, and we’ve done all we can do to limit risks within reason through careful choices and inoculations, I’m (almost) ready to see my girl join in on the activities she hasn’t been able to for a while. And that’s a nice thought to look forward to. *Crosses fingers wildly.*

White Christmas

On that note, with our Z being vaccinated early in December, we branched out of our typical COVID precautions to give her a Christmas with cousins this year. Our family is fairly close to us, and we were able to stay within provincial restrictions while still enjoying that time together, so we went for it. While holidays can always seem a little bit much, and so much time spent socializing after two years of mostly isolating can make that feel even more so at times, it was such a wonderful thing to witness our girl celebrating the holidays and playing with other children. Indoors, even!!

The best part was outdoors, though. We were lucky enough to have gotten the three kids all sleds for Christmas, and with the snow starting Christmas Eve and staying around, we enjoyed a lot of snow play together.

snow play in winter 2021 Vancouver Island BC

And here at home it continues, as the snow keeps coming. I honestly am not a fan of the winter. The cold is hard for my body to handle, and my poor circulation makes me feel frozen and achy and sore unless I’m next to the fire or wrapped in a giant blanket. But bundling up and getting out in the snow definitely lights me up.

How was your 2021? What was your favourite part? Or something you struggled with? Leave me a comment below or on my social accounts.

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