When I started thinking about writing a blog post to round up this year it was going to be a ‘things I’ve learnt’ format like last year but, in pondering what this year has taught me, my enthusiasm for writing it tailed off. Did this year give me any realisations that can be neatly summed up in my favourite type of bullet pointed list? Did it give me any soundbites of wisdom that I can share with you? I don’t think it did, but I do have some small reflections on a strange sort of year that we all thought was going to be filled with hope but which actually just left most of us a little bit bewildered.
So, what were my moments of clarity in amongst all the confusion? I think the biggest one was finding a ‘new normal’ and a new routine in amongst all the cancellations and changes of plan at the start of the year. Finding a balance between doing things/seeing people in person versus online. Filling my spare time with things that… felt right. At the start of the year I had a little exercise regime that I was proud of myself for sticking to every week. When it fell by the wayside in the autumn, rather than feel guilty about it, I realised that a lot of the benefit had been mental rather than physical and I’d partly stopped because my brain didn’t need it any more. Same with reading. My brain needed all those books last year but this year it needed something different.
It needed me to properly reconnect with my body and, after a wonderful autumn of doing exactly that, I think that I’ve finally stopped worrying about how my body looks. 2021 was the year of the photoshoot for me (seven of them in total!) and, after 2020 mostly being the year of the selfie, it really helped to see myself through other people’s eyes. To be reminded that a good portrait isn’t always a ‘flattering’ one. That nobody who is worth spending time with gives a shit about the things that some folk say are important (e.g. flawless skin, a flat abdomen). That ageing is actually rather beautiful, and that ‘sexy’ is not actually about physical appearance at all. Maybe this would have happened anyway, as I’m now fast approaching my 47th birthday and my jar of fucks is definitely not getting replenished any time soon, but it also may have something to do with the amount of introspection that has happened in the last two years.
It’s that type of thinking that has led me to properly work out what I want my life to look like in the future. Taking time to reflect on the past, not just on the last two years, has helped me to figure out what I need to say no to and what it is that I need to fully embrace with open arms. 2021 turned out to be the year I said yes to making changes to my life but, well… more on that tomorrow!
Riverside portrait of Lori shot by Erin Veness in August 2021.