How can I make sense of 2020?

How can I make sense of 2020?

An annual review

It’s that time of year when people are gearing up to look back at the events over the past 12 months. Obviously, Covid-19 is going to be the main feature but as anyone who knows me personally will confirm, I always look for the silver lining to any event and there will be loads this year, just like any other year.

Oh, and that lining can sometimes take a long time to show itself. I would love to tell you that my life is like a Disney princess’s and that I walk around with a huge smile on my face, birds twittering around my head, wild animals at my feet and Prince Charming holding my hand, but that is definitely not what my life looks like. That doesn’t stop me from always looking for the positive, though.

So, what has 2020 thrown up for you? Now is a great time to take stock of this year’s wins, however small they are. Most of the people who read my blog are artists but a good chunk are not and taking part in an annual review like this works for every walk of life as our private and our art (or work) life are intrinsically intertwined.

If you keep a diary or write a weekly/monthly review (or a blog) this will be easier to accomplish but if you don’t just sit down with your diary or calendar and see what you did each month starting with January.

Without looking at your diary, can you immediately think of two or three things you achieved this year of which you are really proud? Write them down, put a big star next to them and celebrate those wins. Next, write down what you did to make those wins happen. You need to think about what you did, how you did it, was it time and/or money well spent and having learned it all could you easily reproduce that learning curve and those results?

After the horrible year we have all been through it is worth thinking about how you got through it, both in terms of your art and your daily life. Who was there for you and supported you? What was the most memorable and enjoyable thing or event to happen to you this year?

We can’t celebrate the good without looking at the bad and trying to figure out how we can make things better next time. It’s that silver lining time for me where I look to see how I could improve. So, list out what has been horrid. For me having all my exhibitions cancelled was horrid. It took me a while but rather than moan about it I set up the Ginger Cactus Art group to provide an online exhibition space. Trust me when I say that it wasn’t simple and there are problems on a near daily basis, but I believe it was the right thing to do. I have learned so much it is incredible, and I am tested constantly, which is no bad thing in my book.

So, what in your year wasn’t good and how did you face it? It doesn’t matter if you handled it well or badly. Either way, recognizing how you faced it will enable you to think about how you would do things differently next time something similar arises.

One of the comments I heard repeatedly from fellow artists who didn’t cope well with Covid-19 was that they felt they had wasted time; they just couldn’t move forward. So, think about how you could change this and create habits which allow you to move through any kind of obstacles you face. Write these negatives down too and then write next to them what you could do better next time.

Having done that, think about how this has helped you learn more about yourself. Has it helped you to identify what you need to let go of, where you need to improve? All this will give you clear headspace to create new opportunities for yourself in the new year. If possible, deal with the negative stuff so that you start the new year with a clean slate.

It’s hard to believe but back in January, we were all walking around oblivious to what Covid-19 would do to our lives so there will be things you did which make you smile. When I looked back through my calendar, I remembered that I started teaching at a secondary school. It was a fantastic experience; they were lovely students, and it was great fun being a small part of young teenagers’ world for a couple of hours each week. Whilst they learned skills from me, I learned about current trends in music, fashion and female empowerment. I hope that one day I will be able to go back to teach and learn some more with these lovely pupils.

I also spent a day in central London having lunch with a group of women artists. Looking at my calendar and this lunch event I was reminded that this day was huge for me in another way. It was the first time I had gone into London on my own for nearly 15 years. Crazy, eh? 15 years! I don’t like going into London and when I do go I always go with someone, but I wanted to go to this event so I had to pull on my big girl pants and do it. Yes, it was frightening and yes, I needed a large drink when I got there but I did it, nothing bad happened, I connected with some lovely people, so it was a great day.

I did take part in an exhibition at Sandown Park in March which was disastrous for most of us. However, one lady I know did amazingly well, picking up sales of over £25k. She was so surprised and delighted it took her about an hour to stop shaking. So, whilst I did poorly, I will bask in her glory. She did it, I’m so delighted for her and I am reminded that wonderful things can and do happen.

Then came lockdown. But for me that, too, was amazing. My older son moved back home with his girlfriend and their two cats, my younger son came home from university, I had my family around me and I love spending time with them. No, it wasn’t a bed of roses, but we did have some fun. Games night was reinstated, I hadn’t done that with them since they were young. Movie nights were fun with us taking it in turns to pick one. I realised just how much my boys have grown into such wonderful young men. I hadn’t fully appreciated where their interests and passions lay, so through Covid-19 I really got to know them all over again.

There was a huge amount of sadness to cope with this year and I don’t think there has been a family in Britain who hasn’t been touched by the horror of Covid-19 in some way, but the weather made up for those horrors and spending time in the garden became more enjoyable. I watched daily as flowers emerged, the birds visited, and I probably got more fresh air than I would normally.

My wins this year: I set up an online exhibition space; I ran an online exhibition for the Banstead Art Group; I connected with some amazing women to promote our art and I took some incredible online classes and one in person class which have all reshaped my life.

All the negatives I have turned into positives, some will take longer to be realised but I know that I am heading in the right direction. One of the biggest skills I rediscovered, having used it when my children were young and driving me crazy, is to count to ten. This doesn’t apply to my husband or my cats, all of whom I shout at regularly, but having time when everything is online, to count to ten before allowing irritating events to set me off is fantastic.

Having realised how beneficial this is to me, I do get upset far too easily I know, I am now ready. If I am going into a difficult face to face situation I set my phone to record, which makes me keep calm as I don’t need my flare ups to be on record but it also helps me not to lose control and make a fool of myself.

Pretty much every negative in our lives can be turned into a positive.

I hope you can find comfort in taking these steps in your life and as hard as it may feel, do try to



2 Responses

  1. I used to drive past Sandown Park regularly in the days when one could still do things like that. Thanks for this uplifting post.

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