It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

December 30: 2020 24 hours to go (almost).

This year is the first year we’ve begun and ended in our own home, and that’s probably one of the things I’m most grateful for.

Our house is something that’s brought me joy all year.

It’s a thing I never thought would be real for me, and we’ve done better: we’re not just in a solid place, we’re ahead on the mortgage.

It feels like so many things are possible now for our family long-term.

At the other end of the spectrum, I went to three funerals this year, which is not something I would like to repeat soon.

Two were older family members and while I feel those losses, they seem somehow like the natural order of things.

The other, I’m still deciding when to smoke the Romeo y Julieta I took from his final stash, and I tear up when I think about it.

It’s sitting on my bookshelf.

I figure I’ll know, when I know.

COVID has been a strange and constant companion, not all bad: I like not being crowded into lifts.

I like more space on trains.

I’m quite happy to sanitise my hands and I don’t even mind wearing masks when I need to.

I’ve really enjoyed sewing masks for friends and colleagues who didn’t have them.

Part of me wonders why we didn’t do these things before.

People are gross, right?

During lockdown I bought an electric guitar and started guitar lessons – after 30+ years of playing acoustic.

(That first question from the guitar school was fun to answer: have you played guitar at all before?)

Learning to play better and differently has been really fun and it’s made me a better musician in other ways – surprisingly, especially on saxophone.

I started lessons via Skype, so my first in person lesson was super weird and I was anxious about it, but it turned out my teacher is magnificently nerdy so we hit it off just fine.

I’d like to thank him for the Diablo III tips, which have entirely changed the course of my holiday gaming.

Lockdown was hard and isolating, but the increased pace of my job was harder.

April was 6am starts and 8pm finishes (not because I was done, but because I drew a line), answering questions from scared and angry people all day on the internet.

Going back to work after lockdown was an added complication.

I found myself incredibly, stay awake at night anxious – not out of fear of the virus, but social anxiety.

I’d forgotten how much people frighten me, but I managed that okay in the end.

Like most kinds of anxiety I deal with, diving back in and just dealing with it was the most effective way to deal with it.

They call it exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy is the most effective kind of anxiety therapy for me.

I also started seeing my psychologist again and that too was helpful.Hit me up if you need a referral, because he’s awesome.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy sounds kinda woo-woo, but getting back into it meant I re-learned the value of intention: of doing what you mean to do because it matters to you.

Many things are easier if you have conviction.

Choice is power.

Speaking of health professionals, I sacked my rheumatologist this year, which was a relief.

She is perfectly competent and actually probably bloody good really, but I have always felt her judgement.

After sticking with her for 5 years I reckon I’ve given the relationship a decent chance, and I’m tired of feeling on the defensive every appointment.

I have a 15 year plus relationship with my psychiatrist, and she challenges me but doesn’t make me feel like shit when she does it.

So you know what?

I realised it’s not me that’s the problem.

And I realised there are plenty of other competent rheumatologists out there.

So I have an appointment with a different one in a few weeks.

I’m told she’s kind.

This year I also became the mother of a teenager.

Which sounds a bit like I just adopted one from somewhere, but actually the kid I already have turned 13.

He’s huge, incidentally.

He’s a monumental dickhead at times but I love him more than he’ll ever really understand.

I changed my job in February.

Still in government, but moved into digital media.

I like my job, and more importantly, I like the people I work with.

I’m less keen on my job security being tied to the election cycle and I’m even less keen to go through an election campaign again.

So I don’t plan to.I’m kinda done with politics.

In October I applied to study a Bachelor of Nursing.

I’m now enrolled in two units, and I start in February.

I already have my student card.

I feel like the pace of this year – with coronavirus, and the election – hasn’t given me a lot of time to process all the big events.

If I pause to reflect, there are a lot of feelings there and I kinda tear up a bit.

I think I might be processing some of these things into 2021.

But that’s okay.

The most important part of this year has been my partner.

He’s kind and resilient and he has beautiful hair.

And he’s here for me whenever I need him.

He’s my touchstone.

My rock.

My anchor.

I have hope for 2021.

I hope you do too.

We already know it’s going to start out strange, but I believe there are better things ahead.