A Year in Review | 2020

During a post-Christmas clean, I found a journal entry I wrote on 1st January. Incidentally this was the only entry I made all year, but looking back I started the year out filled with a lot of hope and ambition for 2020. Reading it made me realize just how much growth I have had in many areas of my life. The global pandemic has certainly brought some challenging and depressing days, but there have also been some wonderful moments this year that I want to remember. So before 2020 is over, here are just some of my highlights from this incredibly strange year:

  • I attended my auntie’s wedding right at the beginning of January and who knew that would be my first and last big social event for the year?! The day was filled with carefree dancing, toasting, laughing, hugging, and all without wearing a mask or obeying any rules of six…

  • This year the U.K. has really enjoyed some glorious weather, which I really appreciated particularly throughout the first lockdown. This meant there were lots of walks (often twice a day!), as well as days filled with various kinds of outside exercise or sunbathing with a glass of cold Pimms.

  • Being at home and having a lot more time back in my day, meant it was the perfect opportunity for more blogging, with this post being number 58 of this year! I pushed myself with writing challenges and also concentrated more on uploading videos to my YouTube channel. Overall this has resulted in more traffic with readers/viewers from different parts of the world – thank you! I can’t wait to continue creating next year.

  • There wasn’t a homemade sourdough in sight on my end, but I did get some baking in here and there. My new favourite discovery was a Sangria cake I baked for my Mum’s birthday – so easy and delicious! I also tried cooking some new recipes which emphasized how much I love trying new things. I am excited to do more of this in 2021 too!

  • I was devastated when my Summer flights to America were cancelled as I planned on going to Chicago for the first time, as well as attending my brother’s wedding! However we all still celebrated virtually via a live stream, complete with video calls for speeches and toasts. My family and I made the effort to dress up and we also decorated the house, the garden and the table. I even cooked a slightly elaborate meal! Overall, it was a bittersweet but a memorable and special day.

  • Despite all the challenges working from home, I am super proud of my progression in my 9-5 job and the impact I have had this year. I am giving myself a huge pat on the back well done… something we all need to do now and again!

  • Living an active lifestyle was my main goal for 2020. At the start of the year I was focused on getting beyond the 8 week mark of regular exercise (before I typically lost interest). From HIIT, running, pilates, hikes, walks, online classes and various other videos and IGTV’s, I’ve LOVED every moment of it. I am feeling stronger both mentally and physically, with my relationship and attitude towards exercise being completely transformed. Here’s to health in 2021!

  • Finding out I would be an auntie for the first time has also been a highlight for this year. Roll on early 2021 where I get to meet (virtually but hopefully physically soon) my little niece.

  • Becoming a dog auntie to the wonderful @cosmoandsherlockadventures has brought me so much joy and firmly helped me get over my fear of dogs! I am now one of those people who would coo at a dog rather than run away from it, haha!

  • In a way I am hugely grateful to 2020 as it meant I was able to save money faster and led me to buying my first home with my boyfriend. I am so excited to move in January 2021 and begin a new and exciting chapter of my life!

This year may not have always gone to plan, but 2020 has helped me be thankful for what I do have and enjoy the small moments along the way. Whatever way you are ringing in the New Year, I wish you a wonderful , happy, healthy and safe year ahead, filled with lots of positivity and light. Let’s hope 2021 will be filled with more times seeing our loved ones and squeezing them tight once again.

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Opening Up | How I REALLY Feel

I have always loved Autumn and the changing of the leaves. As a child, Autumn always denoted for me that it was time to go back to school. I remember being so excited when I could finally wear my brand new school shoes (although they didn’t stay shiny and new for too long). As an adult that excitement has been replaced with wrapping up in layers, going out to Bonfire Night displays, and lovely trips down to the pub. Sadly this year, these Autumnal rituals look slightly different. During the first lockdown I shared with you a post about how I felt one month into the pandemic here in the U.K, so it only seemed right to give another update as we go through lockdown 2.0.

I am typically a very “glass half full” type of person, but here we are seven months later and things seem the same as they were in many ways back in April.

During the first lockdown, work and exercise remained as my constants; a routine which kept me busy and sane. I also tried to remind myself of the other positives, such as how much more money I was saving and how much more rested I was feeling. Thankfully the U.K. had an abundance of sunshine this Summer too, which also meant lots of time spent outdoors. As time passed, I was eventually able to enjoy socially distanced meet-ups and walks with friends. However, I couldn’t help feeling a bit anxious that things were opening up far too soon, inevitably causing a delayed reaction in the Winter (lo and behold, here we are). Throughout this, I continued to work remotely and although there were days where I missed the ease of asking my colleagues questions without the need for a video call, the working from home life was “working” for me, so to speak. I even managed to go on a late holiday abroad and felt very safe with all the precautions that were taken.

Then after 2 weeks being back from holiday, it hit me. Life wasn’t going back to normal. Even though this time I had a support bubble, life seemed a bit gloomy. Was it just the holiday blues, I wondered? I didn’t think so. I felt demotivated and disconnected from myself. However I still couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. At this point, the clocks had also gone back meaning shorter days and less daylight. I found myself going to bed earlier because I simply could not bear the long, dark hours of the evening ahead. I had also watched everything interesting on Netflix and it seemed that exercise only lifted my mood temporarily. I now realize that this was a very delayed reaction to the realization that we are still living in a worldwide pandemic. I was digesting that we will be living like this for far longer than I initially anticipated.

After accepting this, I am now taking each day as it comes. Although I realise just how ironic this blog post may seem for someone who wants to share some positivity, it is important to be open about the days where you may not be feeling so great too. I know that there may be many more days ahead which may feel a bit dark and challenging, but it’s important to speak out and not brush those feelings aside. There is something very refreshing about someone not answering the question “how are you?” with “fine, how are you?”.

As we move through November, I encourage you to check in with your own family and friends (especially the quiet ones) and of course, most importantly – with yourself. If like me you question whether you have the right to feel like you do, try to remind yourself of the below.

Melissa Parkinson on Instagram: “WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT ... I heard  that we are all in the same boat, but it's not like … in 2020 | Storm  quotes, Boating quotes, Storm

Remember, we got through lockdown once and we can do it again. Look after yourselves!

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Come connect with me on socials:

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2020, A New Meaning to Staycation

In a pre-pandemic life I would never have considered taking a week’s worth of annual leave just to stay at home. Sure, I’ve taken a day or two off in the past to enjoy a long weekend or to run some errands, but a week off work would always equate to a holiday away to sunnier climates. Well this year has definitely been one of firsts, as last week I took a whole week off despite it being the pandemic – correction, particularly because of the pandemic. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in 2020.

I have always considered myself to be a pretty balanced person, but on reflection my days off have always been filled to the brim. There has always been a “purpose” to the day off. Being British, naturally the weather in the U.K. has played a huge factor in deciding when and if I would be “treating” myself to a long weekend. (N.B. Regardless of what the weather apps say, there is zero promise of nice weather.) I would wait for an occasion, a Summer holiday, for Chirstmas time, or just until I was beginning to experience burn out. Somehow simply taking a few days to actively look after my own wellbeing, enjoying my own company, or to simply rest and relax never seemed reason enough.

Over the last few years, I have always looked forward to the month of June as I have begun to associate it with the promise of down time. I would (without exception) spend between 7-10 days in the summer sun letting go of the stresses of life. It would be filled with getting some vitamin c whilst enjoying reading a book, sleeping in, and sharing a delicious meal in the company of my loved ones. So when my Summer holiday this year to Chicago for a family wedding was cancelled due to the coronavirus, I was really tempted to also cancel my days off work. “What was the point?”, I honestly thought to myself. Somehow taking time off to simply rest (before reaching the point of a near breakdown) was a waste if I couldn’t do all of these aforementioned things. However the more I mulled it over, the more I realized I could really use some time out. Even though the idea of taking time off to just stay in the house that I was locked in for over 100 days seemed mad to me.

The week of my staycation rolled in and contrary to my prior beliefs, it seemed my luck hadn’t quite run out for this year like I thought. A heatwave made it’s way over to the U.K., so I was lucky enough to sunbathe in my garden where I reignited my holiday ritual of picking up a good book. I decided to re-read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and let my mind escape to another world, even though my body could not.

However after a couple of days, inevitably the clouds reappeared and I wasn’t as immersed in the world of Hogwarts as I had been on Day 1 of my staycation. The idea of checking my work emails briefly crossed my mind. It seemed tempting considering that the line (which happened to be a train line) that once separated these two worlds, had now become blurred. However I fought the idea off and made deliberate decisions to distinguish between the two again. Simple actions like preparing a different breakfast every day, helped kick me back into holiday mode. Nonetheless, I still maintained the mentality that I was going to be really productive and utilize this time off. I planned to wake up at my normal time and I made a list of all the things I wanted to do. I knew the amount possible that I could achieve in a working day so surely I would be able to do double in my own free time?! I suppose in essence, yes I could have done just that. But a voice in my head kept repeating that this was my time off. I should be enjoying it rather than adding pressure to what had already been an overwhelming few months. Did I just want to binge watch a new Netflix series? To be honest, not so much. But allowing that to be an option for one of my days off was more than ok. This was my time off to rest and recharge. So, what did I want to do?

  • I started with sleep. I let my body lie in and sleep as much as it needed to without setting an alarm
  • I set myself a blogging challenge! This was really fun and a great way to get those creative juices flowing again. Before I knew it, the ideas for more posts came in one after the other, alleviating the writer’s block I recently had
  • I celebrated a virtual wedding, got dressed up, listened to speeches and danced to music despite being separated across continents
  • I filmed a couple of videos for my YouTube channel
  • I visited my grandmother (whilst socially distancing) who has now since been expanded into my social bubble!
  • I cooked some new dishes that I had never attempted before
  • I exercised daily at my own pace. There were no periodic checks on work emails or carefully timed workouts to coincide with meetings. It was very freeing and I got so much more out of it!
  • Some of you may also be happy to hear, that not one quiz was played in my staycation, something that I am temporarily grateful for after playing at least two or three a week since March

Although I did not go anywhere new or do anything particularly adventurous, I was very happy spending time with just myself. Consciously deciding (or being forced) to stay at home allowed me to find time to be more creative and take time out from the strange new reality that has been 2020. I may not have been exploring a new corner of the world, but I was reconnecting with myself. It also meant that I saved a lot of money that I usually would have spent on going to the beauty salon, the hairdressers or what not. So I guess there are quite a few positives in there after all!

As much as I sincerely hope to be able to travel again and enjoy going out without any worry, I only plan to take a holiday abroad when it’s safe to do so. I honestly don’t know how this year is going to turn out and I won’t overwhelm myself trying to do so, but over the last week I have been reminded just how important time off from the daily grind is. It’s funny to think that as much as I resented hearing about “essential” journeys at the beginning of lockdown, it turned out this most recent staycation was indeed very much essential after all.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post! If so remember to subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m talking about. You may also like to read the posts below:

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