What the flip just happened??
No matter who or where or what you are, I think you’ll probably agree that it’s been the most bizarre year!
And as it draws to an end, I thought I’d reflect.
(But you get to read this as well because I’d like to look back at it in the future and go “oh yeah. That happened…” Also, because I think it’s an exercise everyone should try.)
1. I sailed across the Bay of Biscay and crossed the Atlantic twice [without dying]!
As sailors, we raise a yellow flag every time we arrive in a foreign port to show that all the crew are healthy and not carrying diseases. It’s a simple practice that spans from the old days of plague and pandemics…
…and then that Corona thing happened…
A simple boat delivery from Bordeaux (France) to Cape Town, South Africa had us trapped at sea for months. We crossed the Atlantic twice without being able to set foot ashore. And once we did arrive in Cape Town (after months spent with no other human interaction), we still had to quarantine.
2. I decided to believe in myself.
“You can’t…” “You suck…” “You…”
It’s easy to start believing lies when you’re stuck in negative space with the wrong crowd. Especially when you hear the negativity on repeat.
I love people. But I’ve always valued other people’s opinions above my own. This year I had to stop that. This year I decided to believe in myself. And fortunately, once I left the negative space, I found hordes of other people who did too.
You are awesome and you can! – Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
3. I got to hug my mum and grandmother.
We all know that hugging our parents /grandparents will kill them.
Or so we were told!
Lockdown was so tight in South Africa that I almost left the country without even saying hello to my family!
I’m so glad that repatriation flights were complicated so that I could make it to Johannesburg. And even more grateful that both Mom and Ouma forced their hugs on me!
(I’m even more grateful that they survived the hugs!)
4. Corona made me get a bicycle.
I had a wedding to get to. In Sweden. And after just emerging from my quarantine (again!) I didn’t want to take any chances. I decided I’d travel the safest way I know how, and cycle there. It turned out to be quite a long cycle.
5. I cycled around the Baltic Sea.
This was neither the plan or the intention. But I had many inner demons to battle and the saddle seemed to give me a battle vantage. Pedal power! If you haven’t tried it, you really should!
6. I saw more countries than most people see in a year.
For a year where most people only dreamed about travelling, I have been exceptionally fortunate, and I know it!
7. I learned how to live in the forest and forage for food.
Gypsy budget or not, the safest place to be was definitely the forest! I spent months there. Pedalling. Camping. Breathing fresh air. Feeling free. Foraging! (Thankfully I had a part-time cycle buddy to teach me all about foraging!)\
8. I got really good at dumpster diving.
My time spent in Sweden was not only the most luxurious, but also by far the best for my budget. Those bins are lined with deliciousness!
9. I managed to deal with past hurts and clear space for new relationships in my life.
Note to self: Never hold onto the past!
10. I started confronting my own insecurities and feeling worthy.
I can’t tell you how many times I broke and ran/cycled away from things simply because I didn’t feel worthy.
It may sound crazy, but you are awesome! You are worthy! You do deserve it! All of it!
Accept the good gifts life gives you and enjoy them!
11. I adopted new families.
As I look back on 2020, it’s been the most family-orientated year in forever! I may have only enjoyed four days with my biological family, but I adopted a new South African one, a Dutch one, a Polish one, a Lithuanian one, a Latvian one, and a Swedish one. And this year ends with my Portuguese one!
12. I discovered my tribe.
I keep saying that I’ll stop travelling when I find the right place with the right people… but there is no such thing as perfect!! And there are good people everywhere!
This year I spent more time alone than I ever have. But I also felt more connected than ever! As I pedalled and hiked and forested and sat in quarantine, I have constantly had the right people in my life! This year I discovered that I already had my tribe!
13. I learned to value freedom.
Gypsy life… Throw yourself into the wind and see where you blow…
The world’s restrictions this year greatly impacted that! But they have also led me on many alternative adventures…
Yes, I’ve done three stints of quarantine this year, but I have been so blessed to have so much freedom! What safer place to be than on a sailing boat in the middle of the ocean? Or on a bicycle in a forest? Or hiking down the Portuguese coast? Right now I’m sat on 2.5 hectares of land feeling exceptionally free (and cold!).
14. I stopped doing things just because I could.
This year I have decided to stop using the word “should.” Instead I now do things because I want to. Not because they are a great opportunity. Not because somebody else needs them. But because I want to do it/that/them.
15. I let go of money.
Or at least I started to.
So many times I have opted for second best just because of the monetary factor.
I no longer buy things just because they are cheap, I buy the things I want.
Same goes with life decisions!
(Although if anyone knows any good [online] people orientated jobs, send them my way! Even gypsies need money to survive!)
16. I learned that it’s okay to spoil yourself!
It’s okay to pay for accommodation, even when you have a tent…
It’s okay to take public transport rather than hitchhiking.
It’s important to cook yourself flipping good candle-lit dinners!
17. I finally turned my giant Teddy into something useful.
After lugging him around the world for 9 years, he finally transformed into a bag!
He’s now a lot lighter burden to bear!
18. I almost published a book.
If you know me, you know I’ve talked about publishing a book for decades…
That book about why speedos shouldn’t be worn will be published yet!
That book about driving a sketchy tin can from London to Mongolia will be rewritten soon!
And this current book? I’ve been working on it since 2016…
And no, it’s not perfect.
And yes, it’s only my story.
In fact, I delayed getting it out for so long because it’s ONLY MY STORY and everybody has an awesome story and… (Refer back to points 2 and 10)
It has a flipping cool cover.
But instead of rushing the 2020 release, I decided to do things properly (and let the publishing house enjoy Christmas)!
If anyone has tips for marketing and the best platforms for release, send ‘em my way!
19. I decided to stop travelling and settle down.
This is why I’m currently sat in Portugal.
I’ve narrowed the whole globe down to one county, and now I’m just trying to choose a spot.
Portugal has so many awesome spots!
(Where is your favourite and why?)
After more than a decade of homelessness, I’ve decided to be less of a tortoise carrying my entire life on my back.
I’m longing for community.
I’m ready to start a project that isn’t temporary.
And I’m so excited to have a place where all the legends in my life can visit me!
There will still be many future adventures, but it’s time to set up my base camp.
20. I survived.
Maybe it’s too early to write this one seeing as there’s still a few hours to go and it’s 2020, the year when nothing is certain… But I’m a believer (as I hope you are too)!
I assume that if you are reading this, you have survived this too!
We did it!
What a year! And tomorrow we get another one!
Let’s hope it’s a good one!