It’s been a long time since I’ve typed anything for this little space of mine on the ever-expanding internet. The thought of writing solely for sharing online is something I seem to be stepping back from, little by little, as the years go by, so instead below are some notes from my journal. I think editing words that were originally written just for me in a new way, either for this space or for social media, might just be the way I get over that fear and continue to share into a fresh decade.
We saw out the final few days of 2019 the way we’ve spent most of our free time this year — outside.
The first day was spent wandering through the storybook streets of Falkland in Fife, taking a muddily-trodden path through bare trees onto the hilltop of East Lomond, where the sun came out as we reached the summit and lit the horizon from Dundee all the way down to Bass Rock.
The second, Hogmanay, saw us drive to Aberdour, where we parked and walked due south from the village centre to the beach. It was probably one of the most beautiful sunsets of the year, the colours deepening delicately as the sun lowered on the horizon, with the water a smooth teal silk. I love standing together on the sand, talking about whatever, and then following the bay around to the harbour wall as the sky melts into orange. Looking back towards Edinburgh and the busier life we had there never gets old.
As the years go by, change becomes more apparent.
I go back home once a month or less to the west coast, so the transformations that happen gradually seem even larger to me over Christmas. I found out that my dad has another x-ray pencilled in, this time for his knee. Next year could see my brother fly the nest with his girlfriend, though they’ll likely stay close to home. My mum still seems youthful despite running around after almost everyone. My best friend is pregnant and in three months will be welcoming a baby girl. And as for the grandparents, well… I worry.
Despite all that — time rushing past us with the gloom and glitter of change, I mean — I want to try and not linger in the past too much (that’s what I did last year — I remember spending the first days of 2019 sitting at the kitchen table, feeling dejected that the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ was all over so soon).
We all need to look forward and continue to make memories.
Make them again on Christmas morning, enjoying each others’ delight as we exchange gifts; forget worries and focus on family meals, cheese and wine; choose to spend money on small, special things like reclining on leather cinema armchairs to watch Little Women; notice nature’s details even in the mild, wet weather; be kind and treat loved ones to meals out to thank them for their generosity over Christmas and at all times of the year; take every opportunity to be with closest friends.
I have a nostalgic tendency to look forever backwards, and believe that it is important to reflect — to a point, at least. Then, breathe, sketch fresh dreams, and look forward into a new year. Here are some of the moments that were great, life-changing, challenging and precious in 2019 and some of the things I’m hoping for in 2020.
Things that were good in 2019
Making more memories with family. Travelling to Tallinn during a snowy February weekend. Spending a summery week in our favourite place on Scotland’s west coast (with our new-to-us bikes!). Taking the leap into a new job. Being offline more. Having my mum to stay and cooking her meals, for a change!
Things that were challenging in 2019
Finding the courage to leave a secure but monotonous job in the Civil Service for a contract role with an organisation that has the exciting task of promoting Scotland. Ditching permanency and a great pension was a scary decision to make, and thanks to conflicting thoughts it took me months to make the leap. Now, though, when I see the opportunities I get and the growth I’m making in this challenging but interesting marketing role I don’t regret those scary few months one bit.
The best use of my time, energy and money… and the worst
The best was travelling, buying a second-hand bike, going to a good handful of events at Edinburgh Book Festival… Basically all the experiences I bought which ended up creating memories. The worst was visiting Lisbon during the height of summer. Unfortunately it was a fairly unpleasant experience for two pale Scots, one of which who ended up with heatstroke (clue: not me).
One real success, and what I learnt
A success that was also a challenge was settling into my new job, with a talented, dynamic team, and proving to myself that I could adapt and fit in. I still have a long way to go with feeling comfortable in what I can do and the skills I want to develop, but I’m getting there slowly. Terrifying but confidence-boosting things that happened in the first three months included speaking at a ministerial event, addressing a group of university students, and hosting a photo walk for scholars.
What didn’t work out, and what I learnt
Despite having a lot of fun and some great conversations with my friend Nicolas as we worked on our Hashtag Scotland project, when we launched it we found our words somewhat twisted by a national newspaper for their readers. This experience left me really disappointed, seeing the way people were responding to the clickbait that our considered project had been reframed as, and I ended up just freezing everything I was doing on the topic. I’m still not sure how to deal with this in future and whether or not continuing with Hashtag Scotland is going to throw up more situations like this, but if it does, hopefully it won’t put me off writing altogether.
A few goals for 2020
Keep up with my running at the gym and complete a 30-day yoga challenge in January. Consider how I want to develop my career in digital marketing over the next few years. Visit Japan, Canada or the USA with my partner. Do another Europe city break before 31 December. Hike a Munro. Practice more calligraphy and watercolour painting. Write one article a month for my blog (based on journal entries) and pitch to one publication a quarter. Have friends and family to stay with us in Fife whenever the opportunity arises. Complete the back garden before summer starts. Continue to make our wee house a home.
From me to you, Happy New Year! I hope it’s a healthy, happy one and I’ll see you around here soon with some more stories from Scotland.