Let’s be honest. How do you feel about 2020? Do you need to dig deep to find the good bits? Grab a positive mindset, we're going to take a trip down memory lane and look back at last year with optimism. It's time to harness the power of perception and gratitude so you look at things differently in your life no matter how hard it is.
Ahhhhhhh 2020 you were one crazy year. For many of us, last year was a pretty strange (for want of a better word), but I’m confident we can all think of a few moments that made us smile. I can count on one hand the number of people who came out of 2020 unscathed.
Despite what life throws at us I believe that there is something good to come out of EVERY situation. Yes, even those upsetting experiences such as a break-up, loss of a job, or fall out with a friend.
Why? Let’s explore the power of perception and how it can transform our thoughts and feelings........
Life is full of lessons and opportunities to learn something about ourselves. A situation can be viewed as good or bad based on our perception in that given moment. How we respond is where our point of power lies. Think about that for a moment.
We can't control everything that happens to us but we CAN control our reaction to it. By harnessing this thought process, we can unlock unlimited potential to manifest our own reality. Fact.
Life also presents us with special moments we often let pass by. By slowing down and becoming present in the 'now' moments (ie: stop fretting over the past and/or worrying about the future) we can open the flood gates of gratitude and appreciate things we previously took for granted.
Don't you want to turn a bad day into a good day?
Here are some of the daily moments we can learn to appreciate more; A child's laughter, a cuddle with your pet, a glass of wine in front of a cosy fire, a phone call to a loved one to tell them about your day. How about clean sheets and soft blankets? That is one of my favourites!
"A great attitude becomes a great day which becomes a great month which becomes a great year which becomes a great life".
Check out this 365 Gratitude project which documents every day moments that this mum of two had previously taken for granted. The project completely transformed her life! Check out the website here.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
2020 will go down in the history books as the year the world changed. I certainly had a few things thrown into the mix that I am still working through. That said, when I look back there were still quite lots of positive memories.
Let me take you on a journey of the moments i am grateful for from 2020....
January – Visit to St Moritz, Switzerland
One month into my winter employment in the Alps I took a trip to the glitzy winter wonderland of St Moritz. The alpine town is quite a spectacle with designer shops, glamourous hotels, beautifully presented cafes, and eateries.
There is a huge lake there which holds activities such as polo and ice skating during the winter months (St Moritz is at 1,822 m above sea level). I remember walking over it and feeling quite nervous as I could see the cracks in the thick ice. It made me feel like running for the sides!
I noticed how the lake was a community hub for people to meet their friends and enjoy an alfresco coffee at one of the pop-up bars. It was the place to be. I would never be able to afford to stay in St Moritz as it is a playground for the rich and famous, but I am glad I visited to see what it was all about.
Read more about St Moritz Lake here.
February – A Day Out On Switzerland’s Rhaetian Railway
Something I have always dreamed of doing is taking a train through the jaw-dropping scenery that Switzerland is so famous for. I got my wish in February.
The Rhaetian Railway connects Italy to Switzerland via a long labyrinth of wide valleys and mountain passes. It gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008 and is a tourist attraction in its own right. It is one of the most breath-taking train journeys I have ever experienced.
I took the train up to the ski resort of Arosa and immersed myself in the scenery along the way. The journey weaves its way around steep alpine valleys and tunnels that demonstrate the architectural genius of this magnificent railway.
The transalpine track is one of the steepest in the world and not for the faint-hearted. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to do this and would love to go back to explore another route on this iconic railway.
Read more about this world famous railway here.
March – Last Walk in Winter Wonderland
I remember when the pandemic first hit the world news and how there was talk in the resort that the ski lifts may close early (I was working in Klosters at the time in a private Chalet).
I never imagined this would happen as it is highly unusual for ski resorts to do this due to the financial implications. The only time I have experienced this in 10 ski seasons was a major storm in St Anton, Austria in 2004.
After much deliberation with my employer, I negotiated an early exit from my contract so I could get back to the UK before getting locked down in Switzerland. I was sad to leave but glad to be able to get home.
I took one last walk in the nearby valley which is a hub for alpine activities such as ski touring and snowshoeing (It's not all about skiing in the alps you know!). It was so peaceful and picturesque I remember feeling completely humbled to witness such beautiful scenery.
April – Beach Walks and Sunbathing Seals
After adjusting to lockdown life in the UK I made the most of my daily exercise and headed to the local beach most mornings. I remember how glorious the weather was for April and how tranquility engulfed the city's deserted streets.
One morning, I was enjoying a walk along the shoreline and noticed a gathering of people around something on the beach. To my surprise, it was a seal sprawled out basking in the sun. He wondered what all the fuss was about!
A passer-by told me that the seal had been affectionately named Norbert and is well known to the RSPCA and maritime authorities.
He said Norbert had been spotted around the local beaches during lockdown as the coastline was quieter. Seals leave the water when they have an injury or to rest and recuperate.
The local council were alerted and came and put some fencing around Norbert so he could enjoy some peace and quiet from the passers by. I did managed to get this snap from a safe distance before i carried on with my walk.
May – The Rhythm of Life
Life forms a weird new routine and the sun continued to shine bright lifting the mood of lockdown. I recall it was some of the best weather for early summer in years. People were busy catching up on DIY, enjoying family time, and adapting to a slower pace of life.
I enjoyed plenty of walks and bike rides in an attempt to keep active through the lockdown.
I remember appreciating how spring brought an abundance of new colours and beautiful blossoming trees. It reminded me that no matter what was happening in the world nature always offers some welcome relief.
Set yourself a project – Create a collage of your favourite photos for your friends and family. There are lots of online companies that print your photos for a great price. I use Canva to design mine which has great templates. Here's one I made in just 5 minutes!
"Everyone and everything that shows up in our life is a reflection of something that is happening inside of us."
- Alan Cohen
June - The Boat House and My Free Spirit
My local harbour has a wonderful community consisting of a marina, boatyard, and takeaway coffee place. It is a hub for lovers of coastal life with many of the boathouses lovingly decorated and cared for by their owners. My favourite is of course 'Free Spirit'.
Every time I walk past it, I am reminded of my unwavering passion for travelling. It is a feeling that has been with me for the best part of my life. It is only in recent years I have stopped fighting it and just do what makes me happy.
We spend too much of our lives doing things that we don't want to do. It is only when we are older and wiser that we realise how precious life is.
This blog was launched during the first lockdown of 2020 and is a tribute to my love of travel, photography, and life's special moments. You can read about the birth of What She Seeks here.
July - Summer Vibes
By summer I knew the likelihood of securing a job abroad was pretty impossible. International travel was still restricted, and my line of work (Hospitality and Tourism) was hit hard by the pandemic.
Luckily the weather gave me plenty of opportunities to forget my woes and enjoy hazy summer days at the beach.
I love these two photos as they represent the vibrant colours summer graces us with. I have taken lots of photos of flowers, sunsets, and beach life as these are some of the things that give me welcome relief from life’s problems.
Check out my Instagram for the latest photos and best bits of my life!
Summer by the seaside is a wonderful experience. I love to see children playing carefree and dogs splashing about in the waves to cool off. I have whiled away many an hour watching people enjoy simple moments on a summers day.
Despite living in a city, the coastline offers plenty of relief from the hustle and bustle. Sea air shakes off the cobwebs and helps clear my head when it has too many things rattling around in it!
By mid-summer, I managed to get some casual work at a local seaside restaurant and also some online marketing work, so my days felt a little more productive and meaningful.
Each day after work I would head to the beach or harbour to see what was happening. I particularly like this shot as the water is so silky and still.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by every
moment that takes your breath away".
September - A Visit to An Enchanted Forest
What better way to connect with nature than to visit a forest. Kingley Vale Nature Reserve has always held a special place in my heart. The small forest is situated in the South Downs National Park and is home to some of the oldest Yew trees found in Europe. Some of the trees are said to be over 2000 years old!
The yew is known as a sacred tree and worshiped for many centuries. The ancient groves at Kingley Vale are still used during worship by Pagans and Celtic Druids. Pagans believe the mystical trees symbolize the process of death and life beyond.
When walking through the tree's I found several gifts left from recent ceremonies. I also found a lock of hair which was so large it was plaited!
Find out more about Britains ancient Yew trees here.
October – Discovering New Coastlines
Given that I hadn't travelled anywhere since late March cabin fever was starting to set in!
A chance to visit Southbourne, a town along the Dorset coast,gave me a fantastic opportunity to explore somewhere completely new. I was pleasantly surprised by the pristine beaches (they have won awards!) and nature reserves that protected some of the historical sites.
Visiting in October meant that there was a nip in the air but with a brisk walk up Hengistbury Head I soon warmed up. I photographed 'Quarry Lake' which was an old quarry (it's in the name!) situated on the headland that was mined for ironstone in the 1800s.
I wrote a dedicated blog of my visit which goes more into the history found in this area along with my favourite shots of the trip.
Check out my blog post here!
November – Never Stop Learning
The one constant in my life despite the turmoil of the outside world has been photography. It has given me something positive to focus on away from my problems. I have always wanted to learn long exposure photography (one of the many different techniques used in photography).
I love how a landscape can be turned into a piece of art to capture a moment in our hearts forever.
After some research about how to achieve this effect, I learnt that long exposure is achieved using an ND (Neutral Density) filter to create motion blur of moving elements such as waves and waterfalls. It decreases the amount of light that reaches the sensor, enabling you to use a longer shutter speed to give the desired effect.
This shot was my first attempt. I don't think it is too bad. I love the raw energy of crashing waves. There is something quite cathartic about walking in a storm that invigorates my senses.
Read about my journey with photography:
December - Winter Walks and Crisp Sunsets
Normally by December, I am busy setting up the property I am working in for the season ahead. With COVID halting the opening of ski lifts in the French and Austrian Alps my hopes of finding work were crushed again.
Spending Christmas at home was a rare occurrence and one I relished as normally I would be working hard over the festive period (Christmas & New Year are peak weeks with high paying guests so expectations high and work load even higher!).
Despite the drop in temperature, the winter sun in the UK offered some incredible sunsets and photo opportunities. I found a use for my ski clothing as I braced the icy cold winds. Who knew the layering system used for the slopes would come in so handy on the South coast of England!
The above shot was taken on New Year's Eve around 4 pm as the sun was setting for the last time in 2020. It was a beautiful sunset.
I decided from that point to not look back on 2020 with remorse but with a full heart of what I had gained and achieved.
2020 was the year we counted our blessings of what we have in our lives and not
what we lost.
Here's what I gained from 2020
New friends, a love for photography, a professional camera, a brand new blog website, a deeper understanding and patience for life, time with my family.
What did you gain? I would love to hear in the comments below. Let's create a ripple effect of positivity.