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December 31, 2020

20 in 2020 – My Personal Highlights

2020. What. A. Year…

We all know how ‘bad’ it’s been, and it’s true; it’s been a total rotter! But that’s not to say that it can’t go down in history without any positives… in fact for me personally, 2020 has been a lot better than it’s predecessor!!

Just as my main work season was beginning, all shoots, weddings, and jobs were suddenly gone. Whilst still mentally fragile from burnout in 2019, this obviously wasn’t easy to swallow. I had to stop paying myself in July as it was clear the business funds couldn’t keep up with everything else I have to pay each month: live client galleries, website fees, insurance, software subscriptions… the first to go had to be my wages. I could go on and on with the stress that came with all of this, but that’s not what this blog is about!!

With all of the (many) negatives it’s brought, 2020 has also brought a lot of life changing positives. As a result, I’m ultimately thankful for this year. Here are my 20 personal highlights from 2020…

  • FAMILY TIME
    • Having Chris at home with us more was just amazing. He supported me SO much, helped with everything, did sooo many chores, gave me time out, and forced me to drink more water… (like many parents out there, I always forgot to care for myself when making sure the kids were ok!). We also had more time together as a family. This was a rarity too – weekdays saw no Chris, and the weekends I was often out working. It’s so nice to see we can still function well as an awesome foursome, haha!
  • DISCOVERED MORE ABOUT OUR LOCAL AREA
    • Moving to Monmouth six years ago was such a blessing to me and Chris, and this year of being locked into the area has really proven how lucky we are to be here! We are surrounded by beauty wherever we go. We discovered sooo many new areas to enjoy too. All within walking distance from our doorstep. We loved Monmouth before, and that has only strengthened!!
  • APPRECIATED OUR GARDEN MORE
    • I have to be honest, I’ve been a little grumpy about our little garden in the past. It’s titchy, it gets boggy in the winter, and much to my mother’s dismay, I’m a serial plant killer (I try to keep them going, but the very sight of me makes them wither!!). However… this year made me LOVE that little outside space of ours! Turns out that if you give these plants some time, they decide to stick around…! Also, to have a garden with young children was more than a blessing. We almost lived out there full-time throughout the spring and summer.
  • COMPLETED COUCH TO 5K
    • Say what?? Me? NEVER!! To think I was out of puff after running for a minute at the start of this year, being able to run for a full 30 minutes, still with some energy left, is nothing short of a miracle! Determination was the key here. I’m still a little shocked!!
  • WALKED OVER 1000 LOGGED MILES (GOT A MEDAL TOO!)
    • I received a medal in the summer for walking halfway (500 miles) – and what was super special to me about this was that all but 17 of those miles were with my two children! Mostly with a pushchair or carrier, we went out, explored and bonded. It was lovely. Then in September when my little boy started school, I told myself I wasn’t going to drive the school run unless it was critical! And I stuck by it. Meaning I was then walking close to seven miles a day during the week. Before I knew it, the final medal was on its way!!
  • SET UP A NEW BUSINESS
    • Long before photography, I had a passion for drawing. So whilst I couldn’t be out there shooting the weddings and families who had booked me, I dug my pens out and got scribbling! Very quickly afterwards, I decided to share what I’d been playing with and boom, Rachel Lilly Illustrates was born as my little side hustle!
  • OUR LITTLE BOY STARTED SCHOOL
    • Time just keeps on zooming, and suddenly our ‘baby’ boy was starting school! We couldn’t be more proud of him walking in so bravely and coming out with nothing but smiles everyday (and plasters on his knees!!). His teacher tells us he’s progressing superbly in all areas of school too. Win win!!
  • OUR LITTLE GIRL STARTED CHATTING IN SENTENCES
    • Our son had delayed speech until he was about 3 years old. His little sister on the other hand was the complete opposite! She was putting sentences together by 1.5 years, and can confidently tell us EXACTLY what she wants (and usually NOW!).
  • MY PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS IS TAKING AN EXCITING NEW DIRECTION
    • This is still work in progress, but I’m excited to finally have a plan in action that will help me to keep a more healthy work/life balance whilst we still have a little one out of school. I want to treasure these days as much as possible. Family always comes first.
  • WE SQUEEZED IN A FAMILY HOLIDAY
    • We didn’t know if it would happen, but when the first lockdown eased, we went camping in Devon for a few nights, before moving along the coast to Lyme Regis for the rest of the break. These were such special days together 🙂
  • MARRIED FOR 10 YEARS
    • A decade being married to Chris; my love, my rock, my water-giver, and hand/feet warmer-upper…! He’s the glue that’s held us all together just recently, and I couldn’t be more proud to call him my husband.
  • CHRIS GOT A NEW JOB
    • After so many years of super-hard graft, this guy was head-hunted by one of the UK’s fasted growing tech companies. This has been a big prayer answered for us, and is hugely relieving the year’s financial burdens from my lack of earnings. Phew!
  • BURNOUT RECOVERY
    • 2019 was the year I reached burnout with a toddler, a newborn, a husband who was gone 12 hours a day, and a business to try and keep alive during my only ‘available hours’ in the evenings/small hours. It was inevitable that I couldn’t continue like this, but at the time I felt I had no other choice. Sleep was my smallest priority. BIG BAD MISTAKE!! This chapter of my life was a toughie! And without 2020 coming along, I’m honestly unsure about how I’d be right now…
  • LOCAL FRIENDSHIPS
    • Since moving to this area, we’ve made some amazing new friends! To have such an incredible team of buddies in our hometown is unbelievably strengthening. I’m forever grateful for being locked down with them just meters away (quite literally, too!!).
  • ALL CAR PROBLEMS FIXED
    • Our lovely old Volvo is back to being its super reliable self again after lots of work. Yes it’s fairly old, but my gosh I love that beast!! New isn’t always best 😉
  • ZOOM PARTIES
    • Where would we be without Zoom this year?!! I’m pleased to say I’ve had no embarrassing Zoom moments, but we have had lots of lovely, hilarious Zoom ‘parties’. Whether it being a virtual party for our little boy and his friends, family gatherings, ladies catch-up nights or emotional/laughing-through-the-tears-chats with photo buddies (shout out to Mumford Photography & Michelle Huggleston Photography!!). It’s made the distance between us all feel a lot smaller.
  • MASTERED MY TIFFIN RECIPE
    • Whats a tiffin with no fruit in, but Rice Crispies, chocolate orange and Oreos?! Probably technically not a tiffin… but I’m sure some of my local friends are only my friends because I made them this! And I’m ok with that… ha!!
  • MY BUSINESS SURVIVED
    • Not without the help from the Welsh Government, it has to be said!! I’m so grateful for their support.
  • LOTS OF DECLUTTERING
    • We piled up all the stuff to take to charity, before remembering that ALL charity shops were closed!! Big mistake, hahaha!! It all went eventually. Pity we had to live with the pile on our landing for almost six months though…!!
  • SCOOTING WITH MY LITTLE BOY
    • My brother gave us an adult scooter after he realised he couldn’t use it with his Malamute and Wolf Dog…!! My gosh, I’ve LOVED using it this year!! Reliving my childhood, scooting after my little boy who was whooshing along on his… just perfect, simple moments!

There are so many other precious moments. The more I think about it all, the more I realise. This year hasn’t been a write off. It’s been a special, once in a lifetime period of time, and one that I can thankfully cherish.

I hope 2021 sees off the Covid-19 worries, and we can start to get back to normal. But with it, let’s try and take along the new ways of life we’ve learned over the last 10 months.

Remain safe and try to find the positives. Hopefully I can see you and my lovely clients again as soon as possible!!

Rachel 🙂 x

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