Oh man, what a year. The funny thing is, I feel like I say that every year. Each year comes with joys and trials and this one was no exception. Like many others, I grieved cancelled travel plans and lost time with friends and family. But with much reduced abdominal pain this year thanks to surgery at the end of January, I was able to enjoy things as simple as going for walks, or shovelling snow again. This year was far from what I had been expecting and it may seem like the words I chose to represent my year might not quite fit, but I found that my year was more wild and fearless than I thought it would be.
Wild was a word that definitely described my summer. I spent almost every day wild swimming in a small lake close to town. I have always loved being in water of any kind, but this year I found absolute joy in my regular swims. As soon as work finished for the day, I would rush home, throw on a bikini and be out the door again within a few minutes. I couldn’t wait to let the cool water wash away the stress of each day. My swims usually lasted from half an hour to an hour, with adequate time spent drying off in the sun afterwards.
So many people seem shocked by my love of Cedar Point, usually with the complaint of leeches. Even after swimming more than 60 times, I made it through without a blood sucker attack. The only somewhat negative encounter I had with wildlife, was nearly having a heart attack as a little garter snake swam into me as it was making it’s way across the lake. Poor thing was as startled as I was! It gave me a good laugh though!
I really never knew what I would encounter on my swims, something that made it even more of an experience. Sometimes, I would have an army of dragonflies flitting around me, ready to hold off the advancing cloud of blackflies. Other times, I would have curious loons pop up close to me, always surprising me with how large they were. My favourite however, was as I swam slowly on my back, watching the clouds shape-shift overhead. I heard a soft noise and turned to see a bald eagle perched on a tree overhanging the lake. Getting to share these natural spaces with wildlife is incredibly rewarding.
Fearless is not a word that many would use to describe this past year, but it really did have significant meaning for me. I am a major worrier, especially when it comes to the unknowns of the future. I feel as if there is constant pressure to get it all together, figure my life out, terrified that I’m not making the right choices or that I’m not doing enough to get where I’m supposed to be. Surprisingly, with so much uncertainty in the world right now, it somehow took the pressure off of me to figure everything out. For the first time in a while, I was living day by day, enjoying the little things and not worrying so much about the big picture.
Somehow, I learned to love spending time with myself and doing things alone this year. It was a slow process though! I was always quite nervous to go for swims or out for walks alone, but I made the decision this year that I wasn’t going to let that stop me from doing things! On the other side of it, I often felt quite sorry for myself, when I didn’t have someone to join me for my little adventures. On Canada Day, I was so upset – a beautiful sunny day spent at Cedar Point, all alone. At one point I was just sitting on the somewhat famous, floating log, crying and wishing I had someone to share that day with. It was then that I realized that wishing for company was wasting time and I should be enjoying the sunshine! Over the next month, I really realized that I can enjoy things on my own. I still much prefer to share experiences with other people, but I don’t need company to make me happy.
This year, I also stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the Young Adult’s group at Lakeside Church in Guelph. This wouldn’t have been possible except that social distancing forced the group to meet by Zoom, which meant that I could join all the way from Hornepayne! While I am a social person, I was nervous about how I would come across on video chat, and was so worried that I would say the wrong things during our Bible studies, but I have been really enjoying my time with the wonderful people in this group!
So my year wasn’t filled with life-altering experiences or profound self discovery. It was a year that I learned I can be happy with what I have around me, that I can overcome little fears and find joy in new experiences. It may not seem like a lot to many, but to me, it made my 2020 a success.