Right, let’s do this! It has been quite hilarious to re-read my new year’s resolutions for 2020, knowing how things turned out. However, it has also been very interesting to see how some things worked out nonetheless, or far better than expected. So without further ado: my 2020 in review!
I celebrated the second anniversary of my blog in August. Over that time I’ve seen a steady growth in both visitors and views, with the numbers of 2019 doubling in 2020. I also reached 100 followers a weeks ago, which is a big encouragement to me – so thank you to anyone who visits regularly and reads these posts! Being mentioned by other people/accounts on social media, like De maandag na de zondag newsletter or @iloveleuven on Instagram & Facebook, has also really helped – so kudos to you guys!
As you might know I try to publish a post every other week, with some variation in the topics I cover. I try to plan them ahead a bit and have been using the planner above to do so. During the first lockdown in Spring I tried something new and published a post every week for 8 weeks straight. It was a very interesting thing to try out and definitely helped me to get through those first weeks mentally. But with my regular routine I don’t think it’s feasible to write a post every week. But who knows?
In my bullet journal I’ve created a few spreads to keep track of my follower numbers on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. It isn’t something I check very often, but nice to update once in a while and to visualise progress in that way. I set up a Pinterest account for my blog and spent a fair bit of time on it earlier on in the year, but haven’t seen much come out of it? If anyone has any experience with it and has some suggestions on the matter, I’d love to hear them!
Twitter and Instagram have been my preferred platforms and I’ve gotten to know some lovely people on there, like @bookishluna for example.
Remember travel? Yeah, right.
In January I spent a weekend in the UK o visit friends and I was supposed to meet more friends in London in March. However, France closed its borders 2 days before my trip and set the travel cancellations in motion. No trip to Berlin in May, no Oslo in June, no road trip in Ireland over summer. No foreign trips at all, if you don’t count the couple of hours we spent in Germany or France.
Instead we discovered more of Belgium than we thought was possible in a year, and I tried to capture it in different blog posts: Ghent, Brussels, Brussels food & drinks (too much to cover all in one post), Liège and Leuven. We bought a car towards the end of May and that enabled us to visit other areas: we embarked on a camping trip in Ostbelgien in July and did a trip to the Ardennes in September.
A bit bittersweet perhaps, but I did spend some time at the start of the year writing up previous trips. So if you like to plan ahead or need a bit of travel escapism, check out my blog posts on Georgia (part I and part II) as well as the post on a weekend in Prague.
2020: the year of my first marathon, supposedly. And then the injuries came, a worldwide pandemic and the Rotterdam marathon got cancelled, like most other ones. That left me with nothing to train for, and that way 2020 ended up being the year in which I stopped running altogether. Because if it doesn’t spark joy, we chuck it out of the window, right Marie?!
I did some video workouts from my gym and also some yoga with Adriene, but nothing I really stuck with. It took me a while but then I realised: I miss dancing. A lot. And that is a type of exercise I do actually enjoy. So I went down a few YouTube rabbit holes but am happy to say I now have a date with myself twice a week to shake my ass on the tunes of Michael Jackson & co.
Believe it or not but 2020 turned out better than expected when it comes to creativity. I guess that comes down to the fact that I had more time (to be bored), created more creative projects for myself and kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
I took part in the #HOMwork2020 where Lauren Hom gives you a weekly assignment. I find it hard to come up with things to draw from time to time so this was a great weekly nudge. In April I gave #the100dayproject also a second go and really enjoyed it, maybe even more than in 2019.
In 2020 I also upped the ante on my bullet journal as I got inspired by some beautiful spreads on Instagram. Some of these spreads helped me with my blogging or reading goals, so even better! Corona made sure I didn’t go to any live conferences this year, but luckily I managed to do some sketchnoting during a few online conferences I attended.
Last but not least: in September one of my dreams came though and I started a graphic design course. I have class one day a week – at first at campus, now online. I’m learning to work with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign as well as learning about the whole printing process this year. Next year will consist of more creative projects. It’s challenging but I’m learning so much! And a lot of it I can immediately put into practice at work or for these posts, so perfect!
My goal for this year was to read 20 books. Moreover, I wanted to follow a certain pattern: English – Dutch – English – Dutch – French. I’m glad to say I managed, but not as smoothly as expected. As I mostly read during my commute and there wasn’t much commuting for the majority of the year I really had to find my way here. Also, not all books lend themselves to bedtime reading.
Anyway, I managed and very happily tell you about the 20 books I read this year in this post.
In 2020 I started listening to podcasts again, but in a very different way: short episodes for my lunchtime walks rather than long ones for lenghty bus journeys while on holiday. I also jumped on the sourdough bandwagon, and I’m pleased to say I now bake all our bread (and no one has died so far).
As I mentioned above – in the space of 8 weeks during lockdown in spring I wrote 8 blog posts. It turned in a whole little project whereby I tried something new every day, for 8 weeks straight. It kept my mind preoccupied and I learned lots of new things – I can only recommend it!
2020 has been tough but on a personal level I cannot complain: both my partner and I kept our jobs and we were able to work from home. We have a house with enough space for both of us to work in separate rooms and a garden to get some fresh air. The latter was essential during the first lockdown because we could only go a few kilometers away from our house. During the second lockdown this restriction luckily wasn’t in place and that made all the difference for me: we could hop into our car and go for walks anywhere in Belgium, with 2 other people as well.
Throughout the year I’ve been able to work my 4 days a week, I started my graphic design course in September and had lots of little projects to keep me preoccupied in my spare time: baking bread, more cooking & baking now restaurants are closed, gardening, creative projects, reading books & magazines, discovering new podcasts and this blog, of course.
But it does feel like I lost a big part of myself this year: there was no more planning. No travels, no birthday parties, no outings with friends. No more planning 3 to 4 months in advance. Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely some benefits to that. I’ve seen my sister a lot more for example and I feel like we’re coming out of 2020 a lot closer; not that we weren’t before, but we each had busy schedules and saw each other a lot less.
I’m just such a planner, that’s what I enjoy doing. And that stopped, almost completely, because I couldn’t bear being disappointed again and again and again throughout this year when things I had hoped for couldn’t go ahead. So I stopped planning.
I’ve really missed my friends and family this year. During the first lockdown it felt as if everyone was just as far away – whether they were in Germany or Ireland or on the other side of Brussels, and that was nice in a weird way. But now that it’s been months and we still don’t know when we’ll be able to see our friends and family abroad the going gets tough. To compensate there have been lots of letters, postcards & Christmas packages, and that has been very sweet.
Last but not least: 2020 didn’t crush me and I have my other and better half to thank for that. So if you haven’t already today: thank your loved ones, tell them you think of them and miss them, or, like I will do now, go give them a big hug!
See you on the other side!