My biggest lesson from 2020 so far

One of my favourite writers is a lady called Alexandra Franzen. In an recent email she included some writing prompts, one being ‘My biggest lesson from 2020 so far’. It got me thinking. What would I say has been my biggest lesson so far? In a crazy year where we’ve all learned a lot about ourselves, my most important lesson is probably remembering just how important love and connection to my family and friends is. It’s certainly what keeps me going every day. 

But there’s another thing that came to mind, and perhaps what I need to remind myself of the most. Something to help me in these post-lockdown limbo times.

And it’s this: The world keeps turning. Things change, and we move on. 

The last time I was in the UK, it was in February for a wedding and a friend’s birthday. The night before I left to return to Spain, it was cold, dark wintry. 

When lockdown started in March we had rainy, cold spring days, I remember being confined in my flat wearing jumpers and slippers. 

Then suddenly it was summer, and I no longer needed a jumper or extra layer. As we were quarantined for so long here in Spain, we didn’t have the usual exposure to the changing seasons. I have no views of trees out of my windows, only other buildings, right up close. So there was nothing to use as a gauge. Only the way the light fell, the feeling in the air, the intensity of the sun. Just as we were emerging from our flats for the first time, we were into the start of summer. And there was the sudden realisation that so much time had passed. 

Right now most of us are feeling stuck, in limbo. Post-lockdown we’ve been going about our daily lives, but with this constant feeling that things aren’t right, we’re waiting for something to happen, something to change. As I write this now, I’m trying to take on a feeling of acceptance, although it’s hard. Acceptance that things are probably going to stay like this for quite a while, this limbo time. 

And life goes on. We have new routines. My weekly quiz with my parents has become a regular fixture in our lives. If I can’t visit them every couple of months, as I used to, then at least we can ‘spend time together’, in a different way. 

Sporadic calls with my young nieces have taken on a new significance. They are literally growing before my very eyes. Wobbly teeth, new glasses, a haircut. Stretching out, centimetre by centimetre. When I see them on the screen – my desire to hug another human has never been stronger.

I’m sending more cards, being apart from friends is making me feel more nostalgic. I’ve rediscovered the joy of creating a birthday card using old photos, from uni days, school days, holidays, time spent together. 

My birthday, which I’ve just had, felt particularly special this year. I felt so loved. Each text message, video call, card or present sent in the post felt meaningful. The idea that someone had gone to the effort of selecting something for me, buying it, wrapping it. Posting things. It reminded me that these people care for me, they want the best for me, they are thinking of me, they want to bring me a little joy. There is so much kindness. Even though we can’t be together, we are connected in a special way. 

I have a feeling the winter months are going to be particularly hard. Darker, rainier, colder days don’t always inspire much joy and lightness. Feelings of gloominess and isolation may well increase. Even so – all I ever really want to do in these months is light some candles and hibernate and read. There’s never been a more fitting time to do just that. I’m trying to tell myself that it’ll be ok. 

I guess the seasons are a way of reminding us that life is changing and moving forwards, even if we feel stuck and that our lives are on standby. Maybe it feels like things we wanted to do are just impossible right now, like change career, meet a new partner, move house, travel – it all feels incredibly risky or unlikely right now. The economy is not great. Meeting new people, let alone getting close to them feels quite unrealistic. We’re either not allowed to travel or we know that if we do we could go into lockdown or get ill or whatever. 

But, time is moving on, and we can create change in our own lives, even if we’re still mainly within the same four walls we have been since March. We can move with the seasons, adapting our cooking, changing our wardrobes, changing our routines, lighting candles, reading more.

We can still take things step-by-step, exploring career change by reading, listening and talking; online dating; searching for a new home; dreaming of travel. Everything at a slower pace. Knowing that one day we will be out of limbo.


Career change can still happen during this uncertainty! If you’d like to start on your career change journey, step-by-step, rather than wait until things are ‘normal’ again (so when will that be?) book in for some coaching sessions with me. Find me here on LinkedIn , or email me at

Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

Comfort in the now

It feels like we’re living in time suspended. Neither here nor there. On the surface things are quite normal. I get up, go to a coworking space to do my work, say hi to ‘colleagues’, work, come home. After work I go to gym classes, I go to the supermarket. I drink lots of tea. I see my friend Louise on a Wednesday to eat and watch Selling Sunset together. Yes, it is utter rubbish. I watch films at the weekend, go for walks, cook. I’ll meet a friend for a coffee.

But, of course, things are not as they were. I can’t remember the last time I went out for dinner with friends. Or perhaps I can, it was way back in February, with friends visiting from Canada with their kids. We had a typically Spanish late night dinner, around 11pm, sat outside, with the kids falling asleep around us. It seems, and was, a long time ago.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to queue for a drink at the bar, jostled in amongst others in cheery spirits, talking to randoms. Or maybe I haven’t forgotten. I just miss it. 

I miss hugs from my female friends. And I miss sitting together on the sofa, drinking tea, chatting.

I’ve been to one evening get together with a group of friends, since March. It freaked me out, everyone greeted each other with a hug but me. I felt myself backing away each time someone leaned in a bit too close. 

I’m turning down any invitation to be with more than one or two people or with people I don’t know. I can’t cope with people who don’t understand social distancing. I feel that my introversion is rising. 

My world feels small. 

I haven’t returned to visit my family in the UK, since February. This is the longest I have gone without seeing them – ever. Pre-covid, I would return for a visit every month or two. The longest previous gap was three months. Currently it stands at 7 months, and counting. I’m hoping that a visit at Christmas will be possible, that we’ll find a way to make it happen, safely, but I know I can’t count on it happening. The thought of visiting brings me immense joy, but with it, feelings of anxiety. 

It’s a strange thing, a big global event like a pandemic happening, and not being in your own country. It heightens the ‘otherness’ of where you are, of how you feel. I listen to UK radio, watch UK TV, read tweets and articles written by UK based journalists and writers, listen to their podcasts. I watch the BBC news. I’m a part of it, I know what’s going on, how people feel. And yet, I’m not there. 

I feel displaced. 

I listened to a totally unrelated podcast interview the other day, where someone greatly suffering had the realisation that others feel the same way she does. She’s not the only one. It was a significant realisation for her.

As people have pointed out, we’re not all in the same boat, at all. Some people are suffering with unbelievable difficulty and tragedy. Some people are dealing with serious levels of stress, uncertainty, fear, awfulness, every single day, with or without a pandemic in the background. It doesn’t compare. 

But we are all struggling through something, in our varying ways. All of us. Maybe there’s some comfort in that. Or maybe there’s some comfort in realising that it’s ok to not be ok, all of the time. What we’re experiencing isn’t ‘normal’, so we’re not going to feel ‘normal’. 

I suppose what we can do is try to look for the good in the now. And take comfort from that. I’m not in quarantine, I’m free to go for walks. I have friends I can see, I have a boyfriend to give me hugs and hand squeezes. I have a weekly virtual quiz with my parents, full of laughter.

And keep looking forward, keep looking forward, keep looking forward…

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

When did boxing yourself in ever help?

I’ve been listening to an audio series on career change coaching. It’s got me thinking about how important it is to follow your own path and forget about what you think you should be doing.

It’s easy to dismiss your dreams. We’re really good at talking ourselves out of what we want in an attempt to protect ourselves from rejection or failure. We tell ourselves that success is only possible if we win the lottery, or if we were younger, more qualified, cleverer. 


A friend was recently talking to me about how we fit ourselves into boxes. It ‘helps’ to guide us in what we can and can’t do.

I’ve never done this, I’ve never been the type of person to do that.

I’m always single, I’m always indecisive, I’m not adventurous.

The thing is, there are no boxes. It’s a construct. We dream these boxes up. Based on society, on stories we’ve been told and tell ourselves. Using examples out there in the media and in films and books about how things should be.

We think we know what we should be doing, how we should be living. We follow a similar path to our friends, family, society in general. A successful life is a job where you earn x amount of money, your home life looks like this, your relationships look like this.

It takes courage to think – screw that, it’s not for me. This is what I want MY career to look like. This is what a successful relationship looks like, to me. 

It takes courage to do an about-turn. 

It takes courage to be confident in what you want, to forget about what other people might think of it or what other people think is ‘normal’. And to go for it. 

Big changes

There’s a lot of talk right now about people making big changes in their lives, brought on by the craziness of the pandemic. People realising what’s most important to them. Realising that they really don’t want to go back to how they were working. Realising that they can no longer bear where they are living or who they are living with.

Sometimes it’s a big shake up that gets the momentum going.

Maybe now is the perfect time to start thinking about what you really want from life. To be honest with yourself. And to start making a plan. It’s true – with the uncertainty bought on by the pandemic, it’s seems like a difficult time to make any changes, to physically get out there and do stuff. To take any risks.

But, I like the softly softly approach. Start talking small steps, regularly. It doesn’t have to be a big jump. Find out about someone else’s career. Speak to a career coach. Sign up for an online course.

You can make a plan, full of teeny tiny achievable steps – and get going.

If you’ d like to try a career change coaching session with me, contact me on LinkedIn, or email me at

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Acceptance, the sofa, & tea

I love the changing of the seasons. I came back from my summer holiday at the weekend and the very next morning I could sense the change in the air. Autumn’s on its way. It was cooler in the morning, a lovely breeze coming in through the window. No need for the fan. It’s darker in the mornings, cooler in the evenings. Easier to sleep.

Already, whilst I was away, I’d noticed leaves starting to fall, creating an autumnal vibe even though we were still in August. The city I was in, San Sebastian, though a seaside place, seems suited to the autumn months. A lot of the buildings in the city centre have a slightly dull, darkish sandy colour, running along wide boulevards. I could imagine myself walking briskly along, bundled up with a scarf, through the rain. 

It’s funny how you want what you can’t have. The summer months in Valencia are hard work. You become hermit like, not wanting to leave the flat during the heat of the day, only venturing out come 7pm when the sun has lowered. If you want to go for a long walk you have to save it for early mornings or evenings. I’ve spent much of the summer dreaming of autumn and winter in the UK – sitting cosily on a sofa, wrapped up in a blanket, drinking tea and watching tv. 

And then, on my trip to the north of Spain, I found that the evenings were chilly. Luckily I had a light jacket with me, but suddenly I missed the balmy nights of Valencia, where you’re still hot even when naked. No need to carry round an extra layer ‘just in case’.

One day we had torrential rain. While exciting to watch, and the bold grey clouds were beautiful to see over the sea, suddenly your options dwindle. What can you actually do when it’s properly raining and you’re on holiday? We ended up watching young surfers brave the swirling waves, congregating in the water alarmingly close to the rocky edge of the beach. Huddled together under an umbrella, with wet feet and legs.

I suppose the solution to all this is to appreciate what you’ve got as you live it. Adapt. Accept. When it’s rainy, give in to it, do rainy day things, which is sometimes not very much at all. Maybe just watching the sky and the rain. And on overwhelmingly hot, sunny days, give in to that too, don’t do much at all. And then when the temperature lowers and the sun starts fading, enjoy the moment. Go for a late night walk, enjoy the warmth on your skin, the sounds of the city. 

And on those in between days that make up the majority of life in the UK, when the sky feels low and grey and there’s the threat of drizzle at any given moment, well, accept that too. Get out there and do the stuff you can easily do. Or curl up on the sofa and drink tea.

If you’d like to try career change coaching with me, contact me on LinkedIn or at

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Bas van Velzen on Unsplash