DANIELLE DOBSON - LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER - MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
2020. Ugh I’m usually excited to do my lil ol’ gratitude post at the end of each year, but this year? I’m honestly still wrapping my head and heart around 2020. Well, perhaps unwrapping my head and heart. What a FREAKING year.
As I began to write this, I looked back at my previous end of year posts, and remember the process of practicing gratitude in order to lead a joy-filled life (ref. Brene Brown’s The Gifts Of Imperfection). I think I’ve never fully appreciated what this looks like until knee-deep in the shit storm that was 2020. It would be so easy to write the entire year off, learn nothing (except perhaps how practice good hygiene), and just hope that 2021 would be better. But the lessons learnt and the gratitude to be found is why I’m thankful for the year we’ve had.
So here we go. Here’s what I’m grateful for in 2020.
…togetherness. In our communities and in our country. The bushfires were horrific, but goodness they bound us tightly. We watched in horror as the fires raged for weeks and months on end, but we turned that into action and we fundraised, we collected goods to support the CFA, we rallied for our communities and of course we were all-in to help save our wildlife. It opened our eyes to the climate crisis and sparked much needed change.
…Disney World. Ugh we were SO close. We had planned the trip of a lifetime and surprised the kids with a letter from Mickey inviting them to come visit (I still can’t go back and re-watch that video…too many tears) but only ten days out, Disney World shut their gates in order to flatten the curve of COVID-19. We were devastated. Probably more myself than the kids. We’ve all been reminded that sometimes life can be really unfair, but that there’s always a lesson to be learnt, growth to be had, and what matters most is family. We continued to experience disappointment after disappointment throughout the year; the lesson repeating itself each time.
…Who Gives A Crap. I know right, how quintessentially 2020! At the very start of panic-buyers and shopping frenzies, we got our regular delivery of toilet paper (bamboo & plastic free!) and really wanted to reach out to our neighbours to offer support in what was a pretty scary time. So, while we should have been wandering Main Street USA and queuing up for theme park rides, we packed some toilet rolls into the kids holiday backpacks, and strolled up and down our street meeting neighbours and giving a roll or two to those who had none. It was a JOY! Since then we have stayed in contact with some of these neighbours and helped and supported them when needed. Gosh this was a lovely thing to come out of 2020.
…teachers. And every parent yells ‘AMEN!’. Gosh I will never take a teacher for granted again. Remote learning was tough! Cruz and Milly were in Grade 2 and Grade 1 respectively so I needed to be pretty hands on during most of our time remote learning. At first it was kinda fun, but the novelty slowly wore off and their desire to learn, along with my desire to ‘teach’ dwindled. So thank you, teachers. Those words really don’t feel like they do the gratitude we all feel for you justice, but please know you are so appreciated. I now know what an extraordinary mix of love, patience, curiosity and kindness it takes to teach our children, and I’ll never forget what a gift you give our babies every day.
…isolation. And believe me when I say I never thought I’d be thankful for iso! But we had so much quality time together. Slowing down and being present was WONDERFUL. Board games, bike rides, gardening, cooking, puzzles, reading, bush walks, craft and more. I took more photos of the kids, started painting again, slept more and ate more. My biggest takeaway was realising how much I enjoyed spending time with my kids. It might sound silly, but I actually really like them as people, ha! So I made the call that 2021 would be a slower year when it comes to work. I would take on less so I could be home more. We would also choose to do less extra-curricular activities for the kids, to free up our afternoons and slow down. I figure I will never regret having more family time.
…our government. Stay with me! As I write this, I can think of a bazillion things our leaders don’t do that they should, but all I have to do is look overseas to see the mess that we have undoubtedly avoided here. I couldn’t imagine having to fear the virus day in and day out like others do internationally. Lockdown has been tough, but field hospitals and mass graves are beyond scary. I’m also really thankful for the financial help available to families and small businesses. It’s a frightening prospect to have your livelihood taken away instantly and indefinitely, so to have that fall cushioned even a little bit made for a few less sleepless nights. I know not everyone was able to access the support they needed, and that the road ahead is still long, but I feel so grateful to have had the options that we did.
…the black lives matter movement. I’m not going to go into this one too deeply, because there’s just so much to it. But I’m thankful for the great unlearning that has begun, both worldwide and here in this beautiful land. I have a long, long way to go with my own anti-racist journey, but I’m excited that my kids are learning too. I’m really am so eager to see how the next generations will bring help to bring about even more, much overdue change.
…my community! Whether it was zoom wine parties, voice messaging on DMs, memes, trivia nights, phone calls or even the good old snail mail (yes, actual MAIL!), I have felt super supported and connected to friends despite so many months apart.
…my clients! When everything stopped and I could no longer work I was waiting for the cancellations to roll in, but it never happened! Aside from one beautiful family moving interstate, every single booking was put on hold rather than cancelled. I cannot express how thankful I am for all the patience and support I have experienced from my clients. It has certainly been a busy few weeks and will continue to be while I still play catch up, but it has been wonderful to finally meet all those chubby bubbas. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
…my family. I just bloody adore them all. The kids still get so excited when I say I’ve got a new booking (especially after the dry spells this year), and they’ll still always ask how a shoot went when I return home. And Matt who helps me with not only support and encouragement, but all the times I ask for help when re-designing my website (and I change my mind about 157 times, oops!). He’s a keeper.
…lastly, I’m thankful 2020 is OVER. I know things won’t magically get back to ‘normal’ (do we really want them to?) when we hit 2021, but we know that we are stronger, more resilient and more empathetic and compassionate than ever. Let’s do this!
Happy New Year wonderful people. Here’s to another year with you.