2020: A Review

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that 2020 has been the weirdest, craziest, scariest, most existentially-challenging, emotionally-draining year of my life.

A lot of bad things have happened and, at times, whilst caught in a Matrix-style existential mindset, I’ve become convinced that I’ve probably been living in an unpublished Lemony Snicket novel without being aware of it.

I mean, at least the Baudelaire kids were allowed to move between households…

The whole year has felt like an extension of that strange period between Christmas and New Year when you lose all track of time and end up eating an excessive amount of chocolate whilst engaging in a nostalgic Julie Andrews movie marathon because you’ve forgotten your purpose in life, there’s nothing else to do and at least Julie seems happy about things.

It takes one crazy year to mess with both the foundations of society and the concept time itself and it’s a bit weird to think that it’s coming to an end, almost like stepping out of some surreal alternate reality.

Months, weeks and days have melded into one another and become one long unstructured mass of time and, looking back, it’s hard to believe that I’ve achieved anything or done anything significant.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to write a post to remind myself that I have done some things this year, aside from of sitting on a sofa in my oldest tattiest hoody, staring into the existential abyss whilst stoically making my way through a family size bag of Doritos.

LIST OF 2020 ACHIEVEMENTS SOME THINGS I’VE DONE

  1. Survived 365 surreal, weird, stressful 2020 days.

2. Watched several of Boris Johnson’s ‘addressing the nation’ speeches and only considered punching the TV once or twice (exhibiting considerable emotional control).

3. Recovered from a spiraling Amazon addiction after realising that buying loads of things to help with stress (candles, incense sticks, meditation journals etc.) was only making me more stressed about the state of the high street and also the state of my bank account.

4. Managed to keep in touch with most of my friends, despite being confronted with my own face on Zoom more than I would have liked.

5. Didn’t shave my legs for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

6. Didn’t wear a bra for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

7. Briefly considered wearing a bra when going to the supermarket…

8. … and then didn’t (I’m sure that’s feminism or something… and by ‘something’ I mean extreme laziness).

9. Became closer to nature by taking lots of relaxing walks in the park.

10. Became closer to my dogs by taking several distinctly less relaxing walks in the park.

Swan was angered when Jessie made a unconsidered attempt chase it in what was potentially the most terrifying moment of my life to date.

11. Ran out of perfume and avoided buying more from Amazon by discovering a cheaper alternative.

12. Learnt to juggle (3 balls, not general life responsibilities)

13. Shaved my brother’s head and briefly considered becoming a barber. #RethinkReskillReboot

14. Resisted a sudden impulsive urge to shave my own head whilst bored and looking for something to do.

15. Briefly tried to eat more healthily to counter an increased amount of sedentary sofa time but then decided that it was a difficult time and I deserved to treat myself.

16. Did yoga like 10 times and only broke one item of furniture in the process.

17. Discovered a brand new way of burning calories.

18. Discovered a new comeback that has proved useful for whenever I get yelled at by groups of youths in the street.

19. Got bored and built a really tall tower out of used toilet rolls.

I mean, it looked a little bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa before it fell on top of me so it was basically like being on holiday.

20. Took up mindfulness and meditation and stuck with it even though my body seemed intent on conspiring against me.

21. Survived several mental breakdowns.

23. Had more time to write and draw (it may have been an awful year but at least I’ve got a few decent cartoons out of it!)

All in all, I may have entered 2020 with a fresh rush of energy and a resolve to strive to become the best version of myself that I possibly could be. And I may now be ending it by dragging a significantly less impressive version of myself towards the finish line.

But, all things considered, I reckon that is the biggest achievement I could have hoped for.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook .

My Lockdown Yoga Experience

I have been finding social isolation quite challenging mentally so I recently started doing yoga in the hope that it would help me to reduce my anxiety levels.

It is quite easy to do yoga from home – the internet is full of videos featuring yoga instuctors serenly moving their bodies into various positions whilst radiating inner calm.

Unfortunately, these yoga instructors recorded the majority of their videos before March 2020 when the future seemed as solid as their core muscles.

After two months of lockdown, I have neither the abs nor the sense of security to replicate such serenity.

For me, ‘developing a practice’ has consisted mainly of manically jerking my body through each position in a vain attempt to restore some semblance of inner zen.

img_0552

It turns out that praciticing yoga under lockdown conditions isn’t easy.

I think that yoga was probably designed to be practiced in the mountains or other areas of vast natural beauty whilst listening to the sound of the wind moving through the trees or the waves rushing up against a pebble beach.

It is slightly more difficult to conjour up a sense of profound internal peace in a 4×3 metre room in your parent’s house the middle of Liverpool to the sound of your brothers using the nearby toilet and your mum playing a particularly intense game of Words With Friends in the opposite room.

img_0554

That being said, yoga has helped me become more physically attuned to myself and more aware of how my body relates to the space around me.

However, this is predominantly because my room is too small and untidy to accomadate pretty much every single yoga move and my ability to enter into a state of seamless yogic flow is often compromised by inconviently positioned items of furniture. img_0553

I guess I hoped that my body and mind would blend together in some sort of peaceful holistic spiritual cocktail.

Unfortunately, my spiritual cocktail seems to be one of those cheap mixers you buy on a night out at uni – you’re not sure exactly what’s in it but you end up downing it anyway whilst your flatmates chant at you.

All in all, I would like to say that lockdown has transformed me into a fully fledged zen yogi but, if I’m honest, I have pretty much resorted to repeating postive mantras to myself from my favourite position of all. img_0550If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

How To Motivate Yourself To Exercise.

When I first started doing exercise, I found it quite hard to motivate myself so I bought an ambitious amount of sportswear in the hope that wearing it would help me get into the mind-set of an athlete.

I reasoned that, if I looked like an athlete, I could delude my body into thinking it was capable of performing impressive feats of strength and endurance.

Once I started exercising, I was able to maintain this illusion of supreme athleticism for a short amount of time.

However, it soon became clear that I wasn’t an elite athlete and was, in fact, just a regular bog-standard unfit person.

img_0157.jpg

Before exercising, I would perform elaborate warm-up routines in preparation for what I assumed would be a high intensity workout.

Warm up stretches are a useful way to prepare your body for exercise.

However, they are considerably less useful when they are used to actively avoid doing exercise in the first place.

img_0159.jpg

Eventually, I decided that I needed to be more disciplined in my approach to exercise so I drew up a plan that detailed exactly how I was going to spend each workout to ensure that I spent less time stretching and more time actually exercising.

I thought that if I could stick to my workout plan, I would eventually fall into a routine and motivating myself to do exercise wouldn’t be such a struggle.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until my workouts started to deviate slightly from the routines that I had originally set out for myself.

img_0161.jpg

At one point, I also tried going to exercise classes in the hope that the group camaraderie would help drag me through the workout.

The concept of the exercise class has been around since Mulan times (very historically accurate…) in which the renowned military personal trainer Li Shang whipped his recruits into shape to the tune of the song ‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’

‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’ is a highly motivational song that makes getting fit feel like a heroic mission.

img_0160-1.jpg

However, the message relayed to participants in fitness boot camps nowadays tend to be slightly less stirring and dramatic .

img_0160

At the end of the day, there is only one thing that will truly encourage me to exercise.

img_0158

In theory, healthy exercise cancels out unhealthy cake consumption and everything balances out at a vaguely acceptable level of healthiness (this is a very scientifically accurate statement that I tell myself so that I can eat cake without feeling too guilty…)

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.