As we pass through the gateway of the winter solstice, I begin to see lots of messages about planning for the year ahead start to filter through. It’s something that has always irked me. Like the focus of contemporary Hogmanay celebrations being all about the year ahead, when Hogmanay has traditionally encompassed our farewell to the old in addition to seeing in the new.

It’s so important, don’t you think, to look back as we begin to look forward? This year, I wanted to properly honour the year that’s been, from winter solstice 2020 to winter solstice 2021, with a list of notable things that happened. (A lot of these are tied to my Patreon and Alignment activities.)

I’d like to compile one for each of the years ahead, as I make my way through my fifties, adding one item to the list to correspond to each additional year I’m here on this planet.

Aside from a couple of general achievements that happened this year, the list is reasonably chronological, starting back in the winter lockdown of 2020. Those were dark times, but the colour did return. Now we’re facing further COVID restrictions once more, I really hope our winter isn’t as bleak this time around.


  1. A conversation with my Wild Twin at the Midwinter Solstice, where I discovered (again) the unfulfilled longings of my wee self as a child who took on adult responsibilities far too early.
  2. Envisioning my year ahead for 2021 by way of feelings and intuition, revealing the deep longing for wide, open spaces – far away and tantalisingly forbidden.
  3. Paying attention to the small stuff, inspired by the Scots saying Tak Tent O Sma Things.
  4. 49 straight days of yoga with Adriene, until …
  5. Slipping on a wet metal step, whilst lifting a couch over my head (during Ruaridh’s flat move) I sustained a shoulder injury (which I’m still in treatment for.)
  6. Inspired by the Witches of Scotland podcast, I researched (and commemorated in a Salt Circle of Tears) the women and men of Lanarkshire who were accused in the Scottish Witch Trials.
  7. Learning that my stepdad died alone from heart failure, and discovered he’d breathed his last in the exact spot where my mum had died years previously.
  8. Tracking down my childhood mug as one of the only heirlooms from my mum’s house: the house was all cleared by the time we arrived, with no chance to spend time alone with our memories.
  9. Investigating what I needed to Root to Rise out from my winter depression.
  10. Attended my stepdad’s funeral and saw family not seen in person since the Before Times. Comfortably ugly-cried behind my face mask.
  11. Spent some time to consider how Finding Beauty is a necessary part of being human.
  12. Grew flowers (twice) on my mother-in-law’s-tongue houseplant.
  13. Escaping plague-inflicted travel restrictions on the first qualifying day, to a cosy Bothy in the Galloway countryside, hearing my first cuckoo in years and watching the full moon set as the Bealltainn sun rose.
  14. Signing the license agreement and moving in to my first ever external art studio.
  15. Re-booting my monthly physio sessions, including massage and acupuncture and realised again that living here in the centre of this wee town, where I am able to walk to a good physiotherapy clinic is quite the boon.
  16. Gielston Gardens in the warm spring sunshine, finding great joy (and therefore healing) in the human cultivation of land by means of landscaping – the bluebells and the azaleas!
  17. Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast in 24 degree sunshine at the beginning of June – our first trip in the new-to-us, vintage campervan.
  18. Culross in Fife – famous for the Scottish Witch Trials, its ochre-coloured Palace, Abbey built on Pictish Church and said to be the birthplace of St Mungo, founder of Glasgow.
  19. A return visit to the Crannog, just 3 days before it perished in a devastating fire.
  20. Midsummer self-portrait : a recent tradition – I look less angry than last year’s.
  21. Sleeping in the most glorious of Mongolian yurts at Midsummer and confirmation that round houses are my jam. Cooking on fire outside is the best.
  22. Hearing my first curlew call.
  23. Whithorn Abbey, said to be the site of the first Christian centre in Scotland and another replica Iron Age roundhouse.
  24. A pint in the warm, midsummer sun at the harbour at the Isle of Whithorn and failing to find the leg stumps from the actual Wickerman original movie.
  25. Climbing Loudoun Hill in East Ayrshire. Small, but mighty.
  26. Body Blessings. Oh, how this body is take for granted.
  27. Finally visiting the Cairn o’ Mhor winery for Ruaridh’s birthday.
  28. Eskdale prehistoric trail and discovering cleg bites are much worse than midgie bites.
  29. National Museum of Rural Life, which is quite unexpectedly, just down the road from us in East Kibride.
  30. Scottish lavender fields at Tarhill Farm, Kinross alongside marigold, chamomile and the rest – so inspirational!
  31. Making a decorative oat wreath in time for Lùnastal/Lughnasadh/Lammas – it’ll be with us for many years, unless there’s another bread beetle infestation.
  32. Unsuccessful attempt at abstract canvas painting after a year or so gap – the process is what counts!
  33. Online, weekend retreat with the Mandala Magic : ALIGNMENT participants – always, always, I need these as much as anyone.
  34. The campsite at Kelburn Castle and Country Estate in North Ayrshire (favourite campsite so far.)
  35. A daytrip to Largs – famous for the Vikings and a proper, old-fashioned seafront. Ice cream and fair rides, stories from auld yins who remember.
  36. Holidaying in Fife with the van : Driving along Standingstane Rd ; PYO strawberries and sunflowers on a hot, sunny day ; Home made cake and garden visits with family ; Watching cricket on the golden sands at Elie.
  37. Applying for and receiving support from a Business Mentor (the first outside help ever for my wee creative biz.) My main requirement? Someone who understood menopause 🙂
  38. Restarting yoga everyday … it’s transformed me on so many levels – and my shoulder injury is improving everyday. I vow to never give this up again.
  39. Vision boarding for my life plan. Mind mapping my 5 year plan and seeing all the same ideas writ large, together for the first time on paper. Biz mentor points out the imbalance between work and play.
  40. Harvesting rowans for jelly, haws for vinegar and brambles + plums for jam – all from our local hedgerows.
  41. Making home made ink from elderberries and mushrooms, all from our local hedgerows.
  42. Finding #Scotstober on Twitter and making an entry for one of my favourite words, eldritch.
  43. Dunure castle and labyrinth adventure. Recording Tam O’ Shanter on the beach at Dunure. Visiting Auld Alloway Kirk and dinner afterwards at the Fox and Willow.
  44. Finding inspiration during COP26 via the Govan Free State and the Handless Maiden fairytale.
  45. Hosting another 5 Days of Mandala Magic event for 3000 folk. Cue great connections, feedback …. and burnout (sorry, adrenals!) Got called woke and politicized!
  46. Celebrating my 51st birthday in person with Martin and Ruaridh, after last year’s lockdown birthday solitary celebrations.
  47. Experimenting with a different type of art project and opening a pop up sticker shop on Black Friday.
  48. Completing another cycle of Mandala Magic : Alignment and receiving the best feedback ever. Taking time to absorb and integrate the teachings offered by those wonderful participants.
  49. Opening another round of Mandala Magic : Alignment – with the support of so many past participants.
  50. Listening to 50 fiction audiobooks over the course of the year. Notable mentions ; Still Life by Sarah Winman ; Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan ; Sweet Caress by William Boyd – It seems I’m a fan of sweeping sagas.
  51. Teaching myself to sleep on my back, after only ever being able to go to sleep whilst lying on my front.