2021, what a strange year. Probably like many of you, I remember it as a difficult year - certainly the first half! And still, looking back, there's so much beauty, so much love, I'm overwhelmed. I'm as grateful as ever for my photography and journals and scrapbooks and this blog. I wouldn't remember, otherwise. I cherish the ability to look back and see: that moment of beauty, of connection, of magic. Especially in months that I otherwise remember as really hard. I've saved those moments, they happened, they're real - they're what got me through. I'm grateful.

The first half of 2021 was pretty much miserable. I was unemployed (well, mostly; I worked one day per week) and very low, I was stuck in an apartment that I hated (more and more as the year progressed), we weren't able to see people indoors much, or at all in periods. And I felt like I was fading away, getting paler and paler by the day. All the time I had was useless to me: I had zero motivation, energy or joy, and it didn't matter how much time I had, I was still unable to do anything worthwhile with it. But even then, there were bright lights of joy and connection. Almost all of them consisted of walks and/ or fika in nature with friends.

Summer brought vaccination and good weather for spending time outside, with many many walks and swims and outside gatherings, and I started feeling better, more like myself again.

And then, in September and during the rest of autumn, everything happened. We got an apartment - my dream apartment! - and then moved in early October. I started working again. People were vaccinated, Covid cases went down, we started hanging out inside again. And with all that came energy and inspiration and motivation and joy and the truth (for me) that I get a lot more done when I have much to do. It's been such a wonderful autumn and Christmas.

Which was the triumph of the year?

Finding THE FLAT! I started dreaming about this place - this exact group of buildings - in late 2020. I was open to other buildings in the area but this was the magical combination of everything I wanted. A ten minute tram ride from the city centre, but with the forest (a lot of forest!) right outside our door. Newly built three room flats with balconies and well thought out details. Only three came out on Boplats in 2021, and now, I'm so delighted that we didn't get the first two I applied for - they were in the building next to this one and we wouldn't have the view we have now (how is it even real that that is our view? That oak tree is 500 years old). I still can't almost believe my luck, but after many, many years of moving around, subletting and hoping for something like this, I got exactly what I wanted.

Also, I'm really proud of all the efforts I made this year to stay in contact with friends. From online board game nights (SO much online Dominion) to meals outside no matter the weather (and a freaking kubb match in the snow!), I really did all I could to stay connected with the people I love. It was hard work but ultimately worth it.

Best three trips of the year:
I only took three long-ish trips this year, so that was easy!

Roadtrip to Jämtland + three day hike in the mountains. SO rich, SO wonderful. Best week of the year. Loved spending all this time with Liam in the car and in the mountains, loved seeing new things, loved experiencing autumn in Jämtland. Just so good.

Liam and I went on a getaway to Stockholm to celebrate my brother's 40th birthday and to have some time off to explore. Two very lovely days.

A week at the cottage, where different friends visited me and Liam for a few days each. Cottage time doesn't really feel like travelling as such but it counts as going away. It was a lovely week and it was longer than a weekend, so I put it in this category. :)

Best weekends of the year:

Easter weekend

Cottage weekend in May

Best daytrips of the year:

Roadtrip through northern Halland with Liam and Lisa

A day at Donsö with Reasonable women

A quick trip to northern Halland with Liam

Best parties of the year:

Anna's & Henrik's wedding

Anna's hen do

All the birthday celebrations that we still managed to have, especially in the latter half of the year when it was safe again: Carolina's bingo picnic, David's midsummer party, Tove's summer afternoon party, Karin's dinner and Lisa's hat party are a few that stand out. In short, I love celebrating people's birthdays.

What was your greatest success workwise?

Having a work life at all again. Not that that success had anything to do with me or my efforts - there was just a long enough lull in the pandemic after summer that I could run my choirs for a full semester. Working with my choirs makes me so happy, I can't even tell you! Plus, I got booked for a few other really fun things - a few photo gigs, a bunch of singing lessons as well as corporate stuff (singing together as team building - so fun). So all of autumn felt like a success even though it was just ... normal, I guess. A success in itself?

Which gig was the most fun?

Only had one. And that fact feels like a huge hole in my heart; I miss it so much and I can't wait to make music (we had more gigs than that booked, and they all got cancelled). The Sky is Crying did a livestreamed gig in June and while streaming certainly is different compared to a live audience, I still loved it. We also released a new single this year, a live recording of I Don't Know + St James Infirmary, which I'm super proud of. You can listen to it here.

Hobby of the year:

That will have to be walking. So. Many. Walks. (Honourable mention: Scrapbooking, but walking was even more essential to my mental health this year.)

Which music did you listen to? Laura Mvula, Spell Songs, Daft Punk, Old Dirty Brasstards, Imogen Heap

Songs of the year: Justin Bieber: Anyone, Spell Songs: the Lost Words Blessing, Alan Walker: Fake a Smile, Caroline Shaw: To the Sky, the Magic Lantern: Holding Hands

Best film you watched for the first time?

Soul. Loved it.

Best book you read this year?

Klubben by Matilda Andersson. Honourable mentions: Gå med mig till hörnet by Anneli Furmark and Nätterna på Winterfeldtplatz by Elin Boardy.

Which clothes did you wear?

This in the spring and autumn

This in the summer

This in the winter

That's pretty much it. (Shoutout to Lisa, my trusted moral support when I shop for clothes.)

Were you happier or less happy this year compared to before? Because of how divided the year was, this is impossible to answer. The first half was harder than 2020. The second half was many times better than both 2020 and 2019. So right now I'm actually in a really good place.

What made you feel good this year? Our health! We've had zero cold symptoms, nothing at all, all year (everyone we know with small children at home are now screaming SHUT UUUUUP). Our loved ones are mostly healthy, too, and I'm so grateful. Also, my relationship with Liam, moving to a home I love, getting to work again, hanging out with friends, spending time in nature. More specifically:

All the walks Lisa, Tove and I took between January and May, when all three of us were unemployed or furloughed. Long walks, three or four hours every time, every week. For a while there, it's what kept me going.

Going swimming with friends in the summer (and the fika or breakfast after).

All of autumn, which is always a time of renewal and finding new joy for me. More so this year than maybe ever.

And December was so wonderful this year. I got to do everything that I want to do, everything that I so desperately missed last year - gatherings in person with friends and family! Concerts! - and I made the absolute most of it. Christmas is the best.

What made you sad this year? Ugh. There's so much to be sad about in the world, I don't even know where to start. That the pandemic has made everything worse for the people around the world who already struggled the most, I guess.

What was the biggest surprise?

Maybe that I quit my job at kulturskolan. I started feeling during spring that I have been here too long. Seven and a half years! The reason it took me so long to quit was simply that I loved it. I had wonderful colleagues and wonderful students but in the end, it was time to do something new; I was getting same-y and the students deserve better. (Teaching during the pandemic certainly wore me down, too.) And I made up my mind from one week to the next. That's how changes seem to happen in my life: it's not time, and then it's not time, and then, suddenly, it's time.

Best buy this year:

BLUE VELVET COUCH. (I should take a photo with more of the actual couch in it but here you can see the colour! Also, Miranda! <3)

Who meant the most to you this year?

Sharing this year with Liam has been lush. He's my favourite human and my favourite team partner and he's the best. Also I love him so much it's almost ridiculous.

Did you meet any new people this year? Nope! Where would I have met them?!

How did you celebrate your birthday?

I went to Anna's and Henrik's wedding and sort of completely forgot that it was my birthday (except for the lush birthday brunch that Liam made me) because there was so much other stuff going on. :) And then I had a birthday brunch a month later which was super lovely.

Did you do something you've never done before? Förstahandskontrakt baby!

What do you want to do next year that you didn't do this year? I want to dance. Dancing started back up again (very carefully and with many restrictions and precautions) in late summer and during autumn, and while I went to a few dances and enjoyed some of them, on the whole I didn't dance much. Getting back into it has been much harder than I thought. I don't know yet what is wrong, if it will come back to me or not. I miss it but I can't force it.

I also want to take better care of my physical health, I've moved less during the pandemic and gained some weight and I would like to feel light again. It's not a problem in my everyday life, but I want it to be easier to hike in the mountains again.

What was the best thing about 2021?

We're still here.