Well, here we are. The last day of the year.
We may be scratched and bleeding, bruised up like never before, but we made it here, to this invisible finish line.
I’m sure that for many of you, like me, 2020 was a year that was filled with hope. So many possibilities. So much fun stuff on the agenda. Man oh man did the carpet ever get pulled out from under us.
I recently re-read the Best of 2019 post I published one year ago today in which I declared 2019 the toughest year yet. Oh dear, sweet, naive 2019 Katie. How little you knew.
After a long year of living in a construction zone, a fussy newborn, six months without a bathroom, and a year that was rife with conflict, I stood teetering on the edge of 2020 and declared that it would be the Year of Katie. I had just signed the contract on a new job, had multiple trips and conferences on the horizon, and felt like I was coming back into myself for the first time since the kids were born.
2020, it was going to be a good year.
In January, I hopped onto an international flight, wheeling my fancy new cabin bag behind me. I was bound for Vancouver, where I’d surprise my youngest sister and meet my new niece. Just a quick trip, in and out, by myself. It cost an arm and a leg, especially for such a short turnaround, but I knew I’d regret not going.
What I did not know is that that trip would symbolize the beginning of the end.
It was there in Vancouver, sitting snugly in my parents ocean-front living room, that the news of this novel corona virus started to come in.
I shrugged it off at first, remembering SARS in 2003, which was deadly and dangerous, but relatively easy to contain. It was on the flight back to Stockholm though, seeing an increasing number of travellers donning masks, that a sense of unease began to set in.
This has been a terrible year for so many of us. The number of lives lost is unfathomable. The lost jobs. The lost opportunities. The cancelled trips, missed birthdays, and unattended graduation.
It has been a year of grief, and loss, and mourning. A year of tremendous sacrifices, and unforeseen change.
For me personally, as you know, a lot has changed.
On the work front, I started a full-time role at a company I’d been freelancing for in February. In March, when the shit started to really hit the fan, I was laid off.
But then, a few weeks later, on the last day of my notice period, I was rehired.
A couple of months later, the company decided to downsize, restructure, and refocus. 17 of my colleagues lost their jobs. I did not.
A couple of months after that, my direct supervisor – the guy who I took the job for – announced that he was leaving. The head of the company pulled me into a meeting to see how I was doing, how I felt about everything, and asked me what my goals were.
I said, when I took this job, there was a clear development plan for my role, and now that my department head is leaving, who I know and trust, I worry that it will fall through the cracks. I want to be in charge of stuff.
And he said, ok, how does head of the department sound?
Honestly, it sounds pretty great.
I know that at a time when things are so unstable, I am one of the lucky ones. Not only did I get my job back, but I ended up with a massive promotion just a few months after that. I will never, ever take that for granted.
And then, of course, there is the separation.
Many people have asked me if it had to do with the pandemic. Too much time together and all that. The answer is both yes and no.
The honest truth is that this separation had been brewing for a long, long time, but there was never really a good time. There was always a trip on the horizon, something in the schedule. I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, I am not getting on that airplane tomorrow. But I always did.
Then came 2020. Then came the pandemic. And with it, a great pause.
Flights were grounded. Space was created. Priorities seen clearly.
I’ve often thought of this year as a looooooonng exhale, and with that came some relief.
I do not know what the future will hold, but I know with unwavering certainty that stepping away from my marriage at this time was the right thing to do. What I have lost is piles of anxiety, stress, and conflict. What I have gained is parts of myself that had been long forgotten.
It remains to be seen what the next steps will be. Reconciliation? One marriage, two homes? Divorce, friendship, and seamless co-parenting? My heart remains open to all possibilities.
I do know that I love living alone. I love the space that I have created for myself and my boys, with the support of the badass community of women who are my sisters and my saviours.
On weekends when I don’t have the boys, I love sleeping in, and then spending a lazy Saturday morning reading books, eating scones, and listening to Taylor Swift. Thank you, Taylor Swift, for dropping not one, but two glorious albums this crazy year.
One night recently I was home alone, and tired. I made myself a cheese plate, popped a bottle of champagne, and lay on the sofa watching episode after episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
On kid-free days when the light is good, I can photograph multiple recipes for the blog. When the light is bad, I can write.
I’ve rediscovered yoga this year, albeit from my living room.
Sure, at times, I pine for my boys when they’re not with me. But more than that, I value what I’ve given them – a mom who is at ease, happy, and engaged. They deserve much, much better than the angry shell of a person I was becoming before I made this move.
So, I don’t know what the future holds, but nor do I need to. I trust the process. I trust myself. We’ll figure it out.
Despite it all, it’s been an ok year. I’m certainly ready for a fresh one, though. Let 2021 be the Year of Katie once more.
Let 2021 be your year, too.
And lastly, there is this humble food blog. I celebrated 10 years of blogging this year, which is quite the milestone when you consider that the vast majority of the thousands of new blogs created each year do not make it to the one year mark.
This year we had record-breaking months for both page views and revenue, with an increase in traffic of 70% compared to 2019. I don’t know how many small businesses you know that grow 70% year over year, but I’m pretty damn proud of myself.
Thank you for showing up week after week and reading my silly posts. Thank you for making my recipes. Thanks for your comments, for sharing, for pinning. Thanks for your emails and words of encouragement.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you dear reader for being here.
Best of 2020
Let’s take a look at the top posts of 2020, according to Google Analytics.
1. Mung Bean and Coconut Curry
It should surprise no one that the Mung Bean and Coconut Curry held the top position yet again. This post accounts for at least a third of the traffic to HNL, which is both impressive and terrifying.
2. Chia Fresca
I don’t really understand it myself, but this funny little hydrating Chia Fresca has maintained a top spot throughout the year.
3. Turmeric Latte Mix
One of my personal favourites, this Turmeric Latte Mix has been holding strong for a while. I gave the post a much-needed makeover this year, and I’m well-pleased with the new photos.
4. How to Cook Mung Beans
This handy tutorial on How to Cook Mung Beans shot right up to the top. It’s actually the only post on this list that was first published in 2020, so that’s quite the accomplishment.
5. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos
Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos are an old favourite. They hold a special place in my heart, so I’m glad they’re still ranking well.
6. Indonesian Black Rice Pudding
I haven’t made this Indonesian Black Rice Pudding in a while now, but this is a good reminder of how tasty it is. Put it on the to-make list for 2021!
7. Red Lentil Dal
This Red Lentil Dal is an old favourite that got a glow-up this year. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful, so make sure you give it a try!
8. Peanut Butter Oat Bars
I was pleasantly surprised to see these Peanut Butter Oat Bars doing so well. One of my favourite healthy-ish snacks.
9. Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry
This Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry is one of my favourite things to have stashed away in the freezer. A perfect recipe for cozy winter days, and is nourishing as heck.
10. Homemade Pumpkin Purée
And last but not least, my Homemade Pumpkin Purée is squeaking in at number 10. It’s impressive that this even makes the top 10 when you consider it only gets traffic about two months out of the year!