I often find myself feeling down as we draw to the end of each year, so to try to combat that, I’m writing about the good things that have happened. 2020 hasn’t been an easy year, but there have been many wonderful moments and it occurs to me that if I’m not careful the I’ll forget the good stuff, and, in my mind at least, write it off as a bad year.

Dear future Hannah, here are 100 good things that happened in 2020:

  1. Going to see Susie Dent: The Secret Life of Words with Dad. I love her, I love her, I love her.
  2. I get a car (and eventually) get comfortable with driving again.
  3. Flying into Milan to deliver a talk to a 100-strong team of inhouse PRs.
  4. An evening spent in a hotel bar with a view of Edinburgh Castle, accompanied by Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters, and an old fashioned or two.
  5. Meeting the wonderful team at Yard and delivering a two-day training session – so much gloriously positive energy.
  6. A flight on an almost empty, tiny plane out of Edinburgh, which allowed me to see London from the sky at night – London’s green spaces dark voids amidst the blazing lights.
  7. A lovely lunch, and an amazing production of The Boyfriend at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
  8. It takes me 25 minutes to walk to meet Laura who’s ten minutes away. I get hopeless lost and call her, she directs me over the phone. Despite my utter ineptitude she is happy to see me.
  9. A final dinner date with Laura before she leaves for Berlin. Feeling excited for what this year will bring her.
  10. A sleepover with Jude which reminds me of the sleepovers we had close to twenty years ago.
  11. Reading Weather by Jenny Offill, and Difficult Women by Roxane Gay cover to cover in a single glorious day.
  12. Spending Valentine’s Day with my accountant, and discovering that actually I’m pretty good at running my own business.
  13. Persuading Dad that we really ought to go and see Parasite at the cinema.
  14. Meeting Barnes at the Britannia and setting the world to rights.
  15. Safe spaces, and amazing conversations with Jaz and Areej.
  16. Coffee, and book-talk with Molly.
  17. An overnight stay with my amazing friend Diana in Devizes.
  18. Dad patiently rooting through the sales racks, and finding me a great dress with a 70% off tag, whilst I mooched around like a stroppy teenager.
  19. Serendipitous seating plans on a plane to Krakow which saw me reunited with Jo-Jo and Andrew.
  20. Laura waiting for me at the airport in Krakow having flown in an hour earlier than me from Berlin.
  21. Devouring a ridiculously large portion of assorted pierogi with Laura before heading to the Awards.
  22. Drinks in the square at midnight.
  23. A shared pizza with Surena in what might be the weirdest bar in London.
  24. Being surrounded by amazing minds at the Women in Tech SEO speakers dinner.
  25. Emceeing the Women in Tech SEO Festival, and presenting the most personal talk I’ve ever given. Feeling so proud of Beej and everything she’s built, without a doubt the safest, most nurturing, and nourishing conference I’ve ever attended.
  26. Desperately trying to hold back a giggling fit whilst being recorded for Sam’s aerobics instructor qualification video.
  27. I find and buy a dictionary of phrase and fable from a charity shop which delights me.
  28. Borrowing a copy of Forever by Judy Blume from my local library, and having a little cry after reading it.
  29. Drinks with Amira in Soho, duck pancakes, and poor menu choices – WTAF was that broccoli thing your ordered babe?
  30. Virtual goodbyes to the wonderful people I met and worked with for six months at [client redacted].
  31. The smug satisfaction of having a sit down after cleaning my windows.
  32. Tesco finally has toilet paper back in stock. There is much rejoicing.
  33. Losing myself in Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann.
  34. A call with Gisele that reassured me, uplifted me, and gifted me new opportunities.
  35. My Libreria subscription which sees me receive a new book every month is the best gift I’ve ever bought myself.
  36. Daily calls with Mum and Dad bring us closer despite not being able to see each other in person.
  37. PT and virtual exercise classes with Sam via Zoom. Trying desperately to find a floor board that doesn’t squeak and creak to do jumping jacks on (there are none). Narrowly avoiding putting my foot through the glass doors of my bookcase.
  38. I make it through press up challenge month.
  39. Rearranging the furniture in my living room. As if by magic the room somehow feels bigger.
  40. Finally buying a proper desk and a chair to allow me to work without completely destroying my own spine – I really should have done this sooner.
  41. Mum sending me daily duckling-updates, and other photos of things she’s encountered on her walks.
  42. Glorious gifts, and Zoom birthday drinks with a group of brilliant women who I’m very lucky to have in my life.
  43. Wonderful conversations on a leadership panel via Zoom with Lauren Brener, and Hanna Andersen for Gals Out Loud, organised by the thoroughly ace Amira Haroen.
  44. I spend morning spent organising my CDs by colour, and it pleases me more than it probably should.
  45. Finally getting around to watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
  46. Dad challenges me to write a pangram, and I oblige with an incantation for use in the event of an apocalypse: “A bald coot, dog-eared flute, Gloaming. Ho – indignant juggernaut, Kelpie, Loki, Magog, Namazu, Odin, Pegacorn… Quicken: RISE! Summon the urban Valkyrie! Winged xylophonists yonder: zero-in.
  47. Discovering that baby oil can be used to remove water marks, and streaks from stainless steel cookers, and that if you don’t have baby oil, lavender bath oil will also work just fine.
  48. Watching True Romance in the middle of the day, and hollering YES QUEEN when Alabama keeps on getting up, every time she’s knocked down. Resolving to be more like Alabama.
  49. 6am walks along the river and in the park before the masses descend.
  50. Reading Irenosen Okojie’s short story collection, Nudibranch in a single sitting.
  51. The joy of receiving pen pal letters from my young cousin Josie, and seeing the world through her eyes.
  52. Accidentally coming within six feet of a heron near Teddington Lock and marvelling at just how big and prehistoric-looking they are up close.
  53. The warden at Bushy Park who opened the gates to the woodland gardens two hours early, allowing me to encounter dozens of baby bunnies whilst blissfully alone.
  54. Turning my flat into a jungle, current status: 45 houseplants and counting.
  55. That morning when I somehow managed to push a 50kg cabinet up a flight of stairs, and into my flat completely on my own, without accidentally crushing myself (there was a moment on the 11th step where it could have ended very badly). In retrospect, this was a very stupid idea.
  56. Speaking virtually at Upload Conference on what felt like the hottest day ever. Having to close the windows because everyone down my street decided it was a good day to have VERY LOUD CONVERSATIONS. Being delighted by Mark Johnstone‘s and Laura Crimmons’ pre-talk chat (I want you two to have a radio show), and forgetting to switch off my mic after I’d spoken (awkward).
  57. Getting sunburned on a socially-distanced picnic with my Mum, and my amazing cousins. Watching Josie and Lila take flight on the same rope swing that both Rachel and I have also flown on. Realising that the children around here have been swinging from that same tree for more than forty years.
  58. Weekly walks with Steve, circling Feltham fields, and giggling at *that* handwritten sign every time we encountered it.
  59. Bingeing three seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale.
  60. Making Negronis.
  61. I see good people escape bad situations, and do happy dances in my flat.
  62. Spending the best boozy Friday afternoon in Mary’s garden, feeling inspired her new venture, and hopeful for the future.
  63. Grace’s garden party: all the scones, plus the chance to meet a handful of amazing women.
  64. Finally being reunited with Laura on her birthday.
  65. Toffee apples at Mum’s birthday dinner, in what I suspect might be the most fiercely air conditioned restaurant on the planet.
  66. Wandering the winding paths around the graveyard at the end of my road.
  67. I take part in the Women in Tech SEO mentorship programme, and marvel at just how unbelievably well-matched my mentee and I are. (Beej, you’re a wonder).
  68. Dad and I delight in watching the slow progress of the gigantic slugs (which inhabit the gardens at his block of flats) at dusk each night. It seems the birds don’t bother them, possibly because these slugs taste awful or maybe it’s just that these slugs are bigger than most birds.
  69. I make cross-stitch gifts for people who I love.
  70. I become obsessed with Michaela Coel after watching I May Destroy You.
  71. I develop a mini battenberg addiction, and realise that thanks to lockdown I am simultaneously fitter, stronger, and a bit fatter than I was before.
  72. Being reunited with Jess after the longest time. After conversations about being kinder to ourselves, I leave feeling very grateful that I have some many brilliant women in my life.
  73. My wonderful friend Molly has her debut novel published. I devour it in a single sitting.
  74. A glorious sun-drenched walk with Julia. For the remainder of the year, the sun shines whenever we meet.
  75. Ballet classes via Zoom.
  76. My friend Jude has a baby girl who’s cute as a button.
  77. Steve’s birthday dinner is a joy. I fail to realise how tipsy I am until I stand up to go for a cigarette. I stagger home giggling to myself.
  78. A family of squirrels invade. They somehow find their way into the space between my ceiling and my neighbour above’s floor. “Squirrels in the ceiling, pink champagne on ice…” (to the tune of Hotel California) plays in my head on repeat. This is not a good thing at all. My Freeholder is an absolute hero and the situation gets sorted. No longer sharing my flat with scuttling critters is a blessed relief.
  79. Mum and I escape London. We rent a cottage in West Sussex, do jigsaw puzzles, and revisit the places we used to go with Nan. On the way home we grab Sunday lunch with our cousins. We declare “Johnny was quite the shant” at regular intervals and it delights us.
  80. Reading the Booker Prize longlist.
  81. Steve and I finally get to watch Us and the Invisible Man together. We eat brown food. It is everything.
  82. Mum discovers two dictionaries of idioms lurking on the communal bookshelf at her block of flats. (Residents leave books they no longer want here, and others are free to take them). She gifts them to me and I am delighted.
  83. Another virtual speaking gig – DigitalZone; with an amazingly engaged audience – incredible given the Zoom fatigue I’m sure everyone was feeling.
  84. Launching my newsletter, which, in turn, has lead to many wonderful email conversations, and tweets.
  85. Discovering Octavia E. Butler thanks to a post on Brainpickings.
  86. I am totally blown away by writer-director Charlie Kaufman’s adaptation of Iain Reid’s unsettling novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things, (a Netflix film), and, as a result, discover a new favourite poem.
  87. T-Cap introduces me to the peculiar hell that is pirate metal.
  88. I discover Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books project and create some bookshelf stories of my own.
  89. I rediscover my love of playing with lego, and build many things.
  90. Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf and The Mere Wife.
  91. My friend who was made redundant emails me to tell me she’s got a new gig. I holler “IN YOUR FACE 2020” and dance round my flat in my pants.
  92. My mentee emails me to tell me she’s got a job in Berlin. I do another happy dance around my flat.
  93. I go to see the Christmas Lights at Kew Gardens with Mum.
  94. Thanks to an overcast evening (damn you clouds) I fail to see the Great Conjunction. Nevertheless, I decide to stick a bunch of sequins and glitter on my face to honour the occasion and have a lovely Zoom call with Laura.
  95. Rewatching The Office (the UK one, because that’s the best one, don’t @ me) yet again.
  96. Alex publishes his second book, and I finally get the chance to spend a delightful few hours reading it cover to cover.
  97. I’m told that the play I submitted to Chickenshed Theatre will be performed next year.
  98. I receive amazing Christmas gifts including the softest gloves in the world from Jude, a gorgeous scarf from Mum, a five year line a day book from Laura, a Frida Kahlo jigsaw from my cousins, an amazing hamper of homemade treats including the best chocolate orange brownies ever from Steve, and a gigantic box of lego from Dad.
  99. Dad gets a date confirmed for his knee replacement surgery, and the surgery goes ahead on 29th December. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.
  100. I’m overjoyed when yet another good person escapes a bad situation.

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