Welcome to 2021! A year that everyone waited for, tired of COVID talks, concerns, restrictions, and fears. I thought that my 2019 was a challenging year. However, 2020 have surprised us all, hasn’t it? 😊
For a while, I felt like this year was a wasted year. Despite lots of good things happening, I felt that for the most of it, 2020 was limiting, restricting, stressful, and anxious year with more ‘can’t’ than ‘could’. However, once I put my overpowering feeling of ‘this was a horrible year’ aside and looked at the facts, 2020 has not been that bad. Moreover, it was a year with many achievements and learnings. So here we go, my 2020 in review:
- Kicked off 2020 with a 12-hour party that involved BBQ, pool and lots of dancing (thanks, Gintare!). Not a bad way to start the year.
- Continued the year on a high and went for my birthday celebration to Bali. If you haven’t seen my vlog about that trip… well, you are missing out! Beautiful cocktails mixed by Mel, games and fun in Melori’s hen’s party and Lina coming all the way from Europe to join us – what could have been better?
- Upon my return from Bali, I had the honour to be a bridesmaid in Melori’s wedding. A wonderful celebration in a wonderful place with wonderful people.
- Ended the month watching the Sleeping Beauty ballet under the stars at the Quarry in Perth. Go romance!
- Romance continues. Had a fantastic stargazing experience with Sami and Andrej in Perth’s observatory. If you haven’t been to an observatory recently – I suggest putting that on your list. Why? Because it gives a healthy perspective on how small we actually are in this spacious universe.
- Oh, forgot to mention: just before COVID started, Eglė and Andrej came to visit me in Australia. One of them stayed for a week, the other for three months 😊 What did we do? Went to Queensland (Cairns) to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Given that I have never done any diving before that, this experience was a-ma-zing!!!
- Kicked off with one of the most significant achievements of the year: opening the first EVEEEEERRRR Lithuanian school in Western Australia. Jūrate, Ingrida, Kristina – this is something to be remembered for a lifetime!
- Among other fun things of the month: Thai & Fly workshop (year, you ‘acro’ fly… and then do some Thai massage 😊), exploring Fremantle prison tunnels in little kayaks and offroad segway’ing through Rottnest island. Oh, and also unforgettable Queen and Adam Lambert concert here in Perth!
- Started the month with some sailing (finally!). Unfortunately, that had to stop soon after, but oh well, we will not go into that!
- Won a Vice-Chancellor’s award for being one of the top lecturers in the entire university, based on student evaluation. Hooray! I also became the Academic Chair for the university’s MBA programme, which was a fantastic learning opportunity. Well, and a lot of work for the rest of the year 😊
- Went to a 3-day Kizomba festival in Perth which was my last large-group event until the second half of the year.
- Had a lovely high-tea for Karolina’s baby-shower. Cycled around Rottnest with Jackson. And started a daily gratefulness practice with Sami. If you haven’t tried that yet, is a beautiful practice that makes you appreciate little miracles just a little bit more.
- Wrote a grant with Ineta to investigate how the future of leadership will look like. We didn’t win, but that was good preparation for the other joint projects that are currently ongoing!
- Surprise surprise… It took a pandemic for my London girls (Ina, Jurgita, Eglė, Rasa and Rūta) and me to establish a weekly catch up calls to cheer up each other and laugh a lot. What can I say – stressful circumstances, but a great outcome.
- Moved Lithuanian school’s teaching online due to COVID, which, actually, worked really well with my adult learners.
- Had a virtual Easter with my family and several virtual Eastern drinks with friends. Not as exciting as the real thing, but still fun! I even wore Eastern bunny ears… 😉
- Talking about virtual events… with Svajūnė (who is in Turkey) and Lina (who is in Denmark), we started exercising virtually together weekly. A fun two-hour workout. One hour for exercising and the second one for talking!
- As hard as April was in term of lockdown, it was a month of creating new routines, setting up new practices and enjoying small happy things. All of this is documented in my quarantine vlog.
- Delivered a month-long Leadership training programme online for the executives from Hong Kong, Singapore, Myanmar and few other Australasian countries.
- In the middle of the pandemic, Jackson and I managed to have a photoshoot. It was a fun escape from the fact that you can’t go to the gym, to the restaurants, to… well, most places 😊
- Forgot to mention that one day before the photoshoot, I managed to FLY off my electric skateboard while riding it at 30km/h speed. I did an impressive Mission Impossible somersault and landed nicely on two feet, obviously. Just joking… Ended up sliding on the asphalt instead and made a dent in the knee. Whoops!
- Finally, I moved to a new house! Now I have the ocean view from thle apartment. Seriously, it was a dream coming true in the middle of not a dream-like craziness! I also cycled 35km from my old house to the new one (one way of transporting my bicycle in between houses) which was greeeeat. That was probably my longest cycle since cycling 160km in France with my bestie Austė.
- Gym, pilates and yoga reopened here in Perth, so it was a month of catching up on all the missed exercising!
- Started an interesting COVID related research project with Rūta, my Lithuanian friend, who is a doctor in Germany. We looked at how COVID is depicted in media across three countries – Germany, Australia and Lithuania.
- Had a quick weekend escape to the Margaret River, a resort town in Western Australia, about 3hr drive south from Perth. Given June is winter here in Australia, we had some cosy time in front of the fireplace and some very rainy walks 😊
- Had Lithuanian Joninės celebration with a massive fire, Lithuanian songs, making of wreaths and other traditions! As small gatherings were allowed in WA since the end of June, it was nice to see some people finally!
- I went to my work office for the first time since the end of March. It was and continued to be, very empty for the foreseeable future.
- Thanks to Jackson, I had one of the most wonderful experiences of the year: hot air ballooning over Western Australian lands! Among top memories of the day is the sunrise, seeing kangaroos jumping through the fields and landing in the field full of cows 😊
- The original plan for July and August was to go to Europe (usual Lithuania – Germany – Denmark – UK loop); however, due to COVID, Australia has closed its borders. No one leaves, no one comes in. Even in January 2021, when I am writing this blog, the policy remains the same. It is our 10th month of being locked up in this big island 😊 So, instead of international travel, I spent July writing several academic papers and learning how to write a code on the Internet of Things course.
- At the end of July and the beginning of August, I also attended a Lithuanian online course dedicated to teaching Lithuanian across the world. Again, originally this course was supposed to be delivered in Lithuania; however, the online version was still helpful and enjoyable.
- Went back to Margaret River again for a weekend getaway with girls. Thanks to a beautiful human being Sami for pulling us all from the stress and anxiety to a weekend of yoga, sound meditation, walks and talks.
- Among other fun things of the month: being interviewed for a podcast in a recording studio, going to a massive Friday night sound meditation gig and starting Partner Acrobatics classes at the circus. Who does not want to run away with the circus (or something/someone else….) sometimes 😉?
- After linking up with few researchers in Lithuania, we did an amazing job putting a research grant together in an insanely short period of time (you gotta love those deadlines). The result is still unknown, so please keep your fingers crossed 😉
- A sad and stressful month at work (followed by more sad and stressful months) with things changing daily. You see, since Australia closed borders 10 months ago, that meant that no international students could come to study in Australia and the Australian education system is built on the income from those international students. So no students = no income = no jobs. Good fun!
- However, the fact that I could not spend money travelling meant that I could now spend it investing in shares which became my new hobby. Hello, ASX!
- I was invited to give a keynote at the Future of Work institute here in Perth on the Future of Leadership, a fantastic opportunity, given how passionate I am on this topic. What do you think the future of leadership will look like? 😉
- Among other goodness of the month was restarting sailing, candlelit soiree at the arthouse, kicking off Hubris & Humility project with researchers in the UK and treating myself to several de-stress massages.
- I gave another keynote, this time on Hubristic Leadership at WAPPA. I also completed the development of the new Graduate Certificate in Project Management which took a lot of my working time over the last several months. I also delivered a weeklong intensive leadership course for Western Australian leaders. Clearly, a very workaholic month.
- Had a blast weekend in Perth for Jackson’s birthday. One of the weekend highlights – staying in the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton hotel here in Perth. Seriously, it will take a while to find a match for that accommodation…
- I also joined the Women in Research programme. What do we do? The usual. We learn we talk, we research…
- Gin’ed (literally) myself for a day in the day-long Gin tour. The day has never been so Gin & Tonic’y.
- The most stressful month of the year. All the deadlines of the year decided to put themselves in my calendar in November. I also had my holidays booked this month (why????) and went to Esperance/Albany/Denmark (areas at the very bottom on WA, 8hr drive from Perth). The travelling was great, but pre and post-holiday work until late hours was not fun. To make things even more entertaining, I also had a knee operation (remember my fall in May?) and could not bend my knee for weeks. Yay! 😊
- On the positive note, I hit all the work deadlines, including delivering a guest lecture online on Ethical leadership to students at KTU university in Lithuania.
- Finished the year on a high with several awards. The fun award was from my team, for bringing fun and smiles to the team during this year. The serious award was from a trust in the UK, a big research grant to work on hubris-related topics for the next few years. Go, team!
- I also tied all the loose ends in various projects. For example, together with my colleague and friend Carlos, successfully finished a year-long Entrepreneurship and Innovation project for Year 10 kids of the local school. Raising future leaders is essential! Also, I helped my fairy-god-mother Lina start a numerology business, so if you’re interested in getting to know yourself, check out www.manoskaiciai.lt 😊 you will love it!
- I also had several girls nights (hip hip hooray and a loud shout out to fun bringers Sami, Sarah, Mel, Melori, Tara) and of course, Christmas events and celebrations. Although we can’t go to some other Australian states, nor we can leave Australia or anyone else can come it – at least there’s no more COVID in our Western Australian bubble at the moment. This meant that Christmas celebrations could happen and bring joy to many people.
- Talking of joy – thanks to Ingrida & Gintaras who organised traditional Lithuanian Kūčios dinner. I expanded my Lithuanian Christmas eve cooking repertoire and attempted to make my Mum‘s special dish – poppy seed pastries. Successfully! Also thank you to Vicki who put together the biggest pile of colour-coordinated presents that I’ve ever seen!
- I am grateful for so many things this year. Sharing experiences and exchanging postcards with Gintarė V. Love and unexpected surprises from Aistė. Reading or listening to, on average, 2-3 books per month. Accountability calls with Rūta and Sam. Perseverance with ‚Magnificent Monday‘ practice even through the pandemic. Whiskey on the beach. Calls with Mum, emails with Dad and FB messages with my Brother. Exchanging memes and photos with our dream team Aleksej, Andrej, Lina and Svajūnė. Always full of laughter calls with Eimutis. Conversations with my cousins Ilona, Ieva and Adomas from various parts of the world. Walks with Naja.
Despite most of the year trying to deal with the enormous amount of stress and an insane amount of work, I can’t say it was a bad year. It wasn’t. It was a different year, a year that neither I nor anyone else, had before. A year of highs and lows, a year of learning, discovering new coping mechanism and learning to appreciate what I call ‘small miracles’.
There are also many things that are not listed in the summary above. Some good, some bad, some ugly. Stress. Mindfulness. Fear. Strength. Anxiety. Motivation. Tears. Happiness. Panic. Planning. Loosing. Finding. Unknown. Discovery. Attachment. Letting go. Missing. Gratefulness. Anger. Love.
Thank you, 2020, for all these emotions. It was a year of the highs, the lows and the learning, for sure. There’s a quote by Matthew McConaughey that – I think – summarises this year well: “I believe that everything we do in life is part of the plan. Sometimes the plan goes as intended, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s part of the plan. Realizing this is greenlight in itself”.
Write your plan. Live it.