There is no denying it, 2020 was a hard year in so many ways. But it was also very eye-opening for me. I have learned so much more about myself, my business and what is important to me. I have also been stretched in new ways and realised what could be possible in my business. 2020 was a curve ball. Of course I didn’t manage to achieve any of my business goals for the year. But, I did learn and grow. Here are some of my thoughts as I reflect on 2020.
I’ve always considered myself a perpetual student and life-long learner, and I certainly learned a lot in 2020. Earlier in the year my Dad said these words to me and it really struck a chord…
“We must always be humble enough to learn, especially from others. Never think that you know everything there is to know about something.” At the time we were talking about Black people’s experiences in British history and about reading books that discuss and challenge both Christianity and Atheism.
I have been pondering my Dad’s words throughout this year, and I aim to take this with me through life. I never want to be someone who is too proud to learn something or recognise that I need to unlearn something that was previously held up as a truth in my life.
In 2020, many of my own blind spots were revealed to me when it comes to race, privilege and equality. I learned about peoples experiences and that to be an ally meant something much more than good intentions. I was forced to stop, reflect, read and learn and I realised that there was so much more for me to understand.
Privilege is something that I have been aware of before but 2020 showed me clearly what it really means. Hearing about what happened to Ahmaud Arbery in February of 2020 shocked and horrified me. My husband goes out running most mornings and to think of him not coming home makes me feel shaken to the core. I saw the impact that this and the many other horrifying racist events of 2020 had on my black husband and brother in law. It opened my eyes to their experiences. I have no way of understanding fully a Black or Brown person’s experience, but I am listening, reflecting and doing the work to challenge and change.
I can only speak from my own, very-flawed experience. I also understand it’s not my role to teach or lead in anyway in this space. What I can do is continue to learn and listen and encourage others to go on this journey too. In 2021 I am going to continue to look at my own life, business and relationships and investigate holes in my own ways of thinking. How can we become loving and good people in this world if we are not willing to listen to other people’s experiences, reflect and change?
In November 2019 I launched The Calligraphy Box, the first and only calligraphy subscription box in the world! At the time I was focused on providing additional help to workshop attendees continue their practice at home. Little did I know that it would also save my business in 2020.
In the previous year my business income was a combination of workshop tickets, shop products and wedding calligraphy and design. When COVID happened, I no longer had an income from workshops or from weddings. In 2019 they made up 90% of my income. Further still, I only took my business full time in April 2019 (prior to this I also had a day job), so I was ineligible for any government funding.
I decided to put my all into making The Calligraphy Box the best subscription box possible. Five star reviews flooded in, subscribers joined and boxes piled up in my studio. I also received countless messages from people saying that it was helping them through lockdown and it was the creative escape they needed for their own health and wellbeing. I truly loved (and continue to love) creating the lessons and content each month. It has been both a thrill and a challenge to me.
As I reflect on 2020, I am full of gratitude to every single person who has supported my business. Whether you have subscribed to The Calligraphy Box, purchased from my online shop, commissioned me to create something or shared my work, I want to say thank you. You have made it possible for me to not only keep my business alive, but to grow it in a year of uncertainty and difficulty. It propels me to jump into 2021 with renewed excitement and inspiration to serve and teach in new ways in this year.
I am glad for the fresh start that Januarys always bring us, especially in 2021. Though it may feel the same, especially if you are in the UK and living through the 100th lockdown, it can still be a fresh new beginning if you want it to be. Everything is certainly uncertain but we can control how we respond. This is my focus for the beginning of this year. My word for the year is ‘present’. Our new puppy Kuill has been teaching us the importance of being more present, helping us enjoy the day to day. Every lunchtime walk is a peaceful bliss that I have come to love and look forward to. I am determined to avoid the stress of ‘busy’ as I plan this year for my business. I will also schedule in time to rest, take holidays and be creative in 2021.
Last year was difficult and hard for all of us, some much more than others. But I encourage you to review the year 2020 for yourself. I know there is much gold to be found and lessons to learn in the difficult seasons and we are poised with an opportunity to rebuild for what we hope is to come. Ask yourself what worked, what didn’t, what needs to change and what will stay the same? I hope you give yourself grace for your own mistakes and difficult seasons when you reflect on 2020. I encourage you to strengthen yourself with a renewed hope and resilience to view 2021 with a fresh new lens.
Forever your calligraphy friend