In the dying days of 2019, I posted a photo of our decimated bushland. I dashed off a caption, closing off a year that had been hard in many ways with an off-hand comment – “come at me 2020, we’re going to RISE like a phoenix”. It was the easiest decision I’ve had in all the years I’ve been picking a One Little Word to encompass my plans and dreams for the year ahead. Who would have seen, 365 days ago. what the year was to bring? And yet, with everything 2020 brought, we did indeed RISE to the challenges strewn before us.

January saw our weekly river study capture the lowest point of the puddle our town river had become, as the rains started falling after three years of drought. The rains kept falling as we ferried belongings between our town house and our farm storage. And kept coming. And coming. It looked promising, for the first time in a long time. We rejoiced as we watched the river RISE, and we documented every little skerrick of grass we could see RISE…we rejoiced somewhat less at the RISE of a multitude of weeds along with the grass.

February was the month a stationary storm hit and dumped a crazy 98mm of rain on us in an hour. The debris would RISE along the fences, along with the creek levels and the dams. We kicked off another year of homeschool, and by the time we hit our first school break, we had a fabulous rhythm, and were kicking goals all over the place, making my filing and record pile RISE by the day.

March we kicked off break with a trip to Coffs with our homeschool group. We could feel the RISE in tensions and anxieties, globally, domestically, and within our group. All of us came home to what we thought was a 2 week self-isolation, but 2 weeks became 6 and 6 became 10.

And here, on reflection, is where my word came into it’s own. I watched my babies RISE to the challenges that came with isolation. RISE to overcome the emotions of being separated from their grandparents for 10 weeks – the longest stretch in their whole lives. The longest stretch in mine, to be honest. Mr Barefoot had to RISE to the challenge of shepherding a large organisation. I to RISE up and keep everyone on an even keel, RISE above the constant urge to doomscroll. Not going to lie, there was also a distinct RISE in my parcel deliveries…whoops. Through it all, somehow, once the initial doomscrolling died down and we settled into what seemed to be the new normal, my creative output and motivation started to RISE to levels I haven’t had for a long time.

We took the challenge of doing iso life as a large family in a tiny house, and not only did we RISE, but we thrived. We grew chickens and added pigs. We build and rebuilt and reworked gardens. We learnt how our family functions in this space we call home. We may not have managed to make a new house RISE, but we certainly managed to build a home where we are.

And so here we are, ready to wave farewell to a year that has been less than ideal. It’s been rough in places, definitely. It’s been hard and full of meltdowns and tantrums (and that was just me, nevermind the children). I started pondering next years word and started thinking what a fail this year’s word was, until I looked at the year in detail It certainly wasn’t what we expected, but RISE we did. Farewell 2020, you certainly weren’t dull.

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