A Year In Review: Our Top 2021 Personal and Travel highlights

The unexpectedly frosty morning that stopped everyone in their tracks a couple of months ago in Sligo was a gentle reminder that the winter is coming and is coming fast. And before I could even blink – December and the festive season that usually provides a welcome break from daily routines and responsibilities was upon us and then gone again for another year.

As we were nearing the end of the year, it dawned on me that the thing we might be celebrating the most is the fact that 2021 is almost over. If you’re anything like us, December looked a little different and so did the holidays.  Normally we’d be bouncing around between parties with family, friends and neighbours. As that didn’t happen, we used the holidays as a time to reset.  

Generally, I love rounding up the year, and I love looking back at the last twelve months, too. That way I know what I did well, the areas I could improve on and how I can go about planning for the next chapter of my life. One of the things I like to do the most, no matter how good or bad the year has been, is looking back and celebrating all my achievements no matter how big or small.

Exploring Inishowen last summer.

But this year, I debated whether I was going to write a recap blog post at all, considering all that has happened in 2021. Last year was an incredibly difficult year for so many people and I know going into 2022 we will still have struggles ahead.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? So much has happened this year, or hasn’t happened as the case may be. This is the year that flew by and simultaneously dragged on for eternity. It all felt like one never-ending groundhog day of time spent at home cancelling trips, plans and people.

Our usual travel wish list was swapped for a goal sheet that listed investment in self-care, spending quality time with family, reading more and being outside more.

At the end of 2020, I didn’t set any New Year resolutions because thanks to the pandemic crises I learned not to plan too far ahead into the future, or expect the future to look a certain way. Instead, it taught me to live more in the present and be thankful for every day I get to be with my family and friends.

So I eventually decided to use this post as an opportunity to remember the good memories we made during such a strange and heartbreaking year and fill myself up with gratitude as we go into 2022 because despite all the craziness there were plenty of good times too.

Visiting Grianán of Aileach in County Donegal, Ireland.

Enjoying Many Amazing Staycations

So many emotions run through me as I flip through our travel photos from last year and look back on all the trips we have been on around Ireland and Sligo. Boy, did I feel lucky to call Ireland home last year as we mostly stayed within its borders?

Time and time again, I was reminded that Ireland is a beautiful place worth seeing and exploring. And last year made me appreciate how much there is to explore in our backyard and it showed me that even when travel fully opens back up again, I don’t need to take a 10-hour flight to arrive somewhere incredible.

We travelled together to explore Inishowen Peninsula and visited Glenveagh National Park. We took a boat to Clare Island to see the burial site of Gráinne O’Malley and roamed around Burren National Park in search of pink orchids. We visited many archaeological sites in Sligo and were blown away by the variety of tombs and cairns.

The Deer Park Court Tomb in Sligo dates back to 3,000BC.

Celebrating Our Fourth Blogiversary

The last week of December marked four years since we started our blog and published our first post, how exciting is that?

Yes, it’s been four years of blogging, editing, learning, growing, pouring out words and proofreading. And, thanks to the eventful festive season, the special day almost slipped by without us realising the anniversary had crept up. Undoubtedly,  the best part of joining the online writing community has been an opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life.

And that’s why, we didn’t want to let this year go by without saying a big, and warm Thank You to our readers!  We are thankful for all of you and your posts, the messages you send us with your thoughts, encouragements, reviews, and your appreciation of the stories we write.

Our Crossings travel blog is four years old.

Traveling to Belfast and visiting Titanic Museum

In order to enjoy the ability to finally freely travel within Ireland, we set out on our very first overnight stay since the pandemic started.

Instead of flicking overseas, we made a decision to stay close to home and travel to Northern Ireland’s capital to witness the wonderful charm that Belfast possesses, and couldn’t be happier with everything we had a chance to see along the way.

We started with a short stop at Belfast Castle and Botanic Gardens followed by a visit to the Titanic Museum where we had a chance to experience the full history of the ship and all about how it was built. We also enjoyed the picturesque setting and cobbled streets of Cathedral Quarter and walking around St Georges Market.

Belfast Castle, Northern Ireland.

Ericeira Starting Big School For the First Time

The school uniform was bought, the lunch box was packed with healthy treats, and the pencils were sharpened. Now all there was to do is for our baby to start Big School for the first time.

I was feeling emotional because the first day of school – from the moment Ericeira put on the uniform and a backpack with adjustable straps and joined thousands of other children who also started their first-level education, turned out to be exciting and a little daunting.

Exiting because Ericeira was starting a new chapter in her life, learning a variety of new and exciting things, making friends and starting friendships that would last a lifetime.

A little daunting because, well, letting go of Ericeiras hand at the school gate and watching her walk away all while I was trying to hold back the tears, made me realise that she belonged to the world, to herself and in a way it marked the end of her total reliance on us.

I know that the bittersweet moment is all part of the journey through parenthood and I also know that it was her time to shine and find out more about herself.

All set and ready for big school.

Celebrating my 40th Birthday

It felt good to be turning the big 4-0. I am right where I want to be.  I tend to be more open to new ideas, and more open-minded in general – probably because I have gathered experience of life under my middle-aged-spread challenged belts!

As I get older, I find myself gravitating towards the finer, simple things—like a beautifully baked loaf of sourdough or picnic in a park with matching table cloths, adorable wicker baskets, cheese from my local farmers market and enough green tea to satisfy a small army.

As I didn’t have the time or the money to send myself on an international soiree (let alone pay for the child care and keep an eye on travel restrictions, yikes) to mark the special occasion, I still wanted to make a lasting memory given that this is an important birthday. After all, it’s a decade of increased confidence and wisdom where all of the hard work and initial decisions of youth seem to hit their stride.

And thus, in a spur of a moment, I gathered my family and wisket them on a memorable trip to Edinburgh.

Birthday celebrations in Edinburgh.

Traveling to Edinburgh

With the persistent threat of coronavirus and ever-changing travel restrictions, we avoided overseas travel and stuck to less-risky domestic vacations for the past two and half years. After all, we live in a shared world and therefore for all of us to be healthy and prosperous, we need to take care of each other and be mindful of our own personal and health and that for others’ personal health.

While I was still reluctant to plan future trips, I knew that boarding a plane for a short, 40-minute plane ride to Edinburgh, would be a great way to mark my Birthday especially as I had just received my third vaccine and felt safe enough to be exposed to other people in a fairly tight aeroplane.

Dean Village, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Being Shortlisted for the Ocean Hero Award

It was such an honour to receive an email from Clean Coast and find out that we’ve been shortlisted for an Ocean Hero Award 2021 under the Enjoy and Protect category along with many other volunteers from Ireland who takes their time to look after our beautiful coast.

When we moved from Dublin to Sligo in search of a better work/life balance, we were constantly exposed to the ocean that was drowning under the mountain of plastic and trash that humans have created. 

We started by picking up as much litter as we could after our surf sessions, but seeing how much rubbish was still left, we made a conscious decision to carve out as much time as possible in order to do weekly beach cleanups.

We probably make a tiny dent trying to keep our beaches clean from the increasing trash, but we find comfort in taking small actions as sometimes small is all we are able to do to protect what we love. We may not be able to change the world, but if it stops one bird or fish snacking on plastic pieces, then it still matters.

Seeing our faces in the local newspaper for all the right reasons.

Happy New Year! I hope all your endeavours in 2022 are successful.

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Now, over to you!

What was your most memorable highlight of the year?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

73 thoughts on “A Year In Review: Our Top 2021 Personal and Travel highlights

  1. With so much beauty on your doorstep and a world where travel might not be the kindest thing we can do for the planet, it feels wrong to bemoan the fact that we can’t now travel as freely as we’d like. And yet, it’s what we’ve come to love and expect, and want to share with our youngsters, Aiva. I have to say that I find the conundrums of life today difficult, but I walk a lot, buy locally and only what I need. Nothing that will solve the problems, but we have to live the best way we can.
    I still remember that heart wrenching moment at the school gates, and it’s a long time ago for me. She’s a beautiful lassie and a credit to you both. Congratulations on turning 40 and on the award nomination. That’s something we do too. Wishing you good health and happiness in ’22. And yes, more lessons to be learnt!

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    1. Hi, Jo 🙂 thanks for stopping by and all the lovely words! While many of my friends and family members were fed up about the fact that all those holidays they thought they’d be going on last year have been postponed, disrupted or cancelled, I found myself pretty happy and content about staying in Ireland and exploring nearby forests and beaches.

      Yes, I was upset about cancelling our long-awaited trips to our home country Latvia, but at the same time, I was relieved of not going anywhere as travel continues to be risky and complicated in many parts of the world.

      During the last two years of the pandemic, I learned to make an effort to enjoy every moment; take every day as a new life experience and live it fully. Because tomorrow is untold, and the only guaranteed moment is now. May the new year offers a fresh start to your life. May you have all your dreams fulfilled. Have a great year ahead! 🙂 Aiva xx

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  2. We have done actually what you have done in 2021 … discovered more of our country. And we were stunned with some of the beautiful spots we have missed previously! How gorgeous does Ericeiras look in her school uniform – I trust she will grow into her own person and enjoy the wonderful moments of growing up! Congratulation on the big 4-0 … in a week’s time is the big 5-0 for me … a little bit daunting, but I’m hoping to grab this new decade with both hands!
    The very best for 2022 … may you experience more of the amazing peace you portray so beautiful in your blog 🌸.

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    1. Thanks so much 🙂 By exploring Ireland I concluded that staycations are as great as traditional vacations minus the hefty airfare. And when you aren’t spending a day or more with air travel time or driving at each end of a regular vacation, it’s like receiving a few bonus days off plus you are helping the local economy.

      Turning 50 is a big deal, a major milestone. Fifty means you have lived for half a century on the planet, witnessing half a century of world history. Now that is something! You have seen some sights, experienced euphoric highs and anguished lows, learned some stuff and clocked some serious miles on the Journey of Life. Whatever our age, we will always be younger or older than someone else. Do you have anything special planned for your Birthday?

      I hope your life will be full of surprise and joy in the new year that’s about to begin. Remember all the good memories you have made and know that your life will be so full of wonders in the coming year. May you be blessed with everything you want in life. Happy New Year 2022! Aiva 🙂 xx

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      1. Oh, thank you so much for your wonderful wishes Aiva! Reading that, made me realised how privileged I am to reach this age 😊.
        When my husband asked me where I want to go for my 50th, I did not even hesitate to say … CAMPING! I love camping – sitting around a fire, preferably close to the ocean and watching the stars. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do, joined by some family members. Looking so much forward to that – a real great start to the new year (and to celebrate life)!

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        1. Camping is definitely a fun way to mark your special Birthday – making it all the way to 50 means you’ve experienced quite a lot over the years, so, quite frankly, you deserve the acknowledgement.
          I hope the stars will shine bright while you lay downt under them in peace, quiet, and solitude and I hope you’ll make many amazing memories to remember in years to come all while looking at stars thousands of light years away, Aiva xx

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  3. Despite everything I think it was a beautiful year! You know I envy you 😁 You live in an amazing place, surrounded by absolutely gorgeous nature!
    Your baby is ready for a new chapter too 😍 She’s so cute 🥰
    The big 4-0 ☺️ Congratulations 🎉 This year I’m there too and I’m not sure I’m ready 😅
    Congratulations on the award too! You’re right, every single act matters!
    Wish you a wonderful new year, filled with happiness and lots of adventure!

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    1. Thanks so much for all the heartfelt words and wishes, they mean so much to me!

      Perception of age is subjective and depends on where you are perched on the lifespan. Many people face 40 with dread, believing they have reached the plateau of Life’s mountain and ‘It’s all downhill from here, with body parts falling off, as all those humorous birthday cards like to gloat about! But I recall being full of bravado and celebrating this pinnacle in grand style with my family in Edinburgh. Even though I am forty, I see myself at the peak of my maturity but still youthful, attractive and vibrant, popular and in demand, full of ambition and new projects, raising Ericeira and racing around in top gear.

      May all the best things in life come your way this year. Wishing you nothing but the best as you prepare yourself to embrace yet another year of your life. Happy new year! Aiva 🙂 xx

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  4. Good summary Aiva. In these trying times, gratitude is the attitude and so much better than the Why Mes?, the I Wishes and the If Onlys. All generations go through trying times and the pandemic is our version. As we rush around trying to do, go, be, write, watch, talk, laugh, cry, love, hug and nourish, real life has a way of making us pause and take a look around. You are lucky to live in such a beautiful area, where you can explore and if circumstances are just right, you can travel to many European destinations. It will still be a ways before we climb on an airplane, but I look forward to that day. In the meantime, enjoy Ericeira’s growth. She is getting to be such a big girl and each phase will amaze and mystify you. Then, all too soon, she will be off…to middle school, high school, university, travel, another city and another life. Treasure each moment. My two are now 35 and 32., We get less time in their company, but still enjoy each moment. ANd, yes, keep writing, you have something to say. Stay well Aiva. Allan 🤗🤗

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    1. Hi Allan and thanks so much for such encouraging and wise words!

      When you are young, you think life has endless days – like today is a replacement of yesterday and you will have tomorrow to do what you did not do today. That is not always the case; you cannot hold grudges, postpone things you were supposed to do today, and keep thinking something will come and make your days better.

      A common saying goes; if you do not slow down in life, you will not only miss the scenery but also the sense of where you are headed. With everything that’s going on in the world right now, tomorrow is untold, and the only guaranteed moment is now. So I try to live life as I will only live now appreciating the small moments I have every day here on the Emerald Isle.

      I’ve learned that every stage of a child’s life holds unique joys, challenges, and growth opportunities – both for the child and for the parent. Parenting is a rich, lifelong adventure of discovery and learning. Our children are among our most valuable assets, and our most powerful teachers. From the cradle to the grave, our children can try our patience, expand our hearts, and provide endless avenues of enrichment and growth – if we have the eyes to see it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for being such a loyal online friend, I hope we get to meet in person one day! May joy, peace, and success follow you everywhere you go and whatever you do. Have a wonderful new year with your family and friends. Aiva 🙂

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  5. You have enjoyed a good year thanks to your positive attitude and bright outlook on life. Ericeira has grown into a real beauty and her school uniform adds such a new look to the baby we’ve watched grow over the past few years.
    I’m so happy for your family and wish you all possible good things for the future. I, like you, will continue to try and do the right thing to help the planet, and I’m lucky to live in an area where i can buy local foodstuffs, including meat from local farms, fish from the seas surrounding the island, and even gin, vodka, cider and beer from local breweries! I’m not a saint though and still have dreams of travel again as I miss Italy so and I miss friends and family a plane ride away. Keep blogging and showing us the beauties of your area in 2022.

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    1. Thanks so much! 🙂 I believe that during the pandemic, we need to pay attention to even the most trivia moments in our lives! Doing so can help us deepen our connections and live more meaningful and happy lives despite all the craziness around us. Of course, it helps to have a five-year-old that helps to see the world through their eyes that makes life much more fun. If we can learn to let go and not want to control all aspects of life, we can then feel freer. Bringing back a sense of play, experience, truly listening and understanding will bring a sense of true heart to heart relationships.

      The scale of the challenges facing our planet can seem daunting, but we can all do something, and I am glad to hear you are doing your part, no matter how big or small, too. We can all do more to be more conscious about what we buy, and where we buy it from. Buying less will save you money, reduce waste and improve your environmental footprint. Living a less consumerist lifestyle can benefit you and our planet.

      Wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy new year. May your home gets filled with good fortune. Aiva 🙂 xx

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  6. Such a wonderful review of how 2021 unfolded for you Aiva. From your daughter’s first day at school and to your land mark birthday trip you have demonstrated that there is much to enjoy without the need to travel far. You live in a beautiful part of the world and we were glad to experience a slice of it ourselves back in October. Wishing you health and happiness for the coming year. Marion xx

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    1. Thanks so much, Marion 🙂 What an amazing year this has been despite the ongoing challenges and pandemic crises. Learning to appreciate what I have right now has made such a big difference in my life. Last year, I experienced many moments of realization of how lucky I am for all that I have like my health, family, and friends. It was like a cool wave of gratefulness washing over me, cleansing me of my worries and problems. I hope that this new year will be the best year of your life. May all your goals be achieved, and all your plans be fulfilled. Have a blessed year ahead! Aiva 🙂 xx

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  7. You have a lovely backyard to explore, that’s maybe the one positive of the virus is that we’re exploring our own countries more. The picture of your daughter on her fist day of Big School is adorable I love your upbeat positive attitude. All the best for you and your family in 2022. Maggie

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    1. Hi Maggie and thanks so much for all the lovely words 🙂 The rise of staycations is no secret; while the world was once consumed by far-off destinations and two-week cruises to nowhere, it now finds itself in much closer quarters.

      I was surprised to discover that the last year’s staycations allowed me to get a ‘similar buzz’ by discovering things in my backyard rather than travelling halfway across the world for something foreign and unknown. Also – with staycations, you get to save the hassle that comes with the booking of air tickets, last-minute packing, currency exchange, the mad airport dash, planning of leave, complex itinerary planning and so on. And that pre-trip anxiety and post-holiday blues? Pretty much non-existent.

      May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements, and many new inspirations to your life. Wishing you a year fully loaded with happiness. Aiva 🙂 xx

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  8. Ireland looks like a beautiful country! Such gorgeous scenery! Congratulations on your being sort-listed for such a fantastic award while doing something so meaningful. We certainly need to all do our part for our oceans! Here’s to a wonderful new year and wishing you all the best with many local adventures to explore! Linda

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    1. Thanks so much, Linda! I love exploring Ireland and discovering many amazing places – I discovered that staycations have the ability to slow things down, giving me the luxury to explore parts of Ireland that I’ve previously never stepped foot in! I hope that this new year will be the best year of your life. May all your goals be achieved, and all your plans be fulfilled. Have a blessed year ahead! Aiva 🙂 xx

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  9. Beautiful Aiva! Every year is a grand year in different ways…Wishing you all the best for 2022! And Ericeira looks smashingly beautiful in the school uniform! All the best and greetings from Valencia, Spain.

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    1. Hello, Francisco and Happy New Year to you – I missed our little online chats. I haven’t seen any of your artsy posts appear in my WordPress reader anymore and therefore I had plans to conduct research of why it is happening! Have you renamed your blog? Either way – May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements, and many new inspirations to your life. Wishing you a year fully loaded with happiness. Aiva 🙂 xx

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      1. Thank you so much Aiva, my friend! I wish you and your lovely family all the best this year and always! Many adventures, many crossings, many wonderful days in distant lands expanding your knowledge, your experience and your love for humanity. This is my new site. I hope to keep seeing you around as I missed you too, but happily your posts have now appeared on my reader. Take good care and all the best.
        Francis

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  10. Sounds like a productive year! Traveling within Ireland was a good choice, as you saw so many beautiful landscapes and got to share the beauty of it all on this blog: I had no idea of all the wonders that the country had to offer! The highlight for me would have to be the week-long road trip I took in October through a few of the neighboring US states: it was a brief one, but a much-needed one all the same! Wishing you an equally-productive 2022!

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    1. Hi Rebecca! In 2021, I’ve spent my time mindfully and therefore ended up having a very productive year – there are of course plenty of other highs and achievements I decided not to share with the world through my yearly roundup as they were deeply personal. I’ve noticed that when I focus on one goal at a time, I achieve the result a lot quicker and I’m more likely to actually finish.

      I am glad to hear you had a fun time exploring your neighbouring states and I hope you gonna write about it as I love reading your travel posts. Wishing you a new year fully loaded with new adventures and new experiences. Aiva 🙂 xx

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  11. Congratulations on turning 40, that’s a big one. Traveling away and celebrating it in Edinburgh was an excellent idea. The award nomination is wonderful and so inspiring. You passed one of life’s milestones this year by taking your girl to her first day at school. She looks lovely in her school attire. Here’s to everything you achieved this year, your beautiful blog included. And to 2022 which will hopefully bring overseas travels as well!

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and online friendship, Leighton, it’s greatly appreciated. I loved turning 40 – to live every day with gratitude for the wondrous gift of life is the only positive attitude to cultivate in response to the inevitability of ageing. I believe that many people become uncomfortable around these milestone birthdays mostly because they aren’t living their life fully. I have to say that those worries about what others think about me that kept me up at night in my 20s are long gone by the time I hit the big 4-0. May this new year bring you much joy and fun. May you find peace, love, and success. Sending my heartiest new year wish to you! Aiva 🙂

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  12. Looking back and celebrating our achievements is something we should all do from time to time – and the new year is a perfect time to do it. You obviously had many achievements worth celebrating, including your award. Keep up the positive attitude and good work! Wishing you health and happiness! PS – your daughter is such a cutie!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Linda 🙂 Celebrating a milestone like an anniversary, a birthday, or a great set of grades can give us an amazing feeling, especially during the pandemic when so many things are still on hold. Celebrating success gives us a shot of the necessary value of enthusiasm — or fire, as I like to call it. It completes the cycle! Enthusiasm rejuvenates our souls, giving us the passion and power to keep moving forward for the next challenge. Wishing you all a blissful new year. Hope that joy and success follow you in every sector of life.Aiva 🙂 xx

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    1. Thank you kindly, Marie. If there’s one thing I’ve learned last year it’s that life is not meant to be taken so seriously. Life is simply about enjoying the time that we have. I am blessed with good health, a good community and the freedom to live the life that I choose. The fact that I have the ability to connect to the internet right now in my leisure, to read and learn is a blessing that many do not have. Wish you a joyous and prosperous new year! Happy new year 2022. Enjoy every bit of it! Aiva 🙂 xx

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  13. First of all, congrats on all milestones you’ve achieved in the past year! As always, you have managed to inspire me to visit Ireland once again…just not yet.

    Like you, I enjoyed a staycation this past year – creating new memories with my brothers and son’s family by visiting my childhood home, a farm in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. I now live in Calgary, so blessed to be able to go hiking in the nearby Canadian Rockies with my son’s family, even at the height of the pandemic.

    A personal highlight was ending the year by publishing my second memoir.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂

      I am glad to hear you had a memorable time while on staycations. We very much enjoyed our little trips around Ireland, too – staycations seem to have the benefit of being much more cost-effective, making them accessible to more members of the family. There’s no need to spend masses of money on pricey flights, or hiring a car when you arrive. Plus, if you’re self-catering, you’re not likely to spend much more on eating than you usually would at home, as you can shop at the same places and have your usual meals.

      Congratulations on publishing your second memoir – you accomplished something few people ever will because writing a book isn’t just about the heart; it’s about the head as well. May you find peace and prosperity wherever you go this year! Aiva 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much. I very much enjoyed exploring Ireland with my family and look forward to doing the same next year. May health and happiness follow you and yours throughout the year to come. Happy New Year! Aiva 🙂 xx

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  14. Despite all the negativity around you, you have kept a positive spirit and that translates into great successes. There is so much to see in Ireland that it might be enough, but I can understand the desire to look beyond, Edinburgh was a good decision to renew the interest. My highlight was the move from Toronto to Paris, fortunately this doesn’t happen every year. Then the rediscovery of the big European cities. We have to stay curious and move forward as you do so well with your little family. Happy Travel Year!

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    1. Thank you kindly. Even during the pandemic, the earth keeps spinning and life goes on. That’s why living in the moment, being grateful and having faith is so important.

      We’re either too busy reminiscing about the past or thinking about the future to appreciate all the wonderful things that are happening right now. Time flies by when you wish it away or waste it idly dreaming about stuff that happened years ago and being preoccupied with the things that we don’t have rather than what we do have, and sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves of all the lovely things we can be grateful for.

      Congratulations on the big move and welcome back to Europe. It must have been very exciting as moving to another city can give you the chance to start afresh, meet new people, experience new things, grow as a person, and create a better life for yourself. Here’s to an exciting new year and all the wishes and promises that it has to offer. Aiva 🙂

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      1. I appreciate reading your wise words. With the modern means of communication, going to live from one country to another is an addition of relationships rather than the loss of old ones. But the present times do not favour new encounters, even old acquaintances are kept at a distance. This will change, for sure.

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  15. 2021 sure was another strange year because of this pandemic, but glad you found some things to celebrate! Ireland looks like a lovely place to call home and I continue to be amazed at how beautiful the landscape is. Looking forward to what lies in store for you and your family in 2022. P.S. Ericeira looks absolutely adorable in her uniform!

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    1. Thank you kindly, Linda 🙂 Lately, it seems like the news has been more and more terrible. With in-person events indefinitely postponed, sports seasons called off, the curtains drawn on school plays and dance recitals, and many schools staying closed for the rest of the school year, some might feel like cancelling all celebrations, period—including those that mark personal milestones and achievements. But in a way, celebrations are needed now more than ever to lift peoples spirits and give them hope for a brighter tomorrow. Leaving things of old behind, may new adventurous fill your days. Happy New Year! Aiva 🙂

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  16. Wow! So much to congratulate you on here: your 40th birthday, your daughter starting school, your shortlisting for the beach cleanup, not to mention how precisely you captured what 2021 was like. This was a fabulous post, Aiva. You should be proud. I hope 2022 is even better than the very nice 2021 you carved out of difficult circumstances.

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    1. Thanks so much! The last two years have been pretty quiet in terms of adventures and spontaneous trips. But as we usher in another new year in the throes of a global pandemic, it’s time to call BS on diets that don’t serve me and habits that distract me from what I want to be doing with my life. And as I just turned 40, something clicked and shifted, and I am determined to make this year one of my best ones to date. Thanks so much for following along and have a good day. 🙂 Aiva xx

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  17. Aw this post is so lovely and full of special milestones running alongside the navigation of a global pandemic. I’ve really enjoyed following your blog this year, and look forward to another year of adventures in 2022 🙂

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    1. Thank you kindly. As much as I would love to, I have no plans to travel internationally this year, unless, of course, we could finally make it to our home country Latvia. But I am very much inspired to make small changes that could have a big impact on my well being and life in general. Thanks so much for tagging along and have a lovely evening 🙂 Aiva

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    1. Thank you kindly, Diana! It kind of feels that I have been waiting… and waiting… and waiting for this amazing, magical day when I could return to “normal life”, but the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is still looking dim. As we only had a handful of trips around Ireland last year, I am determined to bounce back and travel more around the Emerald Isle. Thanks so much for your online friendship and continues support, it’s very much appreciated 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely understand the feeling. I assumed vaccines would be our passport back to “normal” life but here we are a year later, hoping we don’t have to postpone our wedding for the second time…. Thank goodness you and I both live in such beautiful locations!

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  18. What a beautiful post! I love that you decided to focus on what you were grateful for in this “review”, it is cetrainly very important 😊 It seems like you managed to go on many adventures this year too, even though they didn’t require you to fly too far away. I wish you all the best to you and your family for this new year that just started 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Juliette and Happy New Year to you! Last year I followed the Government guidelines, stuck to living in our little bubble, got fully vaccinated and tried to be grateful and intentional about what I did with my time. This year, however, I am feeling a little bit more adventurous and have this desire to be a little bit more spontaneous – pandemic made me rethink my life. I want to look after both your mental and physical health by incorporating many new healthy habits into my daily life. Thanks so much for stopping by and your never-ending support. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and abundant 2022! Aiva 🙂 xx

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  19. A bit late – but belated birthday wishes for you. I also wanted to say that you have created a wonderful blog and all your writing is well-researched, has a personal touch (and is not recycled from existing material on the net), replete with resources and amazing photographs, and never reads dull or generic in nature. I also greatly admire the fact that you put the landscape and the place before the person, in other (and better words), it is never about you or your family in fancy clothes and accessories overshadowing the landscape or the story of the place, but always rather about the place and its many beauties. It is never over the top, and your style of travelling is so real, and authentic. Also, congratulations on being recognised, along with other volunteers, on the excellent work you do for your local beaches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Prerna, you are a ray of sunshine. It means the world to me especially coming from someone whose written words I have greatly admired to the point where I re-read them twice. I am a nature lover and I wish more people would take the time to go outside more as it can be healing. But we are so caught up in our own network of problems, our desires, our urges of pleasure and pain that we never look around, never watch the moon, the stars, the swift-flying birds or the miracle of a fresh morning!

      Life is an adventure that’s full of beautiful destinations. Wishing you many wonderful memories made in 2022. Aiva 🙂 xx

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      1. Just wanted to take a moment to say that your words are always so kind, and so gracious. At the risk of making this sound as a mutual admiration club, I also want to say that I have benefitted from your writing and blogging. Your writing doesn’t have an ounce of pretence, and it has been more than once that I have come back feeling inspired, transported and lifted by your words, and the way you describe the landscapes and your travels. As a writer, you take your readers with you, include them in a landscape that they may or may not discover on their own, and because of a lack of pretence, and the ever present authenticity, you do not raise envy, instead you make everyone feel as if they are a part of your journey. There are so many places from your blogs that I will never perhaps be able to travel to, but I travel via your blogs and your writing.

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  20. What a lovely year you’ve had Aiva! There are still opportunities to have adventures and you live in an excellent place for these… Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Meg! Last year, we mostly stayed in our little bubble doing things, taking on new creative projects and challenges, because, on some level, I was trying to outrun my own sense of the world that had frozen in place. Happy New Year to you and your family 🙂 Aiva xx

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  21. Thank you for sharing with us a beautiful, positive, happy, adventurous and magical 2021. The places, people and moments are just priceless and inspiring. Each year is ours for the taking. We can shape and mold it however we want. No pandemic nor politics can stop the dreams of the heart. Happy New year my friend. 2022 will be awesome and exciting. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. I agree with you – despite what’s going on in the world, and there always is something, it’s up to us to make our lives worth living. Many people think that their lives could be fixed if there was more of that one thing in our lives. More of what? Whatever. More money. More things. Better relationships. More food. Simply, more. But it’s not always the case. We can simply improve our lives by taking a much-needed break from the constant hustle of the daily grind. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. More is a propaganda by Capitalism. More is like a drug that aims destroy and blind people from what truly is important. More takes us further away to the simple things that should have made us happier and content. It is nice to read your thoughts and life lessons, so real, so relatable and honest. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. What an amazing year!! I always forget about staycations and how much fun they can be. Exploring your own town can be just as exciting! I look forward to seeing what travels you have in 2022, and I plan on doing a deep-dive through all your Scotland-related posts!

    Miles of smiles,
    Grace

    gracefulrags.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Grace. 2021 was a fairly quiet year where we mainly stayed in Ireland, close to where we live. We discovered that there a plenty of fun and quirky staycations to satisfy our curious souls. From watching starlings in our gardens to spotting dolphins along the shoreline, we’ve never had a greater appreciation for our native flora and fauna. Thanks for stopping by and make the most of your time in Scotland ❤ Aiva xx

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  23. Well Aiva, it sounds as though you have had a productive and exciting year, despite everything. Congratulations to Ericeira – love the school uniform. Congratulations on turning 40 – sounds young to me! Congratulations on looking after the coastline. Have a lovely weekend! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Kerry. A quick look through my last year’s planner, dotted with appointments, zoom meetings and to-do lists, showed me that life goes on despite the world coming to a near halt. Yes, we are reminded that life is lived even amid wars and natural disasters and, these days, a raging pandemic. Much to my surprise, I was excited about turning 40, maybe it was because once I hit 40, the perspective I had on life allowed me to cede some control—and in return, I found myself happier for it. Thanks for stopping by. I hope your new year is off to a good start 🙂 Aiva ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  24. What a beautiful life you have created. It is inspiring.
    I have been traveling inward much more than I have been traveling the world. It is not the journey I expected but I have found great value in it. I look forward to seeing more of the world someday.
    Keep making memories.
    Ali

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