New year, new me - isn't that the general term we hear getting thrown around as the clock strikes midnight and we eagerly bounce into a new set of 365 days?
People setting goals, challenging themselves and looking forward to a fresh start.
Little did I know that would be my course for 2021. It sure has been a challenge, but I guess I am a sink or swim kind of gal so here I am, still standing and ready to tackle the future. But more about that a bit later.
Reflecting on 2021 from a paper perspective it sure has been a blast, but if you asked me that a month or two ago, I would've given you a completely different answer.
I can now laugh at all the stress, hours in the car and very late nights, and be extremely proud of myself and the entire team at The Land that somehow made it through 12 months of the paper with at times only five people on deck.
In August I transitioned into the livestock editor role officially, and boy was I thrown into the deep end as sales season kicked off. I quickly learnt my weeks would be fast-paced, energetic and diverse.
"Records broken" would be the most used phrase in my stories and broader throughout the livestock sections as it became a daily if not weekly occurrence that the history books were re-written.
Most livestock species experienced new heights, including beef cattle, sheep, goats and even working dogs, as commercial and seed stock markets went from strength to strength.
I was lucky enough to be there to witness many of these amazing feats in person and re-tell the experience to our readers.
The atmosphere this selling season was electric and emotional, and I congratulate everyone who achieved personal and industry best results, and thank them for allowing us to be part of their journeys and special moments.
The Taking Stock columns were a popular feature each week, bringing the views of some of our journalist to your coffee tables and sparking comment. A recent highlight of these pieces was Samantha Townsend's column on Yellowstone's line that had Aussie farmers cheering.
COVID-19 welcomed me into 2021 as my plans to attend the Wodonga January weaner sales were cancelled on New Year's eve. My first thoughts were not again, COVID is not going to impact us getting out and about.
While it did at different times of the year, we were still able to enjoy much of the norm within the livestock section of the paper including the Royal Canberra Cattle Show, Sydney Royal Show, Beef Australia, and a mammoth calendar of events.
A highlight of these was watching many cattle breeders join forces to form the Beef Barbarian rugby side at Beef Australia to take on the Classic Wallaby team. While taking a year off exhibiting at Sydney Royal Show this year, I had the opportunity to judge the Charolais, Maine Anjou and RAS Youth Show, which was a dream come true moment.
I also got to spend time on the sidelines listening to some amazing judges and mentors, and cover show moments for many people I look up to in the industry.
I hopped on a microphone for interviews during live streams, and I chased champions with some ripper people across rings in the scorching heat all along the east coast. Safe to say I love show coverage!
Another bucket list item checked off was judging the Speckle Park Champion of the World/Miss World competitions hosted online at the beginning of December.
Not one to usually make plans, in fact getting anxious when people ask me what my five- or 10-year goal is, I bound into this year as any other - not thinking too much about what the future looked like.
But in 2021 my life changed in more ways than one - a new role, ending a long-term relationship, moving home, and questioning a lot about what my future now looks like made me go into a whirlwind of feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Because of this I have begun to understand the importance of mental health and got comfortable with being uncomfortable, spending time alone and asking questions to grow as a person.
The big one learnt is that it really is ok not to be ok.
While not the place to write about my personal life, I do want to touch on a few realisations from it. Your happiness and wellbeing are number one. "I don't know what makes me happy anymore" was the biggest question I faced in 2021 and was unable to answer for much of the year.
Find what makes you happy, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else. It is important to look out for the people around you - make time to check in and ask people how they are.
While other people going through things alongside me were being asked, I sat there thinking "why do I have no one checking in on me?". This is not a cry for attention, but it made me wonder - how many people actually do ask the all-important R U OK?
I understand at face value everything can seem fine, but it is true you don't know what is happening in the background, so please ensure you are always kind.
Appreciate that some people may be 'active' online, but unable to respond because they have too much on their plate or other things going on.
I thought about this and even myself while I try my best to check in with people, I know I don't do it enough. We all say life gets busy, and I am terrible at not replying, but I am beginning to realise it is important to make time and you will make time for things that matter.
With this, it is also so important to just listen sometimes. You don't have to respond to everything people talk to you about, they may just need to say it and get it off their chest, not get a list of solutions or opinions.
Stress management, knowing my boundaries, taking time for myself and scheduling my day around ensuring my mental health and wellbeing has become a very big new norm for me.
And in 2022 my focus will be on kindness, doing what makes me happy and personal growth.
As 2021 winds down and we prepare for a new year, I look forward to welcoming any challenges and a lot of new things!
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