2020 The year that wasn’t, A year in review

Well, well, it seems the end of 2020 has finally arrived and we are a week or two into 2021. Thank the Lord! What a shit-show 2020 was, filled with many ups and downs. I hope that you all survived and came out on the other side healthy and with your mental well-being in tack.

Although for me the majority of 2020 was crap, I did manage to find some moments of love, beauty and excitement which helped me to survive the 2020 journey through COVID-19 on my own and I sure hope that you were also able to find some happiness. If nothing else, it certainly taught us how to persevere! Here is my 2020 year in review.

January, 2020

For most people a new year signals new beginnings with the opportunity to meet new challenges and experience new things. 2020 was very different for me as I was beginning the year with unexpectedly having lost my son. Even though I was experiencing such a devastating loss I was more determined than ever to make the most of whatever time that I had left and the beginning of the year provided me with some much needed joy.

Girls Weekend

Those of you who know me and follow me know that I travel solo 99% of the time, so it was very unusual for me to accept an offer to go on a girls weekend away to a friends cottage in Grand Bend. But accept the offer I did. There were 5 of us girls from work who headed to a cottage in Grand Bend after work on the Friday and came home on the Sunday. It was made even more unusual due to the fact that none of us hung out together, we were just co-workers.

It was the dead of Winter and for those of you who are unfamiliar with Grand Bend, it is in the Ontario snowbelt region and is known as a tourist beach town for its magnificent beach. Trust me though, we certainly weren’t going to be doing any swimming in January.

We spent the weekend in a cozy cottage playing cards and games, drinking lots of wine, and eating fantastic food, while having a tonne of laughs. We even managed to have a bit of fun in the snow while taking a freezing cold walk along Lake Huron. The weekend was just what the Dr. ordered.

February, 2020

January passed me by in such a blur and before I knew it, February arrived and along with it a trip to the Dominican Republic also was in the books.

Samana, Dominican Republic

Every year I head to somewhere south in order to escape the bitterness of the Canadian winters and in 2020 I chose a destination which was new to me. I visited Samana in the Dominican Republic for some much needed R & R.

I had so much fun and I went on some of the best adventures that I had ever been on, not to mention that the resort that I stayed at had the most incredible views and food that I had ever experienced at an all-inclusive resort. I spent a few days just lazing on the beach reading and listening to the waves and relaxing (which is foreign to me), but I do have a tendency to get bored after awhile, so I did a whale watching tour, I went caving, and I went on the most incredible horseback ride to one of the most amazing waterfalls that I have ever seen …. and as usual, I didn’t leave without making new friends.

I had the most incredible time and this was one of the best vacations that I have had yet. I didn’t want to go home to face reality again.

So, despite the devastating way that 2019 ended, it seemed like 2020 was looking up and off to a fantastic start.

It was on the day that I was departing the Dominican Republic, news of the COVID outbreak in China broke.

….and then it all started….

Gall Bladder Surgery

Upon my return, I was informed that my surgeon had scheduled surgery for me to have my gall bladder removed and it would be 4 days after I got home.

The surgery itself went extremely well, however I did come to find out that I didn’t handle anesthetic well at all. My 2 girls told me that I was quite “loopy” and the nurses wouldn’t let me leave the hospital until I could sleep it off and return to somewhat normal. My girls were not impressed! (hehe)

Initially, I had scheduled 1 week off of work after my surgery, but at the end of the 1st week I was sicker than I had ever been in my life. I couldn’t get out of bed and had to crawl to go to the bathroom. I was unable to eat and even putting water on my lips made me violently ill. Knowing what I know now, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was actually COVID that I had. It lasted 1 week and then back to work I went.

So much for that vacation high!

March, 2020

It was now the end of the first week of March, 2020 and back to work I went, but not for long 😦 Four days after returning to work, the Canadian Government announced that the Country would be shut down. COVID had now arrived in Canada and we all had to do our part to “flatten the curve”.

Fortunately I am employed in an industry that is considered to be an “essential service”, so while many of my co-workers chose to work from home, I continued to work at the office. I live alone, and I needed some form of interaction with real people, even if it was by email or zoom.

It was at this point that the world realized that we had to bunker down and prepare for the long haul as COVID wasn’t going away anytime soon.

April, 2020

Kincardine, Ontario

April is usually a crazy month for me, but this year my granddaughters birthday, my daughters birthday and Easter came and went with no one to be seen.

It seemed like an eternity since I had been on my vacation so much had happened, that I just needed to take a breather and head to my happy place…..the beach. I hopped in the car and took a little roadtrip “home”. It felt great to breath in the fresh air and listen to the sound of the waves lapping up on the shore. It was what I needed and it satisfied my wanderlust. I was once again ready to continue with the lockdown.

May, 2020

May was a month to bunker down. Read some books. Catch up on t.v. Clean, and clean again. By this time, I had become proficient with face-timing (that was quite an accomplishment on its own lol). We were still in lockdown and even the trails and parks had been closed down. May was a tough month and quite a struggle but I knew that shutdown couldn’t last forever.

June, 2020

June brought about some fantastic weather and things were slowly beginning to open up again. I saw my kids and grandkids for the first time in 2020 which was more than enough to make me happy. Work wanted us to use up some of our holidays before everything opened up and we got busy again.

Kincardine, Ontario

Since travel was still off the table and not many places were open for business, I took my grandson to Kincardine for a few days to visit a friend and my brother. The pool at the hotel was closed and breakfast wasn’t being served, but we weren’t at the hotel much so it didn’t affect us at all. The stores were still closed, as well as the beach and the trails, but we had a fantastic time swimming in my friends pool and hanging out with the horses at my brothers farm, all while social distancing and masking of course. It just felt nice to get away again and to spend a bit of time with some of my family.

During the month of June I once again came to realize how much I enjoyed the little things in life and my eyes were once again opened to the beauty that is all around us.

July, 2020

July was a month for letting loose and quenching my thirst for adventure. At least what is considered letting loose at this time. Canada is back open for business, as long as we maintain our social distance and wore the mandatory mask when in public places. Unfortunately, but the travel ban hadn’t been lifted. That was fine with me at least we were free to wander once again.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

The very first thing that I did once life began again was to book an adventure that had been on my bucketlist for quite some time…..a hot air balloon ride.

Check That One Off the Bucket List

Taking a hot air balloon ride was the perfect way to satisfy my craving for adventure and once again it opened my eyes to the beauty surrounding me.

Spectacular views from above in the hot air balloon


The trails opened up again and I took complete advantage of them and went on as many hikes as I could. Some with another friend, and some on my own. It felt so good to be out and to just breathe in the fresh air!

August, 2020

Determined to make the most of lost time and to enjoy what was left of the warm weather of Summer, I took some roadtrips during August and explored some more of the area in my own backyard.

Long Point, Ontario

I discovered Long Point Eco-Adventures and the Marshview Patio where I enjoyed the best lunch ever, followed by a large glass of wine at the Burning Kiln Winery while listening to some live music while lounging in the vineyard.

Elora, Ontario

I spent a day browsing the quaint little shops in Elora, Ontario after a short hike through the Elora Gorge. My trip to Elora was completed with a socially distanced dinner on the patio of one of the many locally owned restaurants.

September, 2020

September was a little quieter but I did get in a roadtrip with my youngest daughter. We drove for hours along Lake Erie, stopping for a wine tasting at the Burning Kiln, visiting a market on a backroad that had the most amazing freshly grown produce. We visited some antique stores and a fantastic spice store in Port Stanley, and finished the day with a picnic at the lake. This was my second visit with my youngest during 2020 and we had a lot to make up for.

October, 2020

October finally arrived and boy did I have big plans! I was turning 60! My plan was to travel to Spain for the very first time. Guess what? You got it! That plan was out, as Canada still had a travel ban in place. Time to go to Plan B….

Calabogie Resort, Calabogie, Ontario

In case you haven’t heard of Calabogie (I hadn’t), it is a small village located in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

For my 60th birthday, my oldest daughter and myself spent a full week at the Calabogie Inn & Resort. Our resort room had a full kitchen and dining room as well as 2 separate bedrooms. The room had its own private entrance which made it perfect for social distancing and in fact completing avoiding other guests.

While this birthday trip wasn’t quite as planned, we still had a blast and we visited a part of Ontario that I had never seen before. We had a week full of fun with a mixture of relaxation, exploration, and hiking which included:

  • a roadtrip to Algonquin Park
  • a stay at home, do it yourself spa day
  • a day trip to a farm
  • a little bit of shopping
  • playing lots of games (mostly pick up sticks)
  • hiking at Eagle’s Nest
  • a lunch at the iconic Redneck Bistro
  • movie nights
  • dinner out for a special birthday dinner
  • evening bon fires
  • roadtrips to view the Fall foliage
  • a day trip to Spain (stay tuned for post to come) πŸ™‚

Even though I was unable to travel to Spain for my birthday, I had a week full of laughs, love and some much needed mother-daughter time.

November, 2020

Okay, I will admit that November was an extremely difficult month for me and I didn’t feel up to doing any exploring or going on any adventures. November was what would have been my son’s 36th birthday, and it was also the 1 year anniversary of his passing.

Kincardine, Ontario

My family and myself were finally able to see one another, even though it was socially distanced, and we all made the trip to Kincardine to finally scatter my son’s ashes. Although it was a sad time, it was made much more beautiful being able to share time with my other kids and the weather was incredibly beautiful for a November day which was an added bonus.

December, 2020

FINALLY, it’s December and we soon would be putting 2020 into our rear view mirrors, but since it is the month of Christmas I was determined to make the most of what was the crappiest year ever.

St. Jacob’s, Ontario

Early in December I got a big win for my blogging. The Holiday Inn reached out to me for a sponsored stay at its hotel during St. Jacobs Sparklefest. It was the first time that I received an offer without having to make the pitch and it was a night away.

The getaway was made all that much better by the fact that Sparklefest was on. I enjoyed a mini one night staycation in the Town of St. Jacobs in the most comfortable hotel, and shopped the boutique shops, all while taking in the magic of Sparklefest. There was no better way to kick off the holiday season!

Memorial Celebration

Every year during the holiday season, the not-for-profit group that hosts my the group therapy for grieving parents puts on a Memorial Celebration for our deceased loved ones.

This year due to the pandemic, the celebration had to be altered and consisted of putting an ornament in memory of our loved one on a tree of our choice. Even though the celebration only lasted half an hour, the evening was made magical by the large amount of freshly fallen snow and the sea of twinkle lights. Hot chocolate and cookies were provided and the children (and adults) had a blast playing in the winter wonderland.

Gift of Lights, Kitchener, Ontario

To keep myself in the holiday spirit I took myself to the Gift of Lights which consisted of 2 kilometres of Christmas light display. It was drive-through only in order to maintain social distancing.

Christmas, 2020

The Ontario government thought that it would be a good idea to announce a complete Province-wide lockdown two days before Christmas. The lockdown was to begin on boxing day (December 26th). Certain cities such as the City I live in as well as Hamilton, the City my youngest daughter live in had already been placed in the red zone, which prevented us getting together at Christmas. So in 2020, to end off the shittiest year ever, Christmas came and went. There was no turkey, there were no presents, and there was no family. Seemed liked 2020 ended the same way that it began. 😦

2020 In a Nutshell

As you can tell from reading this post, 2020 was very much like a roller coaster for me. It wasn’t all bad. It certainly had some great times sprinkled throughout. Notwithstanding this, I have tried to highlight some of the small things that I did throughout the year to try to salvage whatever I could from this shit show.

I entered 2021 with 2 words in mind….gratefulness and perseverance. Despite the magnificent loss I endured by the loss of my son, I remain grateful every single day for my 2 daughters, my grandchildren, my health, and the fact that I have continued to work throughout the entire pandemic.

19 Quotes on Perseverance (Perseverance Quotes)

With a tonne of perseverance, I know eventually 2021, or maybe even 2022, the world will return to normal.


If there is one thing that I have learned throughout 2020 is that nothing in life ever lasts forever and with any kind of luck we will be hitting the skies once again one day soon. What did the 2020, the year that wasn’t, teach you?

With Much Love From

Kelly xoxo


32 thoughts on “2020 The year that wasn’t, A year in review

  1. Kat

    2020 was one for the books, that’s for sure! I’m glad you got out and explored locally, that’s what kept me sane for sure. I wish we had hot air balloon rides in Vancouver, but it seems like we are the only major Canadian city that doesn’t. It’s still a bucketlist item for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bye:myself

    This is such a clever way of looking back. I’m slowly allergic to all those pep-talks around me. I’m tired of hearing ‘make the best of it’. I don’t want to make the best, I want to have the best.
    This being said, it’s certainly smart to look back at the big – and small – nice things that happened despite it all. Maybe I should do a calendar like this for myself, too. It might lure me out of my present grouchiness.
    Nevertheless, I’m so sorry reading about your surgery – I had no idea ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I hear you Renata. It is necessary to stay positive, but like you I know how difficult it is especially when living alone. When I though back over the year, it all seemed like s**t since returning from the Dominican, but once I started writing about it, it really didn’t seem all that bad. But YES, I also want it all!


  3. Pubali Kanjilal

    You are a fighter Kelly! Despite so many rough phases, you managed to create some wonderful memories. I enjoyed reading your year in review. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      Thank you Pubali. It was a tough year as I know it was for many. I know there are many people much worse of than myself and I am thankful for every opportunity that I am given. Let’s just hope that 2021 allows us to travel again. xo


  4. Ramya Pandey

    I am glad you picked up 2020 well even after your personal loss. The way you look positively at things and ticked off items from your bucket list, inspired me a lot. After reading your article I realized life is what we make out of it. I wish you many more wonderful experiences ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. travelsandwandering

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It’s really inspiring and your resilience. I have to say Ontario sure has plenty of natural beauty and charming towns I’m glad you got to enjoy those and your escape to Dominican before covid kicked in.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicole Anderson

    I’m so sorry to have read about your loss Kelly and your generally awful year. 2020 will be remembered by most of us as being the absolute worst. However, reading through this post, I must say I greatly admire your outlook, determination, and perseverance to find, realize and share great opportunities as they come along. You certainly did have some lovely highlights spread throughout your year and the ability to get out and be amongst some beautiful nature always makes a difference. Hear’s hoping for the very best for you (and all of us) as we enter 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Medha Verma

    Hey, you did manage to make the most of a really messed up year! I mean, I did not get to travel ANYWHERE except a short trip home to see my family. Glad your surgery went well too. Let’s hope that 2021 will turn out to be much better, fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. backpackandsnorkel

    I am amazed how much travel you were able to do in 2020. Starting March, we basically just stayed in our hometown but spend a lot of time exploring the parks and museums and historic sites.
    The Dominican Republic is on our list too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Brian

    Glad you were able to make the most of what was such an unprecedented year. We also mixed in local travels and a socially distanced road trip for our sanity. 2020 definitely taught us patience and to just roll with things (hello cancelled trip plans!). Wishing you an even better 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: A Solo Journey Through COVID-19 – JUST ONE PASSPORT

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