Wow, what a year 2020 was! No one could have predicted what would go down this year, not even an excellent movie writer. If I was to describe 2020 in one word, I’d say it was bittersweet. It was full of highs, but also a few heartbreaking moments and tough times. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I like to think that this year has led to a lot of self-development. So, let’s recap the year that was!
January honestly feels like years ago and it’s strange looking back and seeing ATP Cup (tennis) photos, with players from around the world and 15,000 people packed into RAC Arena. How times have changed! However, even with COVID most of my year was still filled with horse racing. In January I had the Own the Dream events, where I enjoyed picking out a few horses from the Magic Millions’ sales. January also saw me celebrate my first horse race win of the year with Weaponson. In February I also purchased myself an early Valentine’s Day present in the form of a share in Lenny, a Shooting To Win gelding (who has recently been named Feuding). I’ve had my eye on him ever since Impressive Racing had bought him at the weanling sales, with his walk making him hard to resist.
Things then got a bit quiet once COVID hit Australia. However, in May, The Velvet King returned in fabulous condition, placing second in three group 3 races and third in another. The future looked bright as he headed to Melbourne, marking a milestone in my racehorse ownership journey – having my first interstate runner! In hindsight, things just didn’t go to plan and the trip was darkened when travel and stablemate Gatting sadly died in the Makybe Diva Stakes, a race he’d won only the year before. I was always aware of the risks involved in racing, but this one hit a little bit too close to home, especially seeing as The Velvet King was meant to run in that race. It made me reflect and appreciate just how special each race and win are because you don’t know when it will be your horse’s last.
With that sadness aside, the emergence of Clairvoyance had to be a highlight of my racehorse ownership journey this year. I waited two years from purchase to her hitting the racetrack and boy was it worth it. Being the realistic person that I am, I was sceptical at first regarding just how good she was, but after four wins, her ability was hard to enough. Unfortunately, things weren’t meant to be for us this summer carnival, as I went from having a runner in every group one race to none in 24 hours due to foot issues for Clairvoyance and no flights out of Melbourne for The Velvet King, but I’m super excited to see what 2021 holds.
The fun was all on the track this year. For the first time, I entered my first traditional Fashions on the Field (FOTF) competition. It was certainly a steep learning curve, as FOTF is nothing like what I would normally wear to the races. One thing is for sure, it’s very addictive! Unfortunately, I only got to enter two competitions in-person before COVID hit. However, the at home FOTF competition was just as fun, especially the photoshoot I did with my two miniature horses for the WA metro heat. Seeing as WA had been doing very well with COVID over winter, I had started to plan a few FOTF outfits just in case we had some in-person competitions. Then on Ascot opening day in October I won my first FOTF competition! This dress is probably one of my favourites that Mum has created, so I was very excited to have gotten into the WA FOTF Final with it. This final was an experience in itself and the competition was very tough! Even though I didn’t place, I had so much fun competing that I have already started planning next year’s FOTF outfits. Fingers crossed I can make the final again in 2021!
As much as I’d like horse racing to be my sole focus in life, you have to work hard to play hard (as they say). In my case, this work is university. Academically I did very well this year, receiving high distinctions in all of my units and a top three student award for the Account Management unit. Considering Curtin went fully online during COVID (though this was something I did enjoy as I didn’t have to waste study time travelling) and both teachers and students were adapting to these changes daily basis, I was proud of my results.
This year I also got more involved in student life, leaving Curtin Women in Business to join Curtin Marketing Association (CMA) as a Marketing Assistant. With hard work, just four months in I was promoted to Head of Marketing. To be the Head of Marketing for the student marketing club is a great achievement. I’ve not only enjoyed building my skills but also interacting with the School of Marketing staff, building deeper connections that don’t always form in the classroom. With only six months left at university, it’s an exciting time but also the end of my education chapter in life.
My blog also had some dramatic changes this year. In January I launched my blog’s new website, as I transferred from Wix to self-hosted WordPress. I still think this is one of the best things I ever did for my blog, as my organic traffic has never been better. So, if you’re thinking of swapping too, I highly recommend it. June also saw my blog celebrate its first birthday. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been blogging for 18 months now, as it’s hard to remember what I was doing in my free time without it. With time comes change though, and in September I decided to change what I was posting and how often. While I love blogging, things like university work do take priority and sadly blogging was just taking up too much of my time. Targeting three different audiences wasn’t helping the situation and while the number of views is no reflection on the quality of my writing, it was disheartening when a post I had spent hours on only got a small number of readers. I believe changing directions didn’t only benefit me, but also my readers. It’s a direction I plan on continuing with heading in to 2021.
My personal experiences (if that’s what you call them) this year are really where the bittersweet description comes into play. I do share parts of my life on Instagram, but social media never tells the whole story. Just when university started, I received an email from a company I contacted in November about an available internship. After getting knocked back from a few internships, I was excited to have an interview. However, after meeting with them I was informed that their new offices weren’t accessible. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I tried not to let it get me down too much. Just weeks after this, COVID happened and my family went into lockdown for nearly three months. In a small way, COVID was actually a blessing. CMA did our first of many online workshops, with one being hosted by Carmen from Wildbrand. I still hadn’t secured an internship, so I decided to reach out to Carmen. It was one of the best decisions I made, with Carmen taking me on board as an intern. The best thing was, that due to COVID, online/remote internships were now acceptable. With Wildbrand being an online marketing company, it meant that I could complete the internship from home. This got the ball rolling for my future plans (more details on this later).
Despite starting my internship, June and July were filled with a lot of sadness. A friend with muscular dystrophy passed away. Even though my conditions is typically non-progressive (as in muscles don’t quickly deteriorate), a death like that does make you think about your own mortality. It makes you realise how short life is too. Then in July, my family had to make the heart-breaking decision to euthanise our dog Peppa from a suspected brain tumour. Heartbreak hit again in December when our second dog Teddy passed away without warning from a burst stomach tumour. 2020 was harsh but that was the nail in the coffin. While some people do post about their pets passing on social media, you’ll notice that I didn’t. I think it’s always important to have some privacy in your life and, for me, then posting it online and getting lovely messages from people will only set off the tears.
July/August was filled with some positivity though. I became the fundraising coordinator for the Make-A-Wish Australia Perth branch and celebrated my two-year volunteering anniversary. For those that are new to my blog, Make-A-Wish is very close to my heart so I’m very excited to give back through this role. My first fundraising activity was to organise our Telethon beneficiary stall, with Telethon always being one of my favourite events! COVID put a stop to our fundraising events this year, but I’m looking forward to what I can do in 2021!
The latter half of 2020 also saw my Instagram grow. People seemed to be enjoying my FOTF/fashion posts, so I decided to take my Instagram a little bit more seriously, tagging brands and using strategic hashtags. It wasn’t so much about sharing my clothes, but using the platform as a form of advocacy, showing non-disabled people that people with disabilities can be fashionable. I also really enjoy the creative process of taking photos and editing them on Lightroom (no Photoshop here). I hope next year I can use Instagram to reach more people and break down those disability stereotypes.
Lastly, the last couple of months also saw the launch of my biggest “adventure” yet, my own business! Throughout my internship, I discovered the benefits of working from home and working for yourself (I could take Wednesday’s off if I wanted to go to the races!). While I still hadn’t graduated from uni yet, the idea of starting a business rolled around in my head. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to go for it. On 13th November Little Black Dress Digital was born! It’s still early days but watch this space!
So, as you can see 2020 sure was a big year! It certainly wasn’t the year I was excepting but it has set the scene for exciting things to happen in 2021. Hopefully, this time next year I’m writing about a successful business and Clairvoyance winning the Everest (one can only dream)! Happy New Year everyone!