When I was a little girl, my grandmother, who I called Mor-Mor, told me that the key to happiness was to have ‘someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to’. Mor-Mor was my soul mate and a person I regarded as exceptionally wise, so I began a ritual each night of jotting these things down in a note book beside my bed.

At the start of COVID-19, as my international consulting business was severely impacted, the Olympic and Paralympic Games were cancelled and we began life in lockdown, I turned back to this nightly ritual. At first I found it almost impossible to think of the third part – the ‘something to look forward to’. The things I had previously looked forward to seemed so grand and exciting by comparison – overseas trips, large work assignments, reunions with friends who lived interstate, weddings, dinner at a restaurant. Now everything looked quite grey.

I was adamant that I would think of something to look forward to each night and so I began to jot down small things, that at first seemed quite menial – bathing my face in the warm sun as I had my morning coffee, showing my 2 year old daughter Josie (named after my wise Mor-Mor) how the cicada in our garden would shed its exoskeleton the next day, walking along the beach and feeling the coarse wet sand underfoot.

I began looking everywhere for seedlings of hope – things to look forward to, that I could jot down in my nightly journal – and what I saw was so heartwarming. I realised that hope was actually all around. Our neighbours began putting teddy bears in their windows and on fences to create some social-distancing magic for children and we looked forward to taking Josie on a daily bear hunt around the neighbourhood. People organised ‘driveway drinks’ – every Friday night neighbours would set up drinks at the end of their own driveway and talk to people across the street in a socially distant manner. Friends would organise ‘drive-by’ baby showers where they would decorate their cars and drive in convoy around the block of a pregnant friends tooting their horns and cheering. I started looking forward to seeing how communities would come together and support one another, and sure enough, every day, there was at least one example I bore witness to.

These things all gave me a great sense of hope. I am most hopeful that my Josie will grow up in a community that really, truly values a sense of belonging. Where people look out for one another. Where people are compassionate and understand the struggle of their neighbours. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of kindness, empathy, compassion and community and I’m glad that my daughter will grow up in a world that is more conscious of those things after what we have all lived through this year.