19 THINGS I DID AND LEARNED IN 2019
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a lovely festive period and are now refreshed and ready to go in 2020. It’s got off to a slow start here, you might have seen if you follow me on other channels that we got a new addition to the family over the new year period- our new puppy Rolo. He is wonderful, but all routine has gone out the window while we get to grips with being dog owners. As such I had wanted to write this post last week, but time sort of slipped away with me while I was contending with three children still off school and a puppy who you can’t take your eyes off for more than a second.
I was going to do a video on this on my you tube channel, but one of my mini goals for this year is to try and write at least one blog post a week on here (I have been saying that the last few years but we will ignore that minor detail!).
So I thought I would talk about 19 things I did or learnt in 2019….
1. We did major renovation work to our house
I didn’t know what to start with as how do you sum up a year in 19 points? So I thought I would start with the one that caused us the most disruption but also the most excitement in 2019. When we bought our home in 2017 we always knew we would renovate it from top to bottom. After a good financial year in 2018 (so we could show the bank!) we remortgaged and renovated our kitchen and converted one of our garages. The work started in September and finished in December and I loved every minute. It was hard in parts not having a kitchen, but I loved managing the project and seeing the little and big changes that happened every day. Now the house is finished (although the utility room and our new snug room aren’t ‘done’ properly yet), and it is hard to imagine it how it was before.
2. I started running again
Running became a huge love of mine back in 2014 between having Lottie and Wren. I ran up to half marathons, really actually got quite quick and strong when it came to running, and just generally really enjoyed it. Then I became pregnant with Wren and I just sort of stopped (preferring to sit on the sofa and eat chocolate!). In 2019 partly due to my physical health and partly due to my mental health, I began running again. It’s not come as easy this time around, I don’t love it like I used to. I am not sure why that is, something hasn’t clicked into place yet. But I do love the way it makes me feel afterwards. I signed up to do something that has always been on my bucket list- the London Marathon. In 2020 I will be running the London Marathon for Make-A-Wish, a wonderful charity that I approached to see if I could be part of their team and help raise lots of money for children with life changing illnesses- I can’t believe it that it will actually be happening in April.
3. I got a tattoo in Portland, USA
I did a very impulsive thing while we were in the USA on our summer road trip and decided to get a tattoo in Portland, Oregon, which is supposedly the tattoo capital of the world. I have two small tattoos already that I got when I was 16 and 17 (oops!) that I don’t really like any more. But I have wanted another one for years and so Jon and I decided to just go for it while we were over there. I figured when I am old and grey, I am going to care more about the fun I had than a little bit of ink. We told ourselves we would walk in (we did check on google to see if it had good reviews!) and if they could do a walk in appointment we would go for it- and they could.
I’m now the proud owner of a little globe on my wrist. I love it, it signifies my love of travel, the experiences I have been lucky to have, and it’s a memory of my most favourite trip we have done as a family to date. And yes my mum still told me off, and I am in my 30’s! 😉
4. I kept stuff off social media
I think people think that if you put your life online, that you are an oversharer, or that you can’t go a minute of the day without sharing some random little part of your day. The reality is that social media is just a very small glimpse. There are 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year, and you can’t and wouldn’t possibly dream of sharing everything. I think it is easy to assume that you know a lot about someone’s life when you see a few snippets of their day, but a 10 minute vlog from someone’s random Wednesday, or perhaps at the most 60 seconds of stories throughout the day isn’t enough to build up a clear picture of someone’s personality or life. We all have things going on. We all have histories and complex, complicated, and wonderfully messy lives.
In 2019 I kept stuff off social media. There were big things I didn’t share, happy moments I didn’t share, not so good ones I decided were too personal to document, and many mundane and ordinary moments I kept back too. Sometimes I found the worry of offending someone or the criticism or judgement I may get just from sharing the random snippets of my life too much too handle in 2019, and I found the best way to deal with it was to just stay quiet.
In 2020 I am working on growing a thicker skin, knowing that I am a good person who may have flaws but I am not nor ever would deliberately try to hurt anyone with what I put online. While I can be mindful of others, their opinions, and the way I make them feel through my content I put out there, it is not my responsibility nor could I possibly be relatable to all, or everyone’s cup of tea. I am just doing my best to document little snippets and enjoy this crazy world of social media.
5. We had some incredible adventures
2019 was a year of adventure- both far away and closer to home. We did two incredible road trips- one to Florida and one to the Pacific Northwest, and both were life changing in many different ways. They taught me to live in the moment, how to be carefree, and they reinforced my love of making videos. They gave us quality family time and for that I am grateful. They also taught me that while I love adventures, I also love the simple life at home. Travel is a huge passion of ours, but as our children grow we also realise the importance of being at home.
We also had lots of little adventures closer to home. Trips to the beach, picnics, bike rides, long family walks and days out to a new town exploring. I crave these simple moments with my family. They are never perfect, we argue, get stressed, or they might not turn out the way we wanted them to, but it’s just about being together.
6. I really worked on my mental health
2019 saw me have a dip with my mental health. I have always been an anxious person but I have always been aware that I have certain triggers that set it off and I’ve never had to seek extra help for it. In the latter part 2019 I suffered with quite bad anxiety to the point it was affecting my day to day life, I was crying a lot, suffering from panic attacks, and really bad sleep. I felt low, paranoid and didn’t want to leave my little bubble and safety zone. For a long time I didn’t say anything to anyone (bar Jon and one friend I confided in) as I thought I was some sort of fraud- how could I have such a lovely life and be anxious and feel sad? But it took speaking to others to realise that mental health doesn’t discriminate and I shouldn’t feel guilty about the fact that I have a nice life, it doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge that. I am really working hard to try to look after myself, and work on my mental health. I’ve recognised one big trigger and while it isn’t an instant fix, I am working hard to look after my mind.
7. I worked with some amazing brands and continued to feel grateful that I get to do this as a job
I say this all the time but my life has changed a lot since starting this blog. This blog is nearly nine years old, which is just astounding to me. When I started it Maddie my eldest was just a few months old. I was on maternity leave from my job as an account manager in the travel industry. I started writing this purely as a hobby- there was no instagram, no ‘influencers’ and no one earned any money from being online in the way that they do now. I went back to work between Maddie and Lottie, but I went down in job role as I didn’t want to travel away from home and leave Maddie. I started to manage small businesses social media accounts in between doing my blog and working part time. I was determined to do everything I could to build up a little business from home, and it worked. Eventually I got to hand my notice in at my old job and I managed a small portfolio of clients for a fair old while.
Then this whole ‘influencer’ thing started. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing sharing our lives online. I don’t get too much negativity thankfully but when I do it hurts me. I am not thick skinned and I find it really difficult. But for the most part this community is wonderful and I love being a part of it. I love chatting to people, that is why I started it and I still love it just as much now. Every day I get 100’s of messages that make me smile, feel less alone, or help me when I need advice. There are some amazing, incredible people on social media.
The fact that I get to this as a job is something I am grateful for every day. In 2019 I worked with some amazing brands, on some amazing campaigns and I loved every minute of trying to think of creative ideas and concepts. Nothing makes me prouder than doing a really good job of working with some of my favourite brands.
8. I swam with the manatees in Crystal River, Florida
When we booked to swim with the manatees at a small little stopover in Crystal River during our Florida road trip, we had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be one of the best experiences we have ever had. We spent the morning on a boat swimming with these gentle and rather magnificent creatures, which are affectionately known as sea elephants. It was fascinating to learn more about them in their natural habitat, get to experience them up close, and overall it was an amazingly educational experience for the kids. Lottie and Maddie loved every minute and still talk about it now. Definitely one of those experiences we will never forget.
10. And zip lined down a mountain in Whistler, Canada
2019 was definitely a year of trying things we had never done before. From swimming with manatees to zip lining down a mountain, myself and my two adrenaline junkie daughters enjoyed some crazy experiences. Zip lining in the mountains in Whistler, Canada was probably one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was nervous before hand but it was just so much fun and I was so proud of Maddie and Lottie for being so brave.
9. I had many ordinary moments too
We had some incredible travel adventures, but we also had many, many ordinary moments too. Life revolved around play dates, football training, making dinners, school runs, long walks, scooter rides, afternoons on the sofa watching a film amongst many others. We also had all the other mundane stuff not so exciting stuff that you have to do as adults. But as I get older I appreciate the ordinary moments of contentment more than the extraordinary ones.
10. I read. A bit.
I read. Not as much as I would like but in 2019 I read more books than I have in years. Reading has always been a passion of mine, but inevitably with kids and a job that is flexible but involves lots of night working, I don’t read as much as I would like to. In 2019 I realised that reading was so good for my mind so I tried to read more. I read a few great books and I am looking forward to trying to make time for myself to read in the evenings before bed.
11. I ate. A lot.
2019 was a year of good food. I ate Poutine in Vancouver in Canada and from the iconic food carts in Portland Oregon. We enjoyed good food closer to home too. At the start of the year we decided to try and cut out the amount of meat we ate, for both environmental and health reasons. We have managed to cut down our meat consumption by around 50%. We still do eat meat, but our mindset used to be that we planned the meal around the meat, whereas now we don’t do that. We have found lots of veggie recipes that we really enjoy, and we are trying to cut it down even more in 2020.
Since we have had our new kitchen I have been baking with the kids more and we all really enjoy it. So I am hoping we can advance our skills in the upcoming year so we aren’t just cooking cookies and cupcakes. 😉
12. I worked on friendships
In 2019 I worked on my friendships. Because I work from home and with no colleagues, I naturally think I have become a bit of an introvert. Not in the true sense, but it is easier in the week just to be at home during the day and a lot of the friends I have made through having the kids have gone back to work. I moved around a lot in my late teens and early 20’s and therefore I don’t have a solid friendship base where we live, as my school friends are all around the world as are some of my uni friends.
I have been making a real effort with my friendships in 2019. I have tried to nurture old ones, made a real effort with new ones, and also I have gained a couple of friends who are fast becoming true friends I can count on.
13. I said no more. But I also said yes
I don’t like saying no to people, I worry what people think about me, and I naturally want to please people- whether that is in my personal life and especially at work. In 2019 I learned for my mental health that I have to say no sometimes, that I don’t have to do everything or be a part of everything. Yet at the same time I also said yes more. I think my natural instinct is to say no to things that push me out my comfort zone. But I tried to say yes more in 2019 and do things that scare me a little. I said yes to things like appearing in the Daily Mail, when normally I would have said no to things like that.
Wearing an outfit they picked out for me that I would never normally wear.
14. We celebrated ten years of marriage
2019 saw us celebrating ten years of marriage. On the 20th December 2009 I married Jon and if I look back to what has happened in the last decade it blows my mind a little bit. We have gone from a young married couple renting a house when we first got married, to buying our first home, having Maddie in 2010, Lottie in 2013 and Wren in 2016. We have moved from our first home together after nearly 8 years, finally buying this one 2 years ago.
Marriage isn’t easy and there have been times in 2019 where our marriage has hit harder times. Not hard enough to cause permanent damage by any means, but just life’s stresses, bringing up three kids, living and working together pretty much 24 hours a day, and both having not much time to do anything else for ourselves. But we come through them and we grow and we learn. I wouldn’t change Jon for anything in the world and I am very lucky to have such a supportive and kind husband.
In December 2019 we went away for a little trip to The Cotswolds for our anniversary. It was the longest time we had ever been away from the children and we loved getting the chance to reconnect with each other.
15. I parented for another year and realised how quick it is going
It sounds silly but in 2019 I really realised how quick my children are growing up. Maddie turned 9 at the end of the year and I can’t begin to comprehend that she will be double digits in 2020. Wren is also going to school in September and I realised this year how I really am on borrowed time for these small years. They are growing up so fast and what really frightens me is that technically once Maddie turns 10 we only have 8 years until she is an adult- the thought makes me honestly get tears in my eyes and I have to hold back a sob.
I berate myself as a mum a lot. I often go to bed feeling guilty that I have shouted, or I haven’t done this, or I haven’t paid enough attention to them that day, or many other reasons. I make mistakes. But I know deep down I am doing a good job. My kids are loved and I adore them. I know they know that and I know sometimes that is enough. I feel like we are almost coming to the end of an era with them all soon going to be at school and I am clinging to these days. 2020 is going to be all about quality time together doing simple things.
16. I experimented with my camera
One of the big reasons I started blogging all those years ago was because I like to be creative- I have always loved taking photos even back in childhood. One day this crazy online world I have found myself in will stop, or at least it will stop from a job/earning money point of view. That is a fact. In the back of my head I am always thinking about what I could do next when the time comes. I don’t really want to go back into marketing, but I would love to do something with video editing perhaps. Or photography. Just something creative.
In 2019 I spent a long time learning my camera inside and out. I learnt how to make videos I was proud of. Not every one, some are just grab your camera and chat type ones, but I spend a long time filming some of them. Or taking photos with my DSLR. I still get a thrill even now when I take a photo I am proud of.
17. I found a passion in editing videos
I have always loved editing videos, in fact I enjoy the editing more than the actual filming of them. But 2019 saw me find a real passion in editing videos. I love to make creative videos, whether that be simple day in the life style videos or our travel ones. I spent a long time learning how to use my video editing software properly, and I love every minute of the process. I love it when a brand asks me to make video content for them- I love thinking about the whole process and creating it from start to finish.
18. I grew a year older but felt ok with it
The last few years I have really noticed my age. I am not sure if it is because I am in the online world where traditionally more of the people doing ‘this’ are younger (as in actual fact I am the youngest out of most of my friends around where I live), or whether it is just something that naturally happens, but I had been really feeling older and I wasn’t happy about it.
However in 2019 I realised that actually I am ok with growing older. I feel good, I am working on my mental health and my physical health, but each wrinkle that forms is another laughter line because there are very good things in life to smile about, and the wobbles on my tummy are a sign of good food and happy times. I don’t know if you ever feel truly comfortable with your body or yourself, I still think ‘oh god I look pale’ when I look in the mirror or ‘wow I have dark circles under my eyes’, but for the most part I am accepting of myself and I think that is so important.
19. I felt grateful
I often say I am grateful. I am a wear my heart on my sleeve type person, I show emotions, I AM emotional. But I am grateful. Life isn’t perfect but I am so grateful for every year that I am here and enjoying life and 2019 was no exception. I feel very lucky to be able to work from home, this online world definitely isn’t easy at times, but I do feel grateful to be able to fit it in around my children.
But aside from work I am just grateful. I think practicing gratitude for things is a good thing. So I try and do that a lot. To have my family. To have my babies. To have my friends. For the big things. But most of all for the simple ones.
And that’s it. 19 things I learnt or did in 2019. Who knows what 2020 will bring but my aim for this year is to keep it simple. I think as I am getting older I value the simple things more and more. But above all I just hope that we are happy and healthy. That’s all we can ask for.