2018 was a strange year, but writing a year in review post and reflecting felt pretty cathartic. Now when I look back and read the notes it brings a smile to my face. I can clearly picture some of the thought processes and the new places I visited. But mostly I can see how grateful I was, for all of it. I don’t want to lose my sense of gratitude for the wonderful life I’ve been given. I don’t know about you friend, but I want to look back on all of my years with joy, even the parts that felt difficult or impossible, because it’s all we’ve got. The small things weave and grow next to the big things, and that’s what makes every year so special. 2019 was no exception and that’s why I wanted to complete a year in review for 2019.
2019 started with a bang. Literally. Spending New Year’s Eve watching fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour Bridge was incredible. Even if I did cut my foot open on a portaloo. The sky looked like it was on fire. Sparks and glitter flooded the moonlit sky as we huddled under the stars. On reflection, I think it was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had.
Visiting Australia felt like going home. Warm and open, the infectious laid-back outdoor life was one of the many stories I could have told. It was one of the lives I could have lived and revisiting it brought back a wave of emotion and potential.
It smells different in Australia. I’m serious, the air smells different. It’s heavier and it always seems to mix with salt spray and adventure. I still can’t believe it was over a year ago that we jumped on a plane and just like that found ourselves on the other side of the world.
That was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. We were able to visit our old house and my heart was healed and broken in exactly the same moment. Sitting in the same place, I’d sat 7 years prior, staring out into the ocean, listening to the surf crash on the sand as the sun set, I realised everything, and nothing had changed.
A whirlwind stop in Hong Kong, searching for speakeasies and street food. As the plane touched down, I hit the rest of 2019 with a thud. Twelve hours of projectile vomiting on a night flight let me know the trip was over. Along with a call about an Ofsted visit at work. Yeah, I was sick for a while after that.
2019 started with a bang and it didn’t stop. Flashes and flickers, colours at speed. It seemed to launch past me, and I felt like I spent most of it trying to catch up. Morsels of moments and fragments of stories hurtling around as I spun faster, dancing to the sound of the calendar pages move from one month to the next.
February and March melted into late nights and long days at work. Interspersed with coffee and cakes and blue skies on a Sunday. I know the only way I made it through these months was with the amazing books I read. At times I looked after myself really well last year and I’m so proud of learning to listen to what I need. I dropped the ball with a lot of things, but I kept myself afloat and looking back that feels like a miracle. Don’t ever apologise for putting yourself first friend. I learnt the hard way that the earth crumbles beneath your feet when you don’t give yourself time to breathe. I know I’m going to struggle to bring this lesson into 2020.
A weekend in Wales with my family lifted my spirits and with it the glimmer of a plan I’d been mulling for a while. I always wanted to be the girl that quit her job and followed her dreams. Could 2019 be the year I made it happen?
I found so many random notes on my phone that let me know I made the right decision, crashing and burning from life wouldn’t be an option. 2019 has taught me how quickly the grass can always look greener. This is why we need to write the words of our life down. We forget so quickly what was good and what was bad. We block out the pain and we search for the easy road. We think that what other people have is incredible and we forget to look at the good in all our experiences, focusing on the bad puts too much pressure on what we hope might be.
Snow! We finally got a sprinkling in March and it felt good for the world to be turned white.
Theatre trips. More walks. Family visits. And a lot of DIY. The hours turned to days turned to weeks. It’s scary how time rolls on without us noticing.
I want 2020 to slow down. I’m actively working to slow my whirring mind so I can stop, be still and soak up the present.
Unbelievable sunshine in April, with SUP adventures and blue skies. Pub gardens with sunshine falling on my face. One more pint. Dog walks and long weekends. A week by the sea and more good books.
May crept up without warning and I blinked into June. I handed my notice in on the 27th June and my life turned upside down. The sun started to shine.
A squad summer, with carnivals, festivals and muddy wellies. Beers and long walks. More books. More tears. And the countdown started.
August. The doorbell rang at 7am and my parents turned up on my doorstep, ready to cook breakfast for me on my last day of working for somebody else. I’m not sure if it was the shock, the hangover from the night before or the realisation that everything was going to change, but my vision got blurry when I saw them on the doorstep and it’s never been quite right since.
Goodbyes have always made my stomach flip flop. Some of the people I worked with have changed my life and I am fearlessly grateful for their presence in my life. They believed in me more than I ever did. I faked it and I made it and I’m thankful for the lessons I learnt and the people I met along the way. But friend, let me ask you this, how much of yourself do you give up for your work? Are you happy with the answer?
Summer, my oldest friend. A christening. A new Godparent role, picnics, books and laughter. My life started to trickle into long evenings and early mornings. I went from 30,000 words on my novel to 80,000. 2019 reminded me of the power of waking up early and the power of changing your life, so you can change your life. Fight for want you want, even when it feels like you’re fighting yourself.
Launching a business as the trees started to turn golden. A weekend with my grandparents, followed by more pints and more walks.
I climbed a mountain in September for my 31st Birthday and I cried. If you wished for a more perfect day you wouldn’t have gotten in. After years of wondering if I was ready, I proved to myself that there is nothing left stopping me from moving forward. Go climb your mountain friend. 2020 is going to be about reminding myself of my strength. But not pushing myself to limit. There ain’t nothing I need to prove to nobody. I just need to remember who I am. Friend, do you know who you are?
Sunsets at our new favourite weekend escape. Anglesey, where have you been all my life? The sniff of an adventure confirmed for 2020, the Anglesey coast path is pencilled in for later this year.
A weekend in Scotland to celebrate my new status as a student and a timely reminder that our country really isn’t that big. 2020 is about more day trips and weekends away. Slow travel and seeing the places we’ve only read about. Visiting the people, we long to see. Close travel. Every day exploring.
A splash of autumn sun in October with a trip to Barcelona to celebrate 2 years of marriage. Cementing our partnership by entangling it with more memories and stories and walks in unfamiliar streets, hands twisted and stuck together.
More books, more walks and the arrival of my travel reflection postcards. I’m making a pledge to write these to myself this year. Not only will I then have photos to look back on, but I’ll have the stories, to hold in my hand and trace with my fingertips.
A wet week by the sea in November. Friends board games and wine. This is the stuff dreams are made of. A trip to London with the people I love most in the world. Uni Assignments and books and more beer. Log fires.
Christmas in our very own home and the reminder that when I grow up all I want is a full house. My kitchen table will always have room for one more chair. A house full of laughter, food and friendship (with more wine in the fridge). That’s all I’ve ever wanted. To be surrounded by the people who make me believe in myself and live their life on purpose. Friend, if you are ever lonely or alone, there will always be room for you at our table.
2019 where did you go? Why did you take so long to get here and then you drifted past like a puff of smoke. I don’t want to miss anything. The hard days, the happy days and the messy middle.
How do you review a year?
Where do you start? In 2018 I started with photographs, scrawling through my Facebook feed and my phone storage, forcing myself to remember. Feeding my mind with snapshots and images to spark memories and stories.
- Try and sum your year in a sentence, then a paragraph. Can you fill a page?
- Look back at your photographs and pick out a highlights reel.
- Make a vision reflection board. Make sure it shows everything you’re proud of.
- Write a letter to yourself, reminding you of what you’ve learnt.
- Make a scrapbook. A place to collect all your memories and moments.
“The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered…We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.” ― Elizabeth Edwards
I didn’t promise myself 2020 would be easy, I just hope it will be worth it. More than ever, I am so interested in seeing what words I will write in this same post next year, when I reflect fully on 2020. But I guess deep down I don’t think life is really about the things that happen to you, I think it’s about the things you make happen.
What are you going to make happen for you in 2020 friend?