Thursday, 11 January 2018

2017's Best Bits & Life & Career Goals For 2018

2017 is over, and to be honest...I'm struggling to understand where it went.

And when I try to think about what stands out about it in my mind, there really isn't any one particular moment.

It almost feels as though 2017 was a year of nothing much.

But then when I think back over the last few years and the stand-out moments of those, it all starts to make sense to me...I got pregnant in 2012, I had my first baby in 2013. Fell pregnant again in 2014, gave birth in 2015 AND fell pregnant the same year, and then gave birth for the third time in 2016.

That means that 2017 was the first year out of the last six that I didn't get pregnant or give birth.

The first year of no baby planning, the first year with no impending new arrival, the first year with no adjusting to a new person in the family.

So it's little wonder that - given the whirlwind of happy chaos the last 5 years has been - 2017 seemed a little uneventful in comparison.

So I decided to look back over 2017 with fresh eyes, and see just what our highlights were.


Our year kicked off with me booking a last-minute trip to Disneyland Paris in a bid to beat off the seasonal depression I always experience in the dark winter months, and it worked a treat.

It was Noah's first time at Disney and he adored it, as did all of us! We were lucky enough to return to Disneyland Paris in November too to experience their Magical Christmas season with our friends, and this time Sailor came along - another fantastic experience!

We returned to Butlins Minehead for a family holiday in March and although sickness did unfortunately strike Tyne during our trip, we still managed to have an amazing time - Butlins never lets us down, it's the perfect holiday for the boys at their current ages.

During the Summer we decided to book a last minute caravan holiday to Cornwall - we headed to The Lizard, an area of Cornwall we hadn't visited before and we weren't disappointed - it was absolutely stunning and we were so lucky with the weather too as it was amazing all week!

We also visited Buckinghamshire over the Summer too which was an area of the country we hadn't been to before, we went to spend the day with my friend Alex who I met through my blog and we had a great time together - the boys get on so well which was so lovely to see. We also managed to visit the Roald Dahl museum and find his grave during our stay too which was a big thing for me as he has always been one of my favourite writers and one of my idols, really. 

We fit in a long weekend in London with Tyne over the summer too, which was really lovely as a chance to not only explore the capital but to get in some one on one bonding time with him before he started school - he had an amazing time visiting Kidzania and The Clink, and I was in my element when we managed to visit Buckingham Palace for a tour of the state rooms too.

In October we headed off on a 2 week med cruise holiday on board my absolute favourite ship, the Independence Of The Seas - we had an amazing 2 week break and visited 7 cities - Florence, Pisa, Rome, Malaga, Lisbon, Cartagena and Provence.

And another unexpected travel highlight was our first visit to the beautiful Isle Of Wight - we went here on a press trip and I honestly didn't expect to fall so in love with the island. It really was the most stunning and peaceful place, and I can't wait to go back.

Family Life:

In February, my baby turned a whole year old - we celebrated with the usual cake smash and little tea party with family, and had a lovely low-key day of fun with our little man.

And a couple of months later, the older boys celebrated their birthdays too - with Tyne turning 4 and Noah turning 2.

In September, Tyne started big boy school - unfortunately it hasn't been the smoothest of starts for him so far, which is a story for another time, but he makes me proud every day with how hard he tries to make the best of it.

2017 was a year for finding our feet as a family of five, and for the boys to build on their sibling bonds...the three of them have become thick as thieves over the year as Sailor has grown up more and more.

Favourite Days:

We've enjoyed so many amazing days out over the course of the year that I couldn't not mention them, too.

We visited lots of theme parks including Paultons Park, Legoland Windsor, Diggerland in Devon and Chessington World of Adventures too.

We also headed to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm to meet up with a lovely lady I've been online friends with since my pregnancy with Tyne - we were on a bump group together and have been in touch ever since, so it was really lovely to finally meet her and to see those "bumps" playing together!

Our visits to Lifton Farm Shop are always highlights of the year for me - we go strawberry picking there every summer, and return in Autumn for Pumpkin picking - I love doing both and they've become seasonal traditions of ours that all of us look forward to.

Personal Growth & Achievements:

2017 has been a year of focusing a little more on myself, and at the end of it I can honestly see and feel quite a change in my confidence and my anxiety levels.

I spent the year attending weekly counselling sessions for my anxiety through the NHS depression and anxiety service, and it really helped to make a difference to how I handle panic and how I look at situations that used to scare me - it's been completely life changing to be honest.

It came out during my sessions that I'm suffering with post traumatic stress disorder as a result of some problems in my past, and so I'm continuing my therapy journey into 2018 and feeling hopeful.

2017 was also the year I finally felt brave enough to be a little bolder with my look, and after coveting it for months I finally took the plunge and had my coloured unicorn style! And I absolutely adored it.

It gave me such a confidence boost, and although the colours have long since faded I still feel as though the confidence it gave me is there somehow...I take more effort over my appearance more often now, I feel less inclined to care what other people think of me and I just feel better in myself. Which can't be a bad thing.

2017 was also the year I conquered one of my biggest fears - one which held me back in life for far too long....flying!

 I took a Fearless flyer course with Easyjet, something I truly never expected to actually work, and finally I can say that I am NOT SCARED OF FLYING! 

Which feels amazing and I cannot wait to start travelling more.

2017 was also the year that I experienced what it was like to have a post go viral! And I mean REALLY worldwide viral.

I wrote a post in anger after my Princess loving son was denied an experience at Disneyland Paris due to his sex, and the next morning I awoke to news agencies banging on my door, ITV asking for fact every channel and news broadcaster you can think of across the world asking for interviews! Fox news, ABC, E Entertainment, Australian, Italian and even Brazilian reporters were contacting me day and night.

And as someone who suffers with social anxiety this did not sit comfortably with me at all.

It was a difficult time being open target to the worlds homophobes and bigots in all honesty - but I rode it out. I didn't crumble (well...not too much) and I actually managed to change something for the better when Disneyland conceded and apologised. And even thanked me for writing the post and giving them the chance to rectify things.

It wasn't an easy journey and I honestly never want to experience a viral post again! But I feel proud that I stood up for my childs rights and the rights of all children, and proud that this little blog of mine managed to get one of the biggest companies in the world to change their policies and apologise. That's no mean feat and not something to be sniffed at.

And finally, in 2017 I pushed my boundaries once more when I was invited to appear on The Davina Show to speak about my experiences of being bullied during my childhood and the emotional scars it's left me with - particularly my difficulty in making and maintaining friendships.

The show was an emotional thing for me to do, and something that gave me a lot of anxiety - in fact I still to this day haven't been able to watch it back, it's sitting unwatched on my Sky box! - but I've received hundreds of messages from women all over who have thanked me for talking about it and shared their own similar stories with me - which makes it all worthwhile.

So now that I look back...perhaps 2017 wasn't quite as uneventful as I thought!

If I had to sum it up briefly I'd say that 2017 has been a year of personal achievements and growth.

It's a funny thing though...because I've just looked back over the post I wrote at this time last year, which was full of resolutions for the year ahead - almost none of which I've actually achieved.

But I don't feel bad.

No I didn't lose the weight I wanted to...but I did start jogging, start cooking more, and focus MUCH more time working on my mental wellbeing and self confidence which I personally feel is more important and far more beneficial in the long run. That is not a fail, that is something to be proud of.

No I didn't start dedicating more time to writing fiction this year and less time blogging like I planned  to...but I did earn over £35,000 this year from this blog of mine, a business that I single handedly started and built up from nothing, and I used that money to support my family as the sole earner. That is not a fail, that is something to be proud of.

So to summarise...I don't think that I have failed by not sticking to last years resolutions at all, I simply think the resolutions that I made were the wrong ones.

This year, I'm reluctant to set such hard and fast resolutions and set myself up to "fail" when I have no idea what life will throw at me...instead I'm simply setting some achievable goals, not because I want to berate myself if they don't come to fruition but because goals help to keep me focused and on track.

So here they are.

Travel Goals For The Year:

Much the same as last year, I simply want to travel as much as possible.

There are so many places I'd like to see for the first time - endless places actually. And there are many places that I'd love to revisit.

But as long as we manage to travel to a few places and enjoy ourselves this year, that is enough.

We already have another cruise holiday booked for September which will take us around the Canary Isles and to Portugal and Madeira.

Other than that, I have my sights set on some more Disneyland Paris trips because they keep me happy (hopefully for Halloween and maybe for New Years Eve) and hopefully another visit to Butlins Minehead before the boys get too old to enjoy the Just For Tots breaks.

I'd also really like to be able to fly somewhere to keep myself in practise and unafraid, but given that our main holiday for the year is already booked and doesn't involve flights....this is really budget and time dependent - so we'll wait and hope. I'm cautiously optimistic! I'd really love to visit Italy again and I've been browsing Eurocamp holidays lately - I think they look ideal for the little ones and a great base for exploring the area from too!

Family Life Goals For The Year:

This year is looking pretty uncertain in a few ways as far as family life goes. Tyne's experiences at school have been troubling to me so far, and there are many aspects of it that I'm really unhappy with. Over the last month or so I've been reading up on Home Education and in all honesty, the more I learn about it the more it appeals to me - but we're going to wait and see for now.

Tyne wants to try another term at school, and so for now - it's all a little up in the air while we see how that goes. Whatever happens and whichever we go, we'll make it work. My only goal here is to end up with a child who is happy, content and confident in his education.

The other thing I'm still unsure of is whether or not we're stopping at 3 children. It's something I still change my mind about on a daily basis, and Jon is exactly the same. So we'll see.

I guess my only other goal for our family is that we continue to grow together, laugh together and explore together....and if we're talking less cheesy goals and more honest mum ones...I'd really like to learn to stop muttering "for fucks sake" under my breath 16,000 times a day and somehow manage to organise our home better!!!
Blog/Career Goals For The Year:

This may sound a little bizarre I guess but this year....I want to do less.

I want to take on less brand work. I want to worry less about replying to emails straight away.

I want to stop over-stretching myself by saying yes to everything, and learn to really think about the offers I get and decide whether or not they're the right fit (and indeed, the right price!) for me.

I want to stop underselling myself because I feel as though I can't afford to turn down any offer of payment.

This year, for the first time since I started earning from my blog, Jon is working full time. The rent and the bills are covered. Any money I earn is no longer for the survival of our family, but for me...for our leisure...for fun.

And so I can be more picky. And I can spend less time on it.

Which I hope will give me more time to be creative.

To create content that I actually love, that I'm passionate about.

This year my goal is to find my voice.

I thought I'd found it last year, but now I'm not so sure.

I want to spend less time worrying about keeping up with the joneses and honing my flatlay skills, and more time writing and expressing myself.

And I want to care less about what I think people expect to see from me, and more time showing the real me...including my stupid sense of humour, my sweary rants and my eclectic interests and personality.

I will repeat one of last years goals though - I WILL try harder with YouTube this year. I will, I will, I will! YouTube & I are like the love affair that just can't get started....I want to make it work but there's just no chemistry between us!....this HAS to be our year!!!

Personal Goals For The Year:

Perhaps a little selfishly, this is the one I'm most excited about.

If I'm totally honest, without wanting to brag at all, I amazed myself last year.

I did things I NEVER thought I would be able to do. I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone on lots of different occasions, and I honestly feel as though my confidence has really increased.

Don't get me's not exactly sky-high and I'm still an anxious person...but it's so much better than it was at this time last year. SO MUCH BETTER.

And it feels pretty incredible to know that this didn't happen because of anybody else... It happened because I worked for it.

Because I went to therapy, because I kept pushing myself, because I worked through every barrier that my brain put in my way, because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone again and again and again.

And now I fear less. And I panic less. And I feel better, and calmer, and happier.

And that is amazing.

So this year, my goals are to continue working on that.

Not to lose x amount of sodding weight by x date or get into a certain dress size, because let's be honest...other than making me look more appealing to people I honestly don't give a shit about and maybe slightly prolonging my life and making me less out of breath when I run up the stairs....what difference does losing weight really make?

I was suicidal last year.

So even if I'd concentrated on losing weight instead of improving my mental state, who's to say I'd live longer anyway? If I jumped off a sodding building like I so desperately wanted to on so many occasions I wouldn't have lived longer.

So no...this year I'm not setting myself goals or punishing my body with fad liquid diets in a bid to slim myself down for the approval of random people...I'm setting myself the goal of living more authentically, trying to be happier and conquering another fear.

I want to make more time for self care.

I want to treat myself with more love and respect - which may or may not include the food I eat and the exercise I partake in, that's my call to make.

I want to change my inner voice from the mean nasty one that berates me and calls me names, to the one that speaks to me the way it speaks to my friends...supportive, kind, and patient.

I want to try to beat another fear - this year I'm thinking it's time to conquer my fear of driving, which will also give me a little freedom too.

I want to spend a little less time scrolling aimlessly through my social feeds, and more time engaging with people - meaningfully engaging with them - and more time reading.

And I want to continue on my therapy journey and see where it takes me.

Well....that was a rather epic post wasn't it?! Well done if you read to the end of it.

Here's a little collage of our Me & Mine pics from the year as a reward ;)

If you're a regular reader, thank you for your support - it means so much more than I can actually express. Let's see where 2018 takes us!

Happy new year!!!

If you enjoy my blog, please consider following me on Bloglovin'
Blogger Template Setup by fazal