March! A whole new season! What a hopeful, life-filled month this is. The ground is already teeming with new life, evidenced in the delicate cups of the crocuses shyly opening toward the sun, and the hanging heads of snowdrops bobbing in the wind. Daffodils are trumpeting and the bird song is intensifying by a few decibels each morning too. If you manage to catch the sun in a windless moment, it feels gently warm on your face, a sweet promise of what’s to come.Read More
I was recently going through some old files and came across a load of work that I have never really shared, so in in a bid to find my blogging mojo again, I thought i’d share them here. I also realised I dont talk about my work on my blog very often at all, something I would like to change.
As well as being a blogger and Instagrammer, I’m an interior stylist and cover editorial, real homes, events and product styling. I work 1: 1 with people to offer help with their homes, businesses or retail spaces; things like space styling, press breakfasts, help with home styling, etc. My year has started with a great retail styling project in Whitstable called Grain & Hearth for example; I’ve loved sourcing and pulling together ideas and inspiration for a bakery and cafe space. Here is some more of my work.Read More
Welcome, February! Wow, what a month January was! It has felt, as it always does, verrrry long. In this coming month, Spring really gathers force. The mornings and evenings are getting ever lighter, crocuses and snowdrops are sprouting amindst the snow and ice and some trees are starting to bud hopefully. Spring is just round the corner now.
I started my year in community and it has felt very good. I have absolutely loved hosting my first e-course and being present for my students in the Facebook group community. I also hosted an absolutely gorgeous January Day retreat- gathering, making, talking and sharing in my home with a group of incredible people was such a brilliant way to start the year. It was an honour to host both of those things, online and in real life, and I am so looking forward to doing more in 2019.
Tickets to my Spring day retreat are now available, and i'd love to see some of you there. A day of nourishment, in every way, in my home on Saturday March 23rd. A spring floral wreath, a group mentoring session with Ray Dodd, sessions on making space in our minds, decluttering and amplifying the joy in our homes and epic food and cake too. There are payment plan spaces and a pay what you can space too. Any questions, please just hit reply. All the details here.Read More
Despite designing a whole e course about (amongst other stuff) January goals, I am only just now starting the process of looking ahead!
I talk again and again in my Life Book, January chapter e-course and on instagram/to anyone who’ll listen about not rushing. About refusing the pressure and noise of this time of year; the could/musts/shoulds. So I am taking my sweet time, following my own inner rhythm and juggling my hoping and dreaming and goal setting with home and family.
I know I don’t feel ready to spring into action until Spring (see what I did there) but I do love this month for the planning and dreaming. I take the whole month to do this, I don’t rush it, and I really enjoy the space this creates to focus on me a bit.Read More
I love the promise of a new year. I love it in the same way I love the promise of a new season, and sometimes a new month, week or even a fresh new morning (especially the frosty mornings we’ve had this week). I like the first page of a new diary, the first sprouts in the soil. Perhaps this explains my love of the changing seasons, the new startness of it all. Either way, January is a both a calendrical and symbolic new beginning. When done from a place of love and kindness, using this time to celebrate your wins and set some intentions and #tinglygoals for the year can be really powerful.
I don’t usually start my review and planning process until later in the month, it takes me (and, it turns out, quite a lot of you) a while to get into the new year. But this year, I have turned my January Book (or Life Book, January Chapter) into an e course to enable me to better serve you, answer questions and go a bit deeper. So Dave and I started our January Book on New Years Eve, earlier than usual, so I can go through the process with students on the e-course. I was again reminded why I love this process, why it enriches my life and widens my perception. I entered the conversation with one subject at the front of my mind (without even knowing it) and ended it with a much wider appreciation of what constitutes my life, how I can choose to approach it, and a lot of gratitude.
I wanted to share some of my reflections on 2018 because it has been a surprising year, one with some real lows and some really high high’s. And also because I think starting with reflections on the last year is a really lovely way to begin the process, grounding us in the present- today,-and providing wisdom for when we feel ready to think about 2019.
I also write this for anyone who had a hard year and who may be resisting looking back. Some of this was hard to write but I have learned so much in the process. I am still distilling and mulling 2018 in my own January Book and this will continue throughout January, and in community with students on the January Book e course.
Quite a lot of this year was hard. I look back at journal entries in the first half of the year and wince. I was deeply sleep deprived (baby related) and starting to lose my shit with my mental health. The months leading up to and following us night weaning Auden (stopping breastfeeding at night) were some of the hardest of my life. My anxiety roared. I was heavily relying on beta blockers and paracetamol, was tearful and and anxious, waking with panic attacks in the night. I ended up in A&E in early summer with heart palpitations so bad I thought something was really wrong with me. I felt scared.
My word for the year was ‘Brave’ because I envisioned 2018 to be the year I took myself out of my comfort zone, took up my space, and started working more and charging my worth. It didn’t quite go to plan.
This did actually eventually happen, primarily in the last quarter of the year (more on that later). For the rest of the year I just had to offer myself kindness and more kindness. The January Book has a lot of room for change. I cancelled plans. Delayed goals, then delayed them again. I prioritised rest, and used my word for the year in an entirely different way than I envisioned. I needed bravery to simply get through some of the days. To say that I needed help. To go the the GP. To book counselling. To say no to some stuff I needed to say no too. To fully and honestly face my anxiety and inner talk. To talk myself down from panic attacks. In many ways, these are some of the bravest things i’ve done.
Dave and I have also been working through some financial stuff in 2018 that has been really bloody challenging. The result of maternity/ paternity leave and unexpected tax debt meant some changes to the way we were living that have not been easy. The financial instability combined with the anxiety and sleep deprivation has at times been a pretty toxic mix.
The January Book prompts me to speak to my past self like i’d speak to myself as a child, or someone I cherish and love. My journal although difficult to read at times, is also lovely. I heavily relied on it. My feelings are poured into the pages like a deep dark pool. But surrounding them like a tidal barrier are my gratitudes and intentions, gently directing me back into a healthier more positive place (I am so grateful for this practice). I see myself choosing to speak kindly to myself. Giving myself a break. I see my past self going into the garden most mornings to start the day with my coffee and my gratitudes. I see me deeply grounding myself in small pleasures, hanging onto gratitude for dear life, allowing myself to feel the feelings I felt, offering myself kindness.
I feel so so proud of the way I coped with those things, lots of which are ongoing. I am literally taking a moment to high five and hug myself simultaneously.
And then the final quarter of 2018 happened. I had been deliberating about what my offering was for a really long time, and then decided to sort of just go for it. Having finally felt rested and well enough to take a leap (thanks to sleep, drugs and CBT) and wanting to contribute more financially , I launched my ebook, A Soulful Gathering. It contained all the things I have learned about hosting and styling a stylish, soulful gathering, something I have wanted to write for years. I was blown away by the reaction of my community. I also launched 4 (!) Christmas workshops and two day retreats, volunteered to style a really special Christmas day event for care leavers, and started working on my first e-course, The Life Book January Chapter (or The January Book!). I had a few amazing press mentions and articles, released an accidentally slightly viral wreath making tutorial, had my best ever month financially in November and was interviewed for Sara’s podcast, Hashtag Authentic. Just writing all that makes feel ‘whoa’. In hindsight it was too much. I got sick over Christmas and didn’t give myself enough rest time. But it felt incredibly liberating to do the following: Just take action . Stop pondering. To stop agonising about what my ‘thing’ was. Try some things. Learn again and again to divorce myself from external approval. To hold things lightly. To play. I hold these lessons close to my heart as I look ahead to this year.
These are snippets of the story. There was so much other good stuff, too, a lot of joy. I haven’t even touched on kids, marriage, politics or lots of the other things that happened last year, but I wanted to share some of the high’s and low’s of last year, and how I approach them. I’m so grateful for The January Book process for providing a kind and loving space in which to figure all this out.
If you are reflecting on a tough year, maybe one significantly tougher than mine (i am deeply aware of all of my privileges in this), I have pulled together a few helpers.
How to look back on a tough year:
Speak to yourself like you’d speak to a child or someone you cherish
Offer your past self grace and understanding. Look at what happened simply as information about the circumstances in your life, rather than as evidence of your failures.
Remember. You’d be surprised how much you have forgotten about how much you managed. Here are some tips.
Look through your phone photos of the last year
Flip through your journal, dairy or calendar over the last year
Scroll through look your social media posts
Speak to trusted loved ones about their recollection of what you aced in 2018
End your reflections in gratitude. It can be hard, especially after a hard year, but think about who was there for you? Who were the good people? What were the good experiences? Write as long a list as you can manage and include the small little daily pleasures as well as the big stuff too.
What did you learn? What changes in perception or approach did you experience?