So here we are, the last day of 2019! Half of me wants to say “that flew by” and the other half feels like the beginning of the year was a lifetime away, but there’s one thing I’m definite on and that’s that 2019 has been a really important year for me in a very low-key way. 2017 was a year of sadness, 2018 was a year of happiness and celebrating life, and 2019 has turned out to be a year of self-discovery and grounding. I feel more me today than I did this time last year and I am more content with life than I have ever been.
The year started with me having major knee surgery which left me unable to walk for 3 months. Throughout that time I saw hardly anyone except Ben, my Dad and medical staff, which meant that I spent a lot of time in my own head and, honestly, it was life changing. Without all the noise of the outside world I was able to really get down to the nitty gritty of who I am. Before this I had never really understood why people go on retreats, but this experience brought it all home to me – we so rarely get to spend time isolated in such a way that we can self-reflect and now I feel like it’s something everyone should do at some point. It’s so good for the soul.
Once I was able to get up and about again I threw myself into slowing things down a little, appreciating life and starting to actively practice gratitude (another life-changer of a habit I embraced this year – if you don’t do it already, get on it ASAP!)
I fell in love with reading again (but fell short of my slightly-too-ambitious Goodreads target – I’m going to give it another go next year!).
I had my heart broken twice as both our family dogs died this year. They had both been around for almost half of my lifetime, so a world without them seemed unreal. But we were so lucky to have them, they really were the best pups.
Our Landlady told us she was selling our rental home and we needed to move out, then somehow the stars aligned in the most incredible way and we found ourselves in a position where we could buy our very own house, a perfect little bundle of bricks and mortar. I’m so happy here and I still feel like pinching myself every day to check I’m not dreaming.
For some unknown reason Poppy became a different dog in the new house, much more contented and we’ve even managed to take her out for walks. A literal miracle.
We ticked something off of my Bucket List and visited Shepton Mallet prison for an overnight ghost hunt. We were allowed to sleep there if we wanted to, but there was no way we could get any shut-eye as there were so many people wandering about, so we just walked around in the pitch black with only our torches to guide our way. We didn’t experience anything personally – in fact, it felt really welcoming there, even in the dark – but it was a great experience and I’m glad we did it!
I strengthened some friendships and let others drift away after finally realising that nostalgia is not a good enough reason to keep people in your life if they aren’t making you happy or giving you true kindness and companionship. My best friend, Rachael, and I reached the 10-year anniversary of meeting and we got matching tattoos to celebrate. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her, she is more than just a best friend, she’s part of me and I feel lucky every day to have her.
I went for a walk with the dog and a baby squirrel decided I was its new mum. I tried to get away from it but it followed me for over half an hour. I took advice from the RSPCA and local vets who all told me that it’s illegal to help grey squirrels (!!) and the only way it could survive would be to go back to where I first saw it in the hope it’s mum would find it, so I did as I was told. The next day its little lifeless body was found and I was absolutely devastated. Although I know it wasn’t my fault I still feel responsible and I wish I had listened to my instincts – I might not have been able to keep it alive forever, but maybe long enough for it to have a fighting chance. I don’t know… I’m still absolutely gutted over it – and furious, truth be told.
I got 2 new tattoos – an otter to mark my friendship with Rach and my animals paw prints. I have a list of about 8 others I want in the future, but I need to wait a while for the next ones as a) they’re not cheap, and b) they’re addictive so I want to space them out a little bit! I did recently get my eyebrows tattooed on though and I am so happy with them! When I was a teen it was cool to have really thin, barely-there eyebrows and all that over-plucking left me with hardly anything left, so I’ve spent the past 10 years (literally) drawing them on every day – it feels so good now to be able to get out of bed and not have to do it! It’s so much quicker for me to get ready for work now too!
I’ve been to the theatre 3 times this year (to see Circus 1903, The Woman In Black, and Mary Poppins) but I really want to try and go more in the future.
I got behind the wheel of a car for the first time in 2 years (I wasn’t allowed to drive because of my knee) and it felt like I’d never been away from it at all! I have, however, developed a fear of driving on motorways which is really annoying. I’m not too sure how to get past it but am considering hypnotherapy.
I got my nose pierced after years of wanting it done. I’m sure people think I’m having some sort of early mid-life crisis, but the truth is that actually I just feel comfortable enough to be myself and I don’t want to fit into a box I feel I should be in anymore. I’ve spent over 30 years trying to fit in, blend in and be what I think I should be and now I just want to be who I am.
I did my first Escape Room and had such a good time that I definitely want to do more in the future! After this we went along to Cahoots in London, a bar I’ve wanted to go to for ages – it’s in an old underground station and is themed around the end of the Second World War. If you book in advance you can sit in an old tube train carriage whilst you have a drink (which we did) and it was very cool. Definitely worth a visit!
We saved up and bought shutters for our windows and I’m over the moon with them! They’re so easy to clean and look so good, I’m really pleased that we decided to put up with bare windows for a few months and wait for them!
We had a family day out to the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London, and it was absolutely incredible. The craftsmanship skills they had is unbelievable and there was even a pair of gloves there which were 3000 years old and still not in bad condition! It makes me wonder how many of the items we make these days would last 3000 years… not many, I’m sure.
I bought my first piece of art! It was a spur of the moment decision as I saw the painting and fell in love with it, but I’m so glad I did – I sometimes just stand in front of it staring at it. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and if something makes you that happy then you definitely need to have it in your life!
Towards the end of this year my day job changed – I still work in the same place but I have been given a whole load more responsibility and a huge amount more stress, but I’m just trying to get on with it and do it to the best of my ability. Prior to the Christmas break I actually was so stressed at one point that I woke myself up in the night pulling my eyelashes out – I have never done that before, so it was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I still have a ridiculous amount of work to do and a lot of stress, but going forward into the New Year I’m going to make sure I manage it better, and look after myself better too!
So, all in all, 2019 has been very kind to me. It’s been a year of big changes but I find myself now in a very happy, contented place and really excited for the New Year. I always find myself getting excited at this time of year, but I feel like there’s magic in the air of 2020 and I can’t wait to see what the year brings.
I hope 2019 was as kind to you as it was to me and, if it wasn’t, I hope 2020 turns everything around for you.
Goodbye 2019, you were a good’un!
(Check back in the next few days to read about my goals for 2020 and a look back at the last decade)