Goodbye 2021 and 8 highlights from last year

Well here we are, another Brand New Year. Don’t they come around quickly these days? I have no resolutions, no expectations (if the last couple of years have taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected, right?) but am cautiously excited to see what the next 365 days brings (crosses fingers very tightly).

I know a lot of people were very much looking forward to seeing the end of 2021 but me being me, I have to know that despite everything it’s always possible to find moments of positivity. I’ve had 3 pretty rough years in a row (2018, 2019 and 2020) and needed 2021 to pull one out of the bag and despite everything, it really was a good year. Here are 8 of the best moments 

1) Going back to work
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best thing that happened in 2021 was returning to full-time work. I have no regrets about leaving my old job at the end of 2018, the intended year I spent self-employed and the additional unexpected year I got thanks to global events. But I now know what I need to make me tick and that’s doing something that feels truly fulfilling and rewarding, that I never felt from full-time content creation. When I was working full-time before, I always thought the grass was greener and I really envied people who could set their own hours and schedule. Two years out taught me SO much about myself though, and I’m very much back in my happy place. I love what I do SO much and am incredibly grateful every day that I found this job and this job found me. Plus ya know, a monthly disposable income is delightful, I can’t deny it

2) I managed a whole year without a UC flare
One of the biggest worries I had about returning to work was how I would now manage with a chronic illness. Ulcerative Colitis isn’t the most pleasant of conditions and as I was only diagnosed in 2019, it was after I left my previous full-time job so when pesky flare-ups occurred (I had one severe one in 2019 which led to diagnosis and then again in autumn 2020), I was able to take weeks in bed to recuperate. Incredibly, I think so much stress has been alleviated by ironically being much busier with work that I’ve gone all the way through the year without a flare. The days are hard, I’m pretty shattered 99% of the time, but it’s a huge leap forward from where I was in 2019 and I’m so grateful to have reached this point

3) THAT painted patio
Now, it has to be said I do occasionally like a challenge but by far the most ridiculous thing I did last year was painting our patio, all 25sqm or so of it. Of course I bow down to the Gods of prep work these days and having to completely regrout it first and what felt like never-ending prep work in the wettest spring/early summer ever known nearly broke me. Almost everything that could have gone wrong did but oh my, it was worth it. Now in the depths of winter it’s very mucky #doglife but there have been no cracks, no weeds and no flaking paint in 8 months so fingers crossed all it will take in spring is a relatively easy spruce up

4) I taught myself to use a sewing machine
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but I say PAH! I knew our outdoor sofa cushion covers wouldn’t cut the mustard after I painted the patio but the cushions themselves are so comfy I didn’t want to replace them. So I decided to learn to sew and made NEW cushion covers even with zippers and honestly? Pretty proud achievement right there. I’ve since been working with Just Fabrics and have done some other sewing projects which I hope inspire people to take up a new hobby. If we don’t try we don’t know

5) We were granted financing for our ground floor extension
In February, it will be 8 years since we moved in. We always said we would counter our tiny kitchen by extending, but when I left my old job that was out of the question on one permanent salary. I decided that if I WAS going back to work, we had to prioritise getting our finances ship-shape to apply for a re-mortgage and we did just that. Im sure we will need more funds as I’ve seen enough property programmes to know that whatever you budget is never enough but it’s a huge leap forward and I feel very fortunate to be in this position

6) I paid off my credit card
One of the many valuable lesssons I learned in my two years of self-employment is that I absolutely hate feeling financially vulnerable. I don’t like dependency and I don’t like not being able to pay my way. As soon as I received my first pay at the end of March I committed to clearing £7k of credit card debt and by the end of September it was gone. I felt so driven and after years and years of always having some sort of debt on a credit card it’s a huge relief knowing its now gone

7) Turning our unloved en-suite into a teeny spa-esque bathroom
One of the least-featured rooms on Instagram was our en-suite bathroom because it truly wasn’t worth sharing. We made a vague attempt at sprucing it up when we first moved in back in 2014 but fast forward 7 years and that felt very dated. It is on our list for a proper renovation to turn it into a shower room but in the meantime and possibly taking leave of my senses, I felt inspired to give it a mini-makeover. It’s amazing what paint and a bit of imagination can do. I spend a lot of time there now and it’s a massive quality of life improvement. If you need me I’ll be in the bath

8) We started living again and reunited with friends
At certain points in 2020, I questioned a lot. Whether I ever needed a holiday again (newsflash, still haven’t had one but very definitely do need them), whether we needed to stay in London, whether we needed to go out and about and do things. I thought maybe I could just stay at home with Pete and the fluffs forever. Of course it was short lived and one of the best things about 2021 has been enjoying life again and not taking it for granted. Dinners in pubs and restaurants rather than outside, theatre trips, curling up in the cinema, hotel stays, breakfasts that someone else made. Days off to meet up with friends, being spontaneous and falling in love with London all over again

I’m excited for any new adventures that come along in 2022, and no matter what the year holds I know I’ll always find at least one thing to be grateful for. Happy New Year x

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