The year that was and the year that will be

We're already nearly a month into the New Year so I realise I'm a little late to the boat with these new years posts about reflecting on 2018 and thinking about what 2019 will bring. But having been on 'go' since day two of the New Year I'm just finally starting to think about how, for me, 2018 wasn't all that bad. There were certainly some significant events in my life during 2018 and I've often found that while such things are happening it can be hard to see how much good they bring until you can take even just a second to think back over it all and go 'huh, I guess a lot more came out of that year then I realised'. So I wanted to share some of these reflections today, mostly for a selfish reason and to allow myself that time to really just stop and think about the year that was and about what this year might be.

(It wasn't until after writing and adding in some photos that my cover photo makes look like I'm being super reflective - am I looking back into the past or towards the future - who knows ......)

  • I entered the world of full time work and was lucky enough to land a job that I don't mind getting up and going to most days of the week, even though some days I would rather not which I think is inevitable when you're consistently in almost the exact same routine for weeks on end. It was also nice to finally have some financial security that a full time job brings (much more than any Government or Social Service payments can ever provide). While I'm aware this is simply an idea instilled in me by society, it did make me feel like I was 'getting my life together' and starting to adult. I spent the previous year trying to grow my freelancing while studying and it just didn't happen for me in the time frame I set for myself. Meanwhile I watched most of my friends enter the workforce and, to me, it looked like they had started to get their lives going down a nice path while I was still stuck in the student phase. As I look back on it now I actually look at that time more as my 'gap year' as I never had one between finishing high school and starting university. While I didn't do any major travelling or anything that exciting during that time, it was good to have that time to myself. While I might not have felt like I was relaxing that often then, I certainly look back and realise there were plenty more beach days sprinkled in then I have time for now.
  • I realised that not making it to the gym everyday doesn't mean that it's the end of the world and your body won't change within a matter of days. I've always loved going to the gym, and I still do, but have always been someone who would beat themselves up if they didn't make it to the gym every single day (though weekends I've always tended to be more lenient on myself). It didn't matter how small or big the workout was, unless it was a scorching hot day or I simply had to many plans that day, I would be super hard on myself for not going. At the beginning of the year when I started full time work and moved houses, my gym location at the time really wasn't working for me anymore, so I cancelled my membership. Before then I had been trying to travel to the gym after work each afternoon and I was just getting too tired and unmotivated to do anything else. After I cancelled my membership I gave myself some time away from the gym, which I think I needed as I noticed I was developing an unhealthy relationship with the gym. Previously, if I didn't make it to the gym one day I not only beat myself up about that but I would convince myself I suddenly looked super unfit and would become a super master at spotting imperfections - when I was getting to the gym most days though I could look at myself more confidently. So I made myself step away for a bit, and while I struggled at first, within a couple of weeks that negative talk began to fade and I could see what I truely looked like in the mirror. I started doing some home workouts from there and eventually signed up for a gym I'd being eyeing off ages because they also included Pilates and Yoga classes which I wanted to begin incorporating into my routine to keep exercising fun. Since going back to the gym, while I still have my moments of feeling bad for not going and convincing myself I've undone any progress I've done by missing a day, I have certainly improved tenfold which is also something I attribute to the next point.
  • I improved my gut health majorly. For a long time I was someone who easily became bloated - no matter what I ate, no matter how small or big the portion, or how healthy or unhealthy the food was - my stomach would always bloat (sometimes to the point I looked pregnant). As someone who has struggled with their appearance, this isn't a great thing to be dealing with. As I realised that simply trying to be healthier or eating smaller portions didn't quite seem to be working I finally began to look into it more. A lot of people talked about food intolerances as being the cause of such an issue, but as someone who hates needles and wanted to avoid blood tests at all costs, not to mention that getting a food tolerance test done isn't the cheapest thing going, I was hoping I could find something else to try first. That's when I came across a product called GutRight by ATP Science. The guys at ATP actually have a full podcast and loads of information about the real science behind how this product works (another reason I was so drawn to try it because I love a brand who clearly puts so much effort and passion into something), but I'll give you my really simplified, not-sciency breakdown. Basically this stuff helps to balance out the good and bad bacteria in your gut and/or help get rid of any gut bugs or parasites you might have if that's what happens to be the cause of your stomach issues. The recommended way to begin taking the product is to have it three times a day for ten days after each meal. It's also recommend that during this time you eat a Carb Specific Diet - basically you cut out a lot of breads, pastas, dairy, sugars and things that are just harder for your stomach to process and that can feed the bad bugs in your stomach. After your ten days they say to just take it once a day to help maintain your gut (I now take it once or twice a day depending on if I remember, what kinds of food I've been eating or how I'm feeling in general). To make a long story short, this stuff seemed to do the trick for me. It took a couple of days for it to really begin to work and while the bloating didn't decrease straight away I began to feel myself feeling clearer and internally better overall. Since taking it, unless I eat way too much food or something like pasta (which I've picked up just doesn't seem to really agree with my stomach anymore, luckily I'm now obsessed with zucchini noodles) my bloating has dramatically decreased. It can flair from time to time but it's not a constant battle like it had been for what felt like a year or so. I also find, when I take some after dinner my food digests much better at night and I'm no longer waking up super bloated like I use to. If you're struggling with stomach issues and you're looking for somewhere to start to try and fix them, I can't recommend this stuff enough. It's not the tastiest thing you've ever had but you get use to the taste within a couple of days.
  • I got my skin and hair under control. My skin has somewhat sorted itself out over the years (I had quite oily skin as a teenager and while I wasn't acne prone I certainly broke out on the regular) and I've slowly been repairing my hair from damage caused by a hairdresser years ago,  but I felt like in 2018 I got both aspects to a point that I'm quite happy with. While they are both quite vain features to talk about they also go a long way to boosting confidence for me personally, especially when it comes to having good skin. My hair has also always been quite a defining feature for me and to see it struggling to be thick and healthy after spending years putting time, effort and money into it has been disheartening. I do credit a lot of my skin improvements over the year to the Picosure Laser Treatments at Skiinsure Laser Clinics. The team over at Skiinsure kindly let me come in for a series of sessions (which I documented on my blog here and here). They did tell me I would continue to see improvements over the next six months after my treatments and I have to say I certainly did. I also changed up a few other things. I made myself stop wearing foundation every single day of the week to work for a little while, which I got use to and less self conscious about soon enough and it felt quite liberating to not have stuff slathered over my face all day. This gave my skin some real time to breath and regenerate without being clogged up with product. Speaking of being clogged up with product, I also changed up my skincare, namely I simplified it. I stopped double cleansing my face and going to overboard with serums, toners and moisturisers and not using masks on my face so often. Within a few months of implementing these changes, the breakouts became less frequent and the overall tone of my skin looked much better. Breakouts are still inevitable and always will be but the severity of them has lessened and I'm much more confident to head out during the day without foundation much more than I ever used to. In terms of my hair you probably already know about the amazing transformation the girls at Suki Hairdressing have given my hair (if not you can read my blog posts about it here, here, here and here). My blog posts really detail all the changes I've noticed in my hair over the last 6 months but in a nutshell they have helped to stop my split ends, brought back thickness and plenty of new growth, have given me a colour I absolutely love and a shorter cut I'm obsessed with and have absolutely no regrets about. To be able to end 2018 with both of these defining features finally at a stage where I'm actually happy about and confident with has honestly made such a difference and I can't thank enough the local Newcastle businesses that help bring back this confidence.

  • I found that making myself worry less about posting made it much more fun. When I started full time work and was still studying, trying to be social and finding time to exercise, getting time to create, edit and upload content to both my blog and Instagram proved to be tricky and stressful. I wasn't enjoying it; it felt like it was becoming a chore and it got to the point that I considered completing quitting doing it all together. Instead I choose to simply step back a bit and no longer have a regular posting schedule I needed to try and rigorously stick to. This saw me step away from the blog for a bit and posting less frequently on Instagram. The result however was that I eventually found a love for doing it again and while my blogging certainly ins't regular, my Instagram is starting to almost be a daily routine again. The difference this time is if I don't have time to create content or don't feel like creating or posting I won't force myself to or beat myself up about it. This isn't my full time thing and I'm no longer really focused on trying to make it so and I found  recognising that has brought a new love back to it for me.
  • I'm getting my wardrobe under control. With another house move just on the horizon I decided to really get into my closet and really work out what types of things I enjoy wearing and those I don't - so I could not only cull my wardrobe accordingly but also shop much smarter into the future and create a dream closet that wasn't necessary huge but contained only pieces I loved wearing and I could pick out anything and not doubt wanting to wear it - no more 'I have nothing to wear' moments. I've recently cleared out a bunch of clothes, many of which I don't think I had worn since moving in my current place 12 months ago and all my recent purchases have only been things I loved and I know I would wear on the regular. I've always been a big watcher of haul videos on YouTube and love a good browse online and I use to always find myself just wanting to buy so many different pieces of clothing. With a clearer closet and clearer vision of the things I truly like I've found the amount of clothes I'm wanting to buy has decreased and I can really spot when I find something I truly love and feel would be an asset to my wardrobe. Having a decluttered and organised wardrobe has also helped decrease stress because I can open my wardrobe each morning and not be bombarded with masses of clothes that I don't know what to do with.
  • I got ever so close to finishing my dissertation (it's due at the start of February so we're right at the end point at this stage). Two years in the making and I just about done with having the label of 'student' next to my name and am ready to say goodbye to the world of academia (at least for now, knowing me I'll jump back into something else soon enough). Starting this Masters honestly came from the fact that I had no idea what to do with myself after my first five years of University and completing my double degree. I didn't know if I wanted to work full time, if I could make freelancing work for me or if blogging and Instagramming were going to become a thing - I wanted a break but I didn't want to be doing nothing at the same time. So of course I just signed myself up for more study. While I can't bloody wait for this to be all over, I am proud to be able to throw the word Masters next to my list of achievements - but after seven years in the making, I certainly can't wait to be finished studying.

With all this reflection on what 2018 was, what does this mean for 2019 and my plans/goals for the year ahead? I've never been a really big resolutions or goals setter, and to be honest whenever I do try to set them I'm much more likely to fail because I think more about how I'm not working towards them then spending time actually working towards them. While I certainly acknowledge within my own head the things I'd like to accomplish, I find I do better keeping them there and chipping away at them while they're stored. There are some more new exciting changes on the horizon (if 2018 taught me anything it's that I like to change up lots of major things in my life all at once) and I think once all that is said and done that 2019 is maybe going to be more of a settled year that is less about sorting things out, decreasing stress and dealing with mental struggles, but about enjoying the new confidence and stability I feel I've found and focusing more time on what I love and enjoying what is around me.

What's your opinion?

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  2. Regardless of what resolution you commit to, the goal is to improve life in the coming year...all the very best for a new year! Rubbish Removal Kings


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