M and I had a funny conversation about directions recently after I drove his car and changed the view of his GPS to show ‘direction of travel’ as opposed to ‘north up’. It pretty much epitomises our differing takes on life really – M being much more inclined to set a specific target and keep it clearly ahead of him at all times, while I am perhaps more given to what might appear to be aimless wandering.

Mendip Hills AONB

This time of year always finds me feeling resistant to, and sometimes irritated by, the seemingly never ending stream of posts reviewing the year gone by and sharing plans for the one ahead of us. But for the first time ever I am able to be a little more objective about my almost overwhelming desire to give in to my rebellious nature and refuse to reflect and to dream. The very thought of sharing my thoughts and feelings about my 2018 has my heart beating faster with anxiety for some reason, in part a fear of looking through the endless lists of goals and tasks I set myself and might not have achieved, and in part I think because I might just have to acknowledge a degree of success.

I can wholeheartedly and honestly say that kindness is the value I hold highest in life, but for some reason I find it difficult to apply to myself in the way that I can to others. Identifying and highlighting my failures and inadequacies comes easily and is my default when reflecting on any scenario. And so very often I have simply stopped there, choosing to dwell on my ‘failures’. However, if I have been able to identify this even as I write, then just maybe I can make the simple decision to seek and acknowledge the successes and positives before trying to figure out the parts on which I can improve?

Teenage girls walking through a large puddle and kicking to splash the water

My unorthodox career has meant that I have never experienced the joys of an objective annual appraisal or similar from an employer or any form of professional development, and I have consequently cruised along pretty obliviously for most of my life, unaware of the benefits of reflection, review and planning ahead. Establishing my own business though has been life changing. Joining the world of creative entrepreneurs has given me access to resources and tools that helped me accumulate all sorts of skills, knowledge and understanding that I previously lacked and which I’m gradually trying to assimilate. On a recent episode of the podcast Hashtag Authentic Sara Tasker said “running your own business is like immersion therapy for self doubt”. I couldn’t agree more.

Forcing myself to look back over the year I actually have to confess to a feeling of satisfaction and even pride. I re-read my first blog post of last year and can reflect with pleasure on how my intentions for the year played out, many of the scribbly notes in my planner contain ideas and goals that I can fairly say I have achieved; I wrote pretty regularly throughout the year and can see that I’ve improved, likewise with photography. I’ve had some truly lovely reviews of days spent here and have many lovely workshops booked for the coming year. There are plenty of things I didn’t do or achieve too, but frankly nothing that won’t wait until I get to it. 

Journal and 2019 Ponderlily planner casually lying on crumpled white linen bedding

As for the year ahead… my intention is quite simple. I plan to keep showing up and doing the very best I can. To offer a warm welcome at the barn and to keep on connecting with others who believe what I believe both on and offline by sharing my words and my photos. I’m not exactly sure where it will all take me, I don’t have ‘north’ up front at all times, but I do always get there in the end!

EDIT!! I have just learnt the word ‘Coddiwomple’ – To travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination. It seems to describe me and my life perfectly and I shall henceforth describe myself as a ‘Coddiwompler’!

I began this post by writing a month by month review of the year, it became too long and unwieldy though and instead I’ve decided to simply say thank you and link to just a few of the many wonderful people who inspired, guided, influenced and supported me over the year. It goes without saying that M, the girls and my wider family are top of my list.

Lucy Heath whose blogging workshop at Common Farm Flowers gave me renewed inspiration and reassurance that I was choosing the right path.

Sara Tasker’s Instaretreat in which I not only learned masses about Instagram but made many online friends whom I have learnt so much from.

Tamsin Acheson who has not only supported my business by running retreats at the barn, but whose business coaching groups have provided invaluable accountability for me.

Kayte Ferris who both ran a workshop at the barn and whose online blogging course gave me both new skills and another group of friends for support and encouragement.

Sas Petherick who put her faith in me by using the barn as a venue for her hugely popular ‘Write Yourself Home’ course, and whose Instagram posts make me stop and think all the time.

Justine of Harp Cottage who not only let us rent her lovely French house for our holiday in the summer, but who led a wonderful day of interiors/instagram and many other discussions during a workshop here.

Emma Brooks who created my beautiful logo, revamped my website and answered a million frenzied questions from me!

Huma Quereshi whose writing course, The Quiet Words, truly inspired me and gave me confidence to believe that I just need to keep on writing.

EVENTS

A cloth covered table covered in the scattered debris from a wreath workshop, the light just catching some dried hydrangea heads