I’m later than many with a ‘New Year Blog Post’ but these words have been swimming around my head for the past week or so. I actually savour the prospect of sitting down to write these posts, yet funnily enough I continue to procrastinate the task. Just this morning I succumbed to an overwhelming desire to make a batch of little meringues before I began to type. They’re in the oven right now and a gentle sweet smell is just beginning to reach my nose!

Still, I’m writing now and referring to the various notes in a multitude of places that I’ve jotted down with this post in mind. It was when making these notes that I thought about how interesting it is that the simple act of committing a thought to paper (or tapping it down via a keyboard) can clarify one’s thoughts and commit them to action. I bought myself a beautiful diary for this year, not to use as a planning tool, but for very simply jotting down something good about each day and a simple goal for the next as I go to bed. So far, so good. While I am not one to make resolutions there are always little things I hope to accomplish and I think the act of choosing one simple task towards achieving these for the following day is more helpful than a ‘to-do’ list.

My simple journal for the year

I have used a gratitude journal or app much of the time over the past few years and have really appreciated the benefits doing so has brought me. There is much research to reinforce my own positive experiences, but for me it has been largely a feeling of calm at the end of each day and a generally more positive outlook on life. I think a physical journal is lovely, but it’s not for everyone and I found the app What’s Good very easy and pleasant to use too. It was created by Action for Happiness and you can find more info here it it appeals to you.

The original notes I jotted for this post included a reflection on the past year and all that I achieved, but having had some time and space over the past weeks to really consider this I feel rather differently than I did then. Objectively I did accomplish much in 2017, establishing The Simpson Sisters and the renovation of the barn to name but two. I don’t feel the need to make a ‘have done’ list, but suffice to say it was a busy year – and I even made it onto the TV! I learnt an enormous amount during the year and am in truth a little bit proud of myself. However, reflecting now, my overall feeling is of busyness and too much time spent in the car achieving the complicated arrangements I put in place to achieve all that I did.

Simplicity, Creativity, Contentment

My overriding personal interests and goals remain those around simplicity, creativity and contentment. Writing them down again and again as I make plans for this year has helped me to re-evaluate. I spent quite at lot of time at the end of last year putting together a plan for this year’s workshops, based both at the barn and in Bristol and with a number of different talented people. I wrote in this post about who, what and why The Simpson Sisters came to be and what I hoped to achieve, and nothing has changed really.

But, the truth is that trying to run a business on my own in two locations, and manage collaborations with so many different individuals already running their own businesses, is challenging. Marketing is truly not my area of expertise, but what I have come to learn is that building a customer base to cover the variety of workshops I had planned is tricky. My conclusion is that people who are interested in floral art are probably following florists online, and those with a passion for knitting and yarn will be faithful to their own communities and so on. It’s pretty hard to please everyone I think.

A workshop full of people enjoying something creative together remains something that I really want to be a part of, but I need to do so in a way that will genuinely allow me to embrace the simplicity and contentment I seek. So, I’ve gone back to the drawing board. Oak Tree Barn is really where my heart is, and so I plan to spend my time and energy in creating a beautiful, warm and welcoming home that we can not only enjoy living in, but that I can feel proud to share as a workshop venue in North Somerset for people who will also appreciate the space (and my baking!). I am so looking forward to hosting some of the events I have lined up here this year, and will welcome others as opportunities present themselves.

Much time will be spent here in the donkey barn/potting shed!

There is a great deal of planting and then gardening to enjoy here, and that in itself is going to require much research and even more learning. My pleasure in writing and photography has kind of surprised me, but I am going to embrace it. I think perhaps the lack of impending move hanging over us has allowed me more time to think creatively rather than fretting over what comes next. This year will of course see changes as our eldest daughter will be heading to university in the autumn, and I want it to be a good year for us all. I can’t escape the fact that I am the family anchor, that my frame of mind and agenda affect us all enormously. When I’m content and calm it’s better for everyone, and it feels as though simplifying The Simpson Sisters is right.

I’m not going anywhere and will continue to share all that I’m up to. I have more creative projects in my mind than I will ever have time for, but sharing them is a wonderful way of being accountable for finishing them, so I very much hope you will continue to follow this blog and to connect on social media.

May this year be a happy one for us all.

Vx

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