Everywhere you look it’s “new year, new you”. Everyone’s feeling perky and motivated. Well, everyone on Instagram, anyway.
I’ve decided to approach 2019 slowly and with care.
Here’s my best life lessons from 2018 to ease us through January. If we don’t learn a few things from the year that’s just gone – then it’s a bit of a shame, don’t you think?
My life lessons are a mix of some life-changing and some a bit silly but I hope you enjoy them – and maybe pick a few to try for yourself.
#1 GOOD SKIN MATTERS
It really does. So before you head out to buy more make-up, make sure your skincare routine is right. And not just the latest product – but right for your skin. I’ve been using the Tropic ABC Skincare system for 12 months now so I can say with confidence it suits me down to the ground. Cleanser, toner and moisturiser – and if you order all 3 together you get a free face mask. January is the best month to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask you skin what it needs. You might be surprised.
#2 DAIRY IS OUT, PLANT FOOD IS IN
This is the life changing one for me. Around July time, I stopped eating dairy – that’s just cow-related products. Goat is fine. Buffalo is fine. Sheep is fine. Cow is not. I discovered a cheeky little protein called CASEIN was triggering my regular migraines and making my life quite miserable. But no more. It’s pretty easy to replace dairy in your diet and, since I’ve switched, I’ve spoken to a surprising number of dairy free people – for all sorts of health reasons. If you suffer from migraines, I would urge you to try this one thing in 2019.
#3 WALKING IS WONDERFUL
I’ve always known this. We live in the middle of a country park so there’s an endless choice of routes from our door. Since we lost our little Henry, walking has been hard and we had ground to a halt. Every route was full of bittersweet memories of our little dachshund friend. Around October we decided to bite the bullet and get ourselves out there again. Counting steps helps. It’s fun to try and beat yesterday’s number. We still have his lead hanging by the front door, but now walking makes us smile at the happy moments we had with him.
#4 BATH TIME IS MORE THAN JUST BUBBLES
Anxiety and depression often comes with unwelcome friends. Mine came with sleeplessness. Lying awake for hours watching rubbish TV, then sleeping late and feeling exhausted. Something had to change. I read about the medicinal effects of magnesium and bought myself a big tub of epsom bath salts. 6 months on, my evening routine is much healthier. When the clock strikes 9, I head off for my nightly bath. It’s so restful and my sleep is hugely improved. I still get the odd wakeful night – but it’s rare, and good sleep is a happy routine.
#5 NAPS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
It’s true. I have science on my side. But apparently only short naps are good, and I’m not very good at short naps. My Mum is an olympian in the nap department. When she worked as a Practise Nurse, she’d come home for her 1 hour lunch break – eat her lunch, sleep for 20 minutes, then clean one room of the house each day. Now she’s retired, she will nap on the 10 minute car journey to Tesco then grab a trolley and do the weekly shopping. As for me, I put my head down and I’m out for 2 hours. Long naps are very nice but less good for regenerating your brain cells. If you’re going to try naps – start with the short ones.
#6 BROOCH UP YOUR LIFE
Pins? Badges? Brooches? Whatever you like to call them – I have become slightly obsessed. My brooch collection has enjoyed a significant boost over the last 12 months thanks to my new Instagram friends – Shark Alley, Pea Green and Blue and Miss Marple Makes. Also I’m loving Form & For You, and the Beaumaris Jewellery Studio. Keep up to date on my hashtag #broochoftheday.
#7 THERE IS NOWHERE LIKE HOME
We’ve had a few lovely trips away last year. A few days in Edinburgh, a week in pretty Pitlochry, a mini break in deepest darkest Cheshire and 3 amazing weeks in rural France and coastal Catalonia. I love to travel – the planning, the anticipation, the packing, the travelling and the complete joy of relaxing by a pool in the sunshine. Who doesn’t love all that. But above all these things – I’m more glad that I love to come home. I love to see the Snowdonia peaks appearing in the distance as we drive home from the airport. Home is where the heart is – right? Doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to the next trip though.
#8 SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know we love a good Gift Guide here on the blog. Our Christmas #shopsmall Gift Guide was the best yet. I worked with 10 amazing small business friends to offer a incredible bundle of goodies. But more important than the goodies, it was about encouraging all of you to shop small not just at Christmas but all through the year.
Most weeks we hear on the news how retail is struggling to survive. Experts will tell us that the big high street stores need to offer us a better “retail experience” and this may be true, but what about the small “brands” – the little shops we walk past everyday. I’ve found that taking time to experience the small shops in your community is well worth it. You’ll probably find people you know behind the counter – mums that you know from the school gate, folk that share your yoga class, friends of friends. You’ll get something handmade, something unique, something small batch. You’ll get a genuine personal service from someone who truly cares about their products. You’ll keep your friends in employment. You’ll make friends and become part of their “brand” community.
Check out our Not just for Christmas Shop Small Gift Guide for a few of my favourites.
#9 EARLY NIGHTS ARE EVERYTHING
Early nights are easy in January. Right? The nights are short and all you want to do is curl up by the fire with glass of wine and an episode of Luther. But what about the rest of the year? I’ve been using an app called Life Cycle for a few months – since we came home from holiday in September. Basically it records your daily life. How long you spend asleep, how many steps you walk, how many hours you spend working, shopping, drinking coffee and going to the doctor. After a few weeks it learns your regular “places” and gives you a daily donut chart, then a weekly donut, and finally a monthly donut. Honestly it sounds like a lot of work – but it’s really not. If you go somewhere new, you just have to tell it where you are – and then it remembers the next time. One interesting thing I’ve found is that I need between 8.5 and 9.5 hours sleep and the only way you can get that amount is by getting to bed early.
#10 ALL COFFEES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
I think we can agree in 2019 that we’re all coffee snobs. Even my 19 year old student nephew thinks he’s a coffee snob. Since I’ve discovered Heartland Coffee, I’ve become really quite fussy. Wherever we go, I always search for independent coffee shops. The coffee is always better, the service is nicer and the atmosphere is friendlier. We use the North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide. We keep it in the glove box. Recent trips include the amazing Grindsmith on Deansgate, Manchester, and the brand new Short and Stout in Chester. Regular favourites include Providero Llandudno (daily visits and blogging hotspot) and the Jaunty Goat, Chester who have just opened a fab new vegan cafe.
If you’re a bit bored with the bland offering from the high street regulars (you know who you are) then spend a few minutes hunting down the independent coffee shop. You never know, it might become your regular haunt.
#11 DISPOSABLE CUPS ARE SO LAST YEAR
Staying with the happy subject of coffee, my new favourite is the Huski Home. – available in 3 drop dead gorgeous pastel shades and made entirely from rice husks. It’ll fit into your handbag or glove box, so there’s really no excuse. If you’re still getting your coffee to go in a non-compostable cup – shame on you, and shame on the coffee chains that are still using them!
This, my friends, is another reason to drink “independent” coffee. Most ethical coffee shops – the ones with a heart – will serve your takeaway coffee in a compatible cup so you can drink it with a clear conscience.
#12 CAVA BEATS CHAMPAGNE
We spend a glorious 3 weeks every summer slap in the middle of Cava country. Beautiful Spanish Catalonia. Surrounded by beautiful vineyards where every night is a treat night, a glass of sparkling cava is a no-brainer. You can keep your prosecco and your expensive champagne, I’ll be sticking with my favourite cava.
#13 AVOCADOS ARE AWESOME
Yes, folks, you heard it here first – avocados are still awesome. They’re the staple brunch in indie cafes and the good fats that we all need to get us through January. Just make sure your Hass avocados are ripe but not over-ripe. A gentle squeeze will tell you. And here’s my top tip – mash your avocados in a bowl first and then spread on your toast. If you mash it on your toast you’ll make holes and it won’t be nearly as nice. And don’t forget a little sprinkle of salt – it makes all the difference.
#14 BIBLE IS BEST
How do you start your day? One of the down sides of using Life Cycle App (see #9) is that you need to charge your phone by your bedside, which means it’s temptingly handy to grab when you wake up for a spot of early morning scrolling. Perhaps not the best brain-start to the day. So this needs to be an intentional one. If you follow Emily Ley’s #simplicitychallenge2019 you’ll know that day 3 is “put two things that make you happy on your bedside table besides a lamp and a clock. That’s it” If the very thought of this gives you anxiety, perhaps it’s time for a change. My 2 things are my reading book (for bedtime) currently “Conclave” by Robert Harris, and my Bible (for morning time). I read a little bit and follow up with “The Satisfied Soul”, Daily Readings from Dr John Piper.
15 SLOW IS BETTER THAN STRESSED
One of the pearls of wisdom I received when starting my business was “go at your own pace and don’t be rushed”. I started my business on the back of a period of stress and anxiety, so it was doubly important for me to keep a check on my health and make sure I didn’t end up back at square one. We all know that comparison is the thief of joy – it’s the thief of a lot of other things too! The thing is to steer your own course. Take tips and hints from others, but your journey is unique, your own and not like anyone else.
16 SOCIAL MEDIA FREE WEEKENDS ARE A TONIC
I learned this trick from Lara Casey of the Cultivate What Matters team. You probably don’t realise how much pressure you put yourself under posting every single day until you have a weekend break. For a few months, I’ve been doing my best to keep Saturday and Sunday #socialmediafreeweekends. The hashtag is a little ironic, I realise this.
17 HAPPINESS IS A CUP OF TEA AND A GOOD BOOK
The last 12 months I’ve rediscovered reading and it’s so nice. My favourite genre has always been crime thrillers. It started as a teen with The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew – anyone remember? and today I’m reading Robert Harris. There’s nothing nicer than curling up in an armchair on a winter afternoon with a good book. CS Lewis understood.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
That’s when he wasn’t writing some of the most amazing books of all time himself.
If you’re too tired to hold the book open, there’s always audio. There’s something about hearing a story read that takes me back to childhood. Great for long car trips and sitting in airports.
19 YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY CUTE SOCKS
My sock drawer is well stocked for 2019 thanks to the irresistible Fat Face 3 for 2 autumn / winter collection. Here’s a top tip – fun patterned socks are so easy to pair together after the laundry. And they’re much more joyful to wear under boots in the winter months.
There you go – that’s 19 of the things I learned last year, that I’m taking into 2019.
Which will you try? Do let me know how you get on.
What life lessons did you learn last year. I’d love to hear them?