Saturday, 31 January 2015

Looking back… and forward!

Better late than never, I thought I would share a little round up of 2014 with you all along with a few ideas for the coming year. I tend to do this every year and even though I have no idea how many people actually see my blog, I have found it a brilliant way to collect my thoughts and reflect on the last year.

So if you’re interested in reading on and looking at lots of pictures, pop t’kettle on or pour a glass of wine (depending when you see this!), get comfy and enjoy the read!

I figured it would be best to start with the goals I’d highlighted this time last year and having a nosey back to see what I actually stuck to. I promise to try and keep the wordy bits short and sweet and use plenty of pictures!

L O O K I N G  B A C K

2014 started out with these mini missions:

Make every day count. 
This is the first time I have mentioned this but I turn 30 this year. On my 29th birthday last year I decided that I would create a photo album and list one thing everyday that made me smile, feel good or meant a lot to me. This is still going strong and I will be sure to share it with you on my 30th birthday in May.

Well I definitely turned 30 in May and I definitely filled an album with 365 photos documenting the year. YAY! I have to say it was mighty enjoyable too. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes to spend a few moments each day considering what makes you smile. As hard as it can be on those darker days this is a perfect way to keep even the tiniest bit of sunshine alive every day. Here are just a few snaps from my album:

No matter how small the run or brief the stint, I will get out there and keep on running. I am using the Jantastic forum to motivate myself to run more often and will continue this through the year.

2014 definitely saw me running more (and cycling too as I purchased my very first road bike!) I entered several events and raised money for Cancer Research, MacMillan and Alzheimer's Society, which I am over the moon about. I am definitely intending to keep up the cycling and running throughout 2015 too! So much fun!

Last year I lost my Grandad in January. I still have my lovely Mama. In May I lost my Nanna. I still have my hilarious Grandad. Time with my family has never meant more to me. My family have always been important but as we get older and life seems more fragile it becomes so apparent how much difference spending even a little time together regularly can make. A quick phone call to my Mama, a brew with my Mum and Dad, helping Grandad put photos on the wall, doodling with Lexie, Disney films with my sister, catch ups with friends and cuddles or adventures with my other half. Every moment is precious and I intend to cherish them all, (soppy bit over I promise).

Looking back, I have been so lucky to spend so much quality time with my family. I have been able to help my Mum care for Grandad on a regular basis, I have taken my Mama to London and seen her as often as I can, I have had multiple day trips with my folks and sister and have spent lots time with my wonderful cheeky little niece. I still struggle with the fact that I can't be there all the time for everyone when they need me (until cloning yourself is allowed!) but deep down I know that I am doing my very best for the people I cherish and love in my life.

Hello Sunshine. 
Keeping the website looking smart and running smoothly is a given. Looking to incorporate an online shop is something new I want to work on. I also want to push my commissions, design a new range of jewellery, and get my work into a couple of new stockists around the UK.

Oooh lots of big ticks here! Although I kept up to date with work and stockists, it wasn't until October that I moved my site over to tictail and actually introduced an online shop. What a bloody good move it was too! Not only is my site easier to navigate, it looks cleaner and has enabled me to bring you guys plenty of offers and discounts directly, resulting in some fab online Christmas sales for me! *happy dance*

With regards to commissions, you guys have been brilliant this year and I have never doodled so many Sunshines! Just head over to my Facebook album and take a look-see for yourself! I'm over the moon with how popular they are becoming and cannot thank you all enough for sharing and encouraging the Sunshine!

2014 also saw the introduction of my Little Black Cat and Snowflake jewellery. Something I am really pleased with and proved to be a hit (especially the kitties!) this year *more happy dances*

To top it off Hello Sunshine jewellery was welcomed into several shiny new stockists too. These included...

Pontardawe Arts Centre : Wales

The Harley Gallery : Worksop

Created by Hand : Chilwell, Nottm

Handmade Nottingham : Malt Cross, Nottm

Magma : London

Behind the Red Door : Nottingham

The Hare and Hen : Norfolk

 Stash : Beeston, Nottm

I have found a class that is full of lovely people, is ran by the nicest lady ever and provides me with a bit of 'Jo time' every week- not to mention a bloody good nights sleep afterwards. I have found that it helps, it is what recharges me midweek and I will keep this going.

I kept this goal for a good few months until I could no longer afford to keep going. This made me very sad but with running and cycling, I knew I was keeping fit. Although I could probably have kept it going myself at home I didn't (due to lack of confidence and time). However I did get introduced to meditation and have been trying to dedicate time for a little bit of calm every day. Not only has this helped me sleep at night but finding a way to tell my mind to "pipe down!" regularly amidst the madness of life has been brilliant! I highly recommend trying it!

Being selfish. 
I need to practice putting me first sometimes. I read somewhere once that it’s ok to be selfish and I am starting to realise the importance of this. By no means do I intend to become selfish in a mean way, I just need to learn to say no when I can’t please or help everyone all at once. Although I have Wonder Woman underpants it does not turn me into her *sob*

OK - so this bit might be quite wordy but please bear with me...

Little did I know, at the time of writing this goal, that I was definitely going to learn about the importance of being 'selfish' the hard way in 2014. During Spring/Summer last year my body started to give me a wee warning sign that I should perhaps slow down and look after myself - by making my hair fall out! Starting as a small bald patch, it was diagnosed as Alopecia Areata and although the doctors hinted it could be stress related they honestly couldn't tell me why it was happening. I tried to shrug it off, hoping it would just grow back and (foolishly) I carried on living my happy little life the way I always have - a million miles an hour, cramming as much as possible in and trying to be everything to everyone while staying focussed on my ambitions/dreams.

However the little patch gradually increased in size and with it my stress levels went up and my confidence plummeted, until I became so anxious and paranoid I broke. I'm a strong bean and have always coped with ups and downs by remaining positive and carrying on but when you suddenly loose that ability (as well as the sense of who you really are) it's bloody scary! Thankfully though I have had the help, reassurance and care I need to help start to get my feelings (and hair) back on track.

I'm not though it by any means yet but I am far more aware of the damage I can obliviously do to myself and just how serious the effects of anxiety and stress can be. I have learnt that being selfish (self-care as it's rightly called in this instance) has to be a priority now, because if I don't look after myself I can't be there for the people I love. I won't waffle on too much more about this but I wanted to be open and honest about this experience last year because if anyone reads this and also lives life at a million miles an hour then I want them to take note and take a step back - are you looking after yourself too?

Image: Pinterest

Sorry that was all a bit serious but mighty important and if I can help others by sharing my experiences (albeit briefly here) then I believe it's the right thing to do.

But now... time to move on to my next goal from last year!

A long shot but I would bloody love to redecorate my front room. An open fireplace, shelves that aren’t wonky, a finished floor and beautiful rug… like I said a long shot and a pricey project but if I put my mind to it and set a budget it’s not impossible.

Ok so the rug and finished floor doesn't exist but my living room has been repainted a lovely bright white, the wonky shelves have gone and the room now has a working fireplace! WOOP!

And as if that wasn't enough, last Summer I was able to purchase something I have dreamed of owning for so long! A Zeus Labels stag head! He's called Aesop and sits proudly above the fireplace...

The living room at Sunshine Towers is finally starting to feel like a cosy place to relax in (rather than the half finished warehouse space it was). All it needs now is the addition of the new sofa and chair, which I have coming next month... oh and maybe that rug! EXCITING! 

I know I did it last year and the year before but I have found that setting myself a mini adventure each month really encouraged me to see more places. Even if it’s a new restaurant or shop on my doorstep as long as it's new then throughout 2014 I will be documenting these adventures with both photos and a What I Wore Today style doodle. 

Another YAY! I documented my adventures this year, as always with photos (check out my instagram feed - amidst the food and cat snaps you'll be sure to find plenty of evidence!)

I also kept note of the wonderful places I have been to. I'll sum up just a few of my favourites below...

FEBRUARY : Snettisham beach and Kings Lynn

MARCH : Fontainebleau

MAY : A Hobbit House! Cornwall

JULY : Canoeing and Camping in the Wye Valley

SEPTEMBER : Kalymnos, Greece

DECEMBER : New Years camping in Northumberland

Sadly did not complete a WIWT style doodle for each adventure. Mainly because I have been so busy this year with commissions (YAY!) But also due to starting a new personal doodle project, featuring Princesses, Villains and Superheroes! You may remember seeing some of the updates from previous blog posts!

So that's the end of the goals I had set myself and not a bad turnout if I do say so myself. Lots to reflect on, both good and bad but not even the half of what happened in 2014 if I'm honest.

As I've been writing this blog post I have been reminded of a few more moments from 2014 that I just can't miss talking about as I round up the year. Sorry! More waffle and photos for you...

Probably one of the most significant and amazing things that happened to me and Hello Sunshine this year was that I dropped my hours at Boots and became a part timer! It's allowed me to focus on my business and you guys so much more than ever before and it's been incredible!

Oh and I dyed my hair pink to celebrate!

I have tried my luck at indoor and outdoor climbing this year and although I haven't done much of it (and I get super nervous before I go anywhere!) I honestly enjoyed it when I got in to it! Here's hoping I can pluck up the courage to go more in 2015!

I had the pleasure of taking part in the wonderful Bird in Borrowed Feathers Summer Market this year. Not only was it one of the loveliest events I have ever been to, I met some amazing people and feel honoured to be part of a super inspiring network of talented designers and makers in Nottingham.

My folks have had a Damson tree in their garden for... forever! So this Autumn, my Sister, little niece and I helped Mum to harvest them and I tried my hand at making some homemade Damson gin! It was so simple and I was so chuffed with the little bottles of gin I was able to wrap up and give to family and friends this Christmas!

I bloody loved watching the GBBO this year and even doodled some familiar faces in celebration!

For my 30th birthday we hired the MOST BEAUTIFUL VW split screen camper in the world. She was called Nellie and we had the most wonderful adventure exploring the south west coast in her. It's been a dream of mine forever to own one and somehow this holiday made the dream a little bit closer!

Oooh and to add to the dreaming, we had the pleasure of staying in a sunshine yellow camper van over the summer too! An overnight stay at a friends house in Devon was made extra special in this beaut!

I managed to get down to Cambridge and nab a spot in the sunshine watching the amazing peloton whizz by in the Tour de France this year! So much lycra!

This Christmas has been the best so far for me and my little business and the events I took part in played a huge part in making it so. The atmosphere, the people, the organisation and just being part of them were all, equally amazing and inspiring. I just hope I can return to the same events again in 2015!

As part of a festive family day out to Rufford Abbey this Winter my brave little niece and I each held "A OWL!" I'm not going to lie, I was pretty excited when Jaffa the long eared beast perched on my hand!

This year was the first time my family didn't all spend Christmas Day together (we had Christmas day on Christmas Eve instead) so it meant that for the first time ever too, I hosted Christmas Day at Sunshine Towers for Will and the kitties! I was so excited! We made so much food, the house looked and smelt amazing and as sad as it may sound, I even set up and my own little hashtag to document my very first Sunshine Towers Christmas!

You can open your Instagram app and see for you self if you search for #sunshinetowerschristmas

I was dreading writing up this blog post (I considered avoiding writing it altogether!) but now I've had chance to sit and reflect on the highs and lows, I'm actually pretty pleased I made the effort. I mean, WHAT A YEAR!

Despite the black cloud that I feel has hung over me, there have been a helluvalot of bright moments (which have been easy to loose sight of at times.) So I'm pleased I took the time to remind myself of the awesome people, times and events from the past 12 months.

L O O K I N G  F O R W A R D

How on earth am I going to top 2014?

Well, I'm going to keep it simple and make it about attitude. This image I spied on Pinterest sums it up pretty well for me I think...

So not focussing exclusively on that list but baring the sentiment in mind, these are my little missions for the year to come. Bring it on 2015, I'm ready for you!
  • Continue to work hard (and play hard) with focus to grow Hello Sunshine
  • Spend plenty of quality time with the people I love
  • Make the effort to go on an adventure (big or small) as often as possible
  • And above all LOOK AFTER MYSELF! 
Phew! What an epic blog post! I'm so sorry it ended up being so long but if you're still reading then I hope you enjoyed the journey and THANK YOU! Thank you for reading, thank you for your support and thank you for enabling me to do what I love and grow my very own little business!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - you're all bloody AWESOME!

Image: Pinterest

2015 is already shaping up to be an exciting year so watch this space for plenty more waffle, photos and Sunshine! Here's wishing a happy and healthy year to you all!