Thursday, 11 January 2018

2017: The Highs and Lows


I always like writing round up posts, especially when you're coming to the end of something. It feels like you can summarise it together and like a good essay, finish it with a conclusion. Looking back can be a reminder of how far you have come and also be a reminder of things you have conquered both good and bad.

2017 wasn't the best year, but it also could have been a lot worse. I was going to gloss over the bad but I feel like that wouldn't be an accurate representation of my year and how difficult it has been at times.

In the interest of being as honest as possible and not pretending everything is ok, here's my year in a summary with all the good and the bad mixed in - I'm hoping it will act like therapy and make me feel ready for 2018 and a whole new chance at change! Make yourself a cup of tea as this is a bit of a long one...


The Highs:

The blog has been something I've spent a lot of time on this year, we've put a lot of effort into new content, changing up the headers and promoting on social media - generally it has been a lot of fun and I'm so glad I can put my time into something like this and learn new skills. Whoever said blogging was a useless hobby clearly doesn't know what it entails!

Blogging is a huge business now and although we started in 2012 as a hobby we have continued to put time, effort and money into it because we enjoy it so much. We don't make money from it but we're hoping 2018 will be the year that changes so we can afford to create better content in future.

We had such great opportunities in 2017 and we wrote a 2017 Round Up post with more details of the amazing brands and companies we had the pleasure of working with. Our views went back up after a small drop due to life commitments, our DA reached 25 and our follower numbers also got up to a collective 8k - so it's all worth it!


I started the year with a work trip to Barcelona where I ate lots of paella and tapas, and M won an amazing trip to Celtic Manor Spa Weekend for a spa weekend. We had a great time there and enjoyed some complementary treatments, an overnight stay and all meals included, it was such a great experience and we really enjoyed it. We'd love to go back again so maybe we need to start saving for a girls pamper weekend soon!

Celtic Manor 2017

Afternoon Tea and The Cavendish

For my birthday in March we went to London for the weekend and visited many places. We went and wandered the streets of London taking in some of the tourist sights, went for Afternoon Tea in The Cavendish Hotel and went to the Minalima store to see their amazing books.

One of my favourite things of 2017 was my trip to Croatia! I finally got to go on a holiday and it was amazing. It was my first proper holiday in 7 years so I definitely earned it! I've been on a few hen weekends in between this and they were great but not the same when you spend most of it playing games and drinking. They were definitely fun but I like to see new places and experience their culture too.

Travelling Croatia - Split

I've written a few posts on my trip (and have a few more to write still!) But I had the chance to visit Split and wander around the old town sampling lots of the food (What to Eat in Split). I also took a day trip to the beautiful Plitvice Lakes where I had a guided tour as part of a group and saw the most beautiful lakes and waterfalls. I'd love to go back and spend more than a few hours there!

I then went on a sailing trip for 8 days from Split to Dubrovnik stopping off at various islands and towns and it was such an amazing experience. We visited world heritage sites, got stuck in a storm, had cocktails on private beaches and we're taken on the best wine tasting tour I've ever been on!

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Travelling Croatia - Dubrovnik

Another big milestone for me was replacing my car. My previous car has been the love and the bane of my life for the last 4 years. I loved it, it was a beautiful bright red colour and everyone knew it was mine. But ever since I got it it had problems and kept breaking down, sometimes it wouldn't start and other times it would cut out whilst driving and no one could find out what was wrong with it.

So finally I was able to replace it with a new one and although it is totally different and not what I originally wanted it has grown on me and I just hope it is much more reliable than my old one! I can also connect my phone to the new one so I can blast out the Pitch Perfect albums whenever I like so I feel like it's a winner!!


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The Lows:


As I've mentioned I also had some pretty shit times as well...

In February last year I was eating my usual chicken salad at lunch time in work and suddenly couldn't move my mouth or continue to chew. Over a few weeks I developed headaches and couldn't eat properly, the headaches started to turn into earache, neck ache and sometimes migraines. I kept getting blurred vision and found it hard to concentrate.

I went to the dentist and was referred to the dental hospital....after a few weeks I was notified the wait would be at least 6 months so I knew this wasn't going to be very useful for me.
I went to see a more specialist dentist at the same practice who diagnosed me with temporal mandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) which I'd never heard of. Basically it's an issue caused by stress where you can grind your teeth at night or clench your jaw in your sleep and the muscles sort of get stuck like in cramp. It was really painful, kept dragging me down and turning up to work was all I could handle. I was eating soup, taking painkillers, icing my face with ice packs multiple times per day and wearing a bite guard whenever I wasn't at work.


My parents paid for me to start seeing a chiropractor who could treat it and over time (4 months) I finally got to a point where I'd made progress and I could understand and begin to manage my symptoms a little.

Unfortunately in June I was then involved in a car accident on the motorway on the same day I was told I didn't get a new job -  they always say when it rains it pours right??
It was all in all a pretty shit day and the job I didn't get was then the last thing on my mind.
Even now I still have that irrational panic when I pull out onto the motorway, when I'm driving in heavy rain and any time someone flashes/indicates/swerves/beeps my heart rate sky rockets. I still dream about cars and accidents all the time too, they're not quite flashbacks but still not great.


As a results of the accident I had whiplash in my neck and back, I cracked one of my teeth where I gritted them so hard and ripped my already fragile jaw muscles putting me back almost at square one. I had a few weeks off work to recover but it has taken until now to feel like I've progressed and I'm still having treatment for my jaw, neck and back.


Ever since June it has been a long struggle to get my life back to normal. My diet has totally changed and I had to go mostly vegetarian since last February (made easier by M also choosing to go veggie!), I haven't been able to go to the gym, and sometimes even talking and laughing is a struggle at the end of the day. My colleagues would notice this the most when I'm ok in the morning and by the end of the day sometimes can barely move my jaw/neck to talk, although thankfully this is rare now.

It has got better, now I don't have to take painkillers or ice my neck/face every few hours to help reduce the symptoms. But I'm still mostly vegetarian, can't eat food like an apple or carrots sticks and everything has to be slow cooked and normally covered in a sauce.
I adore food, so there are plenty of things that I miss but it has motivated me to try new recipes and find veggie alternatives and new staples to add to my cupboards. I also finally got my hospital appointment after 9 months of being on the waiting list and they advised me to 'eat soft food and do yoga' as there's nothing else they can do. How helpful!


The worst part is how much it has changed me as a person - when most of your life revolves around socialising - eating, drinking, talking and laughing with friends its so difficult to have to stop because you physically can't do it without getting another migraine or looking miserable. I've spent so much time trying to make it go away and lying in dark rooms with ice on my face that I don't care if I have to live on variations of mashed potato forever as long as I can have that normality back.


Another factor that makes it more difficult is how little anyone understands about it, or actually even bothers to try. It's one of those where it makes you realise exactly who your friends are and who is willing to make the effort to accommodate what you need and understand how difficult it is. Most people won't bother, so thank goodness for my family and M as I have no idea how I would have got through it all otherwise.

I guess it's a lot like what people say about mental health issues, just because you can't see that someone has a problem doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.


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Now I've got all the bad stuff out.....let's get 2018 on the go!

I'm really hoping this is going to be a better year. I am actually turning 30 (terrifying) and apart from that, I have plans! Lots of ideas, things I want to do, people I want to see, places I want to visit.

So far I have booked myself onto some new fitness activities (dance class, yoga workshop), and signed up for a hiking challenge (Wales 3 peaks!). I've got a weekend away with my family in Snowdon to do some of the zip lining activities and hopefully a good wander around the mountains if it isn't raining!

I've also started reading again and I've got a whole list of books to read - endless series of fiction but also some others like a calligraphy guide, recipe and fitness books and I fully plan on finishing some home decor/DIY projects.


So fingers, toes and everything else crossed that 2018 is a much better year, not just for me but for everyone!



L xxx

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