A new year is great - it's the perfect opportunity to "start fresh", to dust off all the cobwebs of the previous year and vow to do something amazing with the year ahead. I love that we get this opportunity for a blank slate and to renew our zest for life once every year, but in all honesty, the older I get the more I'm starting to see it as just any other day.
Of course, there's all the wonderful celebrations - I couldn't go out this year because of my op to (hopefully) fix my migraines, but I had the most wonderful of New Years Eves, probably the best I've had yet. B and I spent the evening at my parents house drinking expensive champagne (because we've accumulated ridiculous amounts over the last year), eating nibbles and rolling about laughing whilst playing Cards Against Humanity. Now, it may sound really very tame and quiet, as far as NYE celebrations go, but the reason it was such a good one is because I found myself completely at peace with 2014 and calmly ready for 2015.
A lot of people take the opportunity to reflect on the year that's passed. For some this is a great way to sum up all the fantastic things that have happened, and for others it can be a sombre affair. My year has had it's ups and downs - in some aspects (my job for instance) it's been a brilliant, exhausting and fascinating learning curve. As I've reaped the rewards of my working life, it's meant that my struggle with anxiety and depression has become all the more apparent. The contrast between the two has been harsh. While my anxiety is well managed, I'm not content with that. I want it fixed. I've made all the effort I can to work towards this, and finally in 2015 it's looking like the ball will start rolling (NHS waiting lists are the bane of my life). Towards the end of this year I found it really easy to quickly cast my mind's eye back over 2014 and think to myself "yep. that wasn't so bad". Not great, not awful, but not so bad. I didn't dwell on it too long, hindsight is a terrible thing.
After the reflection inevitably comes the forethought. Undoubtedly there are a thousand and one things that I'd love to do differently, or to achieve in 2015. But really, they're not too different from the things I wanted to achieve in 2014. Mostly, these things are long-term goals, with short term milestones. I find that it's much easier to achieve seemingly unattainable goals if you set small, manageable milestones in the meantime.
I don't like resolutions - it's almost like playing Devil's advocate with yourself. I've read many a post over the last week laying out the ways that you can be sure to keep your resolutions, but inevitably it never works because the goals are often ambiguous ("lose weight" - how much?, by when?) or just far too long term to be achieved in a year. I know that the things I'd like to achieve eventually, at some point, aren't things that I can realistically accomplish within a year (or most of them anyway) so I try to lay out some realistic milestones that work towards my ultimate goals.
So, instead of making resolutions I make myself something akin to a personal goals list - and it looks a little like this...
1. Personal: Learn Japanese - buy a Japanese language textbook. Use the Human Japanese app at least once a week (possibly more).
2. Time Management - Blogging: Schedule posts in advance. Take on no more than 5 opportunities at once and sign off one before accepting another. Endeavour to respond to emails within 3 working days.
Time Management - Teaching: Plan all lessons two weeks in advance. Use every spare moment wisely.
3. Work/Life Balance - Plan weekend trips in advance. Pencil things in my diary. Save up for a holiday. Book things before you change your mind!
4. Health - Eat at least 2 piece of fruit a day. Eat at least 2 different veggies a day. McDonalds ban (except for McFlurry). Cancel that stupid gym subscription that you never use. Attempt the 30 day shred.
So hopefully you can see that these aren't resolutions as such, but more small goals that I'd really like to attempt to achieve - some of which span much beyond just one year. I'm not going to get too hung up on it all, but if I can manage just a handful of these things by the end of the year, I'll definitely feel like I've taken that one step closer towards my ultimate goals.
Although it has been incredibly mild recently, (so mild in fact, that I had an ice cream van treat on 29th November!) I can't deny any longer that winter is practically here. It may be a mild one this year, but there's still a good bit of chill in the air when I set off for working in the mornings.
There's nothing better on a crisp winter's day than having a stroll in countryside - and that's exactly what Bob and I got up to last weekend. It's so nice to live in a place with such beauty right on our doorstep.
I'd say that my style very much reflects life in the country. I've never really been one for the urban lifestyle. To me, there's nothing quite so perfectly country as a good tweed jacket and some riding boots.
I've totally fallen in love with the mini Primark at the top of Selfridges in the Trafford Centre. It always seems to carry the nicest pieces. That's where I picked up the pretty little statement flower necklace, that perfectly matches my outfit. I've become completely obsessed with statement necklaces recently! I picked up my watch from a seller on the Depop app (@justrachblog) which I'm also totally hooked on at the moment, I really can't stop buying things off there, not to mention that it's all super cheap. This adorable watch was under 4 pounds.
This beautiful imitation tweed tailored jacket was something I grabbed on a whim from TU at Sainsbury's. I am completely in love with it. The colours just scream autumn/winter to me and it goes so nicely with most of the jumpers I own. I just love those mustard tones.
What takes centre stage for me has to be my jumper. I adore a good jumper, I own way too many. There's nothing quite like cashmere to keep you warm on a frosty winter morning either - seriously everything should be made from it. This beautiful blue number was kindly sent to me by Barbour and I am in love with it. I already own a Barbour jacket, which has been a long trusted staple within my winter wardrobe, but I'd never before considered checking out their range of clothing. I'm really glad I did! The gorgeous soft tone offsets the blue in the jacket perfectly and it feels so snug and comfy on. The thing I probably like the most is the discrete branding. I will pay good money for designer items, but only if the branding isn't splashed all over, I can't stand it that way.
Jacket: TU by Sainsburys // Cashmere V Neck c/o Barbour // Superskinny Jeans: Hollister // Leather Riding Boots c/o Hush Puppies
I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog // firstname.lastname@example.org
So I guess I underestimated just how busy I would be. I swear my weeks just seem to disappear from under me. I am trying my best all the same. I still love browsing Etsy on my phone (I barely get to touch my computer these days unless I'm planning) and buying all kinds of awesome stuff. I've picked a few of my recents faves that I think would make really awesome Christmas gifts.
I'm a big fan of tulle skirts, even if I do have too much of a baby face to pull one off (a cashier in Primark spotted my license and told me I didn't look old enough to be able to drive last week - I've been driving 6 years...). Vintage Divinitiess hand-make the most beautiful ones. Perfect for the pampered princess in your life!
How stunning is this little sterling silver Origami Crane necklace by Kimono Reincarnate? I'd love to find this little guy nesting under my tree this year!
The cat planner from AnkePankes Shop is just the most precious gift for any crazy cat ladies you might know. I am desperate to get my paws on this thing. It's a week-to-view diary that's filled with illustrations of cats from 50+ amazing artists. Best of all, it's got no dates so you can pick it up and start it any time! Purrrr-fect!
The geek in me just can't resist these Mario-tastic invincibility earrings. They'd make a really great stocking filler for anyone who's a fan of the ultimate classic in video gaming. You can pick up these little cuties for a tiny price at Frozen Crafts.
My love for photography and unsuccessfully growing household plants is combined perfectly in this adorable little cement planter. This would make a lovely gift for any of your fellow blogger friends, photography enthusiasts, or just someone with an eye for a great little gift. These gorgeous planters are handmade by Brooklyn Global.
What's your favourite piece from the Christmas edit - let me know!
I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog // email@example.com
Hello cherubs! It's been an awful long while... almost two months to be exact! (Oh my goodness!)
Settling into my new home (expect home decor and DIY updates galore from B and I over at From the Lark's Nest) and new job has been busy and hectic but things are finally starting to calm and I'm finding time in my schedule to take some moments to relax.
I've been sipping on wines, drinking too much tea, reading books and generally just doing a lot of the things that I've put off in favour of blogging in the past - and I feel flipping great for it.
Now that I've allowed myself some indulgent time to find "me" again, I know I've got a little spare hour here and there to pick JustRach up where we left off.
I've got an untouched inbox with nearly 300 emails and an incredibly shameful back-log of posts but I'm going to take it slow and catch up as and when I can.
Posting is likely to resume on a bi-weekly basis (much more manageable for me) which means that hopefully blogging will go back to being a relaxing hobby and be much less of the stress-filled chore it was starting to become. You can also expect to see weekly posts on FTLN, either from B or myself, and I will be sending out my newsletter once a month (you can sign up in my sidebar to get all the juicy goodness delivered straight to your inbox so you never miss a treat!)
For now it's safe to say that I'm back and I've missed you. I'm looking forward to lots of rainy October fun!