When I wrote a ‘reflection’ of 2015 this time last year, the blog was only 6 months old. Not much to look back on you might think. But actually, I’d already had a host of collaborations under my belt, support from readers and a social following. I really loved throwing back and picking out my best bits. On New Years Day 2017, Sassy turned 1.5 years old. That’s 18 months of blogging. It’s been a tough year with its peaks and troughs and wow, have I learned a lot.
My Personal Life
For some of 2016 anxiety took over my life. I had physical and mental pain; headaches daily, stomach pain, muscle pain and complete paranoia over saying or doing the wrong thing. Even the smallest of chores felt enormous and I’d over complicate everything. It’s not depression, that’s important. I knew I wasn’t depressed or in a ‘low mood’. Despite two failed attempts by my doctor to try to get me to take anti depressants (I didn’t want them and was surprised at the prescription being offered only 2 minutes into us chatting), I persevered and sought other routes to find a solution. What I’ve learned is phenomenal.
At its worst, I remember lying in my bed feeling claustrophobic. We’ve a super-king size so there’s more than enough room. I remember lying down and the only way to describe the feeling is like there’s a wall to my left, my right, top and bottom. All four were closing in on me and I was going to get squashed and suffocate. That fear, that dread and worry is the onset of a panic attack. There’s no reason for it and you’re not hallucinating, it’s just the body’s way of inaccurately dealing with a fearful situation that doesn’t exist and enveloping the nervous system into fight or flight mode.
The last one came as I was about to take off for Vegas. My head was telling me to undo the belt, to tell the people that I needed to get off. I wanted to run before it took off. I was sweating, couldn’t breathe, I felt pain all over and trapped in a chair. What seemed unfathomable was nothing more than a weird body reaction. This is coming from a girl who LOVES flying (hello, bring me the alcohol and put on the films). The picture on the left was during the worst of the anxiety. Each time I look at it I remember exactly how I felt. Sad, anxious, nervous, worried, over-worked, stressed, paranoid. It was all in my head.
I learned that you train your body in the gym so why not train your mind? After months of working to consciously correct my thoughts it was so nice to finally get back to being my normal self and not feel an ounce of anxiety. Not one worry, not one bit of paranoia. I was so utterly grateful for the love and support of my family and friends. On the flip side, it opened my eyes as to how selfish and unkind some people can be. As the saying goes, egocentric ‘friends’ are like clouds; once they’re gone it’s a beautiful day.
Being An Auntie (Again)
I’m now an Aunt to three beautiful girls, the newest addition, Matilda being just three months old now. My eldest (in the photo) has the ability to surprise and astound me each time I see her or FaceTime her. Being an Aunt is ace. You don’t mind the crying, you can spoil them and you see noticeable differences each time you see them. I saw Matilda being born (yes, in the delivery room) and it was the most surreal yet natural experience of my life. And safe to say it’s put me off child birth for life. I remember Grace being born and now she’s FaceTiming me, showing me her dolls house and tea sets. Let’s be fair, it’s also really good practice for when you have your own.
2016 really was the year of yo-yo dieting and I’ve never before put my body through so much. Binge eating, cutting back, stopping carbs, sugar loading, high fat diets, you name it.
My weight was such a focus of mine in 2016 and I regret it so much as time and energy consumed on worrying about it is not only pathetic, but also such a waste. There’s so much more I wish I could have done instead.
My relationship with food was terrible until I met Miss Nutritionist in December at the Pure Balance Retreat. Her 21 day detox plan consisted of every meal cooked from scratch so you can really see what you’re eating and my whole being changed. Not in terms of dramatic weight loss, but I really became more mindful about what I was eating. A huge focus on veggies and lean meats, all the while maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.
Learning More, Trials & Errors
2016 was the year for learning, for trialling and error-ing. The blog has enabled me to learn so much more than ever before and I find some brands truly fascinating in their development and product information. Like a true geek, I’m a sucker for research. Sometimes I can sit for hours hearing all about the new Korean skincare technique taking the world by storm, or that essential yet rare marine ingredient put into expensive products to give a result like never before. Some things work on the blog and others don’t. The things that don’t can sometimes take months to make sense and it just takes some tweaking et voila.
My Youtube channel for instance. I think Youtube is such a clever and accessible tool yet I just can’t seem to work out my niche. I’ve tried makeup tutorials and months later I wonder what on earth was I doing and take them down. I’ve a few ideas in mind but rather than going in all guns blazing, this time I’m going to take my time and launch properly.
Travelling & Those Sunsets
One thing’s for sure, 2016 was definitely my year of travel.
From Cornwall, to Venice, Marrakech, to Las Vegas, even Rome and Costa Rica. The holidays came around and I relished every minute of them.
Each time I close my eyes, my ‘happy place’ is always in a pool, lying on my back staring up at the cloudless sky and not hearing a soul. The sunsets were all pretty epic yet so different.
I love this shot of Daniel, it was taken the night we arrived at The Wynn in Las Vegas. I remember the moment vividly. He’d popped down to get two bottles of Bud Light (translation, he went for a sneaky gamble without me) and as he’d come back up, the sun was setting on the strip just as we were getting ready to go out. Both absolutely shattered with it being 6am back at home (longest travel day ever). We were staying on the top floor of the hotel and could hear the helicopters. Amazing.
You Grow From Your Mistakes
2016 saw me leave my job at GQ to work on Sassy full time. It’s the most grown up thing I’ve ever done and at that point in my life, the most risky thing I’d ever imagined. For me, London is the capital city of opportunity and equally the most expensive. But I took the challenge and am confident it was the right time to do so.
As soon as I left in October, I didn’t really know how to structure my day or how much time I should be dedicating to content versus photography versus chatting to businesses etc. My social media strategy changed significantly as I spent more time waiting and researching rather than just doling out the occasional piece here and there. Additionally, I realised that not all photos are great and there will be many from a shoot that get deleted. It’s incredible how much you start paying attention to detail when it’s your business rather than your hobby. “Daniel please retake this picture, you gave me a double chin”. To which he replied “No Lauren, that’s just you”.
It’s Sometimes Good To Be A Home Bird
Up until Summer 2016, I felt the incessant need to always be out of the home. I wanted to dine out three times a week in London restaurants, drink in nice Hampstead pubs on the weekend and go shopping regularly.
Then my insane savings plan kicked in and I realised how consumerist I was being and how it was taking over. The money I used to spend is not worth thinking about.
Living in London, we never forget the fact that we’re so lucky to have a garden of our own. Especially one that’s so green and not the size of a two seater sofa with the odd £1.99 plastic bird feeder thrown in for good luck. We did debate extending our home but in the end we decided to keep it trimmed and neat, a place we can sit and enjoy our weekend paper and cup of coffee. Home is where the heart is.
Being With This One
2016 was really mine and Dan’s year. Not only did he offer me invaluable support while I studied and learned Hebrew but the celebrations after successfully passing tests are something I’ll remember for life. After three and a bit years together, my fiancé and I are closer than ever and definitely more grown up than we’ve ever been (perhaps a mortgage does that to you?). I woke up on my 30th birthday with him in Morocco (a surprise from him) and continued to go on some amazing adventures. He was with me while I gambled and made my winnings in Vegas too and didn’t bat an eye lid when I ordered wagu beef burgers and chips on the side of my sushi. A keeper one could say.
A huge thank you to all of the readers for your continued support and to the brands that I’ve worked with and continue to work with going into 2017.
Happy New Year everyone! Xx