2018: A Year in Review

 

I love Christmas, but by New Year’s Eve I always feel over-fed, over-socialised and ready to get back to routine. A little Scrooge-esque, I know, but there’s only so long you can lounge around eating After Eights. As the year turns, I love reflecting on the past twelve months - recalling achievements and failures, the places I’ve visited, people I’ve met and steps I’ve taken to make my life as sweet and sustainable as possible. I’m lucky enough to live an extremely privileged life in an affluent part of a wealthy (and currently brainless) country, and I try to keep a healthy perspective on my place in the world. That being said, I think 2018 has been the most exciting and exhausting year of my life so far, so I thought I’d share a few highlights and reflections before we leap, together, into 2019.

First, the big things - those that have made me feel most adult at the grand age of 26…

In February I left my beloved job as creative developer at Butser Ancient Farm, and plunged into the abyss of freelance living. I wrote about my experience here, but to summarise - I’m poor, happy and drink too much coffee. If you’re interested in working with me, click here for my portfolio or here to see the services I offer.

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In March I became a published author with my first book Food You Can Forage. Thank you to everyone who has bought it so far - it means so much to me! You can buy a signed copy on my website here, or a regular copy through other websites here.

I had such fun working with Bloomsbury that I’ve now written my second book with them - Dark Skies, a work of non-fiction nature writing inspired by a year exploring the landscape at night to see how we connect with nature after dark. Dark Skies is out 5 September 2019 and pre-orders will open soon!

I’ve also collaborated with Shire publishing to write a third book on the history of British Goats, which will be out next July and can be pre-ordered here.

In April, after five years of being vegetarian, I decided to finally commit to veganism, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. As with so many people, it was cheese that scared me off for so long, but I can honestly say it’s been one of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made, and I have no intention of returning to meat and dairy. I’ve never felt healthier or slimmer, I’m the best cook I’ve ever been, and I can live my life knowing I’m causing as little damage to the planet and innocent animals as possible.

In July I got engaged to the best man in existence, just before I decided to delete my Instagram account, thus completely removing myself from social media. I had already ditched Facebook and Twitter, but with every scrolling moment I could feel my life wasting away, my mood sinking and my creativity being sucked dry. After three months I wrote about my experience here, and while I’m not shut off to the idea of using social media in future, I’ve never felt more happy and free.

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In August we found and reserved a rescue dog who was dumped on the side of the road in Spain. In September he finally arrived and we called him Pablo - Dave and I are besotted, mostly because he’s taught us the value of caring for another creature beside ourselves.

In December, after eight and a half months of paperwork and solicitors’ emails, we sold Dave’s flat and completed on our first home together. We love it so much that this year we broke the Christmas Eve pub tradition and instead chose to stay in with Pablo by the fire, admiring the beige carpet, beige walls and beige tiling that was so clearly adored by the old lady who lived here before us.

Aside from the milestones, I’ve been embracing gradual lifestyle changes to improve my own wellbeing and relationship with the environment. I watched the brilliant Minimalism documentary on Netflix about six times, donated half our belongings to charity and stopped buying new clothes after watching The True Cost documentary about fast fashion. I’ve started resisting the desire to buy things I don’t need, forcing myself to wait and see if I still want it in a week’s time. It’s the start of a long journey, but one that will ultimately lead to happiness, fulfilment and an easier relationship with my finances.

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2018 wouldn’t have been complete without my favourite hobby - travelling and exploring. This year I’ve been lucky enough to swim under the midnight sun in Finland, climb Snowdon, see my first red squirrel in the Cairngorms, hike through the forests of Brittany, and visit dozens of literary festivals, craft fairs and county shows to promote my book and encourage others to care about nature and the environment.

In all honesty it’s been an absolutely mad year! And while I’m so excited for 2019 I’m also hoping it might be slightly calmer… Having said that, I have so many plans and projects lined up for 2019 that I cannot wait to get cracking with, but for now I thought I’d leave you with some of my favourite inspirational nuggets from the past year.

Here are three videos that helped me delete social media and start to re-evaluate my lifestyle choices as a millennial:

Jaron Lanier on How Social Media Ruins Your Life (21 minutes)

Cal Newport on Quitting Social Media (14 minutes)

Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace (15 minutes)

I’ve read so many excellent books this year, but I particularly recommend Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari - a book that changed the way I see the world and helped me go vegan. In film, I loved Possum, a mesmerising horror written and directed by Matthew Holness, and on Netflix I was hooked on Wild Wild Country, a series about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s cult ‘free love’ commune in 1980s Oregon.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year, and I can’t wait to share 2019 with you!