Another year another turn around the sun. I’ll admit, as I edge into the final year of my 20s I’ve been thoroughly unprepared for a birthday.
Since I’ve been terrible at blogging in the last year, I nearly thought I wouldn’t write this year’s round up but I had promised myself I’d do it at least until turning 30 so if nothing else, there’s just one year left to go?
The benefit of these annual summaries is looking back at memories and moments that ignited a spark of joy or a connection with loved ones. The downside is that every year my immediate reflection is to think that not much has happened while simultaneously being amazed at how much has happened.
As an October baby, my star sign is Libra. A zodiac associated with balance, harmony, peace, and justice in the world. I have long since considered this character trait to be my strength and weakness – an ability to see both sides but an inability to reach decisions. I very much see the grey in the world, not at all in black and white.
A theme that I’ve felt throughout this year is after so much turmoil both in the world and personally – I am striving for balance. Equilibrium. Contentment. Am I there yet? Of course not, but I’m trying consciously to make it happen.
Without more rambling, here is me at 28.
I made friends
Bumble BFF is the gift that keeps on giving. After success with meeting friends while living in Perth, I went back to swiping to try and meet local people to socialise and explore our area with.
I couldn’t have asked for a more successful outcome as I now have a solid group of 4 of us (plus their partners!) who meet regularly to walk, talk, eat, and everything in between. It’s been wonderful in a place like London which can often be juxtaposed with feeling isolated and crowded. To find like-minded people who share your values just a short walk away is ideal. These folks have really changed my whole lifestyle and I’ve found them a real source of fun and adventure.
Spending so much time at home or with just one person has been strange over the last few years. You rely on them so much so it’s been nice to bring new perspectives and personalities into the mix to add variety to my weeks. These new friends have been in my life for around a year now, and I look forward to seeing where this friendship takes us. I hope the connections will be long-lasting for us all.
I started therapy
This isn’t exactly an achievement, but starting weekly counselling sessions has been a huge change for me this year. I’m currently around 8 months in and have probably not even scratched the surface that is my brain, but it’s been a great source of reflection as I start to understand myself better.
It’s also not something I’m keen to share too much of at the moment, but I would say that going has been both a positive experience (learning, growing, progressing) and an overwhelming one (big feelings, analysing, emotional workload).
Therapy is something that is helping me bring stability to my life. I went with the aim of becoming a better version of myself, but actually, I’ve now revised that to wanting to be a more balanced version of myself more of the time. I can’t be perfect, nothing is, but I can try to spend more time than not being a healthy, steady me.
I adapted my routine
Exercise is a recurring theme in these annual reviews of my life. Quite frankly, it’s because I can’t stick at anything. But, I’ll roll with it and keep trying the next iteration.
During the early part of this year, I attempted the couch to 5k challenge where over the course of 9 weeks you build up your stamina to run for 30 minutes straight (ideally 5km in distance). A failed attempt before the new year led to another go in the depths of winter which meant wrapping up warm, dark starts to the day, and struggling to get out of bed. I’m pleased that although we didn’t quite make it to week 9 (a bout of Covid got in the way) but week 8 was still a great achievement and it felt like the kick we needed to… Join the gym!
I have an off/on, love/hate relationship with the gym. I find it intimidating and anxiety-inducing but when I go I’m always glad I did. It’s just getting there that’s a struggle. But we’ve got a nice little leisure centre nearby and we even tried out the pool which we have access to as well.
It’s not ground-breaking and I’m certainly not in the best shape of my life but it’s something. And I’m taking the small steps rather than the big leaps this year. I’m perhaps feeling a bit too fragile for any sudden or dramatic lifestyle changes, but chipping away bit by bit I’m hoping will help make good habits stick.
In my Me at 27 post I talked about trying to be more adventurous with cooking. I’m pleased to say that I levelled that up this year! We grew our own herbs and chilli peppers on our teeny flat’s windowsill which turned out pretty darn well.
Our most ambitious cooking challenge was to make our own cheese from scratch. The jury’s still out on whether it was a success, but it was edible and we had a blast making almost every element of a pizza together. Growing our own ingredients and being more experimental is something I look forward to growing as a habit and hopefully becoming a better cook in the process.
I travelled overseas
FINALLY. After two years since returning to the UK following a year in Australia, we finally were able to take a trip overseas.
Our first overseas trip took us to Iceland for a two-week road trip. What a way to get back into travelling with the spectacular scenery, unpredictable weather, and more snow than I’ve seen in my whole life!
More recently, we took a short trip to Malta to catch the last warmth of the summer before the off season begins. It was just the antidote to a hectic and cold trip earlier in the year, although I wish it had been longer. A week never feels quite enough to reset and recover from the busyness of life. Despite that, we have short trips planned with the aim to maximise our location in Europe as much as possible while we still can.
I do have blog posts I’m meaning to write and as Suzy Stories began as a travel diary, I hope I can rekindle that passion for writing that I once had. Maybe more frequent travels will help – or so I tell myself.
I’m very grateful for living in one of the world’s greatest cities. We have so many brilliant activities and experiences on our doorstep, it’s been important that I try my best to get out and about in and around London to enjoy what’s on offer.
I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved on that front this year. I’ve seen concerts and performances but also tried restaurants and experiences and simply wandered around to see what is yet to be discovered.
A couple of weekends further afield took us to Winchester and Brighton. As much as London can be great, it’s also a lot to deal with and sometimes feels like a sensory overload. I’m certainly the first to admit that I’m not a natural Londoner and often feel out of place here, so I do enjoy the chance to hop on a train and head to a nearby destination.
Winchester was a mini break following a close friend’s wedding so it was filled with food and walks in the sunshine. Brighton was a more spontaneous chance to enjoy a bank holiday weekend and soak in the fresh sea air. Both were welcomed and helped us get out of weekly routines and live the lives we hope for a bit more.
I said yes
Something that I’m aiming to do more of is enjoying the small moments. Happiness doesn’t have to just come from the holidays or the big experiences, but I’m trying to look up and remind myself of what brings me pleasure in the day to day. A colourful sunset, a great hot chocolate, a warm embrace and so many more things are what make life a teeny bit better. So, in the spirit of trying to seek these out more I figured saying yes to new things and trying to push myself is a start.
To start, I’ve started saying yes to just a little activity here or there. Taking a lindy hop class. Going out for lunch with colleagues. Trying a new dish. A big part of having more contentment in my life is filling my time with things that bring pleasure by saying yes to myself, but also saying yes to things that I wouldn’t normally consider. Getting out of my comfort zone has brought excitement to my weeks and helps me feel less bogged down by the repetition of life. I think I’ve had my fix of that for a while after being rather static since the pandemic so I’m ready to give more things a go.
I dedicated free time
Hobbies are so important to who we are. And like I’ve mentioned a few times, can often be overlooked when we focus too much on other things. Work has certainly got a big role to play in that – I know I want to reframe my mindset from ‘live to work” to “work to live” without compromising my ambitions. It’s a delicate balance to find, but I’ve found this past year that focussing on hobbies still has an element of achievement that I’m looking for without being so career-focussed.
Many moons ago I was quite actively playing and performing music in a choir and with my school wind band. It was a hobby that was a huge part of my life but as adulthood took over I never was able to pick it up again.
Fortunately, the aforementioned new friends are musically minded and had the great idea of starting a ceilidh band! I dusted off my flute and tentatively we embarked on a journey to get to a reasonably good level. We’re hoping for a performance to really test our skills on some unsuspecting members of the public soon, so maybe I’ll be able to share even more in next year’s update?
Either way, there is nothing quite like the rush and thrill of playing music with good people. I don’t even care if we don’t perform, it’s the shared experience that matters for me.
Last year I mentioned I had bought a knitting kit. Well, I proudly made FOUR scarves for my family at Christmas!
I really enjoyed the process, even though it took me a moment or two to get the hang of it. I’m now hoping to expand into crocheting as well, and go beyond just a straightforward rectangle shape. Stay tuned as I become the wholesome old lady I was destined to be.
It’s been two years already since Kaz moved to the UK and so the time came this summer to decide whether to stay here or find our next home.
Since the last couple of years have been slightly unusual, we didn’t feel quite ready to leave London and so embarked on the mission that is applying for a UK partnership visa.
The convoluted and extremely stressful (and expensive) process deserves its own post – but I will say that after an agonising few weeks of waiting we were SO relieved that the visa was granted and we are settled here for the next couple of years.
Staying put for so long feels quite alien to me. There is a niggling voice inside wanting to jump ahead to the next chapter but I’m trying hard to focus on the small moments of joy so we can one day look back at London life and remember how much we got out of it.
What does 29 bring?
All of the things mentioned in this summary will hopefully carry forward into 29. I hope I can share updates on the areas that are still in progress next year. We’re always, always growing and a “work in progress” so in fact, I actually hope I’ll have some developments to share. It’ll prove that I stuck to some of my fleeting interests for a bit longer than a few months!
With the aim to seek balance in life comes considerations about careers, personal life goals and the pressure I feel to be successful by society’s traditional standards. There is an overwhelming work culture in London. Your life seems to be dictated by your job at times – whether that’s by status or location or the length of your commute. I desperately want to change that outlook. I am much more than my job title, and while I hope I can enjoy my work and find it fulfilling I also know that my personality, relationships, hobbies and so much more are what define me. Again – it’s all about balance right?
As I hurtle towards the next decade, I’m acutely aware of the changes that those in my life will face. Marriages, houses, children, careers and more are on the cusp for people in my age group. I have no doubt that I will face my fair of changes too, all I hope is that I’m as prepared as possible for what’s to come and that no matter how challenging they might be I’ll still be able to be me and stay true to my values in the grand old journey we call life.