How are we here already? I still feel pretty comfortable jotting down ‘2013’ when making a note of the date, so I’m finding it really difficult to believe that it’s already 2018. I feel as though I woke up one day in 2013, blinked, and ended up here on the 1st of January 2018.
I’ve spent most of the day feeling pretty ‘meh’ about my day – I was very intentional about not spending too much time on social media today, but every time I did, I came away feeling as though everyone else seemed to be having a lot more fun. It was only earlier this evening, while sitting in my mother-in-law’s lounge with my feet in a tub of warm water infused with a sweet-smelling foot soak, with a full tummy and surrounded by my loved ones, that I told myself to get a grip and open my eyes to all the beauty and love that surrounds me.
No, 2017 wasn’t a particularly exciting year for me, and I don’t have any big, exciting things (that I know of) to look forward to in 2018. So many of my friends either got engaged, married, or had a baby in 2017, so the past year is BIG and EXCITING and HUGE when they look back on what was. Other friends are either about to pop or have just announced their pregnancies, so – once again – the year ahead looks BIG and EXCITING and HUGE when they look ahead. It’s easy then to look back on the past year and feel as though I haven’t done anything exciting or achieved anything big, when it’s been a pretty eventful year when I really think about it!
I got rid of a bunch of clients (finally charging what I’m actually worth helped with this), which helped free up some time and space to focus on what I really love – writing for magazines, creating content for brands and businesses, and putting a whole lot more time and energy into this blog.
We decided to pack up our house and move across the country, back to Johannesburg where we met and fell in love seven years ago. This afforded us the opportunity to live and work from my aunt and uncle’s home in Kalk Bay for a month, which was a bit of a dream come true for me. (My aunt and uncle’s house is my dream home, and I’ve always wanted to live in Kalk Bay).
Even though I lost a couple of clients during the move, I gained a handful of really amazing new clients that I’m really excited about. When I read back on my diary entries from this time last year, I’ve managed to grow my career in such a way that all of my career wishes and goals from back then have been met.
Although we’re not quite where we’d like to be financially, things are much, much better today than they were a year ago.
There were a whole lot of challenges, too – financial stress, a big move, taking Beanie out of school for six months, dealing with depression, having no home of our own and relying on family for four months while we did some house-hunting… looking back, it was a lot to deal with, but I’m proud of how we coped with it all as a family. We’ve come through it unscathed and we’re much stronger as a family unit as a result.
The one moment from this past year that will forever be etched on my heart is the moment my Oupa succumbed to a six-year-long battle with cancer. Almost three months on, and I still haven’t quite come to terms with it – I don’t think I ever will. Big occasions, like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, turned out to be much harder than I expected. I even found myself in tears on Christmas Day, telling my husband that I don’t like Christmas anymore (if you know me well, you’ll know how shocking those words are). I know that my Oupa lived a full and happy life, and that I should be relieved that he is no longer in pain (and I am), but none of that makes it any easier. I’ll always have a spot for 2017 in my heart, simply because it was home to the last few conversations, last few jokes, and last few moments I got to spend with my Oupa.
Despite all of the heartache, the upheavals, and the worries of 2017, I’m standing on the verge of a brand-new year with a grateful heart. I am healthy. I am loved. My family is healthy. I have the most amazing husband, and my love for my little boy completely overwhelms me – so much so that my heart skips a beat. I am blessed. There really is nothing to complain about.
So as I sit here with my feet plonked in a tub filled with skin-softening suds, I remind myself that social media is not real life. My real life involves a morning lie-in after a fun New Year’s Eve spent with my husband, his sister, and her partner, followed by morning chats with my Bean Bun while he eats his breakfast. My real life looks a little like eating a Fry’s pie for dinner while everyone else tucks into a roast dinner with all the trimmings, simply because we’re in Kimberley – and all the grocery stores in Kimberley close up shop on New Year’s Day. My real life is tears on New Year’s Eve because I’ve suddenly realised that 2017 is the last time I’ll ever get to spend time with my Oupa. It’s not knowing what to say to a friend who lost her father a couple of days before Christmas, and feeling heartbroken that I can’t help the man standing at the robot more than offering a humble R10 note. My real life is not quite knowing how to deal with the pain and the heartache of every day life.
But more than that, my real life is impromptu coffee dates with my husband, play dates at the park with new friends, and ‘Noah and Mama’ dates that typically involve Starbucks coffee and spending too much money at LUSH (because we both harbour an unhealthy bath bomb addiction).
My real life is messy, it’s chaotic, it’s noisy, it’s frazzled, and it’s anxiety-ridden at the best of times – but it’s also beautiful, magical, and heart-achingly real. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
On that note, I’d like to wish YOU and your loved ones a wonderous, magical, creative, and abundantly happy year ahead. Embrace the rawness of real life, and try to stay clear of the comparison trap. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my 31 years on this planet, it’s that you’re better off without it.