It might be a bit of a cliche’, to write year overviews and all that but considering that I haven’t been looking after this corner here as well as I have in the past, I thought it would be worth doing it, even if only to remind myself of all the good things that happened in 2017. While a lot of people complain that it’s been a horrible year, I honestly think that I can’t complain too much – sure, there have been challenges but when isn’t life challenging?
This overview also comes a bit late (January is well underway) but I have been working without days off for a few weeks… after being ill. UGH! Better late than never, that’s what I would say.
2017 has been a very eventful year… I managed to get a lot of things done and I’m happy with what I see when I look back. So, what have been these amazing things that I’ve accomplished last year? Here’s a list, that’s not exhaustive but comprises the main highlights.
left full-time employment – due to my health and after last year’s burnout, the thought of corporate life induces mild ptsd symptoms in me.
been the poorest as a result – but I’ve learned to live with less and spend my time and energy on more creative endeavours.
stopped taking anti-depressants – I’m poor but happier!
got into several group shows – been showing my work all over London and in New York.
got my first solo show – and it was fairly successful, as many friends came and it was a lot of fun
met amazing artists – that I can now consider friends.
went streaking with a friend down Millenium Bridge on a warm Summer night – don’t ask, but it was a lot of fun
found love – after kissing a few frogs after my separation and divorce, I think I have finally found the most caring and supportive partner one can ever ask for
became a stepmum – said partner came with a readymade family and they’re super cool!
worked on very interesting projects – one of the good things about working as a freelancer is the opportunity to work on several different things, which has provided me with more knowledge and more skills
turned 40 – damn, I’m old
still cancer free – possibly the most important item on this list!
(does my butt look big in this? Yes, yes it does.)
2018 promises to be an equally eventful year, and there are a few things that I’m looking forward to:
my solo show in Berlin – my efforts to go international are paying off and managed to organise a show that will happen next month
spending time with A – we have a lot of fun stuff planned for the coming year, including a holiday back home in Portugal with the children
blog some more – I miss blogging and I want to do at least one post per month, mostly to support my practice
spend less time on social media – it’s a great vehicle to connect with likeminded people and to promote my art but considering what has been happening in general plus the level of censorship artists face (I’ll have to write about the silly episode I was part of), going back to self publishing is the way to go
no shopping – not having lots of money means less shopping and I’d like to do a year of no shopping, as I still have enough clothes and shoes that fit me to last me a few years
continue decluttering – I’ve posted about decluttering a lot in the past few years, I know. It seems that it just never ends but I’m seriously letting go of a lot of things, to make more space for art materials, etc.
continue creating and improving my art – an ongoing project for the rest of my life, I suppose!
continue cancer free – not a lot that I can do towards this goal except take my meds and keep an eye on how I feel but it’s nonetheless something to look forward to
I’m sure that a lot more could be said but I don’t want to bore my readers too much.
Some of the clothes I’m wearing in this post have been courtesy of Simply Be – the jeans and the long black shirt. I’m actually loving my new jeans and I think they fit rather nicely on my butt – no one wants ill fitting jeans, right?
Many thanks to A for taking the outfit photos – in true blogger’s boyfriend fashion!
It’s hard to pick just one favourite movie character but when asked, Divine does come to mind. Just who is Divine, anyway? Divine was the stage name of Harris Glenn Milstead, made famous by John Waters’ films, such as “Pink Flamingos” or “Hairspray”, to name but a few.
Why the appeal? Divine is a funny drag queen in killer makeup and totally camp – which are all winners in my book.
Chill Money asked what I would do with an unlimited supply of money for a day if I was my favourite movie character… so here goes!
– I’d buy myself a few pairs of cha cha heels in black because good girls don’t wear cha cha heels!
– Get some figure-hugging leopard print dress to walk down the street in – escandalo!
Real innovation is hard to achieve – organisations around the world spend millions dynamising innovation programmes. New business ideas are needed and hard to come by and everyone is always looking for the next big thing. But, sometimes there are brilliant lightbulb moments: what if you could have toast, delivered by drone, to your desk? That’s the latest innovation brought to us by toasttv.co.uk with their new start-up venture. Their idea is revolutionary – imagine how many toast breaks you would avoid in the office? Bosses around the world would be overjoyed about this, as it would mean an increase in productivity from their employees, with fewer breaks needed. Next step, reducing toilet breaks! Think about that one…
Move over Amazon, and your drone deliveries, toast by drone is where it’s at!
But seriously, this is only a spoof. Well done Toast TV for a very fun campaign!
Sleeping is one of my favourite activities, although I don’t seem to get a lot of quality sleep. I have found throughout the years that are a few things that will help me feel a bit better.
Change your sheets and pyjamas often – nothing like the feeling of clean sheets to help you have a good night’s sleep.
Avoid electronic devices – or at least install apps that will diminish the blue light on your screens such as Twilight for your phone or f.lux for your computer.
Change your pillows often – to avoid allergies and dust mites accumulating.
Avoid spending time in your bedroom when not sleeping – it’s a tough one for me, though as I end up sitting around watching Netflix on my bed.
Nap if you must but not for long – go for power naps of 20 minutes instead to feel refreshed.
Get the best mattress you can afford – this is possibly the best money you’ll ever spend in your life. Be it a mattress for adjustable beds, memory foam, or springs, you need to find what works best for you.
Avoid thinking about work or problems before sleep – or insomnia and anxiety might occur.
Do some light exercise before bed – yoga or something that will relax your body.
Take a hot bath – since I started taking a bath in the evenings instead of showering in the morning, I feel much more relaxed when I go to bed.
Meditate – there are some great free apps out there to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day.
Avoid drinking alcohol – I have been avoiding drinking the odd glass of wine, particularly on school nights as I have noticed that it affects the quality of my sleep. There is a reason why this happens.
Avoid drinking too many fluids before bedtime – or you’ll be getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I keep making this same mistake!
Find the best positions for you – it is important to pay attention to your spine, to avoid pain and waking up feeling refreshed. The following video has quite a few good tips:
What are your favourite tips – what did I miss?
PS: extra points to anyone who knows which song the title came from PSS: this post has been made in collaboration with Adjustablebeds.co.uk, words and opinions my own.
In the depths of Winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible Summer.
Happy New Year! I’m glad to see 2016 behind me, as it was such a difficult year personally. Ever since I got diagnosed with cancer in September 2015, I kept pushing forward to get back to normal and regain my energy and had so many plans for my life… But like heavyweight champion Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And what happened feels like it.
The last two months of the year were spent off work due to burnout. I had been feeling ran down physically and ended up having a lot of symptoms that turned out to be burnout.
It was easy to understand why: coping with a long-term illness, the treatment side effects and stress at work led me to a state of complete mental exhaustion. Turns out I’m not even on my own on this, and there are other countless women suffering the same things that I have been.
So, my GP upped my meds, sent me home and I had to find a way of pulling myself out of it. I am not one to think that positive thinking alone can resolve all your problems, especially when the problem is depression or cancer. If that was enough, anyone with depression would merely just think themselves better and that’s not how it works. But I also knew that I had to take active steps to get better.
The good news is that I’m back at work and feeling a lot better, after a couple of months of taking care of myself and taking steps to improve wellness in my life. Everyone is different and I don’t think that what I’ve done is an infallible recipe for everyone but if by writing down what I did gives anyone else some ideas on how to deal with their own situation, it will be worth it.
How I’ve been getting over it:
Reduced my commitments, social and work – rest is precious and if you are able to reduce hours at work, do so. I am currently working 4 days per week and although I don’t get paid as much, the extra time does a world of difference.
Took time off work – as long as I needed to feel better. If you’re exhausted you’ll only get worse and your productivity will dip anyway. Ask your doctor for help, they are usually understanding and happy to help you get better.
Sleep well and enough – sometimes it’s easier said than done if you’ve got a tendency to be an insomniac. Take naps when you feel you need to. I spent two weeks mostly sleeping initially and it did me a world of good. Don’t overdo it though, as you can’t just stay in bed for the rest of your life, as tempting as that prospect might be.
Pampered myself – Had my nails done at the salon and had myself a facial at Mayfair Aesthetics. As I had health problems, I am not allowed to do any laser facial rejuvenation treatments but I had a regular facial and it’s extremely relaxing. I’m happy that they were careful to advise me not to do anything more complicated that could have consequences.
Went out for walks – now that I live in East London, it’s a lot easier to go out and walk for a bit to get the cardiovascular system pumping and the endorphins flowing by going street art hunting.
Avoided isolating myself – Even when I was mostly sleeping, I was using social media as a lifeline to not feel so isolated. Also have a lot of good things to say about my housemates, who were lovely and understanding during this low time. Slowly I started going out for short periods of time and seeing friends and that really helped.
Started eating better – I saw a nutritionist doctor (an actual NHS doctor, not just someone who read a couple of books about nutrition), courtesy of Mayfair Aesthetics. I did a food journal for a week and then together looked at the things I was doing wrong and doing well. At this point, I wasn’t interested in weight loss as much as i’m interested in feeling more energetic and just maintaining my weight, as the meds made me a bit heavier. I came back with personalised advice and feel a lot better for it!
Examined my priorities – I’ve started putting myself first and tried to eliminate superfluous sources of stress and complication.
Started doing more art – I’ve written before about how I got into street art and my therapist had advised me to spend more time doing art to help rebuild my confidence and sense of personal well-being. I did so and ended up doing an art market, getting a piece into an exhibition in a gallery in London and sold a few pieces to a couple of US Instagram friends. This did wonders for my self-esteem and confidence. Art really is the best therapy!
I am now kinder to myself – I avoid stressful situations and try to not be too hard on myself when I don’t accomplish all the items on my always endless to-do list. Taking it easy is my motto for 2017!
Simplifying my life – I love clothes and shoes but as before, I’m working hard to reduce the amount I own, by not buying as much as before and passing items on to friends or the charity shop. I still have too much for the amount of space I have but it’s definitely getting a lot better! Also, the Mari Kondo folding method is the best thing ever.
I’m sure there are many other things I could be doing to recover (if you have any great suggestions, please let me know in the comments) but these so far have been helpful. I’m not entirely well just yet as I have some difficulty dealing with stress still, but it’s a work in progress and I’m doing my best to help myself.
PS: I was a guest at Mayfair Aesthetics but words and opinions are my own.
Sara Doucette is a frequent blogger and an occasional illustrator. She spends 50% of time daydreaming of art projects and petting random cats on the street and the other 50% documenting it all on Instagram.