2014, how’s it been?!

Inspired by Pip’s post on Meet Me at Mike’s I have decided to take stock of my own 2014 so far, even though we are only half way through January.

The main reason to take stock is that I haven’t yet really even thought about my goals for the year. I suppose I already know that the main two are the same as they were in 2013….finish my PhD and run a 10k race. Both resolutions were derailed in early June (round about when I ran my first 5k race and finished in a very respectable time) when I started to get daily headaches. It became really really hard to motivate myself to run with a constantly pounding head, and the thought of sitting down to try and write about international law in the evening after barely making it through a long day at work in London was just too much. As a result, I achieved very little of what I wanted to in 2013, but happily the year was not a write off – I started dating a wonderful guy and he moved in with me in October, and I moved to a really lovely house with some great people and proceeded to have lots of great times together. I have a sort of mantra in life:

Don't worry

This meant that I consciously decided not to worry about things which I used to spend hours stressing about, like meeting the perfect guy, because there really was no point. Instead I would focus on the things within my control, such as being healthy, working hard, and making life fun. It worked pretty well for me for a year or so, until the headaches started, and suddenly things which used to be in my control just weren’t anymore. I felt like I had nothing at all under control, and it was scary. Luckily fate (or whatever you believe in) was on my side and decided to cut me some slack and made some wonderful things happen which I couldn’t control, like meeting my boyfriend, and finding the perfect house, so at least some things were going right.

Thankfully, since early December I have not had any more headaches. I don’t know why – I’m not doing anything different and I haven’t found a medication which works. In fact, none which I tried made any difference, and MRI scans etc were all clear, so the doctors were mystified, and diagnosed ‘chronic persistent daily headaches’. This is a type of headache about which very little is known, particularly what causes it or how to cure it, so it was a diagnosis at the time to just live with it. I read up on the internet (always a bad idea when diagnosed with something – you only ever hear the horror stories, nobody goes on the internet to say “Oh, I’m living with this condition and actually it doesn’t really bother me much, I’m fine!”) and terrified myself. There are people who have lived with this condition for over 30 years with no respite. My heart goes out to them. I am really hopeful that my own brush with it is at an end though, so 2014 for me represents getting back on with my life, and taking control again.

I’ve been doing great with the running so far. Bought myself some new trainers and kit (shiny new running gear is always a great motivator!) and persuaded my boyfriend that he should join me on my early morning run before work. I used to run with my dog Billy, but now we have two dogs since my boyfriend moved in, and I tried running with Billy and his pug Toto at the same time, and it resulted in twisted lead chaos, and almost a twisted ankle tripping over Toto, who is jet black and not best suited to dark morning runs. So I persuaded Ste he had to start running with me, which was no mean feat considering he has never been a runner! And to his credit he is doing brilliantly. We are working our way through the Couch to 5K programme, which is how I got started, and we’re on week 4 now. I’m very proud of him, but also glad I only need to hold one lead every morning! I also took myself off in the lovely sunshine yesterday for a longer run, and managed 3k non-stop in a respectable 17 minutes something, which considering the last time I ran that distance was last June was not bad going. My housemate and I are going to enter a few 5ks in a couple of months to keep us going, and we need to choose a 10k for the autumn too.

The PhD has made less progress thus far however. This is entirely my own fault, but I was actually just kind of exhausted after a hectic Christmas, and my first couple of weeks back at work have been insanely busy (I’ve put an issue of the journal I edit to bed, as well as completed editing an entire book in the past fortnight, along with Editorial Board meetings etc etc) so these past two weekends I’ve just wanted to relax. Long walks with the dogs, cooking some nice meals, watching some movies and tidying the house and doing some DIY. They’ve been bliss. But now I need to get on with things. This weekend coming I am setting myself the goal of 4 hours on the PhD per day. And I will do it! I have to submit it by mid April if I am to graduate with the rest of my ‘year’ in the summer, so I have to get back into a routine of doing a couple of hours a day after work. Tough, but do-able for three short months.

So, those are my 2013 aims re-vamped, and my main one for 2014 I have decided will be to finish paying all of my debts. In three months time the huge bank loan I took out to fund myself through law school will finally be paid off, which is quite an achievement. I wish that I had actually just been saving that money, rather than paying it back, because then I would have £25k for a deposit on a house, but instead I have a qualification I don’t really use! But….it got me to where I am now, and I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I just wish it had happened a little cheaper. I will also be in a position by the end of the year to have paid off both my credit card and my overdraft thanks to freelance work, and then I can finally start saving for my own place. It makes buying a house seem a very long way away, but I’m trying to focus on how far I have come instead, and be thankful.

So, that’s my 2014 for you. My final aim is to take you all along for the ride, and keep blogging. I’ve really enjoyed writing it so far, and even if nobody is reading (say hi in the comments if you are please!), I like having this pretty (if slightly public) journal of my life. It’s like the diary I never managed to keep up….!

Borrowed from Pip now is a little bit of fun with words about my last few weeks. Feel free to copy and add your own so I can see what you’ve been up to!

Making : Purple velvet piped-edge cushions for my boyfriend’s sister with Sarah
Cooking : Every evening, but favourite has been hungarian beef goulash. Love paprika.
Drinking :Perhaos a little too much red wine!
Reading: Terry Pratchett’s latest witty offering, ‘Raising Steam’
Wanting: A label-maker for all my kilner jars in the kitchen cupboards
Looking: Out of my window at the rising and receding floodwaters in our garden
Playing: With Billy and Toto and our cats Julian and Tarquin, and Citizens of Humanity.
Deciding: On my 2014 goals.
Wishing: For good health for the year for myself and my family and friends.
Enjoying: Getting used to co-habiting with my boyfriend, and how much bed he takes up!
Waiting: For my new glasses to arrive, 2 pairs plus lenses for £25 from Glasses Direct!
Liking: Lots of beautiful design inspiration on Pinterest which I just joined.
Wondering: How many clementines I can eat before I start to look orange.
Loving: Long wintery walks in the countryside with Ste and the dogs.
Pondering: Life’s great mysteries, and why Ste’s socks never have a pair!
Considering: Growing my hair longer.
Watching: Boardwalk Empire season 3 lying in bed before dozing off.
Hoping: My headaches really are gone.
Marvelling: At how tiny a gap in the door the cats can squeeze through.
Needing: To get cracking on the PhD.
Smelling: Tom Ford Neroli Portofino and badly wanting some.
Wearing: A lot of longline snuggly cardigans and big fluffly slippersocks
Following: Lots of new blogs to learn how it’s done.
Noticing: Pugs snore very loudly.
Knowing: I have some amazing friends.
Thinking: About the future.
Feeling: Positive and excited about the future.
Admiring: People who dress beautifully.
Sorting: Through all my PhD papers and trying to bring some order to the chaos.
Buying: New running tights and thermal top and sports bras for motivation (and bounce control)
Getting: excited about all the possibilities this year holds.
Bookmarking: Great healthy recipes and sewing and craft projects.
Disliking: Condensation.
Opening: a package to find the book in which I recently wrote a chapter!
Giggling: At Billy and Toto on their tandem lead.
Feeling: Happy and alive.

How do you feel?

11 thoughts on “2014, how’s it been?!

  1. Just come across your blog via zero to hero somehow. I normally only follow blogs about sewing just like mine, but as I began reading yours I found myself wanting to continue. I really can’t put my finger on why. But i loved the ending and am now thinking of how I would complete a list like that. I actually think you could make a book of lists to sell in Urban Outfitters. My sister is the type who would buy it 🙂

    Though your blog did leave me a bit worried about your headaches, but that’s the empathy in me.


    1. Hey! Thanks for such a great comment, I appreciate it. Now that you say it, I can totally see Urban Outfitters selling a book like that, but sadly all credit must go to Pip on Meet Me at Mike’s!
      Really hoping the headaches are gone too, fingers crossed!
      Just checked out your blog and I love it! I want to start making clothes and I have numerous beautiful godchildren and neices to sew for, so I may have to try some patterns when I’ve finished the PhD (priorities!). Love your header too – did you draw that freehand and upload it? I need to create a good header for myself so am looking for inspiration!


      1. Coincidently the book ‘Meet me at Mikes’ is in the photo next to my vintage vanity case for my post “My ‘grab and go’ sewing solution”.

        I’m so glad you love my blog, it’s so nice to hear that. I’m working on some of my own patterns at the moment. But I still have a lot to learn. Yes! come on, join the sewing revolution, it’s immensely enjoyable.

        I drew the header straight into Illustrator and used a relevant font for the text. I’m a graphic designer so its easy for me, it only took about 10 minutes.

        I must admit your header does not look as fun and interesting as your blog sounds. I wouldn’t have continued reading if it were based solely on the header. You could make it reflect your personality. That’s a starting point….

        Or maybe something a bit like the Bridget Jones poster. Not saying you’re like Bridget Jones or anything, oops! sorry! 🙂


  2. Lol. I fear my personality is coming through a little too strongly if you’ve already pegged me a Bridget Jones type!
    It is definitely my next priority, but not being a graphic designer I have no clue where to start. I am searching my photo archives for an image I like, and plan to tweak that with a text overlay I think, but when I tried it, I felt it clashed a bit with the theme I’m using which makes a header photo prominent – I think I need a more graphic image. I will see what I can come up with in my spare time this week! Thanks for the tip!


    1. There are things you can do about that. Mine was the same, I had to make the whole thing (Ted and text ) an image if you see what I mean. But I suppose you need the right software to do that. I used Photoshop, and it was a bit of trial and error to get it sitting in the right place.

      The image on your about page works well.


  3. Loving your positive thinking and the positive vibes I get from reading this post! I hope you achieve your goals for 2014. I’ve never really sat down to write out my goals for the year, but you’ve given me some motivation to!
    Also, I may have to borrow that list you borrowed from Pip 😉


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