When I turned 30 a few years ago I had a nostalgic look back through old photo albums and chose a photo a year to make a "30 years of me!" collage. It was fun choosing a photo to represent each year and seeing the progression of haircuts and outfits as the years went by.
In fact, it was so much fun that I decided to keep going and choose a new photo each year to add to my collection. I picked one when I turned 31, one when I turned 32 and now it's time to pick another as I turned 33 last month. It's turning into a nice little personal tradition and a great opportunity to have a few quiet moments thinking about my year just passed, with all its ups and downs.
This year has definitely had its downs. I've not been in great health, which is always frustrating - not least because of the knock-on effect it has on my business. I've been working part-time for big chunks of the past year, taking on fewer new projects and earning less than I would have if I'd been working my usual hours.
Of course there are few things more important than your health and I'm very lucky that my job (and my current living situation) allows me to be flexible: to take care of myself while also continuing to work, just at a slightly slower pace and from the sofa instead of my desk. But it still sucks to be ill and to have to scale back my creative plans and press pause on so many things on my "plans for my business" To Do list.
On balance though, 32 was pretty great!
It was a year of family and friendship and meeting new people. Of travelling (near and far) and adventures (big and small). Of decluttering unwanted things and letting go of all the emotional baggage that went along with them. Of saying hello and yes please to some exciting new projects. Of being more confident (and of not being afraid to admit when my confidence has failed me).
I took a trip to Birmingham (which turned out to be so great I'm going back there for my summer hols this year) and another to Liverpool (which was also awesome - I really need to get round to blogging about it sometime!). When my health (and my deadlines) allowed I went on lots of relaxing, inspiring, de-stressing, energising and generally awesome Nice Days Out to parks, gardens, museums, palaces, churches, ships, galleries, exhibitions and more. Plus my diary was peppered with days jam-packed with crafty and creative goodness - at the V&A, the Festival of Quilts, the Handmade Fair, Blognix, Thread, the Knitting & Stitching Show, Renegade London, and London Craft Week.
It was also another highly enjoyable year of making and blogging (despite the odd patch of blogger's block!). I celebrated 8 years of blogging (woohoo!) and worked on lots of really fun projects during the year. Some of these I've blogged about - like these felt houses, these mini felt jumper Christmas ornaments and this happy box of sunshine
- and others are still under wraps as I wait for them to be published. I
got to spill the beans about some earlier projects though, like the
Halloween designs I contributed to Felt-o-ween (such a cute book) and the retro cassette phone case I stitched for Mollie Makes (I still pinch myself sometimes that something I made was the featured project on the cover of a magazine).
And as if all that wasn't enough for one year, I am also now an aunt! Yay!
My chosen photo for the year?
This one, taken at the end of a long, hot shift planting poppies at the Tower of London for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation.
The poppy installation was such an amazing thing to be part of.
I have to admit that it's also something that just a few years ago I wouldn't have been confident enough to sign up for. I would have wanted to do it, sure, but without anyone to go with me I wouldn't have had the nerve and I wouldn't have signed up and I would have regretted it. I was still a bit nervous about volunteering on my own (and it was a bit weird when almost everyone else was showing up in pairs or in big groups from their work) but it was, of course, totally fine! I chatted to people, they chatted to me, we all took part in this amazing thing together, it was all good.
So, this year's photo is me doing something awesome and a reminder to future me to not be scared and to say "yes!" to more awesomeness in the future.
P.S. I've not added the new photo into a collage/mosaic yet, but here are the photos from years 1-32 :)