Around this time of year, I start to get fed up of Winter. In October/November time, I get excited and nostalgic about winter, I look forward to cozy nights in. I even decided last year that I think December is my favourite month because I just love Christmas and everything that goes with it! I thought to myself on midwinter’s day that if this is midwinter, this winter hasn’t been so bad, it hadn’t been too cold, the dark hadn’t got to me and I was feeling positive. Soon after that was a lovely Christmas and New Year.
Then, it was January. Don’t get me wrong, I love that New Year enthusiasm, the fresh start, the celebrations that start it off. But by the middle of January, that’s when it gets to me. The dark evenings, the coldness, the having to start getting ready to leave the house 15 minutes earlier due to putting on all the layers! I think this is why I look forward to my birthday in February because very regularly, the goals that I set in January haven’t quite worked out just yet and I see February as a new start again and by then it’s starting to get a little warmer.
So, for the last couple of weeks, I have been feeling a little down. Not really bad, I just don’t like the dark and cold. Then through the power of the timehop app, I was reminded of a few photos I had taken. The first photo was from Thursday 24th January 2013, the second was from Friday 24th January 2014 and the third was from Friday 23rd January 2015. Due to the nature of timehop, I hadn’t seen the previous two photos before taking the third one on Friday but saw them pop up on timehop on Saturday morning. I had taken these three photos on almost exactly the same day at almost exactly the same time (they are taken on my walk to the train station in the morning). I see something significant in these, that it is this time of year when I look to see the beauty in the grey, dark and cold days.
At the weekend, I got right into starting my new sketchbook by setting myself up on the sofa and got started by making my plans for this year look pretty with some hand drawn type.
The Moleskine sketchbook paper was a complete game changer! I’m very late to the party with this one but it is amazing! I’d just been using a plain Moleskine notebook before and now using a sketchbook it just feels nice to draw on, it’s so smooth and I even think it makes my drawings look better, even on the left hand side!
“An idea that is developed and put into actions is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea” Buddha
“Goodbye 2014 - explore - look after yourself - give yourself a break - enjoy it It is now new year’s eve and I say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. I’m genuinely thankful for 2014 and all it offered us. Yes, there were some truly difficult time with stresses of the house move and my health at times, a few scary times of other people that I love being sick but we all got to the other sides of those times together.
On a more positive note, 2014 was great, work was good, there was the wedding of Henry & Harriet, the engagement of Kate & Pat and Bruno & Craig. Rob and I bought our little house and I’ve really enjoyed making it home and entertaining our friends here. We had a fantastic holiday – the best holiday ever and finally got engaged and I’m the happiest girl in the world.
I look forward to all that 2015 has to offer, Paloma Faith, Kate & Pat’s wedding and fun times in our house.
Hello 2015 - create - enjoy every second - find balance - love a lot - do good work - choose happiness”
This also marks the end of my 2014 journal, I didn’t quite get to the end of the book but I was a good way there. I still have to add some photos into it but that may take some time! 2014’s journal was a Moleskine plain notebook and due to the great success that it has been, I’ve bought a Moleskine Sketchbook for this year. It is looking very thin, white, clean and scary at the moment but I hope that I can add more sketching, more doodles, and more colour to it this time. I do like to write a lot too so we’ll see what happens.
“After the events of the last few days, I feel so happy! I love Christmas anyway but things have been made much better by Rob asking me to marry him! I feel so grateful for all our friends and family, who have been so supportive and happy for us. I feel so lucky to have received the gifts that I have. I loved the giving of presents, playing games with family, walks in the woods and eating lots of nice food.
2014 was a great year, the best! I didn’t start this year thinking it’d be this good and I won’t start the next feeling like that either. I have the best hopes for 2015 though, I’ll take each day, enjoy each day and this time next year, who knows where we’ll be.”
I hope you had a great Christmas, I’m sorry my wishes are a bit late but as you can see, I’ve been slightly pre-occupied! There is so much more that I can say about the last week, I feel so full of love and happiness, I can’t find the words.
I hope to post pages from my journal every now and then, they’re not usually as minimal as this but I thought this deserved a spread to itself!
To cut a potentially long story short, I’ve been thinking a lot (a lot, a lot, since September, a lot) about this space and what I want to do with it. Truth is, I haven’t really been happy with the way things have been going, I even considered stopping the whole thing for a while. However, I’ve loved working on it so much that I really don’t want to give it all up.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to give the content of this blog a facelift. To tell the truth, I’ve even felt bored reading/writing some of these blog posts in the past and so I need to change things up.
I want to feature more and more of my design work, illustrations and artwork. I want this to become a colourful space to show the process in some instances but also as an extension of my portfolio. Writing is still something that I do on a regular basis and so I hope to still feature some writing but the design work will take centre stage.
For the last couple of years I haven’t chosen New Years resolutions as such but chosen a word to live by for the next 12 months. My one little word for 2013 was “Grow.” My one little word for 2014 was “Explore.”
Why I chose “explore” as my one little word for 2014
My one little word for 2014 was Explore. I’d had a tough year in 2013 so wanted to give myself time to heal, to get used to my new life and also explore creatively as well. I wanted to take away the pressure of creating something for a specific reason. Before this year, most things I’d made were for education or for work, not for myself, not just for the sake of creating. This meant that when it came to creating for myself I would, for example, paint a picture, I’d expect it to be perfect first time, I wouldn’t practice, I wouldn’t explore all the possibilities. Professionally I would try but I guess, not exploring in my personal work may have affected my professional work too. It really seems silly admitting this now but it is the truth and I’m glad I’ve spent this year exploring the possibilities.
I chose 12 phrases to go with the word explore, they’re loosely related to each month of the year. These would be just a quick reminder of what I wanted to focus on throughout the year.
Reminder of the 12 phrases
Explore new things
Explore the process
Explore my voice
What did I do throughout the year?
There were a few things that I purposely did to keep the word “explore” at the front of my mind. I have a little notebook that I’ve written the 12 phrases down on a page each, and throughout the year, I’ve written things that have happened or that I’ve done which related to that phrase. The only other thing I did was to keep a piece of paper at the front of my diary which I’d written “explore” on it as a note to myself in a way to remind me.
I used brush pens for the first time this year, I enrolled on some online classes to try my hand at hand lettering, I also started making my way through watching a huge list of films, films that I wouldn’t necessarily watch. I’m not a film watcher and I’m always that person who hasn’t seen the film that people are talking about and I don’t want to be that person.
I’ve done a lot of painting, drawing and creating this year, a lot more than I usually do. I started an art journal that, when I started, I would work on it every day then it started to slow down after a while and now I just work on it every now and then. It has been a great experience though and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve almost filled a whole sketchbook in a year, that has never happened before and I think of it as an achievement.
This was mainly relating to yoga and rest. I’ve managed to get into a routine of practicing yoga regularly this year, I really notice when I haven’t been able to practice. I also explored silence in not using social media for two weeks. I learned that I didn’t always have to be looking for the next piece of information.
I closed my Etsy Shop (reluctantly) as it was clear to me that I wasn’t ready to have a shop and didn’t have the time to maintain it either. Having a shop just put more pressure onto an already exhausted Sian!
Rob and I moved in together. This year we celebrating our ten year anniversary, which I still can’t believe it has been that long! We’ve learned a lot this year and I very much look forward to the future in our house!
This was to encourage me/us to go on more walks on weekends. I now walk to the train station every morning and I’ve really enjoyed it. We managed to get to a country park in the summer which was really nice to walk around and observe the view. It’s difficult because Rob walks a lot for his job (he’s a postman!) he walks about 11 miles a day and so when it comes to the weekend, the last thing he wants to do is walk and I don’t blame him.
I created a orange journal in 2013 and wanted to explore colour a bit more, maybe do the same for a different colour. I didn’t do that! In creating my art journal, there is a lot more colour in it than I’ve used in the past so maybe I’ll explore a different colour next year.
I love to paint and this year I’ve used acrylic, watercolours and watercolour pencils for all sorts of things.
Taking part in two skillshare classes has been so beneficial to learn about different processes. In creating my art journal too I’ve learned more about the way that I think and work.
This year we’ve been to Bruges, Orlando, Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico and Miami. Three of those were in the same trip and I loved seeing so many places. I never really considered the idea of going travelling but I love the idea of visiting a lot of different places on holidays.
I’m not sure anyone really can say, “yes, I’ve found my voice” I think it is an evolving thing. I certainly haven’t even found one thing that I enjoy doing yet. I fear becoming a jack of all trades, master of none. I’d love to become a master of just one thing, or even just good at one thing that I enjoy. Am I a writer? Am I a hand letterer? Am I an ilustrator? I’m a graphic designer professionally and enjoy it but I want to find “my thing” that I’m good at!
It’s difficult to see where I’ve progressed as a designer. However, I have been pleasantly surprised when working on new-to-me projects at work and have felt like I’ve done well with happy clients all round.
My little word for next year will be “create.” I want to continue the great work I started this year. I don’t feel like I created as much as I wanted this year due to buying our house, I’m sure there will be something that comes up next year and I’ll still be as preoccupied with other things but I’ll try my absolute best.
MAKING Christmas plans WATCHING Lots of rubbish TV, also all of the Christmas adverts. COOKING Chilli con carne and Jacket potatoes, an oldie but and goodie DRINKING Green Tea and SO much water READING Before I met you by Lisa Jewell, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and “How to make sense of any mess” by my cousin Abby LOOKING Forward to decorating for Christmas BUYING Far too much! PLAYING With water colour pencils! FINALLY Getting to grips with my medication then taking two steps back again WISHING Time would go a little slower BAKING Mini Christmas Cakes ENJOYING All the Christmas adverts on the TV DRAWING Penguins WALKING To and from the train station in the rain NEEDING Weekends SMELLING Christmas spices WEARING ALL the layers NOTICING The difference that 15 minutes of yoga in the morning makes to my entire day THINKING About seasons GIGGLING With the girls at work FEELING Down and thoughtful THANKFUL FOR Umbrellas EMBRACING My crazy curly hair
My earliest memory of my colour preference is at Sports day in primary school. I must have been aged about 6 or 7. I loved the fact that I was in a house called Gade because it’s colour was red, which was the closest colour to pink (out of red, yellow, green and blue.)
At the time, I’d tell people that my favourite colour was red and not pink because pink was “too girly!” I have no idea why being “too girly” was a problem, my 26 self who has recently watched Emma Watson make a speech at a UN conference and is reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg would have had a quiet word with my 6 year old self and said you can be as girly or non girly as you choose, but that is beside the point!
I don’t really remember what my favourite colour was as a teen, I’m sure it changed weekly depending on what my best friend’s favourite colour was. I’m sure at some point I loved the colour yellow because it was the same colour as Tweety Pie!
Then when I was fifteen, I wanted to be girly, (make up your mind Sian!) and had my bedroom decorated pink…but with blue carpet and blue curtains! I’m sure it looked dreadful but I loved that room. My family made a video of that time and I did a tour of the house, when it came to my room, I excitedly sang “it’s pink, it’s pink, it’s pink!”
Fast forward to when I was packing my room off to university, I set my room in halls up exactly how I wanted it and I loved it. Then one of my new friends commented that everything was pink! And it was! It never even occurred to me! Then I realised all of my clothes were pink and I didn’t like it. Throughout my years at uni, I slowly and deliberately steered away from the colour pink. How could people take me seriously as an adult and as a creative if all I wore was one colour? (It wasn’t that bad but it might as well have been in my mind)
As time went on through uni and afterwards, I diversified with the colours that I wore and preferred. I wore a lot of stripes for a while, still do and floral patterns too. I then realised a few weeks ago that I just naturally gravitate towards pink without really thinking about it. A couple of weeks ago, it got to Friday and I realised I’d worn pink everyday that week!
But do you know what, whether it’s girly, or non girly, immature or bold, I am finally embracing the fact that I love pink.
I’m unsure even why I love it. It’s the colour of roses, the colour of the roses in your cheeks after you’ve been smiling, the colour of the sunset, the colour of strawberry ice cream, the colour of most of my nail polishes and lipsticks and the colour of Rosé wine.
And then all of a sudden it isn’t about a favourite colour any more. It has become about accepting what I love. I wrote in my advice to my younger self that I should embrace what I love and I guess this bit is still a work in progress.
I am coming to terms with who I am after “the horrible years” that tore my world apart. I suppose I am putting my world and myself back together piece by piece and accepting things that I love, things that I do, things that make me different and things I cannot change. And one of those things is that I love pink!
At the beginning of this month, my family, Rob’s family and I headed off on our travels. A holiday that we’d be planning for over a year, dreaming about for many many years and finally it was here, the trip of a lifetime. We were to spend one week in Orlando, Florida and then a week on a Royal Carribean cruise around the Eastern Carribean. It was really truly amazing, I tried to soak up every single second and take it all in.
We visited the Disney Parks and Universal Studios and they did not disappoint. Magic Kingdom was exactly how I’d expected it to be, magical, of course but just as cozy, and familiar as Disneyland Paris, but twice as big. We visited Disneyland Paris quite a few times when I was younger, as my Mum worked for the company and we got a discount. That feeling when you first walk onto Main Street just can’t be matched, it may be a cliché but it feels just like home. I’m a big Disney fan too (who isn’t) but I’d easily sit and watch Disney films whilst the cool kids watched other blockbusters at the cinema! I became star struck when I spotted Winnie the Pooh, Belle and Mickey Mouse. I’m such a big kid, I loved every second!
Universal Studios was also great fun, I loved walking around the Harry Potter part, I could have walked around that part all day! The Studios did have a lot of simulator rides though, which made a few of us feel quite ill and tired of simulator rides by the end of the day.
Other highlights included, Space Mountain, Finding Nemo the Musical in Animal Kingdom, Rockin’ Rollercoaster…until it broke down whilst we were on it! We were ok, just a little puzzled about what was going on, thankfully no one was left upside down. The Tower of Terror was fun. Slusher Gusher and the double dipper at Blizzard Beach were so so scary, (if I’d known how scary these would be, I would not have gone on them!) We made it to Epcot for one ride, test track which was fun and fast! We didn’t get too much time in Epcot as we had to rush back for Fantasmic, which was a really good show to end our day at the Hollywood Studios.
Our day in Islands of Adventure was full of fun, the queues were so short, which was good because it was so hot! After travelling on the Hogwarts Express, riding a dragon roller coaster and seeing Hogwarts, we went on the Jurassic Park ride which was so scary, not because of the dinosaurs but because of the drop into water near the end, I didn’t like it too much because I banged my knee. We all got so wet that we thought we’d carry on the water rides as there were three of them! All quite scary for me with the almost 90 degree drops but it was so hot and we got drenched, so it cooled us down nicely. We then spent some time in Hogsmeade, wondered around the shops and drank butter beer in the Hog’s Head. It’s not every day that you can say that!
After what felt like a very long time in Orlando, we took the 3 hour road trip to Fort Lauderdale and boarded the cruise ship. It was really very exciting, we boarded the Allure of the Seas, which is the biggest cruise ship sailing at the moment, it was huge! We took some time to explore the ship and then had a bit of a party on the top deck waving Florida goodbye before heading to Nassau in the Bahamas.
At dinner on our first night, we heard the captain announce that due to hurricane Gonzalo, we’d be taking a different course than what was planned. We’d be heading to Falmouth in Jamaica after the Bahamas and Cozumel, Mexico instead. This was quite exciting, I’d never been to either place before so I was interested to see them. I didn’t know what I’d be missing because I’d never been to St. Thomas or St. Maarten before either.
Nassau was beautiful, we had a tour on a glass bottom boat and saw lots of Celebrity’s houses along Paradise Island, my favourite was seeing J.K Rowling’s house. I wish I’d seen more of Nassau but we’d woken up late due to our alarm not being in the correct time zone and had to go back to eat breakfast, also Rob had a headache unfortunately and wasn’t feeling great so we headed back to the ship for an afternoon by the pool.
The days on the ship were good fun, either sleeping by the pool, reading by the pool, sitting in the hot tub, eating, meeting the Captain (Captain Johnny, our new celebrity!) or playing crazy golf. We watched an Aqua show and Chicago too, you could easily not leave the ship but then you’d miss out on the beautiful destinations.
Our next destination was Falmouth in Jamaica, after not getting to a beach in the Bahamas, I wanted to go to a nice beach. We asked a taxi driver to take us to a beach and I think we were scammed, I think the taxi drivers were in cohorts with a beach owner, you’d have to pay $5 to get in to the beach, you pay that to the taxi driver and then the beach wasn’t too impressive, the sea was quite dirty, the facilities weren’t well maintained and you’d get locals trying to sell you something every 5 minutes. It wasn’t very comfortable but I enjoyed being by the sea and we made it a fun day.
We then made our way to Cozumel off the coast of Mexico, my Mum and Sister had decided to book an excursion to swim with dolphins, it was a little expensive so I decided not to join them. But then once the rest of us got to Cozumel and were trying to decide what we wanted to do, I decided to join them and within 2 minutes I was on my way to swim with the dolphins! Probably one of the most spontaneous things I’ve ever done! I’m so glad that I did it and it was worth every penny. We went to a National Park where we had a little wander round the beaches, which were clean and you could use the loungers and umbrellas for free (a big contrast to our experience in Jamaica!) We ate ice cream and then got changed for our swim with a dolphin. We did various poses with the dolphin, and then I grabbed hold of his fins and he pulled me along (the faces I pulled in this bit were hilarious, so much sea water in my face!) then the dolphin pushed me along by my feet as I held a body board, that was the most fun as he pushed me really fast! We then posed for a photo of the 3 of us with the dolphin, it was so fun and I’m so glad I made that quick decision to join my Mum and Sister.
We had one more day of sailing after that where we made the most of time by the pool and had a 6 course meal with wine pairing for our last night, which was so fun! Maybe a little too much wine but the food was delicious. We had booked a tour of Miami for our last day and it was so interesting to see all the sights of Miami, the Art Deco buildings and then South Beach was beautiful, I had a little paddle in the crystal clear waters of Miami, ate ice cream and tried to absorb every last second of holiday fun before our journey home. It was a horrible, uncomfortable flight home, I actually preferred the 9 hour flight there than the 7.5 hour night flight home!
Now that I’m home, it’s taken me a while to come to terms with not being on holiday any more. I was actually quite depressed about being home for a few days, I have a beautiful home and a great life but this holiday was just so amazing that I came back to reality with a bump.
I decided when we were away that I need to take more breaks and look after myself a lot more, a big sign for me was that I got a cold a couple of days after being in Florida. I always get a cold when we go away because I wear myself out and then as soon as I relax it comes out as a cold! It’s not good. I didn’t let the cold spoil my holiday though, I still had the most amazing time, I just want to go back and do it all again! I also did a lot of things “for holiday,” so I cut down on sugar and caffeine so that my skin was clear, I spent an evening pampering myself, painting my nails, doing a face mask, and bought some new clothes and saved them “for holiday” I hardly ever do any of these things for my everyday but everyday is well…everyday! So, I just need to do these things more regularly, rather than never!
WAITING Ever so (im)patiently for our holiday SMELLING Fresh mornings MAKING Holiday plans WATCHING Cadillac Records COOKING Dinner for our friends now that we’re settled in our house DRINKING Green tea with Lemon every morning READING Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (I gave up on David Copperfield) LOOKING FORWARD TO The biggest holiday I’ve ever been on PLAYING The Sims 4 FINALLY Making plans now that we’re settled WISHING I’d have a bit more energy ENJOYING All the chocolate in Bruges WASTING A lot of time of twitter LIKING My newly cut hair ready for our holiday! PREPARING all the things to take on our holiday BAKING Banoffee Pie/mess WALKING Enough to hit my 10,000 step FitBit goal WEARING Layers now that London has turned chilly and rainy one moment but sunny and warm the next TALKING about how excited I am to decorate our house for Christmas FEELING Proud of my little sister on her Graduation EXPLORING my voice THANKFUL that Rob finishes work early and prepares dinner for when I get home PRACTICING Yoga most mornings
Yesterday, I proudly watched my little Sister graduate, it was such a lovely day and we celebrated in style. It was just what she deserved for all of her hard work. Four years ago today, I graduated (that’s me up there in the photo). It had been the most difficult summer of my life, for various reasons. Finishing university is hard enough and now that I’m four years older and probably less wise, I thought I’d write a letter to my 22 year old self (and then I wonder how weird this would actually be if this did happen, someone, you, from the future writing a letter to you. In reality, I’d think it was fake!) so here goes:
Well done on finishing university, you’ve worked so hard but I’m afraid the hard work starts here. You’ve got some rough roads ahead of you and here is a bit of advice to help you through:
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Some things happen for a reason and it’s not because of anything that you’ve done. You’re doing absolutely fine. Some things don’t happen straight away and so be patient for things to happen in the right order, you can’t put pressure on yourself for things not happening straight away. You’ll have to be strong for everyone around you but let someone look after you sometimes.
You will get used to your new routine in time
Starting work will be the biggest shock to your system and you won’t believe it now but that hour commute each way will become almost bearable. You will learn not to read your phone the whole way and to invest in a good book to read …the only problem is that you don’t always put this into practice. Your iPod will also become invaluable.
Embrace what you love
You will continue to love the colour pink. You will continue to practice hand drawn lettering. You will have an embarrassing collection of Musical soundtracks and Disney songs on your iPod. You will always have more paper and notebooks than you know what to do with. Embrace that you love those things, maybe stop buying so many notebooks and try filling them, even the nice ones! Don’t let anyone (including yourself) make you feel bad for the things that you love, however embarrassing!
Keep saving those pennies
You’ve done so well in keeping to a budget whilst at University and you’ve saved loads of money, keep at it and you’ll thank yourself in 4 years time. (Thank you!) Your train ticket (into London!) will become more and more expensive as the years go on, take the plunge and get a credit card to buy a yearly ticket which works out cheaper, I wish I’d thought of this earlier, the monthly repayments have saved me £51 a month!
Listen to your body
Although you stay slim and look healthy, your body is crying out for you to do something about your health. See a doctor because some things aren’t normal and you shouldn’t have to live with it and suffer. The things you’ve read again and again online “could happen to you.” Yoga and linseeds are your godsend. Also, you love your hair short, never let it grow again!
Some spoiler alerts: You will survive 2010, 2013 will be tough but you’ll get through it and 2014 is such a good year. You and Rob are such a good team and you’ll have some great adventures together. You become an awesome team at building flat packed furniture and paying bills! Just have a little patience and life will start to look better.
The friends you have met in your 4 years of higher education will become lifelong friends, you may not see them as much as you’d like but it doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome!
MAKING Time for us WATCHING Guardians of the Universe (such a good film!) Iron Man and Burlesque COOKING Jamie Oliver’s Feta and Spinach Filo pie, just with cheddar instead of Feta! DRINKING Rooiboos tea all day long READING David Copperfield by Charles Dickens LOOKING FORWARD TO the adventures we’ve got planned for the next few months BUYING All the things ready for our holiday PLAYING With my new camera SEWING All of my tops so that they fit! FINALLY Watching Dr. Who Christmas special WISHING Our big holiday would come quickly ENJOYING Time spent in our new house LIKING A break from the blog DRAWING Selfies! WONDERING how there are so many spiders and cobwebs in our house! LOVING My new found attitude MARVELLING At the growth of our chilli plant BAKING Very gooey flapjack WALKING Around Aldenham Country Park LOOKING Back through the photo book of the year I’ve been putting together and loving how it’s coming along WEARING Shorts with jumpers, my fave combination! NOTICING The absence of rage now that I don’t tweet about it KNOWING I need to do so much more exercise THINKING About life, the internet and holidays GIGGLING At this advert (SO funny!) FEELING Inspired EXPLORING Silence THANKFUL FOR My health despite of all my complaining PRACTICING Yoga every morning