December is the month for endless articles, whatever the industry, looking back on the ‘best bits of [insert current year]’ and also what is apparently going to be big in the coming year. I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for round-ups and anticipation lists.
I wouldn’t usually do this kind of thing myself on my blog, but 2015 has been a bit of a life changing one and I felt like I wanted to share some insights and what I’ve learnt along the way. These milestones may be what you have planned for the coming year, or are thinking about and wondering what it’s like from someone in those shoes.
Call this post a sharing of some of the best memories of the past year, but also some open and honest thoughts about what I have taken from these experiences. I hope you enjoy the read!
JANUARY: Being engaged
On the 4th of January, my boyfriend of exactly 2 years and 5 months did something which I think is pretty impressive. He planned his very own social media campaign. But this wasn’t just any campaign – it was part of his proposal to me, encouraging friends and followers to say #SpamSayYes. Enjoying a meal my favorite gluten-free restaurant, Tea 42, I was overwhelmed by the barrage of tweets when James handed my phone after we had eaten. Of course he got down on one knee and delighted me with the most beautiful ring. (He had asked my parents’ permission beforehand – he’s a good egg.) Of course, I said yes!
Lessons Learnt: When you know someone inside out and how to make that person happy in their own little way – that’s love. James and I met through Twitter thanks to our love of music so it was appropriate for his proposal to include this element. A year of long distance romancing between Yorkshire and Manchester and normal ups and downs throughout, I knew this guy was the one (sorry for the cheese). Being engaged was the next step for us at this stage, and it was the very best way to kick 2015 off!
SUMMER: Amsterdam, Ibiza & Festivals
As many of you may know, James and I love music. This year, although planning our wedding for September, didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves; March saw us at DGTL Festival in Amsterdam, a fantastic industrial set-up at NDSM Docklands, where we bounced around to some of our European favourites including Oliver Schories, Koletzski and Maceo Plex over the weekend.
Following the pattern of the past 4 years, we had the pleasure of working on the social media team at Parklife Festival, which again was an awesome experience. As much as I love being in the crowd, working behind the scenes and capturing moments all around the festival and seeing both artists and revellers in their element is pretty special. Hopefully James and I will be back again next year!
On a Monday in July, we were thinking about going camping at the weekend. By Friday, we were on a plane to Ibiza and back home again for work on Monday morning. Spontaneous, yes. Mad decision? Probably. But James and I had one of the best, most fun weekends of the year. The weekend fit into our budget, we made the most of dancing around at Sankeys on Saturday and chilling at Cafe Mambo watching the sunset before we headed home back to Manchester at stupid o’clock that night/morning. It was SO worth it.
[I talk about getting married below, but we also went to Ibiza for a week for our honeymoon. It’s somewhere that’s special to us, we treated it half like a proper honeymoon with nice meals and bars; half enjoying the music side like Enter closing party @ Space and seeing Solomun and Sven Vath @ Pacha. AWESOME. Go somewhere that suits you both!]
Lessons learnt: Music has been, and always will be, a passion for James and I. Although we’re getting older, it still remains a big part of our life and something we enjoy doing together. We’re not ones for spending loads of money on materialistic things; rather, it goes on doing things, going places, seeing bands or artists. Whatever your own hobby or love is, make sure next year make time to do it – and enjoy it by yourself or with family and friends.
SEPTEMBER: Getting married!
In between all of the above, we had the date set of 12th September to get married at Ripon Cathedral (thanks to my amazing mum and dad). This didn’t stop us having a top year, but we worked hard and saved money each month; there were stressful moments and it did take time to organise every little detail (I tried to not become a bridezilla, honest!). But the day itself was just incredible…I still get emotional looking at photos from the day.
Lessons learnt: One of the nicest, wonderful things about getting married is two families coming together, and also starting one of our own. I’m still getting used to not being ‘Pamela Bustard’ any more (SpamellaB is sticking around though!) but it’s such a great feeling to be ‘Mrs’ and calling the boy ‘husband’. Life hasn’t changed much, we just feel even closer and stronger as a couple, which I feel massively lucky to be a part of.
I’d say to anyone planning a wedding or getting married: Don’t let it take over your life, and let other people (family and friends) help you to organise and plan in the run up to the big day. I’ll openly admit I’m a total control freak, but it’s important to delegate and not be so hung up on every single detail. On the day, remember to keep calm and ENJOY it, soak it all up and make sure you and your other half have moments where you can both step back from it. You’ll lose your voice by the end of the night but it’s such a wonderful experience to celebrate something so special surrounded by important people in your life. I’ll never forget that day.
AUTUMN: Going freelance
Got engaged, check. Got married, check. Changed job, check. Yep, just before the wedding I handed in my notice at the agency I worked at for over two years of being Social Media Manager and jumped ship into freelancing – and now, 3 months on, it’s been the best decision I’ve made in my career so far.
Health, food and fitness have always been passions of mine, something that my blog has allowed me to express my interest and creativity while building up relationships with both brands in this industry and making some wonderful, like-minded friends within this community. I’ve been lucky in that this, coupled with my skills and experience from previous jobs, opened up doors to allow me to go into freelancing in the first instance, along with the support from James and my family.
Now working with the likes of Kaizen Living, PhD Woman & PhD Nutrition and Vivo Life (and with more exciting projects lined up next year) providing social media, content writing and recipe development services, I really am in my element doing what I love every day of the week.
Lessons learnt: I wrote a long piece for the first HBloggers magazine about how I made my move into freelancing happen. What I’ll say here is that, whatever road you are on at whatever point in your life – if you are not happy with it and you have a feasible alternative, make it happen. You spend such a large chunk of your life in your job, so make sure it motivates, inspires and pushes you, doing something you enjoy. I want to look back on life – the good and the bad – knowing that I tried it, did it, and learnt from it. It’s never too late!
OCTOBER: Hosting my own supperclub
This might not sound like a biggie, but this opportunity was a challenge for me and I’m so glad I took it. In between the wedding and honeymoon, I was contacted by All 4 asking if I would be up for hosting my own supperclub, planning a 3-course menu and cooking for paying guests, to be filmed for Channel 4’s online site. I jumped at the chance, despite later being terrified at the thought at what I had agreed to do. I’d only ever cooked for about 10 members of my family before, never mind 22 people, some of them strangers!
Lessons learnt: The whole experience was a great success and I loved every minute of it – you can read more about what I learnt from it here, and go give it a watch over here. What I will say though, is that if a challenge is presented to you and you doubt yourself at the time, SAY YES. Sometimes I put myself off doing something if I’m scared (mainly of failure) but you won’t ever know unless you try. Then, once you’ve accomplished it – seek out the next challenge and your comfort bubble will keep growing bigger and bigger. That’s what life’s about, isn’t it? Don’t be afraid, and don’t regret not pursuing something.
So there we go, some insights into my eventful year. This was also partly inspired by Sarah aka Growing Butterfly’s invite to contribute to her #MyChristmasCheer concept – to raise hope and happiness at this time of year, reflecting on achievements and memories.
I want to reiterate that all of the above has been made even better by the amazing family and friends (that includes YOU – bridesmaids Louise and Laura, plus Vicki, Sophie, Katie, Ruby & Ruth) I have in my life. My final word is to remember to show appreciation to those who have helped or inspired you in some way, and let them know how much they mean to you.