Saturday, December 24, 2016

Reflecting On 2016: My Year In Review

Welcome back to Grace With Love Blog for my last post of 2016- Reflecting On 2016: My Year in Review. Firstly, it is my sincere hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and made the most of the festivities,fun and food! As we approach 2017 it is now a poignant time to reflect on the highs and lows and most importantly the valuable life lessons learned in 2016. The Socrates quote "the unexamined life is not worth living" still resonates with me from Philosophy of Education lectures of old. Self-reflection has become  a central part of my life this year and this is a skill I hope to continue to develop in 2017 with the aid of "The Happiness Planner". Those of you who have been following Grace With Love Blog from day one will know that 2016 has been a completely and utterly life-changing year for me. If you are new to this blog, make yourself a cuppa, sit back and relax as we take a nostalgic look back on a year of highs, lows and a story of new found strength.
Life Lessons from 2016:
Perfection Does Not Exist! 

"Is fearr an t-sláinte ná an táínte" is an Irish Gaelic proverb meaning "your health is your wealth". This is the number one lesson 2016 has taught me and is a sentiment and piece of wisdom I intend to carry into 2017 and each treasured year afterwards. Here is an excerpt from my July blog post The Story Behind Grace With Love Blog:

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations" they say. This quote perfectly sums up my feelings right now. A few months ago I was in college studying to become a primary school teacher, the career I have always dreamed of and aspired to since my youth. I have always been someone that puts a million percent into any project or work I do in life, often placing unrealistic pressure on myself to meet my own high standards. Ever since the Leaving Cert and even younger childhood I have always striven for perfection in my career and general life. No one around me ever put extra pressure on me, in fact my friends and family often noticed that I was working too hard and urged me to relax and take a break, but I just couldn't do it. This led to me taking on extra responsibilities in college, staying up long nights and working extra hours to try and maintain my ridiculous standards. Looking back I don't even know why I was doing this to myself..what I even wanted to achieve. Would a First Class Honours Degree make me any happier? Would being slimmer even make me feel any better? Eventually this stress affected my physical health as well causing me aches, pains and constant muscle tension. Work became overwhelming and I found myself missing days unable to have the energy to complete it. It came to the point that I had to take a year out from my degree to rest and recover myself back to full health. 

Struggling with my health this year has completely changed my outlook and approach to life. My passion for raising awareness of the reality of this crippling illness encouraged me to share The Reality of Depression: 10 Facts You Need To Know in October. There are many myths and misconceptions out there regarding the illness and if sharing my experience shines a light on the genuine reality of the issue than it was worthwhile to share. Thankfully, taking time out to recover and to look after my well-being was the best thing that ever happened to me as I slowly but surely started to gain my energy back through exercising and passion back through creating Grace With Love Blog. However, it would have been impossible to get through these dark times without amazing people around me, which leads me on to my next life lesson from 2016.....

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No Man Or Woman Is An Island! 

The phrase "it's ok not to be ok" is often used and it is also very important to know that "it's ok to ask for help". Years of self-driven unnecessary pressure had been mounting and mounting and looking around I genuinely felt like everyone around me was swimming and I was drowning. I have always been a high-achiever and having received 570 in my Leaving Cert the expectation to keep up these high standards in college always played on my mind. I was on the verge of receiving a First Class Honours Bachelor of Education degree but to what cost? Looking back on my college years, they were spent slaving in a library or in my room and on Teaching Practice this would often last until 3 or 4 AM...every...single...night! Eventually the overwhelming exhaustion caught up on me on my final Teaching Practice where I became physically unable to attend school. Everything changed by facing my fears and opening up. My parents have stood beside me every step of the way, supporting me and encouraging me back to full health and for that I am forever grateful. People often ask where I received my strength and the honest truth is from my lifetime inspiration, my mother. I wouldn't be where I am today without her and if I grow up to be half the strong, brave, courageous and loving mother she is that will make me very proud. Furthermore, having a tight-knit supportive group of friends has also been crucial. It is often in dark times that we see who is genuine and who is not and it is more important to have a small group of friends that you can 100% whole-heartedly trust and rely on than having a large group for the sake of popularity. It is with age and wisdom we learn these things and 2016 was a real eye-opener for me. 

Appreciate The Little Things!  

Happiness in my eyes is not found in material things, they simply fill the gap for a while until the latest trend comes around. My happiest moments of 2016 occurred surrounded by the people close to me and my beloved pooch Harry. The latest addition to the family arrived in late April when we bought a baby Bichon Frise puppy and this little fluffy cloud has certainly made his mark. He has been taking my Snapchat (add me here!) by storm this year with his cheeky personality and honestly he keeps us all so entertained! There is nothing more relaxing for me than getting out for a walk in the fresh air with Mam or some friends (and Harry of course!), feeling the fresh air on your face and embracing the beauty of the nature all around.   


 Everything In Life Happens For a Reason! 

Everyone has potential, however you will never truly know what you are capable of in life until you take risks and challenge yourself in my view. During my time off from college, unable to find a job the longing to let my creative side out was an itch that just had to be scratched! Languages were always my strong-point in school and having played with the idea of doing a Journalism course in college I changed my mind and decided to go for the more reliable and secure job of primary teaching. With all this free time on my hands and ideas in my brain I needed an outlet to keep my mind occupied and so Grace With Love Blog was born! The response to my work in a mere six months has been unbelievable with over 54,000 visits to my website and a combined social media following of 25,000 so far. My passion for life, learning and creating something new and different has been completely re-invigorated through building this blog from scratch. My Mother has helped me with photography and content ideas and all other aspects of the blog and social media including coding, content creation and marketing are managed by myself. Hearing amazing feedback from readers and being contacted by wonderful brands such as Shiseido, River Island and Bioderma definitely makes all the hard work worthwhile. It is only now when taking a break to reflect and look back that I can truly say that I am proud of what my blog has achieved so far and very excited to see what the future and most importantly 2017 has in-store!


2017 Plans: 

The past few days have been productively spent goal-setting for 2017 in The Happiness Planner.  Work wise, the plan is to finish my college course and graduate with a Bachelor of Education degree. Blog wise, my passion for writing and content creation is  growing by the day and it is so exciting for me to imagine the amazing opportunities 2017 will present for Grace With Love Blog. There are already some big collaborations with amazing brands planned for the year ahead so stay tuned and all will be revealed in good time. Balancing college life and blogging will be a challenge but it is one I am willing to fully embrace and put my heart and soul into for the only way to change is to challenge yourself. To sum up, 2016 was a year of painful lows, life-changing experiences and new found passion and determination to succeed. To all my  Grace With Love Blog readers and followers thank-you very much for your support and interaction this year. Wishing you all a prosperous New Year in 2017 and cannot wait to share a new year of fashion, beauty, education and health & well-being content with you!

Wishing all of my readers a happy and healthy new year

Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir 

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