The Happiness Project: New Year Edition

Happy New Year, wonderful readers!

In my experience, those words are never more heartfelt than when they come from the lips of a Scot. Maybe it’s my own bias talking but I don’t think anyone does New Years like the Scots do it. For me, New Years isn’t about clubbing somewhere glamorous or going to the gym five times a week the second the bells have rung or promising to swap out all your bread for lettuce (although fair play to you if that is what it’s about for you, different strokes, different folks). New Years is about being with the people that I love, about reflecting on how quickly time passes, on how much has changed. That bitter pang when you notice a face is missing from last year’s celebrations. The sweetness when the clock strikes midnight, heralding a moment of glorious, infinite possibility. It’s about becoming, rather than changing. About grabbing your loved ones close during the madness of Auld Lang Syne, drunk on happiness and strawberry daquiris from your mum’s blender. About getting the first kiss of the New Year from your grandpa, rather than from a handsome stranger. This is about as spiritual as the Scots get so of course, it comes with whisky and dancing.

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For me, it also holds a special significance: New Year’s Eve is my birthday. I was due in February, but even before I was born, I guess the lure of those bells was too much to resist. This means that every year, on January first, I start a brand new year, a brand new age, a brand new blank page to be written.

It might be for this reason that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I know a lot of people don’t make resolutions because they don’t see New Year as being a very big deal, they can make changes any day of the year. For me, it’s sort of the opposite. I feel like this new start, this fresh chapter is too important to waste with promises of joining a spin class or eating more greens (again, I don’t mean to suggest that these things aren’t both great ideas). I make goals instead. I’m not saying that my goals are particularly noble or life changing, but for me, they represent some of the things that I’ve always wanted to do but never had the excuse. Or never had the time. Or never been brave enough to attempt.

Last year, around this time, I published a little sample of some of these goals. I’m not going to pretend I did all of them, but I’m not going to beat myself up about that either. Here’s some cool stuff I did in 2015:

Go somewhere I’ve never been.

Nailed it. Totally smashed this one. Not only did I go to lots of new places, I had the chance to experience some genuine bucket list level stuff.

From seeing the Northern Lights and drinking wine in a geothermal pool in Iceland…

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…to sipping vanilla hot chocolate and watching the golden leaves fall in Krakow…

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…to stumbling into a dog festival in Guernsey. Yes, a dog festival is entirely worthy of being on your bucket list.

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I’ll be crossing this one of this year’s list next week, when I’m jetting off for an adventure in Oslo! I’ll keep you posted.

Do something terrifying.

Man, oh man, past Fiona. If you could see us now. This year, I did probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Having protested against the heinous SludgeDrinks adverts, I suddenly found myself going viral. I was quite unprepared for this to happen, but decided to just go with it and see where it took me. I ended up being on breakfast TV twice (this was so terrifying that I was genuinely concerned I might hurl on Eamonn Holmes), having my arse photographed by the Daily Mail (not on purpose) and organising a big assed body positive party with the help of my utterly divine partner in crime, Tara.

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Once the craziness had died down, the terrifyingness kept right on going. I started writing for one of my absolute favourite websites and was invited to speak at a bunch of different events. Tara and I were even named in Stylist magazine’s fearless feminists of the year list! Well let me tell you, I wasn’t fearless. I promised to do something terrifying and I really, really did. It’s amazing what can come of taking a deep breath, squaring your shoulders and saying “why the hell not?”.

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Eat baked alaska.

This is obviously very important. I’d never eaten baked alaska. Always wanted to. So on the list it went. This one, I ticked off while cruising from Southampton to Guernsey in a fabulous fashion with my mum.

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Most excellent. Tick.

So what does this year have in store?

More of the same. Big things, little things, but all important things to me.

Get an agent for my book.

This is probably my biggest, scariest, most pie in the sky one. As I’m sure you guys noticed (because I wouldn’t shut up about it), I wrote a book as part of National Novel Writing Month in November.

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This in itself was a lifelong dream. I can’t describe how it felt to print that out and have something that I’m so proud of just sitting on my table like it aint no thing. But I’m hoping that it’s just the first step in a journey. So on the list an agent goes.

Make one new cocktail a month

I have so many fabulous cocktail books lying around the flat and I never make any cocktails because I don’t have ingredients. This year, I’m saying no to that and I’ll be trialling one new cocktail a week. These will undoubtedly be catalogued on Instagram, so go hang out with me there. Life is short, buy the Chambord. That’s my motto.

Make chocolate eclairs

This is one in a similar vein to eating baked alaska. I love chocolate eclairs. I haven’t the foggiest idea how to make them. I like to bake. So I’m gonna make chocolate eclairs. If you have a failsafe recipe, do tweet it to me or leave it in the comments!

Go to a museum late

I have wanted to do this FOREVER. The National Museum of Scotland used to do these when I lived in Edinburgh and I always meant to go. But I didn’t. And now I’m in London and I have no doubt that these swanky museum parties are going on all the time all over the city. But I still haven’t been. So I’ve written it down. I’m not totally sure why but writing things down seems to really work for me. I’m much less likely to avoid doing something if I’ve written it on a to do list.

2015 was a hell of a year. I’m hoping that 2016 is going to be even better. My lovely, gorgeous readers, I wish you a very, very happy New Year.

Now here’s a haun’ my trusty friend, and gies a haun’ o’ thine. 

New Year, New Lists

2014Being a disorganised person, who exists in a constant state of bemusement and flummoxedness, lists are a pretty big part of my everyday life. Honestly, how little I would function without my lists doesn’t even bear thinking about.

And at this time of year, it is somewhat traditional to write up a little list of New Year’s Resolutions. I used to write New Year’s Resolutions, but for about five years now, I’ve been making goals instead. I find they’re much easier to motivate myself to accomplish and to be honest, they often end up making my year a whole lot better.

So let’s take a look at 2014. I like to keep some of my goals private, so that I’m not too embarrassed to set them, but they ranged from really huge ones like raising £1000 for Cancer Research:

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apple pieI also did something brave, by leaving a job that was making me miserable, made macarons, wrote a children’s book and side climbed to the top of my pole.

I’m going to go ahead and carry a couple over to next year, which I didn’t quite manage to get done this year:

Learn a rock and roll dance routine! This one I’m definitely going to manage, because my utterly excellent manthing has bought the two of us a course of swing dance lessons for my Christmas.

Fly a kite. I’ve never flown a kite and I feel like my life is incomplete because of it.

Go somewhere I’ve never been. This one makes the list every year. There is nothing better than travel, even if you’re not going far.

And some new ones, fresh out of the oven for 2015:

Take part in a Race for Life Pretty Muddy event. So ready for this. I was born ready for it.

Be more of a partner round the house. When I hear women laughing about their hapless husbands, it makes me physically cringe, because in my relationship, I’m the hapless husband. I’m okay at actually cleaning, but things like doing the dishes, putting away washing and generally not leaving my shit all over the flat…I am the worst. Report card: must try harder.

Learn how to take beautiful photos for my blog. Y’all are giving me photo envy.

Do something terrifying.

Once a month, do a little good deed and tell no one.

Eat baked alaska.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What do you hope 2015 will bring? Where can I get good baked alaska in London? Get in touch in the comments, or at @EscapologistGl.