So here we are again. We’re about to head into 2019 and so I like to take a look back at my previous year in the tradition of filling in the below quiz. I’ve done it for so many years now that perhaps one day I can print out a whole pile and look back to what my life was like a good ten or so years ago!

Anyway. Here’s to it…

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | My year in review | Personal | Fashion | Boho | Fashion World

WHAT DID YOU DO IN 2018 THAT YOU’D NEVER DONE BEFORE?
I travelled alone – as in entirely alone. I know I went to Mexico in 2017 and that was amazing, but although I stayed out there alone for a few days, I flew out as part of a tour. This year, my first time travelling alone wasn’t my choice; my ex bailed on a weekend away like four days beforehand and it was too late to invite anyone else. I had the choice of bailing too or going alone. I went alone. A lot of the time it was really shitty and tough – I was also heartbroken at the time and the nights were the hardest – but there were good times too. Plus I’m proud I did it. The second time was by choice to Copenhagen and was amazing – I knew what to expect and booked into a hostel this time. I also booked an expensive trip without knowing if I would even be able to go but promised myself I would make it happen. Oh and let’s not forget the fact that I tried Burlesque too!

DID YOU KEEP YOUR NEW YEARS’ RESOLUTIONS, AND WILL YOU MAKE MORE FOR NEXT YEAR?
My resolutions were to be happy, be healthy, stay vegan and love more. I failed all of them, ha. 2018 was very much a year of healing but I’m in a really good place now. I don’t think I’ll be making any for next year other than generally just try and be happy and healthy, as usual.

DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU GIVE BIRTH?
No.

DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU DIE?
No.

WHAT PLACES DID YOU VISIT?
Berlin, Copenhagen, Porto. A weekend away in London too. Fun times.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE IN 2019 THAT YOU LACKED IN 2018?
I would like to do more travelling and save more money/get a better grip on my finances in general.

WHAT DATES FROM 2018 WILL REMAIN ETCHED IN YOUR MEMORY, AND WHY?
Oh gosh. I’ve got a good one and a bad one. I know it sounds horrible but I will always remember my ex dumping me for the second time in the most horrible way and just sitting in my car in Tesco car park crying and hyperventilating with it raining around me because my life had changed in an instant; I’d changed jobs and was in the middle of a move to a new city to be with him and all of a sudden that entire future was snatched away from me. That was a tough one and a total life changer. It was so, so sad but it will probably always remain in my memory to remind me that my ex was a total douche and that I will never go for a douchey guy again or let anyone treat me like that again when I am worth so much more. On a lighter note, I will remember all my travelling – probably the time I sat in a hostel in Copenhagen and genuinely felt that travelling is something I could do long term. And also Boomtown. And kissing a cute boy at Boomtown and realizing there is life after silly ex-boyfriends. Or the 31st of October (yes, Halloween!) where I had the best first date ever and has led to some really great things. Oh! And the day I became a Magazine Editor. I can’t believe I was able to become a Magazine Editor at the age of 28 – go me!

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT THIS YEAR?
Probably getting over that breakup and moving into my own flat – and actually managing to survive living alone.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
In one sense I’m tempted to say moving back home again but really, although I felt like a failure, it was the right thing to do – I couldn’t afford to live alone in the long run and it wasn’t the best place for me. Moving back home felt like a step backwards, but I’ve often said moving backwards can be blessings in disguise. I’m now saving money, I have a great job and I’m seeing someone really rather lovely – all thanks to moving back home. So maybe going back to my ex (never go back) or not saving enough money.

DID YOU SUFFER ILLNESS OR INJURY?
No, unless you count me having to visit the medical tent at Boomtown for a blister, haha! It was only because I couldn’t find anywhere selling plasters.

WHAT WAS THE BEST THING YOU BOUGHT?
All those plane tickets! And my Boomtown ticket.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | My year in review | Personal | Boomtown | Boomtown Fair | Music Festival

WHO’S BEHAVIOUR MERITED CELEBRATION?
Me! I am so proud of myself for pulling myself through the worst break up I’ve ever had. It got to a point where I really didn’t think I would get through it. Also my friends. Becky and Briony in particular. They were so supportive.

WHO’S BEHAVIOUR MADE YOU APPALLED AND DEPRESSED?
The boy who left me for another girl two weeks before we were due to move to a new city and start a new live together…but in the long run, I’ve ended up happier so y’know, blessings in disguise and all that. It’s almost not even worth wasting breath over anymore.

WHERE DID MOST OF YOUR MONEY GO?
Clothes, travel and that Wish app.

WHAT DID YOU GET REALLY EXCITED ABOUT?
Eh…my future. And future travels.

WHAT SONG WILL ALWAYS REMIND YOU OF 2018?
These Days by Rudimental & featuring Jess Glynne and Macklemore.

COMPARED TO THIS TIME LAST YEAR, ARE YOU:

a) happier or sadder? Just about happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. I have gone majorly overboard this Christmas!
c) richer or poorer? Poorer. I’ve been terrible with my money this year.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE MORE OF?
More travel, more kissing cute boys, more exercise haha.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE LESS OF?
Less crying and moping about. Jeez, honestly, I would have hated to be one of my friends, I was such an idiot!

HOW DID YOU SPEND CHRISTMAS?
At home.

DID YOU FALL IN LOVE IN 2018?
Not as of yet.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE TV PROGRAM?
The Haunting of Hill House. So good. Or I’ve just binge watched You in the space of a day – that show was so disturbing and thought-provoking.

DO YOU HATE ANYONE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HATE AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR?
I’m learning to let go of hate. I’ve just lost respect for people.

WHAT WAS THE BEST BOOK YOU READ?
Sarah Knight’s Get Your Sh*t Together.

WHAT MUSIC DID YOU GET EXCITED ABOUT?
The twenty one pilots’ comeback OBVS.

WHAT DID YOU WANT AND GET?
A nutribullet, new hair, wireless headphones.

WHAT DID YOU WANT AND NOT GET?
I think I got everything I wanted!

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE FILM OF THE YEAR?
Ummmm I finally got into the Crimes Against Grinwald movies and loved them both. I can’t believe how long it took me to jump on the bandwagon!

WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, AND HOW OLD WERE YOU?
I was 29 which means I am freakin’ THIRTY NEXT YEAR AND YES I AM FREAKIN THE F*CK OUT. I celebrated at home with a curry and the family, then went out with my friends to see a twenty one pilots tribute band, aha.

WHAT ONE THING WOULD HAVE MADE YOUR YEAR MORE SATISFYING?
Ummm I don’t know really. It was a very mixed year.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL FASHION CONCEPT IN 2018?
Lazy to smart casual and finally more sophisticated.

WHAT KEPT YOU SANE?
The same as always, my friends and music. Oh and the boy who drives all the way to my house just to give me a McFlurry when I’m upset.

WHICH CELEBRITY/PUBLIC FIGURE DID YOU FANCY THE MOST?
Sam Thompson and Tom Hardy.

WHAT POLITICAL ISSUE STIRRED YOU THE MOST?
Hmmm. I’m not even going to mention the dreaded B word.

WHO DID YOU MISS?
My mum.

WHO WAS THE BEST NEW PERSON YOU MET?
My wonderful work wife Nicki!

TELL US A VALUABLE LIFE LESSON YOU LEARNED IN 2018?
Life goes on. If you can’t change something (which often, you can’t), then it’s no use sitting around moping about it. Life bloody goes on.

QUOTE A SONG LYRIC THAT SUMS UP YOUR YEAR?
Probably the entirety of Post Malone’s Better Now. It’s actually creepy just how spot on it was.

So that was a glance at my 2018. Yes, the majority of it was doom and gloom, but I managed to come out the other side! I like doing these quizzes because even though parts might be sad, I think it’s important to show a glimpse of the writer behind the blog. I have bad days as much as everyone and don’t often write about them on the blog and likewise, I think we spend so much time perfecting our lives on Instagram or Facebook that it’s actually refreshing to own up to the bad sh*t too!

How was your 2018? Let me know!

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It sounds absurd to say now, but I thought my ex was the one. I was no holds barred crazy in love with my ex boyfriend and I can honestly say I’d never felt that way before. The relationship was unstable at times and we drove each other crazy, but even when he bailed on our future oh so many times, I still had a feeling deep down inside telling me that we had a future together. It was almost like I couldn’t ‘see’ that future, but had that ‘just knowing’ feeling that people talk about when they meet the one.

As it goes, my so called ‘one’ decided to break my heart and, possibly, leave me for another girl (not confirmed but assumed from the evidence I have seen online. Hey, social media stalking is totally normal after a break up). But this break up hit me hard. So hard that I cried in the toliets at a blog event just at the thought of my ex being on dating websites. So hard that one of my oldest friends proclaimed she was worried about me as she’d never seen me this cut up over a guy before (and she’d seen me get over a relationship that was even more unstable/up and down than this one!). So hard that I very nearly sold/gave up my expensive Boomtown Fair ticket just because I was scared I’d see him there with his new girlfriend.

Let’s look at the facts here though to really drive this home.

Formidable Joy | Personal | How a music festival helped me get over my break up | Love | Relationships

  • Boomtown Fair has an estimated 60,000 people attend/camp every year, so you can imagine how slim the chances of me bumping into him would have been. But I do have the worst luck with stuff like that and always bump into people I know/ex’s at music festivals.
  • My Boomtown ticket was something like nearly £300 altogether. I was willing to not only sell this but possibly even just give it up and not go and lose all that money.
  • I am a girl that says yes to everything! I love random adventures and quirky music festivals so the fact that I almost said no to this just because of bumping into him made me so sad.

It sounds silly now, but I couldn’t even comprehend what I would do if I saw him with the girl he supposedly left me for. Or any girl. Or even just him alone. I was petrified it would ruin my whole experience, that I’d run back to the tent and cry for hours on end or get horribly, horribly drunk and do god knows what.

As it goes, I manned up and just went in the end, only with the belief that I probably wouldn’t even see him. And, the promise from my friend that if she saw him, she’d simply march me away with no explanation. I actually thought I saw him in the distance at one time and I panicked so much that I ducked behind a chair! But it wasn’t him, luckily, haha.

It was probably the second night when I was however many drinks in, dancing like a loony to a random band with my best friend beside me when I realized, ‘oh, hold on, I can’t actually remember the last time I cried over him’. And then thought, actually I’m kind of okay. Actually, if he was here, I doubt he’d be doing the same thing as me and that I was having a really bloody good time and that suddenly I’d come to realize that our lives had gone into completely different directions..and I was kind of okay with that.

It took a few more instances to help that feeling stick. It took me kissing a cute boy (who I probably shouldn’t have kissed) and donning a mermaid crown. It involved me doing so many insane and crazy things that weekend. My ex would never have done those things with me; he wasn’t a fan of trying new things. And when it poured down with rain and we were stuck in our tent for a few hours, I still couldn’t be sad. I thought about how my ex was probably hating this festival right now because it was just so out there so for it to rain and be cold would have been horrible for him. He hated to travel too and deep down I want someone who likes to travel and likes to say yes to adventure and crazy out there things.

So even though the hurt of how he left me and how happy he is is yet to go away (not that I don’t want him to be happy, I just think its a little unfair how he can leave me for someone else in a horrible, horrible way and be happy in a new relationship with no remorse), I am okay.

Boomtown would have been fun with him. He didn’t like to try new things, but, with a push, he’d give things a go with my encouragement. It meant I would have had warm snuggles when sheltering from the rain and an endless supply of butterfly kisses when waiting in line. It meant I would have had someone to carry me over all the mud and someone to look after me when I drunk too much. It meant I could have added more amazing memories to our once amazing relationship and honestly? It meant he probably would have had a more amazing time with me then what he probably did in reality (I assume just getting drunk the whole time and partying, from what I’ve been told about the people he went with – I can’t imagine he took the time to explore or experience all the crazy and fun things that I did.)

Oh, and this isn’t a dig at him. Even though he hurt me, he was the most amazing person I ever met. I loved him so, so much and I’m so, so thankful for everything he did for me and all the great times we had together. I’ll probably always love him on some level, just, due to the way everything played out, I just don’t like him very much as a person right now. Love him still in someway, yes, probably. But not like. And I know you all know what I mean by that.

I am enjoying being single and the prospect of adventures when I like with whoever I like. I am okay with making my favourite vegan pizza for myself now and I think I am finally okay with accepting that I’ll never see my amazing extended Romanian family again (who I still miss so much). I am okay with accepting he is the type of person to jump from relationship to relationship when I simply am not and cannot. I am okay with the possibility that I may just bump into him one day in the future and that I can be civil and nice..although luckily I can’t see this ever happening..!

But hey. I had an even more amazing time without him and that’s why this festival helped me get over this break up. So if you’re ever struggling to get over a break up, spend an obscene amount of money on a festival ticket without even doubting how much money you’re spending. Get your best friends together, make yourself a pretty floral crown, go to that music festival and say yes to as many goddamn crazy, unique and out there things you can.

Because after that, you’ll never look back.

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Living alone is no easy feat.

Since moving into my own place, I have:

  • Taken half an hour to work out how to use the cooker (even with instructions from my brother)
  • Taken an hour to work out how to switch the fridge on
  • Cried, on average, at least once a day about how I miss my ex and wish he was still choosing to come with me
  • Spent more money on alcohol than actual food
  • Used a footrest to reach the fuse switch and used the step stool as a foot rest

And I’m still learning and adapting to living alone every single day. I still find it hard to believe that I finally have my own space. I have these moments of proudness – like when I set up the TV/internet all alone, or changed a whole bed set by myself (I have done this before, obviously, but this time it was extra hard because it’s a double and the quilt is so damn heavy). And in these moments I almost have to pinch myself.

How did I find the guts to do this alone?

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | How I found the guts to live alone

Well, truth be told, I didn’t. The moment I saw my brother’s flat for the first time, I fell in love with it. I thought how perfect it would be for me and how it was just the right size. The first time my ex and I visited the flat, I thought about how perfect it would be for us. But when my brother chose to move out, I just couldn’t find the guts to move in myself.

I was petrified – but also kind of excited – of the idea of living alone and was convinced I could never afford it. So when my ex and I got back together and agreed to have a fresh new start, it felt like all my problems had answers. I could finally have my own space – well, with him – and move out of home. I could finally get on with the next part of my life. I was slightly sad I’d never get the chance to live alone entirely – just because I’d always wanted to nail that down and prove that I could – but the idea of waking up to the person I love every morning made it all worth it.

We went up to the flat, one day, when he had an interview in the area. Afterwards, we grabbed a vegan pizza from a takeaway and ate it on the floor of the flat talking about our future. It was like all of those movies when couples move into flats and have no furniture. They sit on the floor and eat. The mattress is shoved in a corner on the floor, with piles of DVD’s around them. It was all so romantic. It felt so right.

So, of course, when we broke up again, I was devastated. The future we had planned was gone in an instant and my whole world came crashing and tumbling down. At 28 years old, I was so ready to move out of home and become more independent and the idea of that not happening just made me feel like I was moving backwards. I was so angry at my ex boyfriend for taking that away from me; for not only breaking my heart but for taking away an entire future. Not just his future and our future but my future too.

But as time went on, I turned that anger into determination. I’d already told my brother we were moving in, so the flat was still available. I’d already gotten a job nearby, which meant I could commute from my home or from the flat. I just didn’t know if I could do it alone.

So I forced myself to. I didn’t want him to take away my future too. I didn’t want to move backwards and put my life on hold just because of him. I didn’t want to miss such an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t going to let him ruin my future as well as his.

And so I did it.

It may have happened bit by bit, but in between nursing a broken heart and beginning an entire new career, I moved to a whole new town and into my own place. Without him. Not alone, entirely, as I had family to help me. But I was the one who unpacked. I was the one who did the first big shop (even if it did consist of mostly alcohol). I was the one who sorted out all the bills. Who set up the internet and TV. Who sat in that living room, moments after my dad had left, alone and petrified about this journey ahead.

But I did it.

And I guess if he hadn’t come back into my life – ever so briefly – I would have never had the guts.

So thanks, to him, I guess.

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Sometimes it’s just nice to make a list of happy things. It’s lovely to write, it’s lovely to look back on when you’re feeling down and it’s a great personal touch to any blog. So, to celebrate the fact that today is International Day Of Happiness, here is a list of just some things that make me happy.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | What makes me happy | International Day of Happiness

MUSIC | No matter what mood I’m in, music can cheer me right up. Some songs make me dance around like a lunatic. Some songs make me think of happy memories. Other songs I enjoy moshing to at gigs, and some I sing at the top of my voice when driving along.

LONG SUMMER EVENINGS | In summer, days seem to last forever because it gets dark so late. I love that moment in the day when it’s late afternoon – but it feels like much, much later – and you’re outside nursing a beer or spending time with friends. You can hear that summer sound – someone mowing their garden in the distance and maybe the low rumble of relaxing music somewhere else. You think the day is almost over but when you check the time you realize that you’ve still got hours before you even have to move a muscle.

CHILDHOOD MOVIES | Some all time favourites that never fail to cheer me up are The Mummy, Three Men and a Baby, Father Of The Bride, Look Who’s Talking, Ferngully, Hercules, Thumbelina…there are many more but stick any of these on and I guarantee you I’ll be right as rain.

MY BOYFRIEND | My boyfriend drives me crazy to the point that no other can. If I didn’t love him so much and know that it was all in good will, I would say it was on the verge of bullying because he just gets some sick kick out of annoying me! But, that being said, he makes me so happy as well. Whether that’s planning our summer adventures together or having a quick snuggle before work – there’s not one moment (for the most part) that he doesn’t make me happy. He can make me laugh so hard that I snort or cry tears of happiness and being that humour is such an important thing to me in a relationship, it works out pretty damn well for me.

AVOCADO | #Sorrynotsorry. I just love it. On toast. In guacamole. By itself. It’s just so damn good that I even want an avocado tattoo one day.

LAZY SUNDAY MORNINGS | On the rare occasion that I have a Sunday off work, I like to have breakfast in bed with a cuppa and catch up on New Girl and Made In Chelsea. I also read some blogs and genuinely stay in bed for as late as I like – hey, that’s what Sundays are for though!

MY FRIENDS & FAMILY | Obviously. I can always rely on them; my family look after me and look out for me in ways I couldn’t even imagine, and my friends are always on hand to cheer me up when I need it.

AMARETTO | This stuff is lethal because it’s so tasty that it makes you get drunk very easily, but it has been my drink of choice for many years now. I love it with coke…

A COLD BEER AT A GIG | ..but saying that, there really is nothing better than a cold beer at a gig. Heck, even a warm beer at a gig is okay. I can’t drink anything else when seeing live music (except maybe a jager bomb or two if I’m planning a wild night…)

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | What makes me happy | International Day of Happiness

THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE | One of the best parts of a big night out is conferring with your friends the next day. You discover what stupid sh*t you got up to drunk, they tell you things you forgot happened…and the drunken pictures. Oh the drunken pictures.

PARTY SAUSAGE ROLLS | They were always the sole reason I’d go to any most family parties when I was younger but now I even adore the Linda McCartney vegan ones. You just can’t go wrong with mini/party sausage rolls…

OFFBEAT INDIE MOVIES | Don’t get me wrong, I love popular blockbuster movies too, but I absolutely love stumbling across indie gems that I end up loving so much. In the past, I’ve discovered movies such as In Search of a Midnight Kiss, The Pill, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Like Crazy, A Long Way Down, Nesting and Obvious Child. Plus I guess finding these unique relatively unheard of films makes me feel really cultured..!

CUTE NOTEBOOKS | With pretty prints or inspiring slogans…I don’t have any use for half the notebooks I already own and yet I continue to buy them.

MY BLOG | It’s my baby…!

MY BED | Yep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into some things that make me happy: what would be on your list? Let me know!

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Please note, this post first appeared on World Nomads as my entry into their 2018 writing scholarship.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | The one thing no one tells you about travel

When I stepped off the airplane and onto the soil belonging to a cold and drizzly Berlin recently, I felt a mixture of things.

Anticipation. Fear. Excitement. Regret. Optism.

I wasn’t supposed to be on this trip alone. I’d booked the last minute deal for my on-again-off-again boyfriend at the time, hoping the ability to explore somewhat foreign lands would help him him fall in love with travel the way that I did and kickstart the recovery of his depression.

But at the last minute, he changed his mind. Facing Berlin alone was not something I had wanted, nor was it something I was looking forward to. But, travel is always an opportunity that is hard to say no to – alone or otherwise.

Whilst there, I discovered a new thrill of dining alone in quirky restaurants. The Dungeons were particularly fun – gruesome history is kinda my thing – and one of my favourite experiences was stocking up on snacks and hopping on a sightseeing bus tour. Whilst it rained outside, I snacked away, warm and content, listening to Berlin’s history.

At Topographie des Terrors, I had a reality check and realized that though my heart hurt and though I was sad over a boy, my problems were nothing compared to the horrors that had gone on throughout Germany’s history. My situation and my feelings seemed almost laughable in comparison.

My realisation that maybe with time I would be okay came the evening I arrived at Museum Island and gazed in awe at Berliner Dom. With the sun just beginning to set and creating the most stunning backdrop for such a beautiful building, I realized that getting here wasn’t so easy, but it had resulted in a moment of clarity and content. I took in the astonishing view and knew deep down that he could not take that away from me.

But as I let myself into an empty hotel room at the end of each day, I did not expect to feel such a strong pang of loneliness. The sharp but dull ache I felt in that moment made me realize that there are some things people don’t tell you about travel.

Travel opens your eyes to new cultures, new experiences and memories to last a lifetime. It’s one of the best things anyone can do in the short lives we have.

But it can get lonely too, especially when you’re faced with an empty hotel room for an entire evening in a foreign country, not quite knowing what to do with yourself. I know now how to take precautions to avoid feeling this way.

I knew I’d feel a lot of things during my visit to Berlin. The last thing I expected was to feel loneliness.

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