I wrote a little in my Farewell, 2017 post about the years preceding my becoming a mother in which I was somewhat directionless and purposeless. Catching on to a new idea every time one popped into my head in case it was the one that would finally give me what I was looking for. The New Year was a time for me to dream big, make lofty goals and try to change my life. I kept thinking I needed to add more, and failed to realise that what I needed more than anything was space. I needed to slow down, quiet down and listen to the voice inside my own head and heart. Figure out what it was that I wanted and needed, instead of running in the fruitless pursuit of trying to catch up with people that had followed a linear, traditional career path. I wasn't getting closer to them, I was just burning out. It wasn't until I had a baby in the beginning of 2016 that I really understood what it takes to change your life. I understood that it begins with a shift in your mindset, because a change in thinking is the only thing that will change your doing. You can’t run someone else’s race, trying to keep up just for the sake of it and reach an end point that you haven’t given any real thought to whether that’s where you want to finish up anyway.
It might seem strange to you that new motherhood could be the thing that helps you achieve more with your time, especially because you have so much less of that time than before. A new baby offers you very little leeway in your daily activities, they demand so much from you and so often that in the early days at least you might only be afforded 30-60 minute slots in a 24 hour period where you aren't responding to their needs. Breastfeeding, napping changing, rocking…and repeat. Sounds intense? Well, it is. A new baby stops you from adding more of anything, and forces you to cut back on everything that isn't essential to your life. Some days it's just about survival. Cutting back teaches you about all the things you can live without, and you begin to understand what are your needs and wants away from the noise of what are everyone else's needs and wants.
This cutting back didn’t come easily to me, and I fought and fought against it for the whole of my first year of motherhood until I couldn’t fight any more. Last January, after spending 2016 trying to do so many things alongside having a small baby that I ended the year with a bad flu and Noro Virus, I dug deep and pledged to make 2017 my year of priorities. To be selective, and to fill my time with only what was essential. That pledge served me well last year, and I managed to build the foundations of a freelance photography business, continue raising my child and staving off almost all illness. For the first time in a long time it felt like I was getting somewhere, and without needing to be busy all the time.
This year, I am not having my first baby or going freelance for the first time. It's a chance to build on the foundations and move gently forward in my personal life and in my work. I want to grow them as much as I can, while making sure there is intention behind everything I do. I want my actions to have impact, add value and all work together to move me steadily towards my goals. I like to think of it as if I am in a swimming pool, each year improving my strength and honing my style so that every stroke I make gets me nearer to the other side. So that I enjoy the act of swimming more, instead of using all my energy to flail around in the water so I don't drown. If 2017 was the year I learnt to swim, then 2018 will be the year I put everything I learnt into practice.
Some useful links and thing I've read to help me with my intentions for 2018:
These are the ares of my life that I am focusing on growing with intention this year:
Finding a better balance between work and motherhood
It's no secret that it's hard to make both these things fit, especially without childcare. Two years trying has taught me that I can't grow my business without some help, and so the time has come for me to look at my options. I don't need much, but I think a little more time and space for myself, plus some distance between Rory and I would be good and healthy for both of us. I am proud of and grateful for the two years I have spent raising my daughter, navigating all those milestones together and forming a strong bond that I hope will serve us well through the rest of our lives together. I am struggling now, to feel present in my work or during my time with her, and that's something I am looking forward to changing once we relocate to a new town.
Moving house, and transforming it into our family home.
It's been a long process so far, but with any luck we are nearing the end of the selling and buying. Our plans have changed somewhat along the way, but we currently have an offer accepted on a house in the Hertfordshire town of Hitchin. We will be moving from our three bedroom flat to a five bedroom house with a sizeable garden, and I can't wait. It's a beautiful house, but the current owners have removed or covered up many of the original features that we love and want to put back in. I'm excited to make it our own and transform each room, and host some great parties too. It's the perfect space for parties!
Relocating from the city, and taking advantage of all that it offers.
If you'd told me a year ago that we would be leaving the city in 2018, I don't think I would have believed you. That move was further ahead in our plans, not something we considered doing for another five years. Hitchin is a reasonable sized town, where we can walk to shops and cafes and restaurants and the train station, but where we are a very short drive from some beautiful countryside. Living in a smaller town will mean I am a closer walk from everything I need, whereas in London it takes me at least 20-30 minutes to walk to amenities that will now be within 5-10 minutes. I want to make an effort to meet new people, engage in the local community, take part in leisure activities and learn to drive so I can take advantage of the countryside.
Growing Bless the Weather, as a photography business and a blog
I still haven't mapped this out fully yet, but I want to grow my business, reach more people, produce better work, increase my income and really push myself to create more. Build on what I've done in my first year of freelancing and work towards a sustainable, successful business that inspires people and creates a community around it. I'm excited for this year, but still have a lot of thought to devote to how I am going to grow my business with intention. As a freelancer, It's so easy to get overwhelmed with workload, or stressed when everything goes quiet. Clear goals and intentions will help me see what needs to be done.