2019: Year in Review

taj-mahal-smiles

Oh blog, where do I begin? I can’t believe it’s this time again already. I just looked back at 2018’s ‘Year In Review’ and that was truly a HUGE year. I think that’s why this year in comparison, hasn’t felt as exciting.

Whilst there we some definite highlights *cough cough India*, I feel like I haven’t done much else. I wrote down some goals at the top of the year, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve lost them. So in a sense, whilst I know the things that I want, I don’t even know if I really made any progress in the areas I hoped as the year started.

This year, I’ll pop down what I’m working towards here so I can’t lose it. This is exactly what this blog was started for after all, writing down my memoirs somewhere I couldn’t lose them. Without further ado, let’s see what I got up to this year.

January

I started off the year mini golfing according to my camera roll, which I loved. I joined the gym and started meal prepping lunches which I became evermore obsessed with as the year went on.

mega meal prep session!

I didn’t celebrate my birthday with yoga on the beach this year, and was very much at work before dinner with a friend. I now vow, before all people on the interwebs, to to never ever again be at work on my birthday. No email will ever be sent again by me on January 17th unless it’s to a Italian winery querying if the vineyard is a left turn at the third apple tree or the seventh.

I saw Aladdin finally, which was sadly quite underwhelming to me. I was dating as the year started, but those prospects fizzled out as the year went on. I started getting into the kitchen more, cooking up meals from Thailand, and new things I’d always wanted to try. I started making time for culinary explorations this month.

a recipe from Pum’s Thai Cooking Book

February

I saw the Receipts live at Bush Theatre. I was at a point of true comfort with myself, I was so content and bold, that I stood up on stage to say what I literally don’t know. I will lament more about the moment here.

The next day I jetted off to Jamaica solo to meet up with my mum and aunt who was out there on sabbatical. I’d made this trip several times, but never alone before, so I was strangely nervous. This trip marked my first time in Negril at an all-inclusive – The Riu. Needless to say I loved it. Later in the trip at an Airbnb in St Anne, I lived in the hills and made three new friends.

Before long, it was back to work – and I was making such a concerted effort at the start of the year to ‘get out there’ and ‘do more’. As such, I went to my first ‘Sip and Paint’ event solo, and even tried speed dating! One was more fruitful than the other. I’ll let you guess which. I also started a modest property hunt in February. Weekends throughout the year got gobbled up by trips to Gravesend, Chatham and Rochester to look at places explore if they were areas I could potentially live.

March

I was all about work work work. I think I lived, breathed and slept work. How could I be better, how could I do more, how could I add value? You maybe could have called me a woman possessed. Weekends were a rest bite and this month I headed to Sheffield to see my old pal Rebecca who I hadn’t seen since I helped her pack up her flat in Maastricht back in June 2017. It was a lovely weekend of catching up and seeing the new life she’d built for herself.

I started experimenting even more with new recipes and makeup. I grooved to Motown and went to an adult games night. I got an old banger, and officially started driving! Not very long distances mind; just around the block to start with, to build up my confidence.

I got obsessed with falafels and made them pretty much non-stop throughout the summer

April

Saw my long time love, Shawn Mendes at The O2, which was fabulous.  I gave blood for the first time, and ate fancy Mexican food on an extremely hot April day at Ella Canta.

I tried out for the West End Musical Choir (I actually forgot about that one) and realised I actually don’t know as many musicals as I thought! But I found out about some cool spots, like Overtures, that I visited later in the year.

May

I met up with my lovely friend Georgi in Bath. My first time seeing her in years. We fell in love with Bath and each other all other again. It was such a picturesque weekend, we visited the Roman Baths and frolicked. I had my first meal at the Ivy and became the fancy lady I never thought I’d be. At the foot of the month I went back, and this time took my grandma for her 75th birthday.

June

June marked my first trip to Manchester. Here I stayed with my great gal pal Nike, and reunited with uni friend Ellie and writing accountability partner Louise. I had my first Jollof rice (incredible!) and saw the one woman show, ‘Yvette’, which was captivating.

The following weekend I headed back to Maastricht for the first time since I left, with completely the wrong suitcase for the weather. I hooked up with old and new friends, celebrated Mareike’s departure and had an extreme makeover – ‘twas an eventful weekend: BAB’s burritos, Pete’s Pub, CAC, Beez and wall to wall sunshine – SO good.  

I started planning my trip to India with Miwa for Elodie’s wedding when I got back – in earnest. There were a million choices to make; where we wanted to go, where we wanted to stay…and when there is planning to be done – Miwa comes in first place every time.

July

In July, I started working on Elodie’s wedding guide and gift, getting back to my drawing roots on my iPad that I’d gifted myself in June.

I really enjoyed the UK summer which was quite glorious this year. Long lunch break walks along the River Thames was my modus operandi. Each day picking a new podcast or audiobook, taking a new direction, and just walking. It was a blissful break sandwiched between hours of brainstorming, crafting and creating in the office.

At the foot of this month, I had my first (and hopefully only) car incident which was a definite low of the year. With India around the corner, and hopes to move out to my own place, it was a real spanner in the works, and evoked a lot of stress in me. In the weeks surrounding this my mood was: ‘constantly overwhelmed’.

August

As August kicked off, I gave blood for the second time, and saw, ‘Tree’ with Charli. Starring man of dreams, Alfred Enoch, the play was immersive, and somewhat redemptive. Years ago I saw this handsome man at a play, in which we were both in the audience. Just before the lights went down for the show to begin, I saw him come in and sit down across the room. I couldn’t believe it then, and spent pauses in the show, swivelling my neck to check if it really was him. This was circa season 1 of ‘How to Get Away with Murder’.

After the show, he was mobbed outside by people wanting pictures and autographs. Me, being on my own, and also, an absolute wimp, I wasn’t brave enough to approach and ask for anything. I guess a part of my mind thought I was being courteous, after all, he wasn’t even in the show, he had just come to see it with a friend. Long story short, I didn’t say anything and berated myself internally for the rest of the day and several years since. Uncharacteristically, I even tweeted this:

had to scroll for soooo long to find this!

Years later I made good, I said ‘hello’ and even got a photo and feel somewhat vindicated. Look how cute we are together! Albeit very blurry due to the low lighting.

I shall hold this distorted pixels near to my heart forever more

Throughout this month I was making a definite effort to eat healthier smaller portions, and gyming as much as possible to prepare my belly for all the exposure it was due to receive in India.

Then before I knew it, it was time. Time for INDIA!!! I have ALWAYS, and I mean always wanted to wear a saree, and dreamed of attending an Indian wedding. This year I did both, at the same time no less, and took a bjaillion photos! Which I’ve written all about here. I’m a little behind due to having to slow down because of my hand difficulties at the tail end of this year, but I look forward to finish writing up tales of the trip in 2020.

September

I came back from India dedicated to revitalising my blog and online presence. I often come back from holidays with this revitalized zeal for life and all that it is. Do you get that? I want to do everything and be everything I ever wanted. Then eventually the hum drum of routine beats it out of me.

This time round though and got stuck right into Lightroom and my insta feed was starting to look pretty darn curated. I was on the longest weekly blogging streak perhaps since I started She’s Up and Away. I had a content schedule and was sticking to it. I was full of ideas that I couldn’t get down on paper fast enough.

I went back to the theatre for sugar, butter and flour, and got back in the gym. Whatever I had lost before I went to India, I had put 100% back on, and then some. Curry is life.

prepping my gravy for chicken curry

I reconnected with an old friend at the hospital club, and attended my first awards ceremony – The Moneyfacts Investment Life & Pensions Awards for work. We didn’t win anything, but it was a pretty cool night.

I had my first feature on ‘With Love, Raquel’ which felt awesome, and I got my first reblogs. In the grand scheme of things, these were just drops in the water, but to me they were giant tidal waves of signs that I was doing something right in the online realm and gaining some traction.

This came drastically to a halt when this happened, and I had to slow down. Like completely. I stopped instagramming, stopped blogging, and put a pause on using my right and dominant hand wherever possible.

October

This hault continued throughout October and was quite a low point for me. Everything I enjoyed doing; my work, blogging, crafting, everything – involves my hands, and sitting at a computer. So having to reduce my time in these areas was difficult, and sobering.

But slow down, I did.

My need to do something and nurture had me buying plants. I bought one, then another and another, and no lie, I became slightly obsessed with being a ‘plant mom’ and also DIY interior makeovers. This girl led me down a YouTube rabbit hole I’m still trying to get out of.  

I went to Overtures, which I first heard about at the West End Musical Choir which was a blast! Ate cheese in a formal setting and saw how the other half work at two beautiful WeWork offices.

I found my dream flat, and lost it, as a result declaring myself officially out of the flat hunting game. I got transported back to the good ‘ole Nashville days at the Royal Albert Hall, and took on some freelance work that challenged every part of me.

November

At its most intense, I was written off work, which was the most surreal experience. In this time, I could do nothing, but rest. My urge was to write, to draw, to do yoga even – but I couldn’t do any of those things.

The majority of the time was spent lying down, hand in brace, watching telly, which don’t get me wrong – was not bad! That is my dream state. But still, there was an air of melancholy to the time.

Once I was back at work, just before December began, it was the Christmas rush. Trying to get things done, and wrapped up before the business population started ebbing in and out on their Christmas breaks.

December

My English Literature girls and I reflected on a decade of friendship at Death of a Salesman., and the festive season was upon me. There were Christmas lunches, upon Christmas lunches although as I was working through Christmas, I didn’t feel all that christmassey this year.

I attended a couple of friendmas’s which was super fun, and then had a small family Christmas on the big day in which I ate and slept, and didn’t do much else to be very honest. A lingering tickle in the back of my throat turned into a whole cold in the later twenties of the month that added more fuel to my fire of not wanting to go out for NYE.

I started 2018 sick, and that was a great year so perhaps this is a bit of an good luck charm.

As I write and reflect, I see that 2019 was a lot more eventful than I recalled, but clearly with some lows that overshadowed the highs. Subsequently I decided, that 2020 is going to be an excellent year. I have also told many loved ones that 2020 will be our collective #BestYearYet. It’s a hashtag so of course, it must be true. I talk a little more about it here, and I for one am very excited. Do you buy it? Are you joining me?

Looking forward to that ‘Year in Review’ already, I think it’s going to be a doozy!

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Charlotte Gray
Charlotte Gray

Thanks for spending some time Up and Away with me!

I’m writing here to keep track of not only my travels to new places, but also my daily journeys through learning, loving and life.

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