This year has felt about 6 years long. So much has happened, both close to home and all over the world and I’ll be honest, I’ll be happy to see the back of 2016. But for every awful thing that happened this year, there are lots of happy things to commemorate and celebrate. So here is my 2016 in review!
In February, we went to Amsterdam for the first time and I fell in love with the place. It’s so pretty, chilled and friendly. I ate a lot of delicious gluten free food, we wandered for miles every day and we finished off the trip by watching one of our favourite bands – City and Colour – at the Paradiso which is an institution. It was such a wonderful trip: you can read more about it HERE. For my birthday we went to visit my parents in the south of France before getting the train up to Paris to meet our friends Tom and Jen for an incredible weekend of sightseeing, eating and nattering. I vlogged the trip (my first ever, so be kind!) HERE. I had a few UK city breaks as well: Brighton with Tom and Jen (on probably the most blustery day of the year!) where they introduced us to the vegan delights of the town. And I went to Brighton again later in the year with Mikhila which featured a LOT of karaoke. We vlogged the trip HERE if you want to witness our ‘singing’! A trip to Edinburgh with my husband and in-laws included my first ever proper rugby match. We saw Scotland vs Australia which was a nail-biting and ridiculously fun experience. We also watched my cousin-in-law performing in the Remembrance Day parade which was wonderful but very emotional. A definite travel highlight was my first press trip with one of my all-time favourite brands, Avène (if I had £1 for every time I’ve recommended people their products I would be set for life!) We went to Avène to visit their hydrotherapy centre and learn all about the brand. I wrote about the trip HERE.
And that segues nicely into the ‘blog’ section of my 2016 In Review! This year has been a bizarre one for my blog: I quit my job last December as it was making me ill and unhappy. I threw myself into blogging and, on the whole, I loved it. I feel prouder of my content, photography and impact than I’ve ever been. Allow me a moment of tooting my own horn here. In 2016 I have: worked with some amazing brands; had my photo taken by flipping RANKIN for the Essie campaign; won a 30 Plus blog award (I am still not over this!); got ‘Highly Commended’ in two other 30 Plus blog awards; was nominated for a UKBA2017 award; featured in a shed load of media outlets including Blogosphere; went viral on Buzzfeed for my rosacea article (which has been read over 600,000 times!); featured in an advert for La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane range; started a really fun instagram series called #UnwearableLex which I plan to expand on in 2017 – watch this space! I was featured in Woman magazine and actually saw a lady reading my article on a train which was totally surreal. I also worked on a ridiculously exciting project that I’m not allowed to talk about yet (sorry, I hate it when bloggers do that!) but all will hopefully become clear in January! Last but not least, I hit the majority of my targets for the year for followers, views and engagement which is incredible.
It’s important for me to write these down because, as a freelancer who often doesn’t leave the house for five days, I really miss certain aspects of my office job. I miss having colleagues, the office nattering and lunch breaks, but most of all I think I miss getting feedback on my work. The only form of feedback I get on my blog is comments, likes and shares which is a strange thing to rely on to show you that you’re going in the right direction! Especially when the internet is full of terrible people who take pleasure in being cruel. If you follow me on social media, you will know that I had a run in with the delightful Daily Mail readers after an article about me was published on their website. I didn’t read the comments (but others did and summarised them) to save my sanity, but unfortunately the trolls sought me out on Facebook, Twitter and instagram to abuse me. I had a tough few days where I felt so low and wondered why the hell I was putting myself out there just to expose myself to this kind of nastiness. I had some moments of ‘is this worth it? Am I strong enough? Are the pros outweighing the cons?’ The lovely comments and support from my followers, brands and friends helped enormously and became my focus. I tried look at the positives that came from that article: I received hundreds of emails, comments and new followers who all felt less alone and more hopeful after reading my blog. Putting my face out there is scary and sometimes upsetting but as long as it helps people, I’m going to keep doing it. I just need to develop a thicker skin – any tips on how to do that are gratefully received!
Yesterday the Daily Mail published an article about my rosacea (a version has also appeared in the Mirror and the Sun). 👍The positives: a huge spike in traffic to my blog along with *so* many emails and new followers sharing their story, asking for advice, and telling me how comforting it is to find someone talking openly about how horrible rosacea can be. 👎Negatives: the comment section of the DM is a nasty and heartless place. I am not strong enough to read them myself so @lbqblog and @technicallyron summarised for me. People are thoughtless and unkind, even when reading about someone's struggles with a crippling and incurable skin condition. 👀 This video shows the rosacea flare up that happened last night as a result of the article and accompanying stress. It was the worst flare up I've had in a year and I went to bed feeling utterly miserable. I'm still feeling pretty down today – I'm trying so hard to focus on the people I help rather than the hateful ones, but it's hard when you already feel so self conscious about your appearance. Thank you to everyone who said nice things to me last night – you helped more than you can know. #perfectlyme 🖐EDIT🖐 – I've had a few questions/comments so here are some clarifications. I didn't pitch the DM and I didn't approve their version of the article. I did a 3rd party interview which was then offered to every newspaper/magazine going. The DM focused on the gluten aspect as it's a buzzword and works well as clickbait. I have never said removing gluten 'cured' my rosacea. I removed gluten from my diet as I'm intolerant and the impact on my skin was just a nice bonus. If you read my blog you'll know I recommend various lifestyle, diet and skincare changes to help you gain control of your rosacea. There is no silver bullet cure. Thank you again to all the people who've offered support and hello to new followers. I promise my Instagram isn't usually this full of drama llamas 🐪 (why no llama emoji?)
I don’t want to end this 2016 In Review on a negative so I’ll throw in some other happy things that happened this year: We moved house and our new flat is flipping AMAZING, I still have to pinch myself that we live there. Plus, Bex lives one floor below us so it’s even more fun. My husband got a promotion, won a Lovie award, and is currently working on two secret-squirrel projects that I’m dying to tell you about but I’m sworn to secrecy. He is so hardworking and I could not be more proud of him.
I reached breaking point with my diet issues and was put on the FODMAP diet which has resulted in some huge lifestyle changes but I’ve never felt and looked healthier. Plus, I think this is linked to the improvement in my rosacea which is a lot calmer and more manageable day-to-day. And finally a special mention to some wonderful blog friends this year, especially Hayley, Kirsty, Bex and Mikhila. They have all been so supportive, given me advice, listened to me rant, and inspired me to be a better blogger. Cheesy but true.
What have been your highlights and lowlights of the year? Tell me what your most proud of, what you’ve achieved, what you hope to do next year. The comments are all yours!
Goodbye 2016, I won’t miss you. 2017 – let’s do this!