For about 2 days now I’ve been going back and forth, contemplating whether or not to publish this blog post, mainly because I am terrified of the feedback I might receive. In this blog post, I am basically baring my soul to each & every person who takes the time to read it. In a way, I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and experiences with you – but it scares me too, because I don’t know how you are going to feel about me (or my blog) after reading some of the things I have to say. All I ask for is that you keep an open mind, don’t judge me, and have faith that all will be okay in the end.
Before I properly get into the blog post, I think it’s best that I mention this is going to be a very personal blog post. If you are not a fan of personal blog posts or you prefer to only read about beauty products, then I suggest you give this one a skip. The only reason why I mention this, is because I received an email from a lady last year that took me by surprise, but I also understand why she sent it (we all have our likes and dislikes). I’ve always been a very open-minded person and I believe in freedom of speech, as long as it’s constructive. I won’t repeat everything that she said, but the gist of it was that she decided to unfollow me on my social media platforms because she doesn’t enjoy reading personal blog posts. This confused me a bit because in all 3 years of me blogging, I’ve only ever written 3 or 4 personal blog posts. Anyway, she said I am a beauty blogger and should focus on beauty reviews and lifestyle posts (if I would like to talk about personal things, I should rather create separate blog for that).
Needless to say, I replied and politely told her that I was a person way before I became a beauty blogger. As an individual I have feelings, experiences, opinions, and struggles – and I think most of my readers like it when I occasionally include personal blog posts, because they get to know me better. My readers get to know the actual person behind the blog, not just the blogger who blogs about beauty products.
I will definitely continue to write these personal blog posts every now & again. It is never my intention to depress anyone or ask for sympathy – on the contrary, I always try to uplift and motivate people. I think it’s sometimes easy to forget that the perfect Instagram photos, the edited selfies, and the tidy / spotless beauty room tours are not a true reflection of anyone’s real life. We all have bad hair days, days when our eyebrows look like second cousins instead of sisters, bad skin days, bloated tummies, and days when we walk around for at least 2 hours before someone points out that we have lipstick on our teeth. You know what I’m talking about, right? I always try to keep it as real as possible here on the blog, and most of you have seen me without a speck of makeup in at least one of my YouTube videos. We are all just human, and I like to remind myself and everyone else of that every now & again by posting a personal blog post.
Anyway, let’s get to the real reason why I am writing this blog post. Before we get swept up into the new and exciting start that 2016 brings I wanted to look back on 2015.
PERSONAL REFLECTIONS OF 2015
I think it’s safe to say that I am very happy to be leaving 2015 behind. There is absolutely no denying that it was a very tough year for me, both physically and mentally. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – 2015 sucked. A lot. But let’s start with the positive highlights first:
♥ I became Amelia’s godmother (she is definitely the most beautiful little human being I have ever met).
♥ I made new friends – blogging friends and even the virtual ones that I haven’t met in person (that’s YOU in case you were wondering).
Now, let’s get to the not-so-great things that happened during 2015:
The year started with me recovering from surgery, which was extremely painful – you can read all about it here. So that kind of set the tone for the year ahead. And this blog post explains how I felt for most of 2015, trying to elaborate on my feelings would be a waste, because the post sums it up perfectly.
I have Endometriosis…there, I said it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not ashamed of it, but I would much rather have nothing to do with this disease. Infertility and excruciating pelvic pain are the main symptoms of Endometriosis, and the worst part? There is no cure – there are short-term treatments, but no cure. Which means I will have to undergo the same surgery I had at the end of 2014 again, and again, and again. Having Endometriosis doesn’t mean that all women will become infertile (some women go on to have children) but I think it’s safe to say that having struggled to conceive for 3 years now, probably means that my chances are slim. I can go on the pill or hormone treatments, but it’s a vicious circle because the pill will keep me from falling pregnant and hormone treatments will only suppress the symptoms for a certain period of time. There is so much more I can say about this disease, but that’s not what this blog post is about.
As mentioned, Neal and I have been trying to conceive for quite some time now. We still haven’t been blessed with a little baby, and just thinking about it makes me cry. When I had the surgery a year ago, I had already reached Stage 4 Endometriosis but the op went well and all the growths were removed, even my appendix. The best chances of me falling pregnant were 1 to 6 months after the surgery. After month number 6, I started losing all hope, I spiralled into a very deep depression and eventually decided to take a time-out. Falling pregnant has been put on hold for the time being, until mid 2016 (I’m turning 33 on the 8th of February and I can’t help but feel time is running out).
I am someone who always needs to be in control (Type A personality), and it is extremely difficult for me to accept that *possible* infertility is something I have absolutely NO control over. Being able to conceive isn’t something you can study really hard for, or work super long hours for, or buy for a certain amount of money – it just doesn’t happen for some people unfortunately.
During July, August and September of last year, I went through the most difficult time of my life. I don’t want to go into detail, because it’s still a very sensitive subject for me. I was forced to deal with childhood demons – it was either that, or the alternative was much, much worse. Combine that with the fact that I was already going through a rough time with the whole ‘pregnancy issue’, let’s just say I was at an all-time low. I struggled to get out of bed in the mornings, I didn’t want to eat and I didn’t take care of myself. Being ‘happy’ isn’t something that comes naturally for me, and thinking back I now know that I have been clinically depressed since the age of 12. Possibly even before that, but I can remember a specific day in Grade 6 where I sat in the bathroom and wished that I just didn’t exist.
I have been working really hard these past 5 to 6 months to heal myself once and for all. Having to pick yourself up after a breakdown, is one of the most exhausting and challenging things one could ever go through in life; and I refuse to do it again. We all have our own special time when we are ready to deal with certain things in our lives – sometimes it takes us a week, or 4 months, or 10 years. There is no right or wrong time, but what’s important is that when that time comes, you do everything in your power to make it happen. I have been both at my weakest and strongest these past 6 months – I have had to do things that most people will never have to do in their lives. And I am proud of myself. Because right now, I am doing what is right for me.
I don’t want it to sound like I’m speaking in code, but I also don’t want to elaborate on everything I am dealing with right now. I have accepted that this road is going to be long, and it will be challenging but with the help of others I know that I have it in me to do what needs to be done, in order to help myself.
I am so blessed to have Neal in my life, he has truly been my rock through all of this. Neal, thank you for loving me when my mind was a mess.
BLOG ACHIEVEMENTS OF 2015
I would also like to focus on the amazing things that happened to me (i.e. the blog) during 2015:
My blog photography improved and I also worked on my own individual style of photos – I spent a lot of time researching lighting, camera settings, photography tips, lenses, etc. Did it pay off? I like to think so…
I am so grateful that I had the blog to keep me going throughout 2015, and I am so thankful for each and every single one of my loyal blog readers. I can’t tell you how much I love receiving tweets, encouraging comments, ‘likes’ and motivation from you – it is definitely the highlight of my day, every day.
Because of you and me = our combined efforts, Pink Peonies:
♥ Was featured in Your Family magazine – read about it here.
♥ Was featured in Finesse magazine – read about it here.
♥ Was featured in The Citizen newspaper.
♥ Was featured in a Red Square and Edgars electronic newsletter that reaches over 250 000 subscribers.
♥ Was Beauty South Africa’s first ‘Blogger Of The Month’ – read about it here.
♥ Was asked to host not one, but TWO beauty Q & As on the Clicks Facebook page.
♥ I was also flown down to Cape Town on a couple of occasions to attend makeup trend shows and beauty events.
2015 was definitely THE YEAR I was blessed to work with so many amazing brands – way too many to list in this blog post. And I am so excited to work with them again this year!
GOALS FOR 2016
I don’t do the whole ‘New Years Resolutions’ thing, because each year I have a tendency to break them before the month of January is over. I do, however, like to set myself some realistic goals to achieve throughout the year so I can stay on target as much as possible. Bear in mind: These are goals and if I don’t achieve all of them during 2016, I’ll be 100% okay with that.
♥ Stop being so hard on myself – I am my own worst critic, and that needs to stop. I think it’s because I am a perfectionist & I always want everything I do to be perfect. I need to accept that not everything will always be 100% impeccable, and that’s okay.
♥ Upgrade my DSLR camera (which is also the camera I film my YouTube videos with), I want to feel at the top of my blog / vlog game in 2016. Come hell or high water, I am going to research the heck out of photography and videography lighting. Here’s to even better snaps next year! *ching*
♥ Speaking of snaps (the photo kind, not the Snapchat kind), I want to go on a photography course this year.
♥ Speaking of courses, I also want to go on a barista and makeup course during 2016. Wild, right?
♥ Make more time to read more books. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a great book, especially when it takes your mind off all the stresses in your life.
♥ Try a few new hobbies – I recently bought myself a Happy Planner (I’m so in love) and I want to get into the whole daily planner planning thing… Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a look at this blog, and this blog, and this YouTube channel. Not only will this help me be more creative in a way other than beauty blogging, but it will also help me be a lot more organised. I’m also planning on designing my own planner stickers, like the ones you can buy on Etsy, mainly because shipping stickers to South Africa is so costly (even if you use AGS).
♥ Be more social online (engage more with fellow bloggers and my readers) but also know when it’s time to unplug, switch off, and be present in the now. Neal and I have made a rule in the house – no social media after 18h00 at night…and that goes for him too, since he is addicted to checking out mountain bikes, road bikes, fat bikes, and jump bikes on Instagram.
♥ Take one day off a week to relax with Neal, and pamper myself. Yep, I am a full-time blogger (and occasional vlogger) and trust me, it’s not a normal 8am to 5pm job. A lot of time and effort goes into creating the content that I put out. I have to work 6-day weeks, and long hours.
♥ Drink more water. That’s the only health / diet related goal I am setting for myself because I already eat relatively healthy. Except for the microwave butter popcorn, ice creams, and the odd Coke on weekends.
♥ Stop feeling bad about not being able to blog about every single PR sample that is sent to me. It’s impossible, and I’m sure most brands & PR understand that not all their products will be featured all the time.
♥ Start doing charity work again. I definitely want to get involved with charity projects during 2016 – I volunteered at Wet Nose Animal Rescue Center for quite some time a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. Being able to walk all the dogs that were cooped up in their cages was the best feeling in the world. And the dogs LOVED it! Unfortunately Wet Nose moved to Bronkhorstspruit, and it is a very long drive for me to get there now. I’m quite a shy person (especially when it comes to meeting new people), so working with animals has always been the best option for me.
♥ And a very personal goal is to be spontaneously happy, not consciously happy in 2016. I know it sounds weird, and it probably makes no sense to most of you…but it’s something I’m working on. I want to make it clear that I am NOT pretending to be someone I am not, by writing cheerful blog posts. Blogging is my happy place, it’s a place I go when I’m feeling overwhelmed and despondent. It’s therapeutic for me, it uplifts me, and I really do feel happier once I’ve published that special blog post that I know my readers will enjoy.
I really hope you don’t think any less of me after reading this blog post. If you got to this point in the post – well done! You made it through all that jibber-jabber without falling asleep. Here’s a virtual cupcake with lots of sprinkles.
Do you have any new goals for 2016?
P.S. My ‘Best Of Beauty’ series of blog posts will start tomorrow, I can’t wait to share my favourites with you!