2017 Best Bits

When I originally started planning this post I'd coined it as "2017 achievements" and I'd written a list of all the things I'd done this year and a list of goals for 2018.

But when I look back on 2017, it's not all the goals I think of. It's not the races I've run or the coursework I've completed, it's the little moments. Buying a house was a huge and exciting experience, but when I look back, it's not the "achievement" of buying a house I look back on and smile at, it's that first meal we had at our dining table, or the day we spent painting the bathroom. 

I'm not going to forget finishing my marketing diploma or buying a house or Phil proposing to me, but I might forget the actual best days and best moments of my year. Those days of warm, fuzzy happiness that you just want to bottle.

So instead of my top goals or top achievements or top successes, here are my favourite things that happened in 2017:

Buying a house

For us, buying a house was one of the hardest things we'd ever done. We had an offer accepted on a house last October and moved out of our flat in February and back in with my parents. We waited 6 months for approval on our mortgage which never happened. In the end, the company we were buying the house from wanted us to take more risks that we were prepared to take and we had to pull out.

But as fate would have it, the weekend after we decided to pull out of our house, we found our home, and everything was relatively plain sailing after that. We moved into our lovely little house in July and it's been amazing. After all the stress, even now I sometimes walk around going "this is our house!". 

It's definitely home for us, but I'm excited to see what we do in 2018. We've recently painted our bathroom after paint samples sat on the walls for 3 months and it was so much fun and really feels "ours" now (we weren't fans of the bright pink bathroom!), and this week we stripped all the textured wallpaper from our living room (a bloody tiring and painful job but so worth it!) so now we have a blank canvas to make it really "ours". I cannot wait to pick paint colours and buy a sofa and choose everything ourselves. It's really exciting!

Finishing my Diploma in Professional Marketing

On Wednesday 29th November I sent in my final piece of coursework for my Diploma in Professional Marketing. It's been a bloody long 14 months!

I started my diploma in October 2016 and it's been incredibly hard to work full time and study (it's the equivalent of a degree so it's not been easy!), along with all my other commitments and hobbies and you know, running a house. Some weeks I was getting home from work after a full day, making dinner and then working for three or four hours, and pretty much every weekend the two months before I had coursework or an exam was written off so I could revise or write coursework.

In April I took my first exam since I was 22, which was absolutely terrifying. I had a piece of coursework to finish first, and then revision for a three hour exam, which was completely overwhelming, and in June I found out I'd passed! Then I handed in my Digital Strategy coursework in at the end of June and found out I'd passed in September, and now I just have to wait til February to find out if I'd passed my final module and my diploma overall!

It's been incredibly, incredibly hard work and I had so many tears over this diploma. I've sacrificed so much of my time and there have been so many weekends when Phil has been out having fun (or ring shopping it now transpires!) and I've had to be inside working, but I've worked so so so hard that now I just hope it was all worth it!

We're engaged!

If you follow me on social media (seriously, I haven't shut up on Twitter and have plastered photos all over Instagram and Facebook), you'll know that on Boxing Day, Phil proposed and I said yes! It's still all kinds of surreal and exciting and I'm still a bit in shock!

He'd had the ring for a few weeks (he'd been telling me he was working late or going to his parents' when he was sneaking off to the ring man to choose my custom-made engagement ring!) and only decided at the last minute to ask me on Boxing Day. We got up and didn't have a plan for the day so we decided to go to Lyme Park, a beautiful National Trust park near us for a walk. And there in the gardens, there was a pretty little bridge over a stream with little waterfalls and as we walked onto the bridge, to my surprise, Phil pulled out a ring and went down on one knee and asked me to marry him!
I love that only my Dad knew he was going to do it on Boxing Day, so we could spend the day going round and telling our closest friends and family. Telling my Mum we were engaged was one of the best moments of my entire life. Everyone has been absolutely thrilled for us, which for me, has been one of the best bits. It's so wonderful when other people are so excited by your great news!
We have no plans to get married soon - especially given all the work we have to do on our living room - but I'm enjoying being engaged before worrying about the wedding we have to plan!

Phil's Birthday Trip to Berlin

In March, I surprised Phil with a trip to Berlin for his Birthday to stay with my friend, Kayleigh and her boyfriend, Alex, who live out there, and tickets to see Joshua Radin, his favourite singer.

When it comes to memories of this year, that concert is one of my absolute favourites. We were on the last minute because we queued for an hour and a half to get a famous kebab from Mustafa's and we got there just as the support were finishing.

It was a weird gig, everyone seated and completely silent. Nobody was shouting or singing along. It was incredible.

And I cried. Twice.

It was honestly one of the most incredible moments of the year - in Berlin, at this gorgeous concert with beautiful music and with my favourite person. It was amazing. 

100 parkruns

Who would have thought back in 2013 that I'd have run 100 parkruns? (It will actually be 120 after this weekend!). Phil celebrated his 50th run in February and I followed with my 100th in July. It was the best day. 

We went to Heaton Park because they have milestone vests so I could wear the 100 one and all day people were congratulating me as they ran past and they announced my name at the start. I absolutely love the parkrun family and this was such a special moment for me, as when I first started running my first big goal was to complete a parkrun. And now I've done it 120 times!

I can't wait to receive my tshirt next year when they have new stock in - only 130 more to go til my next tshirt!

Starting a newsletter

I got super passionate about my blog at the end of last year/early this year, but I think with the stress of my coursework it started to feel like a completely overwhelming task. I didn't have the time or the energy to write the posts I wanted to, but I still had that drive and inspiration to write.

So in July I decided on a whim to start a newsletter, and it was one of my best decisions this year.

I absolutely love reading newsletters - they feel so much more intimate than a blog post and there's something about the unexpected excitement of finding one in your inbox. And they feel more freeing - you can write about whatever you want without the need for a structure and pretty photos like a blog post.

I've been writing mine every week now for 6 months, and I absolutely love it. I no longer want to broadcast my intimate feelings over the internet, and my newsletter feels more like chatting to old friends. I can say what I want to say without knowing it's going to be public on the internet, and that's made me feel like I can be more open and vulnerable, which is something I've missed from blogging.

I do want to blog more in 2018, but right now my newsletter feels more of a priority than my blog and I'm okay with that. I like having my blog for my monthly life overviews and reviews and lists and posts like this, but I like having my newsletter for stream of consciousness nonsense that I can't articulate enough to make into a blog post.

Two more half marathons

This year I ran half marathons four and five with the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon in May and the Manchester Half Marathon in October.

I ran the Great Manchester Run sub 2 hours which I am absolutely thrilled about (it wasn't the easiest course and the last mile I was chasing the sub-2-hour pacer and was dying at the end!), but I found myself injured in June so the Manchester Half Marathon was a real challenge. I was injured throughout pretty much all of my training so I was thrilled to finish in 2 hours 5 minutes even though I was in a lot of pain! 

I've decided not to run another marathon for a while, but I'm excited for a half marathon or two in 2018!

Starting British Military Fitness

In June, out of nowhere, Phil asked if I fancied a free British Military Fitness one weekend and I was a few weeks off from starting training for my next half marathon so I said, sure, why not?

We've now been doing British Military Fitness at least once a week for the last 6 months, and I've recently started to go at least twice a week while I'm not half marathon training and I love it. I definitely want to write a full post on this because I never thought I'd be the kind of person who would go to a group fitness class but it's absolutely brilliant and while it's tiring, I always have a good time.

It's hard bloody work and as a morning exerciser, it can be hard to drag myself out of the house on a cold, dark Wednesday evening after a long day at work to go do burpees in a dark park but it's so much fun! I'm excited for more BMF in 2018!

Lots of reading

It's not fair to say "get back into reading" because I read 32 books in 2016, but this year I made a real effort to read every day and dedicate more time to reading, especially in the morning. When we moved out of our flat I lost my 45 minute commute each way so I've had to make more of an effort to read this year, and I've read some really brilliant books. 

I've been much more excited about books this year, thanks mostly to What Page Are You On? podcast and being involved in book conversations on Twitter and now I have a to-read list that's hitting 200 and it's so exciting! I've been much better this year at putting books down I'm not loving because I know I have hundreds more books to read.

Reading makes me feel amazing and I plan to make as much of an effort to read in 2018, and also ensure I buy more books from bookshops and second hand and not just from Amazon, and that I also treat myself to at least a book or two a month (if I can't get what I want from the library - library first always!) because buying books should never feel like something that makes me feel guilty. Also how exciting is going into a book shop and picking something that sounds really great?

I'm currently on 43 books this year so I'm going to set my goal to 40 for 2018.

Started bullet journalling

Another thing I really want to blog about next year is my bullet journalling. I started in March and I've just started my second journal (it's taking me a while to move everything over so I'm currently carrying two around!). I don't do "traditional" bullet journalling - I just do what I like and what works for me, and that's what I really like about it. 

I use my bullet journal to plan my week and my month, and for lists mostly, and I really love it. I don't do layouts or use colour or anything fancy (I do everything in pencil and it's super minimal) but it's something I'm really glad I started in 2017 and know I'll keep doing in 2018.

Yoga and meditation

With all the stresses of 2017, my mental health has taken a bit of a hit and one of my goals for 2018 is to keep trying different things and practice what works for me. I started doing yoga once a week at the end of 2016 and I've practiced most weeks this year and hope to carry on.

I've also very recently started to do a daily meditation which is something I really want to explore next year to see if I can make it part of my morning routine which I hope will help me to handle future stresses a little better!

Trips to Anfield

Phil and I are both massive Liverpool fans and thanks to getting club membership for both our Birthdays in March, we've been four times this year.

Highlight was 4-2 against Hoffenheim under the lights on a cold Wednesday night that got us into the Champion's League!

Concerts and musicals, past and future

In January, we were so lucky to get tickets to see Hamilton and I am absolutely buzzing with excitement for 29th March! I honestly want to cry every time I think about it.

This year we also saw La La Land with a live orchestra and I cried, so for Christmas I got Phil tickets for us to see Jaws with a live orchestra in April which I'm super excited about.

Other highlights of the year - finally getting to see Penn and Teller and a great night watching Jamiroquai.

Two of our favourite people getting married

In May two of our best friends got married and it was the best wedding we'd ever been to! Phil lived with Simon for two years and worked with Meg, and we've spent a lot of time with them and their friends, so we knew loads of people and it was just the best day! If our wedding is half as good as theirs I'll be thrilled!

Lovely holidays!

This year we have been lucky enough to eat our way around Berlin, climb up massive hills in the Lake District and have our yearly trips to Whitby and Spain. We're so grateful to have had some lovely relaxing breaks this year!

So for us, 2017 has been a whirlwind. I had no idea at the start of the year I'd finish it in a completely different house than we'd planned and engaged, but it's been a truly amazing and wonderful year for us.

I don't expect 2018 to be quite so eventful but I'm looking forward to seeing what it brings!

Hope you've had an amazing 2017!
Charlotte x


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