The year in review

It’s been a really big year for me. Sitting here in the last days of it I’m wondering if perhaps it’s been a little too big as I’m tired and not filled with as much excitement for the new year as I usually am. It’s been a year of accomplishments, each spurring me on to the next, the momentum keeping me going until I landed back in London, the place I left nearly eight years ago. I’ve been living here for two months now and while I started on a high the last few weeks I’ve been honouring my need to retreat — there’s been a lot of inner and outer unravelling going on, much of it taking me back to my most tender places. This year was so mapped out it feels odd to be facing a new year with no concrete plans in place; rather than let 2013 be a fallow year, I’m plotting my next escapades, while also being aware of how down time and space is essential to my sanity. There are places I want to visit, a new course to unveil, a retreat to teach and two new books to plan for…. but first, a look at what went down in 2012:

… in February Jen, Amanda and I led a week-long Polaroid retreat in Marrakesh

…. the same month I launched a brand new course

… in April my favourite person in the whole world turned two! [photo above by his mummy]

… in the spring I dipped my toe in the dating pool

… and I started taking driving lessons, again

… in May our book, Instant Love, was published (it’s already gone to a second printing)

… and in June my own book, This I Know, hit the shelves

… in July I did a freakin’ 4-week book tour across North America with just a carry-on!

… I also cried in front of a Picasso

… I began writing monthly magazine columns for The Simple Things and Somerset Life

… in August I watched my beautiful little sister get married

… in October I explored painting with Flora on a hillside in Italy and taught Photo Meditations in North Carolina

… and if all that wasn’t enough, a week after getting back from the States I moved back to London


Fave books of the year: Dying to be Me | This I Know (obviously) | all of these

Fave music of the year: Bat for Lashes | School of Seven Bells | Ben Howard | Of Monsters and Men

Fave moment of the year: Getting chatted up by a devilishly handsome man at the top of the Rockefeller Center

Disappointment of the year: Stress = I started smoking again

Physical accomplishment of the year: I started exercising and lost 15 pounds

Fave sound of the year: everything that Noah says: ‘Let’s make some cooking, Susie’ | ‘Skipbits’ instead of biscuits | ‘cuggle’ means cuddle | ‘I luz you, Susie’ | ‘Father Crispie’ for Father Christmas

Fave posts of the year: How to make dreams come true | My ABC of important things | The rug seller’s portrait | Sometimes | Always wear your invisible crown | Ode to a life a do not yet have | How to write a book | This I (don’t) know | Following my heart | We all have to start somewhere | The universe doesn’t mess around | The permission slip | The fire of change | On clarity, crapness and tiny flames

Fave blog readers of the year: all of YOU. Seriously, none of this would be possible without your support, understanding and kindness. I’ve received some of the most humbling emails from blog and book readers alike this year, and every time it renews my commitment to keep doing what I’m doing — putting my story out there so others feel less alone. So thank you so much for visiting me here in my online home — you rock my world xxx

Other years in review: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009


If you’re in need of a tool to help you look back over this year and plan for the next, you can download my Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook over here

Movember madness

The mustachio’d dude holding my nephew in the photo above is not a 70s porn star, but is, in fact, Noah’s dad, Steve. The ‘tache looks kinda natural on him, huh? Steve’s been raising money for Movember and, frankly, has been having a whale of a time. Never one to shy away from a challenge — especially if it involves comedy facal hair — Steve actually went to Boots last weekend and bought Just for Men beard dye to make his mustache even more awesome (if that is even possible). I watched the metamorphosis as it happened. It was thrilling, let me tell you.

I wanted to support the efforts of my mo-bro-in-law because he’s such a great dad to Noah, a passable husband to my sister (only kidding!), and an all-round diamond geezer, so if you don’t currently have a mo bro in your life and fancied supporting Steve’s tache-tastic journey, his Movember page is over here. Every penny helps :)

Love you, mo bro xo

What happens on tour stays on tour*

I took these two Polaroids on the drive down to LA from Santa Barbara. Lisa took us the scenic route, pulling over to dip our toes in the ocean and sit on a rock, watching the seagulls. That night I was doing my second book event at Marisa’s house and the closer we got to the city the more nervous I felt. Those nerves never went away. I did seven events in total and each one had its own flavour and charm. It was such a joy to meet everyone who came along, many of whom had taken my classes. Some drove over three hours just to be there. Once everyone had gathered I read a couple of passages from the book then opened it up to questions and answers before sitting with each person to sign their book and chat. This was always my favourite part of the night: looking into the eyes of each person in turn and hearing their story. What blew me away again and again was how helpful others found the book. You can’t help worrying that no one will connect to your words when you’re sitting alone writing it. So to be out in the wild, listening to tales of connection, understanding, comfort and validation was an incredible gift. Each person had something to share with me: an affirmation, a story, a question, a confession. There were tears from some, and fierce hugs from others. Some sweet souls were shaking when they sat down with me, something that tickled me so much. “Don’t worry, it’s just me,” I’d say as they stumbled over their words. And really, it was just me: the shy girl who grew up and survived a fire. Who was amazed that anyone would want to come and talk to her.

Writing a book doesn’t make me any more special than any of the women I sat with at the events. Each person had a tale to tell, and each of those tales is important. We can learn so much from each other and if nothing else I hope that my book (and actually, this blog) encourages people to open up and share their story. To be real and honest about their life so others feel less alone. So WE feel less alone. There is so much collective wisdom out there, it really is a gift to be living in a time when we can share with each other as easily as we can. Blogs… books… courses… social media. I see tribes forming online and marvel at how much support and love there is out there. So to get a taste of that in real life while on the tour was off the charts amazing.

At the end of each event I was exhausted to the point of shaking on some nights. I would make sure I ate beforehand and didn’t touch a drop of wine all evening, but still I was completely wiped out by the time the last person left. As I planned the tour back in the UK I’d worried that my introverted soul would be sucked dry by the time I got home, and I was certainly battling exhaustion as I went from city to city. Some people would be energised by the experience of meeting so many people — and I was definitely charged up at each event — but I also needed the downtime afterwards. I needed to recharge and replenish so i was able to give my absolute attention to each person I spoke to. Because I wanted to make sure I spoke to every single person who came to see me (which is why all the events ran over time :) It was my gift to each person — proper time to sit together and talk. To be present with them. To hear them. To see them. And I think I managed it.

The entire tour was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I loved the travelling, the cities, the deepened friendships, the people I met, the wisdom found, the unrelenting a-has, and the gift of every person who sat with me and shared their heart. Hell, I even didn’t mind the flying (yay carry-ons!). From an energy-level it’s not something I could do very often, but if i publish a book every two years then I should be okay. Because I definitely want to do it again. Oh hells, yes I do.

Big squishy love and gratitude to the souls who helped me make the tour happen: Kelly Rae, Marisa, Lisa, Kristen, Mati Rose, Alex, Denise, Amanda, Holly, Jamie, Tanya, Susan, Elizabeth and Monica. You women rock my world! xo

* not really.