Before I had even considered blogging, every year I set aside a few hours to think about the year that is coming to an end and look ahead at the next one. Usually I write my thoughts in my journal, which I will still do later this afternoon. But I also wanted to share some of the best experiences, books and beauty finds in one post. I hope you enjoy it!
BEAUTY: BACK TO BASICS
Seeing as Sunshine & Glow started by being mostly beauty focussed, this seems like a good place to start. Overall this has been a year of downsizing and going down a less is more attitude about everything, and beauty has been no exception. I have probably used less than ever, but there is one stand out product that I have talked about time and time again, and that is Trilogy's Rosehip Oil. I have been a fan of oils since my mid twenties when one helped me cure my acne, and this year I wrote a blog post about my favourites. I use it morning and night instead of using a serum. It nourishes my skin but doesn't leave it feeling oily, and although I have used countless products to treat my hyper-pigmentation this is the one that has made a difference. It is absolutely wonderful and if you have never tried it I couldn't recommend it enough.
As far as make up goes, it's been a bit of a minimal make up year, really. I swapped my foundation for Origins Vitazing moisturiser for over half of the year, as it gives you a bit of oomph and a bit of glow (not shine) that makes you look alive and awake. It made an appearance in my April favourites and my beauty rituals posts. And talking about glow, NARS Multiple in Orgasm was the best addition in the make up department. I bought it in January and it has everything I like. It is creamy, easy to apply, multi purpose (it works as a highlighter, you can dab it on the lips and eye lids for a subtle wash of colour),... I could go on. I have talked about it twice here and here.
BOOK & FILM: WILD
After resisting Kindles for years, I finally gave in and got one last June, and I have never read more than I do now, apart from when I was at university. The best book by far was Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. I talked about it in my July favourites. I rarely ever read non fiction, but this account of walking the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed was so moving. There are many obvious differences between my life at Cheryl's, but the heart of it was about her loosing her mother to cancer and finding her own voice and strength, all of which I could relate to. She talked about her grief in a way that I had never heard before and sometimes I could have finished her sentences, as I had had those very same thoughts. I can say why I loved it but I am unable to express how much I loved it and how much it meant to me.
I watched the film straight away, which was wonderful as well. The book is richer and can spend more time on the friendships and people that Cheryl encountered on her walk, whilst the film depicts the solitude and how gruelling the experience was. It is much more focussed on Cheryl as a character and her relationship with her husband and her mother. I still enjoyed it a lot and the night before my birthday I watched it late at night tucked up under my blanket while I looked back at the previous few years and I looked ahead.
Although this story may not bear the same meaning for everyone, they are both two pieces of well made art. The book is beautifully written and the film is stunning, not to mention Reese Witherspoon's performance, so I would highly recommend them.
I also have to mention The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo. It has been talked about a million times by other bloggers and YouTubers, as it seems that being organised and tidy has been all the rage this year. Like all these types of books, you have to take them with a pinch of salt and they can be a bit repetitive, but I really enjoy the philosophy of having less, but having what you love and brings you joy.
When I love something, I can't shut up about it, and I spent all spring persuading friends to listen to Serial. I was fairly late to the party and only started listening in April, but once I started I couldn't stop. If you have never heard about it, it is a real story told in weekly episodes by Sarah Koenig, an American journalist. The first season told the story of Adnan Syed, a guy who was convicted for murdering his ex-girlfriend after she disappeared and was found dead in 1999. Sarah Koenig went through all the evidence against Adnan, which was a bit flaky to say the least, and tries to solve the mystery of whether he in fact murdered her.
The second season has just started and is equally addictive. This time it follows the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier that was kept captive by the Taliban for 5 years. I'm listening to this one as it is published and am missing the ability to binge-listen. I have tried to wait until the end but whenever I see there is a new episode I just have to listen.
During the second half of the year I have been listening to lots of different podcasts on my walks. I particularly enjoy The Good Life Project, The Lively Show and Lewis Howes School of Greatness. Their interviews are often in my Best of posts.
TRAVEL/EXPERIENCE: THE YEAR OF YOGA
Going on a yoga retreat in France with Shine Yoga was a huge highlight in 2015. The location near the pretty village of Duras was beautiful, the food that Karen cooked for us every day was delicious, and I couldn't have asked for better travel companions. I didn't know anyone apart from Jen, founder of Shine Yoga, who I had met on a previous retreat in Cornwall. I was also sharing a bedroom with a stranger, so it could have been a recipe for disaster, but we all got on like a house on fire and laughed so much! What I remember the most was the laughter.
I haven't even mentioned the yoga yet. I felt incredible after that week. I'd been struggling with some health problems for a long time and feeling very uncomfortable in myself, but that week I felt strong and I felt rested, calm and found a quiet confidence that I don't think I had felt that deeply before, and my yoga practice has a lot to answer for. There has definitely been a before and after since that trip.
Since then I have made it a priority to make time for it. I love going to class every Wednesday (our teacher is absolutely wonderful and who made me appreciate how much more yoga could do for me) and do a mixture of YouTube videos from Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga at home, along with a lovely slow yin practice I have from France.
During the summer I wrote a post about why I love yoga so much, in case you are considering giving it a whirl. And if you are in Europe and you fancy a yoga retreat to recharge the batteries, I can't recommend Shine Yoga's retreats enough, whether you are travelling alone or with someone else.
My family's holiday in Ibiza and going to Wilderness and Truck Festival with my friends this summer were also highlights. It was a summer of so much fun!
FOOD: PUTTING HEALTH FIRST
This year I have become more conscious of what I eat. I have never eaten badly but over time I realised processed foods were a bigger part of my diet than I would like to, so I have been eating as clean as possible. This has nothing to do with weight management, but purely to eat the best food I can.
It feels as though during 2015 we saw healthy eating become huge and there have been plenty of people that I have found really inspiring. Despite not being either vegetarian or vegan I find Deliciously Ella a constant source of delicious recipes. Her roasted beetroot and potato soup has become a staple, as well as her raw buckwheat porridge with blueberries. I love both very much!
One of my latest discoveries are the Hemsley sisters. Their book The Art of Eating Well is one of my favourite things of 2015. It is full of delicious recipes and I love their approach to food and their bone broth is the base for so many dishes that it actually makes eating well much more economic.
Finally, traditional Spanish food has become bigger in my life. Although most people will think of tapas when they think about Spanish cuisine, it is actually our vegetable and meat stews that make the bulk of our diet. When my mum stayed with me in September I made sure I learnt how to cook some of my favourites, which I will start sharing here in 2016.
A YEAR OF BLOGGING
So here we are, a year after I started Sunshine & Glow. I remember sitting on this very sofa checking the view count, which was 18 views, all of which were my own, ha ha! If you look at the numbers, they are still relatively low. If I look at other blogs that started a little bit before me, they seemed to be doing so much better than mine when they hit the one year mark. Having said that, there is so much more beyond the numbers and blogging has given me so much joy!
This is the original header from when I started in December 2014
I love sitting down to write a post. I still feel more comfortable writing than taking photos, but I'm a lot happier with how things look at the moment than they did at the beginning. For me the most special post was the one where I shared my dad's paella recipe. To this day it is the most popular post and that makes me very happy.
And while we are on the subject of my dad, something that has been very interesting has been finding a balance of what to share and what not to share. I am a pretty open person with those around me and very private on social media (I rarely ever -if ever- talk about very personal things there), but this space has been a hybrid of the two.
One of the things I love the most is having discovered some amazing blogs and the people behind them, especially during the second half of the year. There are some super talented and really lovely people out there.
I started off the year and this blog with a post that said I wanted to embrace creativity and I think I can say I have embraced it and explored it, made mistakes and done things right in that respect. All in all, it has been a great experience and one that I plan to take more seriously next year. More of that in Sunday's post... I know, I am such a tease!
I think I should probably wrap it up or this will go on forever. Hope you have a great end to this year and that 2016 is full of health and happiness for you and your loved ones. I will be back on Sunday with the third post this week... can you believe it?