2013 – An AMAZING Year.

It comes to that time of year again of reflection, reflecting about the past 12 months and what you’ve achieved, whether it’s been a good year, a great year, or whether January 1st just can’t come quick enough.  I did a similar post this time last year (https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/gonna-party-like-its-2012/), I do just find it so amazing seeing how far you come.  It’s only when you really sit and think about it, that you realise it.  Here’s what I’ve done this year:

January

  • Celebrated New Year in Bruges, Belgium, one hour ahead of London!
  • Created the term #SNOLO (Holla, snow day, anyone?!)

February

  • Appeared on national television, on the hit BBC1 show ‘Pointless’.
  • Had a lovely getaway to Portsmouth to celebrate V Day.
  • Partook in the ‘Pure Dance’ dance show in front of hundreds of people with my university street dance competition team.

March

  • Competed at one of the biggest university dance competitions in Loughborough with my street dance competition team.
  • Celebrated my birthday (ever so slightly early!) with a murder mystery party.
  • Once again, attended the amazing Ideal Home Show and at ate at Greg Wallace’s restaurant.
  • Attended my first ever baby shower for a great friend.

April

  • Celebrated my 21st birthday with a getaway to beautiful hotel in Bath.

May

  • Sat (and passed!) my university final exams.

June

  • Spent an incredible 3 and a half weeks in Sydney and the Gold Coast, Australia.

July

  • Moved into my first ever grown-up flat with Boyfriend.
  • Went to the Cricket for the first time.
  • Graduated from university with a BA Geography 2:1 (Hons)

August

  • Spent a fabulous two weeks in Cyprus.

September

  • Had a lovely few and relaxing days in the Isle of Man.
  • Learnt to like red wine (this is a big one!).
  • Went Glamping for the first time.
  • Rejoined my local dance school, that I have attended since I was 11!
  • Began a Masters course in London.
  • Joined the gym.
  • Went on my first ever London night out.

October

  • Saw Jessie J perform live at the O2.

November

  • Joined a church Gospel Choir.

December

  • Celebrated 3 years with Boyfriend with a weekend city break to Barcelona.
  • Performed with the church Gospel Choir in a Christmas carol concert.

To Do:

  • Celebrate Christmas with a wonderful few days away in the Isle of Man.

Wow, when you write it all down like that, it really does seem like a lot.  Whilst Bella’s Bits is a place for me to chat to you all about clothes and make-up, it’s also a place where I share some of the bigger, more important things in my life, like my take on political or ethical issues, for example.  It’s also my little diary like slice of the internet where I can think about what I’ve achieved, and looking at 2013, I’m proud!  I really have done so much this year and am so proud and happy with what I’ve achieved.  I feel so blessed with the life and opportunities I’ve been given.  You know, I can’t really do it justice here, there aren’t any words!

I would really encourage you to do as I have, go through your year, and really think about what you’ve achieved.  Think about your friends, your dreams, your family, your hopes, your travels, anything that inspires you to wake up the next day and keep going.

Fall in love with life in 2014, I dare you.

(FYI – I’m taking a bloggy break over the holidays, so have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I’ll see you in 2014.  Toodaloo!)

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What Happened In September

Way back when in 2012, I did a series of posts titled ‘What Happened In’, then said month, to give you all a monthly life roundup.  As life as got hectic once again, I thought I’d provide you with another, so hello to, What Happened in September.

My month started off in the Isle of Man (which I wrote about here: https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/oh-hey/).  As usual, I had a beautiful time there and am really excited about spending Christmas there this year (Boyfriend and I are official grownups now, we alternate).  I just love the peace and serenity of the countryside.  Despite having a few on-going internal tensions between rural and urban love and lifestyle, this September, I loved it.

I also headed back to Dance which you can read about in the above post.  I’m absolutely loving it!  Dance is my thing, if you know what I mean.  I’ve always done it, and always loved it.  At the risk of sounding a cross between Darcey Bussell and Louis Spence, I’m so passionate about the way a body can interact and flow with (or without as the case may be) music.  Monday nights are now dance nights.  My go-to nights of hard work, passion and (the next day, usually) pain.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

September also took me Glamping, which you can read all about here: https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/glamping/

As I wrote about in my post titled about September Syndrome: https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/september-syndrome/, September can bring around huge changes for people, as they have for me.  This month, I’ve gone through a huge life change .. I’ve started a Postgraduate Masters course at University.  I’ve had Induction Week and two weeks of Lectures.  It’s full of big changes; a commute, new buildings to get the hang of, London prices, new people, harder material .. but I honestly think doing this Masters might be the best decision I have ever made.

3 years ago I wrote about my Geography A Level exam: https://bellasbits.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/make-me-or-break-me/  I’m making my dreams come true.  I’ve fallen in love with the life I have, the life I’m living, the life I’ve always wanted.  What are you doing this October?

Back to Blogging

So it’s always Summer that leaves me for lack of blogging.  Mainly because I’m either working, travelling or being lazy and this summer in particular, it’s been a combination of all three.  So I’ve decided to set myself a challenge.  I’m gonna take the things I love writing about, make a list, and over the next few weeks, try and write about as much as I can, as often as I can.  I’m heading into third year at University which will be hectic, dramatic and crazy, and I find blogging to be SUCH a great release.  So here goes:

1)  Musical Palette

2)  Party Life

3)  Southampton

4)  Urban Outfitters Obsession

5)  What I’m Wearing Week

6)  Winter Wishlist

7)  Tour Of My Handbag

8)  Tour Of My Makeup Bag

9)  Charity Shop Tour

10)  Something On My Heart

11)  Travel Hopes and Dreams

12)  A TV Show I Love

13)  Movie Mayhem

14)  The Four Hour Body

So there’s 14 topics there, 14 days of blogging?  Pfft I don’t think so.  In the next two weeks I have to support boyfriend through his exams, go to Edinburgh for a holiday (I know right, HOW unfair?!) and do some serious studying.  So I will aim to blog where and when I can.  Also guys, any readers, please email me/message me/tweet me if you have any requests of things for me to write about :)  Love!

Ooooh – Cheeky Boom Boom!

Field Of Dreams?

Field of Dreams?  Quite possibly.  Camp, otherwise known as Mid Wessex Christian Camps located in the heart of the New Forest which I have now been attending for 10 years, and it’s as incredible as it was a decade ago.  After a long drive home yesterday and a stupidly long, and warm, sleep I am now ready to write about it.

Not having a set role at Camp this year (I normally lead a tent for children aged anywhere between 9 and 15) I was pretty apprehensive about my week away.  I didn’t want to be a ‘Floater’ and I was so scared I nearly didn’t go.  As soon as I got there though, all my fears were put to bed.  My title was a ‘Hostess’, I did everything from organising mini bus logistics, to cooking, to cleaning out toilets to being in the worship band.  It was incredible.  I was busy every moment of every day and I absolutely loved it.  It was so amazing being involved in the practical side after 10 years and appreciating Camp for what it is and how it runs, and I’m so proud I could be a part of that.

One of the best bits of my week was running a Forest Adventure/Challenge … all by myself J  Normally, the 60 campers and 30 odd leaders trek it to the heart of the forest to be greeted by an authoritative looking, muscle bound, manly early 20 year old guy.  This time, they had me.  Armed with my Army rucksack and walking boots, I hiked into a clearing surrounded my horses, cows and even dogs (those of you who know me well will know what a big feat this was for me) to set up my Challenge.  Walky Talky in toe complete with code names (This is Caffeine, Roger that, over and out), 8 groups of people successfully completed my challenge, and enjoyed it!  It was so nice abolishing the standard and breaking through with the unconventional.  Girls can do it too!

The Camp Fire is always a special one.  Ever since I can remember it has been full of tears, testimonies and love.  There is something just so intimate and personal about sitting in front of a blazing fire in the dark with people you know and love, and feeling comfortable enough to share how you are, how you’re feeling.  Complete with songs, shakes and sermons the Camp Fire has been and will always be my favourite evening of the week to be both respected and appreciated together.

Line Dancing was pretty incredible.  Quite possibly the most hardcore workout I’ve had all summer, dancing and jumping about like a lunatic!  So much fun.  As every evening did, it led to 15 odd leaders sitting around laughing until we couldn’t breathe.  I will miss those people the most.  I could go into every event that happened in so much detail but to be perfectly honest I don’t have the energy, and have well and truly exhausted my caffeine supply for 2010.  Camp is always wonderful, as was this year.  I feel so much happier in myself and in Christ, I have rediscovered my love for jeans and I have fallen realised the beauty of caravans.  I have reconnected with old friends and made some amazing new ones.  I’m loving summer and that Field of Dreams was no exception.

Look How They Shine For You

These past few nights have been ridiculously hot.  So hot, I’ve taken to sleeping downstairs in our back sun room/conservatory sort of area.  However, come 4am I’m woken by the natural light streaming through the windows, meaning I have to trudge back upstairs to my bed, duvet and pillow in tow.  Not the most settling of night’s sleeps.  Nevertheless, lying on our cool leather sofa enables me to stare up through our roof windows and look at the sky.  The other night I noticed something I haven’t noticed for a long time, stars.

Beautiful.  The only time of the year I generally see and notice stars is when I’m camping or travelling.  Living in a huge town means hench light pollution, the awful orange haze above our homes … and no stars.  But last night I saw them.  It made me realise that in the grand scheme of things, I truly am insignificant.  I’ve been so wrapped up in myself, my life, my exams these past few weeks that I’ve forgotten everything true, real and important to me.  I’m so small, so small in relation to this incredible universe.  While I’ve been revising, people have been starving and dying.  I’m actually quite ashamed of myself.  During exams my Amnesty International magazines have been thrust under my bed without a second look, and I’ve haven’t Facebooked my Thailand girls in a long time.

I’d forgotten everything important to me.  I’d lost perspective on my life and the lives of those around me.  Who cares if I don’t get to Uni?  Obviously it would be hugely disappointing, but there are so many people that need me, would love to see me again.  I miss my babies in the Thailand Orphanage, I miss the girls from Kenya and the guy that tried to marry me (that’s another blog!).  I miss being that person who loves helping people and didn’t go out for 4 months to save enough money to fly to Chiang Rai, a city no ones ever heard of in North Thailand!  I miss all the people I’ve helped.  It might sound ridiculous but seeing those stars just made it all come flooding back to me.  Whilst focusing on exams is important and necessary, I’d forgotten the most important and necessary things in my life, my experiences, my dreams, my travels.

So welcome back Annabel!  I have just 3 days, 3 days left of this Exam business before getting back to the girl I truly know I am!  And it’s gonna be good.

This girl was one of the most beautiful little souls I’ve ever encountered, Thailand Orphanage 2008.

They have nothing, but are so happy.  A lesson to us all.  Thailand School, 2008.

This is my Uncle Simon with some of the kids in Thailand, 2008.  He’s such an incredible guy, now living and working out there.

These are the most incredible women I have ever had the honor of knowing.  Kenya 2009, these women prepared all our food for us from absolute scratch, giving us feasts every single day whilst they have nothing, constantly smiling, singing and dancing, radiating life and love.

Myself with my future Husband, Charles and Mother-In-Law!  Kenya 2009.

These beautiful boys sang us ‘Coast to Coast’.  Love, Kenya 2009.

From left, Annabel, Habil and Annabel (I just love that she had the same name as me!).  Two of the most incredible, loving, fun and inspiring girls I have met.  Love, Kenya 2009.

Tangerine Dreams and Hitched Up Seams

It occurred to me the other day that from the outside, I might appear slightly fake.  I have fake teeth, fake hair, fake skin colour, hell, even a fake ankle.  I’ve slowly turned into one of the girls I never wanted to be, and I’ve never been happier.  In secondary school, these girls were so apparent.  Everyone knew who they were and what they were up to.  They were all beautiful and as much as anybody wanted to hate them, they were usually lovely.  I’ve discovered as I’ve got older and moved onwards and upwards in the world, these girls have dispersed.  They no longer hang around together but instead feel comfortable to mix with whoever, and if they do cluster, it’s hardly noticable.  Of course, there will always be exceptions, but recently I’ve concluded that these girls in teams are no more.

My college is a prime example of this.  Godalming has a reputation for being posh, wealthy and uppity and it was just that and more.  I hated my first year.  I have never felt so inadequate.  Every day I had to see size zero sticks walking around with their orange faces, straw like yellow hair with those ridiculous leotards, leggings and uggs.  Winter was fine, the make up toned down as did the amount of skin on show but come summer I could have been on a porn set the amount of flesh surrounding me.  Me not wearing make-up, strolling about in my hippie kaftans with mens jeans, I stood out like a sore thumb.   My second year was totally different.  The majority of these girls moved onto greener pastures, leaving more real, healthy and happy girls that I discovered some incredible friendships within.  Looking in the mirror the other day just made me think that I’ve somehow morphed into one of the girls I used to fear.

Despite perhaps looking like a try hard Malibu Barbie, I have never, and I will never give in to looking boring. Fashion has always been and will always be a tool to express myself and I’m so proud of myself that I have never let that slip.  So yes, occasionally I have my jeans and t-shirts days, but more often that not I can be seen in some bizarre patterned trousers with a colourful top, wearing 1 of my 64 pairs of shoes.  Life is too short to blend in. I’m happy. I never had tangerine dreams.  I never wanted to have hitched up seams.  As I’ve grown and matured it’s just something that has come naturally to my appearance, and I flipping love it. So judge if you want but hey, the outside means nothing compared to within, and I know who I am and that’s all that matters.