What were your personal highs and lows of 2018? I have a tradition of sharing mine and encouraging others to do the same. Bloggers can get involved using the following guidelines. We all have ups and downs as part of life’s rich tapestry and I find reflecting on mine and reading about other people makes me feel ready for everything a brand New Year has to offer.
1 Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog and mine as the founder of the tag https://kateonthinice.com
2 Answer the questions
3 Tag to take part 5 or more bloggers asking them to take part and let them know on social media
4 Post the questions without your answers at the bottom of your post so that they are easy to copy and paste for the people you tag
1. What was your happiest event?
2. What was the saddest thing to happen?
3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?.
4. Who let you down?
5. Who supported you?
6. Tell us what you learned.
7. Tell us what made you laugh
8. Tell us the things that made you cry
9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud. Please miss this question out if you are not a parent.
10. Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.
11. Tell us the challenges you overcame
12. Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2019
Now I never ask you to do what I would not do myself so here are my reflections on the last year.
What was your happiest event?
Without doubt my birthday celebrations last month. A community that I have lived in for such a short amount of time did me proud with an evening do. To walk into a darkened room and everyone launch into “Happy Birthday” was something I never thought would happen to me. There was a home-made banner held up by two of my favourite male friends. There was a special ice-cream dessert with a sparkler. There were flowers and a plant. There was special wine. A singer and musician serenaded me for most of the night and that will do me just fine Same again this year please!
What was the saddest thing to happen?
We were delighted to take on two goats but sadly our joy in them was short-lived. They died after a matter of weeks most unexpectedly.
What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?
Spending the night at a French man’s house.
Who let you down?
I was disappointed that my family did not make a huge fuss of my birthday. I think this is partly because my husband really does not get the whole idea of special days. Having said that it was him that tipped off the community and he did buy me a lovely painting.
Who supported you?
My husband and children support me in many ways whether bringing me a cup of coffee in bed every morning which my husband is great at to lots of cuddles and help with practical tasks.
My brother helped me emotionally and financially as he has really since my Dad died.
One stand out moment is after an argument with my husband when I was feeling tearful in the bar, a woman came and made me sit with her and her friends. She absolutely insisted and it turned an evening when I was feeling so raw into a good one.
The community I live in is amazingly supportive in a myriad of ways throughout the year.
Tell us what you have learned
I have learned that everyone has their ups and downs. I have realised that even if some areas of life are less than perfect, it does not rule out having a very good time in others. I have learned some people put on a very good show so it is vital not to be taken in by perfect social media profiles or public behaviours. We all have our stories to tell and our struggles. I think most importantly I have learned that I am OK, acceptable and loved.
Tell us what made you laugh
I have laughed so much this year. I live in a village that values laughter a lot. As someone said the other day “When everyone is giggling, I am happy” – that’s not a bad philosophy on life.
Tell us the things that made you cry
As ever, grief for my parents and brother can catch me particularly on anniversaries and birthdays. It does get easier with time though. On New Year’s Eve which is Mum’s birthday, wearing her amber necklace was great but not upsetting.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my various responsibilities and get upset. I am a bit of a perfectionist which does not serve my wellbeing at all.
I was also upset when my youngest brother’s long-held retirement dream of living in Greece went so badly wrong.
Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud.
My oldest child handled a crisis situation really well reassuring his siblings and working out a strategy for moving forwards. It reminded me that he is now a fully-grown adult and will make his own way in life with aplomb.
My daughter’s focus makes me proud. If she is reading, she can do 5 books in a matter of days. When she is writing, she refines things over and over. She researches how to get better at writing and at art.
My youngest son makes me proud with his wisdom. He is by far the most chilled and adult person in this household.
Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.
Despite often thinking I am failing, the fact is that I do keep house in a fashion, make money, home educate and support others.
I am very proud of setting up an online group for bloggers where they can come together to share opportunities, tips and support. It was lovely to have wonderful thank you messages from them over the festive period.
I am really proud that as an extremely shy and introverted person, I have managed to make friends and even find my inner party animal in a totally new community.
Tell us the challenges you overcame
I improved my housework skills. I am still so very far from being a domestic goddess but I get huge marks for effort.
I worked out a new strategy for home education to meet the differing needs of my children. It’s a work in progress so we will see how it pans out in the New Year.
I proved I can be more successful than I thought possible at the start of the year and on very many fronts too.
Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2019
I would like my marriage to be more peaceful and happy. This will take the effort of myself and my husband. We have some new challenges this year so will need to operate in a new way. Whatever happens, I hope we retain our friendship.
I would like to develop the confidence to be more open about some of my feelings.
I would like to increase my income and think this is entirely possible. I am also determined to write that novel even if nobody reads it. I am going to commit to taking baby steps every day to move this one forward.
I am considering a house move so may not be in the same place the next time I write one of these posts.
I would like to come to terms with my oldest son leaving home and to see him find his own path in life.
I would like to have this home education gig entirely nailed.
Now let’s start tagging! I tag the following bloggers …
Katie- Louise at https://www.katie-louise.com
Alice at livingwithajude.co.uk
Sam at www.stressedmum.co.uk
Michelle at www.whatmummythinks.co.uk
Blogs are extremely powerful, or at least they can be. Whether you started your blog as part of your business or as a hobby that has now grown into so much more than that, it’s important to understand how much potential your blog actually has. The fact is that today blogging is big business. While just a few short years ago it was nothing more than a hobby, blogging has made a huge impact in the past few years and has the potential to be extremely powerful.
If you run a blog, then you most probably want to ensure that it is reaching its full potential. After all, blogs can be great tools for success, but only when utilised effectively, of course, which is why it’s so important that you know what it takes to ensure your blog reaches its full potential. The question is, what can you do to do that – how can you ensure that your blog is as successful as it could be?
Below are some useful tips and advice for ensuring that your blog is being run in the most effective way possible.
Create a blog schedule and stick to it
If you want to build a solid blog following, it’s crucial that you create a schedule for blogging and stick to it. Your followers will only come back to your blog if they know when to expect new blog posts to go live, which is why establishing a posting schedule is so important. It’s better to set a schedule of only posting once a week and meeting that schedule than setting a more unrealistic schedule and letting your followers down.
Ensure quality content
One of the most important factors when it comes to blogging success is quality. Blogging is highly competitive, which is why you need to be able to create high-quality content for your readers, to ensure that you are able to build a strong following. Your content should be interesting, informative, unique, and highly personal – if it’s the same as everyone else’s you’re going to limit your chances of success. It’s also vital that your content is optimised properly and is not stuffed full of keywords – an SEO checker can be a good way to check that your content is properly optimised.
Market your blog
Think of your blog as a mini business; if you want it to succeed it needs to be well marketed. You can’t expect to build a blog if you aren’t taking the time to market your content to people, as otherwise, you will most probably have very few readers. So take advantage of social media and effectively market your blog. Post regularly sharing content. Communicate and build connections with other bloggers. Join virtual networking events and get to know other bloggers.
If you want to give your blog the very best chance of success, you need to treat it like a mini business from the get-go. It might purely be a hobby right now, but taking a professional approach to it can have a huge impact on how successful your blog becomes.
Back to Basics is the theme set by Chloe for this week’s relaunch of the Best Boot Forward linky.
So as I often do I looked to the dictionary to help inspire my post. The dictionary tells us that basic can mean the essential foundation or starting point of something. In other words, the fundamentals of a thing or concept.
Grooving to Best Boot Forward
Well you can find the fundamentals about Best Boot Forward here but also it is a good time for me to reflect how I set up Grooving/Groovy Mums so many years ago now when I felt so worthless, bored, fat, fed up and hopeless. I wondered if anyone else felt that way which touched a nerve with so many women and so the Grooving/Groovy Mums linky started bringing women together who wanted to change their lives in ways small or large. Best Boot Forward is the new and improved version with the addition of my lovely co-host Chloe.
I think there are more pressures on women these days with so many taking part in social media, blogging becoming an income-generating sport and austerity meaning so many women are juggling far too many balls. So many of us are trying to be perfect when nobody can be. It is madness!
What is the minimum required?
Basics can mean the minimum required. I reflect that sometimes we need to strip things back to the minimum amount of stuff we need to do. Let’s put minimum expectations on ourselves at least for a little while. This is essential for our wellbeing in a busy world. Basic can also mean required by everyone and that certainly applies to mental health. I like seeing some bloggers giving up blogging knowing it is now more costly than beneficial to their wellbeing. I like to see women acknowledging that they are close to breaking point and reaching out for support. That’s a real sign of strength and if this linky can help just one woman find her way a bit, it is so worth doing.
Not too long ago I was trying to do a job, a business, exercise, housework and home educating too. Something needed to give and it was interesting to see the job disappear around this time as if Fate was telling me to ease up a bit. It gave me time to consider what really matters. Well, I do of course and it is great that I now have proper relaxation time at home and also a social life in a lovely community with new friendships formed.
I decided that I needed to be away from the mad whirl of blogging and social media for a significant part of each day. I have not made less money by doing this because the chilling has probably made me more efficient when I am online.
Very recently I worked out I can get away with doing less housework every day and still keep on top of things.
Similarly home education can happen in manageable chunks instead of me sitting around stressing about it and piling pressure on myself and the children.
I also worked out that some things can be combined so I can blog about home education. The children can learn to do chores as part of their education reducing the housework load on just me. My next step is to see what my children can learn about what I do and to see which if any of those elements appeal to them.
Finally I worked out that whatever the world thinks myself and my 17 year are perfectly happy with him living here and enjoying himself until he decides what he wants to do next. He is coming up with ideas but there is absolutely no rush – he does not have to be perfect because perfect does not exist.
As I work towards a big milestone birthday, I am basically wise enough to say back to basics teaches us a lot about how to live our lives!
Are you looking for a new linky to join? I encourage you to celebrate blogging positively with Best Boot Forward. Before we get started, I though I would answer some of the questions bloggers have already asked.
Why have you set up a new linky?
I know how important it is to live positively to make magical memories for ourselves and our families. Experience of depression and loss made me wake up to that! By bringing a community of bloggers together (and you are invited!) we can be inspired to do this every day.
Who are the hosts?
Myself and the wonderfully quirky and creative genius that is Chloe over at Indigo Wilderness.
When does the linky go live?
Best Boot Forward will go live every Wednesday and remain open until the following Tuesday giving you plenty of time to link up.
How many blog posts can I link up?
We don’t have a harsh limit. Link up posts that you feel could be described as “blogging positively”. If your posts show you taking baby steps or even huge ones to make life better, you will be helping other people too. Consider Best Boot Forward your flexible linky friend – we are not going to around with a big whip and just ask that you blog positively and act with a good heart.
What’s in it for bloggers?
The Best Boot Forward linky is a superb way to promote your blog to some new readers. Joining in linkies is of course fabulous for increasing your domain authority which in turn can lead to more review and paid opportunities. My domain authority is 37 and an awful lot of that comes from being an active participant in linkies.
Chloe and myself will comment on every blog post linked up and share them on social media.
Participants are encouraged to comment on as many posts as they feel they can manage (because life is busy!) but definitely on one of the host’s posts and the post linked up before theirs.
Anything else I need to know?
Best Boot Forward will also have a Facebook community and we will be active on Instagram and Twitter with hashtag #BestBootForward
So are you ready to showcase how you are blogging (and living!) positively with Best Boot Forward?
My own mum died of Ovarian cancer so I was very keen to feature Helen from Sew Helen who is using her skills to develop a business and also to help charity following the loss of her beloved mom. We all have our own ways of handling grief but it is interesting how many of us rethink our own lives following loss and do more good in the world realising that life really is short.
Can you tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years?
I am really lucky to have had a lovely childhood and uneventful teenage years. Although I didn’t think about it at the time, looking back makes me appreciate how fortunate we were.
I lived with Mom, Dad and my older brother by two years and although we didn’t have much I had some lovely friends and a small close family. Memories from Christmas and birthdays were of handmade gifts and one year Dad made my brother & I wooden string puppets and Mom made the matching outfits – we still have these now over 40 years later.
I left school and went to sixth form to study A levels although at that time I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career.
What career did you pursue and why?
When I left college, I started work as a Veterinary Nurse. Although I loved the job I knew this wouldn’t be a long term career. By chance a lady I worked with mentioned a new course in Birmingham awaiting validation for direct entry Midwifery. As soon as I heard about this I knew this would be my chosen career. I had never wanted to be a General Nurse and Iwas looking forward to working with healthy women going through a normal physiological event.
I undertook my training and qualified as a Registered Midwife in 1993. My career has evolved from normal antenatal, intrapartum & postnatal care to high risk pregnancies and for the past 15 years I have been supporting & caring for families when a difference has been found with their baby. I also perform detailed fetal cardiac ultrasound scans in my own clinics and alongside Paediatric Cardiologists – I am still amazed at the detail we can obtain on little babies hearts whilst still in the womb.
How did you learn to sew?
I have grown up sewing and worked alongside Mom as a little girl. She worked from home taking in dressmaking orders and so it was only natural that I also made clothes for my teddies and dolls. Over the years, and with Mom’s guidance, I made my own clothes and soft furnishings for my home and have continued sewing most of my life – 50 years in March! I have tried most forms of textile art and recently returned to embroidery and applique.
What health issues have you had to cope with?
I have two boys, born in 2004 & 2008, and my health had always been excellent until 2011 when I felt some lumps in my neck. After a visit to the GP and blood tests I was diagnosed with Auto-immune Thyroiditis & nodules in my Thyroid gland – a fairly common hormone-based condition for women of a certain age! After a year of monitoring and blood tests the nodules had changed slightly and I asked to be referred to an Endocrinologist as literature I had read stated that any nodules should be biopsied. Four biopsies later (2 failed) I had a result that gave a 10% chance of Thyroid Cancer.
My treatment included unilateral thyroidectomy on 8.10.12 which confirmed Thyroid Cancer, 2 weeks later I had the rest of my thyroid gland removed and underwent Radioactive Iodine treatment to destroy any remaining cells at the beginning of December 2012. I started Thyroxine medication after the radiation treatment and will remain on this drug for the rest of my life.
I am now 5 years clear of cancer and it took a long time to get my Thyroxin levels right – I have probably only felt well for the last year and a half.
Please tell us about the loss of your mum and her legacy?
Health issues aside, I was content with my life until February 2015 when my Mom had a severe bout of abdominal pain & vomiting and attended Accident and Emergency – to our shock she was diagnosed with ascites (fluid in her abdomen), bowel obstruction & after a CT scan also an enlarged ovary. Fortunately, on this occasion the bowel obstruction cleared and she didn’t require surgery. However, from my medical background I knew this wasn’t a good prognosis.
A couple of weeks later she met the Consultant Oncologist and following a Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting Mom was told that she had advanced Ovarian Cancer. It had spread throughout her abdomen and surgery was not an option. She was offered Chemotherapy which may have prolonged her life for a short while, but she decided straight away that she didn’t want to spend her remaining time by being unwell from treatment. Mom also had the sad memories of nursing her own mom with the same condition 50 years earlier.
66 days later, on 4th May 2015, Mom died peacefully at home with Dad, my brother and I at her side.
Having always sewn, and after making remembrance pictures for some close friends shortly after Mom had died, I started thinking how I could use my sewing skills to create a small business in memory of Mom and at the same time raise money and awareness around Ovarian Cancer.
Just Sew Helen was created with the underlying principle to raise awareness of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and to make donations to charity from my sales.
Describe your business
I design, create and sell textile art incorporating applique, hand embroidery and sewing.
Most of my items are remembrance gifts and over time my work has evolved to include Baby Loss gifts. I also make keepsakes such as cushions & pictures to preserve children’s drawings. I love doing all types of products and am also very happy to receive custom orders.
I had a massive learning curve researching handcrafted business development, online selling, book keeping, distance selling regulations, web design and marketing. I continue to work as a Midwife and am developing the business for the time when I can retire from the NHS.
I currently sell on Etsy & via my own website and promote my products on social media including Twitter, Instagram and to a lesser degree, Facebook.
My business is evolving and the most popular items I make are Baby Loss gifts & I have lots of plans to expand the Angel Baby range. I’m keen to to create items from treasured fabrics such as clothing or blankets and would love to design and make baby loss burial gowns suitable for little ones born too early.
I am slowly developing my blog to include the topics on Women’s Health, Pregnancy & Loss, Bereavement, Textiles & Sewing and a Handcrafted Business.
Do you support charity and if so which ones and how?
I have chosen to make donations to Target Ovarian Cancer – a UK charity working to improve early diagnosis, research and support to women with Ovarian Cancer
I made the decision early on that I would make a donation to the charity each time I made a sale, from every platform I sell on. My husband also does sponsored events and donates to the same charity.
Recently, I have been accepted by the charity to undertake information reviews and plan to contact the other main charities for women’s cancers to offer my services.
Using social media, I have an ideal target audience to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer as the majority of users in the handcrafting community are women.
If you could give one tip to someone who is experiencing grief, what would it be?
There is no time limit nor right way to grieving. It is individual but, over time, if is affecting how you function on a day to day basis seek help from professionals.
If you could give one bit of business advice to a woman what would it be and why?
If you have an idea just do it and don’t put it off. It is so true that life can be short and there is nothing to lose if you do your research before investing a lot of time or money.
Google is a great tool and there are many online forums that can help with setting up a small business.
I work part time and one day would like to leave the NHS and continue my own business – it has suited me to take it slowly and I have learnt so much about web design, distance selling regulations, social media, postage & customer service.
How would you encourage a woman to experiment with creativity?
I would encourage a woman to choose an art that they love and again, Google and YouTube are excellent resources for tutorials. When they have mastered the basic techniques they can then develop their own unique style.
If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?
Marti – A Coward’s Chronicles
I found this a hard question as, although I read a lot, I don’t currently read many books. However, this book has stayed with me for many years and occasionally comes to the forefront of my mind.
This book is inspiring about a woman who survived a difficult childhood, her career and her battle with cancer. She tells her story with humour and strength and a positive outlook right up until she lost her battle with cancer.
If you could recommend one website apart from your own to a woman what would it be and why?
I recommend the website https://whileshenaps.com by Abby Glassenberg
I came across this website from a sewing point of view, but it interested me as Abby doesn’t just focus on the craft side. I named and designed my business/website to be sewing based but not too specific as I envisaged changes as things evolved. I was concerned that my site wasn’t focused enough but didn’t want just another sewing blog. Seeing Abby’s site has given me the confidence to make my site exactly what I want – which is eclectic incorporating sewing, business, bereavement and in particular women’s health.
When I read about setting up a blog all the information points to focusing on one niche but there is no reason why you can’t make your business exactly what you want and Abby achieves this on her website.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
It has taken me a long time (45 years) to be less self-conscious & not worry about what others may think about what I’m doing – it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are honest and respectful and believe in yourself.
Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.
If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.