I can barely believe we’re at the very tail-end of 2021. Betwixmas is here with its bountiful loungewear and leftovers, and, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling incredibly nostalgic and pensive. (Let’s face it, when am I not?!)

Often when reflecting on an entire year, it can feel overwhelming. So this time I chose to try and find a word to succinctly describe 2021. And I settled on… magical. The year has been absolutely unbelievable in every sense of the word, and I’m even somewhat looking forward to delving back into the last 12 months.

First of all, I have never come closer to leaving Daisybutter (and, somewhat dramatically, the Internet) as I have in this year. While the pandemic raged on, huge racial, social and class disparities continued and my personal life took a bit of a knock, the Internet felt claustrophobic and frivolous. I didn’t want to share any part of my life – I felt too vulnerable. I couldn’t see the value in user-generated content – wasn’t real-life ‘more’ important? Many quiet months on here passed, and I eventually found my quiet safe spot again and rediscovered the beauty of the Internet. (More on this soon.)

It’s been a year full of growth and starting anew. Friends that I’ve caught up with in recent months have all commented on the extreme level that I took it to. Well, I now have an entirely new job, new goals, new outlook, new glasses, new hair, new relationship… than what I did this time in 2020. GOOD. It’s really been such a pivotal year for me. So, let’s recap the year of 2021, quarter by quarter…

January to March

In January left a relationship that was no longer drawing us both in the same direction and, as sad as it was at the time, I really feel like it catalysed everything that has now become my life. People often say when you let go of something that wasn’t meant for you, you welcome light and what is meant for you into your world. Well, as if by magic, I reconnected with one of my best friends of 13 years and they are easily the sole reason I got through January. From first snow walks to doorstep teas, couldn’t-sleep phone calls to round-the-clock crisis chats, I am endlessly grateful for this friendship.

I celebrated 11 years of Daisybutter! And a few days later, we launched the & Chai website, and you all kept us incredibly busy! As we were in lockdown, having a reason to pop out and send orders three times a week – socially distanced – was invaluable. It kept our spirits up and it kept me distracted. In January, we also released our first ever collaboration with my wonderful friend Winnie!

Lockdown 3.0 ravaged us all and it was undoubtedly the toughest time I’ve ever experienced. I’d go as far as to say I hit rock bottom at several parts in 2021. I’m so thankful for all of my incredible friends who were virtually there for me, and the ones who bundled up warm for emergency walks when I needed them the most.

April to June

With lockdown restrictions easing, my mood slowly lifted too. I scheduled in nail appointments (self-care, you know?) and & Chai had started to amp up. We were featured in the print edition of Stylist magazine and we secured our first wholesale order. We even reached 1000 sales in this quarter! From family days out (socially distanced) to new blog partnerships, it felt like life was only going from strength to strength.

In April, we were treated to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) at precisely a time that felt just like things did when the original version came out. This Pisces is a huge believer in divine timing, and things felt nothing short of really something; fearless.

Sadly by mid-May, I had my heart broken completely unexpectedly. That entire month feels like a complete blur to me now. In hindsight, I know exactly why it happened this way, it was inevitable and it eventually brought me all the best blessings.

Thankfully, this meant that I also went back to therapy in this quarter! Only self-care and -growth things here! After May, I wanted more than ever to cocoon myself in self-love and surrounding myself with just me and my family. My therapist held me through some tough times, but gave me the tools I needed to pick myself up again. Soon I started running again and fell into an excellent 7am run and vegan croissant regime with my sister – damn I really want to pick this habit back up. I got to see my best friends after 16 months apart. I went to the seaside. I spent many evenings out by the lake on my own, with a book or a game. (I also spent a big chunk of time watching Love Island like my life depended on it!)

July to September

All of the self-love work that I’d been working on thus far in 2021 came to a head over the summer. For starters, I quit my full-time job to pursue freelance life again. My supposed big heartbreak from May turned out to be just a big bruise that softened back out and, suddenly, life felt golden again. Things were good in a completely recalibrated way. Importantly, I managed to get out of bed more often again and therapy sessions became fewer and far between. We christened my godson, my best friend’s little boy, and I had the best weekend up in Hereford.

We launched a collaborative candle with my friend Daphne from coffee + scribbles, which went down a storm. Prepping for this product, and the shoot we created, is easily one of my 2021 highlights. With COVID-19 restrictions officially lifted in England, I began to feel more comfortable with venturing out and about again, managing to fit in catch-ups with lots of my girls, and Kristabel and Winnie!

I worked on little parts of my life slowly slowly, and by August I felt like me again. The me that knew what she wanted and how to get it. The me that didn’t shy away from challenge and adventure. The me that was lucky enough to reconnect with someone I’d never ever meant to lose. August slipped away but I had never been happier. Have never been happier.

We released our first ever autumn candle collection at & Chai, and it was our most successful launch yet. Louise and I spent almost every evening exclaiming: ‘how is this real?!’ As September went on, I found a better work-life balance and reclaimed a few weekday evenings for myself that I happily filled with gaming time and K-drama and anime time.

October to December

And then we fall into the final quarter of the month, where I’ve really been winding down. Excitingly I snagged a new freelance gig as Content Editor at M&S, which has been great. We’ve been on myriad festive dates and I genuinely feel like an entirely different person than who I was in January. Despite the anxiety of the Omicron variant tearing through the country and rippling through my personal life, my immediate family and I remain happy and healthy. I’ve been lucky enough to spend quality time with my best friends, and I finally feel like my life is back to where I wanted it.

I feel like I lived a thousand lifetimes this year, and it’s been great to wind the year down nice and slowly. No real rush to keep up on Instagram, no real rush to impress, no real rush to set myself arbitrary deadlines. Just a desire and joy to enjoy the moments as they come and focus on finally celebrating the New Year surrounded by the people who did everything for and with me in 2021.

Here’s to you 2021, I won’t forget you anytime soon.

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