New Year Thoughts

DSCF7557 (2)Every year when I sit down to write my New Year blog post I basically begin it the same way- ‘I’m not a big believer in New Year resolutions’… ‘Just because the year has changed, why would everything suddenly be different from how it was only the minute before’…
It’s not just that I’m boring or repetitive- though some of my family may wish to dispute that (!), but more that it happens to be what I actually think; and writing a similar post at a similar time each year is always bound to cover some of the same ground…

Of course, this year also saw a change in decade- a chance for everyone to start looking back at how things were for them ten years ago… It was quite interesting to have a little think back, to re-visit some of the news and pop songs, but I wasn’t that over bothered about revisiting the past too much at the time- I had more than enough emotion running through me just by remembering ‘this time LAST year’…
I did however, enter into the spirit of things a little more for Little Dolly Clothes Shop– running my usual mid-January sale as a ‘20% off everything’ sale in reference to the year… 🙂

New Year however does always present a chance to reflect- on the past year, on Christmas, on where life is leading you at that particular time, and where you’d like to be headed by this time next year. It’s a clear starting point, a date that can’t be forgotten, or lost track of along the way no matter how determined you are NOT to forget. A date that everyone makes a note of… and one that comes around again all too soon the next year! :/

Sometimes it can be a good thing to take a little time out, reflecting on the last few months. If you think you’ve had a particularly tough year, but then spend some time trying to recall any good things that came out of it, it could come as a pleasant surprise to find that the year wasn’t actually so bad after all. Of course, this could also work round the other way- when a year has felt good, but then you remember just how much went wrong… maybe we should only worry about it when we’re feeling a bit down at the stroke of midnight, and not if everything feels like it’s going well!

Then there are the years when specific life events have dominated our year as a whole. And perhaps then, even more than when we’re just feeling a bit like life is against us, we should take a few moments to look back and remember the highlights, as very rarely can an entire year go by without anything good happening- even if we take little notice of it at the time. Birthdays and anniversaries, promotions and new jobs, exam results or changing schools, lifestyle changes… all of these things just carry on around us year in year out, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Sometimes we have to just let events play out by themselves, sometimes we can be distracted by them- but at the end of the year there’s always a list of these things to look back upon.

Whilst planning out another (now half written!) blog post looking back on my own year, it surprised even me just how much there was to celebrate in my family’s lives over the past roller coaster year, while everything was so obviously overshadowed by one sad time. Even though I know how easy it is to let things slip past, unnoticed, and how important it is to celebrate each day- the year still flew by, seemingly only taking my Mum with it and leaving behind a family of heartbroken people… 😦

One of my main aims over the last few years has been to keep in touch with people more- sadly easier said than done. We all have such busy lives- family, work, church, school, chores, hobbies… everything in our intertwined lives just adds up to create days full of… well, just busy-ness really. Nothing that can’t wait for five minutes even just for a quick text or email, never mind a phone call or visit; but we’re all guilty of letting things slip. We’ll text later, send that email tomorrow, phone next week, visit next month… Fortunately most of the people we surround ourselves with in our lives are in a similar position to us- our best friends back in London for example, who we see all too rarely these days have a similarly busy and demanding family life to ours. They, like us, never seem to find that time to email, or text… but when we meet up it is like no time has passed at all.

But if the last year has taught me only one thing- it’s the understanding that time is precious. Of course I already knew that, but it has now been underlined and is written in bold capital letters…
I didn’t ever have the sort of relationship with my parents where we were always on the phone to each other several times a day, or where not a day went by without communication of some sort- ours was more of an as-and-when kind of relationship, developed by them as much as me, and which suited us all. But now that the chance to talk to my Mum face to face has been taken away, I’m finding I miss it more than I ever did- when previously weeks could go by without even a text… Human nature can be cruel.

Of course, that’s also making it harder now that I need to try to keep in touch with my Dad more- to tell him how much we all love him and hope he’s coping okay. He doesn’t have email, or Facebook, and though he owns a mobile phone he doesn’t particularly ‘do’ texts either- meaning I am going to have to try this year to put my life long hatred of using the phone to one side…
No such excuse with all the other family members and friends who have numerous ways of contact. My only let out is that fortunately it’s not all one way- they never find the time to communicate with us either… :/

As for anything else; well, my aim is still (as it has been for the last couple of years) to try to get my little business back up to where it was only a short time ago. When I first opened Little Dolly Clothes Shop I never expected anyone to want to buy even one thing from me- never mind for it to be successful enough to expand into more than just selling dolly dresses, and branch out into my popular little doll’s nappies and bedding. My first ever order was only about a week after I launched my website and it quickly took off from there, averaging about one hundred orders per year. It’s only been over the last couple of years with all the political and economic unrest in the country that there seems to have been such a negative impact on my poor little business. Well, that and the fact that Google seems for some reason to have taken against it all of a sudden…

Seemingly there’s not a lot I can do about it, other than just sit tight and wait for things to improve- assuming, of course that they do one day! But keeping my website up to date- changing the ‘slideshow’ on the home page to show the latest offers or new outfits… likewise keeping the ‘Latest News’ page up to date with details of what’s new or sale dates… posting regularly on Instagram and my Facebook page… and publishing more than just the occasional blog post on here are all supposed to help by making Google and the other search engines notice that the website is active… well, according to Google anyway!

And if course, making the most of any advertising opportunities always helps- especially if they’re free! I know a lot of people use Facebook as their main selling platform, but I’ve only ever really used my page more as a showcase than to actually sell through. Just before Christmas I joined a couple of ‘Christmas/ Handmade’ groups on there to try to expand my showcasing efforts, and shared posts from my page on there; I also joined a couple of local pages and advertised on them as well. The last three (recent!) orders I’ve received have all been through Facebook, and since I joined the groups, so who knows- it may even be working! 🙂

Above all, the one ‘resolution’ I’ve always managed to keep though, no matter what else happens around me, is to keep enjoying life. Not in a laugh-a-minute, nothing-can-go-wrong kind of way, but simply in an appreciating life kind of way. Our family life is busy and chaotic, sometimes a struggle and sometimes a challenge, it can be fun and it can be tough. Trying to co-ordinate the different emotional needs of a large family spanning many ages can at times be exhausting, and allows very little personal time for dealing with issues or events outside of our household.

But I still would never change the life I’ve been dealt- it’s beginning to evolve now by itself as the children get older and start to spread their wings, and in a way that’s quite sad and scary. But waiting to see what the next chapter of our family life will bring is also exciting- good times and bad, I can handle them all because I have my lovely family beside me, and my faith to guide me. ❤
Happy New Year!

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