I'm writing this on a grey and rainy Monday afternoon- perfect weather for cosying up with your laptop if you ask me.
I looked at the date and suddenly remembered that tomorrow is a special day for me and I need to mark it. September 20th marks 7 years since I started this blog. That feels CRAZY. I can't imagine my life 7 years into the future, it feels miles away, so 7 is back feels a long time ago too.
Every year I write a special blog post and this will be no different. Last year I wrote THIS beast and as I read through it just now, I felt so sad for the person I was then. I felt so feeble. I was a bit broken really. I wrote a lot about how my professional life was soaring but my personal life was crumbling.
Let's talk about this with a new year in mind. Sept-Sept. Honestly, 2015 got worse. Not in Glitter World, that was incredible, but behind the scenes I wasn't coping. A particularly unpleasant incident in October triggered a huge hideous heap of memories from my sadly, very abusive, childhood and I found myself in this awful swirling tunnel of thoughts I couldn't get out of. I would shut my eyes and remember all the things that happened to me (I won't delve into this now, in a nutshell, I was severely physically and mentally abused by a step mother and had never fully dealt with it) and panic that either they would happen to me again, or worse, happen to Darcy.
Relationships with other people broke down, the man who had strung me along for 6 months showed his true colours and really, it was all rather shit.
After a giant cry in my car one day (glamorous), I researched help and booked myself in to see a counsellor.
She. Was. Great.
Suddenly I was able to voice all my worries and concerns without spiralling out of control and could arrange them in a way that I could manage them. I could rationalise my present without dragging my past into it and could begin to enjoy my day to days again. I began to deal with the things that had happened to me and put myself back together again. I'd thoroughly recommend taking the time and expense to do this if you need to.
I did vlogmas (which was also very healing- the creative focus, the motivation to do something fun each day etc) and jetted off to Seattle for 2 weeks over the new year to visit my friend Marie and her family. With all of their love and Christmas spirit, I came back reinvigorated and felt like glimmers of my old happy self were reappearing. Yay.
2016 has been so kind to me. Whilst I have been productive in Glitter World (another clothing collection, the beautiful 2017 Diary, another ah-mazing tour of LouiseLIVE), I haven't felt frantic. It's been almost serene. My focus has been on Darcy and home and my heart feels warm again. I no longer cry in the car or feel panicked at night. I feel so able to handle whatever life has on offer. A stark difference to this time last year and long may it continue!
I feel strong. I am strong.
I cannot be bullied or broken. I will not be made to feel less than I am by the things that have happened to me or people who don't have my best interests at heart. I'm a good egg. I try my best. I love fully. That's all you can ask I think.
This year has been so healing. It's been like a hug. Warm and gentle and just what I needed. As always, you have been amazing. Unfailingly supportive in everything you do. I know it's cringey to say but truly, you're a blessing.
Last month I took a leap and completely changed the direction of this space. I told you all that I wanted to take a more honest approach, not always sugar-coat and talk about topics that are more interesting to someone of my age. It was risky because the tried and tested safe and soft method worked. It was successful. I worried for weeks that I could be tearing down everything I'd worked for nearly 7 years to build but, one month in and it seems like it was a good idea! I've noticed a lot of women (and a few men even!) in their late twenties, thirties and forties are speaking up in the comments (of youtube or facebook or whatever platform we're on at the time) and it's like I'm making new friends. I've noticed the comments are transitioning from 'ily Louise!!' (from the younger viewers/readers, of course very lovely and welcome, don't stop them!) to short stories about your lives, your opinions, the things that matter to you. I value these a lot because you are sharing parts of yourself and really growing roots here. I love it too when I see you answering each other or starting discussions amongst yourselves. Rather rarely for the internet, our comments sections are a good place to be! So, our family is growing in size and diversity and this will only lead to great things for us all. More opportunities to learn and grow and experience. I have seen what a strong community we are. I am proud of us.
In a couple of days I'll be announcing the next big thing I'm working on but if the past 7 years have taught me anything, each year holds a lot and I'm excited to see what year 8 will hold for us.
Every year I look back on the sentence I wrote the year before. Last year I said -
As is tradition, I'll add to it -
Strength feels like the perfect word for 2015/16. Personally I am standing tall again, wonderful professional opportunties are in the air and you as a community are growing and showing such integrity and positivity. I'm ready to step forward into our 8th year and I hope you will come with me.
Thank you very much to all the creative community members who have provided art work for this post, they are credited below each piece. If you submitted something and it wasn't selected, I'm ever so sorry. I received hundreds (you guyyzzzz), so narrowing it down was really hard! I saw each one and loved them all. My heart had allll the warm fuzzies!
In the comments today, please take this opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell me who you are, what you like to do, what matters to you, how you found me and how long you've been here. Let's get to know each other!