Self care, skin care, & nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, searching for pure happiness & joy

Looking Back on 2017

(Image: David Youll Photography)

Come on now gang, you knew a post like this was coming. Last year, I shared numerous "favourite" posts covering my top picks of my lifestyle, personal style, and photography posts from 2O16 and it was really nice to reflect on what I had enjoyed sharing with you and what I was proud of either content-wise or photography/editing-wise. But this year I thought I'd change tact as Northern Blood has gone through a lot of change since this time last year.

I've really enjoyed some of my content this year and feel extremely happy and proud with some posts I've published. I feel like my blog hasn't necessarily changed direction, but it's become more true to me in some ways - I've always enjoyed beauty, fashion, and lifestyle -general blogs and knew I wanted to be involved in those topics when writing my own blog, but I also felt there was something missing. I'm still not entirely sure what that "missing" thing could be categorised as, but I'm pleased as punch to publish more personal posts about anything and everything from feminism, to body positivity, to discussing anxiety... It all feels like a truer, more well-rounded reflection of me and that can never be a bad thing. Blogging is very much a hobby for me and I've found discussing these more "touchy" topics has helped keep that hobby and interest alive.

With that being said, I did take a wee break from blogging from September-November - why? Well, I just didn't know what direction I wanted everything to go in. Everything was starting to feel stale or forced and that's why I took a step back to assess how I was blogging and why it just wasn't floating my boat anymore. I realised having a strict schedule to stick to was good for my organisational side, but was damaging my creativity. It was leaving me publishing content that wasn't particularly well thought-out or even that fun to write and that needed to change. I needed to get the passion injected back into my writing. After a break, a blog makeover, and some time to consider what I wanted to write, I came back in mid November, full of fresh new ideas and ready to get back at it. But for now, here's some of my favourite posts I've written throughout 2O17 that are favourites either because of the response and engagement I've received from you lovely lot, because I mustered up and uncovered a mix of emotions writing them, or simply just because I can look back on them now and still stand by my words and feel pleased with what I wrote. There's a total mixed bag:

Real Talk: Let's Stop Body Shaming
One of my first Real Talk posts of 2O17 was about body shaming. This is still something I feel many of us are fighting against in a variety of ways and it seems we're all going through a long ol' slug to be more inclusive and loving of everyone and how they look. This post was a biggie for me to write because I often feel as a slim young white female, my voice isn't as valid as others on this topic however, that doesn't mean I don't share many good values when it comes to body positivity and acceptance and that's where I wanted to share my own experiences and thoughts and help educate myself first and foremost.

Save the Bees
This post was the first kind of inkling I had that I wanted to start talking more about the environment or being eco-friendly and sustainable on NB. Bees are one of my favourite animals and you guys they are so so important in our world. I really enjoyed writing this one as it felt like such a "true to me" topic and was also incredibly fun to further research as I of course, wanted to educate myself as much as I can in order to put together a hopefully coherent post!

A Coffee Date with 16-Year-Old Me
A post that was incredibly fun to write and even more bloody nostalgic was this one covering what I would say to 16 year old me. Being 26 now, I feel like a hell of a lot has changed in me and my outlook on many many things and it was just nice to sit down and genuinely consider what I would say to shy and timid 16 year old Amyleigh if given the chance. It was an awfully fun one to write but it also was a bit emotional and really humbling to analyse how much I've grown as a person and how much more secure I am in myself now.

Saying Goodbye to Fast Fashion
Something else I've been pretty proud of this year is curbing my spending on fast fashion. I realised I spent a lot of my free time scrolling endlessly on fashion sites, buying lots of clothes I didn't need or then even end up wearing, and it just wasn't fulfilling. Before anyone blasts me, I'm not saying you cannot enjoy those things, I just realised for me personally I was using shopping to try and fill a void and it wasn't working. So I curbed my fast fashion spending, pledging to buy only second hand or vintage if I wanted a new item (unless I actually couldn't find what I needed and it was something I needed in a certain time frame). I'm pleased to say I'm still very much working on this and have cut out *so much* spending. Researching the harm fast fashion has on the planet and our people also made me want to switch to slow fashion living and I cannot see me turning back in future.

Me and My Other Interests: Graphic Novels
Very much a slow burner of a series, my Me & My Other Interests posts have given me the opportunity to include various things I like that don't always necessarily tie in with my other content. One such post I really enjoyed sharing was the one covering my love for graphic novels and comics. Although graphic novels sometimes feature in my book review posts, I've never really had the chance to go in to detail properly as to why I love comics/graphic novels so much. This just gave me an outlet to passionately share my love for them and why my favourites are some of my favourites.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Living with Anxiety
Mental health is something I tried to talk about much more in 2O17 as it's something that effects most people on some sort of level and I think the best way to help each other is to openly talk about our experiences as it can be supportive and help people try ideas and coping strategies that they may never have thought of and it also can just be a comfort to know others are going through the same things. Therefore when it was Mental Health Awareness Week, I shared what it's like having my anxiety - particularly my social anxiety - and how it can be difficult to juggle it with maintaining healthy relationships/friendships/work life etc.. It was very refreshing to write and felt like a weight off my shoulders.

The Novice Guide to Going Cruelty Free
Another big change I made this year was switching to cruelty free for my makeup/skincare/haircare/home cleaning products. This was something I had wanted to do for a long time but struggled with kickstarting the transition as I felt people would judge me as I still eat meat. Fast forward to now though and I'm so pleased I finally made the jump as I feel it reflects my ethics so much more and I'm so much more reserved with my spending. I pay more attention to whether I want or need a product, I pay attention to it's packaging and whether or not it can be recycled, and I just feel I'm doing my small part of looking after things that I think are important. Writing this novice guide gave me a chance to share with you all the hard parts about changing to cruelty free lifestyles within the beauty realm in particular, and hopefully helped motivate or inspire some of you to either make the same transition or at least research it further.

Sometimes it's Hard to be a Woman
This post was one of those ones when I felt all fired up about the topic and knew I wanted to share my thoughts and frustrations but didn't really know how to go about it. So I pretty much ended up just writing for hours, posting it straight away, and then sat back and was relieved to see some of you share my frustrations and wanted to talk about it too. I will always be proud to say I'm feminist and I've realised that I've shied away from saying it in the past purely because I've been worried about everyone assuming that I mean I'm a man-hating angry feminist and whilst that may be true sometimes, for the most part, I'm just frustrated with the shitty deal women tend to get in society. This post let me vent and voice those rambles in a not so coherent but very "having a very heavy chat with your pal in a coffee shop for hours" vibe and I'm not totally against that.

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I don't know if it's big headed to say, but I feel that I could share a few more posts in more depth that I'm pleased to have created and shared with you all, but I'll just list some honourable mentions here too so this post a) doesn't go on for days and b) I can still fit my own head through the door:
Me and My Other Interests: Art - Another chance to share an interest that I hold so close to my heart
Buffalo Soldier - The one & only fashion post to make "the favourite posts" cut.
Real Talk: Please Date Yourself - Discussing something that I think is very important and all of us (including myself) need to do more & more
"Have You Tried Doing Yoga? - My first (and probably only) "fitness" post to just spread the word about how fab I think yoga can be
Real Talk: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby - Another "Real Talk" post that I was a proud wee feminist lady to write and ramble about
Real Talk: Sexual Assault & Harassment - I guess I just really liked the "Real Talk" posts this year, but this one in particular helped me connect with so many individuals via Twitter & email that I couldn't not include it. It's also an incredibly important topic
* * * * *

Looking back on my 2O17 is actually unfathomable for me in many ways. When I think back to this time last year, I was absolutely hating the profession I had worked so hard to get into and was on the verge of seeking help for depression brought on by it. I wasn't enjoying my job, so much so, that on this exact day a year ago, it genuinely crossed my mind more than a few times to just barricade myself at my mam's house and refuse to go back down south to my home and to my life because I wanted to avoid work at all costs. Now sat here on the tail end of 2O17, I've switched jobs (which was a terrifying move to make) and I couldn't possibly enjoy my current job any more than I do. December marks 10 months for me in this role and whilst that's not particularly long, it's been the best 10 months I've ever experienced when it comes to the past 10 years I've been employed.

Also you know, huge sidenote, but I kinda bought a house? I know I know, no one is more shocked about it than me (still) as it's something growing up that I never really cared about. Since the age of 11 I've lived in rented properties and coming from a very working class background, buying houses just isn't a norm I've been surrounded by. So it's still very surreal and I don't honestly think it's sunk in yet as I still kind of don't feel like it's mine? I guess maybe one day when everything is decorated and looking its best, the penny might finally drop, but for now, for now I'm still in awe at my own grown-up-ness this year.

My relationships have also developed since this time last year and some of them are for the better and some of them are for the worst. I've realised that living so far away from my family is actually heartbreaking at times and it's made me wonder how I'm going to cope the older and older I get, knowing that my family aren't right around the corner when I need them. This has meant when I visit home, I have been doing my upmost to ensure I have *the best* time with every family member. Whether it's going out and doing something fun like going bowling with my mam and brother or doing something others would see as mundane such as spending a few extra hours at my grandma's house to sit and drink tea and gossip about her cat lady neighbour, I'm putting so much more effort into it all and I want that to be a constant improvement in 2O18 too.

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