2019: the year of living intentionally;

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

The thing that sets Last Year’s Girl apart from any and all other creative ideas I’ve had over the course of my lifetime is the fact that it’s still here. I’m great at ideas, not so good with the follow-through. Or, more accurately: I’ve got that initial spark down, but when it comes time to put the work in? Turn the one-sentence skeleton plot into a YA novel; or the loose, over-arching structure into an actual anthology? My bum’s been in my seat all day, lads. It’s time for a bath/dinner/the seventeen thousand blog posts I have saved to “read later”.

As well as being a critically-acclaimed author and journalist, my friend Kaite is an accomplished project manager and creative coach. A couple of weeks ago, when I was lying in the bath one Freelance Monday beating myself up over a 2018 in which my most notable accomplishment seemed to be meeting some pop star, she asked me: how is Last Year’s Girl serving you, creatively, right now? If you were to take a year off from blogging, wouldn’t it be interesting to see what bubbled up to the surface?

Now, I don’t think it’s the right answer: at least, not yet. For one thing, 2019 is my 20th year of blogging, if not 20 years of Last Year’s Girl, and as much as it tickles me to mark the anniversary by hitting pause on the whole thing it seems like a bit of a shame. Plus, I’ve gotten used to having my own platform when something comes up that I just have to write about. I could probably go a full year without “blogging”, as such, but I can’t imagine going a full year without having Opinions.

Project Love 'Goodbye 2018 Hello 2019' planner and workbook.

The Christmas period, for me, is mostly focused on family time, but with (most of) the celebrations over I’ve turned to my Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019 journal* from Project Love to help me figure out what I’ll be focussing on over the coming year. Part workbook, part planner, the journal is designed to help you design a life you love in the coming year, with quarterly check-ins to help you stay focused on the things that are most important to you.

Project Love is Vicki and Selina, coaches and friends who helped each other though career and relationship blockages and who decided to channel their expertise into podcasts and products to help other women (and men) bring about the changes that they wanted to make in their own lives. The Goodbye, Hello journal first came about eight years ago, but it was only in late 2017 that they began producing it as a beautifully-designed, prompted journal, first through Kickstarter and now available to purchase in Oliver Bonas stores throughout the UK as well as online.

So, what has the journal helped me to discover about myself?

Well, it turns out that I’m at my happiest when I’m seeing live music, preferably with Stringer; and spending time with my family and friends. I love to travel and to meet the people I love for coffee and cake, but I panic when there’s nothing left in my bank account at the end of the month. I like to know that I’m helping people. I miss writing about music, and culture; and I love that, in 2018, I’ve read more books than I’ve spent time online.

And in 2019?

Well, one of my favourite features of Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019 is that it is designed around a focus for the year, which you arrive at following reflection on what has gone before and then revisit throughout the year. I’ve been using focus words as part of my new year reflections for a few years now, but without those checkpoints I never really did anything with them. But with my focus for 2019 being on living intentionally, I can see myself getting a lot of use out of the journal – and for checking in with myself regularly to become a great tool for both my creative, professional fulfilment and my mental health.

Living intentionally, to me, means putting things out into the world with purpose, and with care. It means being careful with my spending, paying down debts and only purchasing things that I genuinely need and which bring me joy. It means filling my body with tasty, nutritious foods; sleeping well and spending my time with good books, good music and the people I love.

And it means finally – finally – starting the podcast I’ve been promising for three years.

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019 journal with Christmas foliage and podcast microphone

From Your Big Sister comes out of my love for my wee brother and sister, the joy I find in mentoring younger women and what became, this year, an obsession with advice columns. Each episode, I’ll take a topic – or, hopefully, a listener question – which I’ll discuss with a guest, ideally somebody with a cool creative project to share. We’ll talk about that project too, and share the things that we’re listening to, reading, watching and loving – a bit like a shortened version of my very favourite culture consumption posts. I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it out there, and I’m really really excited to see what we come up with. I hope you will be too.

Last Year’s Girl, my 20-year-old baby, won’t be going anywhere, but this culture and lifestyle blog will be getting a new lease of life. That means getting back to the music reviews, recommendations and interviews that I love to do and that I completely dropped the ball on this year; and celebrating women in particular making theatre, film and TV. If you’re here for the “lifestyle” content? Expect more personal essays, more adventures in Glasgow and further afield and more of the things I love. I’m sure there will still be the odd collaboration – a girl (and her cats) gotta eat – but only really lucrative ones I’m genuinely excited about, where I think I have something really interesting to add to the noise that is the contemporary blogosphere.

That’s it. I’m excited. I need a new blog layout. After all, a few days after that sad, unfulfilled conversation with Kaite, I got asked if I fancied being on BBC Two for the first time. You never know where your next opportunity is going to come from.

Happy new year, pals. I’m rooting for all of us. And a second referendum.