I’m so terrible at acknowledging and celebrating my success that when I got to the end of 2019 I thought it’d been just ok.
Growing Patreon, passing 25,000 monthly visitors to my blog, increasing my online following, finding a literary agent, learn how to rock climb, doing a mini-adventure close to home….just some of the things I wanted to achieve that I hadn’t.
My brilliant coach and friend, Charlotte sent me a card at the end of the year full of nice words. In it, she wrote that her favorite quote from me, ‘Bex Band, mistress of the understatement: ‘It’s been a good year”, right before listing all the things that I had achieved.
Seeing it all written down in one place made me realise what a numpty I am. While in some areas my life and career seemed stagnant this was another amazing year that I could look back on and celebrate.
My highlights include:
#1 Organising and leading 2 epic expeditions
The expeditions were very different – one was swimming and collecting conservation data on Whale Sharks in Mafia Island, the other was exploring Japan, including a summit of Mt Fuji. I was blessed with incredible teams for both expeditions.
#2 Winning awards and gaining recognition
Earlier this year I won the Next Generation Award run by Enterprise Nation and TSB. I had to pitch Love Her Wild in a conference room full of business experts which was pretty nerve-wracking….I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d won.
Then, shortly afterward I found out Love Her Wild had been nominated for a National Diversity Award (thank you to the people who put a nomination forward…I could read the kind words you wrote about me but don’t know who you are!). And to top off the year, I appeared in Business Leader named as one of the ‘UK’s 30 Most Inspirational Entrepreneurs’
Ha! Me, a ditsy girl from Basingstoke an inspirational entrepreneur and business winner. How did that happen?!
#3 Close encounters in the water
Not only did I swim with Whale Sharks this year but I also had the mind-blowing experience of being in the water with humpback whales. What a dream come true! This was a special moment when a calf left it’s mother to come up for air and came right up to me for a closer look….
As if that wasn’t enough, I also swam with Manta Rays for the first time, hung out with many octopuses (my fav!!) and passed my Divemaster qualification in Indonesia.
#4 So many exciting travels
I was very lucky in 2019 to see so much of the world on my travels. Some of my stand out moments include….
…..hiking in the Pyrenees on a writers retreat I ran with Emma Rosen. This was also a really special week for me. I loved delivering all the branding and blogging workshops and felt so inspired about writing after a week with like-minded folk. We’ll be running another one in the future!
…..doing my first ever diving Liveaboard in Indonesia. Living on a boat diving each day. Long term life goal!
…..spending a week at Mana Lombok doing a surfing and yoga retreat. I was joined by fellow blogger Seanna Fallon so when we went stretching, eating or faceplanting in the water we were sat in beanbags blogging
…..seeing the rugby world cup opening ceremony in Japan
…..campervanning in New Zealand with husband in tow after 2 weeks spent swimming with humpback whales in Tonga. This was the most lavish and indulgent travels I’ve had in years and I loved it. Not a tent or hiking pole to be seen!
I’ve got lots of blogs coming out soon sharing all my travels and recommendations.
A note on my travels: I’m well aware of the negative impact of flying on the planet and 2019 was excessive. Although I’ve made huge eco life changes in other areas – going vegan, ditching the car, only buying second hand – it’s time to tackle those flights! While I’m not going to stop traveling entirely I’m going to reduce my flights massively – combing work travels and visiting friends/family to reduce the amount I take. Plus learning to celebrate and explore what we have on our doorstep a bit more!
#5 Having a base after 3 years on the move
After a long time living like a digital nomad, it was time to stop. In February Gil and I moved to Bristol – an area we knew nothing about – to start building a base for ourselves. We needed some stability. To create a better work/life balance but to also start building the community of friends that had been missing from our day to day lives.
It was an adjustment, as I knew it would be. And February is not the best time to be getting excited about the UK after 3 years of exciting travels and living in hot exotic countries! I’m usually really social and when I was living in London I would be out 4/5 evenings a week seeing friends or going to events.
In Bristol, I knew no one and while I started the process of making new friends it takes time. I found it isolating and boring at times.
Returning from our Tonga/New Zealand travels end of October, we decided it was time to start looking to rent our own place (we’d been in a house share) and surprisingly….I don’t really know how it happened….we ended up moving to Bath. We were adamant that we wanted to be in a quiet location while still being very close to walks, cafes, libraries and places we can work from without needing to pay for expensive co-working spaces. And Bath could offer that at a better price for a central location…..while still being only 10mins on the train from Bristol.
Best of both worlds.
And there was also another reason for the sudden move…
Every time a child is born, so is a parent…
…said a leaflet the midwife handed me (ew). Who knew being pregnant came with so much cheese!!!
So that’s my big news. If I’m honest, it’s not been as exciting as I imagined it might be. The last 2 and a half months have been really tough.
A couple of weeks into being pregnant I started to feel sick and tired. Morning sickness? I wish!! I’ve felt nauseous 24/7 since mid-October and now, as I sit writing this in January, there is no change on that front. I’m getting used to feeling sick but what hit me worse was the tiredness or, even more upsetting for me, was the complete lack of motivation and ability to focus.
Not only did I not feel well enough to work most days but I also didn’t want to – I felt nothing about my blog, Love Her Wild, the exciting plans I had ahead. And when I did try to touch anything I’d make endless mistakes. These are my passions and loves in life so it felt pretty miserable that I didn’t even want to go near them.
Add to that the changes in my body – feeling big and heavy and barely being able to exercise without gagging (sorry but its true). Plus all the other annoying symptoms….persistent headaches, stuffy nose, violent hiccups!!! Seriously, don’t laugh. I can cope with the headaches and sickness but when the violent hiccups start they tip me over the edge.
I don’t know what I was expecting but I know loads of people who didn’t find out they were pregnant until they were months gone, even up to 6 months (how?!?!). So I wasn’t prepared for this and in truth, I’ve not been enjoying any of it.
But I have been keeping perspective.
As much as I’ve felt pretty terrible and I let myself moan and feel sorry for myself, I also remember that with so many of my challenges in life, really I’m privileged to have them. I never imagined pregnancy being so difficult and consuming but it’s made me realise how hard miscarriage and infertility must be to have to face. I’m lucky that we’ve had no problems to date and, as much as I’m complaining about it, I know I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to say that.
Lots of worries
For anyone that read my blog about the challenges of being 30 and female in today’s world, you’ll know that choosing to have children is a big decision for me. The biggest I’ve ever had to make!
My worries over the climate crisis and the sadness of the destruction of our natural world (poor Australia) haven’t gone away. But I don’t want to take on the weight of the world – even if I do sometimes – and let that stop me living my own life. And I will, of course, do more than my share. Bring on the reusable nappies, second-hand baby clothes and plant-based weaning!!
Then there are the worries about work.
It’s never easy being your own boss but the last months have really shown that. I don’t get sick pay and, while I’m entitled to some basic statutory maternity pay, it’s not a lot. And I can’t afford to pay for someone to replace me to keep everything ticking over.
So work – Love Her Wild and my blog – has suffered. Now I’m pregnant and intending to breastfeed I also can’t lead for a while which is a huge part of my income gone.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the incredible Patreon’s who have stuck with me over the last few quiet months I don’t know how I could have kept Love Her Wild ticking over, especially with all the end of year expenses and payments due. You are my heroes and I am forever grateful!!
The next months will be working hard to get as organised and on top of things as I can. I will be re-inventing and putting more energy into Patreon with new rewards to thank my supporters. It’s made me realise how very vital it is to have that regular income.
2020 goals and plans
Thankfully in the last 2 weeks, while my symptoms have persisted, my motivation has really started to return. And I’m down to sleeping 10 hours a day instead of 14!! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s a big one!
My due date is June and while I’ll play things by ear in the second half of the year, I’ve got big plans to make the most of the first half:
Love Her Wild’s turns 3!!
How did this happen? They grow up so fast!
I’m organising a little get-together for Love Her Wild’s most long-standing volunteers who have helped shaped the community and what it has become today. Celebrating feels good!
Love Her Wild adventures
Although I won’t be leading them myself, I’ve got some amazing women on board to take over the Love Her Wild expeditions this year. I’ll still be doing all the behind the scenes planning and cheering the team on from back home. You can see the full list of adventures here.
I’ll also still be attending both our Wild Weekends this year.
These are all the lovely women who came to the Wild Weekend ‘North’! 2019
The super-duper epic relay
Last week I launched the Women’s End2End relay and it went a bit nuts!! It’s amazing to see so many women excited to get involved but also a bit scary. This is my most ambitious project yet – hundreds of women coming together to carry a baton the full length of the UK. I’m adventuring vicariously through all those teams of women who are going to be part of making something epic happen.
I’ve got an amazing team helping make this happen – from Zoe and Abby helping with logistics, Clare chasing press opportunities as well as 15 great mountain leaders who will be leading a section of the walk each to ensure the women are looked after (and the baton doesn’t take too many detours!)……not to mention my incredible husband Gil who has taken over a lot of tasks recently that I wasn’t able to do.
You can sign up to do a day of the hike. Spaces are limited each day and are filling up already (yey!). Soon I will also be launching a competition for girls to design the baton we will be carrying…there will be prizes, of course.
Everyone who joins pays £25 which will go into a fundraising pot for The Woodland Trust to help protect UK’s nature. So it’s all happening for a good cause as well.
And a few other little bits I’d like to work on…
…Video content! I’ve made videos on and off over the last couple of years which I’ve shared on Facebook. I’m moving them all to a YouTube channel and plan to upload lots more that cover my most asked questions. Things like – what to pack, how to keep costs of an adventure down, how to wild camp, getting qualifications so you can lead, etc. Got an idea of a question you’d like me to cover? Let me know!
…I’ve signed up to a creative writing course which I’m really looking forward to starting. I love writing young adult fiction and think picking this up again will help me with my blog writing and keep me motivated to write my own book.
…While I didn’t reach my target of growing my blog to 25,000 readers this year, I did grow. I went from 10,000 – 15,000. So I’m still working towards that target!
…And finally, I want to learn Hebrew. I’ve done lessons previously and know a bit, but now we’re going to have a proper multi-lingual family, it’s time I got back on it again. I just need to keep that patience because it is a seriously tough language to learn!
Love this photo! Taken on a hike we did on the Pyrenees Writers Retreat
So it’s going to be a different and exciting year.
I have no idea what to expect and will keep an open mind. My hope is that even with a family I can continue adventuring, leading, blogging and running Love Her Wild….just in a different way. While I’m not naive to the challenges that come with having small people, I also don’t believe I need to give up my alternative way of life because of it.
Adventure is all about adapting and embracing change!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and apologise I’ve been so quiet without explanation! What have you got planned this year?
My readers, the comments I get, the likes and shares, they mean a lot and it’s been great to have so many of you on my blogging and adventure jounrey to this point. I hope you’ll stay with me! Remeber to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And if you would like to support my blogging and the Love Her Wild community, please do consider becoming a Patreon.