Happy New Year you lovely lot! I know it's been a bit quiet over here since before Christmas but on a last-minute whim, I decided to indulge in a (very) much-needed 'digital detox'. Aside from sporadic Snapchatting and a few posts on Instagram, I steered well clear of social media and my inbox to avoid getting distracted from valuable family time - which I had plenty of (and it was bloody lovely to say the least). I fully intended to share a couple of festive posts before the Big Day but ended up instead shooting and editing a couple of projects ready for the New Year (to be revealed soon). So I'm now sat on a whole load of Christmassy content and wanted to try and share these images before it becomes completely unacceptable to mention Christmas again until December.
You might have seen on Instagram that Zoe and I were invited to the Four Seasons on Park Lane for a delicious festive afternoon tea (see here and here) but unfortunately as it was so dark by the time we'd finished, we didn't get chance to shoot in the hotel's beautiful Winter Garden. So following a lovely lunch meeting a few weeks later, we took full advantage of the bright afternoon light while we enjoyed hot chocolate and sweet treats on the cosy terrace. With its own gourmet Winter menu and a selection of warming Hennessy cocktails, it's the perfect hideaway on a cold evening - and only a few minutes walk from Winter Wonderland too. Oh and it's very Instagrammable ...
The Winter Garden at Four Seasons London is open daily from 12pm-11pm (weather permitting) until the end of February.
... but back to the detox. Having not worked for almost the whole week between Christmas and New Year, I had some time (in between the killer hangovers) to really reflect on 2016; in terms of work, relationships and my goals going forward. And it's odd because where I'd usually set objective (often unachievable) targets, I found myself noting vague yet very important resolutions instead. Things like: get more sleep (rather than my 2016 average of 5 hours a night), step out of your comfort zone (which I stubbornly stayed in throughout most of last year) and have more fun. Ridiculous, right? Reading this post by the gorgeous Chloe really resonated with me. She openly encourages being irresponsible and prioritising social activity over work. That doesn't have to mean all the time but it's fair to say my dedication to my career has in the past, caused damage in my relationships with those close to me. And for a short while, it seems absolutely necessary to have work as your Number One. And maybe, for just a little while, it is. But I'm switching it up this year. So what if I have to turn up to a shoot ever so slightly hungover because I went out the night before? I will have made memories, which have recently become more valuable to me than ever.
My Dad actually said something really wonderful to me last month, something that I'll have a hard time forgetting in the future. It was shortly after my trip to Venice; he said that he wished he'd had the courage to live life like I do, he wished he'd taken more opportunities and opened himself up to new experiences when he was younger. He's worked all his life and is hugely successful but yet he still feels as though he'd do things differently second time around. I'm not naive to the fact that the opportunities I'm presented with are often a direct result of my job and I'm incredibly fortunate and grateful for them. To balance the days spent chained to my desk, are trips of a lifetime that I once only dreamed of being offered.
But - the weight of his remark doesn't necessarily land on occupation. It lands on attitude. If you don't have the freedom to fly on a Wednesday with a week's notice, why don't you take the trip at the weekend instead? Allow yourself spontaneity, risks and excitement. And though I made advances with this in 2016, I want to push myself even more in 2017.
So this Christmas break has done me the world of good. It's made me closer to the people that really matter and it's allowed time for reflection and reevaluation. But now I'm ready to get back at it, to implement changes and to focus on balance - between work and enjoying life. I have so many plans for my blog and targets for career growth but growing in my personal relationships, in myself and with the experiences yet to come - that's just as important.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and hope that you too make this year about you, finding out what makes you happiest and what enables you to live your best life.