2015 has ended, not with a bang but a whimper. It is the morning of the new year and I am sitting huddled on the floor, clutching a coffee and feeling a little astounded at how late I managed to sleep, yet wanting a little more. 

To say 2015 was challenging is a bit of a cliché. Every year lately has been challenging and I don’t expect 2016 to be any less so. The alternative is what? A boring year? A year filled with sunshine and lollipops?

We all know that too much refined sugar isn’t good for us 🙂

If you are here for some foodie talk then there is a slightly ridiculous Strawberry Cheesecake Thickshake recipe for you at the end. But please, permit me to be a little reflective for a spell.

It is very easy to end a year feeling as if you haven’t achieved much, or focussing on the challenges you faced, but if you are able to take a snapshot of where you were 12 months ago it immediately becomes clear what you have conquered. At the beginning of 2015 I chose one word – a simple idea to focus on or work towards. It was Consolidate

In that post I wrote of my frustration with my life, that I wanted a career and not just a job. I joked that I wanted a couch and a blender that worked. I now have all those. I also wrote that I wanting to stop comparing myself to others, worry less about the future and spend more time with the people that fill my cup. I am certainly not all the way there but I have been better at these things than in the past. However, I completely failed at my other goals of conserving my energy, breathing deeply and not trying to do ‘all the things’…

This year I have been fortunate enough to get so much back from this lovely blog; from new friends to opportunities. One of the most exquisite groups of female friendship I have ever had has evolved – a wonderful little group of women that have nothing but love and support for each other. Louise from Willunga Wino and I began a Wine Writing linkup and discovered that we are kindred spirits after meeting and hanging out at Problogger, my first blogging conference. I backed up that first conference by attending Eat Drink Blog, and having quite an epiphanous weekend. My determined little nephew was born and I received news that another is on his way. Two more WSET exams were ticked off (although I’m yet to hear if I passed the last one) and there are hopefully just two more to go. Champagne and Chips turned one. But perhaps the most significant thing, and that which has underwritten everything else was my new job. Be careful what you wish for, because last year I wrote: “I want to talk to people, educate people, work in a team, be creative, solve problems, embrace challenges, brainstorm ideas.” and I have that in spades. Especially the challenge part. This job is still far from my ideal; whilst there is potential for creativity, it is not embraced by the company I work for, not yet. But sometimes the best way to change a culture is from within. However, for the first time in a long time though I feel as if I am working towards the kind of life I want and that I am developing the skills to get there.

 

There have been a couple of those ‘New Year inspiration’ articles that saturate the internet this time of year, that have stuck with me:

Fifty ways happier, healthier people live on their own terms

While some of this I consider cods wallop, there are quite a few gems that resonate. You will see me fasting from social media once a week (or not see me as the case may be). I will attempt to go to bed earlier and rise earlier although I am not entirely sure I am wired that way. I do promise myself that I will no longer be starting each day with a scroll through Facebook, rather I will be journaling or learning French*. I will be saying no, or ‘Heck Yeah!” more often. This is the big one. I can be stressed to the max and have a 3 minute window of free time in the next week but if asked to help out will use that three minutes to bake a cake. I am generous with my time. But I do need to start being a little more generous to myself.

Six harsh truths that will make you a better person

Which really just boils down to one simple fact 

You are what you do

It doesn’t matter how nice you are or how smart or how well you dance/write/bake/clean/drive/insert-your-talent-here, no one will ever appreciate those things unless you DO them. Which sounds pretty obvious. Except I know that when I am berating the world for not treating me better, my brain formulates a list of all my education, skills, talents and positive personality traits – many of which I just HAVE but don’t USE to make the world a better place, or even just make my neighbours’ day a little better.

This doesn’t have to be big stuff. This can just be the minutiae that makes us feel a little brighter and passes on that brightness to another:
Pausing to let a stranger pat your dog. 
Baking some cookies for your colleagues.
Asking someone who looks lost if they need help.
Offering to teach another about something you know a lot about.
Sharing new finds with others. 
Calling or texting a friend who is down, just to let them know you care.
Taking the time to actually write something considered on social media or commenting on a friend’s post in a meaningful way. Don’t get me wrong, emojis are great, but sometimes it is important to read and respond with words.

For me, this also extends to things I want to be:
Calmer – which requires me to DO something calming
Grounded – which requires me to DO something grounding
Happier – which requires me to DO more things that make me feel happy

There seems to be a trend here.

When you break it down like that, it looks far more manageable than the ethereal goals of ‘Be happier, be healthier’.

So in 2016 my word is:

Do

But not do all the things. I will do the things that are important to me to get what I want. I will work hard but not let my work consume my life. I will study hard so I can pass my exams, finish my qualification and have more spare time. I will do the things that enrich my soul and do less of the things that don’t. If you see me at an event it is because I really want to be there and not just because I thought I should go.

 

Now for your treat…

Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is eat or drink something truly groan-worthy and indulgent. If you make happy noises over salad then I am incredibly impressed but for the rest of us, I bring you the

Strawberry Cheesecake Thickshake

strawberry cheesecake thickshake, milk shake, thick shake, recipe, one word

Happy New Year x

Do you have a word for this year? For more inspiration, check out Maxabella Loves’ linkup

 

*I have been desperately keen to start learning French but have been holding off until my Diploma is finished…. until my friend told me about DuoLingo – a wonderful online language school that is free. If learning a language is on your life list but you don’t have the time/money to attend a proper class then you simply must check this out!

Strawberry Cheesecake Thickshake
Serves 2
A decadent dessert combining strawberries, cheesecake and ice cream
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Total Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. Half a frozen strawberry cheesecake
  2. Half a litre of strawberry ice cream
  3. 250g of fresh strawberries
  4. A dash of milk
Instructions
  1. Select 4 nice strawberries and thread one onto each straw. Cut a small slit in the base of the other two strawberries to garnish the glasses.
  2. Trim the remaining strawberries and place in a blender with the cheesecake, ice cream and a small dash of milk
  3. Blend. You may need to add a bit more milk if the mixture is too thick.
  4. Pour into two large glasses and garnish with the strawberry and straw
Notes
  1. If you can get reusable straws then do-so, good for the environment and they can withstand a strawberry being threaded onto them
Champagne and Chips http://www.champagneandchips.com/

29 Comments on One Word (and a Strawberry Cheesecake Thickshake)

  1. OMG that thick shake looks ah-mazing… I know what I’m making in the unlikely event of a that I have a leftover half a cheesecake. It’s unlikely because I can never say no to a cheesecake. I have commitment issues so have been unable to choose just one word this year, but I love yours. It reminds me of that quote “You can do anything but you don’t have to do everything” and I think you totally nailed it with the little things we can do that can actually make a big difference. Kindness has a ripple effect, and though on our own, we can’t change the world, together we can make a difference. Here’s to a bright, sparkly, delicious and very fulfilling 2016!

    • Oh no Sammie, you have it all wrong. You buy the cheesecake specifically for this purpose and then you HAVE delicious leftovers too 🙂

      Here’s to a year of health, happiness and surmountable challenges 🙂

  2. I love your new year’s post. And DO is a great word for the year. I loved our little chat between group events on the first night of eat drink blog and your words then were about being real with myself and what I could feasibly do.
    I have made a pact since then to stop the “I don’t have time” chatter in my head. I either DO it or I deprioritise it by writing it down to contemplate later. It’s working a treat (not perfectly but it’s working).
    Thanks for this great post and have a really great 2016!!! I am sure you will achieve great things, fun things, relaxing things and then some more! Simone

    • Oh Simone, thank you for your beautiful words. I’m really glad I came out with a little wisdom that helped you…perhaps i need to start listening to myself 🙂
      Your new system sounds very much like what I have been playing with the last few days. Things are either important enough to do now or they can wait (and I won’t feel guilty about it). It was so lovely to meet you at EDB and I am looking forward to seeing what you achieve in 2016.

  3. Firstly, I really enjoyed this post Nicole – it’s considered, insightful and speaks a lot of truth to me, too. I like your idea of ‘do’ – particularly of doing more of the things that enrich your soul and less of the things that don’t. I’ve been focussing a lot on that idea over the last little while (although not with your wonderful turn of phrase – love it) – one of the reasons I decided to take the plunge last year and start my own blog rather than just keep thinking about it. I think that as a society in general we really do spend too much time doing things for other people’s satisfaction rather than our own. When I reflect on it, over the past few years I’ve become a lot more determined to do what pleases ME rather than every man and his dog. I figure I only get one life, so I may as well live it the way I want to, right? (…only took me twenty something years to figure that out – yikes!). I hope you enjoy going forth and ‘doing’ this year – you will be awesome at it! 🙂 Secondly, THAT THICKSHAKE. I love the fact that it quite literally contains blended strawberry cheesecake. Never seen anything like it before, but I bet it tastes amazing, and I think it also offers us all a pearl of wisdom that fits well with your word for 2016: if you feel like blending up a cheesecake and drinking it, just freaking do it!

    • Oh lovely one if you have worked that out in just twenty-something years, you are doing much better than most. I will always spend a lot of time pleasing others, it is who I am. I over-help. But I’m OK with that. I never want to be the kind of person who looks the other way and life is going to be harder because of that but also more enriching. However, yes, we must spend enough time doing the things that enrich our soul. It is so important. And we do a much better job of helping others when we are in a good place too.
      It’s going to be a good year.

  4. Firstly… Ugh! That milkshake looks so good, it has my kind of ingredients list! Secondly, nice word… I actually tried to do that last year for the first time and chose Do also… too much was thrown at me emotionally and I retreated from life so it didn’t fully work out, but I think it’s such a good word and I love your spin on it, so I hope that it works out for you! X

    • Oh you did not retreat from life. Life happened big-time. Be kind to yourself this year, as precious as your darling girl is, she will completely throw your world upside down for a little longer yet. x

  5. An incredibly inspiring post Nicole, and I love the world DO as a goal for the year. You seem to have a really clear picture of where you want to head and what you want and need from the year- and that is far more achievable and constructive than the vague ‘be happier & healthier’ that usually gets tossed by the wayside around mid-Feb. And groan-worthy is such a perfect descriptor for this thickshake – definitely for the holiday season haha!

    • Aww thank you Claudia. The next six months are going to be big’uns. Study is always tough (as I know you well know) but on top of a full-time job – yikes! DO is helping with the study so far so that’s something. I am so glad to have ‘discovered’ your blog last year.

  6. A really thoughtful post, Nicole. I am very guilty of too many thoughts, ideas, plans, dreams, etc and not half enough doing!! Your word is creative and inspiring. Bring on the verbs!!!!

    And yes, I do think I’ll drink the milkshake!!! x

  7. Hahahaha I’ve been seeing all of these seeing all of these healthy recipes over the past week and then I come here… and I know why I like you so much!!! This is fab! I loved reading your post – I’m a big one for doing a reflection of the past year and then thinking about the future. I really like your new word. And totally agree that while you can’t ‘do’ everything, you can do the things that really matter. You’re going to have a wonderful 2016 – you’re such an incredible and inspiring person. xx

    • Hehe, I couldn’t resist the temptation to post an alternative smoothie. ‘Do’ has really been working for me. Some days at work when all I want to do is curl into a little ball and hide from the world just Doing the next thing makes the day go faster. We shall have a wonderful 2016 together 🙂

  8. OOOOH, this looks seriously good, I think I would actually risk anaphylaxis to have this! (if you see me passed out in the corner you know why!)

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