Thursday, 18 May 2017

My Hopes, Dreams and Achievements as My Blog Turns Four

What Lizzy Loves bluebell-top-blog-fourth-birthday

When I published my very first blog post on this date four years ago, never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen that every aspect of my life would change beyond recognition. Not only that, if you'd have told me that it would turn into the most exciting, wondrous adventure and that all of my dreams would come true, I'd have accepted it as little more than a whimsical thought and moved swiftly on. But, that's exactly what has happened and I can't quite believe it. 

This post is celebratory, it's about how my blog has shaped my life, so I debated whether or not to include the next paragraph because it revisits old ground, but I do feel I need to include at least some of my "back story" to give my current and incredibly happy status some context. (And rather than cluttering the post with the links to the relevant posts to which I'll refer, I'll list them at the end).

My Harder Times
To those that have followed since the early days, you might recall that three years ago, on my blog's first birthday, I wrote about the life-changing events following my discovery eight weeks earlier of my former husband's long-standing infidelity, (with a woman I had considered a friend). The divorce that ensued was brutal, horrific and exhausting and within eight months, my children and I moved from our large country barn conversion into a new build in the centre of town. To say my emotions were tumultuous at that time would be one almighty understatement. Fear, humiliation and shock took it turns to occupy my mind day and night, but I chose to swim, (although my natural optimism and positivity meant sinking was never an option), and slowly, with the unwavering support of my parents, brothers and sisters-in-law and my friends, I came out the other side, stronger and with a greater understanding of life and its priorities and free from the abusive marriage that I had chosen to stay in for the sake of my children. That chapter is something I plan to write about one day in depth, not because I wish to wallow in self-pity, far from it, but because I am proof that time heals, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that, most, most importantly, though it's nigh on impossible to believe at the time, happy ever afters do happen. I received so many wise words and learned so much that I want to pass on. I want to share what really helped me to get through it.  

Throughout those hard months, I realised that the career break I was taking needed to come to an end so I could take steps to become financially independent but I wasn't of the right mindset to return to optometry. I'd always wanted to write, so I tentatively emailed the managing director of Aspire, a Skipton-based magazine to see if I could get some work experience and included a link to my blog. She read and liked it and offered me a monthly fashion feature. Three months later, I was offered the role of copywriter, editor and journalist, a position I accepted with relish and still hold. 

My Blog's Evolution
Once settled into our new home, I found myself wanting to improve my blog. It was still a hobby but one I was becoming more and more passionate about. I look back and cringe at some of my early posts; the photography was poor, I didn't understand the technicalities of writing it such that search engines would find and like it and I had no concept of the importance of social media or how best to promote my posts. Slowly, though, I learned on the job, (I'm still learning every single day), and in February last year, I attended my first blogging conference after realising I would need to run my blog as a business, so time-consuming was it, to sustain it. This proved to be a life-changing weekend because there, I met six other bloggers, only one of whom I'd met previously. Such was our connection that we kept in touch and one year later, launched The Over 40 Collective, (which I've written about and mentioned on many occasions). Next week, we are invited guests at a very special event which I am considering to be the pinnacle of my blogging career so far. The itinerary we have is incredible and I can't quite believe that it has all come about because of my blog; that it's actually part of my job. We'll all be sharing snippets next Friday on social media with full blog pots to follow. I can't wait to share it because it truly will be an awesome day.


The Over 40 Collective
The Over 40 Collective

My Hopes
This year I've worked with more brands than I could ever have hoped for. It's a privilege to wear clothes from little known brands and to make a difference to a start-up company by wearing one of their tee-shirts on Instagram. It's an honour to have been named the blogger expert for certain brands and to be invited to press days. My blog is constantly and organically evolving. I'm doing more restaurant reviews and beauty reviews and the boundaries between style and lifestyle are increasingly blurred. I am, (very happily), writing more sponsored posts, but must reassure that every single one is authentic. I wear and use everything that appears on my blog and I turn down more than I accept. I speak and write from the heart with integrity and honesty and that will never change. My goal now is to keep on building my blog, to work with more brands and to improve my photography skills further. I also want to write some more personal posts as mentioned above, those that are both emotional and emotive; I've been through a lot and I have a lot of things to share that might help. I've also made my share of mistakes but I've learned from them; I'm not afraid to hold my hands up to them.

My Dream Come True
And now onto my happy ever after. I'm the world's most romantic and sentimental person and always hoped to find my prince, but after kissing a few frogs, I had almost reached the conclusion that I'd be better off on my own, because nobody seemed to tick all of the boxes. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking for perfection because I can't offer that in return, but there are some fundamentals that are incredibly important and my experience of dating throughout the last two years has taught me not to compromise on them; things simply won't work out otherwise. Experience has also taught me to trust my gut instinct. Listen to it, ask it if it's not forthcoming and believe what it tells you because whether or not you like what you hear, it's always right.

It was indirectly through Michelle, The Barefaced Chic, (also in The Over 40 Collective), that last October, I met Ian. From the first moment, I knew he was everything I have ever hoped for. Caring, sensitive, romantic, kind, intelligent, cultured and... tall. Yaaay! Tall enough for me to wear my highest heels and still have to reach up. It's difficult to use the words I want to use without sounding overly sentimental or gushy, but he is the most wonderful man and I can't imagine life without him. It's not been plain sailing. It isn't easy for my children to see their mother as a romantic partner, rather than as just their mum and I have been accused by them of behaving like a giggly princess in his presence, but his patience, understanding and personality shine through and everything is falling into place. He supports me in all of my work, is a very patient photographer and is the best Instagram husband this blogger could wish for. I've waited my whole adult life to feel like this, to be treated this way and to have a relationship that is not only exciting but is grown-up and firmly underpinned by mutual respect, understanding, equality, honesty, a shared go-getting, positive attitude and a lot of fun and laughter.

What-Lizzy-Loves-boyfriend-Ian-sunglasses-Transitions

My Destiny
There have been times when things have been unbelievably difficult. There is so much more to say about several aspects of this post and at times, my life has seemed like a soap opera. Friends have suggested that I write a book about it but I honestly think that it would seem too far-fetched to be true. Some things have seemed almost beyond belief and certain behaviours, especially those of my former husband are incomprehensible, indefensible and unforgiveable. But I look at my children and I couldn't be prouder. They have shown resilience beyond their years. Poppy is sixteen and is in the throes of her GCSEs. She's bright, conscientious, beautiful, honest, unpretentious and kind. Harry is a sports mad, intelligent, spirited fourteen year-old who despite being horrified that his friends discovered my Instagram, tells me almost daily that he loves me. He doesn't need to tell me that he's proud of me because I can tell. They both have an excellent sense of perspective and they know I do my very best to be both parents to them, a role supplemented in bucket loads by my own wonderful dad and my two brothers and my mum continues to show unstinting love and support towards each of us.

What Lizzy Loves children

As I sit and type, I can't help but believe that this was always the plan. It feels like I was destined to write for a living, that I was destined to live a sociable and fulfilled life in the town and not a rather isolated one in the country. I was destined to meet new friends that I wouldn't have met in my old life. I'm so thankful that I had the courage to start my blog four years ago, that I was brave enough to put myself out there. I am thankful I emailed the MD of Aspire which led to my writing work. I am grateful that my parents looked after my children so I could go to the blogging conference which led to the formation of The Over 40 Collective and indirectly to Ian and I finding each other. I am so glad that the woman I once called a friend gave me a definitive reason to end my marriage. As crazy as it sounds, I want to thank her because it  resulted in me regaining the freedom that had been taken from me throughout my marriage in a controlling, insidious way. I got myself and my sparkle back.

Thank you for reading my blog and for the support, comments and feedback which mean the world. If you are thinking of starting a blog, then go for it. It's a lot of hard work and is quite addictive but it is the best way of expressing oneself and if you're going through tough times, keep on believing in yourself and I promise, you will get through it. Talk and allow yourself to feel every emotion. From then on, make the most of every opportunity; grasp it with both hands. Have the courage of your convictions. Be honest, be true, be authentic, be brave and most of all, be yourself.

Love Lizzy x

Related Posts
My Blog's First Birthday
A Very Emotional Moving Day
My Blogs Second Birthday
My Blog's Third Birthday
How To Do It All And Stay Sane
Friendships and The Over 40 Collective
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45 comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this Lizzie. Congratulations on reaching four years. There's a lot of inspiration here. Nice to see you found your prince too! xx
    www.vanityandmestyle.com

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    1. Ah, thank you so much Laurie. it's just a year since we met in London at Catherine's Hope event. I have found my prince and I couldn't be happier. he's everything I could wish for so I feel incredibly lucky xxx

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  2. Oh my! what a journey and happy birthday to your lovely blog. I love finding posts like this via linky's, posts I may not have otherwise stumbled across. I wish you all the best for the next four years and beyond. #BrilliantBlogPosts

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    1. Thank you so much Rebecca, that's so kind of you to say. It has been a journey but with a very happy destination thankfully! And yes, the link-up posts are such a good way of finding new blogs xxx

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  3. Awww that made me cry. I feel like i want to reach out and give you a great big hug. I love blogging and for me I find it an outlay to express what Im feeling and to share great fashion, beauty and places.
    My mum says Ive always been an over-sharer so its perfect.
    I'm really intrigued to see where you are off Friday! sounds exciting.I want to be in your gang. Have fun and heres to many more years blogging. Much Love Tracey xxx

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    1. Aw, thank you Tracey. Yes, my mum says the same about me. I guess none of us would blog if we weren't inclined to overshare!We're so excited about next Friday and we should be able to say more very soon. It'd be so lovely to meet you Tracey. Catherine (Not Lamb) is likely to arrange a blogger meet up in autumn some time. I don't know if you're on the mailing list but I'll ask her to message you.I know we'd all like to meet you actually. Thank you again for the lovely comment xxxxx

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  4. Well I hope you're not going to keep writing posts like this, Liz - I can't take all the crying!!!!!!!!! 😜

    What a wonderful, WONDERFUL post. Having known you for so long (the longest of any blogging buddie!) it's quite simply a privilege to say you're my friend - having been with you the day after the sh*t hit the fan I know how much of a struggle it all was... If I could go back in time to that "day after" and show you this post I would!

    You're an inspiration, and I do hope you write that book one day. Start now!! Think how it could have helped you in the beginning: THAT'S how it could help other women going through something similar. To think you're stronger and happy than ever is quite something, you're more radiant than ever before. P & H must be so proud of you, and one day I hope we get to meet the very wonderful Ian!!

    I'll stop gushing now. Off to get more tissues. May even more wonderful things come your way... SEE YOU NEXT WEEK IN LONDON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Catherine x
    http://notdressedaslamb.com

    P.S. Anytime now I'll need to buy a hat I reckon, just tell me when 😉

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    1. Aw, thank you so much Catherine. I was thinking about that day just yesterday when I was writing this post. I can't actually believe I went to London to do a photoshoot the day after. It's no wonder the photographs were awful!!! I'll never forget how kind you were. I hadn't eaten and you took me for sushi. I was like a zombie wasn't I. I didn't even cry, totally numb!!! I wish I'd have known too at that time how things were to turn out and just today, I had a message from a family friend whose marriage has very recently broken down and wanted some advice so I may yet write it.
      Poppy and Harry are very proud (deep down) as I am of them and we are a very tight unit and have each others' backs. I am certain you'll meet Ian one day- I can't wait to introduce him to you all. I'm smiling at the thought of you buying a hat...so long as its Instagrammable ;0 See you next week in London. I can't wait!!! xxxxx

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  5. I can honestly see that book in shops Liz. I know 100% you'll write it & I also know there will be a group of girls standing behind you cheering you on every step of the way! ;-)
    Reading your story like this (even though I know it already) reminds me of something I became aware of only in the last few years - No matter how much we think we know it, we can never truly know what the future will bring. So in the depths of despair when the world is crashing around us it's imperative to remember everything can be completely different in a year or two. So different that your life is unrecognisable! Nothing is set in stone. Women like you are an inspiration to many going through similar hard times Liz. I've said this to you before, those women will relate to your story, they need to read it & it will give them hope that they can also turn their life around.
    Love ya babe xxx

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    1. Oh Michelle, thank you lovely. What you said is so true. we can make plans and share our hopes and sometimes they come to fruition and other times they don't.I would say to anyone going through something like this that with the support of friends and family and with a dose of optimism and self-belief that they WILL survive and get through it. My plan now is to start with a series of blog posts which I might then collate into a book. We'll see. As you well know, I only need another five hours in the day to complete my "to-do" lists! Love you too and see you next weeeeeeeek! xxxxxxxxx

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  6. Gosh, four years! You're aging us. :) I remember finding you when you were promoting your brand new blog on the Boden facebook page and look at all you've accomplished now. It's been a joy watching you blossom. Thank you for all the great posts I've read over my morning coffees and to many more in the future.

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  7. Ah Kate, thank you so much. It seems a long time ago in some ways, yet in others it has passed by in a flash. Thank you for following all this time. I'm so grateful xxxxx

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  8. I read the entire post with a big smile on my face. Well, exept for the first part of course. Had no Idea you came from so far! You can be very proud of yourself! And I wish you a very happy life with Ian and your kids!

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  9. What a lovely, profound post, Lizzy! I'm so glad I found What Lizzy Loves, it's always a pleasure to get your posts in my inbox. I'm so delighted that your life has become what you dreamed it could, Lizzy. You so deserve happiness and joy and it's wonderful to see you beaming!
    As a former magazine editor & writer and now an author of 12 novels - I would definitely encourage you to write a book too <3
    Suzy xxx
    www.suzyturner.com

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    1. Thank you so much Suzy. It's been like very getting to know you too and you're an inspiration! I might need to pick your brains if I ever do decide to write a book! xxxx

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  10. What a lovely post Lizzy! I will enjoy having a little look at your blog. #sharingthebloglove

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    1. Thank you so much. I love the hashtag and actually, that's another amazing thing- the support and friendship from other bloggers. It's fab isn't it xxxx

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  11. I don't even know what to say after reading this twice other than I AM SO F*KING PROUD OF YOU I COULD SCREAM! You are my favourite kind of woman, a steel fist in a velvet glove. You are so kind, so cheerful, so sweet, and so generous, but underneath all of that is a fierce power that can and will get you through anything. I have enjoyed every single day of the past year, having you in my life and getting your humour and perspective on so many things. You are an inspirational mother and business woman, and you deserve every blessing that comes your way. Cannot WAIT to see you next week, love. xx

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    1. Oh Lisa. That made me cry! Thank you darling. It's been a privilege to get to know you and to have you in my life too. I'm actually stuck for words, (a rare occurrence as we know) But I must say that you are a wonderful mother and I adore your style and your phenomenal intelligence. I cannot wait to see you next week either. It's going to be a day to remember for the rest of our lives. So much love xxxx

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  12. Can't believe it's four years since the first blog - seems like yesterday. Thank you for being such a lovely person. Hope to meet you some day xxx

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    1. I can't believe it's four years either. Thank you so much for your lovely words. I hope we meet too Christine xxxxxxx

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  13. This is a fantastic and heartfelt post. Thank you for having the courage to share your past. I'm currently stuck at a cross road in life and have found this post thought provoking. Wonderful to see things have worked out for you x

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    1. Thank you very much Maria. Whatever you are going through, take the time to listen to your instincts and your gut feeling. It's hard sometimes because they tell you what you don't want to hear but they're always right. Be brave and believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask for help. I hope that things work out for you and that you end up in the same happy place that I am. Please don't hesitate to email if you'd like to. whatlizzyloves1@gmail.com. Good luck xxxx

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  14. Wow...this is an incredible post..thank you for sharing and being so honest. Delighted that everything love and career going so well. You are one resilent lady. Love your posts

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    1. Thank you so so much! That means a lot, it really does. And I feel very very lucky that everything has fallen so beautifully into place, Lizzy xxx

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  15. Congratulations on your four years and for coming out the other side of what seems some difficult times for you, you have a lot to be proud of . I love reading your posts and discovered several brands that I hadn't heard and some I wouldn't even considered looking at .... so thankyou x

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    1. Ah, thank you so much. I have indeed come out of what was a difficult time, but so many people go through so much worse. Sadly, mine is an all too common situation and I just hope that people will realise that if I can get through it, then so can they.I'm very lucky to work with a lot of brand that a year ago, I wasn't aware of either. I'm always so excited to discover something new! Have a lovely weekend, Lizzy xxx

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  16. This is a wonderful post,so honest and insightful.I have enjoyed reading about the way your life has moved on.I have loved wearing the items bought from your shop.Even today someone commented on the double heart necklace I was wearing.....as happens every time I do.I have really liked the posts on Crosby,the beach, the 'men'(you will know what I mean) as that is an area close to my heart.Good luck as you move foreward.x

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    1. Thank you Pauline. That's so kind of you to say. And yes, I know exactly what you mean about the Crosby men. I'm so pleased to hear that you still get complimented on the heart necklace. I've neglected my poor little shop of late because of other deadlines so I need to give it some attention I think! Have a lovely weekend and thank you again xxxxxxx

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  17. So very happy that you've gotten your sparkle back, and look forward to getting to know you better through your blog....wishing you much continued success and happiness :)

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    1. Thank you so much Heide for your lovely words xxx

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  18. One of the best bits of advice I have ever been given is "The best revenge is living well".

    I love the way that it provides a positive direction in which to take the understandable and unavoidable human desire for revenge - which we all know is futile and negative. How much better it is to step away from those who have wronged us and concentrate on building a happier life. I hope that you barely give your ex and your former friend a thought. (And I hope that your success and happiness bugs them but that is not mature or positive so I will only indulge it briefly). I do enjoy your blog and wish you all good things for the coming year.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, thank you for the lovely compliment about my blog. You are so right. It would have been completely futile and negative to take revenge (I was tempted on odd occasion, believe me!!), but I needed to focus all of my energy and emotions on selling the house, moving and starting a new life for the children and me. I give them little thought or no especially because we have no contact with either of them and it is only posts like this that necessitate a little bit of looking back. All I can say is that I'm happier now than I've ever been and that in itself speaks volumes. Thank you again and have a lovely week, Lizzy xxx

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  19. You are one of my favourite bloggers darling, it is such a joy to watch you flourish. I am so sorry for the hard times and so glad you met your prince. Your kids are so beautiful as are you, inside and out, lots of love and many happy returns on your blog's 4th birthday x

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    1. Oh Vicki, that is such a huge compliment- thank you so much. You are an aspirational blogger and one whom I've followed for quite some time and it'a a joy to see your success- congratulations xxx

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  20. Lizzy, congratulations on your blog milestone!! It's so good to know that you are well and happy and doing just marvelously. Long may it continue xx

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah, that's so kind of you. I do feel very lucky that everything has fallen into place so beautifully xxxx

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  21. GREAT POST LIZZY AND CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 4TH ANNIVERSARY. LOOKS LIKE LIFE IS TREATING YOU WELL AT LAST. ENJOY IT ALL ! XX

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    1. Thank you Gail. Life is treating me beautifully and I couldn't be happier. I'm a very lucky girl and I'm enjoying every moment xxxxx

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  22. Such a lovely post and so honest. Congratulations on your blog anniversary and more importantly on everything you have achieved in that time. Kx

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    1. Thank you so much. It's been a very busy few years but I feel so fortunate to be where I am now xxx

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  23. I do love your instagram posts and your blog but dont often comment on it. I am sorry I missed this post though. Have been waiting to "meet" your new man for so long (haha!!). So lovely to hear and of course see how happy you are. Its always easy to tell when he is on the other side of the camera ;) Sian...BlondPolkaDots

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    1. Sian, thank you. Thank you so much. Hee Hee!!! I waited my whole life to meet him and I can't believe how perfect he is. And yes, you're right, it dies show on my face if he's taking the photos!!!! Thank you so much for all of your lovely comments and feedback xxxxx

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  24. Belated Happy Birthday to your blog Liz (discovered you through Catherine at notdressedaslamb's link up). None of us can predict how we will be or cope when life gives hard, hard knocks -your story is so moving and I'm pleased the outcome is a happy one. You are awesome and inspirational!

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I love receiving your comments. Thank you so much for taking the time, Lizzy xxx

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