Hello hello to the probably very few who get round to reading this! I hope you had a lovely Christmas wherever you are in the world. It's New Year's Eve today, and I am currently sitting on my bed at home in Oxfordshire, with Johnny English on in the background. For the first time since I was probably about 15 or 16, my NYE plans are to stay at home with my family and my boyfriend, make plenty of cocktails, eat lots of food (my mum goes all out every year) and ring in 2017.

I've read a couple of these types of posts today and it's inspired me to get back off my bum and my blog-related break and write again so here goes. I'll admit I've been a bit off over Christmas - I didn't do as many Blogmas posts as I'd have liked, which was partly due to stress over a new job and the run up to Christmas, and partly mental health related. I've even spent most of today feeling rubbish and pretty low. However, a talk with mother hen has perked me up and feeling much more positive about the year ahead! 2016 had plenty of ups and downs and I'm determined to make 2017 my year.

Life: I've been fortunate this year to have had some really amazing experiences. I've travelled to a new continent, seen in fireworks overlooking all of London, been part of the opening ceremony at the Paralympic Games in Rio, been to festivals, drank plenty of cocktails with my best friends, renewed friendships and made some new ones. However it's not been without the lows - family have been in and out of hospital, I've been unemployed for around half of the year, and I've struggled a lot with my mental illness. It's a been a year where I've almost kind of 'woken up' if you will - since finishing my course of CBT at the start of the year, I've felt like a different person yet like my old self who I've not seen for years - it makes NO sense I know, but basically I feel like the person I've wanted to be for a long time: calmer, happier and healthier. I've still got a long way to go, but I'm feeling quite positive and focused to kick my mental illness up the arse next year and not let it control me.

Friendships: It's been an interesting year for friendships too. This time last year I was celebrating with a fair few people who had actually really hurt and upset me, and some of which then hurt and upset me as a result of the New Year celebrations! Now, I feel stronger in myself to let go of those who really just make me feel miserable, guilty or bad about myself in favour of those who genuinely make me laugh til I cry, who will always understand a good vent, and who will always be there for me. I'm so happy to have renewed some friendships I was worried I was losing, and have even made a closer friend out of one I once thought relied on a mutual connection to keep going. It's made me realise how important friendships are, particularly when things are hard and life is being a bit of a knob.

Love: One thing that's been constant in my life is my boyfriend, Paddy. Next year we'll be celebrating our 5 year anniversary and have already booked a trip for it. I'm so bloomin' proud of us and our ability to get through whatever life throws at us - given it seems to like throwing pretty much everything at us. He's my best friend in the entire world and tonight is our third NYE together. We travelled the world this year and next year will be no different I'm sure. He makes me one very happy gal :)

Work: I started 2016 unemployed and struggling to find motivation to keep looking for jobs, as I felt like I'd tried so hard and nothing was happening. I was lucky enough to get a job that I stayed at for a few months that got me some money, but in the end, balancing it with my Masters was not doing any favours for my mental health; I am now happy to say I have a new job, one I'm happy with and interested to see how the next year will go. I think it's going to open up some new opportunities that could be exciting and give me some new skills to develop, but my challenge will be managing my mental health at work!

Travel: It's been a good one for travel. Paddy and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary in Milan, Italy - somewhere neither of us had been to - and were able to sneak in a trip to the BEAUTIFUL Lake Como, a place I'd always wanted to go to. I've been able to explore more of the UK too, with a long awaited trip to Brighton (I fell in love), another to Windsor Castle - one of the most famous landmarks in the country, and yes, I'd never been - walks around the gorgeous Epping Forest in Essex, and a magical Christmas trip to Edinburgh. Perhaps the biggest trip of all was our holiday to Brazil in the summer, which still hasn't sunk in. Strolling around São Paulo, visiting the mesmerising Iguassu Falls, and taking in everything Rio de Janeiro has to offer - I cannot understand how I managed to end up there, but I'm so bloomin' happy and thankful I got to go!

2017: The next year is going to be challenging, but also very exciting. We already have a trip lined up for next year, and I'm currently planning more trips for a big holiday with Paddy, a girls' holiday with my best friends, and possibly even a little Valentine's break away. I love travel, and I'll be making sure I fit it in next year. I'm fortunate to have a job set for all of next year, and I'll finish my Master's degree in September which I am so excited about! I'm going to make it a year of really looking after myself and what's important to me; so a focus on my health (both mental and physical) and happiness are coming first for a change.

Hope you have a wonderful night tonight (or if you've already celebrated, congratulations!) whatever you're doing! Happy New Year :)

M x