12 Lessons In 12 Months

12 months 12 lessons

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I was tagged for this 12 Lessons In 12 Months post by the lovely Lavrax over at Lavrax London. Thank you Lavrax.
2018 has been a bit of a rollercoaster year, but along with the sad bits, there have also been some happy times.  So what has this year taught me?


In December 2017 I decided to take a short break from alcohol.  By the end of January, I’d realised that I could indeed go alcohol-free for periods of time.
Before this, the longest I’d gone without alcohol in 30 years was a fortnight!  One year on, I am still alcohol-free.  If you are contemplating doing Dry January and need some tips, read more about how I did it.


Photo by Linh Pham on Unsplash
In February I learned that I had been wearing the wrong bra size for years!!
As a Birthday present, I got professionally sized at Sadie the Bra Lady 
The shop staff are amazing.  They don’t actually measure you but can tell what size you should be wearing simply by looking at you and then bringing you bras to try on.
If you don’t have a Sadie equivalent near you then a tip I would give is going up in cup size and down in back size.  (Sorry to my male readers, give this tip to a lady in your life instead!)  This definitely worked for me and the bras I bought are so comfortable!


At the beginning of March, my Dad went into hospital for an emergency operation.  He loved to ride his bike and rode it religiously every day without fail.
Unfortunately, this had led to him developing a bad sore.  Being a stubborn man who wasn’t keen on doctors he didn’t get it seen to.  This led to him contracting necrotising fasciitis, a nasty and dangerous condition.
He was over the other side of the country from me, so I got in the car and drove straight there to be with him when he came round from the anaesthetic.  He ended up being in hospital for 18 weeks until he sadly passed away in July.
The fact that he also had previously undiagnosed Alzheimer’s added to the difficulty of the situation.
The whole of this period taught me that I’m more resilient than I think I am.  I had to be for my Mum.  It also taught me that the daft small things that we worry about in life aren’t all that important.


With the ongoing situation with my Dad, April taught me how lucky I am to have an amazing support network.
I’m so lucky to have some amazing friends, some of whom had gone through difficult times with parents themselves.
They were there for me to talk to whenever I needed which really helped me.
I also learned that keeping busy plus looking after your own health and wellbeing is crucial for surviving such situations.
I read some advice recently that said how important it is to put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others.
This is so true and I did heed this advice this year.  At times I felt a bit selfish, but I can see now how important this was.


blogging from bed
In May I began to do all the set up for this blog.  I learned a load of the techie stuff needed to do this.
I tend to get a bit impatient with the technical side of things and wanted to get on with writing and building the blog!  As the techie stuff was necessary first though, I started with a Udemy course and followed that through to help me.
By the end of the month, I had completed the basics and was rather proud of myself!


Following a holiday away from it all in May it was back to the routine of phoning hospitals in relation to my Dad.
I went to visit him on the 9th June and this turned out to be the last time I would see him conscious.
It was hard, he was very frail and thin but thankfully still seemed to recognise me and even had his old sense of humour.  The last thing I said to him was ‘Happy Father’s Day’. 
I’d started writing down 3 good things every day back at the beginning of the year.  It was during June that I learned the power of this habit.
notebook and pencil
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Even on the darkest of days, I could always think of 3 things to jot down.  Sometimes it got a little repetitive (i.e. the sun shone, which it did a lot this year) but it definitely helped.


July taught me that the death of a parent is truly terrible.
Now I understood what others had gone through before me.
Still though, despite the sadness, I managed to find some positives in the month.  I saw an old friend at my Dad’s funeral who I had not seen for some time.
I also got to thinking about the good memories of my Dad.  I realised that his Alzheimer’s had actually contributed to my last good memory of him.
A couple of years ago I’d booked a show based on the music from Les Miserables for me and my Mum to go to.
In the past, my Dad wouldn’t have been interested in going. He had got to the stage however where he didn’t want to let my Mum out of his sight.  So he came along.
We went for an Italian beforehand where he chose a huge calzone pizza.  He then ordered a mint choc chip ice cream which we shared with two spoons.  He looked so happy and we had a lovely time at the show too.  The next day he told me how much he’d enjoyed himself.
I’m so happy to have this memory of him.  Although the Alzheimer’s was terrible, I realised even that brought some good experiences which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.


August taught me that going on long distance walks with very old boots is not the best idea!
I accompanied my cousin for a couple of days whilst she was walking the Teesdale and Pennine ways.  Halfway into the second day, the sole fell off my boot!!
walking boot sole off
Luckily we managed to tie it on and I limped the rest of the way!  Needless to say, they ended up in the bin and I now have a shiny new pair.


I finally learned how to use Twitter in September after having an account since 2013!
I’d tried many times to get to grips with it but couldn’t really see the point. Now I had a point for using it, this blog!
In my humble opinion, Twitter does seem to work better when you have something specific to talk about and promote.  I’ve also got into everyday conversations more as well now that I’m used to it.


group of people smiling
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
I’d already found a friendly ‘tribe’ in the form of the sober tribe courtesy of One Year No Beer.  In October I began to find a second tribe, the blogger tribe.  This wasn’t something I’d thought about when I began this blog.
I’d learned in the course I took earlier in the year that making contact with other bloggers was a good idea.  What I hadn’t realised was how much richness and joy this would bring to my life.
I’m very thankful for my ‘tribes’, you are all fabulous!


I learned how to use Pinterest in November and how to use it to build my blog following.
If you have your own blog and haven’t got to grips with this yet I definitely recommend you give it a go.  Within a month Pinterest has become the main driver of traffic to this blog.
If you have no clue where to begin, or if you’ve made a start but you’re still not sure what you are doing, then I recommend you check out Ell from Boss Girl Bloggers fantastic Pinterest Course.  It covers everything you need to be up and running quickly.</div
I also heartily recommend giving Tailwind a try.  This automates a lot of the process and makes life a whole lot easier!


I couldn’t think of anything specifically that December has taught me (particularly as it hasn’t quite finished yet!)
Looking back on the year as a whole, yes there has been some very sad stuff but also a lot of positives.
My Dad’s illness and then losing him in July has taught me a whole host of things about resilience and dealing with grief.   I miss him every day but he instilled 3 things in me – work hard, be on time and don’t let people down.
Those 3 things helped me through the early days after his death.  Although I was sad, I went back to work quickly and immersed myself in my blog.  I realise everyone is different but I’ve found keeping busy has really helped.
2018 was also the year I went alcohol-free which has been the most amazing thing possible for my mental health.  I don’t think I would have coped as well with what this year has thrown at me if I’d still been knocking back the daily wine!
And finally, thank you to all the wonderful friends I have, old and new.  I’m so grateful to you all.  2018 has taught me to be grateful for what I have and to look for positives in each day.
So I leave my Dad behind in 2018.  He will never see me get any older and won’t be part of my life as I travel into 2019 and beyond.   This realisation makes me sad, I won’t ever make any new memories with him.  But I will forever have the old ones.

In loving memory of Geoffrey Bowyer – 1940 – 2018


me and my dad in the 70s
Dad a couple of years ago
I would like to tag
Chloe at Chloe Chats
Sarah at Life It Or Not

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  1. Lavrax Rinc

    So sad to hear about your dad, Alison! Such a sweet memory you have of him, though. And I feel like in reading this, the main thing that happened this year was that you realised your own strength and that is amazing. Wishing you all the best x

  2. Geraldine

    Aw Alison, I’m glad you made strides this year, but I’m also sorry about your father! We’re often surprised where we get the strength to move forward with things until events happen in our lives like this. So sorry to hear, but glad your father is no longer struggling. The one about February and wearing the wrong bra size made me chuckle! I think I may be wearing the wrong size too, or maybe I’m just a weirdo with a weird body 😂

    1. Alison

      Thanks Geraldine, I’m glad he is no longer struggling too. I’d definitely recommend getting professionally fitted for a bra, it was a revelation!! I feel so much more comfortable and my clothes hang better too 🙂

  3. Chloe Chats

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, it’s very sad when we lose loved ones, I lost my Nan this year and I think I cried every so often for at least two months afterwards, but we do have to learn to be strong, I felt like my mum needed me to be strong for her and I wanted to be. Im very glad you decided to use Twitter too!! I was similar actually, I had my Twitter for ages before I even started using it! Hope you have a lovely end to the year and a fab new year Alison! ♥️

    Chloe Chats xx

    1. Alison

      Thanks Chloe, so sorry about your Nan. It can be hard but another thing I learned is that it is OK to cry and to just let it happen! It’s been lovely getting to know you and everyone else on Twitter 🙂 Hope 2019 brings you health, peace and joy 🙂

  4. Hanmwill

    So sorry to hear about your dad, Alison but those memories and lessons he taught you will be with you forever. Life is always there to challenge us, it’s always hard losing someone.
    I’m still yet to learn how to use Pinterest so hopefully 2019 will be the year for that! Thanks for sharing this, lovely read! xx

    1. Alison

      Thank you. I can’t recommend Pinterest enough. Now it’s set up I get visitors without having to do a whole lot! Takes a bit of getting used to at first but it’s worth it. Hope you have a wonderful 2019 x

  5. Ellen

    It sounds like you’ve certainly had a tough year. I’m glad you can look back with a positive attitude and take some lessons from it. Wishing you a very happy 2019 x

  6. Julie

    This is a beautiful post. I am sorry for the loss of your Dad. My Dad also suffers from Alzheimer’s and he lives very far away from me and I do miss him. Your reflections over your year bring me to do some of my own reflecting. I also experienced grief and loss, and started a new blog! Thanks you for sharing!

    1. Alison

      Thanks Julie, I’m sorry about your Dad too. Alzheimer’s is a difficult thing, you grieve whilst the person is still here as well as after they are gone 😢 Here’s hoping 2019 is happier x

  7. Abby Heird

    You continue to inspire me. I am so sorry to hear about your dad. It sounds like you have many fond memories of him that you can hold on to dearly. Always here for you if you need someone. Can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for you!❤️

  8. Savannah

    This is all so beautiful. When you step back and look at the whole picture (the year in review) you can’t ignore what makes up the most of how your time was spent. You spent the year improving yourself and helping others. Thank you for sharing your example and your thoughts. I love the habit you cultivated to write down three things to be thankful for each day. You inspire me to want do that also, thank you Ü

    1. Alison

      Thanks, Savannah, I’m glad you liked my post and found inspiration from it. The three good things idea was so helpful for me last year (and continues to be), I hope that you will find it useful too 🙂

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