my biggest wins of 2016

I’m pretty sure I’ve peaked. Given how shitty 2016 has been for the majority of folks, it seems wise to get this post down now while the positives still hold some glitter. I’m guaranteed an awful 2017 by the law of averages, I reckon.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, 2016 has been kind of awesome for me on a personal level. I’m attributing that almost entirely to hard work – not luck or fate but the combination of my dogged tenacity, lots of hours at my macbook and recent revelations about my self worth. So, in no particular order, here are the ten best things that happened to me in 2016.

The good, the rad and the lovely


1. Getting married. As the sunlight poured through the cracks in the barn walls, and swallows swooped and chirped overhead, I said ‘I do‘ to the greatest man I have ever known ❤️. (I’ve got the photos and a full post coming very soon. Watch this space!)

2. Making my first £100k+. By myself, whilst having Orla at home half the time, and dancing a chronic heath fandango. Boom. 

3. Book offers. Plural. In my inbox. And not by mistake!

me and luke skywalker

4. Meeting Mark Hamill. We’re best friends now, did you know? (more here)

5. Writing for Stylist. There are some things that just feel like landmarks on your path. This was one of them for me. See all my features and press here

6. Orla starting at Steiner. My velcro child, my limpet girl – I never really believed we’d find a time and place where we could start her somewhere new without tears and trauma for all three of us. Then along came Steiner, and she’s flourished, and loved every single second. I bribe her with school, now! If only she could go 10 hours a day! (more here)

rudolph steiner school

7. Something I can’t tell you about. Nope, sorry! But it was brilliant fun and it makes the list, regardless ?.

8. Speaking for Canon. Not just because it’s Canon (although, yes!) but because it meant flying alone, going to Ireland, speaking to a big crowd – and because it was great, despite all of that! (more here)

9. Hanging with Google. Google invited me to hang out with them in celebration of the new Pixel, and there were nap pods! I mean, seriously! Is there anything better?

this is the view from google HQ

10. Realising my worth. It came to me in a moment, though it had been a lifetime in the works. I’m not worthless! I’ve spent my whole life secretly thinking I was, and it took actually being worth something financially to finally see the stupidity of that entire notion. I have value! I’m not a waste of oxygen!! Total game changer for me.

11.New friends (& old). I have fallen out with prescicely three people in my whole adult life – & all of them happened this year. There’s a lot I could say on the hows and whys, and the impact the rest of this list has had on it all, but this is a celebration, so instead, lets talk about all the people who made this year magical. The people I’ve spoken to daily, and the ones I’ve not managed to meet for coffee for months. Maybe I’m biased, but I swear I’m friends with the best people, and this year has only served to remind me of this. 

12. Discovering I’m sick. Is it weird that sitting in a doctors office being told ‘there’s definitely something wrong’ makes my list of best moments of the year? But as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent decades living with all of the symptoms and blaming myself, so to suddenly hear that it wasn’t all in my head was like a ticker tape parade celebration for my lack of laziness. Maybe I’m the opposite of lazy, in fact! MAYBE I’m a super motivated sleepy person?  (more here)


& the bad

Now, to be clear with you – there were moments of failure, too. There were hours where I sat at my computer and cried because I was so sure my moment was over and everything was about to come crashing down around me. There were times when I got drunk on gin at 4pm because the combine demands of parenting and meeting deadlines turned me into a horrible person. There were moments when I told Rory I was going upstairs to work, climbed into bed, and wept. 

But that’s the nature of the beast, I think – especially in this mixed-up online world where we’re all putting our best faces out for scrutiny on a daily basis. Sometimes we fail, and it feels personal and awful. Sometimes we win, and it’s like flying.

What were your highlights of 2016? Did they outweigh the bad, in the end?

  • Deborah

    This is so cheering to read! You have clearly worked incredibly hard and I am delighted at your success -it is very well deserved.

    • Thank you, Deborah! That means such a lot. Hoping your 2017 rocks your socks off!

  • Melissa

    I love this! For me it’s just been sort of a year to realize things I’ve been thinking my whole life aren’t necessarily true. like I don’t need to have 400 million “friends” when I have lots of great people in my life. I am great at what I do at work, as much as I hate saying that…but I was picked for employee of the year! So I must be a good employee even though I tend to beat myself up for not being good enough. I don’t need to lose 50 lbs to be happy! I am able to move around and eat fairly well…so there is zero reason to give up cookies forever and ever in my life. Moderation. I don’t care anymore about “fashionable” clothes. I like pretty clothes that look nice…but I don’t need certain brands. I don’t “have” to wear makeup every day. It’s fine if I get wrinkles. We don’t have TV and the longer I go without it…the more I appreciate not having screens blaring in our house all the time with gloom and doom and marketing brainwashing. But I also don’t believe in zero technology ever either. I just feel like it’s been a year of mellowing out, reconnecting, and getting rid of the extra noise in my life. Which includes stuff. I’ve gotten rid of tons and tons of stuff. and there is so much more! But the more I get rid of, the easier it is, and the lighter I feel. I will never, ever been one of those people who can own only 100 items and fit everything I own in a suitcase..and that is totally fine. But I do not need A LOT of the things I thought I did, or was told I did by ads/stores/sales. I quit buying fashion magazines because I feel like they are similar to the news in brainwashing/making me feel bad. I’m hopeful for this coming year as well! – Missy

    • Such great words here, Missy. I’ve been on this road too – realising all the stuff we’re taught to believe is total nonsense, and restarting life as a result. It’s so freeing! So glad you’re in such a good place right now. Hoping 2017 brings even more your way! xx

  • Paula Solar

    Meeting new friends was probably the top thing of 2016. You amongst them (can I call you a friend? can I, can I?) and meeting with old friends, going places to see them… and despite all my whining (heh) meeting my old schoolmates and finding out that we haven’t changed that much, we’re still the same dorks who grew up together from 4 to 13. I realized that the bad years came after that.

    I’m working on your number 10, I’m working on it, some days are harder than others, but this year, through my friends (the new and the old) I’ve realized that I’m likeable, that I’m worthy. And that leads me to the last thing (I promise I will leave it at that, altough there’s much more to say)

    I’ve allowed myself to dream again, to want things… not material things, personal goals and projects. They’re not too big, they’re manageable, and 2017 will be the year to give them a try, to give myself the chance to do something. Even if it’s scary (learning to drive is on the list, it terrifies me).

    Happy new year dear Sara. I hope all of your dreams come true. That all of your endeavours and projects succeed, because you’re worth it.

    All the love xxx (and kisses to Orla!)

    ps. as I’m writing this there is a movie on tv here, about a certain space farmer stranded in an apparently desert planet…

  • Carolyn

    Love this post! You bloody go girl! Big high five! Wishing you a brilliant 2017 :)) xx

  • Jo Crawford

    All those achievements and even recognising the ‘bad’ ones is amazing. You must be so proud and I’m so happy to see you succeed!! xx

    • Ha! Proud? Do people ever really feel that way about themselves? Between you and me I wrote this post because I was having a day of feeling like a total failure, and needed to remind myself. Thank you for your happiness – I’m continually amazed and delighted by the support and cheerleading that goes on in this online world of ours! ❤️

  • I know exactly how you feel about a diagnosis being a highlight of last year. I discovered I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and dysautonomia (basically POTS but my blood pressure results were slightly out of the pattern they require to call it POTS!).

    The relief was so strong and though I’m still processing everything at least I know what’s wrong and what I am able to do to help it. 🙂

    Wishing you an excellent 2017 to follow up your great 2016.

    • Oh, both sorry and happy to hear about your diagnosis (i suspect you’ll know what I mean!). Hope you’re finding some treatment options that are helping you!
      Have a great 2017. Let’s take on the whole world from our sofas! ?❤️

  • Love this post! Bravo on your successes and double bravo for shouting about them. And for not attributing them to luck #fangirling x

    • Aw thank you Lucy! I’m always blown away by our community and how it celebrates instead of competing. So much love! x

  • Kay

    This is a lovely post! I’m so pleased you had such great things happen this year! I’m sorry to hear about the friends, I’ve had a really tough time with someone this year who was once a close friend but things change, seasons come and change and we grow and move away.
    Happy New Year!
    Kay xx

    • Thank you, Kay! So sorry to hear you’ve had some issues with friendships too – it’s such a difficult thing to deal with. As you say – seasons change, and as I’m always telling Orla, nothing ever stays the same. Hoping 2017 brings fresh joy for both of us 🙂

  • This is so great – congratulations on an amazing year! I found this post so so inspiring 🙂

    • Thank you Lulu! I sometimes feel awkward about sharing success, because it can feel so braggy and ungracious. But comments like this always make it feel worth it, because I know how much I depend on other people’s inspiring posts to help me keep going!

  • what a wonderful list! Congratulations I hope to be a bit more with it this year as I seem to be getting closer to myself. Succeeding with a chronic health issue is difficult, but totally worth it!

    • Thank you, Jen. Looking forward to seeing what adventures 2017 brings your way!

  • Cariemay

    I think you may have somehow collected up all of the good luck from 2016 and snaffled it! You deserve every single on of your successes and you’re quite right that they come from creativity and hard work – no magic wand required 🙂 As for me, well the highlights always outweigh the bad because I refuse to let a year be overwhelmingly bad. There were some wonderful times and a lot of stress and angst but it’ll all balance out in the end 🙂

    • Ha! In my defence, it comes after approx 32 years of appalling bad luck, so it was overdue! You’re so right – we must refuse to accept that a year can ever be all bad. It’s a year where we lived, saw birds in the sky and ate our favourite foods and loved our favourite people. That’s always a win, if we think about it. Hope 2017 is a great year to help redress some of the balance! x

  • trona

    they are some excellent things to have happened, and long may they continue for you. 2016 was a funny year for me, I might actually do a similar post to yours because if you said to me 10-15 years ago I would have done some of the things I did last year I would never in a million years believed it. I used to suffer from agoraphobia and even walking from my house to car would bring on the worst panic attacks. Last year though I did an advert for Garnier which should be out next month I think, so yeah I’ve came a very long way 🙂 xx

    • I’d love you to write that post! You’ve come such a huge way, and we’re always much better at reflecting and sharing on the bad stuff than we are on the good. I felt guilty about writing this post, but everyone has been so wonderful and positive! Thank you for sharing xx

  • xantheberkeley

    Well done Sara, everything is so deserved, as I’ve already told you many times, you’ve worked hard for this and deserve all the goodness that you’ve made happen. I look forward to seeing how you make 2017 even better. xxx

    • Thank you Xanthe. I owe such a lot to your calm advice, wisdom and cheerleading! ❤️

  • Marianne Andresen

    Well done Sara! And thank you! It`s been fun to follow you in 2016. Especially the Luke Skywalker thing! Best wishes from Oslo.

    • Thank you, Marianne! So glad you liked my madness with Luke too. Hope you’re keeping warm over there! xx

  • Oh thank you, Flora. Yep, I refuse to believe anyone just went to bed one night (with perfect hair, at that) and woke up successful. It takes lots of ups and downs, and often the hardest part is believing in what you’re trying to do and not tearing yourself down! Keep aiming and striving and doing! ❤️ Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings your way xx

  • Thanks Sophie! Happy new year & have a glorious 2017! x

  • This was so refreshing and exciting to read. Following you from afar (and a little bit of living vicariously through you, if I’m honest) is made so much richer by getting to share in your joys and achievements and the failures, too. Honesty is so precious, and I love how to spread it all over!

    Keep up the wonderful work, Sara. Keep sharing your heart. It’s a lovely heart.

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  • Leanne Rae

    This is so honest and beautiful, being on-line is hard and your work is
    so great and helpful, so glad you had a great 2016, and 2017 will be
    great also!!