Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Decade in review 2010 - 2020

Mandy with her daughter Looby at home in Newcastle upon tyne, photographer, writer, blogger, a decade in review 2010-2020

2020 is just around the corner, the roaring twenties some are calling it, it seems like the blink of an eye since I stood on the Redhugh Bridge with my friends Darren and Neil or as we called him that Christmas (Neilenium).  As the clock struck midnight we wondered what was around the corner, the Y2K bug never actually happened and technologically I think there've been more advancements in the last 20 years than ever before.

In 2010 (and thanks to my blog for being the diary of the last 15 or so years) I'd been in business for 3 years, I was settling in and loving what I was doing, my portraiture didn't really take off until around the end of 2011, just after Facebook introduced advertising, I was an early adopter and I'll always remember Christmas 2011 as the time when I accidentally made £30k in 3 months, I wish I could do that now but when I say FB ads have gotten more expensive, you wouldn't believe just how much more expensive, I've spent over £20k with FB ads in the last decade, if I hadn't, my business would have died long ago.

In April 2010, I'd just renewed my wedding vows, this last decade saw me wake up to the narcissistic abuse and coercive control and finally in 2015 I found my freedom, for the last 5 years I've had freedom from over 40 years of narcissism and although it's cost me highly I wouldn't change it for the world.  No one ever gets angry with me, no one ever tells me what to do or that I can't do something and I'm not even sure I'd take another chance on love, or it would have to be a very special person.  I've still never experienced someone having unconditional love for me and I'm not sure I ever will but at least I know I gave it and tried with all of my heart, to narcissists though, you'll never be good enough, that's one lesson I've learnt.

I don't want to dwell on the bad stuff because if there's been one amazing thing that's happened in the last decade it's that I've embraced my love for travel, I've still never done long haul but I've loved Europe with all of my heart. I even got paid to go on a cruise and be treated like a rockstar thanks to blogging and I shan't be forgetting that in a hurry!  Spain is my favourite country and Barcelona remains my favourite city.  Until you have seen the sunset over Tibidabo you have never really lived.  

In 2010 Looby was just 7 years old and now look at her, she's blossomed into one of the most amazing people on the planet, she's the product of unconditional love and no arguments, yes I annoy her by breathing sometimes but that is the teenage way!  I've never said no to Looby, I've never really needed to, she's such a beautiful individual girl who knows her own mission and has a heart of solid gold, her finest moment this year was to "come out of the cupboard" as she called it after she baked me a cake which said "I'm Gay" now we have to have cake every year on the same day and I'm totally on board with that!

Iain in 2010 was 14 years old, that alone makes me feel old, they continue to be an upstanding person in life too, they've been on their own personal journey with the realisation that they are non-binary, it's been the subject of many conversations and I'm still learning every day about the differences between gendered and non-gendered people, it's been a lot to get my head around but as I told them, as long as they're happy, that's my only wish.  It's something I need to write a complete article about, I just haven't had the time as we've hurtled towards the end of the year but they want me to do it, they freely give me permission so that in the end it will help anyone else (or their parents) who are going through the same thing.  I will say this for now, when we are born, we are formed from chromosomes which give us our assigned sex at birth, but that's far from how we can feel inside ourselves, gender is like a piece of string, we're all a little bit male or female or both or neither, non-binary is most opposite to genderqueer, Iain wishes their pronouns to be they and them and I respect that whole-heartedly.

Whilst we are on the subject of life-changing, 6 years ago, 4 little paws wandered into my kitchen, I fell in love immediately and Holly Bobbins has been my four-pawed best friend ever since, I've also rescued, or adopted several cats in that time, some who are no longer with us, a sad part of pet ownership but which teaches us just how precious life really is.

Speaking of friends, 10 years ago I hadn't met Harriet, I can't remember when that happened but we instantly connected and she's been my best friend and soul sister ever since, when I say we've had some adventures together, we really have, there've been holidays, tequila, dancing until dawn, laughter, crying, love and support and it's something I'll never stop being thankful for, I'm not someone who has a lot of friends (it's hard when you're a socially awkward hermit) but the friendships I do have, I cherish, Stacey, Rachel, Steph, all amazing female friends I've met in the last decade and I should also mention Ron and Steve who I've been friends with for over 20 years now and still see often, scary how time so quickly passes.

I could write more about this decade we're just about to step outside of but we'd be here all year, a decade is a long time to put in one blog post and I guess there are some parts I just don't want to talk about or even think about.  I'd say it's been a wild ride but actually, it's been pretty gentle, well I am now in my mid-forties after all and the wild party days of my twenties are long over, would I do it again if I had the choice?  Erm, no, I like going to bed at a reasonable time and my hips aren't what they used to be.

So 2020, I am ready for you, you're going to be my year, I don't know why, I cannot tell what's going to happen in the future but I am ready for you so come and get me!
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