Best of 2009 Cont'd

Okay, so I didn't get back to this as quickly as I wanted, we had a power cut on Saturday, and my brother was leaving, plus two birthdays to prepare for this week, I got swept away.

Best Tea - Once again, I can't choose just one. Tazo Chai Latte for a treat (and one where I am content with all or most of the ingredients too) or Roibos Chai (I forget the brand) for everyday, usually black (red?) sometimes with honey.

Word or Phrase - Hmmm. 2009 was about growth. That sums up the stretching, challenging times as well as the way in which some things came to fruition. 

Best Shop - Three new shops in London that I was very excited about (and still am!)

  • Lomography for all their juicy analogue goodness
  • The Make Lounge's shoppy bit for the coolest crafty bits and pieces 
  • Anthropologie for truly joyful browsing, creative inspiration and pretty little happy gifts

Best Car Ride - I guess it has to be the journey down to V Festival. The sense of excitement, the thrill of seeing other V bound cars, the build up on the radio and the feeling of adventure. In a whole other way, driving with my Dad and brother to the airport for the brother to head back to university was magic, and a journey I'll remember my whole life.

Best New Person - In my personal life, there haven't been many new faces. There are new friends on my course, and we've met some inspiring artists. My new colleagues are great and have fitted right in. But no. I'm saving this one for my current blog crush (good explanation of blog crushes) and originator of the whole Best of '09 exercise - Gwen Bell. I spent a lot of 2009 fine-tuning my life. As I entered my second year of working part-time, I wanted to look at how that change had worked and in what ways it hadn't. One of the dropped threads that I picked up this year was meditation. I found the Zen is Stupid podcast and found Gwen and Patrick wondering about a lot of the same things I wonder about. I started focusing on my online presence and I discover that she's twitter royalty and through her, I learn about squarespace (which I love). And now all this best of '09 goodness plus the mindfulist.

Best Project - My own health. The Mister and I started looking at our diet and lifestyle. You'll notice that I didn't say that we went on a diet. I don't believe in those. We just started eating better. And we've each lost 20 pounds. The project continues and I'll write more about that later in the month.

Best Startup - I discovered Cockpit Arts, a brilliant incubator for designer makers in London and helped out in the studio of Elena Corchero at Lost Values. It was so inspiring to spend time there and see all these creative people making a business out of their ideas and skills. Elena combines new technology with traditional crafts to make cool and useful stuff. At her main website, Lost Values, you can see the knitwear she makes with wool and reflective fiber to create an attractive alternative to traditional reflective garb.

Web Tool - I really don't want to say twitter. If I'm going to be honest though, it has to be twitter. Twitter makes me happy. Twitter helps me find links to things that genuinely interest me. Twitter enriches the experience of taking online classes by connecting me with my classmates. And if I'm feeling pissed off or sad, twitter friends always offer a kind word and a listening ear. I'm hoping for 2010 I'll be able to say Google Wave, once my art journal project starts up on there.

Learning experience - So many this year. Three related things I learned about myself:

  • sometimes it's good to have a routine. I never thought I would believe that or admit it, but it turns out that working on a set day each week is less stressful than planning each week individually.
  • sometimes it's easier to have none than some. I gave up refined sugar, and it was far easier to have an absolute rule than to pick and choose when to have it and when not. FYI I did designate some exclusions from the rule, mainly hot chocolate in coffee shops.
  • turns out, I'm better suited to working than not. My productive times are the same as when I was working full-time, evenings and weekends. Work days that I'm at home kind of drift away.

I wasn't that happy to discover these things, as they are counter-intuitive to my personality and my self image. Weird. They aren't true in every situation, but learning and accepting them has certainly made several areas of life simpler.

Best Gift - I finally invested in Adobe CS4 and it was rewarding and empowering to acknowledge that I deserved to have it for the creative work I do. For a long time I had a "just who do you think you are needing Photoshop? You're no professional - get back in your box" issue in the way. 

Best Aha! Moment - Sitting in a studio at Cockpit Arts, my ideas about my artist book business expanded in a moment and I began to take it seriously for the first time.

Social Web Moment - I started taking online classes in earnest this year, and met some inspiring teachers whose blogs I had read for a while and made new friends in the class.  My web experience became far more immediate and collaborative in 2009 through these classes, flickr, ning, twitter and tumblr.

Best Stationery - Last year I found two places in London where I can buy Hello Lucky cards. They are elegant letterpress cards in soft colours, with a gentle sense of humour - I love them and had only seen them in the States until now. I also bought these lovely polaroid notecards (can you keep a secret? I bought two packs!)

Best Laugh - Now that one I cannot pin down. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who make me laugh - my family are all very funny, my husband is hilarious (don't tell him I think so!) and a friend and I have a pact to aim for the 300 laughs a day that children are reported to have.

Best Ad - I really have no idea. There's one I can picture, that kept grabbing my attention, but I don't remember the product, which slightly defeats the purpose. I tend to zone out.

Resolution (unkept) - Decluttering!!! I have taken baby steps where giant steps were needed. I've been talking about this for ages. This is the year, but I will have to keep the big picture in mind and cut swathes through the jungle rather than pruning one shrub. 

Thank you for sticking with me here. Do check out other Best '09ers - you will discover some great blogs and may find inspiration for what you want from 2010.

Happy New Year!