2022 has been a year of huge change – both personally and professionally. I always like to reflect and give thanks. Here’s a chronological look back on a very crazy year. The highs, the lows and what I have learned in 2022.
Thank you to every single establishment who invited us – I’m sorry we couldn’t name you all here.
I started 2022 working part time as a teacher. I’d been at the school for twenty years and although I still loved the work itself, and felt very loyal to my students, I knew I needed a change. I literally skipped down the corridor to hand in my resignation letter in January – to finish at the end of the academic year.
January saw the launch of my monthly column in Derbyshire Life magazine, ‘Musings with Molly’. My own column in the glossiest magazine in the county! And a regular, paid freelance gig – something that very much bolstered my confidence.
Over the next few months, I poured most of my free time into working on the blog and trying to set myself up as a freelance writer/social media consultant. From continuing to build my website to designing the logo in February – most of it I did by myself. It was a labour of love and a very steep learning curve – but I was doing it by myself, for myself and that fuelled me. I am immensely grateful to all the bloggers and freelancers who have helped me over the year – particularly Jenny Lynn of Peak District Kids who has been incredibly generous in sharing her wisdom.
In February, Derbyshire Times published an article naming me as one of Derbyshire’s biggest influencers in the county.
March proved to be a pivotal month. At the start of the month I had a personal branding shoot with Helen Rowan Photography. Helen has gone on to become a good friend and someone who has provided a valuable sounding board over the year – a voice of calm, rational reason.
I was invited by the lovely Jade at Design 44, one of the small business owners I have got to know through writing this blog, to accompany her to a networking event hosted at the beautiful Kedleston Country House – and somewhere I was invited to review their incredible value steak night later in the year.
I filmed my first big paid project, a collaboration with South Derbyshire District Council to promote the beautiful village of Melbourne. Thank you to Michael and Charlie at Make it Happen for being such a dream to work with. The very next day I was interviewed by the lovely Ian Skye in ‘Lunch with…’ on BBC Radio Derby.
Later in the spring I enjoyed a wonderful spa break reviewing Ensana at Buxton Crescent – a literal dream come true.
In June I filmed a short interview that appeared on BBC’s Escape to the Country – as a ‘local expert’ talking about what a brilliant place Derbyshire is to live.
In July, I met Jo from Boom Magazine in Belper. Since then Jo has hired me to do some social media support for Boom. Jo is a powerhouse of ideas and passion for Belper and the wider Amber Valley area and someone who I have enjoyed bouncing ideas around with.
July saw my last day working in school. It has been a huge transition leaving an established career but I am glad to say I haven’t regretted it once.
The summer saw a series of incredible PR invites. From a particularly lovely event hosted by the team at Chatsworth, including Lady Burlington herself to celebrate the newly opened Chatsworth Kitchen at Peak Village, to a magical evening at The George at Alstonefield and a series of PR invites to the Casa Hotels group: cocktails and tapas at Barça Bar and then dinner at Cocina at Casa Hotel, and Sunday lunch at Red Lion Restaurant at Peak Edge Hotel.
The summer also saw Lovely Local Indie gain its first regular guest writer, Charlotte A Taylor. I am immensely grateful to the work Charlotte has put into writing reviews and recommendations. It has been so refreshing to have another voice on the website – and from someone who is equally passionate about supporting brilliant independents, but with their own unique take on what makes Derbyshire great.
Towards the end of the summer, a friend on a Mum’s WhatsApp group sent a link to the blog post I’d written about where kids eat free… and that felt like a defining moment, like a sign from the universe that I was on the right path.
September saw my daughter return to school and it was finally time to focus full-time on developing the blog and securing more freelance clients. I worked and I worked and I worked. I had so many ideas and plans – and set about putting them in motion.
Free from the constraints of both teaching and childcare, I finally accepted David Freeman’s kind invitation to join him on Spire Radio.
For the first time ever, I was free to spend my weekday birthday exactly as I wanted to – which proved to be a breakfast out with my good friend Debs (another wise, talented woman who I have loved getting to know) – and then more work!
Looking back, I was already working too hard. It was my passion and I loved it – but I also felt compelled to work as hard as I possibly could, as much as I could, especially since I was no longer contributing much to our household financially. I worked every spare moment, rarely taking breaks. Who needs a lunch break when you’re working on your passion I told myself…
October saw the publication of the Derbyshire Christmas Gift Guide – the third I’ve written to try and support local businesses. That single piece alone probably amounted to the equivalent of a ‘normal’ working week – and I was doing that in evenings and weekends and continuing to churn out all the content I’d carefully planned earlier in the year.
In October I was offered the opportunity to work with PR consultant, Dawn-Elizabeth Rudd – someone whose work I admire immensely. I have known Dawn for years, initially meeting her through her work at Berkeley Inns back when I first started blogging as ‘Girl About Derbyshire’. We’d stayed in touch over the years and she has always been someone I have looked up to and whose advice I trusted.
Thanks to Dawn, I attended the Peak District tourism conference – something I was a bit unsure about beforehand. I started blogging just prior to the pandemic, and lots of the contacts I’ve made online I’ve never actually met in person – but what a wonderful feeling to actually feel part of a real life community.
Just days later I attended another great event, hosted by podcasters Laura & Becky at the Tickled Trout. I first got to know Laura & Becky when they invited me to be a regular guest on their radio show. They’ve since launched a podcast, literally the ONLY one I listen to regularly – it is hilarious and I definitely recommend.
By November I was working full time for Casa Hotels within their marketing department. I won’t single out names on here – but everyone has been so incredibly kind and welcoming. I literally pinch myself that I get to work in such stunning, luxurious environments with such talented people.
That same month I reviewed the first Wine Series event at Peak Edge (look out for the next one – to be announced soon!), and enjoyed an incredible family weekend away staying in the gorgeous High Flatts Barn holiday cottage in Tissington. I was invited by Sir Richard Fitzherbert who kindly showed me round his ancestral home, Tissington Hall. Such a kind, personal invite – a fascinating insight into a beautiful place… look out for more Reels coming soon!
In 2022, I published 109 posts and the website received just over 200,000 views! I am so incredibly proud of that. 2022 was the year I said yes to pretty much everything– and the opportunities that’s resulted in have been phenomenal. I hustled hard and it paid off. But it was exhausting.
Ultimately, leaving teaching was always about prioritising my mental wellbeing and creating a life where I could explore my passions – in a way that suited our family life.
I want to publicly thank my husband. Without his unwavering support, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to leave teaching this year. He works incredibly hard in a demanding career himself – and yet recently he has been both the main breadwinner and the nurturing homemaker, and certainly the one who brought the magic and sparkle this Christmas. He is the kindest, most generous, level headed person I know. He didn’t deserve the miserable, stressed out person I gradually became over the course of the year, and neither did our lovely daughter.
One of my main reasons for writing this and publishing this is to remind myself to stay focused on what (and who) really, truly matters.
I’m going into 2023 feeling lucky and grateful. I have a lovely life and a gorgeous family. I genuinely love my new job at Casa Hotels and am looking forward to working hard somewhere I feel supported, valued and inspired.
This blog will always be my second baby – I love having a creative outlet and I’m proud of what I’ve created with it. Maybe one day soon it will consistently make more money than it costs to run… but for my own sanity I can’t keep working so hard on it, in terms of it being a ‘business’… not for the time being. The freelance books are firmly closed. I’m sure I will want to write – but I’m going to try to be a bit kinder to myself, and take the pressure off.
If 2022 was the year of hustle and lessons, I want 2023 to be a year of focus and calm intent.
I’ll let you know how it goes!