Is it ridiculously late to do a year in review post? Sod it, I’m doing one anyway. My youngest just went back to school mid-week, and this is my first weekend to reflect, after slowly easing into work mode. 2018 was kind of a game changer for me, and it’s been fun going through my planner to take a fresh look at the year that was. And to map out my Goals for 2019.
My word for 2018 was GLOW which served me beautifully, all the way to being Queen of Everything Sparkly on New Year’s Eve. One thing I love about choosing a word (or a phrase) as an annual theme, is that it becomes a lifetime motto. So I intend to Glow for the foreseeable future. I’ve also chosen a great word for 2019. Actually it chose me, several weeks before the clock struck midnight. Curious to know what it is? Keep reading.
Family Life and Travel
We had some fab staycations in 2018, topped by a night with the kids in a real castle! The Leeds Castle B&B is a wonderful place to stay and the castle is so pretty. Abiye and I stole away for our 13 year anniversary at The Miller of Mansfield inn and gastropub. The food was sensational. Over summer, we took a big family trip to see my sister and her kids in Canada.
We hung out in Toronto, discovered Niagara Falls (breathtaking), then rode the train to French Canada, hanging out in Montreal and Quebec City. I promise to blog about our adventure one day, as it was filled with such wonder and spectacle.
2018 was a milestone year for the mister as he turned 50. His mama and sister Mira (pictured with us below and Isaac, my beautiful stepson) flew over from Nice, my cousin Nnenna came in from Lagos, and we had a special family dinner.
We partied like rock stars and lived to tell the tale (but we still ain’t telling). I ordered Abiye a hot dog cake via Islington institution Raab’s the Bakers. Almost too good to eat. Shout out to my brother Obi who turned 50 in 2018 too.
World News and Views
President Dump And Troll and ‘Brexshite’ gobbled up headlines in 2018. To preserve my sanity, I switched off news and on to podcasts. I’m never going back. Some of my favourite podcasts in 2018: The Guilty Feminist on Harvey Weinstein, The Creative Penn on writing, Jesus and Jollof with the hilarious Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji, and I’ve recently discovered the Storyteller Nigeria — engaging true stories from everyday Nigerians. What podcasts do you listen to?
This year, I’d like the kids to get more into podcasts and I’ve already downloaded a bunch on Spotify. Highly rated: Brains On! Science podcast for kids, Five Minutes with Dad, But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, Quiztopia and What If World: Stories for Kids.
In other news, Jed scored cool points with friends after featuring in The Week Junior. Thanks to my mate Jacqui for the link-up!
The Royal Wedding gave us a burst of colour and creative expression, a stunning bride and groom, and a preacher straight outta Coming to America. I couldn’t get enough.
World Cup fever was dominated by Team Nigeria swag. Sadly, our performance wasn’t up to scratch, but the kit’s still dope.
We watched England v Nigeria at Wembley Stadium, where I took this snap of Ezra and Jed with Afro Beats superstar Wiz Kid. The pic got shared to his Instagram page, now topping 1 million fans! At last, #instafamous.
We also saw Wiz Kid at the AfroRepublik concert at O2, with Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi, Tekno and Notes. It was a brilliant night filled with a spectrum of African beauty. Skepta made a surprise appearance with his (then) boo Naomi Campbell.
Ever since the shock of losing Prince in 2016, I’m on a mission to SEE ALL THE MUSIC. Who we saw in 2018: Chris Rock (the ultimate rock star comedian); Beck, and Bjork, at All Points East (wow); Beyonce and Jay Z… dynamite. For my man’s 50th, I got him front-row seats to one of his all-time heroes, David Byrne. Simply incredible.
In December, we closed it out with Ms Lauryn Hill at the O2. I spent most of the show with hand on heart, eyes closed, totally lifted by her voice and presence. Here’s to more amazing concerts in 2019.
Music I couldn’t stop playing: Crazy P, Dice Ailes (Otedola), Jacob Banks (swoon), Christine and the Queens (La Marcheuse), Rosalia, and the soundtracks to Hamilton and Black Panther.
Theatre and Stage
I made it to around 5000 in a virtual queue to see Michelle Obama in conversation with Chimamanda Adichie. So close, yet so far. Humph.
On a brighter note, I did catch Elizabeth Gilbert at an Alternatives lecture, with my friends Rachel and Nomita. If you’re familiar with her works e.g. Eat Pray Love or Big Magic (a must-read for creatives), she was exactly as you’d expect: funny, wise, passionate, deep, quirky and dropping ‘a-ha’ bombs all over. What struck me was when she said she’d like more women to simply be ‘Relaxed’, over anything else. One of my goals for 2019 and onwards is to be ‘Carefree’, which is pretty much the same thing. Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt truly relaxed or carefree? Life goals, for real.
One of the perks of blogging for Babes about Town is getting invites to some enchanting family theatre. We loved Paapa Essiedu as the RSC’s first black Hamlet. He also stars in a spectacular period drama called The Convert (at Young Vic until Jan 29, 2019), written by Danai Gurira (General Okoye in Black Panther) and starring Letitia Wright (Shuri in Black Panther).
Nothing blew me away in 2018 like Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop spin on American history. Do whatever you can to see this musical, it will change your life. It is better than the hype. I’m seeing it again in April and I have the soundtrack and Hamilton Mixtape on repeat.
Movies and TV
2018 was the year I ticked Secret Cinema off my London bucket list. Abiye and I loved their immersive reenactment of Blade Runner, where we danced in acid rain.
Comic book heroes ruled the big screen: Avengers Infinity War (still crying), the fantastic Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, and of course, Black Panther. We took along two of Jed’s buddies for his birthday cinema/sleepover party.
Watching these kids – heritage Anglo, Nigerian and part-Jewish – arguing over who was more like Erik Killmonger gave me all the feels. That’s the power of great storytelling, it allows you to put yourself in another person’s skin, no matter what they look, feel or sound like. We need more stories that reflect all of us. Also… #WakandaForever.
We just caught up with Luther Season 5 and life feels empty. Watching all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones was even better the second time. My top Netflix picks: Ozark (perfect if you love Breaking Bad), Black Mirror (dark, dystopian, genius) and How to Get Away with Murder — juicy, intense and stars the impeccable Viola Davis in one of the all-time greatest TV roles for women.
We watched lots of family shows too, so stay tuned for my Kids TV round-up post.
I’m re-reading Harry Potter with Jed, and one of our goals for 2019 is to complete the Narnia Chronicles (my favourites). My Top 3 novels for last year: The Dry by Jane Harper, a taut Australian thriller; the witty and poignant Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty; and Children of Blood and Bone, the much-hyped Nigerian fantasy trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi. We couldn’t ignore Tomi’s epic fail with Nora Roberts, but let’s not hold it against her forever eh? Her book was loads of fun and I’m looking forward to the sequel.
2018 was a huge year for a number of blogger friends who became authors. I couldn’t be more proud of my girl Vicki, whose book MumBoss was an Amazon bestseller and has given so many mamas the courage to strike out as business owners. The MumBoss launch was a great night and I finally met Vicki’s dad, the legendary Papa G. That’s us below with two of my gorgeous Mothers and Shakers, Nomita and Mirka.
Reading goals for 2019? Too many books to mention. I’m currently reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. I’m eagerly awaiting my copy of The Happiness Habits Transformation by the lovely Michelle Reeves. And highly anticipating the summer release of I’m Telling the Truth But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi, a devastatingly brilliant writer and poet.
As always, the babes and I got to try some pretty cool experiences. We battled Darth Vader and Stormtroopers in a hyperreality Star Wars, hung out with dinosaurs in Greenwich, and were official bloggers at Boomtown Fair.
Western Digital and Brit Mums hired us for the My Cloud Home campaign, where they sent over a small crew for filming at Babes HQ. Watch our mini movie!
We spent a morning with adorable kids and Ben Faulks (CBeebies’ Mr Bloom) learning all about the Early Years Nutrition Partnership. And we tested our Super Hero potential, thanks to the Year of Engineering and Marvel. Boom pow.
My Top Posts of 2018 (greatest hits and personal favourites)
My birthday Q&As with the boys. This year Ezra turns 13 and Jed turns 10!
We crawl London to find the best hot chocolate and top pub roasts. You’re welcome.
I can’t stop raving about Pitanga, a new Nigerian restaurant in west London.
I share my fascination with lookalike couples, e.g. Prince Harry and Meghan. Can you see it too?
Jed and I catch David Walliams and his Awful Auntie at Bloomsbury Theatre
Woah mama. Sometimes, it feels like the days just melt into each other. But looking back, I feel blessed by so many wonderful connections, opportunities and experiences. On a personal level, I’m very proud of juggling 2 x TV screenwriting and script editing gigs, while still blogging/consulting/mothering like a boss.
On the flip side, my health anxiety went through the roof in 2018. After getting the all-clear medically, the Babe papa persuaded me to seek professional help, and I started having weekly counselling. It’s done me a world of good, allowing me a safe space to explore stuff I’d been holding in for years. Creative writing on my own terms has also been a wonderful source of therapy and self-care. I took a foundation yoga class (again, thanks to the man), which was both grounding and liberating, so one of my goals for 2019 is to do more yoga.
In November, I made a commitment to one of my lifetime goals: writing a novel. The NaNoWriMo challenge (National Novel Writing Month) calls on writers to throw caution/sanity to the wind, and crank out a 50,000 word novel in a month. You win by passing the 50k milestone by November 30. I wrote 90k+ words in three weeks (I spent the first week outlining). It seems crazy on reflection and of course it’s a very messy first draft. But I’m so excited to have a work-in-progress.
Goals for 2019 and Word of the Year
My word for 2019? FOCUS. When you’re a multi-passionate, type ADD like me, this is a major challenge. But attention is currency and I plan to spend mine wisely this year.
What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell on determines your destiny – Robin S. Sharma
Using Focus as my theme, it’s been much simpler to plan my goals for 2019. This year is about personal creative projects that bring me joy and a sense of purpose. I’m focusing on getting my novel into shape and out into the world. I would also like to complete a feature screenplay by the end of the year (I have one in mind and one in draft). I plan to blog with intention, and to help more people bring their blogging dreams to life.
We relaunched Mothers and Shakers in 2018 and this February, we’re hosting Launch Your Blog, an intensive LONDON BLOGGING WORKSHOP teaching new and developing bloggers how to create a successful blog. I’m passionate about this training, because blogging has enriched my life in so many ways. I can’t wait to guide new bloggers on this amazing journey. Mothers and Shakers is also creating a series of digital courses for bloggers and creatives anywhere in the world, so watch this space.
What are your plans and goals for 2019? Do you have a Word for the Year? Don’t miss my upcoming post on 19 Things to Look forward to in London 2019!