My Birthday and 6th Blogiversary | What a Difference a Year Makes

My Birthday and 6th Blogiversary | What a Difference a Year Makes | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style

It’s my birthday, it’s my 6th blogiversary, it’s my annual birthday and blogiversary post!

This is an extra post for the week – I don’t normally publish on a Sunday – but like my annual bloopers and outtakes post, I always have a little bit of a retrospective look back at the past year when my blogiversary rolls around. So go grab yourself a cuppa and get comfy, I’m going to tell you a story…

As some of you may know, I started my blog on my 39th birthday as a one-year project to see if I could improve my style in the run up to my 40th. My fortieth arrived, and as I was enjoying blogging so much I simply decided to carry on with Not Dressed As Lamb as a personal style blog, throwing posts about health and beauty, ageing issues and lots of musings into the mix.

Within two years I’d given up my job as a Sales & Marketing Manager to go full-time with the blog. If starting the blog was the best decision I ever made, then deciding to do it as a career was an even better one.

Six years on from when I first hit “publish”, I’ve modelled for Fever London.

I’ve won a blogging trip to Paris.

I’ve worked with iconic brands such as NIVEA, Jaeger and Avon.

I’ve met Twiggy.

I’ve met and formed a professional blogging group with six other badass midlife women.

I’ve been shortlisted for three years in a row for a UK Blog Award, and won on the third attempt.

Yet despite all the amazing things that have happened, this time last year was probably one of the worst career-wise for me.


The financial year from hell

I came *this* close to packing it all in because despite having some great collaborations coming in, I was heavily dependent on the money from those collabs. And then I got stung for a huge sum of money from three different people/businesses – basically I just didn’t get paid – and all my savings that had been keeping me going up to that point had gone.

A year ago the realisation that I may well have to give up blogging and go back to working a 9-5 finally sunk in. It could only have been a few days before the mortgage and all the rest of the bills were due to come out of our account – with no pay packet from me going in – when I got paid by one of my clients. So I was saved for that month. And luckily I earned just about enough the next month to keep us tied over for another four weeks.

Gradually, more jobs started coming in. It was a nice feeling to be in demand and as it was then autumn, brands wanted AW16 content.

Christmas 2016 came and went, and what was coming in from collaborations was ticking over nicely. It seemed the days of being worried sick about how we were going to pay our bills were becoming a distant memory. However what was coming in wasn’t enough to be able to afford the August 2017 US east coast holiday we’d been planning for several years (to see the total eclipse), so we were still feeling the effects of 2016’s financial crisis well into this year.

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The turnaround

Then something amazing happened: I WON at the UK Blog Awards in April of this year. I was the Individual Winner in the Fashion & Beauty category, after three years of trying. I was absolutely stunned and still, to this day, I can’t quite believe I actually won that night.

The previous year, which had seemed so utterly and completely hopeless, was now a bit of a distant memory because I know don’t whether it was just coincidence or a direct result of the win, but within a very short space of time the offers of work started to come flooding in. I basically haven’t stopped for breath in the past few months, it’s been that crazy.

So to cut (what is becoming) a long story short, this financial year is set to become my best yet, at least it will be if the rest of the year continues as it started.

Despite cancelling our US holiday we’re going to do it in September 2018 instead. Looking on the bright side, we may be missing the eclipse (the original point of the holiday) but it should be – in theory – a tiny bit cooler and less full of British tourists and their families, plus we now have an extra year to plan it.

I’ve also got myself a fantastic agent. If last year hadn’t gone so wrong our paths wouldn’t have crossed, so I had to go through that sh*tty period in order to end up in the good place I’m in today.

So there you have it: What a difference a year (can) make(s). Keith and I have now reset our sights on moving back to the South East hopefully sooner rather than later, rather than it just being a pipe dream.

I might be able to afford to buy that new bed I’ve had my eye on for since forever.

And I’m even considering getting a cleaner – just someone who can keep on top of the basics of the housework for us – because at the moment all our spare time together is spent doing housework and I’d rather be out enjoying life.

And that is exactly what I plan to be doing today – enjoying my birthday with my man and my dog, having a pub lunch at a dog-friendly establishment and going out to enjoy the country air.

And the moral of the story is: If things seem like they couldn’t get any sh*ttier, then you just gotta hold tight until they pass, for things DO and things WILL change. You’re never quite sure what the future will bring, but that’s what I love about birthdays, and blogiversarys – they’re a time for reflection as well as celebration.

And as I love birthdays so much, I’m going to say it… HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEEEE!!




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My Birthday and 6th Blogiversary | What a Difference a Year Makes | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style




  1. 26 July 2017 / 9:17 am

    Happy Birthday lovely! That actually brought a tear to my eye. You're a huge inspiration, I have followed you for a while now. You're sharing your gift and that's a beautiful thing. To many more birthdays and many more successful blogging years! Love from Vicky

  2. 26 July 2017 / 2:28 am

    Happy, happy birthday! You are an inspiration to many of us. Both for your wit and your style. Cheers, Catherine!

  3. 25 July 2017 / 9:53 am

    Ohhhh wonderful update annnnddd HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO YOU, you wonderful awesome human! I hope you get to celebrate with your two boys and have a blast. I'm so looking forward to watching your journey unfold over the next 6 years!

    Lots of Love

  4. 24 July 2017 / 10:27 pm

    Happy Birthday! You are such an inspiration and I thank you for sharing all that you do. As a newer blogger I have certainly been a benefactor of your knowledge and experiences. Thanks so much!

  5. 24 July 2017 / 3:39 pm

    Happy birthday, I hope you had a great day. And also that you continue to have every success that you deserve for the hard work you put into making the great blog that yours is.

  6. 24 July 2017 / 3:06 pm

    Thank you for this awesome post and for being an inspiration to keep going with my blog! I love how you said blogging as a "career", it's just a little word, but it helps remind me put as much effort into it as I would a "real" job!

  7. 24 July 2017 / 12:47 pm

    Happy Birthday to YOU Catherine. You are simply the cutest!!! I loved every word you write as I can hear myself speaking and feeling the same thoughts.

    Wishing you a wonderful year ahead and wishing even more that you would arrange for another blog meet in the coming year!!!

    xoxo Yvonne

  8. 24 July 2017 / 10:52 am

    Well blooming hell! What a wonderful, positive post. As I was reading this I was getting butterflies of excitement for you. I probably felt it as a year ago, I too was in a similar position with my business (for different reasons), making huge, life changing decisions, so I could totally relate to how you felt. I am so over the moon for you, and wish you the happiest birthday. I feel all happy and motivated. Your a little gem xx

  9. 24 July 2017 / 8:13 am

    Happy birthday and great years ahead with less frustration and trouble.

  10. 24 July 2017 / 6:04 am

    Hope you had a great birthday, sounds like a nice relaxing one, albeit with a tiny bit of work in the form of this post!
    It's great to hear that things are going well, and that you're earning enough to make ends meet. Even better that there is enough to be able to afford the little luxury of a cleaner. What probably shouldn't be overlooked is that you're also lucky to have a husband who backs you up 100% in what you do, despite some rough times.
    I like it when bloggers share their ups and downs, it makes the rest of us feel as though we're not alone, even though our problems may be different. But there are always little nuggets that can give us that moment of realisation, and maybe the inspiration to change things. Even though I'm not a blogger I like reading the posts on how to tackle the different things, it gives me a little insight in to what a blogging working day is like, and makes me appreciate what you guys do.

  11. 24 July 2017 / 2:31 am

    Happy Birthday to you Catherine! And, Happy 6th Anniversary to NDAL!
    In fact, this year, Diva In Me is turning 6 as well. I remember so clearly we started about the same time and we've been following each other since the beginning of our blogging days. This reflection is really sweet to me, but blogging can be bittersweet. I have many of those "I would like to give up blogging tomorrow" kind of days..but when I read my blog post again, I couldn't help myself but to want to continue blogging and sharing.
    Just like you, Diva In Me is starting to grow a whole lot more this year. I am happy with the growth and contented. It looks like it'll be a great year for you too Catherine. I wish NDAL well and I would love to see your September 2018 goal come true =D

  12. 23 July 2017 / 11:09 pm

    Inspirational, well done Catherine, and Happy Birthday to you. x Jacqui

  13. 23 July 2017 / 10:46 pm

    Happy birthday. I, too, have had one of those "what a difference a year can make experiences". My husband was downsized from a job he expected to retire from. We were trying to sell our house and downsize, no takers. I had tried to find a job. Nothing. Then, we decided to take a trip to the Pacific Northwest to see some old friends We needed the break and the perspective. When we got back, the switch flipped and everything began to change. The hubs got a job in Boston, and this pair of lifelong Southerners decamped to Boston. We arrived just in time for the horrible blizzardy winter of 2014-2015. Ugh. But, we survived and learned that we were stronger than we thought. Six months in, I landed a job I love and we have a great home, a great new life, and amazing neighbors! What a difference a year makes! Happy birthday and here's to a great future. If you come to Boston look me up!

  14. 23 July 2017 / 8:34 pm

    Happy, happy Birthday dear Catherine!

    I'm glad things have improved so much for you!!! Wishing you health and much happiness in the coming year. And a fabulous US vacation in 2018!

  15. 23 July 2017 / 8:31 pm

    Happy birthday Catherine! Have a great day and may all your dreams come true. Renata xox

  16. 23 July 2017 / 5:46 pm

    Happy birthday!

  17. 23 July 2017 / 5:04 pm

    Woohoo!! Happiest birthday wishes to you, dearest Catherine!! I'm SO thrilled to hear that things have been on such a wonderful upswing for you since winning the UK Blog Awards…you deserve it ALL!! 😀 And I totally agree that there is always a "light at the end of the tunnel"; sometimes it takes a while to get there, but your journey is proof that perseverance pays off!! XOXO

  18. 23 July 2017 / 4:18 pm

    Happy Birthday and congrats on 6 years ^.^

    As for anniversaries June marked two years since coming out properly as trans, it was a huge step but looking back at how shy and uncomfortable I was before that verses how I am now and it's been a huge change for the better both in terms of my confidence and my mental health!

    Aim For Fabulous

  19. 23 July 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Happy birthday! The real struggle behind freelance independent biz!!!

  20. 23 July 2017 / 3:10 pm

    Happiest of days, Catherine! Your story almost sounds like a Hollywood movie! And I'm a sucker for happy endings…so here's to the happiest yet!!

  21. 23 July 2017 / 3:07 pm

    So sad you are missing the eclipse. BUT September is such better weather than August, yikes! We live in southern California so we too will miss the eclipse (; (
    Stumbled on to your blog when you were off to the blogger awards this year, so I'm a newbie.
    I so enjoy your blog and what you are about, even though I'm a baby-boomer. ❤️ from the USA

  22. 23 July 2017 / 1:37 pm

    Happy birthday!! Hope you enjoy every minute of your special day, and when you look back next year, it'll be even better than you hoped 🙂

  23. 23 July 2017 / 1:11 pm

    Happy Birthday & anniversary. Thank you for a peak behind the social media curtain at reality. Your writing the lived reality is what also makes your blog resonate with your readers.

  24. 23 July 2017 / 12:13 pm

    Happy Birthday Catherine, as always, a wonderful post, and many congratulations on everything.
    PS Love that dress!

  25. 23 July 2017 / 11:43 am

    Happy birthday Catherine, all the best people have birthdays in July, says she who had hers 2 days ago!
    I'm a recent follower and am very glad you are still here foe me to have to have found your blog.
    Lisa x

  26. 23 July 2017 / 11:27 am

    Oh how utterly lovely. I am so ngs turned out so well. And I was there to witness the moment which started the floods! Yay.
    Happy happy birthday and happy happy anniversary. May things get even better!

  27. 23 July 2017 / 11:25 am

    Happy Birthday Catherine, and I am so glad you didn´t give up bloggin.
    All the best.

  28. 23 July 2017 / 11:16 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY CATHERINE!!! It sounds like you're going to be having a lovely day with your man and your dog. ENJOY! I loved your post – I do reading success stories and I do consider yours to be such a wonderful one and an inspiration to us all.
    Hugs from sunny Algarve
    Suzy xx &

  29. 23 July 2017 / 10:59 am

    Happy Birthday, Catherine and thank you for sharing your story! As a new blogger it is inspiring to read that dedication and hard work still breeds success. And you certainly deserve all of yours! Have a wonderful celebration and best wishes for another successful and happy year.

  30. 23 July 2017 / 10:40 am

    Hope your day is marvelous, Catherine.

  31. 23 July 2017 / 9:36 am

    Happy birthday my friend. Have a wonderful day – you are an inspiration!

  32. 23 July 2017 / 8:47 am

    I'm in the midst of the kind of financial nightmare you describe. Literally just existing, trying to keep our heads above water. So heartening to read your post. Congratulations on all you have achieved through hard hard work. Many Happy Returns. You look fabulous ��

  33. 23 July 2017 / 8:25 am

    Happy birthday Catherine!!! It's wonderful to hear how your hard work is paying off and that your success is growing day by day. Have a fabulous day my lovely xxxxxx

  34. 23 July 2017 / 8:19 am

    Happy birthday Catherine, you are an inspiration.

  35. 23 July 2017 / 7:33 am

    Happy birthday Catherine!! Enjoy your day xxx

  36. 23 July 2017 / 7:27 am

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday and I so agree with the moral of your tale. Many times in my life when I was nearly on the brink of disaster a miracle has turned up.

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