2023 In Review

For me, 2023 was the year of rebuilding. I’d had such a difficult time (physically, emotionally, pandemically) over the previous few years that in many ways, I came into 2023 at my absolute lowest. I have a photo I took of myself on New Year’s Day at some random rest stop where I look absolutely miserable, even though there was no “reason” for being so sad. Actually, the reasons were many: we lived in a home and city I didn’t love, it felt like I never saw my partner, I was mostly single-parenting an energetic dog, and most importantly, the chemical imbalance in my brain had been thrown off to such an extent that I was sad almost all the time.

And thus began my quest for getting help. Not long afterwards I got in to see my doctor and got on anti-depressants (bless them, truly) and started therapy again. It was a slow process, but when I think back on 2023, I see myself moving through a long arc towards getting better. As I write this at the end of December, I can gratefully say that I feel exactly like myself again. My mind is clear, I can see the good stuff again, I can feel gratitude again. I have energy for all the little things that once eluded me, like chopping broccoli and going swimming and writing this blog. We now live in a new home and city that we both love, and it feels like Mike and I have had more quality time in the last couple months than in the last year combined.

So hey! Hi! I’m so glad to be back. I’m so grateful to be rebuilding my life, one good habit/book/routine/meal at a time. And I’m grateful for all the goodness I still experienced this year, despite how much of a struggle it was for me at times. I’m ready to close the chapter of this year, but first I’d like to honour it. Here we go.


January

The most important things that happened in January were the steps I took regarding my mental health. Like I said above, this is when I found a new therapist and started my medication. It was otherwise a pretty dark & sad month, but those actions alone helped me feel a little better almost immediately. My therapist encouraged me to let my family know what I was struggling with, and I was so moved by their support and love. But mostly, I hibernated: made some soups, celebrated three years with Mike, dealt with way too much snow, and took care of my Dad’s dog for a couple weeks.

February

The month started strong with a sweet little staycation in Stratford, which was absolutely delightful (hot baths, great doughnuts, cute cafés, oh my!). Sonja and I started going to the gym together on Wednesdays, mostly because of the treat of the sauna and hot tub afterwards. Katie came to visit and we had a few great days together eating apple fritters and talking incessantly. I also spent a lot of my time preparing and feeling anxious about our upcoming work trip to Kenya.

March

Kenya sounds like a dream, right? But we were there shooting a weeklong Indian wedding, and I was still feeling so fragile, so it was a mixed bag. It was hot and tough and physically demanding and quite stressful…AND it was pretty magical. It was incredible to see giraffes on the side of the road or zebras outside your tent, to get to know another culture, and to be surrounded by such gorgeous flowers and landscapes. I absolutely loved it there, and despite the challenges (of which there were many!) it was 100% worth it to get to experience such a wonderful country. That trip took up the first half of the month, and the second was spent settling back in, staying cozy, and getting used to the endless cold & snow again.

April

I love April because things start to feel alive again: the weather is warmer, it’s my birthday so I see lots of loved ones, the flowers start blooming, and things just feel brighter. This past April I did some delightful things: visited the Butterfly Conservatory, went to see Rent at Stratford, went to Red Lobster (IYKYK). I also hosted The Slowpreneur Retreat for the first time with delicious meals cooked by Sonja. It was a cozy, productive weekend full of good food and good energy, and it was so much fun to support such cool entrepreneurs at the most picturesque cottage. At the very end of the month, we headed to Almonte for a cozy, rainy ‘Nurture Nurture’ – the personal retreat I do twice a year with Sonja and her sister Moni. We dove deep and talked through sticky stuff, and it was so nourishing.

May

Every May, we host Nurture and it is full of magic. This time, it was Springlike and warm, so warm we could (briefly) do a cold plunge in the lake and sit outside for staff meal! We had a wonderful weekend making beautiful tote bags and eating delicious food, and I was very grateful for the togetherness and sunshine. When I got home, I got into sewing again and made the Capstone Hemlock top, which was a lot of fun. My friends Or & Ryan came to visit which was lovely, and Sonja took me on a surprise birthday daytrip to St. Mary’s which was cozy and delightful. I took a lot of photos of flowers and spent most of my time trying to keep Bruno out of the mud.

June

At the beginning of the month, I went to New York for a few days to spend some time with Katie before her daughter was born! We took it pretty easy, but a highlight was going to the Bisa Butler exhibition and swimming every afternoon. When I got home, it was a quiet month. I did a bit of landscaping (reluctantly), a bit of doodling (happily), and a bit of writing (excitedly). June was when I started writing my book Slowpreneur, which is going to be a guide to running an intuitive & sustainable business. I was also still into sewing! I did another version of the same top, and started cutting out fabric for my baby quilt for Katie’s daughter. Most importantly of all, Bron and I (FINALLY) went to see Hamilton the musical. It was amazing.

July

One of my very favourite months of any year! July is so festive and fun, with so much going on. Movies in the park, beach days, ribfests, swimming, hammock-swinging and reading, spending time at my mom’s, and being outside as much as possible. Notably this month I had a photoshoot with Creating Light Studio and it featured my sweet partner and my dog which was tons of fun for all of us. Mike and I also took a daytrip to Hamilton and fell in love with the city, which would prove fateful in just a few short months. At the very end of the month, we surprised my Dad by renting out the entire Little Prince Cinema in Stratford and watching (what else?!) The Mummy in our own private theatre with unlimited popcorn. Absolutely delightful.

August

We were on the move again, back to Romania for the second year in a row for Mike’s cousin’s wedding. We were shooting the wedding which was a bit of a disaster for us (picture 38 degree heat, the wrong footwear, a language barrier, heavy cameras and no food the entire day and you’ll begin to understand my internal state), though the couple were very happy! The rest of the trip was wonderful though, we visited the beautiful city of Brasov, went up to a cabin in the mountains with one of the most gorgeous views of my life, and finished by getting to explore more of Bucharest, especially the old town. We ate a lot of delicious things and it was a beautiful experience. When we got back, I spent the next couple weeks just recovering and enjoying the lovely weather, and we finished off the month with a beautiful community event I helped co-host at a nearby farm to celebrate the end of summer.

September

We started the month with our second-annual trip to Almonte for the Barron River Canyon trip to Algonquin and Sip & Sip 2023. This is quickly becoming one of my fave weekends of the year because it’s just so FUN, especially the second part (drinking, snacking, and floating down the river on inflatables for the whole afternoon!). Also in September, I hosted a Community Picnic for The Profoundery‘s 3rd birthday party and had so much fun connecting with everyone who showed up. Most importantly of all, halfway through the month we went to see our first (and only!) apartment in Hamilton and secured it just two days later. It was a huge relief to have this next step in our plan figured out, and the packing and decluttering began. My dad started coming by the house nearly every day to fix it up (we’d been renting from him, and he was readying to sell it), so the house was a bit chaotic right up until we moved.

October

I finished my baby quilt for sweet Roisin just in the nick of time to deliver it in-person on a quick trip to New York in early October. I wasn’t there long, but it was long enough to fall deeply in love with this adorable baby and help out Katie as much as possible. It’s always hard living far away from one of my best friends, but when she has a newborn?! Exponentially harder. I was so grateful for that visit, even though we were in prime packing time. When I got home, we continued the whirlwind of getting ready to move which was very hard because we had acquired a LOT of stuff over the course of a year, mostly inherited from my grandma, who had lived in the house before. At the end of the month, I took another break to head to our second-annual RBG Reading Retreat. My book club and I had a lovely weekend up north amongst the changing leaves with perfect weather, delicious food, matching sweaters and lots of time for reading. Delightful.

November

On the first of the month we moved into our new apartment, and it immediately felt like home. Mike and I kept joking that the place was “blessed” (aka the opposite of cursed), because everything just seemed to fit, we kept finding more closets, and we couldn’t stop discovering new things we loved about the home and neighbourhood. We also almost immediately started getting more visitors stopping by because we were closer, which made me incredibly happy. Halfway through the month I took a break from nesting and headed back to Nurture, which was cozy and lovely as it always is. Afterwards, I was thrilled to get home and back to our new life, where we’re creating lots of coziness and togetherness as much as we can. Another important addition of the month was Eufy, our new robot vacuum that I got on FB Marketplace for $50 and has changed our collective lives. HIGHLY recommend.

December

Which brings us to December! The delights of our new life here continued as I started going swimming at the rec centre every Monday, got a big beautiful Christmas tree for the first time, hosted a holiday party for my friends (where Sonja sang for the first time in years!), started reading and writing again, and gathered often with friends and family. Oh, and we definitely partook in a healthy amount of Donut Monster! This home feels cozy and warm, festive and welcoming, and it has been the absolute perfect respite to help me settle back into good routines and healthier habits. I am so happy with where we are right now and I truly feel – for the first time in a long time – like I can’t wait to see what happens next.


Firsts of 2023

  • First time being on anti-depressants
  • First time visiting the continent of Africa
  • First time taking care of two dogs at the same time
  • First time trying a heels dance class
  • First time having a CBD massage
  • First time creating an altar space at home
  • First time going to Choir! Choir! Choir!
  • First time going to a singalong movie (Mamma Mia!)
  • First time buying baby clothes
  • First time keeping a doodling sketchbook
  • First time successfully growing tomatoes without killing them
  • First time finding a bunny nest in our backyard
  • First time attending a ribfest
  • First time owning and using a hammock
  • First time taking Bruno for a photoshoot as a model
  • First time trying papanași
  • First time giving blood in over a decade
  • First time having a sourdough starter

2023 by the Numbers

  • Visited 1 new country in a whole new continent
  • Meditated for 3 hours and 42 minutes 
  • Approximately 2,602,815 steps walked
  • Read 77 books
  • Created 14 podcast episodes + was on 2 other podcasts
  • Did 17 strength-building workouts on StrongLifts

Favourite Books Read

My Word of the Year: Sustainable

I hate to say it, but as usual my word of the year fell out of focus for me somewhere around the halfway mark. This almost always seems to happen! I wish I was able to stay more connected with my word, but more often than not I lose sight of it somewhere along the way.

Still, I do think this was a year of figuring out what was sustainable for me. Where we were living was not sustainable in any way (commuting, costs, quality time, proximity to family), and our new place feels like the opposite. I feel like I could live here for years, happily. My routines with Bruno became far more sustainable the more that he grew up and matured into the goodboy that he is today, which has made life overall more relaxing. I learned more about what I have zero interest in sustaining (a garden) and what I do (my friendships). I saw where my routines are unsustainable (read: nonexistent) and started trying to find ways to build better ones like my new weekly swimming habit, my strength-building routine, and my sleep schedule. The pace of my work was very sustainable and calm, but the financial situation was not, so that’s something I plan to tackle in 2024.

Overall, I’d say this word was a solid touchstone for me. I like thinking about things in terms of how sustainable they feel for me and I think I’ll take that with me going forwards.


So there we are, that’s my 2023 in review. We’re ending in a much better place than where we started, and I feel more solid than I have in years. I don’t feel as wobbly or fragile, and I have more confidence in my ability to tackle new challenges. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still rebuilding. I need to figure out a plan for grocery shopping, and I don’t have a morning routine to speak of, and I still have back pain every day. But I’m working on it! I’m trying! I have the energy to try again and that alone is such a gift.

As I look ahead to 2024, I feel excited. I feel a sense of possibility and hope for what comes next, whether that’s at home as I create healthy habits and tiny family rituals, or out in the world exploring and connecting. I love the yearly traditions we’ve been creating and am looking forward to those happening for years to come. Roisin is growing up so fast and I can’t wait to spend more time with her. Our home is the perfect nest, and I am excited for more of our loved ones to come see it. There is so much goodness, and I can see it again.

As I write this it’s grey and rainy and cold, but the future is finally feeling bright. Wishing you a Happy New Year, my friends.

xoxo
Steph

PS. If you’re curious, you can see more of my year-end reviews here:

2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

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