Author name: Stephanie Pellett

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

24 for 2024

Hello dear friends! Long time, no see. It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, and even longer since I’ve done a list like this. But I’ve been missing my creative practice, and I’ve been craving more documentation, so here I come back to blogging!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing a bit of end-of-year reflection and some goal-setting for 2024, but I wanted to start with this fun list of things I want to try or do in the coming year. I used to do these lists for my birthday (examples here and here) but fell out of the habit a while back (I’m 32 now!). But instead of waiting for my birthday to roll around in April, I am going to switch the schedule and do it for the year 2024 instead.

I first got this idea from Sarah Von Bargen, but it’s also been popularized by the Happier podcast. For me, the prompt is to think of things that sound fun or interesting to you that you might otherwise procrastinate on doing. It gives some fun and structure to the year, and you’ll always have good ideas if you aren’t sure what to do with yourself!

So without further ado, here is my list of 24 things I’d like to do in 2024. Huzzah!

  1. Try rock climbing with Mike at Gravity Climbing Gym
  2. Sew The Juniper Tank with a bow at the backSewed in March + I absolutely love it!
  3. Take a daytrip to Trader Joe’s in Buffalo ✅ Mike and I went for our anniversary weekend in January
  4. Celebrate my 10-year friendship anniversary with Katie ✅ We met up in Ithaca for the weekend! 
  5. Donate blood quarterly (March, June, September, December)
  6. Start a local Cookbook Club
  7. Make another beautiful quilt
  8. Get a sandwich from Artie’s
  9. Get ice cream from The Purple Pony
  10. Finish writing Slowpreneur
  11. Get Prince Street Pizza in Toronto
  12. Take Bruno to Long Point Provincial Park
  13. Find a physio and eliminate my back pain
  14. Plan our third-annual RBG Reading Retreat
  15. Have my sisters over for Practical Magic + Midnight Margaritas
  16. Get a Hamilton Bike Share membership + use it this summer
  17. Pay off my debt completely
  18. Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens
  19. Get at least two perfect pairs of jeans
  20. Visit the Gage Park Greenhouse in the wintertimeMike and I went on January 10th & it was delightful!
  21. Host a pizza party or cookie swap
  22. Go hiking at peak leaf-peeping season
  23. Watch all of a critically-acclaimed TV show
  24. Print more square photos for my wall

While I’d like to say I’ll write a blog post for each of these things, realistically it’s far more likely that I’ll post about them on my personal Instagram account. Feel free to follow along there, if you’re curious!

In the meantime, watch this space for more blog posts coming your way soon. This is fun! Why did I ever stop doing this?!

xoxo,
Steph

2022 In Review

As I mentioned in my word of the year post, 2022 was a pretty hard year for me. There was a ton of transition & disruption, and not a ton of energy with which to manage it all. Almost every single member of my family physically moved, including us, and it was like a gigantic game of musical chairs – literally, since I moved into my grandmother’s house, and my sister moved into my apartment! Very destabilizing, to say the least.

Early on in the year, I was reckoning with the effects of the pandemic, like continued lockdowns, uncertainty about plans, a surreal in-person retreat that almost didn’t happen, and a healthy dose of political unrest and anger coming from my fellow citizens. Later in the year, I was reckoning with the effects of the actual illness, which I got while traveling abroad. The deep fatigue and brain fog lingered long after I had technically recovered.

Throw into the mix a puppy who needed neutering, a very busy boyfriend, a big move to a brand-new, unfamiliar city, and a slower business season than usual (recession, anyone?) and I ended the year feeling exhausted and pretty hopeless, to be honest.

Already, 2023 feels lighter. I am getting support and I feel more capable of tackling the challenges ahead. But the last few years have been absolute doozies, and there’s no denying it. With that in mind, let’s get into my yearly recap, shall we? You can watch my One Second Everyday video here, or read on for the big picture of 2022.


January

The year started off slowly. We did an online version of Nurture Nurture, the personal growth retreat I do twice a year with friends. I cautiously kept planning my first in-person retreat since the pandemic had started, all while monitoring the lockdown & changing situation. I celebrated two years with Mike, and five years of friendship with Sonja! We had an epic snowstorm, and Bruno experienced jumping through literal FEET of snow for the first time. Bruno was also in the throes of adolescence, which led to several meltdowns on both our parts. And that was it really! Cold walks, making soup, too much snow. January.

February

This is when things started to get really hard for me. The ‘Freedom Convoy’ hit Ottawa, disrupting the lives & jobs of so many people. I lost a close friend and client due to what was meant to be civil discourse about the goings-on at the time, a discussion that I lost several nights of sleep over. Russia invaded the Ukraine (what?!?!), disrupting the lives & wellbeing of so many people. It was dark. It was bleak.

In my business, I tried to keep going, despite the overwhelm, burnout and grief that I felt personally. I hosted my first retreat since Covid, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget carrying a tray of tests & tea out to attendees in their cars before we could safely gather. Surreal. But the retreat was a success, the food was delicious, and Bruno was a good boy throughout. For the rest of the month, I turned inwards. Cried a lot. Didn’t leave the house much.

March

Slow, quiet, private. Bruno was officially a teenager, so he wasn’t supposed to go to dog parks until he got neutered. Cue me trying to find private spaces for him to run around in off leash, in the city, in the winter, without a car. It was hell! When I wasn’t dealing with that, I filmed a couple videos for Shopify, had my sisters over for brunch, miraculously sat out on a couple patios early in the season (!), and went back to the ballet (!!!) for the first time since Covid.

April

April is my birthday month, so it tends to bring a bit of joy & festivity into the cold winter months. The best birthday gift in 2022 was that Bruno got neutered after what had felt like an eternity. The healing process was also hugely challenging, but we’ve seen so many behavioural improvements since & I’m so grateful. For my birthday we went bowling with friends which was super fun and played a bunch of overpriced arcade games. Yay! We also started 75 Hard – you can listen to this podcast episode to hear how that went 🤣. Speaking of which, in April I also launched the podcast! I felt like I needed an outlet to talk about the changes I’d been feeling and trying to embody in my business. It felt great to start it, and to have an “excuse” to start to interview some of my smartest friends.

May

I love May, because in this part of the world it’s when the flowers arrive and it finally starts to feel like Spring. I really needed the flowers after such a dark winter! I was dealing with some kind of mysterious bug bites at the time (not bed bugs!) that were super itchy and awful, so that was stressful to put it mildly. Also, the moving started! We ventured to Stratford to help my dad & stepmom move into their new home, and almost simultaneously my grandmother moved in with my mom. We went to see my favourite, Donovan Woods, and it felt so good & weird to hear live music again. Sonja also gifted me with a very fun day out in the city for my birthday, and we had a grand old time romping around to the beach, to brunch, to antiques stores. And we celebrated my grandmother’s 94th birthday! What a blessing.

June & July

The world felt a lot more open, which was such a relief. But it was also a mixed blessing, because June is also when I finally got Covid. We went to Ireland for Katie & P’s wedding, which is the most purely fun experience I’d had in years. Irish weddings are something else, let me tell you! We also visited Romania for the first time to see Mike’s family and hometown, which was such a special experience. Along the way we stopped to do some camping (!) in the mountains at an international jazz festival. Definitely a unique experience! Somewhere along the way, I got Covid, which put a damper on the rest of our trip. I was sad when the trip came to an end, but also grateful to come home to pick up our puppy from summer camp in mid-July.

July is also when things really changed for us. My friends were moving away from our neighbourhood (one to Kitchener & one to Brooklyn) which I was really dreading and fearing. Then, the weekend we got back from our trip, my Dad let us know that my grandma was moving into a retirement community, and her house was available, if we wanted to rent it. After a couple weeks of very intense discussions, a quick impromptu trip to actually see the city, and a whole lot of jumping in the deep end, I gave my notice at my apartment on August 1st. Holy moly, we were moving to Waterloo.

August

In August, Mike officially moved in with me for the couple months we had left before the big move. (See? So many moves!) It was so nice to have him there more often during what was otherwise a very busy time. Sonja was gearing up to move (to Kitchener! thank goodness!) at the end of the month, so we spent time returning to some of our favourite neighbourhood bars & restaurants, and going to Shakespeare in the Park for one last time as locals. My sister and I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was our birthday gift from my mom, and I took Mike to The Ex for the first time and went to Sorauren Movie Night for the last time. The next morning, we helped Sonja move to Kitchener.

September

September was, as you can imagine, a total blur. First, we headed to Almonte for a group canoe trip to Algonquin and a “Sip ‘n Sip” group float down the Mississippi river, which was hugely fun. Then, we came home and started packing up the apartment. Our downstairs neighbours also moved out unexpectedly & blessedly, so the house was total chaos! We were also in Waterloo almost every weekend, cleaning the new house, removing awful curtains, and stating to build the fence. Halfway through the month, we did our first in-person Nurture Nurture since the pandemic, which was perfect in every way. Quickly back to the city to celebrate The Profoundery‘s two-year birthday with an Ice Cream Social, more packing, more house visits, more fence building and more cleaning. Finally, on September 25, we moved.

October

Prior to the move, we had planned a trip to New York to visit Katie & P, and we decided to go ahead with it despite the (very) recent move. So we drove down with Bruno for a very fun & cozy week, celebrating Friendsgiving and showing Mike around the city for the first time. I stayed on longer to go to Alt Summit, which meant lots of quality time with Or (who had moved to Brooklyn in August!) and Katie, exploring a city I love so dearly. But once I got back, reality set in a bit. I was running on empty after the busy summer, the house was a bit of a disaster, and we were mid fence-build with winter fast approaching. Not to mention that we were also prepping for our first Nurture since Covid AND attending/filming a huge Indian wedding in Quebec City. It was truly too much, but we had already committed, so we had to show up. The wedding almost killed me, but we got through it.

November

…Only to turn around and leave again for most of November. Writing this all out, it’s no wonder I felt completely depleted by the end of the year! Even though our November events were fun and exciting, it was still a lot to manage when already struggling with the transition. First, we went up to a beautiful cottage for our book club’s first-annual Reading Retreat, a new tradition that brought me so much joy. Then, we had Nurture again in-person and it was so magical to be back in that beautiful space. Once the trips were over, it was wallpaper removal time. We had so much of it in the house, and I wanted it gone. This became my new nightly hobby.

December

Last but not least, we have December. I was slowly starting to explore our new city now that I was home, but the burnout was pretty bad, so I didn’t have much energy to spare. Mike and I were negotiating how to split up the chores and manage the costs of running a home while dealing with his truly insane work schedule. I was on a tight budget after all the recent spending, and feeling overwhelmed about the upcoming holiday season. And yet, we still got things done! I took off all the wallpaper, chose paint colours, and in a miraculous 3-day sprint, we painted three rooms just in time to host Mike’s mom for Christmas. The place looked so much better almost instantly. Then we had family events, and then I crashed hard before heading up to Or & Ryan’s family cottage to celebrate New Year’s with our friends. None of us had much energy, but we rang in 2023 with a sauna, some rosé, and a delicious cheese fondue dinner. Delish. (On the way home I had a meltdown though, so don’t get it too twisted!)


Firsts of 2022

  • First time camping in the rain in Romania
  • First time drinking a pint of Guinness in Ireland
  • First time driving to New York City
  • First time creating a reading retreat
  • First time designing & building a fence
  • First time going to a concert with all my sisters
  • First time attending Alt Summit
  • First time removing wallpaper
  • First time being a second shooter for a wedding
  • First time getting a new family doctor since I was a baby
  • First time moving to Waterloo
  • First time starting a business-specific podcast
  • First time hiring a photographer to capture my retreat
  • First time taking Bruno to The Scent Den & to daycare
  • First time picking paint colours
  • First time hosting meetups for The Profoundery
  • First time attending an Indian wedding

2022 by the Numbers

  • Visited two new countries (Romania & Ireland)
  • Meditated for 3 hours & 59 minutes
  • Approximately 2,672,530 steps walked, according to Apple Health
  • Created 14 podcast episodes
  • Read 52 books

Favourite Books Read

My Word of the Year: Present

I don’t have much to say about this word, because I didn’t relate to it much throughout the year. If anything, I spent the year either feeling too present with my hard feelings, or not at all present because of being totally overwhelmed and exhausted. I also didn’t buy myself many presents, because I was on a tight budget. We did receive the gift of this house & move presenting itself to us at a very pivotal moment, and we did give my sister the present of a beautiful apartment in a prime location to move into. I also think fondly of the times when I did feel present: at Katie’s wedding, at the reading retreat, at the Sip ‘n Sip, in New York. I’m grateful to have had those experiences.

Overall though, not my most potent word of the year. Maybe it was too painful to be present this year.


Phew! 2300 words later and I’ve recapped my 2022. The beauty of doing a retrospective like this is that I start to see patterns. I start to realize why things felt so hard and busy – it’s because they really were hard and busy! There is a reason I didn’t read as many books as I normally do, a reason that my capacity feels so much lower, a reason that my mental health has taken a hit this past year. It all makes sense.

As I said before, I already feel more hopeful about 2023. I feel like I have my feet a little more firmly underneath me. My puppy has turned into a well-adjusted dog. We are slowly making our house into a home. My partner is setting better boundaries at work. My business feels more active & alive, and I’m excited to invest in it. I’m getting support and seeing a therapist. Things are looking up, slowly but surely.

Wherever you are, I hope that your year is off to a beautiful start. I hope that you are feeling more positive & optimistic about what’s ahead. I hope what’s ahead is better and brighter for all of us than we could ever imagine.

All my love,
Steph

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

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

2023: Sustainable

Last year was a hard one for me.

After the previous couple years of pandemic life, I was already feeling pretty fragile entering 2021. But I also started the year with a crazy 9 month old puppy, awful downstairs neighbours who woke me up daily with their screaming, and local pandemic restrictions that just would not quit.

As the year went on, my capacity felt smaller and smaller. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it was the hardest year of my life, from a mental health perspective. I got Covid in the summer and it turned into a form of long Covid, affecting my energy & focus for a long while afterwards, and subsequently my ability to work and earn money from my business.

Then, in the Fall, we made the decision to move into my grandparents’ old house in Waterloo, Ontario, about an hour away from most of my friends and family.

The transition has been hard. The house is not what I would have chosen aesthetically, it’s in a (very) sleepy neighbourhood, I can’t walk anywhere, and I don’t know the city at all. We’re slowly making it our own, but it’s a process. Plus, Mike and I were also moving in together for the first time, so the last few months of the year were a struggle, to put it mildly.

As we approached 2023, I was EXHAUSTED. Depleted. Done. I was desperately craving some structure, some solidity, some steadiness after all the change and upheaval and disruption of the past few years. Every aspect of my life felt unsustainable. I felt like I was at my limit, everything felt hard, and I didn’t know what to do.

Sometime in early November, the word Sustainable popped into my mind. It represented everything I wanted the coming year to be: Calm. Manageable. Well-paced. Balanced. Full of small things often, as my friend Or (and the Gottmans!) love to say.

Sustainable. Able to be sustained. The key word here is ABLE. As in, I need to be able to sustain it. The word “sustainable” (or any word with the ending ‘able’, really!) indicates a relationship with the person sustaining the task or activity. If that specific person is not able to sustain something, that thing is not sustainable for them. “Sustainable” is not an inherent quality,  sustainable is a relative quality. Can I, personally, sustain it? If not, it is not sustainable for me.

This word is so clarifying. This word is so comforting. It reminds me to pace myself. It reminds me that if I could not continue an activity for months or years, it’s probably not the right choice for today, either. For example: if I’m rushing through my morning and skipping breakfast, that is not a sustainable choice. For today I might survive, but continued over time, that choice is not going to work for me. It’s not sustainable.

It also reminds me not to get too ambitious with my goals or tendency to want to overhaul my life. Sure, it would be awesome to wake up at 7am tomorrow morning and meditate for 20 minutes and get a workout in and only eat healthy food and, and, and. But can I sustain that right out of the gate? Am I going to be able to keep that up?

Instead, I’m training myself to go little by little. To start small. To do a 30 day yoga challenge in a gentle attempt to get back to daily movement. To slowly restart my weekly review process, because I know it makes me feel good. To give myself a “Fresh Start” in YNAB rather than trying to catch up on all the months I missed. To remember that wonderful quote from Anthony Trollope: “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”

So here we go: a sustainable year. We’re only 16 days in, and I honestly feel better already.

Sustainable

  • able to continue over a period of time
  • able to last for a long time
  • able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds
  • able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
  • causing little or no damage to the environment

Synonyms: feasible, renewable, supportable, maintainable, liveable, bearable, steady, worthwhile, eco-friendly, continuous, inexhaustible, reasonable, consistent

Intentions

  • Habits: I want to find habits, routines, and rituals that feel doable and accessible given my actual life. I would love to get back to daily movement outside of my walks, and my meditation practice, as well as more reflection & writing.
  • Energy: This year I want to crack the code on unlocking more energy for myself that feels steady throughout my days & weeks. I suspect this will have a lot to do with my habits, specifically my eating and sleeping schedule!
  • Money: 2022 wasn’t awesome for me financially, but I’m determined to focus on my business this year and create more sustainable income streams and spend in a more sustainable way. Getting back to YNAB will definitely help with this!
  • Choices: I want to make more sustainable choices whenever I can when it comes to what I’m buying or the waste I’m creating. I’m more aware than ever of the environmental impacts that our choices can have, and I want to try to reduce my carbon footprint however I can.
  • Systems: Since we just moved in together, we’re still figuring out our systems for sharing costs, running errands, and taking care of the home. I want to find sustainable systems that allow us to manage all the responsibilities in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming.

As I said, we’re a couple weeks into the new year and already it feels like things are shifting a bit. I am getting more support with my health & wellness, Bruno is turning into a more calm and mature dog, and we rearranged the house so my office feels brighter and more open. Small shifts have already taken place, and the best part is that all of them (so far) feel sustainable.

I won’t tempt fate here, but I am feeling more hopeful about the coming year and ready to take the next right sustainable steps to keep making things better. I hope your year is off to a beautiful start too.

You can read more about my words from the last ten (!) years below:

2013: Reach | 2014: Abundance | 2015: Grace | 2016: Light | 2017: Embrace | 2018: Flow | 2019: Energy | 2020: Devoted | 2021: Soften | 2022: Present

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