2020 In Review

2020 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Well. We did that, somehow. We lived through 2020, the (hopefully!?) hardest year of our collective lives.

The pandemic hit different people differently, and everyone has a different personal code of ethics and risk tolerance. But for me, the lockdowns here in Canada meant that I saw very few places outside of my apartment and immediate neighbourhood this year. I interacted with very few people besides my boyfriend, outdoor time with a couple friends who live within walking distance, and occasionally, with precautions taken, my immediate family. And even those visits were few and far between!

I live alone, and I don’t have a car or any animals, so it’s been a bit of a hard year. There has still been joy and I still have so much to be grateful for, but I’ll admit that it’s been painful and lonely too. I’ve had very little energy for anything outside of work, which I really had to focus on in order to actually make money and support myself during such an uncertain year! So a lot fell by the wayside. Some of my friendships have weakened. I had less time for my favourite hobbies, like reading and writing this blog. My self-care and sleep schedule were intermittent at best. (Caveat: I know I’ve had it so easy compared to so many others.)

And yet we made it through! A few days into January and while nothing really feels any different than it did all of last year (same apartment, same schedule, same same same), I feel somewhat hopeful about what this year might hold. Maybe I can take a trip. Maybe I can hug my friends again. Maybe I can host another in-person retreat. We will see. All of us will see.

Until then, I still wanted to take some time to reflect 2020. As weird as it was, there was so much beauty too, and I want to remember those parts. So here we go! 2020 in review, such as it was.


January

The year started off on such a positive note! I was coaching a lot, making new connections, and prepping to host my first-ever business retreat the following month. I remember life feeling full and vibrant and fun. I started doing food prep and was really excited about that new development! I was taking great care of myself, having coworking dates in beautiful spaces, going to fun concerts, and generally having a very good time. But the most exciting thing that happened in January was meeting my now-partner Mike, who has been my steady, hilarious, generous, cuddly person throughout this wild, ridiculous year.

February

Another juggernaut of a month! I hosted my retreat and it was an absolute delight. I have thought of it often in the months since: how cozy we all were snuggled together in that farmhouse, how delicious the food was, how connected we felt. It’s almost haunting to know how much life changed right after that experience. In February I also gave a workshop to a big corporate client alongside The Birds Papaya, which was a fairly surprising (and cool) development. I also got a really great haircut…and haven’t had one since 😂

March

As you know, the world (as we knew it) ended. The day I was meant to take a beautiful snowy weekend getaway with four close friends, I got a cold. I personally put myself into lockdown, and my province quickly followed suit a couple of days later. I remember almost nothing from March, but a look at my calendar shows that I was still busy. I had a lot of coaching calls previously scheduled, and somehow, I still managed to show up for them fully. But I lost a major client and a major project pretty much as soon as COVID hit. I worried about money. I did not bake bread. I did not do puzzles. I DID get on TikTok and try to cheer myself up by learning a bunch of dances. I did go for a lot of walks, and read Untamed, which I adored. But mostly, I laid on my floor and cried, then got up and tried to serve my (also panicking!) clients.

April

 

I was supposed to go to see my favourite musical Hamilton on my birthday this year!!! Did not happen. But, I’m lucky enough that instead, my friends Sonja and Stirling came to my house with their guitars and sang to me, 6 feet apart, and my mom stopped by and waved at me from across the parking lot. Also that month, we moved NurtureNurture (our beloved twice-annual life retreat!) online and it was as powerful and fun as ever, despite the distance. I did eventually bake a banana bread, but I had a lot of trouble sleeping and didn’t touch a book for basically the entire month. I have no idea WHAT I was doing with my time, besides surviving. My camera roll shows only photos of walks, stress cleaning, and a lot of photos of me in my romper.

May

I decided to launch “Productivity Parties”, collective work sprints that could bring people together to get their work done in a supportive community. Those were so fun, and a real hit – people were really craving that togetherness, myself included. In May I also visited my mom’s property for some socially distanced quality time on the trails and it was so good for my soul. I walked around the city bloom-spotting and the flowers brought me so much joy. Sonja and I started having regular weekly outdoor dates, and thank goodness. And I got an unexpected job offer which felt exciting and cool, though I ultimately declined it for many reasons. Life got warmer, and life got better.

June

The job offer started to go sour, and I made the executive decision to decline it and continue to do my own thing instead. I decided to re-launch my group coaching program to see what would happen, and enrolled two amazing groups that I adored working with for the rest of 2020. I gave a great online workshop about productivity. I planned a fun COVID-safe adventure day complete with strawberry picking, hiking, and a drive-in double feature (SO fun). I also got a big wake-up call about my complacency and inaction around anti-racism after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, and started trying to be more vocal and active in the fight for an anti-racist world.

July

As mentioned, I started running two new simultaneous cohorts of my group program, which was such a joy, a delight, and a relief from a business perspective. I also started running my monthly Transparency Tuesday updates, to share my action steps to become a more anti-racist business and person. I tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather by hiking to waterfalls, camping out at my mom’s backyard, reading on the grass at the park, and walking down by the lake. I even ventured to a few patios for a couple of dinners! I love July and though it was different than usual, I still loved soaking up the sunshine and seeing my friends at a safe distance.

August

This was a fun month too! Beautiful weather and much better vibes. I dogsat at a friend’s house which was a very welcome change of scenery after several months stuck in my own apartment. I surprised Mike for his birthday with a park gathering with several of his friends, then took him to an indoor obstacle course which was so much fun (albeit less fun with masks on, lol!). I took a Mental Health Crisis Response course online, went to a few apartment open houses (nothing panned out), and even tried out text banking for the American election. Meanwhile, I was hard at work building out the infrastructure for my online business community!

September

Said business community, The Profoundery, launched! I had actually been working on it, on and off, for most of the year, so it was so rewarding to actually see it come to fruition. And the members who joined (and who have continued to join!) are so incredibly inspiring and thoughtful. The other super fun thing that happened this month was that Mike & I took a camping trip! Such a delight to spend a couple days away from it all, cooking over a fire, taking photos, and exploring. Also in September I carefully visited my grandparents for the first time since Christmas, celebrated a friend’s birthday on blankets at the park, took some excellent workshops through SURJ, and finally got back to reading a little bit more. See also: tried to soak up every moment of the good weather before it got cold again.

October

It got cold again. Sonja and I tried to drag our weekly outdoor hangs out until it was too cold to sit outside anymore, so we switched to walks. October was the month that I really started to feel panicky again about the impending winter. I wanted to move, I wanted a dog, I wanted the pandemic to be OVER, I wanted a break. Nothing really changed, but I definitely felt agitated about it. On the positive side, I started running monthly calls in The Profoundery and it was SO much fun, I was immediately so glad I had created it, and still am. The only other good thing that happened in October was the second NurtureNurture of the year, which again was so fun and delightful. A serious bright spot in an otherwise challenging month.

November

More of the same: work, walk, sleep, repeat. It was hard to stay motivated and hard to stay positive when life just felt cold and dreary almost all the time. There were some dark days in November, for sure. The positive things: I finished the Duolingo Romanian course I’d started in March, I “went to see” a virtual Donovan Woods concert online, and my best friend got engaged! I also launched my first online retreat, which is happening in a week as I write this. I also visited my mom for her birthday, which was a delight.

December

Which brings us to December. We had some pretty snowfalls, which I appreciated more than in previous years because they were at least something visually interesting and a bit different than the grey sameness that Toronto was otherwise bringing! I got my first (tiny) Christmas tree to have at home, and decorated it with my favourite ornaments from years past. I tried to lean into the festivities by making snowflakes, buying Christmas candles, and knitting a festive tree skirt. Mike and I had a dress-up date night at home, just for fun. And I took a full two weeks off for a break, which was wonderful, even if I didn’t get to see as many of my loved ones as I would have liked. It was a cold break thanks to all the standing outside we did, but I was so grateful that we could make those memories. It was special, in its own way.


Firsts of 2020

  • First global pandemic (and ideally also my last)
  • First time running a business retreat
  • First time not hugging my mom on my birthday
  • First time singing Christmas carols to my grandma on her balcony
  • First time camping with Mike
  • First time cooking over a fire for the weekend without a stove
  • First time launching an online business community!
  • First time doing my coaching program fully online
  • First virtual bachelorette party (would not necessarily recommend)
  • First time doing night sky photography
  • First time wearing a mask to the grocery store (and everywhere else)
  • First time making homemade margaritas
  • First time eating outside in the rain under a haphazardly constructed tarp tent to stay socially distanced
  • First time getting TikTok and posting dance videos on the internet
  • First time giving a workshop to a large private corporation
  • First time having a virtual movie night date
  • First time having a virtual retreat
  • First time attending a virtual concert
  • First time learning how to speak Romanian
  • First time trying dance-based workouts
  • First time trying Weber’s burgers
  • First time having white shoes

2020 By The Numbers

  • 70 books read
  • 45 blog posts written
  • 44 Instagram posts
  • 5.25 hours of meditation (or 43 sessions)

GOALS & INTENTIONS

You can see my full post of goals & intentions for 2020 right here! Here are my updates.

WELLNESS

  • Don’t drink alone: HAHAHAHAHA. Let’s put it this way: I literally forgot this was a resolution of mine
  • Walk for 20 for 2020 outsideI did pretty well with this! I don’t have an official count of days, but I did this more often than not.
  • Set up my Alexa morning & evening routines: I did set them up! Then eventually I turned them off and never turned them on again.

HOME & COMMUNITY

  • Explore one new star per week: Again, this is hilarious considering that we could not explore ANY new shops or restaurants for large swaths of this year. So no, this did not happen.
  • Do an Energy Exchange at Yoga Village: This also did not happen! They actually never answered my email.
  • Capture 1SE: This I did do, and I am so grateful that I did! I will be sharing the video very soon.

REST & RELAXATION

  • Read 111 books this year: I did not read this many books, since the pandemic destroyed my ability to concentrate for a few months there. I did however read 70 books! Which is wonderful.
  • Create a shut-down ritual for work: Did not do, did not even attempt.
  • Take a vacation: I think that my camping trip counts as a vacation! It wasn’t what I had perhaps envisioned when I wrote this, but it was restful and fun all the same.

SELF-CARE

  • Try acupuncture: Indeed yes! I snuck this one in right before the pandemic happened. I liked it, and would probably go again after COVID life is over.
  • Get quarterly massages: This (perhaps obviously) did not happen.
  • Find a great therapist: This could have happened! But didn’t. I really lost sight of my goals for much of this year and this was among the ones that got totally forgotten. I hope to do it in 2021.

WHIMSY

  • Celebrate minor holidays: Not really.
  • Do monthly surprise dates: This started off strong! And quickly deteriorated as the year went on and we had fewer places to go.
  • Buy something that sparks joy each month: This, I actually stuck to! I purchased some very joy-sparking things throughout the year. Here are some highlights: my Always pan, my Airpods, my Smash + Tess romper.

My Word of The Year: Devoted

Funnily enough, this was actually the perfect year to have the word Devoted. This year was hard, and it required a lot of devotion: to my health, to my relationship, to my clients, to my business. I was very grateful to have such an intentional and forceful word guiding me through the year, to remind me to SHOW UP and CONTINUE SHOWING UP, no matter what might be thrown my way.

As I said in last year’s post, there was a fierceness to this word that I was craving, and which I definitely needed to embody. Starting a relationship during a global pandemic, when all of your raw emotions are exposed and on display all the time? Not easy. Very triggering. Requires devotion. Taking care of your body and mind, eating well and exercising and getting outside while you’re in lockdown? Requires devotion. Trying to keep your business going and actually being able to support your clients despite the turbulent conditions? Requires devotion. It all required a lot of me, and while some things certainly fell by the wayside as a result, overall I’m so glad I had this word guiding me through.

And bonus! I also bought a beautiful ring engraved with the word devotion which was the perfect talisman to remind me of my intention. Yes.


Whew!! What a year this was. Reflecting on it in this way is actually quite rewarding, because it forces me to see how much goodness I got to experience this year. I was lucky: my business stayed afloat, I found love, I played with dogs, I spent time in beautiful parts of nature, I helped my clients. I have so much to be grateful for, even if this year was nothing that I could have expected or would have chosen. I tried my best, and my best was good enough to get me through, and for that I am so grateful. I know others were not as lucky as me, and my heart goes out to them.

So as we end this historic year, I am sending you love and positivity and hope. Hope for the vaccines. Hope for the future. Hope for our loved ones and our families and our health. Hope that we can get through these next few months and come out into a bit more light on the other side of this very dark tunnel.

All my love,

Steph

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

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

Inspiration: August 7

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration: August 7 >> Life In Limbo

Such a great little initiative for Toronto during COVID-19: is the park busy? No clue yet whether it’s accurate or not, but it’s helpful to have!

I haven’t yet had a chance to listen, but I’m so excited about this new podcast from Serial and The New York Times: Nice White Parents.

Really relatable watching for those of us who may or may not be a little *too* into personal development and self-help sometimes!

I read Such a Fun Age this week and loved it! So cringey, so well-observed, so smart. Its observations on race were fascinating, but I also loved (and related to!) the feeling of being the person working for someone who wants more from you than just the work itself.

Since we’re all staycationing these days, I loved this list of day trips around Toronto! There is honestly so much to do so close to home.

If you’re into Human Design, I’ve been finding this podcast interesting lately.

This week on my business blog I’m sharing a flow chart I use to help me evaluate my ideas! I’m also sharing a sneak peek of my new business community membership! 😍


Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. Mine was nice – I was housesitting and dogsitting for friends and it was great to have a few days in a different environment, with a dog buddy nearby while I worked! This weekend I don’t have any big plans beyond helping out with some Etsy markets, reading this book, and hopefully finishing this puzzle.

An announcement that I’m going to take the month of August off from sending out this newsletter! It’s good to take a break. I’ll be back with more inspiration in September!

Inspiration: July 31

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration: July 31 >> Life In Limbo

Loved this idea for negotiations to start by asking about a prior success in a similar situation.

folklore came out last week and I have literally listened to nothing else since. The lyrics and the undercurrent of untamed women in this album are key.

I laughed out loud at this meme. Too true.

So so so inspired by the news that Toronto had a day with only ONE new COVID case this week. Wow. So thankful.

Reminder: these are considered boundary violations!

I bought one of these gorgeous botanically-dyed masks this week. Very here for pandemic fashion choices!

This week a friend introduced me to Kara & Nate’s YouTube channel and I love it! They have a lot of cool travel videos, but I’ve been most interested in their current series about buying a van to live in during the pandemic.

I read The Book of Longings this week and it’s definitely my favourite book of the year so far. SO good.

Today marks my 116th day of learning Romanian! I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late to start a Duolingo daily habit. So much more fun and more productive than social media.

Most of what inspired me this week was taking the time to build my new group coaching offering, The Profoundery! Picture: live calls, curated resources, monthly themes and a vibrant community to work on your business in a fun & intentional way. Click here to join the waitlist!


This was a good week! It felt balanced between work and relaxation, and I had a lot of open space to start planning for my new offering mentioned above! So exciting to see it start to come together, I can’t wait to share soon! This weekend I’m going to be spending some much needed family time out of the city and am really looking forward to it. I’m also going to try to find a book to follow up my amazing reading experience of last weekend! Wish me luck. I hope you have a great weekend too! xo.

Inspiration: July 24

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration: July 24 >> Life In Limbo

Lots of spoilers in this episode for The Dutch House, but I wanted to recommend it because I LOVE Ann Patchett and I find her so wise. There’s a part near the end of this interview where she talks about how the creative process involves forgiving yourself and it’s such good advice.

I’m currently reading Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee and it’s blowing my mind. The historical examination of productivity alone is so fascinating!

As I review the software products I’m using in my business, I’ve been really grateful for the work of Kris Smith of The Black Techie. She provides lots of helpful information about what companies are stepping up in terms of anti-racism and equity and which are decidedly not.

This video makes me so excited for the day (hopefully soon!) when I have a patio I can style!

I’ve been so fascinated by Ziwe’s Instagram Live show Baited, where she talks to (mostly white) people about racism. Every episode is super interesting and uncomfortable. I especially liked the one she did with Alison Roman.

Big fan of romance novels lately and a big fan of Talia Hibbert who I discovered recently. I just finished Take a Hint, Dani Brown, and it was delightful!


This week has been a total blur yet again! In a good way. I’ve had lots of great client calls and group coaching sessions, made progress in planning out my next offering, researched anti-racist software decisions, spent time with friends and my boyfriend, worked on a puzzle and picked up a round of library holds. Happy camper over here! This weekend I don’t have any big plans but I’m excited to relax, read, perhaps hit the beach, and soak up the slightly cooler weather. Hope you have a great weekend too! xo.