The birthday posts are back with a vengeance this year! It feels great to be back to them, because taking a pause for a bit of reflection and a bit of intention-setting is (as we know) one of my favourite things ever. So why would I miss this birthday opportunity!?
My birthday list is a little collection of fun experiences I’d like to have or things I’d like to do before my next birthday rolls around. I never complete the full list in one year, but having these ideas recorded somewhere means that I end up doing more of them than I would otherwise. And that’s the whole point! So here are my 29 before 29:
Another year older, and another year of beautiful memories to look back on. I’m so sad that I didn’t get around to writing this list last year, because I have such a terrible memory and lists like these are an easy portal straight into my own past. Which I need, desperately! Without taking the time to document it all, my favourite moments have a way of being lost to the sands of time. So this year during my birthday week, I’m forcing myself to sit down and remember. To preserve for my future. Here are my favourite memories from the year I was 27:
Celebrating my grandma’s 90th birthday with our whole extended family (& even some Welsh rellies!). We were lucky enough that day to also experience a First Nations ceremony, organized by my uncle (who is First Nations) and his friends. The whole day was so special and heartfelt.
Having a photoshoot with Amber Ellis of Creating Light Studio. We took the photos on a gorgeous sunny day last June, and every moment was surreal. I didn’t feel “ready” or “skinny enough” or like I was a big enough deal to warrant the photos being taken. But they’ve (without exaggeration) changed my life & business. She’s magic.
Sharing my heartbreak story on stage in front of a jam-packed room on a sweaty Montreal night. I’d gone through a bad breakup two nights prior, word-vomited all my feelings onto a piece of paper, and then spoke them out loud. My voice shook, but I felt so strong.
That time when someone bought my Inbox Zero course before I’d even officially launched it. I had mentioned that it was almost ready to launch in an email newsletter, and before I knew it, I’d sold a spot! Definitely a pinch-myself kind of moment.
Launching my podcast into the world! This project has been such a joy to create, and has brought me closer to so many of my friends. I love the insights we’ve found together, and I’m so glad that I finally pulled the trigger on this project that was marinating in my mind for years prior.
My first session of The Foundery. This January I started a group strategy program for women entrepreneurs, and our first meeting was such a wonderful moment for me. It was like I literally brought a photo (from my shoot with Amber!) to life in front of my eyes.
Having a boudoir photoshoot a week and a half after a breakup. This initially felt like the worst timing ever, but it turns out, it was the best timing ever. There’s really nothing like seeing yourself in a new light. It was such a fun experience and I really treasure the photos. I will be so glad to have them when I’m 80!
That one perfect weekend up at the lake. Lots of swimming, lots of good food, lots of puppy cuddles, lots of sunshine, lots of reading. What could be better?
Going to Broadway Drag brunch in New York! These are a few of my favourite things, and I got to experience them with a few of my favourite people. What could be better?
Launching The Vault. This year I was proud to be a part of launching a digital magazine called The Vault. It took a ton of work and strategy and planning, so it was fun and rewarding to put it out into the world.
Introducing Raffi in concert! I got the opportunity to introduce Raffi as part of my work with The MEHRIT Centre last summer, and it was a lot of fun. I brought my sister with me and after I’d said my piece we sat in the audience and laughed and sang to all the songs from our childhoods. So fun.
Singing at Marie’s Crisis, always. I went both times I was in New York during my 27th year, and both times my heart was full of joy. There is truly nothing I love more than being in that little dive bar singing my heart out.
That day on Toronto Island with Sonja & Salimah. We played hooky from work, missed the ferry, caught another one, walked across the whole island, got carrot cake, and talked about boys all day. It was so. much. fun. Can’t wait to do it again this summer.
Dogsitting for Bodhi. It was so lovely to be out at The Hideaway by myself, with just the quiet and the puppy to keep me company. Bliss.
Being at Riverfest Elora by myself. It brought me right back to my solo traveling days, when I could experience an event in exactly the way I wanted to. I got great food, explored downtown Elora, met up with a couple friends who were working there, and mostly just listened to great music and felt happy and free.
Going to Sojo Spa Club with Katie. Um, hi. What is this place? We got in for approximately $0 because they were having an anniversary 2-for-1 sale, and it felt like we had been teleported straight back to our Korea days. It was truly remarkable, and such a cozy way to spend a chilly January day.
Getting my front tooth fixed. I’d had a chip in it since university, so fixing it was the best. I feel so much more confident in my smile! It broke off a couple times and had to be repaired again, but it seems to now be there to stay, hooray!
Going to RuPaul’s Drag Race live with my friends. This was a recent experience, but it was so fun that it made the list. Getting to experience one of my favourite shows in a group atmosphere helped me to finally understand why people like sports so much! Also, it’s great to get to see more of Toronto’s drag community.
Going ring shopping for Laura with Mike. The universe has a sense of humour, because this ironically happened the morning after my breakup. But it also ended up being the best possible timing, because it showed me what true love & care look like, and that was inspiring and cry-inducing and humbling.
That backyard showcase at Christine’s. I was lucky enough to be in my friend Christine’s gorgeous backyard twice last summer, and both times were moments I’ll always remember. It’s like a paradise garden oasis, in the middle of Toronto! So lovely to hear my friends play music in the coziest little space.
That pirate ship showcase. My favourite thing in life is whimsy, and there is not much more whimsical than showing up to a pirate ship, buying a drink, and sailing along the shoreline listening to cello duets by extremely talented musicians. What a dream.
Going to A&W and Wicked with Bron. Even though it was pouring rain, and we ate in the food court at the Eaton Centre, I can’t think of any other way I’d rather spend a birthday celebration than being silly and watching musical theatre with her. She’s the best and I’m so glad we’re finally friends.
When Laura asked me to be her maid of honour on the bridge. She proposed to me! With a cute pink ring and everything! I was suitably honoured, and still am.
All the Nurture Nurtures. Like I said on Instagram, these life/business retreats I do with Sonja and Moni are not exactly glamorous. In fact, they’re sticky and kind of embarrassing, but they also create change and progress and movement like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. If you want to do your own, I share more about the process here!
Going to Cobblestone Farm for the day! This seemed like such a small moment at the time, but it ended up being one of my favourite memories from last fall. So lovely to play hooky with my friends and drive to somewhere so beautiful and so different. And to see horses and dogs, my fave.
Doing magic tricks for all my friends! I had been practicing for weeks and was so nervous that I’d mess up on the night itself. But in the end, they all went flawlessly and it was SO MUCH FUN to make some jaws drop. Again: whimsy.
Both Nurture weekends! Exhausting, rewarding, fulfilling, beautiful, unbelievable, life-affirming, lovely. I’m the absolute luckiest to get to be a part of these retreats and to get to meet these women.
And there you have it! I’m sure I’m forgetting some, especially those small, tiny moments that light me up. But I will say this: it was a challenging year for me. There were a lot of tests and trials and tribulations galore, but on the other side I can see that they were all leading me to a better place. I love my life and am so grateful for everything I’ve gotten to experience.
I love doing these reflection posts every year. If you’re curious, you can read about my favourite moments of 21, 22, 23,24, and 25.
It’s that time of year again! My favourite time: the part when I get to look back on the past 12 months and think about what I’m grateful for and what I’ve learned.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about 2018 is: “OOF. That was a big one.” So much change, so much growth, so many lessons. New friends, new opportunities, new experiences. Lots of powerful shifts, lots of laughter, and more candlelight than possibly I have ever experienced before (thanks Sonja!).
Here is my recap of 2018 – this is admittedly mostly a highlight reel, but please know that there was a lot of pain and fear and a record-high number of growing pains this year too.
2018 started with a beautiful Nurture Harvest Table Dinner in collaboration with our friend Salimah to celebrate her company, Artery. I went to concerts and parties and yoga classes and book clubs. I started dating again. I did the 7 minute workout every single day. I held down the fort at With/out Pretend while Erin was on vacation. I remember that it was a quiet month that felt full of potential.
In February, the year started to pick up steam. I went to a powerful dance class, and a fun craft workshop and tried Beyography for the first time. I started a certification program for a framework I care about deeply. The big highlight of February was going to my first Peasant’s Feast, a talent show-style party that my friend Erin throws every year. I memorized and performed a poem that means a lot to me and it was such a wonderful experience to share it with everyone there.
My favourite part of March of this year was getting to be on-site support for the Etsy Team Captains Summit thanks to Erin (I am sensing a theme here, Erin!!). It was SO fun to discover that I love being a part of helping events run smoothly and being the point person to solve problems. March also held some business challenges for me and led a clarification of who I was working with, which was great, in the end. At the end of March my friends and I all joined Sonja for the day at the gorgeous space she’d rented for a day retreat that painfully did not happen – I chatted with her about the experience in our podcast episode later in the year.
Damn, April. This month was the catalyst for everything that happened for me for the rest of the year. Most significantly, Sonja, Moni and I held a mini retreat in Almonte at The Happinest, Moni’s beautiful home. We tackled our businesses, worked through things in our personal lives, and collectively made some BIG changes. That was the moment when I shifted the ways I work with people as well as so many other aspects of my life. The other highlight of April was throwing my first house concert for my birthday – it was such a glowing and love-filled night.
In May, I launched my podcast! How fun is that? This project had been in my heart for YEARS and it felt so good to put it out into the world, starting by interviewing my friend Laura who I used to have a podcast with (full circle!). Already it’s given me so much joy and enabled so many wonderful conversations. We also celebrated my grandma’s 90th birthday, which felt like such a gift. In May I also started the process of hiring an assistant at one of the companies I worked with since I had been promoted several months earlier without someone new being hired – this was a big step and helped my sanity tremendously.
June was fun. I watched my baby sister graduate from university, which was fun and emotional. I got to introduce Raffi (!) onstage in concert, which was trippy. And then, most notably, I had my photoshoot with Amber Ellis of Creating Light Photography. Second only to the retreat I took in April, I would say that this one experience did the most to change my life and business in 2018. Working with her, being seen in that way, stepping into shoes I didn’t feel *quite* ready to fill: it was magic.
My favourite memories from July involve being up at a cottage on a big, beautiful lake, watching Wicked with my sister, having a boisterous birthday dinner for my dad downtown, and the experience of fully understanding just how much my friends love me, which happened when I got my heart broken. That shit is powerful, let me tell you and I’ll cry again if I think about it for too long. Another favourite memory is my plane touching down in New York, hugging Katie for the first time, and almost instantly laughing through my tears. I have the best friends in the world.
Well I can’t lie: August was a hard one, because of the aforementioned heartbreak. But it was full of so much goodness too: Time in New York City, one of my favourite cities on earth, with one of my favourite people. Speaking at Unresolved Feelings in Montreal and feeling a part of something bigger than myself. Launching The Vault, a magazine I am beyond proud to have been a part of creating. Having a boudoir photoshoot (I am no longer comfortable recommending the place where I had mine done, but would 100% recommend the experience in general!) and getting those pictures back. Going to house concerts in gorgeous backyards. Working with amazing clients. Helping one of my friends choose an engagement ring for another friend. Playing hooky and escaping to the Island for the day with women who get it. Actually, on second thought, August was pretty amazing.
September was so, so sweet. We launched Nurture: Fall 2018, and we sold it out within the month. We threw Erin a surprise party two months early, and she was actually surprised! We celebrated an early Thanksgiving with my family because my sister was moving to North Carolina for a work training program. I did some dogsitting for my mom while they were away, which meant almost a full week in my peaceful happy place with the cutest dog on earth. I went for a few really nice hikes with friends. I healed a lot, and I was happy.
And just like that, it was October! Seriously, that was fast. In October, we held the launch party for The Vault at the adorable Queen Books. I interviewed my friend Ameema for the podcast and got to visit the headquarters of Chapters Indigo, which was SO much fun. I launched my first product, The Appothecary, and was the expert speaker at our Tuesdays Together meeting! Both Sonja and Erin renovated a room of their homes (one a dining room, the other an office), and it was fun to be a part of the furniture shopping/furniture building/organization process and to see the beautiful results. And of course we had a ton of fun at my family’s annual pumpkin carving competition (I came in 4th place).
Nothing like ending the year with a bang, right? November was full to bursting with wonderful things. From the top: the Nurture Harvest Table Dinner was celebrating With/out Pretend, which meant that I got to reflect on how lucky I am to know both these incredible friends, and to work with both of these amazing companies. It was a joy. Then, I threw my first-ever workshop, which was nerve-wracking and wonderful and so much fun. Laura and I went to see Glennon Doyle. The next weekend, Katie was visiting and we had a whirlwind visit involving Body Blitz, tarot-card-buying, lots of dip, and a tiny amount of burlesque. The following weekend was Nurture: Fall 2018 which was beautiful, magical, tiring, and wonderful. Then it was my mom’s birthday! So much love and so much joy.
And then we come to December! One of my favourite parts of December was Dark Eggnog, a lovely house concert that my friend Salimah throws every year with lots of clementines and some seriously dangerous eggnog. After that, I got a very bad cold and was mostly exhausted for the rest of the month, but still managed to get a lot done, including launching The Foundery, celebrating Sonja’s birthday, doing a one-day mini retreat (small but mighty!!), going wedding dress shopping with Laura, and spending a particularly nice Christmas at home with my family.
Firsts of 2018
I always intend to keep a better record of this throughout the year, but in the end I have to rely on my (faulty) memory!
First time running my own workshop
First time being an ‘expert speaker’
First time speaking at a storytelling event
First (and second!) professional photoshoots
First time trying Zumba
First time working with a big multinational company
294 days of morning meditation (which adds up to 50 HOURS!?!?)
21 podcast episodes released
Goals & Intentions
Read 75 books
As usual, December was a bit of a push (including a couple of audiobooks and a couple of shorter books), but I was so pleased with my reading year in 2018. So many good books! You can see everything I read in 2018 here.
Choose a monthly theme
I kept this up for about half the year, and it was a fun way to structure my goals and intentions for each month! Things dropped off around June when the rest of my life picked up, and that’s totally fine. Before then, I had themes like “body”, “femininity”, and “style” which were all really helpful and fun to focus on.
Keep a daily logbook
This is one of my favourite new practices! As someone who finds it difficult to remember daily life, I love having a record of every single day from 2018. I copied Austin Kleon’s method (and notebook!) and plan to continue doing this next year, not as a goal but as a daily habit.
Meditate every morning
As I mentioned above, I didn’t get to 365 but I came closer than I probably ever have before at 294! When I saw my number for the year in the Stats section of the app I use, the first thing that popped into my head was the expression, “little by little, one travels far”. Somehow without noticing it, I meditated for 50 hours in 2018, which is some kind of miracle. It was rarely fun or easy or zen, but it was always ultimately helpful, and I plan to keep this up next year too.
Spend more time with family
I’m going to say yes to this intention, I did spend more family time this year. But I could be doing more, especially when it comes to my sisters and my grandparents. I’d love to make this more of a focus for 2019.
Have a digital detox monthly
This definitely did not happen! I felt more addicted to my phone than ever. But I also continued my habit of putting my phone on airplane mode before bed and not switching it off until I’d gotten some work done most days, so that was helpful.
Devote more time & love to cooking
Also: no. I did not do this at all! If anything, this year was worse than previous years for me throwing things together and not doing a good job of feeding myself. It’s on the list for 2019, this time with some more concrete action steps I can take.
Make my home my happy place
Slowly but surely, this is happening! I’ve gotten rid of a lot of items that I didn’t love, or that were broken, and that has made a big difference – I’m now surrounded by objects I love and find meaningful. My home feels cozy and comforting, and I’m making it more special all the time.
My Word of the Year: Flow
I loved this word for this particular year, and I think in retrospect it really served me well for 2018. As always, I kind of lost track of my word partway through the year (it’s inevitable!!) but I found it again in the Fall and fell in love with it all over again. When I set intentions around this word, my main focuses were to go with the flow, not force things to work if they weren’t working, and choose to spend time in flow activities. And on all these counts, I’d say it was a success! I had a lot of amazing opportunities flow my way this year, without having to force them. I also took a lot of inspired action, when it felt like I had a moving sidewalk under my feet as I walked – yes, I still had to take all the steps, but I had help. And finally I felt like I was in flow a lot of the time, especially when doing new things like speaking to a group, recording podcast episodes both by myself and with friends, getting lost in great books, and building new projects for myself and my clients. Flow was a wonderful word, and I am so grateful for it.
All in all, 2018 was one for the books. I experienced a lot of love and a lot of learning, and what could be better than that? As always when I write these posts, I’m left feeling nothing but grateful for this magical, wonderful, weird and crazy thing called life that I’m lucky enough to experience. It’s unfolding in ways I never could have predicted or imagined, and I cannot wait to see what 2019 has in store. I am wishing you, and myself, such a Happy New Year. We are the lucky ones and these are the days.
If you’re curious, you can see more of my year-end reviews here:
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.
I feel like I’ve been going on and on about Airtable all week: it’s an app I’ve shared here before, but I finally found a great use for it in planning my podcast season! It would also be amazing for basically anything you ever wanted to organize omg. So many great ideas and templates to use.
It’s been super fun to follow along with Caroline and Jason Zook’s new business adventure! They’re taking you through every single step of the process of building a new business in real time, and it’s fascinating. I’m always inspired by everything they do, and their philosophies. Really fun to see a breakdown of the tools they use too!
I’ve really been enjoying the new-to-me podcast, Simplify, from the people behind Blinkist. So many great guests, excellent interviews, and every episode ends with book recommendations! What’s not to love?
Also: how did I not know about this?! Seth Godin has a new podcast! Omg! I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but like everything he does, I already know it will be amazing.
My favourite post from Seth recently included this line: “Time to stop looking for shortcuts and time to start insisting on a long, viable path instead.” So. Good.
This story about male cheerleaders made me very happy.
Another week flown by! It was a good one, but lots of desk time which is not as fun. I spent lots of time scoping my podcast’s first season and starting to edit an episode I recorded with my friend Laura – we used to do Guinea Pigging Green together! It feels fun to be making something brand new. I am really looking forward to the long weekend and having some long overdue family time – and doggie time! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. xo.