Life Lessons

2018 In Review

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.

January

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.

February

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.

March

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.

April

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.

May

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

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.

July

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.

August

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

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.

October

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).

November

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.

December

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
  • First time throwing a house concert
  • First tarot deck
  • First time offering consulting services
  • First time hiring anyone
  • First time introducing a performer on stage
  • First time listening to music on a pirate ship
  • First time working with someone who was previously a stranger
  • First time going ring shopping + wedding dress shopping
  • First time trying the Turkey and the Wolf Collard Melt (omg.)
  • First time going to a music festival by myself
  • First time going to The Island Café
  • First time starting a mastermind group

2018 By The Numbers

  • 75 books read
  • 78 blog posts written
  • 64 Instagram posts
  • 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

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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:

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

The Cobbler Has No Shoes

At last week’s Tuesday’s Together meeting, I mentioned that ever since I started my business, my website had gotten very little attention and I didn’t have a mailing list set up for my own clients. That month’s expert speaker said, “I get it, the cobbler has no shoes and all that.” She then went on to say that her own business website had been considered a “known issue” in her company for years, despite the business being successful and thriving.

The Cobbler Has No Shoes >> Life In Limbo

I’m not a person who believes you have to get every duck into a neat row before you can launch your service or products. In fact, I think that your best ideas won’t and actually can’t come until you’ve started the process, worked with a couple customers, and started to see what isn’t working and could be better. I like to keep my business fairly nimble so that I can pivot easily, change things up, offer new packages and work with new businesses. For example, I’ve run my business successfully for two years and I have yet to print business cards. (Which is a good thing, because I didn’t know what exactly to call what I was doing until about 30 seconds ago.)

That said, I also have no interest in being a shoeless cobbler. I want to help myself and my own business grow and thrive just as much as I help my clients grow theirs. That’s part of what my new “think bigger time” is for: putting the systems in place that will support me moving forward, and dreaming big dreams about what things might look like 5 years down the line. And this goes for every type of business: so often, we aren’t offering to ourselves what we offer to others. 

Even though I’m proud that my business has been sustainable without all the trappings of Business Legitimacy (barf), I also think it’s important to recognize the moment where you do have new shoes to fill – pun most definitely intended. There comes a time when you need to step up to a new level and decide that the way things were will no longer be the way things are. Even if they’re “working”! Even if they’re “fine”! If parts of your business feel clunky and tedious and unsustainable, they probably are. And by deciding to improve them, you become more confident in what you’re offering.

It’s important to remember that you don’t fix things just so that other people will think you’re a professional at what you do, but so that you will start to see yourself that way. When you turn pro, at first just through your actions and decisions, your confidence in yourself follows suit.

I’m working on making myself shoes, slowly but surely. What are your shoes to make? What part of your offering are you not giving to yourself?

Thinking Bigger

Now I’m just getting cute with my post titles, I know, but as they say: the opposite of a great truth is also true. So, as much as thinking smaller is important, so is thinking bigger.

Lately thinking bigger has represented thinking outside of the box, looking outside of the bounds of my regular day-to-day life. It’s meant stretching myself and pushing myself to step into spaces that feel scary and intimidating. It has meant taking time to get a bit meta: to work on something rather than just in something, to paraphrase the E-Myth.

Thinking Bigger >> Life In Limbo

Last week I was on an unofficial retreat with my friends Sonja and Moni. For the whole week, we thought bigger. We put aside our everyday responsibilities and worked on our lives, businesses, relationships and blocks, rather than just in them. It made me realize how rarely, in my business life, it is that I do the kinds of tasks that the great Stephen Covey would consider “Sharpening the Saw”. For example, my website usually gets the bare minimum of attention, and my bookkeeping system hasn’t changed in 2 years since my business has grown. Every work day is usually consumed with my task list and answering emails rather than setting myself up for future success. Every weekend day is for relaxing and connecting with loved ones. Sharpening the saw of my business happens only rarely, because (until now) it felt hard to justify taking non-billable hours to work on my business itself.

How silly and ridiculous it feels to write that! Of course those hours are billable, you just don’t happen to see the return right away. Of course working on your business is a good idea and well worth the investment of time and money. Of course it’s important to think bigger and plan ahead for the future. Of course it’s necessary to work on making your work life more sustainable and enriching for everyone involved. Of course.

But of course this is one of those simple, hard things to remember. When every day feels full and sometimes overwhelming, thinking bigger can feel like a luxury you can’t afford.

From now on though, I’m giving myself permission to take one work morning a week to devote to sharpening the saw of my business: working on my systems, setting up my workflows, optimizing my website, trying new apps, designing better invoices. Anything that will move the needle towards greater sustainability for myself and my business. I’m calling it Thinking Bigger Time and it’s now a recurring event in my calendar. Today was my first day, and so far it’s been great.

PS. Want to see what I’ve been working on? You can check out my new services on my website here!

Choosing Bigger

Each year around my birthday, I post a list of my favourite things and moments from the past year, as a way to celebrate and remember everything that was meaningful to me. They’re so fun to make and look back on, and it’s always nice to take a moment to reflect on the year I’ve just lived. (If you’re curious, you can see the archives here.)

Choose Bigger >> Life In Limbo

As I was working on this year’s list, one thing that stood out to me was that, with a few exceptions, every moment that was the most memorable was one that took place outside of the routines and schedules my everyday life. This is not a shocking realization, of course, but one that I need to keep in mind more often as I’m making decisions about how to spend my time and structure my days.

Don’t be deceived by all the adventures I’ve had: I’m a creature of habit through and through. Even when I travel, I like staying places long enough that I can create mini routines and rituals. These days in Toronto, I go to the same coffee shop almost every single morning and can eat the same thing for breakfast for months at a stretch. I like repetition and structure because they help me save space in my brain for making tougher decisions and doing focused work, but routine is not always what serves me. It is not (always) what brings me the most joy and fun.

Sometimes it can feel like a big hassle to do something outside of my typical schedule. I think to myself: Will it really be worth it to disrupt my routine? How will I get all my work done? Am I even allowed to play hooky? Will I get in trouble?!

I’m writing this from the bright, peaceful living room of my friend Moni’s house in the beautiful Almonte, Ontario. It is totally quiet and I feel very calm. My friends are out buying groceries for what is sure to be an incredible New Orleans-inspired vegetarian feast for tonight. We just had coconut curry soup and cinnamon-raisin grilled cheese for lunch. It is sunny here, which my apartment lacks, and the rest of the week will be spent masterminding and planning and scheming and manifesting for the rest of 2018. Oh, and eating. There will be lots of that.

Here’s the note to self: this is totally worth it. It is worth it to book the trip, pack the bag, get on the train, and feel kind of overwhelmed because you’re worrying about your email inbox filling up. It is worth it because when you step off that train into the wide-open air that looks nothing like where you came from, you will feel different. You will have less weight on your shoulders and you will automatically have a new perspective.

Most of all, here’s a reminder that it is always worth it to make space for yourself to breathe. It is worth it to not always do what you think you want – to stay home, be responsible, do the ‘right’ thing and get things done. Sticking to your routine always seems like the easier choice, but instead, choose the bigger life. Do the thing that will feed your soul. 

If you need me, I’ll be in the Happinest until the end of the week.

 

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