2021: Soften

2021: Soften >> Life In Limbo

This is my ninth time choosing a word to help guide me through the year ahead. I love this practice: it is intentional, it is simple, and it is meaningful. Every time I think of my word, it connects me back to my values and my hopes for myself. It helps guide my decisions! It can literally affect my mood, because it helps me think about things differently and reframe my negative experiences. In short, it’s a way to add more whimsy and intentionality into my daily life! (I am looking forward to being 90 and having 69 words to look back on with fondness and gratitude.)

As you may recall, my word for 2020 was Devoted, and it was the perfect word for the moment we were living through. You can read more of my reflections on it in this post, but the short version is that 2020 asked a lot from all of us, and the word Devoted really helped me to stay connected to myself and continue to show up for my physical and mental health, my budding romantic relationship, and my amazing clients, despite everything else going on. 

As we move into 2021, I actually want to keep up the fierceness and deep love that Devoted reminds me to embody. It is not done with me! (My words never are.) And, I want to embrace a new energy for myself, one of softening. One of pleasure, of enjoyment, of inner calm.

2021: Soften >> Life In Limbo

This year, my word of the year is Soften. I chose the verb, rather than the noun “Soft”, because it will remind me that to soften is a choice. Over the past couple years as I’ve moved to running my own business full-time, I’ve had to take on a lot of responsibility. It’s become harder to relax after work, or take breaks throughout the day, because I know that everything rests on my shoulders. Throw in a global pandemic, and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety, overstimulation, and dissatisfaction.

No thanks! In 2021, I choose to soften. To give in, when my wonderful partner lures me back to bed for a long cuddly nap, even though I have “so much to do”. To let go of my arbitrary timeline of launching my group program, because it just feels too forced and crunchy. To relax in the evening, rather than cramming in yet another online course, podcast, or some other such opportunity for personal development. To take more baths.

Already I know this will not be an easy word for me. As I’ve learned over the past few years, choosing a word instantly shows you all the places where you are struggling with its opposite. This word is bound to show me where I am hard, rigid, unyielding, unpleasant. That’s not going to be nice, but it will be nice to have more softness calm, and lightness in my days. Heck, as I write this I have taken the morning off of work to ease into my day! It’s working already.

So here’s to 2021! May it soften me.

2021: Soften >> Life In Limbo

soften

  • to become less hard, to become softer
  • to become, or to make something seem, less severe or unpleasant
  • to make something less forceful, less harsh
  • to become much more gentle and friendly
  • to make something smooth and pleasant to touch

Synonyms: ease, relieve, soothe, assuage, cushion, allay, mellow, lighten, relax, relent, thaw, melt, tenderize, calm, gentle, loosen, sweeten

Goals & Intentions

As you can imagine, the word Soften does not really inspire me to set a whole bunch of rigid metrics to meet for the year ahead! Still, there are some things I’m thinking about trying to incorporate more of. So in true Soften fashion, I’m thinking of these ideas as mere suggestions, fun things to try if I feel like it, and to let fall away if I don’t.

Soft mornings, soft nights

I’m tired of feeling like I’m rushing into my days without having time to myself to pause, or reflect, or enjoy myself. In 2020 I also developed a bad habit of bringing my phone to bed and getting sucked down the rabbit hole of YouTube, or TikTok or phone games instead of truly unwinding.

So in 2021, I would like to have softer mornings and softer nights. I am still figuring out what this means for me, but so far I’ve added in morning pages and meditation, both of which I do in bed. That feels very soft and cozy! More to come, but this has been a great start.

To me, softer mornings also mean feeling rested, so finding a good, consistent sleep schedule this year is also a priority.

Soften up

Towards the end of last year, I suddenly realized that I was suffering from perfectionism in a few areas of my life. I’ve obviously known about the concept of perfectionism for years, but never resonated with it – I’ve always been good at shipping imperfect work and not making perfect the enemy of the good. But last year, I noticed that perfectionism was creeping in around the edges in weird ways. I was over-planning fun excursions, overthinking simple decisions, and wanting everything to work out perfectly. If it didn’t, I felt anxious or unsatisfied with my choices. NO! No.

This year, I want to embrace more spontaneity. I want to remember that life is long, and there is so much time to have all the experiences I want to have. I don’t have to cram things in, or force them if they’re not flowing. On the whole, I want to plan less and live more.

2021: Soften >> Life In Limbo

Soft Shoulders

I mean this both literally and metaphorically. I love the idea of softening my shoulders – not getting my hackles up! – over small things. Relaxing into the moment & accepting what is. Lightening up.

I also want to find ways to literally soften my shoulders and back. I carry so much tension in my back and it has been giving me pain for y

ears. I’d love to do more stretching and strengthening to reduce that pain, and maybe get more massages to loosen up the tense muscles there. And as always, I want to work on my posture, especially when sitting or standing at my desk!

Soft eyes

This one is simple, but not easy. I want to look upon others with love, softness, compassion and affection. I want to be more gentle in my relationships. I want to be less judgemental. 

I’ll be honest: watching the actions of the world and the people around me during the pandemic was hard. I felt stressed and upset to see people flouting the rules and carrying on like everything was normal. But here’s the thing: judging them doesn’t hurt them, it only hurts me.

So in ways big and small this year, I want to have soft eyes: for my partner, for my friends, for my family, for myself.

Seek Softness

This is a fun one! I want to literally be surrounded by soft things this year. Cozy, soft, gentle fabrics in the form of clothes, blankets, sheets, pyjamas, pillows. Comfier furniture: my couch especially is so uncomfortable and hard. Spending lots of time around super-soft cats and dogs, and hopefully getting a very soft, fluffy pet of my own. Softness in all things! I want to be comfortable & cozy in 2021.

2021: Soften >> Life In Limbo

Softer Skin

I can’t be the only one who struggles with my feet, right? It seems like no matter what I do, I can’t seem to make my heels as baby soft as I might want them to be! I hope that 2021 is the year that will change. When I can safely go in person again for a pedicure, I will, and until then I’ll do my research and do my best at home. This also extends to my hands, lips, and body. I want to use lovely lotions and potions that smell good and make my skin nice and soft.

Softer Self

Last but not least, I want to be softer with myself. My self-talk can get pretty brutal sometimes, especially when it comes to my body, and my choices. I want that to soften. I want to learn to speak to myself with positivity and kindness and love. This may also mean finding a good therapist who can teach me more tools for self-compassion & self-love!

Being softer with myself also means scheduling in way more self-care. Over the past few years I have not been great about scheduling vacations or taking time off, so that changes this year. I’d love to give myself more time away from the computer and doing what I love: being creative, writing, taking photos, cooking delicious meals, and reading great books. 


Ironically, I know that having Soften as my word might be hard for me. But that’s okay! It’s a growth edge, and I know that this word has a lot to teach me. I’m looking forward to taking more opportunities to relax, breathe, and trust that everything is going to be okay. 

If you choose a word for the year, I would love to hear about it! And if you see any resources, books or posts about the idea of softening, send them my way. Happy 2021, everyone!

You can read more about my words from the last few years below:

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

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

2020: Devoted

2020: Devoted >> Life In Limbo

This will be my eighth (!) year choosing a word to keep in mind as I move through the months ahead. I love choosing a word for the year, because even if I completely forget about it, it still adds some whimsy and an extra dimension to the year. It guides my thinking, nudges me to make more aligned decisions, and helps me interpret things that happen to me through a new lens.

This year, my word feels just a teensy little bit confronting. Devoted. DEVOTED. That feels serious! It feels important. It feels real.

As we approached the end of 2019, I was feeling like I needed to have my own back more. I was tired of being tired all the time. I wanted to be able to set firmer boundaries and have confidence in myself and advocate for myself when needed. At Nurture, I wrote a poem with a line that says “You have your own gravity,” which I absolutely love. I initially thought that my word might be Gravity.

Then I realized that the bigger feeling I wanted to cultivate was a sense of commitment: to myself, to my life, to my relationships, to my integrity, to my clients. I wanted more of my own gravity as a way to stay anchored, grounded, firmly rooted in what I want more of, without distraction. So then I thought maybe Commit might be a better word.

Finally, after clicking around through a bunch of synonym pages for Gravity and Commit, I saw the word Devotion and my ears perked up. Devotion. Devoted. Devote.

2020: Devoted >> Life In Limbo

There is such a quiet beauty to this word, a humility, a steadfastness. It implies being unshakeable. It evokes romance and love. There is a fierceness to it that I am craving for myself. When I compare “self-care” to “being devoted to myself”, the difference rings like a bell in my head.

So my word is Devoted. I am devoted. I am devoted to myself and maintaining my boundaries. I am devoted to my health, wellness and wellbeing. I am devoted to making sure I give myself what I need. I am devoted to my family and my friends. I am devoted to my future romantic relationship. I am devoted to my rest, my downtime, my relaxation. I am devoted to creating more richness in my life, more whimsy, more playfulness, more delight. I am devoted to my home, my community, my neighbourhood. I am devoted to my life.

Devoted

  • the fact or state of being ardently dedicated, loving and loyal
  • loyalty and love or care for someone or something
  • to give all or a large part of one’s time or resources to (a person, activity, or cause)
  • an act of prayer or private worship

Synonyms: adoring, affectionate, fond, loving, tender, tenderhearted, dedicated, committed

 

Goals & Intentions

I went in a bit of a different direction this year with my goals. I thought about what feelings I’d like to cultivate, then set goals & intentions to help me get closer to those feelings. My hope is that my word keeps me devoted to these goals!

In 2020, I will be devoted to:

Wellness

  • Don’t drink alone
  • Walk for 20 for 2020 outside
  • Set up my Alexa morning & evening routines

Home & Community

  • Explore one new star per week
  • Do an Energy Exchange at Yoga Village
  • Capture 1SE

Rest & Relaxation

  • Read 111 books this year
  • Create a shut-down ritual for work
  • Take a vacation

Self-Care

  • Try acupuncture
  • Get quarterly massages
  • Find a great therapist

Whimsy

  • Celebrate minor holidays
  • Do monthly surprise dates
  • Buy something that sparks joy each month

I have a good feeling about 2020! It feels like I have some momentum behind me as I move into it in a way I haven’t before. I’m so proud of what I accomplished in 2019 and I can’t wait to put down more roots & deepen my relationships in 2020.

If you choose a word for the year, I would love to hear about it! And if you see any resources, books or posts about the idea of devotion, send them my way. Happy 2020, everyone!

You can read more about my words from the last few years below:

2013: Reach | 2014: Abundance | 2015: Grace | 2016: Light | 2017: Embrace | 2018: Flow | 2019: Energy

2019 In Review

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Some years go by faster than others, and this one feels like a complete and total blur. It’s going to be hard to sum up the year in one blog post because so many things happened for me. Things that feel totally surreal. Things that are still painful to think about. Things that make me feel unbelievably grateful. Things that make me excited for the future. Things that make me baffled about the past. So many things.

I love writing these posts because they force me to pause, reflect, remember, celebrate, and release. I get to think through everything that happened (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and honour it as it should be honoured. And this year in particular, I am especially in need of a pause. Life lately has been hectic, so I’m ready to take stock. Without further ado, here was 2019:

January

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I started off the year strong by launching my first-ever iteration of my group program, The Foundery, with three incredible entrepreneurs. I learned some impressive magic tricks & performed them at a party. I taught my Inbox Zero workshop again! I got sick with a bad cold. My favourite part was when I took a lovely trip to New York for a little working holiday and to spend some quality time with my bestie Katie. I remember feeling so excited about the future.

February

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

In February I was interviewed for The Globe and Mail about my love of books, which was a real high point. Business-wise, I created a PDF download for my website and turned my Inbox Zero workshop into an online course. I went up to a friend’s snowy cottage with my book club and read books in the hot tub. I helped launch a book for the company I worked for at the time. Meanwhile, I slowly got better at doing Instagram stories. 😂 I also cried & felt sick to my stomach emotionally. A lot.

March

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

March is when the year started to pick up a bit of momentum for me. I had a lot of firsts! My first interview in a national newspaper. My first time on a blind date. My first Instagram Live. I also booked a big workshop, helped host Nurture: Spring 2019 which was a dream, hit pause on my podcast, and went curling with my family. But I also struggled to walk away from a toxic relationship, my financial life was v. stressful and I was so sick of winter. Not the greatest month.

April

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I love April because it’s my birthday month! And this April was especially wonderful. I did Nurture Nurture (our twice-annual DIY retreat) with Sonja & Moni in Almonte, which was so rewarding & helpful. I threw a concert for my birthday at a sewing studio, and celebrated surrounded by all my favourite people. I started another group of The Foundery, which felt so exciting. And I also went to Ithaca with Katie! We had the most delightful long weekend exploring, hiking, eating and talking non-stop. Plus we had the first signs of Spring, thank goodness!

May

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Okay, May was super fun. I went to Warkworth with a few friends and was very charmed by the town & the beautiful landscapes. And then, most notably, I taught my first masterclass at Make Lemonade! That experience was a huge highlight of my year, a night where I felt exactly like myself and was so proud of what I’d created. It was also the launchpad for several of my other favourite moments of 2019 – see below! Also fun: going to see Bear’s Den with both my sisters.

June

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

I am a summer person. I love to soak up every second of the warmer weather since it is so scarce here in Toronto. In June this year I tried to celebrate by going to street festivals, having a beach picnic for the solstice, dogsitting at my mom’s beautiful property, and going for long walks outdoors. I spent lots of quality time with friends, went out for a very fun father’s day dinner with the family, and went to see Dear Evan Hansen with my sister. It was wonderful, exactly the kind of month I long for when it’s cold and dreary outside (ie. today, as I write this!).

July

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

This was another good month until almost the very last day. I started a new group of The Foundery with women who are absolutely wonderful. I went to the cottage with my coven and it was all kinds of glorious. I had strategy sessions outside in the café in High Park, and did my email workshop for a small company, and went to see the RuPaul Tour, and went to the pool, and watched movies in the park. I also hosted Katie when she came to Toronto for a week and we had such a blast. But a couple days before the end of the month we also found out some scary news about my dad’s health.

August

Inspiration: August 9 >> Life In Limbo

August is usually my favourite month, but it was definitely overshadowed this year by the fears & stress of my dad needing to go for emergency surgery and his recovery afterward. I took time off work to be with him at the hospital, which was such a strange time but also brought us all closer together. I also had other commitments this month, like a photoshoot, filming my class for Make Lemonade, and celebrating a friend’s coming out party. I helped throw a bridal shower for Laura, took over the Make Lemonade Instagram account, and did a lot of strategy sessions. I was sort of on autopilot, but I made it through.

September

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

In September we launched Business 101 which was SO exciting. It was very rewarding to work so hard on something that was so well received by the community. I also did a one-day retreat with Sonja to get our heads on straight for the rest of 2019. And the rest of September was pretty much consumed by wedding-related things! My cousin’s engagement party, Laura’s bachelorette, a week of wedding prep, and then of course the wedding weekend itself! It was pretty full-on, but everything was very beautiful.

October

Inspiration: October 18 >> Life In Limbo

October was another fun month: I started a new group of The Foundery and actually continued with my group from April, which was a pinch-me moment and so exciting. I went to Hamilton for a little getaway for Nurture Nurture: Fall with Sonja and Moni. I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. I won a pumpkin carving competition. And most importantly, I got tickets to Hamilton, the musical!!!

November

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

In November we hosted another Nurture: Fall 2019 retreat, which was so meaningful and powerful. I went to a few cozy showcases and had a lot of client calls. I joined Wandering Aimfully! I started to hibernate for the winter by cozy-fying my house. I coworked with my mastermind group at East Room, which was an utter delight. I had to start charging HST which was stressful but ultimately fine and actually a celebration!

December

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

Wow, even in writing this blog post December crept up on me! How is it December already? This month I was in full hibernation mode, but still managed to do some delightful things, like surprise Sonja with tickets to Donovan Woods for her birthday! I also taught my Operations 101 class live to a sold-out group (SO fun) and threw a very cozy & wonderful holiday party as a thank you for all of my clients. And then I gave myself two weeks off! I’ve been spending the time with family, resting and recuperating from what has been a very full year.


Firsts of 2019

I am relying on my memory to create this list, so it’s probably nowhere near exhaustive but still a fun exercise!

  • First time running a group program
  • First time interviewed in a national newspaper
  • First blind date
  • First time solo road-tripping to another country
  • First wine-tasting tour
  • First time as a bridesmaid
  • First time interviewing a stranger I’m a fan of for my podcast
  • First professional divorce
  • First time selling spots in an online course
  • First time being with a family member for a surgery
  • First time planning a business retreat
  • First time being paid to give a talk live
  • First Instagram takeover & Instagram Lives
  • First time being 100% self-employed
  • First time totally rearranging my current apartment
  • First bridal shower, first baby shower
  • First time throwing a client appreciation party

2019 By The Numbers

  • 112 books read and counting!
  • 166 blog posts written
  • 61 Instagram posts
  • 240 days of morning meditation (40 hours!)

Goals & Intentions

You can see my full post of goals & intentions for 2019 right here! Here are my updates.

Physical Energy

  1. Be in bed without technology by 10:30PM every weeknight and 11:30PM every weekend night: Lol, nope. But I did start tracking this on a daily habit-tracking app so I think I was successful a lot more often than I otherwise would have been had I not tracked it! But I am definitely still working on figuring out my ideal sleep routine.
  2. Move intentionally every day: Again, I don’t have the numbers on this (because note to self, you almost always forget to stop filling in your daily habit trackers somewhere around May or June) but I do think it helped to set this as an intention.
  3. Create a binder of fun, healthy meal ideas: I *started* this, but didn’t get very far. Eating healthy & simply continued to evade me in 2019.

Source Energy

  1. Meditate every morning for at least 5 minutes: I managed to meditate 240/365 days which is about 65% of the time. This seems low! But I do struggle to meditate anytime I’m away from home and sometimes on weekends. This is a habit that I don’t notice the benefits of unless I’m NOT doing it, so I plan to keep it up.
  2. Read 100 books: Yay, I’ve read 112 so far! It was so fun to not give myself any restrictions or rules this year and just read whatever the heck I wanted. Turns out: I wanted to read a lot of romance novels!
  3. Write more reflective blog posts & journal entries: Another yay! I spent a big chunk of the year writing a blog post every single day, which was a fun & rewarding daily practice. I’m out of the habit now but it feels good knowing I strengthened that muscle and spent time reflecting on my thoughts and ideas.

Guard Energy

  1. Say no to things that aren’t aligned or that feel forced, tiring, or sticky: Oh boy. This was a tough one. I was NOT successful in this all the time, but I definitely walked away from several things and relationships that no longer felt aligned. Sometimes I absolutely had to do things that I didn’t want to do, but I usually learned a lot about myself in the process.
  2. Have one ‘mevening’ per week: This has become enough of a habit that I was actually surprised to see it on my goals list! I think that’s a sign that I’ve successfully managed to carve out a bit more time for myself to think, rest and reset each week. It’s still not perfect, but I’m glad that it’s now my reflex to take more time for myself at home.
  3. Do an activity audit monthly: I haven’t done this every single month, but I’ve gotten a lot better at intuitively knowing what I need to pump the brakes on and step away from each month. I feel good about my current commitments and am generally working on leaning into the things that light me up and away from the things that drain me.

Follow Energy

  1. Create a list of what lights me up most: Did this! Then promptly never referenced it again. But I’ve made similar lists throughout the year and I’m getting better at remembering them when I’m in low moments.
  2. Create a daily energy reminder check-in on my phone: I had this set up for a big part of the year but eventually turned it off because the alarm function would interrupt me in the middle of important meetings, haha!
  3. Only take inspired action as much as possible: I would say this was successful. It wasn’t always possible, but I was FAR more conscious of whether I was doing things from a place of alignment this year. It’s becoming easier for me to tell, which I am grateful for.

Restore Energy

  1. Be leisurely & luxurious in my everyday life: Haha, definitely not. Unfortunately, this year felt like one long rush from one thing to another. I did not have as much downtime as I would have liked! I could have used more buffer time, more vacation, and more rest than I had.
  2. Schedule one special fun thing a month: I didn’t do so great at *scheduling* these things but I got better at going with the flow and noticing when they were happening to me! I did at least one special fun thing a month, which is a good reminder to me that I don’t need to worry quite so much about forcing things to happen. They’ll happen, Steph!
  3. Buy one thing per month that feels luxurious or pleasurable: You know what won’t just happen every month? Me buying myself something nice. I am such an underbuyer, so I was really grateful for this intention. There were months where my “something luxurious” only cost a few dollars because of cash flow, but the intention itself was really wonderful and led me to purchase several items that bring me a lot of joy.

Creative Energy

  1. Do 1 Second Everyday: Yes! I did this and it was so fun. I am still working on finishing up the final video so it’s not ready yet, but I always love having this visual record of the year. I only missed a few days overall, and was able to fill them in with videos from other days or by recording footage that would fit. Live photos were a lifesaver!
  2. Create two seasons of the Life In Limbo podcast: Technically I did this! I sort of petered off halfway through the fourth season when life got crazy and I was really into daily blogging. I’m really glad I stopped when I did – it would have been too much to continue. And I’m also really proud of the episodes I created this year! So much good stuff.
  3. Take more photos of my everyday life: This was a natural result of doing 1SE! I am happy to have more of a record of my life this year, though of course there were definitely a lot of days where I basically forgot or didn’t have time to use my phone. Lots of boring days spent working or on the computer. But in general, I did better.

My Word of the Year: Energy

2019 In Review >> Life In Limbo

As usual, I lost track of my word about halfway through the year, and recovered it in November & December. This always happens! I’m realizing that it’s super normal. The beauty of setting a word for the year is that it doesn’t have to be top-of-mind every single day. Instead, it becomes a lens through which you can see your year, a tool for analyzing how things went.

My year of energy was extremely tiring. I spent a lot of time feeling drained, exhausted, harried, stressed, rushed and anxious. I had to fight to walk away from relationships that were toxic to me. I spent a lot of time hibernating in my house away from the chaos of the world. I poured so much of myself into my work that I didn’t have a ton left over for other things.

But I also learned a lot. Calling in a word always calls in its opposite, because the lessons you have to learn around that theme tend to rise to the surface to be examined. My year of energy made me take a very hard look at all the things that were draining my energy, draining my potential, draining my spirit. Energy made me realize some difficult things about the ways I have been living. It forced me to rest, to leave, to cry, to try new things. I learned more about human design, and recognizing what brings me energy was an important practice for me. And the theme of energy also helped me turn towards the things that light me up: my family, my close friends, my work, my home.

I am ready for a new theme, but I am so grateful for this word. It carried me through some hard times, quietly present in the background. I love this practice and I am so grateful to have had this guiding word.


As always when I write these, I am struck by how much is not captured in this blog post. I worry I haven’t added in enough of my innermost thoughts or how I was feeling. I worry I haven’t put in enough detail. But if my theme of energy has taught me anything, it’s that I can afford to do a bit less. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I can give it my best shot, and then move on.

I gave 2019 my best shot, and it gave me back so many beautiful things. It humbled me. It pained me. It raised me up. It excited me. And now, I’m moving on. It’s time for a new year, a new theme, a new perspective, a new outlook, a new focus. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for us. Let’s go!

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

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