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

2019 In Reading

2019 In Reading >> Life In Limbo

2019 was my best-ever year of reading, and also the one that felt the most effortless. I read more books than I ever have before, but it also felt super easy and fun. Yes, really! Reading is my favourite hobby and has enriched my life more than I could ever say, so I feel so happy that I made it (even) more of a priority this year. The books I read this year gave me so much in return.

So today I start a new annual tradition: the Year in Reading! Yes, this is #Extra. No, I don’t care. Reading is an important part of my life, and I want to take some time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what I might want to do differently in 2020.

My Goal

Every year I set a reading goal, which I’ve upped incrementally over the years. My first year it was 52 books, and then it was 75 for several years. This year I decided to push myself a bit! My 2019 goal was to read 100 books, and I’ve currently (as of December 30th as I write this!) read 112, with two more on the go. This is amazing, because I’ve never surpassed my yearly goal by so many books, even when I was challenging myself to read fewer books! (You can see all my reading challenges here.)

The point of a reading challenge (for me) is to stretch myself just a touch beyond what I would probably read anyways. I spend wayyy too much time on screens every day for work & play, and I really do need the reminder to unplug and prioritize different kinds of activities. Reading is like a form of meditation for me – it helps me shut my brain off and feels like a vacation from my worries. Making reading a goal reminds me to prioritize it and make space for it in my regular daily grind.

What I Learned

1. Read WHATEVER you want

I FIRMLY believe that if you don’t like reading, you’re probably not reading what you actually like to read. I’ve known this to be true for years, and yet this was the first year I really, fully embraced it for myself. My list this year is a wacky blend of romance, pop psychology, fiction, essays, young adult, sci-fi, re-reads and beyond…and I loved almost all of it. At the beginning of 2019 I’d decided that with such a high goal, I was going to worry nary a bit about what I was reading, and it has served me so well. I highly encourage you to read whatever strikes your fancy and have zero qualms about it.

2. Better goal, better results

As I mentioned, this year I read the most books ever, and I also surpassed my reading goal by the most books ever. Can you believe?! I think the key was upping my baseline. As with everything in life, it’s all relative. When my goal was 75, that was what I was working towards and tracking towards all year. As a result, reading 77 felt like a big triumph! But this year I raised the bar. When my goal became 100, suddenly 75 was a milestone, not an end point. It’s a good lesson to bring with me into the rest of my life: if I aim low, I’ll get lower results. If I aim high, I’ll get higher results, even if I don’t quite meet my goal.

3. Embrace mental comfort food

This year was pretty stressful, taxing, and overwhelming at times. Looking back, I can see that fact reflected in my reading life as I gravitated towards less challenging books that brought me comfort & joy. It’s no surprise that this was The Year of Romance Novels, because they are uplifting and fun and guaranteed to have a happy ending. And it’s also no surprise that as soon as I got onto Christmas vacation, suddenly I felt equipped to dive into tougher reads like Gladwell’s latest and a beautiful collection of essays by Heather Havrilesky. It’s good to remember, both to use as a barometer for my stress level (what am I gravitating towards and what can that tell me about how I’m feeling or what I might need?) and for self-compassion (ie. not beating myself up for reading ‘fluffier’ books when I need to).

My Favourites

Best Books of 2019 >> Life In Limbo

1. Circe by Madeline Miller: Without a doubt my favourite novel of 2019. This is a feminist retelling of the Greek myth of the witch Circe (the one who turns Odysseus’s men into pigs!) and it is beautiful and epic. The author is a historical scholar and it shows in all the gorgeous details in her novels. I cannot wait for her next one!

2. Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee: This book changed the way I see the world! It’s a smart, fascinating exploration of what brings humans joy from a biological, evolutionary perspective, as well as a guide to bringing more joy, play, fun and delight into your life every day. I loved it so much and will definitely be re-reading.

3. Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty: I really enjoyed this quiet, charming novel set in Australia. I don’t think I’ve read much Australian fiction before and I really enjoyed the tone, the phrases and the overall mood of this one. It was so uplifting and light while still playing with darker themes and managing to be incredibly poignant at times.

4. Amateur by Thomas Page McBee: Ever since hearing Thomas Page McBee on an episode of Hurry Slowly, I’ve been a big fan of his work. This book is his memoir of training to be the first transgender man to fight at Madison Square Garden, as well as a thoughtful meditation on modern masculinity. It was utterly fascinating.

5. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: The rumours are true, there’s a reason this book is on everyone’s lists! It took me forever to buy into the hype (I like to give hype some time to die down because not all hyped books stand the test of time, amen) but when I finally did, I was not disappointed. I read this book in one shot, standing waist-deep in sunny lake water at a friend’s cottage, aka my happy place. It was fun and surprising and cinematic and wonderful.

6. Normal People by Sally Rooney: I got into this one reluctantly, after seriously disliking Conversations with Friends. But I was instantly swept up in this love story about two star-crossed lovers. It was romantic and weird and interesting and heart-wrenching at times. I love love, and I love reading about different kinds of love. I wouldn’t want to be in their relationship, but I loved reading about it nonetheless.

7. Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey: As mentioned, I read a lot of romance novels this year. I was new to the genre, so it’s been a process of immersion trying to figure out what I like and don’t like…and this book is a prime example of what I like. This one is fun, breezy, steamy, and modern and really set off my obsession with romance for once and for all. People who don’t like the genre: don’t read this. If you’re curious about romance: start here.

8. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin: I read quite a few financial books this year but I particularly enjoyed this one. The idea is to figure out how much money you actually need to be happy and how to spend more wisely in alignment with that. She was also one of the first people to talk about financial independence (aka retiring early) which is a super inspiring concept. Highly recommended if you’re looking to invest more (pun intended!) in your financial life this year.

9. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell: One of my final books of the year and yet one of my faves. I love everything Malcolm Gladwell does (including his excellent podcast) because the way his mind works is fascinating to me. This book should be required reading for all of us (especially police officers). I learned so much about the mistakes and fallacies we make when interacting with people we don’t know. Also, they made an insanely detailed audiobook that includes all kinds of source material, interviews & re-enactments, which I’m excited to listen to as well.


And there you have it, my 2019 in reading! It’s been a good one. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for me, book-wise. So grateful to have the library at my doorstep and ebooks galore on Libby. Aren’t books just the best?!

You can see everything I read this year right here, and as always you can follow along with what I’m reading over on Goodreads here! Happy reading, everyone.

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

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