2021 In Review

It is January 29th and I’m finally feeling up for writing my year in review post for 2021. If that doesn’t say something about how tired and slow and behind I feel these days, I don’t know what does! ūü§£

It’s hard to reflect on 2021 because it feels like such a blur, and because it was full of so many difficult emotions. Between the news, and the social isolation, and the lockdowns, and the political divisiveness, it’s been so hard to be a person in the world lately. I’ve felt so overwhelmed and alienated, by turns utterly hopeless and (very) cautiously optimistic. Put simply: this year has been exhausting. I am craving simplicity, for things to feel easier, to feel hopeful again.

And yet despite the emotional turbulence I’ve felt for most of the past two years, I have to admit that this year did bring a lot of positive changes to my personal circumstances. So while 2021 didn’t often feel good for me in my everyday life, I know I have so much to be grateful for. Isn’t that always the way? We need some perspective & space in order to see the forest. When we’re deep in the trees, we can’t see a way to go on.

So here we go, my 2021 in review. Be forewarned: this will probably read like a highlight reel, but trust me when I say that this year felt like anything but in the moment. Both things can be true: it was good, and it was hard.


I started the year by hosting my first-ever virtual business retreat, which went a lot better than I expected! My friend Sonja designed a beautiful menu that all the attendees recreated at home, and we made the most of the circumstances by being together virtually while apart physically. In January, I also celebrated one year of being with my partner Mike. We were in lockdown and it was one of the coldest days of the year, so we went for a very brisk walk, got some bread & pastries from the place we’d had our first date, and played board games at home. And that was basically…it. Business was slow that month and I was worried about money, I went for a lot of very cold walks with friends, I did some coaching calls, I took some bubble baths, I watched TV.


Out of the blue in February, I got invited to apply for an on-camera role with Shopify, and…I got the job! This was huge for me, a chance to grow my skills and also find a bit of financial stability in such an uncertain time. It has sometimes been challenging (ie. filming by myself, all alone in a super-hot studio without air-conditioning in the middle of a heat wave!) but has been such an amazing opportunity. Also in February, I started The Notorious Romance Book Group, (RBG for short ūüėČ), a feminist romance novel book club with the coolest women that my friends & I knew. This online group has added so much joy this year and helped me make some new friends during such a tough time. Other than that: see above. A lot of cold walks, desperately searching for a new apartment, and trying to cheer myself up by getting the best doughnuts around.


In March, things started to feel a bit brighter. We finally moved out of the lockdown we’d been in since November, the days got longer, and some flowers finally started to poke their heads out from under the snow. But the most exciting thing that happened in March, without a doubt, was being selected out of tons of applicants for the apartment of my dreams. It’s in my favourite neighbourhood, on the top floor of an old house, with tons of windows, the perfect patio, and buckets of natural light. It has been a safe haven this year, holding (literal) space for me to cry, grieve, celebrate, worry, stress, smile and rest. Also in March I found my dream pink velvet couch for FREE on Kijiji which was a gigantic win.


On April 1st, I moved into the new place and spent a lot of time just lying with my face in sunbeams. I was so happy to get there right as the weather was warming up a bit (in that first week, we had shakshuka on the new patio! celebrated my birthday with my family outdoors in the sunshine! rented a bonfire pit at Ontario Place with views of the CN tower!), but it turned out to be perfect timing because within days of me moving in, Toronto was plunged BACK into lockdown. We had to cancel my birthday getaway and pivot to doing Covid-safe things instead, like exploring the abandoned Camp 30 and making cocktails at home, and I spent most of the rest of the month alone at home, settling into my new space. In April I also got asked to be the speaker at Creative Mornings Toronto which was such a special experience. So many of my friends and colleagues showed up to support me, and I was so proud of the talk I gave.


Even though April was full of good things, May was better for one simple reason: I got my first dose of the vaccine. It’s hard to express how relieved and hopeful I was as I stood in line at a community pop-up playing loud, joyful reggaeton music with daffodils blooming and kind volunteers helping out. It was an unbelievably good day. In May the flowers are in full bloom here in Toronto, and my camera roll is just chock-full of cherry blossoms, green grass, lilacs and magnolias from my walks. I took myself on a beach picnic for the first time all year (one of my fave activities), put up string lights on the patio, installed my beautiful rainbow shelves and saw more sunsets.


I loved June. I could finally go to the beach in a bathing suit, eat all my meals outside, get ice cream, and go to the drive-in movies. I went strawberry picking, went to the Toronto Islands (on the rainiest, windiest day, oops), hosted my friends & family for brunch and dinner on the patio, got some new outdoor plants (which slowly died throughout the summer) and got my second vaccine dose. I was nesting, spending lots of time outdoors, and finally feeling hopeful again. Oh, and I didn’t know it yet, but my future fur baby Bruno was born on June 27th.


In July, we hosted our second online business retreat, which was even more of a success since I was in a newer, brighter space and the food was so summery and fresh. I think I felt a bit restless, so I restarted my Steph Saturday Morning adventures to explore some new coffee shops and restaurants and get outside of my neighbourhood bubble. I also started swimming at the local pool, which was such a joy and delight every single time. Later in the month my boyfriend got some bad news and had to fly home to Romania, so my memories of July feel a bit heavy and tinged with sadness. I also remember being extremely tired because I was having a lot of trouble sleeping.


We started the month strong by heading back to a family-run campground we’d loved the year before up near Magnetawan, Ontario. We rented a tiny cabin and spent the week swimming under waterfalls, hiking in Algonquin Park, making friends with chipmunks, buying junk at garage sales, canoeing, eating, reading and talking. Those were very good days, some of my favourite memories from the whole year. Also among my best memories were the days that my friend Katie came to visit from New York. We hadn’t seen each other for almost TWO YEARS which was unfathomable, but it felt like yesterday. We spent a long weekend finding magic wherever we went: in vineyards, at swimming holes, on the Island, at my sister’s birthday party. Last but not least, in August we did “Wines of the World” in my family which was the funniest, most delicious event: we all had to bring a wine from a famous region and pair it with a specialty snack from the same country. It was a delight.


On September 1st, I brought home a puppy. This was both impulsive (it came together in a matter of days) and also an incredibly long time coming (I had started seriously applying for dogs in January 2020). Still, I was almost completely unprepared for how difficult this transition would be emotionally. The first month, despite the adorable photos I captured, was one of the hardest months of my life, if not the hardest. Taking care of a small animal who is totally disoriented, peeing in the house, requires constant vigilance, bites your feet and ankles constantly, barks in the most high-pitched tone, and can’t leave the front lawn while neighbours incessantly hype him up and ruin your training….well, it’s hard. Not to mention that Mike was still in peak wedding season which meant he couldn’t be around to help out very much in the first few weeks. There was a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears, and I barely left the house all month. I did manage to celebrate one year of my business community, The Profoundery, but to this day I have no idea how I got through the day with an 11-week old puppy in tow.


Things started to improve in October, although I was still the most exhausted I’ve ever been. Bruno got all his shots, so I was able to start taking him on walks, to some parks, to visit my Grandma, to puppy school, to play with my mom’s dog. My life was still very insular, and our routine was still a challenge, and I still fell into bed most nights without being able to do much if anything for myself, but things were better. Bruno is a smart cookie, so he was learning his tricks and commands and doing so well being exposed to new places.


In November, my life started to feel slightly more like¬†mine again. I went back to filming for Shopify after a hiatus, and it was so fun to be in a real studio with a videographer instead of filming alone. Mike and I did a little staycation on the East end of the city and actually went out for dinner, just us, without Bruno for the first time. Bruno graduated from puppy school and went to his first few dogs parks. We had a real scare when he accidentally ingested some marijuana, we assume at one of the aforementioned dog parks since neither of us imbibe, and his symptoms were terrifying for a new puppy owner who didn’t know what was happening. He was totally fine but: woof. But the best thing that happened in November was deciding last-minute to fly to New York City for Katie & P’s wedding in Manhattan. They got married in a sweet little city garden in the rain surrounded by their families and took a sunset boat cruise to the Statue of Liberty, and I was so grateful to be there for such an important occasion.


I felt the seasonal affective disorder coming on STRONG in December, so I leaned hard into the holiday season. I decorated my whole apartment, made an advent calendar with Mike, sewed a Christmas quilt and got us matching pyjamas. Myself and a few friends were lucky enough to go up to a cottage for the weekend which was so peaceful and quiet. My sisters and I had a festive brunch and got pedicures together in lieu of gifts. And best of all, we actually got to celebrate Christmas together this year, even with some precautions because of a few Covid scares. Still, a huge improvement over the lonely year before. Even though I felt very stressed & anxious over the holidays because of Omicron and a new lockdown order and a Covid exposure and cancelling plans to drive to upstate New York for NYE, we tried our best to make the most of a challenging situation.

Firsts of 2021

  • First time becoming a (dog) parent
  • First time speaking in front of such a large audience (Creative Mornings)
  • First time filming a video in a real production studio
  • First time visiting Algonquin Park
  • First time hosting a virtual retreat
  • First time having an apartment with outdoor space
  • First time renting a bonfire pit at Ontario Place
  • First time assisting at an engagement shoot
  • First time installing bookshelves
  • First time being on-camera “talent” for a commercial shoot
  • First time getting a matching loungewear set
  • First time picking someone up from the airport by myself
  • First time swimming at the Elora Gorge
  • First time at puppy school
  • First time trying Firehouse Subs

2021 By The numbers

  • 75¬†books read
  • 13 videos filmed
  • 5 hours & 23 minutes¬†of meditation

favourite books read

My word of the year: Soften

Ironically but unsurprisingly, I actually feel like I got¬†harder this year, more rigid and uncompromising, especially after getting Bruno. I was hard on myself (and continue to be) for the ways I felt I was failing, and hard on Mike during a time when I had very little patience or energy. I can’t count the times (even before becoming a dog parent) where I found myself saying “this is so hard”, because this year was so hard.

And yet I do think I softened a little. I softened in my anxious attachment and settled into feeling loved and safe in my relationship. I tried hard to soften my expectations for every experience needing to be The Best Experience Possible Under the Circumstances. I got soft serve ice cream more than a few times. I got a very soft velvet couch and an even softer puppy. The puppy forced me to spend time every day just sitting on the floor playing and cuddling.

So all in all, it was a good word, a good teacher. As usual, I think I’ll probably see the payoff of this word¬†this¬†year, in 2022, a lot more than I did in 2021. I certainly hope so anyways. The world continues to get louder and sharper around the edges, and I want to be soft, compassionate, calm.

That’s it from me for now. Little reminder to future Steph: don’t put off writing these reviews. In the process, you always get more perspective, more joy, more gratitude for the life you’re fortunate enough to lead. That doesn’t diminish the feelings of despair or hopelessness, those are always hard and painful and challenging. But writing, reminiscing, processing, remembering, documenting: these things give you hope. These things bring you joy.

And if you’re reading this and thinking your year sucked compared to mine, please know that I feel that daily in comparison to other people. I encourage you to ‘romanticize your life’, as the kids say on TikTok, by writing a review of your own, by documenting the good and the bad for your future self to look back on. For me, it makes all the difference.

Sending you so much love and lightness and a loosening of expectations and a lessening of stress, and a languorous stretch in the sunshine, the kind Bruno takes daily. Here’s hoping 2022 holds many beautiful things for us all.


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

2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

One Second Everyday: 2021

Putting this video together is one of my favourite annual traditions, because I get to relive all the best parts of the year at once. And even though that means this is (mostly) a highlight reel, it also means that by the time I’m done, I am completely filled with gratitude for the year that was, no matter how tough and lonely and challenging it felt at the time.

2021 was all those things and more. This was easily one of the hardest years of my life, full of loss and disappointments. And yet! Look at all of the good! Look at all of the love. ‚̧ԳŹ

Happy 2022.

PS. This is the app I use to create these videos! If you’re curious you can watch my previous videos here: 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

29 Favourite Things

Me sitting on a park bench in the Fall

I turned 30 last week and it was as wonderful as it could have been under the circumstances. Here in Ontario, we just got locked down again with some of the strictest guidelines we’ve had at any point during this pandemic. I feel lucky that I could celebrate my birthday safely, outdoors with some of my loved ones before everything got really bad again.

As is my personal tradition, I wanted to take some time to share the top 29 things I loved when I was 29. It has been a hard, long, incredibly painful year, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t goodness too. It was rewarding to reflect on the things that brought me joy this year despite all the hardship we were living through. It’s a beautiful practice, and I know that when I’m old and grey, it will be just as fascinating and special to look back on. So without further ado, here are the 29 things I loved most at age 29, in no particular order.

Someone is sitting on a pink couch facing a window, only their legs are visible

The pink couch |¬†My boyfriend and I stumbled upon this pink velvet couch on Kijiji when looking for a cabinet for him. Little did we know we would find both from the same seller, and…drumroll please…both would be FREE?! Considering how many times I’d searched for a pink velvet couch in recent months, it felt like a sign – and sure enough, not even 2 weeks later I found the new apartment of my dreams where this couch would fit perfectly. It was in mint condition, beautiful, and so comfortable, but most importantly it was a catalyst for change in my life.

Nespresso Coffee Maker & Milk Frother |¬†Mike got me the frother for Christmas and the coffee maker for Valentine’s Day, and combined they have created the most magical morning coffees. I’m not that much of a coffee person, but having this machine makes me feel like I’m having caf√©-worthy lattes at home! And now that I’m a part of the Nespresso coffee pod recycling program, I also feel a bit less badly about the waste being created. As a single person who lives alone, I would almost never make myself coffee since I’d never drink it all, so this feels like the perfect compromise.

Flexitol Heel Balm |¬†If you know you know, but if you don’t know: suffering from dry feet & heels is a pain in the…well, foot. My heels have a tendency to crack, especially when the weather is dry or if I’m wearing sandals (aka all summer). Believe me when I say I had tried EVERYTHING to remedy this, but this cream is the only thing that’s ever worked for me. Such a lifesaver, now I use it after almost every shower.

Purple Always pan on the stove

Always Pan |¬†Worth the hype. 100% worth the hype. I caved when these were on sale in the fall and I have never looked back. In fact, I have retired almost all of my other pans and use this one exclusively on a day-to-day basis. Beautiful, light, easy to clean, non-stick even with eggs?! It’s wonderful. I have the lavender colour and I’m obsessed.

Overalls! |¬†After being influenced by some of my fave folks on the internet, I decided to hop on the overall bandwagon and get a couple pairs of my own. I now have a pair of overall shorts and a white denim overall skirt, and I can’t stress enough how much more fun it’s been to get dressed in the summertime. Overalls make you look more put together somehow, even though they’re just as much work as putting on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Love. Will be buying more, most likely.

Matching Watches |¬†On a whim last year, Mike and I got his and hers matching watches from Fossil and it’s been such an unexpected delight. Every time I put it on I think of him, I love how we coordinate, and the watches themselves are so well-made and beautiful. Believe it or not, I took some convincing to go this route (I had my eye on some other, not-so-matchy designs) but I’m so glad he persuaded me.

A top down view of someone sitting on a rock by the water, only their shoes are visible with a backdrop of water

Sperry Topsiders |¬†I’d been wanting a pair for years, and I’m happy to report that they did not disappoint. They are such a comfortable and stylish shoe, and I don’t have to worry about them taking a beating. They look even better when they’re broken in and well-loved! As someone who daydreams about having a cottage on the lake one day, getting these shoes felt like a step (lol) in the right direction.

Mystic Mondays Tarot |¬†For our twice-annual retreat this year, my friends and I decided to buy new tarot decks and I chose this one, which I’d had my eye on for a couple of years. The art is stunning, the cards are high-quality and have silver edges (!) and the readings so far have been on point. I love that I got to use these cards during our magical retreat and then take that energy with me afterwards into my everyday life.

OXO Ice Cube Trays |¬†My family made fun of me for spending $20 on ice cube trays, but I do not care. They are worth every penny! Let me extoll the benefits: they come in a pack of two, they’re stackable, they have a cover that blocks out those funky smells from your freezer from making the ice taste bad, they’re sturdy and well made (aka not flimsy, aka not going to crack), and the ice cubes come out in a pleasant shape. I love them.

Girl holding a pink iced doughnut

Daddy-O’s Doughnuts |¬†Literally as I write this my mouth is starting to water. These doughnuts, which we found almost by accident one freezing-cold day this winter, are the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. Period. Something about the way the dough itself is made makes them incredibly tasty, plus then they have so many fun toppings and flavours. The rest of their pastries and scones are equally delightful. Can I stop writing this and go right now?!

Madewell Jean Jacket |¬†As I write this list, I am reminded of how many of these items are things I’ve wanted for a long time and finally purchased for myself. I actually don’t feel badly about that – I am a pretty conscious shopper and like to consider purchases for a while before deciding on exactly what I want. And this jacket is the perfect example – the culmination of years of searching for the perfect jean jacket! It also doesn’t hurt that Meghan Markle has the same one ūüėČ

Notion | I cannot describe just how much switching all my productivity systems to Notion has changed my life. I’d tried it out a few years ago and it just never stuck for me, but watching Marie Poulin & August Bradley’s videos really brought it to life for me. I spent an entire weekend fully designing my own setup & system, and have never looked back. I am truly, madly, deeply in love with it.

Mike kissing me on the cheek at an outdoor party, I am wearing a straw hat

Wide-Brimmed Straw Hat |¬†Why have I waited so long to get back into wide-brimmed hats for summer?! My very practical Taurus friends were always talking about them, but wearing a hat in summer was something I literally just hadn’t thought about at all since I was a kid wearing Tilley hats! Consider my life changed by this beautiful hat that I bought on a whim and promptly wore daily for the entire summer. More hats!

Home Decor YouTube Channels | I went IN this year on the home decor world. It is my new favourite thing to watch and I would consider myself addicted to several different channels, including Alexandra Gater, Lone Fox, The Sorry Girls, Tasha Leelyn, DIY Danie, Xo MaCenna and more. If you have recommendations, please send them my way!! I need to feed the beast!

You Need a Budget |¬†Technically I was obsessed with this before my last birthday, but I am appalled and confused by the fact that it was not mentioned on last year’s list?! You Need a Budget has changed my life in countless ways and continues to make me happy and bring me peace every single week. It’s a budgeting system based on the envelope method, and while it does take more time than what I was doing before (aka: nothing), the peace of mind and confidence it brings me is worth every minute, and every penny. I am a true convert, but my major caveat is that if you decide to check it out, you need to watch these videos first!! Otherwise, you will get stuck & hate it. Trust me on this.

Holding The Book of Longings up against a background of a beautiful tree

The Book of Longings |¬†Much like Joyful was my favourite book from last year, this was my favourite book from this year. I found the experience of reading it so transporting, all-consuming, and even transformational. It’s a beautiful, heart-breaking story of the (fictional) life of the (fictional) wife of Jesus. The author imagines what this woman might have been like, given that it would have been very common for a man of Jesus’s background to marry. I absolutely loved it and found it so relatable and interesting.

Unlocking Us |¬†Bren√© Brown launched her podcast right around the time when the lockdowns first started, and the world rejoiced. Her voice, personality, and humour were a huge part of what helped me get through those first few, incredibly scary weeks. I love the interviews she does, her point of view, and of course the nuggets of wisdom that she shares on every episode. I’m a bit behind on listening because she moved to Spotify (incredibly annoying that they are doing this), but still such a huge fan.

Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Hand Soap |¬†This doesn’t need a ton of explanation, except to say how much I love the smell of this soap. It is such a delicious flavour that when I first discovered it at a friend’s house (back when we could go to friends’ houses), I loved the way my hands smelled so much that I had to get some of my own. Now it’s the only soap I use! Huzzah! I buy mine from Well.ca in the refill jugs.

Mike and I outdoors in the snow wearing matching Carhartt hats

Carhartt Winter Hat & Mitts |¬†This past winter, I was utterly determined to be less cold than in winters past. It was not entirely successful, since I live in Canada, but investing in this hat and these mitts was definitely a game-changer. The hat is a bit annoying since it tends to slide up over my ears, but I have yet to encounter a hat that¬†doesn’t do that with my hair, so it’s not a huge deal. It’s stylish without trying and WARM, as are the mitts. My hands have been quite toasty in these throughout winter social distancing activities, and for that I am grateful.

Into The Unknown Documentary |¬†I am currently on my second watching of this Disney documentary about the making of Frozen II, and more broadly what it’s like to put together any Disney animated movie. Watching the teamwork, the creativity, the organization, the hard conversations and decisions – all of it is so incredibly fascinating. I love getting a glimpse into how brilliant people manage their work, and this series is such a treat. Highly recommend.

Raneir Pollard HIIT Workouts |¬†Early on in the pandemic, I became someone who does HIIT workouts! I had never been interested in trying them before, but being stuck at home gave me very few options for exercising, and after my boyfriend and I discovered Raneir Pollard, I was hooked! I am less consistent with them now, but I love Raneir’s attitude, energy and personality and he definitely makes working out just a little less painful. Plus, I find that I actually really like the HIIT style and have gone on to discover other instructors that I love too!

My sandy feet on the beach on my blue and white picnic blanket

Picnic Blanket |¬†I picked up this blue-and-white striped picnic blanket from Indigo last year and it totally improved my whole summer! It’s lightweight, portable, less susceptible to spills and stains than some materials, and most of all it’s CUTE. I love the striped look and it makes every picnic or outdoor reading date that much more special. Definitely plan to continue using this all summer long.

Board Games | Being stuck inside made me really want to invest in creating a solid board games collection, and that endeavour is well underway. So far I only have a few. I started with Bananagrams, which is a family favourite. Then Mike got me Villainous for our anniversary which we have had so much fun playing. And lastly I got myself Dutch Blitz after it took my family by storm! I’m excited to keep adding more games to my collection so that I have things to do during these incessant lockdowns.

My Book Clubs |¬†This year I was particularly grateful for book clubs! Even when we needed to transition everything online, the book club format was still a great contender for socializing. I kept up with one book club I’ve been part of for four years (!) and also decided to start a second one in order to read and discuss romance novels. So far, that one has been incredibly fun and packed with smart, funny women. If you’re not already part of a book club, start one! It’s so fun, and I always end up reading more broadly than I otherwise would on my own.

A polaroid picture of Mike and I being held up against a backdrop of the lake

Fujifilm Instant Camera |¬†Another thing that I’d had on my wishlist that Mike treated me to for Christmas! I have the light pink one (obvi) and it’s been so fun so far to use. For my birthday this year, he got me this Adventures Book for couples, which has spots for instant photos, so it’s the gift that keeps on giving! I’m such a fan of old school Polaroid-looking photos, so it’s such a treat to be able to capture and save some of my own.

Go Clean Co. |¬†Wasn’t this everyone’s favourite Instagram account this year? I am fully obsessed with @gocleanco and everything they post. I bought the ebook, got the full kit of supplies, and have been blown away by how satisfying it can actually be to keep things clean and tidy. It’s a whole new world and I’ve learned so much! The powdered Tide alone has changed the game for me. Go fall down the rabbit hole!

A bowl of delicious mac and cheese!

Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club | I will be the first to admit that I have fallen out of my routine with this cooking club program, but I still love getting the ideas & inspiration in my inbox every week. Sara puts together four recipes a week that are fresh, different, and delicious, and sends you all the grocery lists & instructions you need to make them happen. For a while there I was incredibly consistent (it was so helpful to not have to decide what to cook!) and the results were always incredibly delicious. As I write this, I am setting the intention to get back to it soon! Very worth it.

Pink silky robe |¬†This was another item we bought for one of my personal retreats, and it makes me so happy. It is such a soft and silky fabric in the perfect colour, and it even has little ruffles on the sleeves! It’s such a feminine, timeless piece and it makes me so happy to wear around the house.

Quarter Sheet Trays |¬†I love the size and shape of these trays. They’re so much easier to maneuver and wash than my full-size trays, which is great for when I just need to quickly heat something up. I still love my big trays for roasting veggies and the like, but these are so great for everyday cooking.

A photo of a bed next to a big window

My new apartment |¬†This one snuck in right under the wire, as I moved in only a week before my 30th birthday. But it needs to go on the list, because I don’t think I could possibly love it any more. It has tons of huge windows, so much light, a big balcony, lots of space, great details, and is in a beautiful house in my favourite neighbourhood. Couldn’t get much dreamier, if you ask me! Feels like such a miracle that I’m here after months (years) of searching, and it came at the perfect time. I feel grateful for it every single day.

I am so delighted by this list! All my favourite things from when I was 29 years old. As always, I’m sure I’ve forgotten things, but this is still a pretty good time capsule of what brought me happiness & peace during a very difficult year. Writing it all out on what is a fairly depressing day is a good and important reminder for me that it’s the little things that can make a big difference. Sending you all kinds of love and joy and delight, wherever you are in the world.

If you’re curious, you can also see my favourite things from when I was 28, 27, 25, 24, 23, 22, and 21.

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


  • 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