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:
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!).
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 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.
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 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!!!
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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
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: