2019 was hard.

As I sit here staring at this blank page, all I can think about was how hard 2019 was.

While everyone is sharing their Year in Review, best of nine Instagram posts, their wins, achievements and goals for 2020, I’m going to get real for a moment. 2019 was the hardest year of my life and I’m quite ready for the clock to strike midnight and for me to begin 2020 with the hope that this next year will be better… easier… happier.

Last month I lost the man who I considered my adoptive dad. I’ve known him since I was seven years old and he raised me into the woman I am today. In November, at his funeral, I spoke these words through tears:

Before Bill passed away, I wrote him an email with everything I wanted to tell him. That I loved him as a dad. That he’s been my biggest role model and the person I always want to impress with the progression of my life. Personal and professional. I thanked Bill for stepping up to the plate when he didn’t have to but chose to. When Bill emailed me back, he told me something he’d never said to me before. He told that I filled a void he and Lori had in their marriage that he never thought they’d be able to fill.

While I filled a void in his life, I now have my own void that won’t ever be filled. I’ll miss him always but I know he’s here watching us. Protecting us and wanting us to continue living and helping people. And that’s exactly what I’ll do. For Bill.

I’ve really struggled in 2019 with my own mental health. It’s been the year that I’ve dedicated to learning more about mental illness and understanding how I can support people in my life who are struggling. It was the year that I found out what deep grief feels like and it’s debilitating. That’s the only word I can find that comes close to how I feel.

2019 was the year I finally booked my first therapy appointment in three years.

For the better part of this year, I’ve been trying to understand my brain. Unlearn so many things I was brought up to believe. I’ve been gentle on myself, but still, an incredibly large amount of bad thoughts about myself still seeped in. I think I’m going to like myself a little more in 2020.

Tip: yoga and meditation really helps with quieting those negative thought patterns.

I experienced a very toxic workplace that nearly killed my creativity. After being sick of the lies and gaslighting, I said enough was enough. I realized that no one was going to look out for me except for myself. Once I said goodbye, it felt like I could see the light again.

2019 was also the year I experienced extreme burn out. I was working full time, freelancing an insane amount, trying to be present in my relationship and saying yes to events, coffees and catch-ups. It took a toll and I lost it. I broke down and cancelled all my freelancing. I took a step back from volunteering at the yoga studio, learned how to say no and started to simply pay more attention to my life.

I worked full time and I wanted to come home at the end of the day and enjoy my life with Matt, in our home we bought this year and do the things that brought me comfort. I didn’t want to work all day and come home and freelance all night.

I was pushing myself in too many directions. And I lost focus on what’s important. My self-care and the life I am building with Matt.

2019 was the year that I had to have some pretty hard conversations with people I love. I opened up about what I needed in the relationships and if I wasn’t getting that, it didn’t make sense for me to continue trying as hard as I was. While some of these conversations fell on deaf ears, I felt confident that I used my voice and acknowledged my needs. Being selfish doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

But, as Dumbledore says, “happiness can be found even in the darkest of time if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

This year also brought me a lot of beautiful memories that I’ll hold so close to my heart. Matt and I travelled to Mexico for our first hot holiday together, we road tripped to Portland for my birthday, we went backpacking on top of a mountain and spent many nights with friends playing games and eating great food. We bought our first home together and celebrated three years of togetherness.

I met the Arkells and saw Dodie with Steffanie and explored Vancouver. I went to my first ever yoga festival that changed my life and Matt met my family in Ontario and Bill before he passed away. I started a new job with Twirling Umbrellas, an incredible company focused on being friendly humans. My best friend, Jasmine, eloped with her soulmate and my other best friend, Sonia, announced that she’s expecting her third baby! I spent time in Nova Scotia with my friends and visited family three times in Ontario this year.

I hope 2020 brings you what you want. This is just a simple congratulations for getting through 2019 and all the obstacles you faced that others may not know of. If I learned anything this year, it’s that everyone is grieving something. Be gentle on people. Be gentle on yourself. And when it feels like too much, just put one foot in front of the other and take baby steps.

When I think of 2020, I think of slow growth. That’s my statement for the new year. New decade. I am slowly going to grow and change and move and evolve. Some things won’t happen overnight and that’s okay.

Baby steps.

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