This is a series I’ve been doing consistently since 2014, with exception of 2019 when I posted my decade in photos instead.

1. Where did I thrive?

2020 tested our wellness on all levels, and I have to say that all the self-care tools I’ve amassed in the last decade (or more) really came into play here. My daily TM practice, daily exercise (or walks at the very least), and recreational cannabis on weekends are my top tools, but at the start of the year when launching my new biz, I was also doing more tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) to ease my fear of financial insecurity.

I hate to always measure myself on how much I make, but it’s fact: I made more money this year than I ever did annually in my previous business. I told a new colleague at the end of last month that the more I keep on the path of WHO I AM (a vegan who writes and wants to promote cruelty-free businesses) the more I’m guided, and—because I believe in my spiritual guides—the more I thrive.

2. Where did I struggle?

The number of emotional triggers I had this year were few enough that I could count them on both hands, but I still have work to do. In thinking about those triggers, I struggled with:

  • People telling me I’m wrong or I might be wrong. (Let’s just say we could use more world news in Canadian media.)
  • People taking what I mean to be a joke personally. (I don’t like guilt.)
  • Seeing people hate on others. (Anyone who said “all lives matter” or doesn’t recognize their [White] privilege.)
  • Facebook. I’m loathing Facebook, and yet marketing my business relies on it. I know that only a handful of my connections on Facebook are those whose values match mine, so I’d rather connect with them IRL or on LinkedIn instead, if we’re talking about business.
  • Re-experiencing my #MeToo moment. I know I’m not traumatized by it anymore, but because I didn’t really talk about it until decades after it happened, I think I may have more healing to do around this.

3. Who was important in my life and why?

This has changed over the years, but I’ll say that I miss hanging out with my nieces, who I would have typically seen at least every 2-3 weeks. We had some fun times with them this year, but I haven’t seen them IRL since September and I know they are growing, FAST.

Now that my parents are aging too, I feel like time is running out, especially with my dad who can’t leave the house without help.

4. What lesson am I grateful to have learned?

As alluded to before, the Spirits have “told” me that the more I am myself, the more I thrive.

I’m grateful to have learned all the aspects of a vegan lifestyle. Without it I might not hold the source of COVID-19—the wild animal trade—close to me and be ever motivated to work with plant-based and cruelty-free businesses.

I’m grateful to be humbled by information. The week the pandemic was announced in March, I thought Canada was in a good place and that (similar to how we were affected in previous viruses) we wouldn’t be where we ended up, with hundreds of thousands of cases and thousands of deaths. A friend gave me the equivalent of a shoulder shake online, and even though I was emotionally triggered by it, I learned by watching the news how important staying safe was. Even though restaurants and other recreational activities have become available in our area, Leo and I have still maintained our “earlier 2020” habits of staying at home and keeping our families safe, and I’m okay with that because short-term pain (if you can even call it pain because we’re both working and still able to pay our bills) means long-term safety, and there are many people out there who still don’t give a sh*t.

Finally, I’m grateful to have learned about all the vegan business networks out there who share my values and who are fighting the good fight with their businesses. If you’re a vegan biz owner running a vegan biz, know that YOU’RE NOT ALONE! There are SO MUCH of us! Contact me if you want to join some of those groups online.

And if you’re living a vegan lifestyle but not running a vegan biz, or working for a company that harms people or animals, ask yourself, “Why?”…and come up with a game plan to shift that aspect of your biz or job (there ARE vegan job boards out there!). YOU CAN DO IT!

5. Where and how was I courageous?

The first thing I thought was just being OUT and PROUD as a vegan…I did three podcast/radio interviews this year, all of which touched on being vegan, which is more cool than courageous. But I came across my first triggering moment on Facebook (again, why I hate this network) when a meat-eater didn’t like what I had posted. I didn’t go so far to delete the post or have a full-on debate in the comments (I honestly hate the idea of that), but it reminded me that there are always going to be haters, especially the more influential you become.

This year I paid off my $10k+ credit line debt and told the story of how I accumulated it (see video above), because I think debt is still such a taboo topic (even though EVERYONE has some debt, even if it’s just monthly credit card bills) and I think we ALL need to be financially educated and literate from as young as, say 14 so we don’t create a debt-filled society.

When the Black movement happened this year, I realized I had a lot of learning to do (posting the black square was pointless because it was hijacked from the original #TheShowMustBePaused creators). I took Rachel Ricketts’s two Spiritual Activism courses, donated to a bunch of Black-related organizations across North America, watched a lot of documentary and fictional films, wrote about how Black people were allies in Filipino history, started a list of anti-racism resources for Asians, and began reading a lot of books on Black feminism and by Black authors. I’ve learned a lot, but I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface.

I never thought that admitting that you are racist sometimes, or that you’ve never learned about Black history related to the country you live in, or saying that you want to become more anti-racist or an ally for people of colour was courageous, but it is. We all have work to do, even people of colour. And it’s not easy work, but it must be done if we want a better world for our descendants. Saying anything otherwise is cowardly; it’s the opposite of courageous.

6. What brought me joy?

I’ve always known that I love to laugh, but it’s such a simple act that we take for granted. Leo has a rare ability to make himself laugh, and I’m proud to have continued adding videos to my laugh list on YouTube, which is a quick fix for the blues. Joy and laughter are such important remedies when the world is in a crisis, even if we’re safe at home! And keeping well is SO important to cultivating joy, in my experience.

Since we’ve been dining out a LOT less than we would have compared to previous years, I enjoy the few times we’ve gotten food delivered or have ordered takeout. I’ve enjoyed every second with my nieces who are growing by the minute, and I’ve developed a weekend ritual of smoking sativa and watching movies, but mostly, getting through the shows we’ve had on our list for some time. Years! When we would have dined out at a nice restaurant to celebrate our anniversary, we got vegan pizzas from Grano (which I pre-emptively called a top Vancouver brand back in 2019) and ate them at the park with our hands. Bellisimo.

Right: Me with a Pepperoni Margherita with arugula. My pick is actually Marinara or Margherita with arugula, without the pepperoni.

Shows we’ve finished (to their current season, if applicable):

  • The Outsider (HBO)
  • Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • When They See Us (Netflix)
  • Fargo (FX)
  • The Vow (HBO)
  • The Sopranos (HBO)
  • Trickster (CBC)
  • The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Shows in progress:

  • This Is Us (NBC)
  • Schitt’s Creek (CBC)
  • Atlanta (FX)
  • Riverdale (Netflix)
  • South Park (Comedy Central) – We started on Season 6 and are working our way through the archives!

7. How did I treat my body, heart, spirit, and mind?

Body: It’s a toss-up on this one. On the one hand, I’ve maintained my exercise routine (swapping what used to be yoga mornings for walks instead) and early in the pandemic, Leo and I were going for glorious weekend morning walks around our neighbourhood for fresh air. But now that I’ve been doing more writing for work rather than commuting, I’ve been more sedentary.

In February, I started using a new (chemical-laden) body wash I got for Christmas, thinking there’d be no harm in a bottle. I started developing an itch on my lower back, and even after I stopped using it, I developed more spots on the back of my hands and on my shins. A steroid cream prescribed by my doctor provided short-term relief (I also tried Satya Organic’s eczema cream, jojoba & coconut oils, and an anti-fungal cream, to no avail) but I’ve got a dermatology appointment set for the end of January, so hopefully I can get to the root. Aside from the mistake I made earlier in the year with the body wash, I’ve no idea what it could be except for maybe a change of hormones associated with aging.

Heart: This one’s been tough as I haven’t been as social to measure my relationships with people, but all the times I was emotionally challenged are good for “flexing” my heart. I’ve felt guilty for unintentionally saying things that have offended people, but all of my wellness practices have taught me I have to maintain self-love regardless of how shitty I feel. Since working for one of my former PR clients, Dr. Sukhi Muker again, I’ve been re-learning about the chakras—what he calls the “neurological centres” (because they’re much more than what we know chakras are)—and I feel like I have more work to do to calibrate my heart to the rest of my mind, spirit, and body so I can thrive to my highest capacity.

Spirit: Spirit guides and I have been on a journey this year. From downloading some big futuristic-style visions one day after smoking sativa, to experiencing sensations in dreams I can still recall, to receiving guidance on what to post in an Instagram Reel, I feel like I have a great rapport with my spirit guides, and I’ve also been trying to integrate angel prayers into my morning routine. I’ve now been meditating twice daily for 6 and a half years, so my intuition is steadily increasing and it actually scares me (in a good way) to think about how intuitive I might be when I hit the 10-year mark.

Mind: Besides challenging my emotional bandwidth, I think it’s been a good year for my mind. I miss being able to dine out or hang out at my friends’ or sister’s houses, but my weekend routine and all of my client work during the week gives me a good balance of work and play. I’ve tried to take Friday afternoons off too, and that’s helped me not take my work into the weekend. I think back to last year when I did a test project for a friend and found out I was a pretty good copywriter…it feels like ages since then and I’m grateful for all the clients I’ve worked with since the start of 2020 who’ve indirectly helped me to stay mentally focused. I also did my first hypnotherapy session with Kemila Zsange and we tackled one of the most significant moments of my childhood. Freedom has become a theme of my life since that session, and I hope to carry it well into 2021.

8. How did I show up for the people I care about?

I think I did as well as I could here…I saw my family a lot more than in the late fall when additional health regulations kicked in. I saw my friends when I could and greeted them on their birthdays. I’ve stayed in touch as I could with my parents (my mom barely uses her phone and my dad never answers his). I tried to remind my husband daily that I love him.

After reaching out to hundreds of plant-based or cruelty-free businesses at the start of the year, a really valuable coaching session I had with Stephanie Redcross-West as part of her Social Media Mastery course reminded me of the importance of having a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. I’m not talking about software, but simply a system of following up with companies I’ve engaged with. I realized that I hadn’t been staying in touch with many of them and have attempted to connect with them on LinkedIn (as great as Instagram DMs are, it’s hard to know who the people are behind the account) and ask how I can help market their business not with my services, but simply by sharing on social media. It’s fun to do, and I feel like I’m in service even if they’re not paying clients.

In the fall, a woman starting a similar business to mine contacted me through LinkedIn and asked for mentorship, so I’m glad to be working with her on a monthly basis too. Check out Sheida Livai’s work here!

I’ve donated to many more organizations than I have in the past, but I’m equally proud of all the ways I’ve stepped up to help people with my time.

9. What situations triggered fear or discomfort? Did I move through them? If so, how? If not, why not?

Let’s start with discomfort first. Early in the pandemic, I felt offended and guilty from unintentionally offending others. The amazing timing about those incidents was that I was marathon-reading Gabby Bernstein’s Judgment Detox and Super Attractor. In the former, she introduced tapping, and since I’d already been doing a lot more tapping at the start of this year, I tapped the shit out of those offended/offender moments. Even now I can bring up those feelings of pain or guilt, but time—and my wellness habits—heals all things, I believe.

I have never felt afraid of COVID-19 nor of those who don’t believe in it, and I have the stay at home orders to thank for that, even those few times I took public transit. I have to say that Trump pissed me off more times than once this year. He really is the worst, but at least I’ve gotten some social posts out of his poorly spelled tweets. And thank you to EVERYONE who voted for Biden-Harris and saved us all from the Trump machine.

During the virtual Entrepinay Retreat I attended last month (which was fantastic), there was a really powerful session about trauma, and that brought up my earliest #MeToo moment again. I can officially say that there is only ONE secret that I keep from my husband (in confidence with the person it’s about) because I shared my #MeToo moment with him around the summer. We had a good cry about it together, and it felt good to speak it into existence after decades of keeping it within. I don’t know if I need to move through it anymore, but I also know that I will never be fully healed from that moment. It’s served its purpose in teaching me the importance of using my voice.

10. Which rituals and habits served me well, and which ones didn’t?

I don’t think this answer’s going to change from year to year, but 2020 was THE perfect year to test this out. I continued my usual daily habits of meditation, exercise, reading and journalling. When I started learning about the chakras in late 2019, I continued to do tapping well into the early part of 2020. I also used my essential oil diffuser and lit incense more than usual.

Instead of just doing yoga or weights indoors, I went for a walk outside because I know how important Vitamin D is to mood (Leo still comes with me on Sundays). I’m not sure if smoking sativa and watching TV/movies counts as a ritual, but that’s what weekends were for me for most of 2020, and that’s actually been a blast. I may not ever get as much quality time with Leo in any other year!

I spent more Saturday afternoons than ever practicing my keyboard and singing, which I think has helped open up my throat chakra (related to communications!). To keep myself accountable and consistent, I started recording myself and posting videos on Instagram. I’ve started an IGTV playlist for them (but don’t expect them on a regular basis!).

Being on social media is one daily habit I want to break more, especially since Facebook has turned Instagram into a social network on steroids. It’s necessary for my business to be on it right now, but my biz goal for the next year (which was essentially the same for this year) is to make enough money that I can post less there. I’ve already posted less on Facebook and hope to someday be completely off that platform. With vaccines underway for 2021, I know that sometime next year we’ll start getting back to ‘normal’ and I hope that means we can live more and post or scroll less!

How have you grown in 2020 or what would you like to cultivate more of in 2021? Share in the comments.

Wishing you joy, health, and abundance for 2021.

Sandra

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