You know how this goes, so let’s dive right in.
1. Where did I thrive?
Although I didn’t have as much financial success as in 2020, I am 100% okay with that. 2021 was a tougher year for me and those around me and honestly, I pat myself on the back for getting through it without any physical or mental impediments.
I’m also laughing with my spirit guides because they gave me a HUGE project that will come out in 2022: a new book! I’m going to do a series of blogs about my book journey starting next month, so you can learn all about that later. Just know this: It wasn’t my idea.
2. Where did I struggle?
Life really shook my family this year, but I’m so grateful to have them around me. My dad’s health has been declining gradually in recent years, and thanks to my sister we got him in “the system” (yes, Vancouver Coastal Health has programs that help seniors), which included at-home assistance for a few months in spring and getting on lists for long-term care homes. A spot opened up at Little Mountain Place—a seven-block walking distance from me—and he moved there in summer. I know he doesn’t enjoy it and would rather be at home with my mom, even though he’s getting better care there: meals, showers, medications, and social activities. There is a lot I believe we could do to make life better for seniors, but the question is, who’d pay for it.
I saw my godmother for the first time in a few years about a month after my dad moved, and the first thing she said to me was: “Little Mountain—that’s where people go to die.” I was so shocked, I couldn’t say anything. It’s not that she was incorrect, but it was an insensitive thing to say. I’m not going to reach out to her any time soon.
A few weeks later, my mom’s adopted brother passed, and that was a tough time for her side of the family. Right before that, I was still processing the fact that my dad’s mental health was declining and I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have with him. Medium hosted a writing competition and one of the four themes was death and I thought about submitting something. I started writing but didn’t know if it’d be good enough, but I kept getting signs and words in my head, so I published it and am proud I did because it’s a record of how I felt at the time I saw my dad transition.
I later learned that my dad has good and bad days (which my sister already knew). On bad days, he doesn’t speak much; the drugs he takes has a toll on his brain and he can barely remember names of people or the past. On good days, it’s just like it was before he moved (just with imperfect memory) and we have great conversations.
3. Who was important in my life and why?
Family, for sure. I’m so grateful to have a big sister who’s a natural leader (thanks to me, I suppose!). Without her, my dad wouldn’t be getting the care he has, but it’s not just about the care, it’s teaching my parents that they needed to prepare for the end of their lives. Since spring, I’ve been helping my mom manage the finances (since that was always something my dad did) and as a result, we’ve determined she’ll have to sell our childhood home in Vancouver to be financially stable. I’ve already helped her sell some big items, but that move will be a group effort in 2022 (contact me if you plan to buy in Vancouver next year, ha!).
I regret not reaching out much to my uncle before he passed away, but I made more of an effort in recent years to do so. Despite the pandemic still being a thing and not going out, my life has still felt busy and I haven’t been in touch much with extended relatives except to tell them about my dad’s condition.
I saw my nieces and friends more this year than last, which I’m grateful for. And of course, I got to learn about my “new dad” as he transitions mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Leo and I celebrated five years of marriage this year. We went overnight to Harrison Hot Springs and then to Calgary (on his birthday weekend) the month after, so it was nice to get away even for just a few days and experience new places together.
My friend Jay Castro and his colleague Shahira Llaneza started a Filipinx support group of sorts called Kamalayan Conversations and what I thought was just going to be one Zoom meeting has turned out to be a valuable community. I learned it wasn’t just my family having a tough time this year—others lost relatives or friends to COVID-19 and it’s nice to have each other not just for support but to learn about what tools our ancestors have for us as we go through this period together.
With my family at CRAFT in September, celebrating my dad’s 74th birthday.
4. What lesson am I grateful to have learned?
This is a bit weird, but I’m grateful to have learned that there were things my dad could have done to improve his health. Whether it was cannabis (which I got him to use topically) or eating a plant-based diet, I learned that because of the Internet (as well as my work at TruHavn) we already have so many of the keys to preventing disease and illness (of all kinds) and it’s just a matter of following what science and nature has been trying to tell us: Slow down. It’s not about money or status. Love people. Love animals. Restore the earth. It’s far too late for my father to turn to these alternative solutions, but my role now is to share them with future generations.
I know that my role as an aunt is so important as my nieces grow (fast!) into a world that still does not fully accept women, people of colour, or queerness. And it’s important for them to have reliable and successful role models other than their parents to show them the way. I already know that I influence them because my niece Aaliyah said they wanted to be vegan (yes!)…but I told them they’ll need at least one of their parents to try it with them since they’re only 11 and not yet able to make their own meals.
I also learned how emotional and firm I am against the spread of misinformation, which has been so rampant in the last few years thanks to social media and loud, unintelligent people. Even though I can love everyone, I don’t necessarily have to trust or believe what they say because their beliefs may be based on BS. Compared to my pre-pandemic self, I’ve put up more emotional boundaries to protect myself from people like this (I’ve had to unfollow a handful on Facebook) but I know it will benefit me in the future.
5. Where and how was I courageous?
Honestly, I don’t think I was that courageous much this year as there weren’t very many situations that required bravery, but I’ve learned to double down on my patience. I feel my mom and I have a new relationship now that she’s forced to manage her financial situation, and asked for more help from my sister and I. Because my sis has more interaction with her (they live 10 houses away from each other) I think mom has been getting sick of having her around so she’s been asking me for help more. Without going into our whole history, let’s just say I’ve avoided hanging out with her because we’d always get into fights. When my dad moved out, I visited my mom about once every two weeks to discuss things with her and help her sell items to get her ready for selling the house, and she has been more kind to me than before.
The first time I visited my dad and he was unresponsive, the only thing we could do together was listen to the radio and talk about musicians. I realized then how much my dad and I have bonded over music (as well as movies, but that isn’t easy for us to watch together anymore). I could have cried right then and there, but I held back my tears as we listened to music together. It taught me that there are levels to relationships (which I have always known but haven’t really FELT) and my dad and I are just moving into a new phase of ours.
6. What brought me joy?
As in 2020, Leo and I spent the most time together on weekend evenings getting high and watching movies and TV shows. That might sound like we are lazy and have no social life, but we don’t have Netflix, we work hard during the week (which includes arranging weekly Zoom meetings with members and special guests at VEG Networking Canada), and our circle of friends is small.
We watched new seasons of Fargo (FX), WandaVision (Disney+), Snowfall (FX), Loki (Disney+), Squid Game (Netflix), Mare of Easttown (HBO), The Night Of (HBO), The White Lotus (HBO), Hawkeye (Disney+) and the pandemic episodes of South Park (Comedy Central). We also finished Schitt’s Creek (CBC/Netflix), Kim’s Convenience (CBC/Netflix), and Ozark (Netflix). Currently, we are on Mr. Robot (USA Network) and plan to start The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+) and What If? (Disney+).
I got to hang out a bunch with my friends and family and my nieces are getting bigger by the month. Also, going to Calgary and getting to try all the vegan food they offered was pretty rad.
On the business side, I brought on some steady clients: Your Vegan Marketer and Vejii. I also did some project work for more local vegan businesses in the fall and am happy to be more immersed in the community. Attending the From the Ground Up show and Planted Expo live events was awesome! More comedians and recording artists are coming to Vancouver next year too and Leo and I will definitely go to at least a few shows.
Working on my marketing book has been fun, although it’s like working some more on weekdays and some Sundays, so when my brain told me to stop, I listened!
7. How did I treat my body, heart, spirit, and mind?
Body: My exercise and eating routine has changed little since last year, but because hubby started a pattern of getting fried chicken weekly, I somehow started a habit of eating the fries and noticed more fat accumulation around my waist area around the summertime. I stopped eating the fries and started thinking about what hiring a personal trainer would look like in my neighbourhood. This is something I’d like to do even for a short time just to learn how to use weights and machines so that I can use my community centre’s gym more confidently, but I’d like to make a bit more money before investing in these services.
I noticed that sugar cravings have almost disappeared. I am on my 9th chocolate bar since the start of the year (six of which were given to me) and feel like I could probably cut out chocolate completely if I wanted to. I used to bake a lot, but I don’t have the time for it anymore, which I think has helped here.
I no longer have a skin issue after barely using any of the creams that were prescribed by a dermatologist early in the year, so the mystery of that source continues.
Heart: I always find it most difficult to connect to my heart, but I prioritized rest a lot this year and could feel times when my stress level was rising. With 2021 being the year the COVID-19 vaccines rolled out, I found a lot of anti-vaccine social media posts (including DMs) triggering and took some time to unfollow/unfriend people that were triggering my anger to protect me emotionally. I got a few negative comments on my hypochlorhydria blog and other social posts, which means more people are finding me, but they honestly didn’t bother me much so I can see the growth there.
Spirit: My spirit guides and I bonded a lot more this year and I’m not sure if it’s because my uncle passed, but the more time passes I feel like I am closer to them and almost on a conversational basis. As mentioned earlier, they compelled me to write a book this year, even though I didn’t know that would happen. My meditation practice has evolved too, and now includes breathwork, affirmations, angel prayers, and chakra visualizations. Sometimes I only have a few minutes left to say my mantra and sometimes I wonder if I am sabotaging my practice, but as long as I’m still feeling the effects, I think it’s okay. My body knows when I need an extra 10 minutes in meditation and will naturally let me rest longer if need be.
Mind: I continued pursuing my reading list this year and read some really great memoirs. I also started reading spiritual books consistently on Sundays so that I could post a review on social at least every six weeks. Writing my book has definitely kept my mind occupied, and I haven’t found the need to go back to therapy. While this year doesn’t seem as fun as last year (despite having the privilege of a vaccine passport), I think prioritizing my mental and emotional health is what it all comes down to, and I am looking forward to not only going out to more shows in 2022, but celebrating my 40th birthday in April somewhere new. Most likely it will be somewhere in BC due to all the international travel regulations still in place.
8. How did I show up for the people I care about?
Family was everything this year, and my sister and I showed up big time. Not much action happened with my circle of friends this year, but next year will be big and I am excited to be involved.
What surprised me most this year was how much more immersed I became in the worldwide vegan community. I joined VEG Networking Canada in January and because I showed up almost weekly, I was asked to step up to co-host when the founder stepped down in June. It’s a great role that flexes what I’m good at and has allowed me to connect with a lot of folks in the community. I’ve even had people who connected with me on LinkedIn from outside Canada ask me if they can join!
I’m really excited about my book because I think it has the potential to expose vegan consumers and marketers to a large sample of vegan businesses around the world.
I also started mentoring an agency owner at the end of summer and it’s been cool to see her progress.
Whether it’s interpreted this way, I use my social platforms and blog to educate people about the vegan lifestyle as much as I can. I’m no activist, but I care about issues and after my work, that’s my biggest contribution. If people who don’t believe in COVID-19, masks, or effectiveness/safety of the vaccine can be louder than mainstream media online, we have a big information problem and it’s not that I’m trying to be louder, but I feel I must do my part to spread accuracy of info in a world where misinformation is so rampant.
9. What situations triggered fear or discomfort? Did I move through them? If so, how? If not, why not?
My #1 fear this year was whether my dad was going to die this year or next. Now that I have more experience with his condition and the effects of the medications he’s taking, I’m more confident that we have more time than I thought. It’s scary to feel like you’re losing loved ones, but I think it’s better to feel and to lose than to not have felt at all.
A message (from the same friend whose message triggered me in March 2020 when the pandemic started) triggered me again recently. I know it’s not their intention, but I had to have a good look at myself to discover why I was being triggered and what my response would be. It’s been a good lesson to stand my ground and stick to my beliefs and if that isn’t good enough for others, that’s okay and I don’t need to be included in everything they’re up to. I’m not sure if it’s because of the pandemic or me aging, but I feel like I don’t need to be as social as I was in my 20s (the thought exhausts me already) or even my 30s. There is a reason I keep hearing the 40s and 50s are awesome…you give less shits and you don’t have to have a huge circle of friends to be happy or complete your goals. Maybe if you want to be famous you need to, but I don’t, so I’m good there.
10. Which rituals and habits served me well, and which ones didn’t?
I didn’t start many rituals or habits this year, but my twice-daily meditation practice (just layered on with more affirmations, prayers, and visualizations), walking outside on days I don’t run, Saturday keyboard sessions, and our cannabis + viewing weekends have served me well.
The Friday french fry habit didn’t, so I stopped that!
I wanted to make even more money this year than last and see if I could do without my Facebook account. Those milestones haven’t yet been reached, but in the meantime, I can choose to spend less time on Facebook. More living, less being on the Meta!
Wishing you and your loved ones a reflective end of the year, and a safe and hopeful start to 2022!
Header photo: Tosha Lobsinger