1. Where did I thrive?
Externally, the most obvious project I worked on this year is my second book, Vegan Marketing Success Stories, which I’ve been working on since last year. Even though it’s my second book, I call it the first book I did properly, from hiring a proper book team to doing all the marketing needed to get it out in the world.
Even though I wanted to take more vacations this year, I’ve been saving $ for a big trip in 2023 but am proud that hubs and I were still able to go away to our province’s capital, Victoria, to celebrate my living 4 decades on the planet (and 4th veganniversary). I also took a weekend trip to Nanaimo (also on Vancouver Island) with my friends for the first time.
In the last five months I’ve done more podcast interviews than in my entire career! When I did the first few in August I got sweaty palms like I usually do before interviews or speaking events, but I noticed that the more interviews I did, the less sweaty my hands got and the more “in the zone” I felt. I also noticed my speaking skills have gotten way better. So what they say is true: practice makes perfect (even though there’s no such thing as perfect)!
2. Where did I struggle?
Having touted the vegan diet for years as a natural immune system booster, I not only got COVID but also a really bad respiratory virus that I couldn’t kick for six weeks. It’s made me realize that new viruses like COVID—although maybe not fatal in itself—combined with other illnesses can take even the healthiest people down. After recovering, I noticed I’d developed a new condition—overactive gag reflex—which would kick in immediately after I ate breakfast, sometimes so brutal I had to vomit up what I had just eaten. After speaking with a gastroenterologist, I learned I would either have to take prescription medicine to minimize my stomach acid (which I didn’t want to do because I believe I already have underactive stomach) or resort to drinking liquids for breakfast. As I don’t have a blender and loathe the thought of making daily smoothies, I’m now a regular customer of HEAL’s plant-based meal replacement!
In the summer, I not only lost a steady client but the client I’d started The Content Doctor with, and I’ve honestly been hustling for clients ever since. However, it’s been a good reminder that you can’t ever rest on your laurels in business. You’ve always got to be nurturing relationships. There’s a chance I might continue to do work for the client I started with in 2020 (as she departed the company that let me go) but it may not happen as soon as I’d hoped.
As the author the first book in the world about vegan marketing, a part of me (I’ll call it my ego) was hoping my book would fly off the digital shelves, and that was the case when my ebook made the Top 100 Kindle books on Amazon.ca for the Business Skills > Communications category the week it launched. In reality, it’s been a slow trickle since. I continue to book myself on podcasts with the hope that the book will get into the right hands, maybe even that of someone who will want to sponsor it or purchase multiple copies for a larger community of professionals/marketers/vegans. So while this is not really a struggle, it’s a goal I continue to try to reach.
3. Who was important in my life and why?
Even though I attended a lot more live events this year, I kept a good amount of boundaries not only to save money but not to stretch myself thin. I treasure having siblings as we continued to help my mother clear out her home to get ready for sale, and I visited my dad in long-term care every other week.
Justin Manning and I co-hosted another great year at VEG Networking Canada, where we brought in members in Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. We still have work to bring in members in other provinces, but we met a boatload of great special guests and this network of vegan professionals + entrepreneurs has become a very special group to me. In a predominantly non-vegan world it can feel really alone to be a vegan, but our network, as with other communities like Vegans in the Limelight, the Vegan Visibility Summit organizers and speakers, remind me how powerful each of us are.
I hung out a lot more IRL with my friends, and our trip to Nanaimo was very special as it was the first time I did a full (~3g) psilocybin mushroom trip. I was the only one who took this amount so in one way I was “alone” in my trip, but I will say that it gave me a different perspective on who (and what) matters in my life and how many of the systems humans have created for ourselves (namely, our money system and the concept of weekdays and weekends) are bullshit. During the third hour of my trip (out of four), I had a wave of love wash over me and wanted to tell all my immediate family members and close friends (many of whom were witness to this) how much I loved them. Even those I don’t consider myself super close with, because the fact that they’ve known me for at least 25 years is something precious. In my tripped state, I was fully aware I was telling all my friends I loved them. I also texted my siblings, and called my husband. This trip (pun intended) will always stay with me and remind me of who matters.
Around 5:30pm post-trip at Westwood Lake in Nanaimo, British Columbia
4. What lesson am I grateful to have learned?
Being sick for six weeks taught me none of us are immune to age and sickness. Even as a vegan eating the cleanest diet and exercising regularly, when your body breaks down, the exercise also goes out the window and it can be really hard to maintain the same level of mental and emotional health. I’m not as flexible or pain-free than I was even five years ago, so I’ve learned that with age comes wisdom but also a growing level of frailty.
My shroom trip in August taught me that while I have to operate in a world based on patriarchal systems that benefit few the most, there are ways to not ‘give in’ to this system. Running a business is one way to do this as it gives me the opportunity to earn more than I would if I was working a 9 to 5 job and take days off when I want to, but it also has its own set of challenges. So mainly, I’ve learned I don’t have to live how others do, because what we think is “normal” is just the system.
5. Where and how was I courageous?
I’ve said that creating my second book was one of the most difficult projects I’ve done in my life, both because it required a significant financial investment (that I may not see come back for a while) but also the most amount of marketing I’ve done for myself. Even past client projects have rarely reached the amount of work I put in from August to mid-December this year. So I’m proud that I invested the time and money in it. I know the payoff may not be immediate but the more people become aware of the benefits of veganism, hopefully my book will be recognized as an early example of vegan business success.
As a result of being on podcasts and interviews to promote the book, I got the opportunity to speak to the Kitsilano Business Leaders meetup group, the first time I’ve spoken in public in at least 3 years, and about veganism. I was nervous about it, but the feedback I received was positive and I sold a few books at the event.
6. What brought me joy?
Hubs and I continued our pandemic (now it’s just our normal) routine of smoking cannabis and watching movies or TV shows on the weekend, and this year brought no shortage of great shows. We also tried some cannabis beverages and I enjoyed that for a time, but wanted to avoid feeling the same high over and over, and also the additional amount of sugar these beverages contain.
Although we lost our local Vancouver comedy club to the pandemic (the only two left are in New West and Surrey), we were able to see Alicia Keys live again (my third time, his second). While she was supposed to come to town in 2020, she’s put out both Alicia and the KEYS double album since, which made for even more new hits. Compared to the last concert of hers we attended in Vancouver, the crowd was more energetic, and we got the encore we deserved!
My short trips to Victoria and Nanaimo helped my brain reset and experience new things (a shroom trip will do that), and I’m especially proud of and happy for my mom for doing hard things in getting her house ready for sale. Being able to share new movies with my dad in long-term care (something we did many times when I was a child) like Top Gun: Maverick has also been special to me.
I’m also so grateful to have gotten some great reviews for my book so far, see people around the world post about it (see a lovely post from Vegan Hospitality‘s Meredith Marin below), and sign hard copies for readers, which is my absolute favourite thing to do with my book so far.
7. How did I treat my body, heart, spirit, and mind?
Body: Besides the time I was sick for six weeks, I maintained my running, yoga, and walking routine this year and even started trying out handstands against a wall, something I never did even as a child when I was able to do cartwheels and splits (thanks Stephanie Jhala for inspiring me)! I was hoping to start hiring a personal trainer to teach me how to use weights at a local gym, but this is something I’ll have to put off until at least next year.
Heart: Nurturing my heart is something I’ll always struggle with as I rarely express emotions of love, but many of the lessons I’ve learned with regards to self-care, doing what I can with the means I have, on my shroom trip, marketing myself and my book, and challenges communicating with my mother have taught me the importance of self-expression. My shroom trip gave me a new perspective of my relationship with Leo and I would say that’s the greatest measure of how much bigger my heart’s grown.
Spirit: My spirit guides gave me less a-has this year than last year when they announced I was going to work on a book, but more important than the a-has is the constant reminder that I’m connected to spirit. Consistently connecting with my spirit guides twice a day before I meditate is something I won’t soon give up. Every day I prayed to the angel of organization to help my mom manage her home, which has become a reality. What’s also cool is I found two additional vegans to help with my audiobook through intuitive readings with Lucca—one simply through her network, and the other because I didn’t know I needed a sound engineer!
Mind: While recovering from my viruses in the spring, I noticed a drop in my emotional health, which I haven’t felt in a long time. I felt called to start doing breathwork to move the negative energy through me because I couldn’t do it through running. A close friend also recommend a counselor they trust, which is a great resource to have. This Pranayama breathwork video was really helpful at that time, and I continue to be grateful for all the wellness tools I’ve amassed over the years and my human support system.
8. How did I show up for the people I care about?
While my circle of family and friends isn’t large, I showed up when and where I could. I still find it difficult to communicate with my mom, but I’m really proud of how my siblings and I did our part to step up and help with her home and finances. That included finally getting a letter from my dad’s doctor and organizing Power of Attorney for both of my parents. I spent time with my dad each month, and also made the effort to nurture relationships with other plant-forward folks in the city.
This year marked a full year volunteering as co-host of VEG Networking Canada and I spent about two hours a month organizing new members and speakers and showed up at each one-hour meeting. I also did some work for the Planted Expo (another great plant-forward organization) and Vancouver Mural Festival as an advisor and voting member.
9. What situations triggered fear or discomfort? Did I move through them? If so, how? If not, why not?
Obviously, being sick for 6 weeks was the most uncomfortable period of the year, but I continued to work through most of that time.
When I noticed my mood was down due to lack of exercise, I shared this post on Instagram. Although I got a lot of unsolicited advice, it’s nice to know people care. I was reminded how powerful breathwork can be when I turned to it.
It’s good to be scared of things that are exciting. As I mentioned earlier, I was nervous leading up to my first few interviews promoting my book, and especially before my interview with Jamie Woodhouse for Sentientism (below), which is a conversation about who and what matters. But I really enjoyed it! Jamie’s a great host. I’m glad I did an interview that’s a bit different than the usual business/book/vegan conversations, and I’ve since done another one that will come out at some point in 2023. When we do new things, they always seem less scary the next time around.
10. Which rituals and habits served me well, and which ones didn’t?
I continued my usual morning ritual of meditating for 20 minutes along with some breathwork, affirmations, and chakra visualizations (I also do 20 mins in the afternoon). After getting sick and developing an overactive gag reflex, I switched from drinking a glass of water with slippery elm bark powder after meditating to drinking it before meditation instead, and then drinking HEAL for breakfast afterwards. After my shroom trip and having a different perspective on life, I changed up some of my daily affirmations to reflect more of what’s important to me.
While I don’t do Pranayama breathwork daily, this served me well this year. I can’t remember if I did tapping (EFT) at all, but that’s also a great tool I’ve used for busting anxiety.
Before each interview, I always play a couple songs on my “boss” playlist, which are all Jay-Z songs: “On to the Next One,” “Niggas In Paris,” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” Not only do they help raise my energy level, but I’ve almost normalized interviews as part of my work life!
Leo and I haven’t hosted guests in our home since before the pandemic and although this is something I want us to continue doing in future, I’d like to get a new dining table and chairs (ours has served us for almost a decade and has seen better days). In the meantime, saying yes to every opportunity to hang out with friends/family that feels good to us has been an unspoken rule.
Wishing you the warmest holiday season and a prosperous and healthy 2023.
Header photo: Tosha Lobsinger