A year in review

You guys, 2018 sucked donkey balls. For me, I mean. It could have been the best year of your life, and if so, I am sincerely happy for you. But for me, it was dark, challenging (and not in the good way), long, lonely, stressful, daunting, frustrating and largely a year I was just trying to get to the end of without making a premature exit.

Lately, I have felt compelled to reflect, as many of us are wont to do when a new year begins. And in so doing, because I am ever the optimist, I didn’t want to only recall all the shitty, hard stuff. I wanted to remember and celebrate the good things, the highlights of an otherwise terrible year, the few rays of light that managed to emerge through the cracks in my windows this past year. And I wanted to write it down, put it out in the universe so that I could look back at this time, years from now, and marvel at the amazing things that happened during a very trying time in my life, and be proud of how far I’ve come.

The first thing that comes to mind is that I launched GenerationNEXT, an employee resource group at work. This little baby was a pure labour of love, something I poured myself into, and meticulously (a trait I’m not particularly known for) put the puzzle together of the people, support, marketing and as corny as it sounds, heart, to launch my little ERG-baby to the masses (and by masses, I mean my company). It is quite an extraordinary thing to work so hard on something you so fiercely believe in and watch as it unfolds before you in all the ways you imagined and more. I don’t mean to be overly effusive here, but the bottom line is that this was a big deal, and I did it! And ironically, the actual launch event (and all the work required to make that happen) was happening just as I was starting this journey with depression, and learning about my thyroid, and starting medications. So, looking back, that it even happened, let alone was the success it was, to me, is quite miraculous.

I travelled to New York City with my Cantores sisters (and a few of my besties in tow), and I sang on the stage of Carnegie Hall.

I did that! That is a thing that I did! Can you believe it?!?!

It’s a once in a lifetime experience that I will always cherish. I had a great time, got to work with Sir John Rutter himself, and had the opportunity to make musical magic with my sisters. That’s pretty damn amazing.

I moved. Sometimes a move is just a move. And sometimes, a move is a life-altering event. In my case, it was the latter. Moving, for me, was fraught with paralyzing fear, and the shedding of an old, dysfunctional, bleak and damaged life for a new one. I had to fight like hell to ultimately sign the lease on my apartment, and I’m practically bankrupt from what it has taken for me to set myself up for success in my new chapter, but it was totally worth it. I now have a home that I actually take pride in, a space that is all my own, one which reflects who I am, and one which feels like a hug every time I walk through the door.

I didn’t get here alone. I had exceptional support from all my friends, but my move would not have been possible were it not for my dear friend Josh. I like to lovingly refer to him as a tornado. He knows this, he knows it’s a term of endearment. He tornadoes around me, almost in a blur, just DOING. While I was struggling with preparing for the move, making decisions, paralyzed by the enormity of the task, it was Josh who swooped in and took the reins, purging my old place (almost too well – there are things he got rid of that I’m still discovering). He helped me pack, and forced (I mean, strongly encouraged) me to make decisions. He motivated me and kept reminding me that this is what I had been wanting and working toward for a very long time.

He knew I needed help, I couldn’t do it on my own. Moving is hard under the best of circumstances, and he knew that my circumstances were extenuating. He’s the Portuguese mama I never knew I needed. And he single-handedly moved me. I’m serious. I mean I was there, I did stuff, but let’s be honest, I’m pretty useless when it comes to these things. He and I moved me into my new place using just his car and a little dolly I had bought at Canadian Tire. I think we did it in three, maybe four trips on one of the hottest, most humid July Saturdays I can remember.

So, moving for me was a BIG deal. And even though it was hard, and exhausting both physically and emotionally, I view it as a huge highlight of the year. And I couldn’t have done it without Josh.

When I think about the entirety of 2018, I think the thing that provided the most light through the cracks was my birthday celebration. I love my birthday. I have always loved my birthday. But, as you can imagine, this year was different and I was sort of worried that the whole thing would be a disaster and forever scar me. So, I was wary.

I had been talking about my big 4-0 for a while with my friends and was very specific about what I envisioned, but honestly was expecting to settle for whatever was best for everyone else. I wanted a fancy dinner, preferably in a private room of a restaurant I’d never been to. I wanted just my closest friends there, people who were well aware of everything that was going on with me. I didn’t want to have to pretend, or put on a happy face or feel pressured to behave in a certain way. I wanted to dress up (and therefore I wanted everyone else to, obviously). I mean, no prom dresses or tuxes, but I wanted everyone to get all gussied up. And balloons! I wanted a lot of balloons. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have been mad if a prom dress had made an appearance.

Again, it was Josh who led the charge and made it happen. He delivered the birthday party of my dreams. Not only were all the criteria checked off the list, there was so much love in all the details. My favourite colours, carefully selected cocktails and appetizers, a custom designed menu, just for us. Our own sommelier. He even created a playlist of music that he knew I would like to be played for our background soundtrack. I mean COME ON!!

He thought of every single detail. There was so much love in that room, I felt so close to everyone there. Having never been a bride, I can’t say for certain, but it sure as shit felt like my wedding! It was my day. And I felt like a million bucks. Put quite simply, it was perfect.

So, in looking back at a really crappy year for me, the thing that stands out the most as the highlight, the BEST thing that happened in my life in 2018, was my 40th birthday, organized by my thoughtful, talented, devoted and extraordinarily loving friend Josh. I don’t think I have ever felt more loved in my life.

2019 is going to be good. It has to be. It can only go up from here. I came across a meme the other day which made me laugh really hard (probably inappropriately), but it sort of sums up the last year of my life quite perfectly, I think:

Apparently my rock bottom has a basement.

I discovered that basement this year, but the good news is, there’s nowhere else to go, but up.

Happy new year. May it be filled with more good than bad, more love than heartache, and more joy than sorrow.