Sitting on the fresh start of this New Year I naturally find myself in a place of introspection and reflection. I think it would be fair to say that in this place we refer to as adulthood, we oftentimes find ourselves moving in autopilot through the motions of life. Wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, bring work home, hit the gym, maybe grab a drink with friends, brush your teeth, fall asleep.
Rinse and repeat.
The sad truth is that one day you’ll wake up and realize that another 365 days has passed you by. Time has a funny way of doing that, passing regardless of whether you’re living a life filled with passionate abandon or sitting for hours on end in front of your computer screen binge watching Netflix. As I take a look back on the past 365 days of my life, I can say with honesty that it fell somewhere in the middle. There were most definitely hours spent lost in fear and uncertainty, but I can say with confidence that more time was spent challenging myself to follow the path that makes me feel most passionate about putting my feet on the ground each morning. Lessons have been learned, mistakes have been, a few tears have been shed and more than a few laughs have been shared.
With that I’ve decided to take some time to reflect on the experiences that filled the past 365 days on this wonderful place we call planet earth – the moments that made my heart break, the times that I would have rather stayed in bed, and the days that you couldn’t stop me from smiling even if you tried.
1. The scary fact is that sometimes fear, hate and violence wins.
Whether it be the war that continues to wage on in Syria, the unspeakable brutality doled out at the hands of police officers in the United States, or the bombings that took the lives of innocent people in Brussels; the scary fact is that even in 2016, fear, hate and violence sometimes win. The number of shootings that took place in Hamilton (one, merely a few blocks from my home) last year alone is evidence of the fact that we are not immune to this problem. What’s the solution? I’m afraid that’s an answer for powers far greater than myself, but the hope lies in the fact that we can still make a difference. It may sound simple, but we’re all in this crazy thing called life together. You and I, while we may have been taught to think that we are different, are really exactly the same. Smile at the strangers who you pass on the street. Strike up a conversation with someone who you think may need an ear to talk to. Offer a dollar to the man on the street asking for change, or maybe get real crazy and offer him five dollars. Be kind to everyone, for you never know the struggles they may be facing because at the end of the day love should have no boundaries.
2. For some, it was their last.
Reflecting back on 2016, it would be impossible not to take a moment and pause to remember those who we lost. Icons in the fields of music, athletics, politics, literature and the silver screen, these individuals made a lasting impact on the lives of many. Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Nancy Reagan, Craig Sager, Harper Lee, and Elie Wiesel to name only a few. And then there are those whose names most wouldn’t recognize. The people who you grew up laughing with, arguing with, spending holidays and birthdays with, the ones who stood by your side during all of your first experiences in life and shared all of the moments in between. The family member who this year, you had to say goodbye to. For me this year, it was my grandfather. The man who I will always remember as being the strongest person I knew with the quickest of wits – a combination I can only hope that I inherit a portion of. It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye, but they will forever leave a lightness in our lives as we remember the countless ways they shaped us, supported us, laughed with us and loved us.
3. The US Presidential Election.
1. My friend family grew by two.
My best friends are my family and this year, my family grew by two. I had the amazing (and also personally terrifying) experience of watching two of my best friends bring life into this world. It’s a concept that although I know how it technically works, still continues to boggle my mind. Every time I look at my friend’s little guy as he smiles and laughs and figures out where his hands are, the only words I manage to spit out are –“he was inside your stomach and now he’s out here in the world!” That shit is crazy to me! I can’t describe how it feels to watch your best friends transition into this next phase of life and become incredible mothers. With each passing day, I see these wonderful little humans learn something new and it reminds me exactly what life is about – being present and taking in all of the awesomeness that exists in the small moments.
2. You can do anything in Hamilton.
I bought a hoodie at Supercrawl three years ago with this text splashed across the front and I LOVED it. I wore it everywhere – to work, to the gym, to bed, out for coffee, to my friend’s place, when my friends came over to my place. You literally couldn’t pay me to take this holy grail of sweatshirts off my body. And to me, that’s what it represented. It was the future of Hamilton and I believed it – you really can do anything here. The thing was, three years ago not everyone felt that way. Some people may have even had the audacity to smirk at the tagline on my favourite piece of clothing (don’t worry I let those fools have a piece of my Hamiltonian mind and they now also own said sweatshirt). Three years later, it’s a different story. The conversation has shifted from the steel town persona of the past to the ambitious city with unlimited possibilities. I can’t help but smile because I believe that the revitalization of this great city is due in large part to the people who never stopped believing that anything is possible here. The people who loved the city through thick and thin. Whether it is the development on the waterfront, the emerging restaurant scene that I find difficult to keep up with, or the art culture that encourages anyone with a dream to share their passion, it is all possible because the amazing people in this city thought it was. The sweatshirt has come to life!
3. A place to write.
Have you ever walked into a place and instantly thought…”YES!” If you have, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s pretty damn surreal. It happened to me this year when I walked into my, soon to be but I didn’t know it yet, new place. As I walked around the space a smile grew so wide on my face that I’m sure the lady thought I was drunk. “This is it,” I thought to myself. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t wrong. I’ve never felt more at home and in the great synchronicity that is life, I truly believe that moment I walked through the door of my new place was the start of my journey of personal growth – my TSN turning point if you will. I felt inspired. I felt motivated. I felt as though I was in the right place at the right time of my life. I began taking more time to do what I love – photography, yoga, reading and of course writing. Yoga has challenged me to change my view of the world and ultimately of myself. Through countless hours spent reading (thanks to my lackadaisical attitude towards to get internet in my new place) my mind has grown. Dedicating more time to pursuing my love of writing has led to this very article you’re reading today. Two years ago I listed “being a published writer” as an item on my bucket list, today I can cross it off. Walking through the door of my apartment I unknowingly unlocked the door to my future. I learned that when you follow your heart, you can’t go wrong. Yes, you may encounter a few unforeseen setbacks, but if you follow the path your passion leads you down at the end of 365 days you’ll go to bed with a smile on your smile so large that it hurts.
In 2016 I opened myself up to the possibilities that exist and that’s all anyone can ask for. Because in that you learn that “anything” can happen every day.
And with that, I’d like to welcome this new year…