“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.” ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This is a letter to you, to thank you for everything. The good, the bad and the beautiful.
You were the beginning of a new decade and a new astrological era. Predictions said that you would be a catalyst for new beginnings, and you were, but not in the way we expected. New beginnings are never easy, and the world felt the labouring pains as you ushered us into an era of enlightenment and radical change.
You showed up like no other year. You threw our world into turmoil, shook up our societal structures and shed a blinding light on our dying planet and our destructive nature. You warned us that, if we do not practice love, honour and respect for all living creatures, you and Mother Earth, would fight back.
You made all of us acutely aware of our obsession with the superficial — our endless pursuit of a misunderstood and misdirected definition of happiness.
What happiness meant to me 11 months ago is entirely different from what it means to me today, and this is what I thank you for:
Teaching me that not all that glitters is gold
In November 2019, my little family — me, my husband, and our beloved cat, Liefie — moved to Toronto to take our careers to the next level. We arrived full of bright and shiny hopes and dreams. Life was perfect. It was filled with champagne, celebrations, new beginnings, swanky downtown offices, a growing business for me, a growing career for him and a beautiful house with a backyard full of squirrels to chase for Liefie. Little did we know that you planned to sweep us off our feet — and in the most unexpected ways possible.
Teaching me courage in the face of loss
2020, you brought loss, and plenty of it. In my case, I experienced loss on so many levels. My beloved feline suddenly passed away Family ties, my business, my business partner, my confidants and my lifelines were ripped away, one after the other. I felt endangered. Anxiety took over my life, and I never knew I could feel grief so deeply. But, I also didn’t realize that I could be so brave. I never knew I had it in me to withstand such impossible times. Through the things you took from me, you taught me strength and courage — two things that nobody can ever take away from me. For that, I thank you.
Showing me that not all losses are bad
2020, you set something in motion. You showed me that I can love myself, shed bad habits and separate myself from toxic situations. Sure, you battered me, but as it turns out, you actually battered unhealthy mindsets out of me. Thank you for forcefully removing me from situations that were no longer serving me — situations I otherwise wouldn’t have had the bravery to leave.
Getting me outside to revel in everyday joy
To cope with all the loss and commotion, I started walking every morning. I would meet the neighbourhood cats and the dogs, greet the neighbours having coffee on their porches, admire the dexterity of our squirrel community and watch the seasons change around me. I started seeing the world through a different lens. I became familiar with my surroundings in a way that I never knew was possible. My mind cleared and I realized that the loss of everything I once thought was so significant became… insignificant. Simple things became fascinating, and simplicity became a motto.
Bringing me back to basics
Through my new-found love of walking, I explored local markets and grocers in my neighbourhood. My favourite discovery was a family-owned Italian grocer established in the 1950s on the Danforth. The minute I stepped into the store, I felt the passion, and with a smile, I listened to the boisterous Italians hustling and bustling around their little store.
Something in me awoke. I suddenly remembered a love that I had forgotten through the busyness of pursuing success — the love of togetherness.
Not being able to eat at restaurants every night — in public, in dining rooms bursting with people and conversation — made me crave togetherness and family. Growing up, our family always congregated in the kitchen with glasses of wine, lots of loud talking and incredible, home-cooked food. This was our bonding time, and I realized that my life now lacked this fundamental element.
You led me back to that simple joy, enjoying togetherness, experimenting with food, enjoying delicious wine — and on top of it all, I saved so much money (and lost a few pounds). I became acquainted with the real joy of basics. I became truly thankful for my cozy home, my warm bed, my morning cups of piping-hot coffee, and my loving, supportive husband.
Teaching me to cherish my people
2020, you taught me healthy boundaries, but ultimately, you revealed my support system — the people who were truly “my people.” Moving to a new city just before a global pandemic really didn’t help in the “making friends department,” but somehow, you brought the most beautiful souls into my life and showed me that my small family unit is strong like no other.
Reminding me that I can do anything
Stripped from all unhealthy mindsets, toxic environments and unrealistic expectations of myself, you gave me freedom and courage in the face of adversity — freedom to be me and to believe that I. Can. Do. Anything. Switching careers at age 40 — of course.
Moving to an island — why not?
Living the life that I was meant to live, free from the shackles of societal expectations — let’s do it.
2020, you knew how to shake things up. You peeled away the layers that I hid in and under. You revealed that what I perceived as success was actually futile and exhausting. You taught me to be with myself, to work through inner trauma and how to move through pain. You taught me courage and bravery. You showed me how STRONG I am. Thank you for changing me for the better.
With love, from my big, brave, messy heart,
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Part of the beautiful was the petfluencers we followed.