25 Moments

The past year of my life was a beautiful blur. Do I say that every year? This year, it feels especially true. Writing these posts each year for my birthday is such a special tradition that I’m so grateful I’ve kept up. It gives me space to reflect on what was important to me during the year: what made me happiest, what made me feel most loved, and what made me feel like I was growing. I always pick the moments that I feel most deeply in my heart or that I have the clearest, most beautiful memories of. They’re often the small moments and the little things, but they’re what make my life so rich and lovely.

I probably also say this every time: I am so grateful to be who I am, to be where I am, and to be loved so deeply. I am unbelievably lucky and I feel luckier every single day. Ps. If you’re wondering, that’s what success feels like for me: feeling more loved and more lucky every day.

This year, I put my moments in chronological order. Enjoy!


The day that we celebrated my little Grandma’s 88th birthday. We hung paper flowers in the yard, made adorable food, played bocce ball on the lawn, laughed, and were together for the first time in what felt like ages. I can’t explain how grateful I am to have made a video of the day.

Celebrating Father’s Day with just my dad and sisters. We nabbed a table on a patio by the water, drank way too much (amazing) beer, and stayed a long time. After having lived abroad for so long, the simplicity of after-works drinks with my family was a little bit mind-blowing and was a big part of the pull to make Toronto my home.

The moment I realized that I wouldn’t have to get a job waiting tables over the summer because I might actually be able to figure out this whole freelance thing in a real way. This has been such a fun and interesting year for my career: I am so proud of myself and a little bit baffled that I’m still pulling it off.

Going to a Blue Jays game with my sister (who is so confident, beautiful, and way cooler than I was at her age), my BFF visiting from New York (who I never would have met had I not moved to Korea) and the amazing guy who once called me to give me my then-dream job as food editor at a magazine (and has since set me up with basically my entire freelance career). It was the most beautiful summer night with the most beautiful people.

My entire trip to New York to visit Katie and Nancy Sue was amazing – there’s nothing like summer in the city, right? They’re my people, and NY is one of the best places on earth. But if I had to pick one moment, it would be ending up at Marie’s Crisis singing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the top of our lungs at 2AM on a summer Monday night. That night, we’d also had a bunch of soju and of course the one true love of my life Goa Taco. I want to bottle this memory and keep it perfectly intact for ever and ever. It makes my heart feel like bursting.

Watching Rob Thomas and Counting Crows at Jones Beach. It was hilarious and amazing and such a gorgeous venue. And we caught some great Pokemon that night!

Our entire trip to Vermont with Katie’s whole extended family. Everything was great: the outdoor showers, the superb gin and tonics (thanks Jim!), the great road trip music, the jaw-dropping star-gazing, and even the incredibly arduous hikes. I loved it all.

The day we brought Bodhi home! So much frolicking in the grass. So many cuddles with a little ball of fluff. So much happiness. We’re still pretty smitten with him, even if he doesn’t look like this anymore.

Making the decision to move to Toronto. I can still remember all my long, long walks in the ravine by my dad’s house that I took in order to think and think and think. When I finally decided to “live out what I already knew to be true,” I was ready, and I have not looked back once. Six months in and I already know this move has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

One of the most meaningful moments of the past year was when my family came together for my uncle’s funeral. It was an incredibly sad time, given the suddenness of his death and the loss of his beautiful spirit. Yet having that time with my family was special in a way that few other moments are. I will always be grateful for those few days of togetherness.

Adrienne

Spending the weekend in the city with Adrienne after not having seen her for three years – and it was exactly the same. At the time I was in a weird place of transition and wasn’t yet living in Toronto, so having one of my best friends back in my life was a gift. I don’t really remember what (if anything) we did except eat and talk, but what else is there to do?

Moving into my beautiful little apartment on the first drizzly day of October. My dad carried boxes down the alley from where he was parked and my mom and her partner brought stuff in from the other side. I just stood in the middle and brought the boxes downstairs – and then they all left and I got to unpack, like really unpack, for the first time in nearly four years. Puttering around my new space finding homes for my things (and myself!) was such a joy.

The morning I woke up to an email in my inbox letting me know that an e-transfer I thought I’d lost for good due to technical difficulties was back in my account after 2 months. Hallelujah!!

Getting invited for dinner by my landlords, who have also become friends. It was early into my time living in the city, and having the chance to spend time with them was such a wonderful way to start to feel connected and involved with life in a brand new place. Some of those early weeks were lonely at times, and I remember this dinner being such a lovely moment.

The day that I sent an email that ended my work with a client I was not aligned with. It was such a freeing (and terrifying) experience to walk away from money but instead give myself the gift of good energy and better opportunities. Things have been more than fine financially ever since, so this was a good lesson for me in my first year of full-time freelancing.

Being surprised by my mom and Grandma showing up at my apartment one Thursday to take me out for lunch. I remember feeling so grateful to finally be living close enough to them for that kind of thing to even be a possibility. After so many years away (including my time at university!), it felt especially sweet to walk around my new neighbourhood with them and enjoy a long lunch together.

25 Moments >> Life In Limbo

Having a mini ‘high school reunion’ with my best friends from that time in my life. It had been years since we’d all seen each other, and we’d only kept in touch to varying degrees. But, just like always, showing up to the restaurant and seeing them was exactly like old times, as if no time had passed. We had so much fun and wound up (as always) back at Kelcie’s house, having long rambling conversations about anything and everything. Even though our lives are so busy and we’ve grown up a lot, in a lot of ways we’re all exactly the same as we were, and it feels good to have people who know you that well.

In a similar vein, there was a day at the end of December when my dad and his partner and my grandparents came to visit my apartment for the first time since I’d settled in. I sat them down (even though I didn’t have enough seating) and served them tea (even though I didn’t have enough mugs) and we sat around for a while. I remember feeling kind of amazed that having my family over to my apartment was a possibility for me now.

Homegoing

The first book club brunch we did at Fresh for the book Homegoing. We’ve had meetings since then and I’ve enjoyed them, but the first one was special for a lot of reasons. We had all read the book, we all had a lot of thoughts on it, and we had an amazing discussion over delicious food. Everyone was there and nobody had to leave early, so we had this lovely lingering brunch while talking about a good book. What could be better?

Going to my first Tuesdays Together meetup! I have a feeling that if I think about this too long I’ll get emotional, because this first event turned out to be a catalyst for so many amazing opportunities and joys over the months that have followed. The first meeting was serendipitously at my sister’s apartment building, which made me feel braver about going alone after a friend couldn’t make it at the last minute. We sat around a table and talked about systems and apps for our businesses and it didn’t take me long to jump in with ideas. My mind was boggled by all the interesting creative people who were there and I left feeling so inspired. I also met Sonja that night, who has since become a dear friend and partner-in-crime.

Red Tent Sisters

Both of our filming days in February with the Red Tent Sisters. We were producing a bunch of Ask the Sisters videos over two days at the end of February, and it was a blast. We spent the days talking about reproductive health and sexuality and all that good stuff, plus I also got to nerd out about our new studio lighting and the “set” we created in Kim’s bedroom. The weather was sunny and Spring-like so we got to take all our breaks out on the back deck in t-shirts. It was one of those days where I just kept thinking “I love my job” over and over again.

The day that the baristas at my favourite local coffee shop and I learned each others names and bonded over Riverdale. I have never been a ‘regular’ somewhere ever, so this was a big deal for me, and now the café feels like my second home. I go almost every day, have made friends with all the other regulars, and get life advice from the baristas. It’s pretty special and I’m pretty grateful.

Being asked to help at Nurture Retreats as the retreat assistant. I was so thrilled! I wanted to go like crazy but didn’t have the money, so to be asked to help out in exchange was like a dream come true. The retreat is in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait – it’s three days of self-care and creativity and good amazing food all rolled into one. Heart-eyes emoji.

Sarah Slean Metaphysics Party with Nurture Retreats

Getting to cater, create, and experience Sarah Slean’s album release party for Metaphysics (which just came out today!) with Sonja. Every aspect was absolutely beautiful: the 4-piece string quartet, Sarah’s voice, the stunning food, the signature cocktail (heyyyy), the calligraphy on the walls – everything. It was such a dream.

Dr. Shanker on The Agenda

Last week when I got to go to TVO studios (I grew up watching TVO and only TVO, so that part was especially cool) and watch an interview with the founder of The MEHRIT Centre, Dr. Shanker, on The Agenda. I was pinching myself that I got to accompany him and cover it for our social media channels, and again baffled at how much my career has grown in just one short year.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Every Lakeshore walk talking to Katie
  • Every time I went home to The Hideaway and hung out with Bo
  • Every time I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack
  • Every family dinner, especially the one at Pai

“Let whatever mysterious starlight that guided you this far guide you onwards into whatever crazy beauty awaits.” This quote will never stop being relevant to me – so much so that I painted it on a canvas and hung on my bedroom wall. Every time I try to think about how much has changed in just one year and how crazy-beautiful my life has been and is becoming, I am both humbled and awed. 2017 so far has been one of my best years yet, and I can’t wait to see what 26 has in store for me.

I love doing these reflection posts every year. If you’re curious, you can read about my favourite moments of 21, 22, 23 and 24.

  • Ruth Ann Holloway-Adams

    Thank you, Stephanie. This is so beautifully written and shows your vibrant spirit. I am happy for all the joy in your life and happy that you have settled in Toronto. I attended university there, met my husband and was married there and still love the very thought of the city. It was a huge plus that your grandparents were close by. Doug’s death was very hard but he would want us all to be happy. i will look forward to your next year’s blog! Love Ruth Ann

  • Eli Regn

    Hi, Stephanie. If it’s alright with you, can you share a little bit more on how you start your freelancing career and what are the tips to kickstart or navigate around it?

    • Hi Eli! Thanks for your comment. I can definitely write a post about this, what would you be interested in knowing? If you let me know your questions, I can address them in the post!

      • Eli Regn

        Thanks, Stephanie. First of all, I’d like to know about how you decided what sort of freelancing career to go forward with. And I’d also like to know more about the tools you use to start your freelancing career as well as how you network to meet potential clients, if you do meet them in person. Once again, thank you!

        • Hi Eli, sorry it took me forever to actually get started on this – it was a busy summer! I wanted to let you know that I wrote “Part 1” of posts answering your questions, you can find it right here: http://wp.me/p1oPZJ-38R

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