Tuesday, 29 December 2020

2020 Lessons Learned




Hey y’all. It’s been a minute. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, or Instagram stories in particular, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling to keep afloat these last few months. Between moving, Benny being a toddler, home Renos, lapsed work contracts that all needed to be fulfilled at the same time and - you know - the full-blown global crisis we’ve all been dealing with, it’s been a lot. I’ve had to let go of certain things in my life in order to keep my head above water and unfortunately one of those things has been my blog. 

That being said, I couldn’t let the year go by without publishing my annual end-of-year posts: my lessons learned and my goals for the upcoming year. This year’s 2020 lessons learned will be tough to summarize and put into words because I feel like this damn year has been serving me lessons on the daily. I can truly say that I’m not the same person exiting the year as I was entering and while it was a tough transition, I’m leaving the year a better person than I started. 2020 has stripped away at everything that I thought were givens in life, exposed the material possessions that I hid behind to form an identity and has truly shown me both my biggest strengths and glaring flaws. It’s been difficult and it’s been challenging, but it’s also been beautiful as well. My ego checked, my sense of gratitude restored and my mind opened. What a hell of a year. 

Here are my biggest lessons of 2020. 


Listen to understand, not to react. 

This is a doozy. Remember when I mentioned about getting my ego checked? Through the course of the year, we’ve seen the world change in ways that we all could have never imagined and with this change removed all of the distractions we allowed to cloud our vision along the way. When the Black Lives Matter movement came into the spotlight, my eyes were opened to what oppression exists within our own society, which I had naively taken for a racial Europa. I learned about privilege, being anti-racist and white fragility - the last one showing me some glaring truths about my behavior and mentality so far. It was the first time that I was able to truly listen and [try to] understand instead of react with ego and defensiveness. And at 35 years old, that’s pretty sad. 

I’m far from perfect and I still have a lot of work to unlearn my behaviors, but I’m really trying to check my ego at the door and resist the urge to react to situations with anger, defensiveness and using my own very specific life examples as arguments. I’m looking forward to continuing the work in the new year. 


The Perfect Timing Doesn’t Exist. 

This lessons coincides with a very big life milestone that we checked this year, and it was the purchase of our very first house. 

Now, if you were to have known Brian and I in the last 10 years then you will have heard us ripping into the Toronto real estate market. We were both convinced that housing was absolutely ridiculous in the city and that a crash was inevitable. We would study real estate data, read articles that agreed with our views and scoff at those that opposed it. Our plan was to continue to save for a sizable down payment and purchase a property in the city once prices had come down, living with a very small mortgage or even mortgage free. I’ll pause for you to stop laughing. 

Well, after having Benny and trying to make a very small condo with with 2 adults, a baby and a dog work, we threw in the towel and decided to go ahead and start looking for houses. After a few months of house hunting in the city, changing our minds multiple times (from larger condos to two story lofts to eventually houses) we ended up purchasing our very first property in Toronto. We figured that the market had held for so long that it was maybe unshakable. 

Then, exactly a week to the date we bought our first place, the entire world shut down from Covid. To us, a real estate crash was inevitable. 

To say that we were crushed would be an understatement. I know that I felt incredibly stupid for having what we had been prophesying for years happen right after making a commitment. It was a pretty dark time, and added to the already stressful situation of trying to navigate our first lockdown. 

Anyways, long story short, against all odds the housing market held and the crash that we have anticipated as inevitable was avoided (for now at least.) All of that worry and bruised ego for no reason. 

The whole point of this ramble, and the lesson that I’ve taken away from the experience, is that there truly is no such thing as perfect timing. You can try to predict the future as much as you want, but ultimately it’s out of your control and you shouldn’t let what could-be dictate the course of your life. I learned a lesson about risk, and how sometimes taking a risk isn’t such a bad thing. 

Ultimately I’m happy that we waited to buy since we were in a much better position to truly understand what we needed in a property with a child. Would we have been better off financially if we had gotten into the market years earlier? Maybe. Probably. Who knows, you truly can never predict. But I’m learning to trust my gut more, take a chance, make decisions based on myself and my family and less on trying to find the perfect timing to move forward. 




The Perfect Parent Doesn’t Exist. 

Can I tell you a shameful secret? I honestly thought that I had this whole parenting thing nailed at the beginning of 2020. Blessed with a very chilled newborn who loved to sleep and an easygoing, calm baby, I honestly thought that I had the whole motherhood work/life/personal thing on lock and wondered why I ever believed people when they said that parenting was hard. I got ready everyday, showered regularly, wore nice outfits and was killing it at work. Parenting is easy!

Then the pandemic hit, and the village that I had relied on (heavily) to help out with Benny was cut off. Our condo all of a sudden became very small. And then - bam - Benny started crawling andI couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Not even for a second. 

Multitasking became a thing of the past, and I had to scramble to try to get everything done in a day while also wrangling a toddler. It was exhausting and pretty impossible for me. I understood how women struggle with the loss of their identity when they have kids because my entire life was consumed. 

In the end we found a new routine that helps to give me a little more balance, plus having the extra space has made a world of a difference in everyone’s happiness. I’m grateful for the time that I’m able to spend with Benny, and I feel like the whole situation has made me into a much less judgmental parent. I get that ‘this too shall pass’ goes for both the hard and easy times and we’re all just doing our best. 




There’s Beauty in a Slow Life

I fully admit that I subscribed to the culture of ‘busy.’ I was most comfortable in the chaos and felt as though a jammed packed schedule was synonymous with happiness and success. Needless to say, the pandemic really turned that view on its head for me. It took a while, but I’ve really had my eyes opened to the beauty and tranquility that comes with a slower pace of life. How when you cut out all of the noise, you can really see and appreciate what’s most important in life. Family, connecting with yourself and others, good food and laughter. 

Of course the biggest lesson I think that we all took away from this year is that health is truly wealth and to never take your health for granted. I’ve always known this, especially from working in funeral services, but this year really hit it home for me. I think that all of our eyes have been opened. 

So that’s it! My biggest lessons learned in an entire year of lessons, so much so that I could never truly articulate. 2020 is one for the books, that’s for sure. I’m taking everyday as it comes, and look forward to keeping all of the lessons close to heart as we move along. 

What do you guys think? What were some of your biggest lessons learned this year? Did 2020 turn your entire world upside down as well? Let me know!

Xo Joëlle 

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