Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022
Happy New Year! We hope you had some time to relax and recharge during the holiday season.
We are finally back after taking a much needed break. Heidi and I took some time off to decompress, relax, and spend time with our families. During the break, we did things that made us happy inside, tried to focus on the present moment only and not worry about planning too far into the future. We could definitely use more time to recharge (with a side order of tropical beach and sun), but we are rested and embracing what’s ahead of us in 2022.
When we reflect back on 2021, Heidi and I have accomplished so much with Gather 33 - our preparation to expand our product line, relaunch in July, multiple lifestyle photoshoots that made us look like we were leaving town, planning and executing multiple promotions, establishing new partnerships, welcoming new customers and new friends. We are so grateful to have you join our journey and for your support. It was a busy and exciting year that fueled our drive to keep going. It was also a year that really challenged us personally as we tried to navigate our lives during the pandemic.
After a year of difficulties and uncertainties due to Covid-19 in 2020 that tested us beyond measure, I think our expectations were sky-high for 2021. We fantasized about having some normalcy back in our lives, especially having kids return to school after a year and a half of online learning at home. How much more productive our lives would be in 2021 to go out freely without fear and get things done. Turns out, even with a brief period of relative normalcy, it was another challenging year with continuation of restrictions, searching for vaccination time slots for the family and our parents, and once again navigating through uncertainties and making hard decisions for our children as a family.
I went through a surgery with a recovery period that was so much harder and longer than what I had anticipated, during one of the busiest times of the year. Then when that was nearing the end, I lost a beloved friend whom I didn't get to see enough during the pandemic, in the name of safety. There were so many emotions that came with the loss. Sadness, anger, regret and fear all came to me at once, but I had to bottle it away until I could find the time to process it. Everyone processes their emotions and challenges differently and I think this was my way of dealing with hard things in life. I’ve been passively waiting for that perfect time, where I’d have all the time in the world to process all those bottled up emotions freely. That day actually never came naturally. It did come however in bits, only when I made the time to truly grieve and process - after the sadness became so unbearable and overwhelming. Now I know that bottling those emotions was not the healthiest way to deal with hard things.
Looking back in 2021, both Heidi and I had delayed taking breaks we really needed by telling ourselves “after this month… after this shop promo… after kids go back to school in person…” It wasn’t until the holidays came and we both experienced one of the most stressful times, when we realized it was time to slow down. We realize now that it was another reminder that things never really quiet down in life and that we should always take breaks before we even feel the need to slow down. So at the end of December, we really did just that. Disconnected from work, kept work discussions and decision making at minimal and sent each other funny memes and reels.
Thank goodness for the break we took to recharge, because 2022 January had a real surprise waiting for us. Ontario students had entered another round of online learning, shut down of in-person dining, gyms, other businesses and increased restrictions in social gatherings. For many of us, this was a little bit harder than the previous restrictions, because we were just starting to feel hopeful with some normalcy back in our lives.
I reached my breaking point after the announcement. The thought of the possibility of us repeating March 2020 was really hard to fight off and it has been hard to stay positive. After hitting one of the lowest points, there’s only one thing I’ve been focusing on since then: self-kindness.
It meant telling myself it’s ok to not have special New Year’s resolutions, to not think about what I need to do next, and to not have a long term game plan. It also meant that it’s ok to wear earphones while working next to my children during their online learning, and letting them have more screen time while I take my walks outside. Self-kindness. Just letting myself be, and supporting me like you’re supporting your BFF. We are our own worst critics sometimes and there isn't any room for that right now. Make space to be compassionate for yourself, just like how you would be for your loved ones.
For Gather 33, while we still focus on setting our goals for 2022 and figure out the creative and fun ways to hit those goals, we are making space in our lives to slow down. Instead of growing our goals and tasks, we are prioritizing our most important goals and pushing quality work around it. This mentality also goes for our personal and family lives. I’m already cutting down on the daily to-do lists so that I can prioritize what’s really important in my life, feel good checking things off that realistic list and have time to step back and see the big picture. Learning to set ourselves for success and being kind to ourselves.
In the next two weeks, we will be sharing ways to focus on self-kindness and share what brings us joy. We are so excited to open the discussion with you and be brave together to talk about mental health to support and lift each other up.