LIFESTYLE | Looking Back at 2021 (It Was Kind of a Crazy One)

I often refer back to my previous year's post for 2020 just to see where my head was at and now a year later, I feel like not a lot has changed AND that the world has changed. When I wrote my post last year, there was no vaccine for me yet and now after two doses and a booster to come, I don't feel quite as afraid, but now we have the Omicron variant to deal with. I think at some point, no matter how careful I am I will probably catch it as this variant seems to be much more infectious, but thankfully survivable for most. This past year has been somewhat dystopian in feel with the world being divided over vaccinations, vaccine passports and government mandates and I am thankful that most of my friends and family are fairly rational people. 

Those of you who have known me for awhile know that my background is as a scientist and though I'm not a "vaccine specialist", I am PRO-vaccine in every way. These are incredible discoveries in science and technology so why anyone would have doubts like "we don't know what's in them or how they work" is beyond me. It is so well studied and the "machinery" that has been created to work with our immune system is truly a work of art. Biology and science change so quickly that we are literally part of history right now as we live through COVID so when people get upset about restrictions changing and information changing and think they are being lied to may not really be true. Yes, things can definitely be handled better, but viruses and diseases evolve so quickly. What works one month might not work the next. Imagine living through measles and polio! Except now, with social media it's much easier to spread misinformation or for those on the fringe to find each other and cause more of a stir. Thankfully, my husband and I are on the same page when it has come to COVID and I look at it all in a very simple way. Vaccination was only meant to decrease the intensity of disease if infected and lighten the load on the healthcare system. What has been challenging is hearing my own family members tell me they won't get vaccinated and would prefer to socially distance "until this is over". So, they acknowledge that COVID exists and is scary, but don't want to accept a readily available solution. That has probably been the most difficult thing for me to accept. We have already clashed on so many other things, but this is the straw that is currently breaking the camel's back and is something I am working on resolving internally because it does not look like I can do anything more on my end other than accept. 

I had seven goals/things to aim for last year:

  1. Use an accomplishment/memory jar
  2. Focus More on Local Brands and Brands Who Have Been Supportive  
  3. Read more
  4. Learn to cook alone more often
  5. Max out my TFSA and RRSP contributions
  6. Give positive feedback where possible
  7. Watch 50 movies I have never seen

Accomplishment/Memory Jar

I was already somewhat on the edge for continuing with this one and I decided not to continue with it for 2020 and have no plans for doing this for 2021. I felt like 2021 was about surviving and finding joy in the small things and though I had some small accomplishments in my day job as well as learning new crafts like paper quilling, for now I don't really feel like keeping track in a jar anymore. I will not be making this a goal for 2022.

Local Brands

While I still try to keep my purchasing to a relative minimum especially when it comes to beauty, I kind of threw caution to the wind when it has come to my new past time of Lego. In the last year, I have become quite the collector and will soon run out of space in our apartment. Thankfully, I have some shelves at work as we all like to play with Lego there as well. I also don't want our entire apartment decorated solely with Lego, but at this point it's starting to look that way! I still try to purchase from local brands if I can with my favourite brands still being Jojo's Bath Bombs (Ottawa), Phytosurgence (Vancouver), Sheertex (Montreal), Okoko Cosmetiques (Vancouver), Kilig Candle Co. (Vancouver) and a new brand YVR Cookie (Vancouver)! We also try to do takeout from local restaurants once a week (we usually prefer to cook so this is a treat for us as well!) and I try to give positive reviews where I can. I don't see the need to make this a goal as it has become more or less part of our daily routine.

As for blogging about supportive brands, I just got really tired this year and it has been hard to find the motivation to blog huge posts like I used to do. I wish I had the energy, but I have been enjoying doing other hobbies in my spare time. I still try to aim for at least 10 blog posts each month just as a personal goal, but I haven't been paying much attention to which brands they are unless it's something I agreed to do before accepting product (few and far between). I will not be making this a goal for 2022.

Read More

I had a goal to read 25 books which I loved keeping track of on Goodreads and for the FIRST time ever since 2011, met and then surpassed my goal! Blogging and scrolling my life away on social media took away a lot the time I normally used to read and to be honest, I read the most when I was in school because I didn't have data on my phone so what else was there to do but either study or read something fun! 2011 was the year I graduated and I read 32 books that year and when I looked back at my previous Goodreads challenges, the last time I read more than 15 books was in 2012 so as I write this, I am at 27 books read which is an insane accomplishment for me! The pandemic definitely made me more of a reader even when I went back to work as I really tried hard to carve out time while having a bath or on days off with my morning coffee to read even just a few chapters. My new goal is to read 35 books for 2022!

Watch 100 Movies (50 I Have Not Seen Before)

This was a goal I added in for 2021 and I am glad I did! It has been incredibly fun opening up my palette as I tend to watch the same type of movies over and over again. Never in a million years would I have watched a movie like Nomadland or No Country for Old Men even though I knew they were Oscar-buzzed about and wouldn't you know it, I enjoyed them! I also watched The Usual Suspects and finally understand all of the jokes about Keyser Soze! I still have MANY more classics to watch especially movies with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (I watched Heat on and off) and now I have another year to broaden my horizons. My original goal was just watch 50 movies I had NEVER seen before and then when I hit it over the summer, I increased it to 70 (I ended the year at 86 movies I had NEVER seen) which I have achieved so I will keep the goal at 100 movies with AT LEAST 50 of those movies being ones I have not seen before. 

Cook on My Own More Often

I wanted to continue to hone my cooking skills and because my husband works from home, he usually is the one to get the meal going and often finishes it by the time I get home around 6:30pm. I help out whenever I can or cook when he's playing D&D with his friends online, but I am getting home from work later and later so this is a skill I will continue to work on without forcing myself to constantly cook alone. I will not be making this a goal for 2022, but will continue to cook and learn where I can.

Positive Feedback

I never really went out much in 2021 so I didn't interact with many business other than online, but the few places I have done take out from or eaten at, I have taken the time to leave a review. My husband and I went out to Gotham Steakhouse for our anniversary in October and enjoyed the service we received (we always do) so I made sure I left a review on Open Table right away so I wouldn't forget the details. I think the review ended up being a few hundred words so I definitely went all out and made sure I wrote down the server's name so that the review was as complete as possible. Though I will not be making this an outright goal for this year, leaving a constructive review for a business I have interacted with will continue to be something I strive to do.

Max Out My TFSA and RRSP Contributions

Still got a long ways to go on this, but my dad setup (he's a financial planner) an automated debit in June that took out $500 each month for my TFSA. It's not a lot, but I wanted to keep the amount relatively manageable in case an emergency came up and I needed to pay for a crazy car or vet fee. We also decided that we should look at finally buying a place in the next 2-3 years which is what the TFSA will be for. This year, I have put aside almost $12,000 towards my TFSA and have saved a total of 54.7% of my paycheck compared to 37.6% in 2020! I have been keeping track of my spending in a spreadsheet and I feel really proud of myself for being able to save for the future, still enjoy life with some shopping as well as have some funds donated to charity. I still have at least 5 more years to go when it comes to maxing out both the TFSA and RRSP contributions unless I make a really big sale at work, but I will continue to plug away. I think I will need to be even more careful with my spending if I want to hit this goal by the time I am 45. I want to set aside at least 40% of my paycheck next year for both the TFSA and RRSPs.

I will add just ONE goal this year and that is to Diversify my Blog Posts so maybe I'll share what I have been crafting or building LEGO-wise. Other than that, I will not be adding any new goals this year as I feel like just maintaining what I have pledged to do is going to be a challenge as is so I don't want to stretch myself too thin. There are little things that I am working on like saving for a new car, a place and furniture for the living room, but making a goal like "Organize Living Room" seems so unappealing and stressful to me that though it's something I would like to do, I also don't want to beat myself up if it doesn't happen. This goes for blogging as well. I would love to get back up to my 20 posts a month, but realistically, I don't wear as much makeup and I have been very turned off by PR companies and their conduct in the last two years. As many have said, I am definitely experiencing some level of "beauty fatigue" and I have felt less and less obligated to post about products as it just doesn't feel "right" anymore. Not saying I don't enjoy beauty, but things do not excite me in the same way as they did two years ago which I am sure I am not alone in feeling. I think it's just a new phase that I am entering into and instead of fighting it, I will be embracing it.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year this first day of 2022! May this year be a year we survive and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Stay healthy, safe and cautiously optimistic of what is to come!

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