What I Am Grateful For In 2020

It’s not hard to say: 2020 was not the ideal year we hoped to reign a new decade in. 

As a collective, we faced an unprecedented global event that has caused suffering that will last for generations. Millions of people have devastatingly passed away. 

Our united consciousness has faced a battle with the realities of the world and nature. 

Through it all, we’ve been isolated. We’ve seen people lose jobs, businesses, nonprofits, and communities. Moments people had been working towards for years vanished.

We all had to adjust and face a new reality. With that came a time for re-analysis, self-reflection and a changing perspective of what the world is or could have been. 

This has affected me. I invested a lot to move to Toronto in early January to build a network, join the DMZ, and connect with a whole new community. 

I saw the city I dreamed of moving to turn into a ghost town. As the lockdown emerged, I watched the revenue in my company plummet. More than that, I sadly watched customers and friends I had worked with for years that were reliant on physical locations struggle financially and emotionally with the ramifications of not being able to operate. 

Despite this, through it all, I have been deeply privileged. First, Canada was faced with a tough situation but in my opinion, did try hard to help people. Without Canadian government support, many of us would be struggling a lot more. 

There are things to be grateful for. I’m going to write some of those out now. If you’re working on what you are grateful for in 2020, I hope my list helps you create yours. 

Our Team at Speak Ai

For the past 5 years, I have put a lot of energy into my work. I started my first business SixFive Interactive in 2015. For several years, I struggled alone to figure out all the mechanisms needed to successfully run a company. More than that, I was trying to find out how to successfully run my life.

Those years were hard. At some times I felt like I was dying from stress. But, somehow, one step forward and two steps back, I managed to build some good relationships and a customer base. 

I never really had a team though. I met Vatsal in 2018 and Lorne in 2019. Together we started Speak Ai. I had the privilege of meeting Tim in Toronto before the pandemic began in 2020. 

All of them gave me endless inspiration and support in a difficult time for everyone. They’ve helped me continue to crusade ahead with the confidence there are good people around me and that we are doing something worthwhile.

Lorne, Tim, Vatsal, I am forever grateful for your support this year. 

Moving to Toronto

This was definitely not the Toronto I expected or hoped for. I miss my family and friends a lot and sometimes in moments of frustration I doubt this, but even when shutdown Toronto is a beautiful city that I am glad to have the opportunity to experience.

Vatsal and I moved several times during 2020.

Cabbagetown

We had the chance to live in Cabbagetown, an interesting area close to downtown that somehow reminded me of the small village of Lucan, Ontario and has some of the oldest remaining houses on the continent.

I got to see the unique Allan Gardens Conservatory. 

Harbourfront

We also got to live in a luxury Airbnb at a COVID-19 discounted rate during the summer. I loved living there. I will never forget some of the wonderful walks I had along the water on warm summer days and nights. 

Casa Loma

I’m now out of the downtown core in a charming area near Casa Loma. Although I miss the water I am comfortable and safe. That’s a lot to be grateful for this year.

Family & Friends

Never to be left off this list. My social relationships changed a lot this year. I left London where so many of my family and friends live including the community that’s helped me become who I am at Innovation Works

My grandmother that I cherish deeply was diagnosed with cancer this year. Being in Toronto while she’s gone through surgery and now cautionary chemo treatment has been difficult. 

But, as of today, her treatment has been going well and she is as lively and bright as she can be.  I love you grandma and I am grateful for that.

A New Understanding of Myself

This year has changed my everyday life significantly. Especially when comparing it to the hectic start of moving to Toronto and attending the DMZ and every networking event and meeting I could. 

As meetings stopped and my habits shifted I had the opportunity to learn about myself.

For the first time, I found how much calmer my mind was when I got to refocus and rebuild my morning routine. 

With exercise, tea, incense, instrumental music and limited morning meetings I discovered a happier and more productive me. I am thankful for this discovery. Now that I have found it, I have something to hold sacred that I know will help as we move in 2021. 

Love

In 2020 I was in love. Like everything else this year, it was challenging and forced you to examine yourself. A lot of times I didn’t see something I liked. But every time that was revealed it presented an opportunity to be better and kinder to my partner, others, and myself.

It is better to have loved than to never love at all. I am grateful for the love. 

The Psychedelic Community

That was a monumental year for the psychedelic community. The awareness, curiosity, acceptance and drive to integrate psychedelics into our society grew immensely.

I have had the honour to connect with members of this community. They have brought me joy, peace, positivity, and optimism. 

From Therapsil to the Canadian Psychedelic Association to MAPS Canada to London’s own Forest City Psychedelic Community, there is goodness. 

2021 should continue to bear the fruits of years of amazing hard work by indigenous communities, scientists, researchers, nonprofits, businesses and more. 

Rapid-Fire

I got to go to Vancouver for the first time ever. It is just as incredible as everyone says it is. 

NRC-IRAP helped us do a research project that helped us continue to invest in technology we believe can support many.

Over 500 people signed up on Speak Ai! That is a lot of people. There is still a lot of work to do but that is humbling and amazing. 

We developed a dashboard for Speak that has positively impacted my own life and I know can impact others. 

We got to interview with Y Combinator. Although we’re not accepted into the accelerator, that was a longtime dream I didn’t expect to come true.

We made money from our software! I’ve wanted that to happen for years and in 2020 we actually had people we didn’t know at the start of the year sign up and start paying for Speak. There were some huge milestones here for me. 

I survived. I am still here. Many of us didn’t have this privilege. I still get to work on what I am passionate about. I am able to take the risks. I get to be myself. I am alive.

Thanks so much for checking this out. I’ll be back to improve this content for you.

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