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There's not much I can say about this year that hasn’t already been said, meme’d about, or expressed in every way imaginable. We have all spent the better part of the last 12 months trying to process what has been one of the most challenging and unexpected years of our lives. It may take us years to fully process and has altered the course of our lives in ways we can’t possibly even know yet. 

That being said, as I reflect on the passage of time, endings, and beginnings, the end of 2020 has me feeling pensive but grateful. Here’s what I’m remembering from the year that will soon be behind us.

This year, before the pandemic started, I opened my first brick-and-mortar store.

 I started the year off by getting the keys to what would become my first brick-and-mortar and embarking on the buildout of my first store. This remains one of the most difficult, expensive, and creatively rewarding projects to date. It threw me right into the fire. Stress, anxiety, and conflict were close companions in the five or so weeks of the buildout. 

The store opening party was a huge success—and a wonderful reminder to pause and celebrate your hard work in any way that feels exuberant and authentic to you. It was a night of pure bliss and pride. I couldn’t have known then how much I’d need to hold on to those feelings in the months that followed.

By now you know what’s coming next: lockdown came just a month after I opened the shop. I was convinced, in those early days of the pandemic, that my business would fail and that this was it for me. I didn’t want that to happen. I got resilient and creative, and I pivoted where I needed to. 

This year more than ever, my customers showed me that my products help them feel comforted, connected to self, and cared for, and they showed me that they valued not just my products, but Smoke as a brand. Because of your support, my business and my store are still here, and with a more committed focus on giving back and community care.

I made space for the darkness and the light.

 My own unlearning and re-educating took me to new places I needed to go. I got very familiar with my own shadow, and my own healing work and sacred rituals took me to some dark corners of grief, acceptance, and release. 

I learned from others. I tightened my boundaries. I thought about what the pursuit of pleasure right now could look like. I deeply missed being in community with people I love and respect this year, and I learned to sit with those feelings.

My partner of 10 years and I leaned on each other more than ever before, and our relationship solidified. We decided to get married—and to do so in this year of loss, uncertainty, and heartbreak. We got married on December 5. Our ceremony was intimate, thoughtful, and perfect, and I will always be grateful for that memory in the midst of such a hard year.

I am celebrating being alive at the end of 2020, and I hope you are too.

 It was a complex year of hard work, growth, grief, loss, joy, and love. In my own life, I try my best to refrain from binary thinking, or black-and-white thinking. This year is no different. Life exists in the grey, and nuance exists in everything. Critical thinking allows me to release reactivity and to find more space for the truth. 

I feel a sense of hopefulness going into the new year, and I also recognize that many of the problems and challenges of this last year will follow us into 2021. I am giving myself permission to rest deeply right now, and to celebrate being alive (a privilege many lost this year), knowing that 2021 will be another year of transformative work. 

Thank you so much for all of your support. I truly appreciate you.