/ / 2020 – It wasn’t all bad…

2020 – It wasn’t all bad…

Oh 2020…You were supposed to be a year of great things for so many people, but instead, you gave us wildfires, murder hornets, a seemingly never-ending U.S. election and, of course, COVID-19, just to name a few things. But as the year that seemingly felt like 50 years winds down, I’m looking back at at the positives that came from it. The firsts, the milestones, the changes, growths and well, just the overall good that I’m hoping to remember from what was easily the wildest year ever.

As we rIng in 2020, I made a resolution to be open to trying new things that were outside of my comfort zone. I had always wanted to do certain things, but I had been afraid of them all these years. So I thought that 2020 would be the year I’d change all of that. And while the year decided to through in a few curveballs, to say the least, I was still able to check some things off my bucket list.

So you think you can dance?

Ever since I was little, I always wanted to dance. My older Italian cousins, Arianna and Valeria, used to dance, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Well, as a child, I never got to do it, but as an adult, I took the leap and sashayed my way into a dance class. Thanks to Army of Sass Durham, now known as Durham Heels Dance, I took part in weekly dance classes until the pandemic shut it down. Not only that, what I didn’t realize when I signed up for the class was that there was going to be a recital held in April. Obviously, this was cancelled due to the pandemic. Still, if it had been able to happen, then I would have been not only dancing in front of the most supportive group of women I’ve ever met but also in front of an auditorium full of people.

Me. Dancing. In front of people and not just a mirror. And while I was terrified about doing it, I was also really excited. It was completely outside of my comfort zone and I was all in!

I swear I’m in this video! Take a look at the top left-hand corner, and you’ll see me in all my not-so graceful glory!

I’m sexy and I finally know it

Well, isn’t that a bold heading! OK, the back story…I’ve always thought women who did boudoir shoots looked ridiculously sexy, confident and badass. So, as my 34th birthday was approaching I decided it was time for me to feel that way too. I talked about the experience with Provocateur Images in a post already, but this was something I did not see coming when we started 2020. It took a lot for me to bite the bullet and check this off my bucket list, but to be honest, it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my self-confidence!

Collage of four photos from my boudoir shoot where I'm confident in my skin and smiling.
This was probably the most significant moment of 2020 for me because of everything it gave me. I loved this boudoir shoot, and I can’t wait to do it again. Provocateur Images – I can’t thank you enough!

Hello, I’m Matisse and I’m here to talk to you about…

Something 2020 helped me embrace was public speaking. While I had spoken at a conference in 2019, I wanted 2020 to be a year of applying and, hopefully, speaking at various conferences. Thanks to COVID, a lot of conferences were downsized or cancelled because of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and all that other stuff. But I still managed to be a speaker at the 2020 CNIB Connecting the Dots conference, where I spoke to folks about creating accessible social media content.

And while some of the other conferences I applied to didn’t pan out, it only made my want to be able to present at them one day that much stronger. We’ll see what 2021 holds, but for 2020, I can’t thank it enough for helping me out of my shell and really putting myself out there.

I hope that I’ll get to speak at next year’s conference, but this year, with COVID-19 and it being virtual, the CNIB Foundation’s Connecting the Dots Conference was the perfect fit for me!

The year of three job titles

In a year that saw so much loss, I’m very fortunate to be ending 2020 with not just a job, but with a role I’m beyond excited for. I started the year as a manager of employee experience and engagement, but as the pandemic hit, our marketing and communications department needed more support and my role changed to manager of internal and accessible communications. Now, while both of those things are incredibly near and dear to my heart when it comes to communications and PR, I was left feeling like I was missing something in my professional life. I wasn’t feeling stimulated or challenged.

When the opportunity arose to be the project manager for inclusive workplaces, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I applied, went through the rigorous interview process and, in late October, took on the role. This position encompasses everything I love and more! Each day I’m learning something new, and I feel reconnected to my organization. Plus, I get to work with one of the best teams ever. I’m thrilled to see what 2021 has in stock for us!

He loves me, and I love him more

Peter smiling for the camera and pointing to the mug he's holding that reads "I'm a fucking delight"
This man is my everything, and I thank God every day that he’s mine.

Thanks to the chaos that 2020 brought into our lives, I found myself reconnecting and falling more in love with Peter. I’ll admit, 2019 wasn’t our best year, but we worked really hard at making 2020 our year of love, happiness and silly good times. I found my voice and was able to express what I needed in the relationship and he was able to do the same. More than 10 years together, and we had always struggled to do that. We found ourselves bottling up feelings and emotions until we burst. But not in 2020. We made it our mission to put each other first while being open to feeling uncomfortable and raw with our emotions and what we needed.

To be honest, this was probably the hardest for me, but my God, it’s made me fall more deeply in love with him all the while feeling more safe and secure in our relationship. I find myself randomly looking at him more and more and just feeling this whoosh of love and amazement that this incredible human picked me and has stayed by me through thick and thin. I know, this is a bit mushy, but I needed to put it out there hahaha.

Boundaries aren’t a bad thing

Finally, while my romantic life evolved for the better, some of my other relationships changed too, and that’s OK. Something I’ve learned through years of therapy is setting boundaries is an important part to healthy relationships. Well, some folks in my life had become accustomed to walking all over me and manipulating situations, but this year, I found myself setting boundaries with them to help better protect myself. And, you know what, I lost some of those relationships. And the most surprising part? Losing them felt like major weights lifted from my shoulders and I didn’t feel guilty about the loss.

This is HUGE for me! I usually feel super guilty and do anything I possibly can to repair the relationship. However, this year, a new, stronger and more self-caring Matisse emerged. I knew these relationships were toxic to me in one way or another and having now cut ties, I find myself feeling freer and happier than ever before.

Sometimes, goodbyes are what you need in your life, and that’s OK!

So, what’s next?

While it may have been a bitch of a year, there were some definite positives for me. As I get ready to welcome 2021 with open arms, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey of personal growth and happiness. I’ve got another tattoo on my mind, reconnecting with old friends, and continuing on this healthy lifestyle change I started. Oh, I guess I didn’t talk about that here. That will have to be for another post 😉

Until next time, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a fabulous 2021!

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