A light blue paint blob with text that reads "2018: Thanks for the memories"

Let’s chat about the glorious year that was 2018

This past year has been an absolute whirlwind! From professional highs and lows to personal triumphs, I felt I owed it to myself to write a retrospective piece on what 2018 was all about. More so in an effort to have a log of everything I was able to accomplish next time I’m in a rut and don’t think I can do something.

Here we go!


January was by far the lowest point of the year, and it’s not because of the grey skies and shitty weather. I found myself struggling with the immense workload and planning of various centennial projects PLUS I was battling pneumonia and some other things. Needless to say, this didn’t help my bi-polar or borderline personality disorders (I know, what a lovely combo). Thanks to the help from my amazing co-workers and husband, I was able to pull myself through and watch the year turn itself around.

By February, I was finally able to kick things into high gear with the CNIB Century of Change Awards program. With my colleagues across the country, we were able to honour over 1,000 volunteers, donors and other stakeholders with a commemorative medal as part of the CNIB 100 campaign. While the awards were given out up to September, getting that beast of a project up and running was a huge accomplishment for me.

But the biggie, the mother of all months was March. The anniversary month of the CNIB’s centennial was filled with events, media relations, commemorative you name its, and of course, our national celebration at the War Museum in Ottawa. While some may not see this blog post, I want to give a big, huge, ginormous shout out to Diana, Maria, Shampa, Victoria, Thomas and Diane. You six are my heart and soul at work; you kept me going when I thought all hope was lost; and you guys will always have a special place in my heart. ALWAYS!

Three women smiling at the camera in a crowded venue.

Seeing everyone’s hard work come together for a night of celebration, that went off without a hitch might I add, actually brought a tear to my eye (I really hope no one saw cry that night lol). I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out winter.

Please note: We were so tired by the end of this event, don’t judge the blurry photo!


Spring brought on my final centennial event – the international CNIB 100 celebration held at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. This bad boy felt like my redemption song. I made sure to learn from all my missteps with the first event and, with my Fab Six by my side, the event was a huge success!!! This event gave me my confidence back. Until then, I was struggling with a serious case of imposter syndrome, and legitimately felt like I couldn’t/didn’t know how to do my job. I know it may sound silly now, but back then, I couldn’t see through the clouds. That’s a saying, right? If not, it is now!

Anyway, May was also when I got to attend CNIB’s Emerging Leaders program for the second year in a row. This is, by far, one of my favourite weeks of the year! I get to reconnect with colleagues from across the country, build my leadership skills, and have thought-provoking discussions about how we can make the organization better. Oh, and I found out that my nickname is “Media Monitoring Girl”.

A group of people and guide dogs stand in front of the Ottawa sign.

And to be real, these leaders are more than just colleagues, they’re friends. It’s the best feeling in the world when you can walk into a room and be surrounded by people who are just as passionate as you are about the organization and its mission. Yes, I nerd out about this stuff.


OK, this is starting to feel like the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix. The summer was a time for me to focus on, well, me. We’re talking doctor visits, self-care and just trying to relax and reflect.

Dave Forde and I post for a photo with a certifcate

Professionally, I had my biggest career achievement to that point. I was honoured by PR in Canada with their PR Practitioner of the Year: Non-Profit AND was listed on their Top 40 Under 40 list. I mean, SAY WHAT?! After accepting the honours, I made a B-line to an empty room, called my mom and cried tears of joy on the phone. True story.


Ah yes, let’s chat about the last few months. HOLY CRAP SO MUCH HAPPENED!!!! The best way for me to do this is with a list because, well, lists are fun:

  • Helped launch CNIB’s new strategic plan “Bold Dreams, Bright Futures” and the Phone It Forward program (if you have a used phone, DONATE IT!);
  • My in-laws came to visit after not seeing them for FIVE DAMN YEARS! I missed them so much!!;
  • I turned 32…Yet I still keep telling people I’m either 31 or 33, which basically means I’ll never remember my real age ever again;
  • Edith turned one and Agnes turned four (where is time going?!);
  • I helped organize the first-ever CNIB Guide Dogs graduation ceremony (You really need to check out the cuteness!);
  • Got a promotion (woo hoo!); and….

Drum roll please….

A curved glass plaque with engraved text: "PR News' - PR People Awards 2018 - Honourable Mention - PR Professional of the Year: Nonprofit/Association - Matisse Hamel-Nelis - CNIB"

Hello honourable mention from PR News’ PR People Awards in the PR Professional of the Year: Nonprofit/Association category! I was up against heavyweights in the PR industry from across North America. Being the only Canadian finalist was a huge thing for me, let alone getting an honourable mention. This girl from Oshawa, Ont., must be doing something right!

But at the end of the day, what this year has taught me is to believe in myself and my abilities. Before 2018 happened, if you had told me everything I would have accomplished, I’m pretty sure the exact words I would have been “You’re fucking crazy!”. But here we are, near the end of the year, and I’ve been able to accomplish all of this. For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say I’m proud of myself.

To those who had to endure my whining, self-doubt, sadness, happiness, excitement, all the damn ups and downs, I love you to the moon and back! Thank you for putting up with me. I wouldn’t have been able to get through this year without you.

Here’s to toasting away 2018, and welcoming 2019 with open arms.

Until next time!

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