Even though we’re certainly ALL looking forward to 2022 and the new year is finally here, one shouldn’t forget the good things about 2021. For our team, there were dozens upon dozens of these to cherish, from favourite tunes to milestone moments despite the ongoing pandemic.
As per UpFront Ottawa tradition, discover the best of 2021 in the opinion of our individual team members. We wanted to ensure everyone had a chance to chime in, and therefore there are many categories this time around including the following:
- Songs Stuck on Repeat
- Applause-Worthy Albums
- Memorable Moments
- Personal Accomplishments
- Folks in Our Lives Who Make Life Better
- Pawtastic Pet Profiles (with Pictures!)
- Must-See Films
- Binge-Worthy TV Shows
- Greatest Gaming Experiences
- Books We Can’t Put Down
- Hobbies We’re Hooked On
- Foodies’ Favourites
- Things We Learned this Year
- Quotes that Inspire Us
- Goals for 2022
Without further ado, let’s get cracking on listing the team’s recommendations. We hope some of them inspire you, make you laugh or smile, and encourage you to make the most of 2022 regardless of what we need to endure!
Songs Stuck on Repeat
“Anything from Montana of 300 or Polo G.”
“Phoenix by Charlotte Cardin.”
“Armin Van Buuren – State Of Trance
Tiesto – Adiago For Strings
Squid Game Theme Song Remix”
“Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits
Lana Del Rey – Wildflower Wildfire
Lorde – Solar Power”
“Quiet Town by the Killers”
“Keep an Eye on Dan – ABBA
Quattro – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Pittance – Karl Boltzmann”
“Forever – Lewis Capaldi
Good 4 You – Olivia Rodrigo
Sad people – Kid Cudi”
“Good 4 U by O-Rod (don’t judge)”
“Olivia Rodrigo songs (all of them!)”
“Hall of Fame – Polo G”
“Phoenix by Charlotte Cardin and Justice by Justin Bieber – two Canadian legends :)”
“Hans Zimmerman – Batman Soundtracks
Drake & Future – What A Time To Be Alive”
“Lana Del Rey – Blue Banisters
Lorde – Solar Power
Marina – Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land”
“Pressure Machine by the Killers
Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender”
“Raise the Roof – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Voyage – ABBA
“Sour – Olivia Rodrigo”
“Luke Bryan: Kill The Lights”
“After Hours – The Weekend”
“Anything and everything that involved being social again.”
“Playing Hockey In Australia, South Korea, and many cities in China, especially at the Great Wall.
Getting my first backlink for one of our clients.
Austin blocking my shot at ball hockey.”
“Picking up my puppy in August.”
“Annual strawberry picking trip/cidery tour/sightseeing/visiting family in the Port Hope, Ontario area with by husband and ever-screaming beagle. Also completing my home office renovations for work after over a year, a longtime dream as a restless creative.”
“Did anything actually happen? Does leaving the house finally count?”
“When I almost lost my eye in ball hockey. That was fun.”
“Holding my Golden Retriever pup for the first time!”
“Moving to Vancouver!”
“Learned a new language.
Lost 45 pounds.
Read the most books this year.”
“Getting my first puppy (Boston Terrier named Banjo).”
Becoming Web Design Lead.”
“Getting married and buying our first house!”
“Making it to 2022. In all seriousness, buying a house finally.”
“1st place in Fantasy Football. It was a vanilla year.”
“I received three scholarships this year and got three promotions! Lucky number 3, I guess?”
“Being able to open my own Etsy shop to sell my art and seeing people applauding my work and buying from me :)”
“A fiction manuscript that is now in its third revision. I’m currently working on queries and proposal documents, and 2022 will comprise of a lot of pitching! I suppose one could classify the project as upmarket fiction with LGBTQ, suspense, and psychological horror undertones. Growing as a writer takes priority, making this a crucial project.
Folks in Our Lives Who Make Life Better
“The seoplus+ family, my Ottawa local artist community, my four-legged friend Blinky, and my partner Maulik.”
“My sister-in-law Faith is one of the most inspirational, motivating, likable people I have ever met! My grandpops who is an incredible person and deep thinker, and wrote an exhaustively researched family history this year that I had the honour and pleasure to read and edit. My aunt Yvette who makes a tremendous impact in the community with her mental health initiatives. And finally my mom, who awes me every day with her strength, especially this year as she navigated deep loss. I am surrounded by a remarkable family.
“Rory makes my life better.”
“Jess Coghlan and Aaron Sander.”
“My husband, Alifonso, along with our beloved bebe, Coco, and my best friend, Samantha.
Not to mention everyone with the brains to get vaccinated, and all healthcare-related workers including my spouse.”
Anyone who battled adversity and became victorious as an underdog.”
“My supportive partner, my family (including my new niece Charlie), and my friends.”
“My family, friends and work pals!”
Pawtastic Pet Profiles (with Pictures!)
Banjo, Boston Terrier, Age 6 Months
Wesley, Mini Labradoodle and Loml, Age 5
Coco, Beagle, Age 3.5, Approximately 78% Peanut Butter and Cheese (View Instagram)
Harry and Tommy (View Instagram)
Blinky, Golden Retriever (View Instagram)
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”
“- All the Christopher Nolan Batman films
– Any Given Sunday”
“- Red Notice
“100% Dune. The new one… not that weird old one.”
“- The Dark Knight
– The Departed
– The Prestige
(I’m not sure how you wouldn’t enjoy these)”
“– Being the Ricardos (Nicole Kidman nailed it as the real Lucille Ball- why does everyone expect it to be a comedy?!?!)
– No Time to Die
– Let Them All Talk (a gem of a film, filmed completely unscripted/improvised during a crossing on the Queen Mary 2!
– Eames: The Architect and the Painter (can be found on YouTube and I’ve had it on repeat all year – incredible life lessons to be found in here regarding play and creativity. Highly recommend to everyone – check out the trailer below (and the documentary) if you’re at all into design, creating, or even improving your work ethic!”
Binge-Worthy TV Shows
“Mare of Easttown, Only Murders in the Building, American Crime Story: Impeachment, and SURVIVOR!!”
“Queer as Folk – how have I missed out on this for so long?!? The Queen’s Gambit is also an unforgettable experience. Beautifully acted and shot. And again, I highly recommend both Beastars and Castlevania (Netflix) if you’re into anime.
Also as a car freak, I’m really digging Rust Valley Restorers. Alternatively, as an interior design enthusiast, I’m obsessed with The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes and the banter between its two awesome hosts (Caroline Quentin FTW).
Lastly, The Morning Show season 2 was bloody excellent. I’m sad that it will be a while before the next one.”
“- Ted Lasso
– Murdock Mysteries”
“Peaky Blinders is the GOAT show right now.”
“- The Wire
– It Is Always Sunny In Philadelphia
“- You – Season 3
– The White Lotus
“Selling Sunsets + Selling Tampa, Explained, Ozark, and YOU”
Greatest Gaming Experiences
Without a doubt, Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade on PS5. Super accessible even to those unfamiliar with the series, unforgettable characters and writing, retina-searingly-good visuals, and one of those experiences that I’ll remember for many, many years to come. Right up there with Pokemon Silver, The Sims 1, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in terms of my favourites.
Otherwise, DOOM Eternal was so ridiculously intense that it broke my controller (not me, I swear lol), and Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a nightly ritual in our household since my husband and myself now both own a Nintendo Switch (quite jealous that he chose the new OLED one, heh).
“NHL 22 and Halo: Infinite”
“- Catan Cities & Knights
– Cosmic Encounter Battles
– Winning Texas Holdem Poker”
“- Mario Party Superstars (Nintendo Switch)
– Super Mario Odyssey”
“Mariokart Wii will always be a classic.”
“We just bought Xbox and still exploring, but loving the Halo and It Takes Two games!”
Books We Can’t Put Down
“- The Dynamic Path – Jame M Citrin
– Winning – Tim Crover
– Relentless – Tim Crover
– Rich Dad Poor Dar – Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
– Never Split The Difference – Chris Voss”
“Not released this year but Roots by Alex Haley and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson were my favourite non-work reads this year. I also really liked the Don Winslow epic The Power Of the Dog.”
“Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian”
“I’ve read one book and it’s The Hunger Games.”
Hobbies We’re Hooked On
Inspired by the documentary “Eames: The Architect and the Painter” and the invaluable work/life/play/create lessons of Charles and Ray Eames, I dug out the childhood tote of LEGO (initially only to sort pieces). But oh dear. Oh no. It’s happening again. Now the newly released Sonic the Hedgehog and retired/rare Pirates of Barracuda Bay sets are on their way. Send help, preferably along with spare brick separators.
Otherwise, as per usual, my fiction writing and various other creative outlets take precedence. I’m also getting into plants and our house is slowly being taken over by them, but we can pin that one on my husband and his humidified cabinet of Silver Dragons.”
– Content Creation
– Digital Marketing
– Whiskey Tasting
“Playing music on the keyboard”
“Working out at least once a day, whether that’s weightlifting, biking, or walking. I am also hooked on reading (I have read every single day, 52 books in 2021!)”
“Paint by numbers. Reduces stress and you end up with a piece of art after!”
“Big into Escape Rooms right now.”
“Cooking (MAJOR foodie alert) and bread making (+ cinnamon buns included). Also, I got into biking at the beginning of the pandemic (second summer out this year), super fun to race through the Ottawa streets!”
“Tamales, Thai Express, unforgettably succulent wines from Pelee Island, and DAVID’S TEEEEEEEEEEA!”
– Korean BBQ
– Breakfast Sandwich From Sanguiccio”
“The Canadian Salad aka POUTINE!”
“- Sansotei Ramen
– The Works
“Beef Wellington, which has become a post-Christmas tradition in our house.”
“Taco Bell. I’m not the right guy to ask this question.”
“TikTok viral tortilla wrap!”
Things We Learned this Year
“- New digital marketing skills
– Dieting/meal prep
– Meditation is a must
– Going for walks every day is also a must
– ALWAYS BUY THE DIP!“
“- When you order furniture in December, don’t expect it until February at the earliest (looking at you, Herman Miller and Must Société… this wait is driving me cRaZy!)
– LEGO is bloody expensive! No wonder my parents pretended not to hear me when I was a kid.
– Don’t wait for an agent or for a lit mag to respond to a submission. Keep moving, or you won’t get anywhere.
– Beagles are English. Therefore, should you leave a delicious English muffin brekkie by the wayside, there’s a higher chance of it being inhaled by the local house hippo. And pizza slices. And roast beef. Anything, really, at this point.”
– Also, I learned that I don’t need to try to do everything at once/on my own/say yes all the time, and that a writer should never seek out perfection but rather the ability to enjoy and be inspired by what they do. Some folks can be counted on to understand, listen, share interests, and collaborate for greater success. Case in point: my workmates as of late, as well as the focus readers for my novel. Grateful for all of you!”
“A lot more empathy! Also technical things around automation – everything from scripts to generate conversion tracking codes to Google Data Studio reports to automate client reporting to Excel macros to save a little time on repetitive tasks.”
“Tom Brady’s reign will never end.”
“Try your best to live in the present and be thankful for everything in your life. There is a reason why these people are in your life!”
Quotes that Inspire Us
“The following quotes by Charles and/or Ray Eames:
– Take your pleasure seriously.
– The details are not the details. The details make the product.
– Eventually, everything connects.
And this one I live by to a hardcore extent, from Will Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness:
– You want something? Go get it. Period.“
“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit – Banksy”
“You got this. Not sure if this is even a quote, but I live by this every day. It’s very motivating.”
be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
“Going to be the weird person that quotes Dune:
Fear is the mind-killer.
It’s pretty accurate.”
“I first heard this from my colleague Sam – not sure of the original provenance: Nobody cares, work harder!”
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. – Helen Keller”
“- Don’t quit until you are done.
– Don’t rest in the middle. Rest at the end.
– There are two sides of pain. One side is where it hurts, and the other side is glory.
– There is always darkness before the light.
– A little progress every day compounds.
– Always be learning
– Buy the dip.”
Goals for 2022
– Secure an agent and land a publisher. Otherwise, find a way to get published and into reader’s hands (while being happy with the end product) without settling for 99-cent-sales at the local Coles or, worse, Amazon.
– Continue to develop and pitch short fiction projects to lit mags – one day, one of them will say yes!
– Take more time for mental health to avoid burnout, and learn to say ‘no’ more. You have a voice and a brain, dummy.
– Read more books and experience more incredible stories. Grow that vocabulary and do more stuff with words and things.
– Stop thinking that you owe anyone anything more than your best efforts, let alone explanations. You don’t and never have. Period. Find joy in each passing day, and don’t forget to human!
– Help fulfil my husband’s dream of building a modern Airbnb cabin in the woods. Buy some land (soon), develop some designs, and work towards making it a reality!
– Go on at least one self-directed writing retreat, pandemic be damned (Fogo Island, please-please-please…).
– Try to see my mother-and-father-in-law again in Mexico, meet my brother-in-law, and learn a little bit of the native Teneek (Huasteco) language from my husband before doing so (I’m sure we’ll have time due to the pandemic. Patience? That’s another matter lol).
– Be happier and stop doubting yourself.”
“- Bench 315 Pounds
– Deadlift 400 Pounds
– Box Jump 30″
– Improve digital Marketing Skills & Expertise
– Deeper meditation
– Invest wisely
– Motivate, inspire, and educate others”
“- Fitness goals
– More camping and hiking trips”
“Tend to my backyard in our new house. Achieve an elusive bike badge (25x5km laps). Not sure if it’s a 2022 goal but I’d like to do a mini triathlon. Continue to prioritize physical and mental health. Give back to the community. Start to travel again.”
“That gym life.”
“Travel whenever COVID lets us (legit anywhere, but a dream would be in a little cabin high up in the mountains in Switzerland) and save up for a house (keeping my eye in Halifax).”
“To move forward!”
Move forward, indeed! That’s a wrap, folks. What were your favourite moments of the past year? It’s important to look at the positives and reflect on those good moments in life, and to not let difficult circumstances weigh you down. For those of you still hanging in there, know that we’re keeping you in our hearts. Same goes for everyone who has fallen ill or been lost. On a closing, optimistic note, let’s look forward to the new year together and find joy in the little things. We can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon!