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by • August 12, 2016 • Travel & LifestyleComments (0)

Looking back on 2016, but always moving forward.

I woke up this morning to my phone buzzing. Emails arrived like clockwork, and before I could even gather my thoughts after landing back in Toronto late last night, Monday was screaming for my attention. I sit here and stare at my computer screen with a sense of urgency, beating back the stress of too much work and not enough time. Where do I even start on this never ending to-do list? Brands that want to collaborate are calling. Contracts are signed and now I need to deliver. New business partnerships are coming from around the world… and I know that this year has helped to propel me to a whole new level when it comes to running this business that was once just a dream.

I don’t think there is anything wrong in admitting that I am proud of what 2016 has become for me professionally. Looking back, I need to thank the year for teaching me more in eight months than I have learnt in 32 years of life. There were very dark moments. But there were so many more moments of light, love, and magic. Today I wanted to take a minute to thank a few people in my life who have helped to show me what it means to be human, whether they know it or not. Perspective is a funny thing, and I am looking at what it means to be humbled by love and life.

I have reread this post a hundred times. I can hear my friends, colleagues, and mentors in my head telling me not to share too much. Don’t let them see “the real you.” It’s brand suicide. But what is so wrong in admitting that behind all the amazing experiences and collaborations, all the ambassadorships and partners, all the social media and content, I’m just a man trying to find his way in the world too?

First and foremost I want to thank my husband. Though I have promised to not share so much of our love and life online, the fact remains that we have both chosen a life that puts us in the spotlight. Vulnerability has always been a strength of mine and I like to think that my humility has helped to keep me grounded. To know that it’s okay to not always be okay. This year has helped to remind me that love isn’t perfect. But no one is. I admire his strength and unwavering sense of self – a rare quality in a world that is always asking us to conform and play by the rule. I am grateful every single day for the love he gives me. He makes me laugh every day and when you boil it down, he is the reason I am the man I am today. Without him, none of this could have ever happened.

 

Basically. #RudsakFW16 #TFW #FASHIONIGHTS

A photo posted by Julio Reyes (@fashionights) on

I want to thank Meghan Yuri Young for being a breath of fresh air in a world of overly processed “perfection.” Though I am only now getting to know her, she has shared some extremely beautiful moments of truth with me and the world. I believe that she is changing the world for the better and THE SAD COLLECTIVE has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. I don’t think I’ve ever shared that with her and I should. I should remember to thank people more often for touching me and helping to give me much needed reminders. The world we live in as bloggers can be a bit messy behind the scenes, and she is one of the most beautiful people amid a sea of people portraying an image that isn’t always truthful. 

 

But who really does?? #itsokaynottobeokay #wereallinthistogether #thesadcollective

A photo posted by THE SAD COLLECTIVE (@thesadcollective) on

I want to thank Catriona Smart for sharing what I can only imagine has been a very difficult year of her life with us all. She has put some very raw moments out into the world without asking for anything in return for them. I admire her strength and I am so lucky to be able to call her a friend in the industry I now call home. A lot of people would shy away from being so beautifully honest, and a lot of people have. The truth isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but moments such as those she has shared happen every day. Loss and love are a part of us, but they do not define who we will become. I am forever grateful for the lessons she has taught me without even realizing it.

 

Shhh, no one talks about this… Life is beautiful, life is hard. Divorce is harder than admitting the failure, the sting of the separation, the loneliness of the solitude. But the thing about being an adult, about being a parent, is about seeing past your ego and into the eyes and the thrills lived out by your little ones whether with you or not. My girl is at Disney with her dad and as much as it kills me not to enjoy this first with her, a first I never experienced as a child, seeing her light glow through these pictures is enough for me to set aside my ego and live through her light. This may be an ‘over share’ but this is me and us and this is life. If any of you are living feeling like you can’t do everything perfectly, know this, life isn’t perfect. Your ability to eek out an existence that sets aside your ego, that is bigger than you, filled with positivity and interested in always pushing to be better is more than perfect, it’s real. #loveyou #grateful #realtalk

A photo posted by Catriona (@cocoandcowe) on

I want to thank Amanda Scriver for helping me to remember who I am. Amid a lot of growth as a blogger, it can get very easy to forget that very important lesson. Every day I am inspired by her tenacity and diligence to say and share how she really feels – even if that opinion isn’t well received. We have shared a lot of WTF moments BTS and she is constantly a sounding board for when I let the stress of it all get to me. Not to mention that this girl’s hustle game puts mine to shame. I laugh when we talk. because if you think I’m busy, you’d be floored with what she has on the go on a daily basis. Truly one of the most beautiful people I have ever met both inside and out.

 

It was last year when @yulischeidt and I were approached to be involved in a photo shoot for @nowtoronto. The photo ended up being the cover and today it was announced that our cover won the people’s choice award at the National Magazine Awards in Canada. As soon as the win was announced, the trolls and haters came out of the woodwork. Immediately I was reminded of this photo @__bansheee__ shot of me for @thisbodyproject that I dubbed as my response to all the haters. Here’s the thing: I’m pretty fat, unabashedly so. You know what else: I’m happy and trying hard to smash body hate everyday alongside other amazing activists and bloggers in this world. I am just one of many voices and I feel privileged to have a platform to share my thoughts and feelings with. All bodies (large and small) deal with so much criticism. But fat bodies deal with so much discrimination, judgement, fear mongering and hatred. I’m not ashamed of my body. I know that my physical appearance is no indication of my health. I am sick and tired of people feeling like they can pass along their body judgments and health shaming just because I’m fat. In the words of @thebiancadelrio – “Not today satan.” ??? What people believe about fat bodies and health is straight up bananas. People tend to forget that skinny bodies can be unhealthy too. I’m not sorry that my fat body makes you uncomfortable. I’m not sorry for taking up space. I’m not sorry for being a confident fat women. I’m not sorry for being loud and shouty. Thank you to @nowtoronto for promoting body love for all. Thanks to everybody who voted for our cover to win. But most of all, thanks to the trolls and haters for giving me purpose to fight louder and stronger than ever before. Your comments fuel me to keep doing the work that I do and to keep fighting to have fat bodies normalize. ✌?️✌? . . . . . . #nowmagazine #toronto #psblogger #plussize #everybodyisflawless #skorchmagazine #daretowear #fatbabe #fatshion #alternativecurves #goldenconfidence #fashiontruth #plusmodelmag #effyourbeautystandards #fatacceptance #fatactivism #haes #bodypositive #allbodiesaregoodbodies

A photo posted by Ama (@amascriver) on

I want to thank Gracie Carroll for inspiring me to stay focused and to keep reaching for the stars. Gracie is one of my favourite success stories in the blogging world, and we both quit our full time jobs around the same time last year to pursue our dreams of becoming something bigger. She was there for me at the darkest of times, and we have celebrated some monumental memories and experiences together. Both are equally important, and I feel 100% certain that this world has brought us together as life long friends. No matter what happens, or how busy we are, I know that I can call her and she will be there for me. When you find genuinely good people in the world, try to not let them go. Because the fact remains that they are rare. Gracie reminds me to focus on the good every day, even when she doesn’t realize it.  

I want to thank Casie Stewart for always being a ray of sunshine. I can sometimes get lost in the negative and can admit that I’ve let it get me down on a few occasions. In an industry that looks pretty on Instagram, in reality it has the possibility of having a very ugly side. She has been creating something beautiful for longer than anyone I know and is one of the kindest hearts you will ever meet. I think what I appreciate most about what she brings to my life is that what you see is what you get. No bullshit. I haven’t told her thank you nearly enough and I really should. Not to mention that she has shown me how important it is to find a healthy work life balance – the world is so busy and all too often I think we forget about ourselves.

 

TOO FAST. #muskoka #cottagelife

A photo posted by ? C A S I E S T E W A R T (@casiestewart) on

I want to thank Catherine Sugrue for sticking by me over all these years as my oldest and dearest friend. I don’t know if I could have survived without her by my side, supporting each and every difficult moment I had to navigate through. I have lost a lot of friends over the years. Some of them simply because we grew apart. Others ripped out of my life when we reached the point of no return and we both walked away. This year has been one of lessons for Catherine as well and together we have laughed, we have cried and we have kept moving forward when we thought we couldn’t take another step. She knows me better than anyone on this earth and I will never be able to thank her enough for inspiring me to keep going.

 

Today, I wrote a vulnerable post about my body on DoTheDaniel.com✌️?

A photo posted by Catherine Sugrue (@catherinescabinet) on

This next thanks might not make sense, but I want to thank Beyonce. Yes. Queen B herself. And though the reason may seem pretty obvious off the top of your head, it’s difficult for me to express in words how beautiful she is for sharing something incredibly difficult with the world. At the end of the day, she is a woman who faced something no one should have to face. Strip away the amazing VMA performance last night, the social media storm around Lemonade, the fame, the money… she is incredibly strong in my opinion for sharing with us all what she had to deal with. I think a lot of people don’t realize that fame can have a very dark and lonely side. I was personally touched by the emotions she was able to express instead of holding that all in. I wish I could say we were friends, because if we were, I would want to thank her for helping me work through a very tough time in my life. Music has the power to remind us of the simple things, while helping us get through the tough times. 

There are so many other people I could continue to thank. Strangers, ex-lovers, friends, exes, “enemies” … all of them have touched me and shaped the path that has led me to where I am today. I hope that this moment of clarity doesn’t disappear too quickly this time. That I won’t always need to travel in order to find this sense of being home and whole again. But no matter what this life holds for me, I will do my best to remember to thank the people in my life for the lessons I need to learn. No matter how hard they will be. 

The image at the top of this blog post could be a sunset or a sunrise. It’s all in your perspective. Try to remember that when life seems to get too heavy.

Thank you for always supporting me and for taking the time to read this today. 

Daniel Reyes

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