Stacy-Ann Hayles

Web Designer for small businesses

State of the Union 2021

2020 was a year that broke me. Shattered me to a million pieces…

At 6pm on May 8th, I sat in a hard, uncomfortable chair in a makeshift hospital waiting room. My father slouched beside me in a wheelchair, the left side of his lip sagging. We waited over 6 dread-filled hours to confirm – he had had a stroke. Our lives would never be the same again.

The days and months that followed were grueling. They took everything I had. And while it wasn’t happening directly to me, it was my own personal hell.

2020 Personal Life

Dad’s Illness

I won’t go into much detail here, for Dad’s privacy. Suffice it to say, dealing with not one, but two potentially-fatal illnesses, in a time of COVID, was an absolute nightmare. Jamaica’s healthcare system is notoriously terrible so we had to take extra precaution to avoid catching the virus.

Once dad was home, I took care of him on my own. My siblings and family, while supportive, were too far away to travel. While we managed, becoming a primary caregiver to an immobile person overnight was quite the adjustment.

Thankfully, the majority of it is behind us. Dad is coping really well and we are back to almost normal at home.

Weight Gain

Being stressed out all the time, barely having any time to sleep, work or take care of myself in any meaningful way meant eating any and everything in sight. I mean, I was already fat to begin with, but towards the end of the year I noticed just how much had changed.

I’m not one of those persons who hates my body because I’m fat, or thinks weight gain is an inherently terrible thing. In fact, prior to this, while I would have liked to lose weight – for the sheer social/economical benefit of it all – it was never a priority.

However, the big thing that changed with this increased gain is my health. I had difficulty walking on my previously-injured ankles. I started to feel pains in my chest and back. And I started to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. That’s where I draw the line.


Yes, yes. Still single. And we’re not looking to change that any time soon. Especially since my super awesome friends stepped up in a HUGE way this year. You really know the strength of your relationships when they’re tested and this was a year of testing. I had to call on my friends a lot – to help with dad, to keep me distracted when I was overwhelmed, to step in and take over when I couldn’t function. They never faltered, not once. And I am GRATEFUL.

2020 Work Life

Web Design

In 2020, I got the opportunity to work with even more amazing web design clients – passionate, driven entrepreneurs (mostly women) who were kicking ass in their respective fields offline and on social media, but just needed help taking their business to the next level with websites and other digital marketing efforts. Special shout outs to Lux Event Design, The Fade Room and Patrice J White.

Social Media Management

I made the decision to give up social media marketing for good in 2019, but stuck with my last client, QuickPlate Jamaica, for as long as I could. Eventually, the time demands were just too much and in mid-2020, we had a mutual “break up”.


In early 2020, I learned about a productivity tool called Notion. At the time, I was very deep into using Trello, but this tool was so appealing, I moved my entire life into it and made it my project and life management hub.. Best decision ever! Soon after I found the amazing Marie Poulin, lovingly dubbed the “Queen of Notion” and the rest of the Notion community, and it’s been awesome ever since.

Later in the year, I started dabbling in Notion consulting for friends who had found the tool and needed help getting set up, and I love it so much I’m planning to make it a bigger part of my business in 2021.


Unfortunately, financial growth was not in the cards for me in 2020. Because of my father’s illness, I spent about 4 months out of the year barely doing any work and others struggling to catch up. I also ended up having to make a large dent in my emergency savings to cover costs as well. But hey, that’s why it’s there!

Now that things are back to “normal”, I’m hoping to build that back up soon. I also have some additional plans to work on passive income in 2021 that will require less direct hours-for-profit trading in the future.

2021 Plans

Build in Public

This year I have a bunch of business goals I wanna tackle, and I’m sharing the step-by-step progress all year long on Twitter through the #buildinpublic movement.

As of writing this, I have already applied to become a Notion Ambassador, started building product 1 of 12 and launched the newsletter (sign up!) – so you can say the new year is off the banging start!


My word for the year is discipline. I spent last year building and documenting my systems. Now it’s time to focus on acquiring the self-control needed to stick to them and keep myself in check. One of the biggest ways I’m doing this is by turning my goals for the year into daily habits, which I track using my Daily Journal in…you guessed it…Notion.


I’ve never been on a fitness journey before in my life. And there will be no strict dieting or gym routines in my future either. This year, I intend to making getting and staying healthy a part of my lifestyle for good. I’ll be changing the way I eat long term and start very slowly with exercising and dancing (untold passion) at home. This will most likely result in some weight loss, but I don’t have a number in mind. I just want to feel (and be) healthy.

So yes, 2020 was a year that broke me. Shattered me to a million pieces… But thankfully, by the end, it had started the process of putting me back together. And while my journey was rough, I know a lot of people lost jobs, homes, relatives, friends and more due to the pandemic, so I’m certainly not complaining too loudly about my own misfortunes.

My dad and I have found our new normal, the orange Cheeto is finally on his way out of office, and my work future is looking brighter than ever, partially in thanks to one spectacular women they call “Old Man Murray” (I’ll never forget it, Marie!). I hope that everyone else who struggled in the past year has something positive to look forward to and gets some solace knowing that there’s better to come…and soon. Happy 2021!

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