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We made it this far into the year 2020. Can you believe it’s the last day of the year and that tomorrow, it’s a brand new year? It has been a crazy, challenging and scary year, hasn’t it? This same time last year when I did a look back to the year that was, it affirmed what I had been feeling – that 2019 was a light and happy year for me and so it made me even more excited to welcome 2020. 

I think a lot of us were excited, after all, 2020 meant the start of a new decade. Who would’ve thought 2020 had something else in stored for us all? Actually, the other day, I reread an old blog post where I shared the projects I want to do this year and you know what I found out? I found out that for 2020, I said for this year, my guiding word would be TIME. Time for me. Time for my family and friends. Time for work. Time to pursue things I love. I chuckled somewhat at the irony of my guiding word because I did it. I had time. A whole lot of time in my hands in fact because staying home has been the safest and most responsible thing to do this year in order to not catch COVID-19 nor spread it unknowingly to other people. 

I am not complaining even though the Universe seems to have a dark and twisted way of how it would help me make time. And while I am not and will not romanticize this pandemic, I still am grateful.  

Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

My Grateful List

  • I am grateful to still have a job and have a job that has allowed me to work from home
  • I am grateful to be on lockdown with my family. I draw strength from having them near me 
  • I am grateful to be able to spend time with friends – mostly thanks to technology that allows for virtual hangouts 
  • I am grateful for Lucky, our cat, because his presence in our house helps relieve stress and make us happy (my mom and I) 
  • I am grateful to have the means to pay for my bills and even help myself to a few simple pleasures in life despite the pay cut 
  • I am grateful to have the chance to slow down and really reflect on my life 
  • I am grateful to have a roof over my head 
  • I am grateful I still have the means to be able to live a comfortable life despite this pandemic
  • I am grateful that I am healthy. My family is healthy. 
  • Mostly, I am grateful to be alive this year   
And while 2020 granted me time, it also taught me some lessons. 

Lessons I Learned From 2020

1. The importance of financial freedom 

My job has been the only source of income I have for the longest time. I’m lucky I live with my mom, rent free so even when I took a huge pay cut, I managed to pay my bills and spend for a few luxuries like Netflix. But what if I lost my job? What if this was not my living condition? 

Of course I know about the importance of financial freedom. Yes I have some money stashed away for a rainy day. But 2020 has made me really look at my finances and so I resolve to seek financial freedom more than ever 

2. I can keep fit even when I’m just home

For the past 3 years, I’ve been going to the gym to keep myself in tip top shape. Before that, my only form of workout was walking home from work, walking outside to go somewhere for lunch or walking at the mall. I always said I wasn’t the kind of person who could workout at home. 

But here I am, 10 months sheltering in place and even with the gyms open, I haven’t stepped foot in one to workout. I’ve been working out at home and have not been making anymore excuses about it. Sure, I would still prefer the gym where I can train with a personal fitness instructor but ’til it’s safe, home workouts will be the best way for me to stay fit and healthy which is very important – pandemic or no pandemic. 

3. Learning to let go 

I have been such a pack rat! I’ve hung on to so many items, thinking I would use it someday. But with the time I have at home, I’ve been able to really look at the items I have kept and faced the reality that I was never going to use them again. After all, they were items I’ve only stored for years, gathering dust. So yeah, I’ve been decluttering and it’s been a liberating experience. With the items I’ve let go, I was able to make some space at home for new things. 

Joining Facebook groups like Zero Waste PH and Really, Really Free Market Manila helped with that! 

This also goes for stress and people. 2020 has taught me that there are far too many more important things happening to stress about stuff that I may not be able to control specially at work! I will rant to my friends when things get too much but I will not hold on to it. As for people, well, I’ve learned it’s best not to keep the toxic ones around and relationships that aren’t doing me one bit of good are best severed.    

4. Faith is a very very important thing to have specially during these trying times

Like I said, it’s scary times. I know that even with a new year, it’ll still be full of uncertainties. Until we actually have herd immunity from this virus, we can’t have our guard down. It’s been a hard year. There are times I find myself worrying so much about getting sick or any of my loved ones getting sick. I find myself scared. I think I’m more scared of this virus than my mom is! 

I actually asked her once, how is it that she doesn’t seem scared about this pandemic? She told me it’s because she has faith in the Lord. She just prays and lifts her worries up to Him. So I do that more now. I pray and I pray harder than before. Whenever I am scared or anxious, I just pray to Him to ease my worries and I really do feel Him comforting me. 

5. Good governance is important

Yes, we’re all affected by this virus – whether you’re from a first world country or a third world country like me. But our pandemic responses are different. There are those who have succeeded in eliminating the virus – those who have flattened the curve over and over again even without a vaccine yet and those, like us, living in a country who’s had the longest lockdown in the world and never even got past the first wave. The difference is in the leadership. If you’re in a country whose leaders believe in science and listens to science and health experts, then congratulations! Your country most likely has low to zero cases of the virus already and have probably started vaccination programs. 

As for my fellow Filipinos who are living in the Philippines, if you are of voting age, please vote wisely next election. And for Pete’s sake, register to vote and think about the kind of country you and your children want to live in in the future because it’s all on us. We are the ones who pick out the people that we want to lead us. 

Highlights of the Year 

  • My Annual New Year Videoke Party        
Remember when we could all still gather and have no worry about being so close to each other without getting sick? Well that was how 2020 started for me. I threw my annual videoke party to welcome the New Year with some of my friends in attendance. 
  • I became a plant tita
During this difficult time, a lot of Filipinos have turned to gardening to help them get through the days. Some even made a business out of it. Well, by June, I also found myself wanting to take care of plants and after buying my first two beginner friendly plants, I found it so enjoyable to do that fast forward to now and my collection continues to grow. 
I mostly buy my plants online. 
  • I paid off my credit card debt in full and have successfully closed accounts
I made it a goal to close off 4 credit card accounts this year as part of my plan to achieve financial freedom and I have successfully done that! I’m not totally in the clear yet as I still have some other credit card debts to clear off but I give myself a pat in the back for being able to come through with my goal.
  • I’ve been able to grow my blog and even got a few paid sponsored posts
It used to be that I struggled to find the time to blog. I’d be lucky to be able to publish one. But I’ve been blogging more these days. And before this year, my total page views in a month was about 1,000 but now I am able to reach 8,000; 10,000; 15,000 views in a month! I even managed to land a couple of paid sponsored posts! Of course I did make time to promote my blog so seeing all the effort I made this year, I’m just so amazed! 
  • I also paid off my debt to my mom in full
This was for a debt that I had owed her about three years ago! I’ve been paying off this debt slowly but surely for the past two years and at the start of the year, I was able to fully pay it! 
  • I reached my 2020 GoodReads Reading Challenge 
It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to reach my GoodReads Reading goal. I set it every year but I don’t reach the goal until this year! I am delighted about that fact because finally, I have been able to read the books that I bought from the years I shopped for books. I really enjoy reading and 2020 has given me the chance to rekindle that love. If you’re looking to read more, this post about rediscovering the joys of reading might be able to help.
In fact, I even started a bookstagram account and joined a Facebook group full of book lovers so I can meet and talk books with other people and also see what other people are reading and may be add that to my list too.   
  • I won a few cool stuff from online giveaways 
I think I have a lucky streak when it comes to giveaways. I’ve won some of the giveaways I joined this year and got a couple of plants, a pair of earrings and skincare items! 
2020’s Year in Review has been a very different one from the past years that I’ve done this. It’s not full get togethers with friends; workouts at the gym or even travels. But even if that’s the case, I know I’ve been able to make something good come out of this year. Although the virus won’t be magically gone when we say goodbye to 2020, I am hopeful we’ll have a better year. 
With that said, let me share with you my guiding words for next year: Abundance, Growth and Health. Why these words? Well, health of course because COVID-19 is still around and no I don’t want to catch it and also because I just don’t want to end up with some serious health problem so I want to take care of me on every aspect. Abundance because I have a money goal for next year – like I said, I’m resolved to achieve financial freedom. As for growth, well that still has plenty to do with the desire to achieve financial freedom but also about blogging because I want to grow this blog more. 2020 was just the start. And growth in terms of self improvement.  
How about you guys? How do you feel about 2021? Are you making any life plans at al?