The past year didn’t exactly turned out according to plan (what an understatement!). What can I say? Seeing the future is not part of my repertoire of skills. I couldn’t anticipate that something as life altering as a worldwide pandemic would happen or last as long as it has. But in a way, the intentions that I made for 2020 came to pass, just not the way I had imagined.
I had wanted to be more deliberate and purposeful. I wanted to focus more on my relationships with loved ones. I wanted to feel more connected to myself; my wants and needs. I wanted to live slower and savour the moment instead of feeling like there was never enough time.
Inadvertently, life in the time of coronavirus helped me fulfill those intentions.
The year didn’t unfold the way I envisioned but at some point, I had to let go of the way I thought things should happen and embrace (or at least accept) how it was happening.
Inspired by other bloggers, I wanted to write my year in review — the good, the bad and the absolutely hideous to behold. I also wrote this for the people who are nosy AF like me 😜 so let’s get to it:
I revamped and relaunched my portfolio website (finally). Prior to COVID, my new portfolio website sat at 75% complete for almost a year. Who knew that fear and uncertainty were the final kick in the butt I needed to finish the last 25% 😅
Previous iterations were always hastily assembled and lacking in polish I aspired to. This one satisfied me in terms of the design, project quality, mockups and writing copy for the About page that succinctly articulated who I am as a creative professional.
My photos were published in a British newspaper. I was contacted by the travel photo editor at The Daily Telegraph, a national newspaper in the UK, about using photos for a travel editorial on Mykonos. Super exciting!
I had my friend (who’s living in Liverpool) mail me a copy of the paper and there it was — 2 of my favourite photos from Kiki’s Tavern in vivid print, and one of them was used as the main image! I was even more excited when the cheque arrived in the mail!
I spearheaded my first photoshoot in February. I’ve taken part in many photoshoots over my career, but none where all the responsibility rested solely on my shoulders.
At the beginning of the year, I developed a concept for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival’s 2020 campaign that required a full-fledged production that involved a ton of work. I had to source props, find a shoot location, hire talent (models, MUA, photographer), not to mention actually design the final piece.
Nervous as I was on photoshoot day, everything went off without a hitch and the end result was exactly what I had envisioned!
I continued to publish a blog post (almost) every week. Oh. Em. Gee. The struggle was REAL. I’ve never experienced such persistent creative block in my life. Since travel was impossible, I had to pivot my content towards more relevant pandemic-friendly topics, still managing to produce some of my favourite blog posts to date.
I had always worried that I wouldn’t be able to consistently write a weekly blog, but if I can persevere, even in the face of the pandemic stealing my inspiration, I can do anything 💪🏼
For my family. Going from weekly family dinners to cold turkey was hard. Losing loved ones and being consumed with worry for others was even harder. Grieving while separated from the people I loved was the hardest.
I’m always grateful for my family but the last year has brought into even sharper relief how lucky I am for the strong support system I have. AND my brother moved into the same building as me! It’s been really nice to have him so nearby so I can force him to hang out with me.
Spending my birthday in Hawaii. No one could’ve predicted what was to come mid-March when the world went into lockdown. In retrospect, it was serendipitous that instead of waiting until spring to travel (as per usual), I decided to jet off to the Aloha State to celebrate my birthday.
I feel so fortunate that I got to hang out Kelly (my American travel buddy) for a glorious 10 days in Hawaii — eating ALL the poké — returning home in before the pandemic reached its peak.
For my friends. I’ve never sat on blankets in so many parks in my LIFE until the last summer. I revelled in the simple pleasures of just getting together with 1 or 2 friends (socially distanced, of course) and squishing their babies. Plus, lockdown has gotten me accustomed to Zoom, making me more inclined to FaceTime especially as so many of my friends live in other countries now.
For a job that I can do safely from home. In all the years that I’ve worked at Cosmic Design, we’ve never worked remotely. I remember that first week was surreal; I was so accustomed to being surrounded by other designers then suddenly I was home alone and all I had to do to “go to work” was turn on my laptop and connect to the server.
If anything, I think I was more creative, working from the comfort of my sweatpants, than I’ve ever been! Although, I do miss getting noodz with my work wife and bugging her IRL…
To be more present. I am a very future-oriented person; making plans and strategizing several steps ahead. I’m also extremely sentimental and often dwell on fond memories from the past. This doesn’t leave much time for being present.
With an uncertain future and having to deal with a new “normal,” it was imperative to my well-being that I focus on what was right in front of me. I learned to live at a slower pace and appreciate the small joys in life — sun on my face, sitting in the park with a book, taking a walk — versus bemoaning all the things I missed/couldn’t do.
I refined a lot of my creative skills. Whether I had a mental block that illustration and animation just weren’t “my thing” or I never took the time to familiarize myself with the software, those mediums never clicked with me. Being isolated in lockdown gave me the illusion of more space and time to cultivate those skills and push myself creatively.
How to allow myself to be vulnerable. I’m a very emotional and sensitive person but I wouldn’t say that I’m emotionally available (with everyone) and I definitely don’t let on that I’m sensitive (if I can help it). While I have no problem sharing my thoughts, ideas and joy, I am loathe to accept and express when I experience negative emotions.
I couldn’t continue that pattern and survive lockdown. I had to learn to not judge myself when I felt anything other than content and to allow myself to be vulnerable with my loved ones ABOUT those feelings.
How to cook meat (other than chicken). Cooking meat has always freaked me out. Very little puts off my appetite, but biting into an expensive cut of meat only to discover it’s completely raw on the inside will do it.
Without weekly dinners with feasts by Mr. Yum Yum, I pushed myself to finally learn how to cook ribs, rack of lamb, short ribs and even attempted a salmon en croute because I’m fancy like that 😉 I don’t know why, but learning how to cook different meats makes me feel more adult lol.
Leveraged the power of SEO and Pinterest. When I started blogging, I was more concerned about satisfying my creativity and writing consistently while having a full-time job. Figuring out how to get people to actually read it wasn’t high on my list of priorities, especially since the technical aspects of blogging intimidated me.
Lockdown gave me the time to dedicate myself to delving in to SEO and Pinterest. I muddled my way through courses, invested in Keysearch, and am steadily deciphering e-books on the topics. I’m still a long way from being proficient but the ball is rolling…I’ve already 8x my traffic 🎉🎉🎉
I decorated the rest of the apartment. While I curated my bedroom to perfection (if I do say so myself 💁🏻♀️), I never got around to the shared living space.
Money that is usually spent on travel went towards furnishing a little work nook with 2 gorgeous blue velvet chairs and the living room with a matching rug, leather Moroccan pouf, an abundance of throw pillows and countless plants.
There’s still some finessing to do but it’s made my WFH situation much more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
I spent a long weekend in Prince Edward County. Every year I’d say to my friends “We should go to PEC” and every year I’d greedily hoard all my vacation time and put it towards international trips instead.
Desperate to get away for a mini local holiday, I finally got to cross “non-sober biking around the wineries in Prince Edward County” from my bucket list, not to mention eat my way through all the delightfully charming restaurants in the area. It was a much needed break from city life and a great introduction to The County (as it’s fondly known).
2020 was a hard year but I can’t bring myself to view it as a waste of time. Maybe it’s the stubborn,
delusional glass-half-full part of me, but I prefer to think of it as the year I finally did the shit I’d been meaning to do for years but never did because #life.
I struggled, flailed, and cried so many tears that I was in danger of dehydration, BUT I also learned and grew more than I thought was possible. I believe wholeheartedly that the last year was setting the stage — mentally and emotionally — to thrive moving forward.
My intentions for 2021 are:
- TRAVEL…Iceland, Vietnam, the Maldives…wherever is NOT my apartment
- Optimize my existing content so it can actually be found
- Improve my visual content to satisfy my creative standards (experiment with photography, design, etc..)
- Dive into content covering the local Toronto food scene (write what you know, ya know?)
- Start an email list and newsletter (you better sign up! *shakes fist menacingly*)
- Stick to my annual business and content plan
- Continue being vulnerable when I’m back in the real world
2020 will be a year that people won’t soon forget, including me. It had the contradictory sensation of being suspended in time while also feeling like it has lasted a decade (has it only been 365 days??). It was hard but it’s a time I want to remember, if only to serve as contrast; to better appreciate when times are good and easy.
Start the year right by incorporating some healthy daily routines!
Keep your stalking game strong and follow me @teriaki if you aren’t already!