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Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

You've probably read it a lot by now, but yes I will say it again - 2020 has been one of the most challenging and difficult years in our modern-day lives. Most of us have materially and physically lost a lot more than we gained; some may still be nursing a grieving heart from losing a loved one, some are still probably spending their days and nights looking for a job to keep their lives afloat - yes, it's been emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. And if you are still at a point in your life right now where questions, fear and doubt still reigns over assurance, I wish to let you know that whatever you're feeling right now is valid and that you are not alone.
I've been meaning to write to you guys for the last three weeks but I just didn't find the energy to do so. I too honestly felt tired from being online all the time and in turn, caused me to be really drained socially and creatively. I didn't want to write for the sake of writing - I wanted to take time to sit down alone in my thoughts and properly write what's been in my heart and mind for the past couple of months while being physically distant from what I've been used to and who I've been used to seeing.

To end this year and to give a sense of closure to everything that's happened, I wish to share with you some things I have experienced or learned this 2020. I would also take it as a gratitude list. It took a while for me to really understand that word-gratitude. But as I went along the tides of this year, I understood that being grateful does not always involve material things or huge life victories. Being grateful is about understanding and accepting that amidst the uncertainty, you are still able to see these small, tiny rays of joy and victories. 

At the end of the day, these small things are the same things that fuel us and remind us that while there's still life, there's still hope. I'm hoping that by sharing these small things with you, you'll be encouraged, comforted, and even be assured that you are not alone in going through different phases of life.
1. Always make time to look up.
In a world where most, if not all of us are glued to our phones and tablets, we often miss out a lot on what's happening around us. I found it really redundant how we 'love' sunsets post online yet fail to actually witness it happen right before our very eyes. I've been guilty of this crime for a long time, I missed a lot of wonders in the sky, the trees, and the scenes around me because I was busy searching for 'beauty' on my screen. This year has taught me the art of balancing my time in my gadgets, filter the things and occasions I post or capture, and put myself IN the moment and WITH the people I am spending it with. 

I was able to witness a lot of beautiful sunsets of different shades and story, may it be from an afternoon walk or on my way home after work, looking up did a lot to my soul. It reminded me of how I do not operate alone, that the sovereign and ever-present God orchestrates all things according to His will and His timing; and that in the season of doubt and waiting, the best thing to do is to look up and be reminded of His love and wonders.

In times where I doubted and feared a lot, looking up healed my heart and soothed my spirit.

2. It's possible to have fun and be at peace with the idea of being alone.
I had a couple of times where I chose to spend hours alone this year and it was beautiful. This wasn't a new thing for me as I was already in the process of teaching myself to enjoy alone times for the past few years, but I got to do more of that this year. I went on walks, made art, took photos, and captured videos of moments I found interesting. At the same time, I was able to read a couple of books that were on my list for ages! Most days this year, my alone times also entailed writing more often in this blog and conceptualizing creative projects. 

I learned that being alone in solitude gives us more access to rediscover an old hobby or dream, pursue an impending pursuit, or try something completely new. But most of all, having these quiet moments allow us to keep our hearts and minds in check and discover the areas where we are strongest and admit where we fall short. The beauty of admitting our weakness is that we gradually discover that we need help and realize that most times, reaching out to trusted people would be the best help we can give to ourselves.

3. Love and accept your own skin.
Let's face it, there's really not much reason to doll up or get dressed up this year! We were at the comforts of our homes and even if we go out, we have our masks anyway. The downside of that would be, almost forgetting how it feels to dress up and wear makeup and get used to being in our lounge wears ;) BUT, this year I got to reconnect with my skin and embrace it for what it is - fine lines, visible pores, and acne marks. I hardly go out now with full makeup on, which is so liberating! It saved me a lot of time in the morning, it was so much easier to go out, and the most important thing is feeling more assured and confident about how I look. But at the same time, I'm also able to establish a more consistent and less complicated skincare routine these past few months. I realized that as we age, our skin actually needs more TLC and it's also part of the way we take care of ourselves.

2020 taught us to be more comfortable with who we really are, it taught us to embrace our natural beauty and reject the beauty standards that have been messing up with our heads for the longest time. 

4. Chores are fun!
Since the majority of this year my husband and I worked from home, we were able to manage our time wisely. We got to balance time for work and house chores. What I loved about this is that we got to bond more while dividing tasks, regardless if it's making meals, cleaning the room, washing the car, doing laundry, and folding clothes. I truly enjoyed this time because, in our five years of marriage, this is the only time we got to actually give more attention to chores and learning each other's gifts.

Redundant as it may sound, chores became a relaxing activity for us. We had a reason to stand up from our desks, to move around, and find a reason to be productive regardless of the weight of the task. Repeat after me, chores are fun! ;)

5. Spend more time with family.
Ever since I started working after college, I realized that I haven't been really present for my family that much. This year we were all confined in our homes and this has given every family an opportunity to stay together and look after one another. I've always taught that bonding meant going out and traveling, but bonding this year became more meaningful to me. Bonding meant finding ways to celebrate occasions safely and meaningful at the same time, it meant doing the smallest task to help each other out, of course, it also meant disagreeing on a couple of things and learning how to manage your differences. Bonding meant embracing each other and choosing to love each other despite everything.

I'm just truly happy to see my parents safe, my brother healthy, my husband waking up beside me daily, and of course our dogs running around the house seeking treats!

6. Art is indeed therapeutic! 
Regardless of the size, medium, or subject, art heals. The process that we go through allows us to remove ourselves from our distractions or pain, it gives us time to breathe and simply express ourselves through our work. Sometime in July, I bought myself a set of oil pastels and gouache paint with the goal of creating more art and distract myself from being online all the time. It helped me in a lot of ways as I rediscovered painting techniques, learned new ways of using a medium I'm not completely comfortable with and creating subjects that are out of my usual constructive style. 

In a sense, I can very much say that I grew creatively this year and it feels really great. Yes, the drain comes and goes, but it's so much easier to handle and manage them now and that itself feels like a fete!

7. You will never know the end result if you never start it.
I doubt myself a lot, this springs from a lot of insecurities and fears. I am a natural worrier, especially when it comes to putting my work in public knowing that there are better works than mine. My husband told me once how he wishes to see the day where I stop beating myself so much and just do what I've been meaning to do. This year, after a lot of dialogues with myself, my husband, and with the Lord in my prayers, I decided to conquer my fear/s. I managed to create something and launch it for people to enjoy and share with their loved ones!

With so much travel photos and inspiration banked in my hard drive, heart, and mind, I wanted to share them with everyone around me and encourage people to keep dreaming and looking forward to the days ahead no matter how bright or dark they may seem.
The past few weeks have been busy for me as I consolidated all the orders, packed them one by one, and wrapped them according to how I wanted to present them. I'm so grateful for having 167 orders in the span of a month and a half of launching it! I truly hope that whoever has a piece of this calendar, may your days and nights be filled with hope and faith always.

8. You'll meet people online who share the same ideals as you and eventually become good friends with them.
As I spent a lot of time in my blog this year, I've 'met' a lot of people along the way. They could be fellow bloggers, new followers on Instagram, or people who reached out to me to say hi or inquire about my product. I've never been more sociable in social media (I know, redundancy at its finest!) and the blogging platform until this year, and honestly, being able to reach out and share conversations helped me a lot during the lockdown. Reading your blog posts, exchanging comments, sharing photos, has been encouraging and uplifting all at the same time. It truly felt like we were all knit together, though physically miles apart.
The biggest highlight of this year would probably be meeting Lifeeries of Studio La Vie. We both found ourselves admiring the same Korean stationery shops and artists and virtually bonded over the beauty of photography, travel, and clean color palettes. For the holidays, we exchanged 'gifts' and wrote to each other and to me, that felt really heartwarming. I haven't received a handwritten letter in a while but every time I do, I treasure it a lot!

So get out there and reach out, you'll never know who you'll meet and how much you can find inspiration from each other. Do it with caution though and take time to know them ;)

9. We got to know each other better!
In a way, I would say that this is probably one of the best things that happened to me this year. I have never spent this much time with my husband since we got married and all of a sudden, we had all this time together! There were a lot of things that we were able to talk about, misunderstandings that we chose to deal with and stop avoiding, prayers and heart's desires to share, and life goals to lay down. It's one of the most beautiful years in our married life because we were taught about the true essence and value of time, communication, understanding, teamwork, and prayer.

This is also our fifth year together and though we were not able to celebrate it in our usual way (by traveling abroad), we enjoyed the 1-hour drive to our usual date place and shared a good meal together. Also, this is also the year where we chose to stand up for ourselves and stop taking in toxic opinions about us not having children yet. We both know and understand that whatever happens in our life as a couple-children or no children, we will still keep honoring and praising the Lord.

10. Reconnect with old passions
I'm grateful for having the opportunity to write about design again! It feels really great to be able to reconnect with my publishing roots. I know that I've been quite rusty, but having the chance to write for ACIIID ONLINE and BEYOND ORDINARY has definitely reminded me how much I enjoy learning and writing about people and design.
It's also very surreal to think about having my photos published in a book, and it happened this year. For some reason, it's really been a creative year if I look at the big picture. It's also been a great way to reconnect and collaborate with my very first work mentor as well. My love and heartfelt gratitude to Sheryl Songsong for encouraging me to get my photos out there and be a part of her poetry book 'In Between', she's really been such a huge inspiration for me ever since I started my career.

So if you're reading this and you're thinking of going back to re-discover an old hobby or revisit a goal that you haven't reached yet, I encourage you to get in touch with it. It's never too late for anyone, and the great thing about having to go through the motions is that you'll learn a lot from the people you'll work with and in turn learn a lot about yourself at the same time.

11. There's beauty in every season - find that and embrace it.
People would still prefer to give out fresh flowers or receive one. Of course, who wouldn't love the idea of holding fresh blooms and vibrant colors? The same goes for how we deal with the stages of our lives. We tend to gravitate more on the good, beautiful things and find loss, grief, sadness, and defeat as something unacceptable and undeserved. It's part of our nature - to want only good things.

But one of the things I've really learned this year is that life doesn't operate that way. Just like the seasons of nature, our lives need to go through different highs and lows in order to get the best out of us. A vinedresser needs to prune out the bad branches of a grapevine in order to have the best quality. We need to accept that there will always be days where we are asked to wait, to stop, to reconfigure, to cry, to struggle - and that is completely fine.

I hope that as this year ends and another one opens, we will, both of us, learn to embrace the beauty and lessons that hard days bring us and how this will mold us to be better and stronger people.

12. Keep your eyes open, observe all the details.
We may be feeling the quarantine burnout and we may be feeling a bit tired of spending most of our time at home but no matter how much we want to, things are not going to be easier. There will always be a threat, there will always be protocols, there will always be setbacks. But if there is one thing confinement has taught me and I know most of you, it would be the art of observing. With all the time at home, we've probably familiarized each paint chip, each misaligned shelf, each creaking door. The great thing about this is that, we've become more aware of our surroundings, we've become more in touch with our reality.

I hope that we'll keep our eyes open, for every opportunity to find inspiration, for every angle to grow and start something for ourselves, for every reason to improve and be of help to our loved ones and our community. Keep your eyes open, dear one.

13. Life doesn't stop here.
The sun will shine, the rain will come, and another day will spring up where all the trees are lush and the flowers in full bloom. I have come to realize that waking up each day is indeed a gift, an opportunity to make the most out of the life we have. Life may seem stagnant at the moment because we feel that we're not in control, but we've got to jump across that idea already and learn to live our days with a conscious heart and mind.

We're breathing, we have food and shelter, we are physically able to move and do work to meet our needs. These are indeed privileges that we tend to take for granted because we've been so consumed to want more, to get more, to achieve more.

But if, and only if, we root back to the basics and embrace what it truly means to be alive, we would see that life doesn't stop when the 'extras' are taken away from us. Life doesn't stop when our privilege is placed on hold. Somewhere out there, there are people who have no access to our privileges and still be able to show up daily because they continue to hope, they continue to strive. And if I would have to sum up all my learnings this year, I would say that I'm truly grateful to be alive.
For all that's happened and for what's about to come, I choose to sing praises of gratitude.
For what remains unknown that causes one to forlorn, I pray for hope and peace to reign in our hearts.
Hold on my dear, tomorrow is another day. And for this my heart will always choose to say, Blessed be, Glory be, Holy is our Lord!

"The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever."
Isaiah 40:8

Happy New Year to you, my friend. 
May today, tomorrow, and always be a Happy Heyday!



  1. A beautiful and positive post! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to read and spend time with me here! Happy New Year!

  2. 2020 certainly has been challenging. Lets hope for a better 2021. x

    Zoey |

    1. Happy New Year, Zoe! I hope you had a great and restful holiday. Here's to hoping for the year to be a better one, and if it turns out to be otherwise, here's to hoping for strength and wisdom for all of us! Take care always!


  3. Happy new year Hanna, a lovely post as always! 2020 was tough, but it has certainly taught me to reflect and find the positives in these difficult times.
    Staying at home and spending time with loved ones has been a plus for me! So great to see your writing and reconnecting with your passion for design! x

    1. Hi Lexie! Happy happy new year to you as well. I hope you had a good holiday break! Here's to a year filled with hope. Let's keep in touch! Stay safe and healthy.


  4. Honestly, everything about your blog is so beautiful, the imagery, the writing, your art. I love it all! Thank you for this post! It really resonates with me. I hope 2021 is a better year for all of us <3

    1. Hi Louise, I appreciate you coming here and taking time to read my thoughts. I'm happy I get to connect with dear souls like you! Here's to hoping we get to uplift and encourage each other through our writings and art. <3

      Happy New Year to you and your family. Stay safe!


  5. I'm so glad I'm not the only natural worrier, I have a similar anxiety around sharing content online. And I absolutely love your tip on taking time to look up, that's something I do so often! Whether it's to pray, or just gain some perspective, I love how calming just gazing at the sky can be. The same goes for looking at small details, it almost grounds me. Love your positivity and grateful attitude, it's so refreshing to read :)

    Anika |

    1. Hey, Anika! It’s always confirming to know that we’re not alone in feeling certain things, it’s almost like an affirmation that whatever it is we’re worried about or we’ve been going through is completely normal and that we’re not alone. I appreciate the time you’ve spent here with me, your blog has been one of my favorite go-to’s this year. Thankful to have found it as it’s inspiring in a lot of ways.

      Take care always!♥️

      Cheers, Hanna

  6. I loved everything about this post and have learned a lot from 2020. #2, #3, and #7 especially. I spent a lot of time by myself this year and have been trying to embrace spending time alone. Even though I'm an introvert, I'll admit, I get lonely but I've been trying to use all this time alone to grow and better understand myself. With all this alone time, I picked up tons of new hobbies that I probably wouldn't have started if it wasn't for 2020. I'm also someone who doubts themselves and lets their fears and past failures stop them from starting a new endure. However, I'm learning to let go and of these fears and just go after what I want.

    Wishing you a very happy new year and I hope that this year is better than last. ♥

    1. Happy New Year, Michelle! I'm so glad to have met you here, it's truly an exciting experience for me every time I meet kind souls like you. To go back to what you said, I am an extrovert by nature, but 2020 has drastically changed my system and knocked me off my toes by bringing me out of my routines and comfort zone. I found myself confined at home, careful to meet people I usually see because I know they also have families to protect, and that made me sad for quite a few months. And so number 2 was a beautiful and meaningful lesson to me.

      I'm glad to hear that you're trying out new hobbies, I look forward to read more about them in your blog! Let's keep each other company out here, shall we? ;) Take care and stay safe always!



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