2020 was quite literally a dumpster fire, but thankfully I made some new discoveries throughout the year that kept me sane, brought me joy and creativity, and changed my life in some way. I’ve rounded up a list of my favorite finds from the year to share in hopes that they might change your life too!
“Nothing good in your life will be good the way it is good right now.” – Jeff Goins
Hope*Writers graciously offered access to teachings from many writers at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in the US, and I had the opportunity to tune in to many of them! I heard this quote from Jeff Goins’ talk, and it stopped me in my tracks and found myself thinking about it at least once a week for the next month afterward. As someone who is super nostalgic and loves to romanticize the past, it is so easy for me to want to hold onto good things, people, and relationships for longer than is healthy or beneficial for me. This quote from Jeff has put so many different scenarios into perspective for me. Simply put, it’s helped me appreciate the present goodness in my life more, and put the good from my past in its proper place.
“We have to live in the real, not the ideal.” – Lisa Hensley
As someone who strongly idenifies as a perfectionist and reformer, the majority of my time and headspace is spent identifying problems in every situation I’m in and thinking about ways to fix or avoid them. It can become extremely exhausting to always be wanting the very best, seeing how it *could* be that way, and wishing for things to change so they will be. When I heard Lisa say this, something in my brain flipped and has since helped me not only recognize when I’m operating out of my ideal version of life, but help reel me back into reality. What a gift.
(Disclaimer: I’m not one to watch a lot of television, but since I got to work from home every day for 9 months it was super easy to have a show on in the background and binge watch during my entire workday)
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
On April 8, 2020 my life was changed when I started watching the longest-running primetime live-action series of all time. I completely caught up to its most current season (474 episodes!!) on August 31, 2020, and to say I’m obsessed would be an understatement. Getting to watch a show that displays all of the cultural and societal changes surrounding sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse over the last 21 years has been so incredibly eye-opening to the way the United States justice system works through these heartbreaking cases, and my capacity for extending empathy for these victims has increased exponentially thanks to this incredible show. Also, Detective Nick Amaro.
I LOVE shows that revolve around a big family, and I watched all 6 seasons of this show in a month because I couldn’t get enough. Being an adult child is weird sometimes, and this show felt like receiving free family and marriage therapy by witnessing 5 different couples within the same family learn how to love each other through the good times and the bad.
Princess Diana. Need I say more?? The cinematography, screenwriting, cast, costumes, music – it’s all GORGEOUS. After I finished season 4 I ended up watching tons of interviews with the cast because I couldn’t get enough. This show has my heart.
I found Ali through a Skillshare class on video editing (a skill I hope to pick up in 2021), and became obsessed with his YouTube channel. He shares productivity tips and days-in-his-life videos as a medical doctor and YouTuber.
Iz Harris is an incredibly talented filmmaker and storyteller. I am so drawn to her openness about both the beautiful and the hard aspects of life and being human, and she is someone who inspires me to grow as a creative and human being.
2020 was a big year of reading for me! I read 21 books (the most I’ve ever read in a year!!), branched out to read new genres (I hadn’t picked up a fiction book in 4 years – and discovered I like historical fiction), and I am so pleased with how it’s changed my reading life.
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Shelly Turkle
I renewed my 3-years-expired library card after 3 months of quarantine, and picked this one up to hopefully learn some conversation tactics. I feel like I struggle to make simple, small conversations with people, and I would really love to grow in this area. This book opened my eyes to the places where people are lacking in conversation skills and why. It’s given me so many new perspectives and ideas to think about as I continue to grow in this practice.
The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
I first read this series back in high school, randomly decided to pick them back up during quarantine, and I am SO GLAD I did! I read through them all within a week, because I couldn’t put them down. Kiera’s writing and characters make my heart so happy, and my hopeless romantic side has been renewed and proven to still be alive!
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I came to the realization this year that I tend to read all of the same kinds of books, and that was really limiting my reading experience and my writing. This was the first historical fiction novel I’ve ever read on my own accord where a school assignment wasn’t attached to it, and I am SO GLAD this was the one to break the ice. The writing was BEAUTIFUL!
Sayable Writing Mentorship
I spent 9 weeks of 2020 writing under the mentorship of Lore Ferguson Wilbert. I am so humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to work with, learn from, and be shepherded by a woman who I earnestly respect and enjoy reading from in an area of my life where I’ve wanted to grow but didn’t know how. Her faithfulness and the grace that she extends through her writing on all of her platforms inspires and encourages me in my faith, my writing, and my life. It was such a blessing to be her student during this time.
Annie & Eddie Keep Talking – I am a devoted listener to Annie F. Downs’ podcast, That Sounds Fun, so when she started a DAILY podcast with one of her friends at the beginning of her quarantine it felt like a ray of light to look forward to on my daily walks. I love listening to these two friends talk about their lives, current events, and what they’re thinking about, and it’s the only podcast show that I regularly keep up with.
folklore album & evermore album – I still cannot believe Taylor Swift dropped TWO albums out of the blue within a span of 5 months of each other DURING A PANDEMIC!!! Both of them are beautifully written and these albums were lifelines for me during my work-from-home days, car rides, showers, everywhere.
Tripod – I purchased a tripod before I took a trip to Savannah so I could get some shots with my friend without having to ask strangers for help, and it was one of my best purchases of the year. I love how compact and lightweight this one is!
Interval Timer Shooting – I watched a video where travel vlogger Allison Anderson was talking about how she gets photos of herself when she solo travels, and she taught me the power of interval timer shooting. As someone who values capturing real-life moments, I’ve been able to get so many candid shots with this setting and it makes my documenting heart so happy!
Garmin vivoactive 3 smartwatch – One of my goals for 2020 was to run a half marathon (I was registered to run in an all women’s race in Central Park – r.i.p.), so I bought this smartwatch to track my training. I made it 10 weeks out of the 16 I needed to train, and this watch performed great to track my runs and other physical activities.
Strava – I’ve never been someone who enjoys running, but having the smartwatch and stats with this app to track my progress made the runs and training so much more fun. You can connect with friends and see their activities on this app too, which definitely helped keep my motivation up too!
Ramble & Company
This apparel brand has inspiring and empowering tees that are SO soft, and stickers that are the perfect encouraging messages to stick on my journals and notebooks.
Homebody Candle Co.
This homemade and natural-made home and body product shop has introduced me to my favorite lip balms!
(Disclaimer: Never in my life did I think I would turn into someone who put stickers on things but 2020 changed me – all of my future Moleskine notebooks will have stickers of some sort on them 🙂 )
Feelings by Iz Harris
That wraps up my favorites for 2020! When I look back on that year, these things helped bring me through to the end, and I’m grateful for them. If you discovered any favorite things from the year, please share them! Here’s to a new year and new favorites.