2020: A year in review

Don’t you think it’s funny how the start of the decade feels like a whole entire decade? (insert skull emoji)

And like many of you, boy am I Glad 2020 is done.

Still… it feels improper to bid the year adieu without a little review.

So here’s a few of my personal highlights during the Longest Ever Real-Life Filler Episode in existence.


Throughout the year, you see news of companies laying off people. Lockdowns all across countries are affecting the livelihood of industries that depend heavily on traction.

The company I worked on was also affected since their clients were mostly small firms in a very niche sector of the finance industry. But despite the lower income level they reported this year, they did their best not to lay off people or even reduce our pay and for that I was extremely grateful.

It was a bit of struggle the first few months, transitioning to a work from home arrangement. But I successfully set my work from home boundaries and started to get a hang of it. Unfortunately, because of personal circumstances and the pressure in my particular department getting too much to bear, I decided to quit my job.

It was perhaps the biggest, most difficult decision I made this year.

Heck, I even cried to my sister one night. Told her how I was so afraid people will think I’m a quitter and ungrateful. But she reminded me that there was nothing wrong with figuring things out and prioritizing your own health. Especially when you’re young and just entered the workforce. And very especially in the middle of a pandemic.

As of this writing, I got my last pay cheque from my company and I no longer have a reason to return to that office. And honestly? While I’m still fumbling around and not really knowing if what I’m doing is right, these last two months of the year is also when I am at my calmest in 2020.


Perhaps like most young artists, I consciously and subconsciously evaluate my art progress based on two things:

1) Actual art improvement

2) Social media growth

I know, I know. Before you all come at me with your pitchforks and torches, I understand your righteous indignation on Number Two. Number Two shouldn’t even be there.

But let’s face it.

Whether we like it or not, seeing how other people receive our creative work is a huge part of being a creative, especially one who shares their work in public. And social media may have exponentially widened the possibilities of our reach (not necessarily widened our reach, mind you, there’s difference), this has been going on for decades. But I digress – I’ll probably talk about this take in future posts.

That said, despite my social media growth being significantly lower than last year, I actually felt I have bigger art improvement this year. This is largely due to the fact that I allowed myself the freedom to just try out different things. From experimenting with gouache, to learning more about adding details in clothing (specifically, lace details), to dipping my toes in digital art. Even now, as of writing, I have ongoing personal art projects where I experiment on new things. And I am excited to see where this new easygoing mindset with art will take me next year.

Retail shopping therapy

Let me preface this section with:

I don’t like actual IRL shopping.

I go inside a mall with a specific intention and go out without anything else. Unless it’s food or art materials. But I prevent impulse buying by veering away from shops that sold art mats in the first place.

As you all may be quite aware, this doesn’t happen online.

In fact, the products go to you. Through ads on your timelines, as sponsored posts from people you follow… even on actual TV where, in my country, Shopee and Lazada ads are basically earworms and memes at this point.

And because the pandemic had us vulnerable and mentally exhausted for months, I am not surprised at all that people run to online retail shopping as a coping mechanism. Including yours truly.

Personally, June through September was the period I probably spent the most in online shopping. But I’m happy to report that I slowly regained my control. October, I didn’t even added anything to cart. November, I was a little tempted with the 11.11 sale and bought new pairs of pants and one watercolor set. (Though can you blame me when it was sold half the original price???) Then December, I basically only bought new garments during the 12.12 sale. This happened after I went through all my photos in the past two years and discovered in horror that I have worn the same outfit when going out with friends for the past two years.


I was going to talk about habits that stuck this year… but I can’t think of anything other than making my bed every morning. Which is a habit I’ve been doing more mindfully the past two years.

So instead let’s talk about the latest additions to my long list of hobbies!

Kalimba playing

I can finally stop jokingly answering the question, “What instrument do you play?” with “My voice.”

One of my online shopping impulse buys, learning how to play the kalimba was a relaxing distraction back when I was struggling with the work from home arrangement.

Also, I can’t lie. I only bought kalimba so I can play this:


Currently, I’m learning how to play the entire Canon in D Major but it’s a chunky song so it’ll take awhile.


I am intent on improving my flexibility so I decided to take up yoga. (I impulsively bought a yoga mat too.) At the moment, I’m only doing 15 to 30 minutes yoga sessions via YouTube.

I tried to do a supposedly “beginner” yoga stretch one time and I did one single lunge. One. And I immediately pulled my hamstrings so bad. I was about to quit but something a friend of mine made me stick to it:

“Anything is achievable for beginners as long as you don’t push yourself too hard.”

Food for thought, y’all. And not just for yoga.

Photo and video editing

While I already have basic knowledge of this, I really got into thinking more about photo and video editing this year. Largely, for my art and my lowkey Youtube art channel.

I’m still nowhere excellent but it is pretty fun to do occassionally.

One time, when I was bored, I did photoshoots of the little toy figurines surrounding our TV. It was fun.

Psyduck is basically me throughout this year lmao

Cooking and baking

Like most people during quarantine, I also coped by trying to cook or bake.

I started out by attempting tamagoyaki, or Japanese egg rolls, learning how to cook poached egg, to making actual deep-fried donuts!

This New Year’s Eve, I plan on baking a cake. And not just simple cake but something with icing and ganache and all that fancy stuff.

(Another one of my impulse buys is a washable piping bag so I’m putting that to use too lmao)

I have tried making a cake twice now but this will be the first time that I’ll decorate it so wish me luck!

I’ll let you know in the next post if my cake attempt goes well.

Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful new year!


Ms. Peevee B says:

Oh wow. You got a productive year right there. Happy New Year!

Kate Ashley says:

Thanks! Although it definitely doesn’t feel productive when you’re right in the midst of it all haha, but that’s why looking back at the year is so fun and enlightening. Happy New Year too! 🙂

Ms. Peevee B says:

I do agree. I felt quite blah this year but looking back at it, it wasn’t actually as bad. haha

Sumedha says:

I saw Olivia from Stories for Coffee play Kalimba a couple times and now I’m very intrigued! I’m just worried that I won’t play it once I get it because there’s already so much to do. It sounds so good, though!
All the best for 2021, with your art and everything <3

Kate Ashley says:

Same! There’s so many things to do and I wonder if I’ll get any done haha
Thanks! Happy new year as well <3

Hiiiiii my unicorn <3

So proud of you for achieving so many things this year, and remaining resilient despite the challenges you've faced!!

I wish you all the best, and hope this year brings you many amazing memories of hope, love, joy, catching dreams, and most importantly keeps you safe!!

lots and lots of loveeeee

Kate Ashley says:

Kiyaaaaaa <3 Thank you!! I look forward to seeing all the amazing things you do this year as well. Much love <3 <3

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