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My Top 20 of 2020 Pt. 1

2020- what a year with a global pandemic, social injustices, limited social interactions due to Shelter in Place, and Mother Nature giving humanity a reality check on climate change. 2020 was also a year of reflection, contemplation, and much more personal confrontation than what I was used to on a day-to-day basis. With more ‘acceptable’ time to slow down and hit the breaks on the fast-paced capitalistic lifestyle, my introverted soul appreciated this downtime to chill the fuck out. Aha or so I thought. Yes, my mind, body, and soul were able to rest more than usual. I got more restful sleep, quality time with family, plenty of time to journal, and even got to pick up some hobbies along the way. At the same time, it was incredibly challenging due to current events happening around the world, which in turn greatly affected my mental health. On many days, it felt dooming to scroll on Instagram, watch the news and developed even more anxiety to step outside. All this to say, despite a year of uncertainty and hurting, it was also a full year of beautiful growth.

Inspired by one of my favorite Youtubers, Rowena Tsai, a co-host of Beauty Within, a beauty skincare channel and also a Wellness advocate, who encouraged me to practice gratitude through reflection and journaling. In following her journal prompts found here, I have come up with my own top 20 of 2020. This is part 1 of 2.


1. My Red Journal

With all the ups and downs of this past year, my red journal has really helped me process my feelings, as well as record the good things that have happened. It has given me the space to reflect, vent, have moments to speak with my inner child, and also witness moments of my own growth. This journal became a place I can call my own and take up all the space I want.

|Red Moleskin Ruled Notebook 5x8.25 $19.95|

2. Mood Lighting

My room has become both my workplace and sanctuary. Work-life balance boundaries can get blurry on hectic days. But once the day is done and the night is calm and quiet, I like to turn on my warm yellow globe lights and light my scented candle. It signals my mind and body to let the day go and rest.

|Globe Lights from Target, various candles from TJMaxx & Marshalls|

3. Gallery Wall

Along with my warm yellow mood lights, my gallery also adds to the soft and safe environment I’ve made for myself. My gallery wall includes paintings from my Ate(older sister), artworks from friends, photos of love ones, and kind post-it reminders. It also includes a poster I got from my Costa Rica study abroad trip during college and my own collage artwork. All in all, it’s a collection of reminders of the beauty of creativity, art, and how my love ones can hold space for me even from far away.

4. My New Plant Babies

Aha yes, I also became a plant mom/plant tita. When life felt stagnant, I got plant babies in hopes that I could see life grow. I must admit that I was quite a helicopter mom. With my impatience, I would water them way too frequently and gave them way too much attention. I had to learn to give them what they need and let them grow on their own. I also often spoke words of affirmations to my plant babies and realized, if I could say kind and encouraging things to my plants, then I sure could practice giving them to myself, and that’s exactly what it felt like. My plants almost felt an extension of me and my growth. And it taught me that growth is slow and it’s more than okay to take my time. I learned to shed parts of me that I didn’t need anymore and that’s okay too. Cycles of life and death, growth, and stillness are normal and necessary to make room for more.

Check out Crimson Horticultural Rarities in Oakland if you’re looking for a new plant nursery

5. Yoga Mat

Similarly, to my journal, my yoga mat is my dedicated bubble to take up all the space I want and need. I’ve been making an effort to consistently meditate and stretch since last year and in a society that often moves too fast, this is a time I can give myself to slooww down. It’s a dedicated time to breathe deeply and give back to my body. As a person with anxiety, deep breathing helps me regulate my emotions and lets my body relax and take a break from being on high alert. Stretching through yoga or qi gong has also been a way for me to appreciate my body and give it was it needs which is letting tensions go through movement.


1. Recording and Video Editing

This was something I also wanted to do but was always too intimidated. I admired friends from college that produced stories through videos. They were able to capture golden moments and through the magic of editing, everything became a standing memory of events that can be revisited at any time. Story masters are what I think of them and the best part is that they create a form of time travel. Anyways, I finally gave myself permission to just try it out even though it won’t be the quality that I want it to be. It was about the process of creating the story and making the memory last to look back on. I created my first vlog of a road trip I took with my partner to Portland and Seattle. As a newb, I think I did pretty well. :)

Check out my vlog! Portland & Seattle Travel Vlog 2019

2. Wellness Group Coaching Program- Creating Home with Tiffany Trieu

To give some context, I had been out of college for 2 years and working at a non-profit educational after-school program. As a First Generation Professional, meaning that I am one of the first in my family to enter a professional working environment, I really struggled with Imposter Syndrome and trusting my own instincts. I always felt like I was going to get outed or called out that I didn’t belong and ultimately often felt unworthy to take up space in professional environments. I often thought to myself, who am I to contribute to meetings and express my thoughts?

When I expressed my struggles with a close childhood friend of mine, she introduced me to Tiffany Trieu, an Inner Child advocate and Self-Trust coach. I honestly thought life coaches were just in movies so I was skeptical, but I was comforted by the fact that we shared similar experiences of Imposter Syndrome and being a Child of Immigrants. I joined her program and once a week, I was given a safe space to be completely authentic, vulnerable, and share my voice. I learned about breathwork, how to make room for reflection and fun, to let go of imperfection and build a healing relationship with my inner child. As scary as it was to try something new, it was truly a fulfilling experience. I built meaningful relationships with others who joined the program with me and really helped ground me last year. This experience really helped me heal in so many ways. If you are curious to know more, let me know and I can write a separate blog post about it. :)

|Want to learn more about Tiffany Trieu? Check out her IG, @itstiffanytrieu|

3. Creating and Hosting Wellness and Creative Writing Workshops

Working at an after-school program as an educator and academic coach for high school students, I facilitated multiple weekly workshops. When the pandemic hit and everything went virtual, we had to adjust and address student’s needs for mental and emotional support, and maintain a strong sense of community. As we pivoted to meet student needs, I had the chance to create and host wellness and creative writing workshops for students. It was something I always wanted to do but was often put on the back burner in academic-focused spaces. With newfound creative freedom, I was able to facilitate workshops on self-care, affirmation poems, journal reflections, dance analysis discussions and simply create spaces for our youth of color to share themselves and be seen. It was my favorite part of my job and always reminded me how funny, beautiful, and intelligent young people are.

4. Designing an Online Blog

This has been a year-long on and off project, one that I started beginning of 2020. Why did it take so long? I had multiple internal battles with myself, scared to share my voice online and feared it would be a total disaster. With some inner work, support from friends and family, I was able to get to a point where I began to believe in my own words and that it matters. I wanted to create something I can call my own and work towards. I have gone through multiples drafts of designing this website and writing drafts and drafts of content. I learned to appreciate the designer’s eye and attention to detail. Writing has been something I wanted to do since I was little, but was always resistant in pursuing it because I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough, but it’s 2021! My year to break away from fear and do what I want to. This is also an avenue for me to practice taking up more space, be creative and lean into the discomfort as I grow as a writer.

5. Getting My Nose Pierced on My 24th Birthday

Wooo! Finally, a pre-covid memory! Aha, I honestly forgot about this event, but it really was one of my favorite moments of 2020. I got my nose pierced back in March on my 24th birthday in Berkeley after brunch with my friends. It was such a special moment to have my friends in the room with me and cheer me on. Getting this piercing was also a way for me to feel more at home with my own body. Growing up, I was told to keep a “good girl” appearance and people/society always had something to say about something that wasn’t theirs. So my body felt more mine when I got my nose piercing because I got to do what I wanted despite what other people would think. Aha yes, it was only a nose piercing, but at the moment it felt pretty badass. And although my mom was against it at the beginning, she got over it. Bahala Na! (Closet Tagalog translation: “Whatever will be, will be.”)

|Shout out to my friend Bianca for capturing this moment and Zebra Body Piercing Berkeley|

(Click Here for Pt. 2)

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