Seeking the positive in 2020 - A Year of challenges

6:04 AM


Every year in December, I retrospect of the year that was and how I did with the goals I set in January, it's a ritual I go through to evaluate what I need to jot down as far as goal are concerned for the next year. 

I think it is clear that 2020 has thrown us all a MASSIVE curve ball and none of us saw it coming. But, I am not the kind to dwell on the negative, and as I opened my journal on the goal list, I actually achieved a lot more of them than I thought I would considering the all out madness. I even managed to get a few things there wasn't on list sorted out. 

The awesome, the good and the crappy

I had quite a few goals this year, some of them personal, others professional and here are the most importants : 

- Master Procreate
- Get back to 70kg of weight
- Expand my Etsy product range
- Plan and conduct a Bullet Journal workshop for adults
- Learn to make and edit videos
- Cross the 50k a month income threshold
- Sell my products in a local fair or market

Needless to say that some of those goals went for a toss, but let's go in details shall we? 

Master Procreate

This is my absolute proudest achievement this year, and one I am absolutely certain I would have slacked on if life went on as normal. I would have had a million other projects to distract me from going more in depth in perfecting my skill using Procreate for iPad, which is a drawing software that is fast becoming an industry standard for designers and illustrators. 

Living inside with hubby, daughter and 2 pets 24/7 meant I had to share my space with them, and getting messy with watercolor or acrylic projects wasn't an option, not with hubby needing the office most of the day and my daughter needing the laptop for online school. 

The advantage of the iPad is that I can draw from the comfort of the sofa or my bed, and there is no risk of paint spilling. So I dove into it and took quite a few Skillshare classes to learn new tricks and techniques, including how to turn a design into a seamless pattern straight into Procreate, thanks to Cat Coq and her amazing classes. 

Get back to 70kg of weight

Back in 2017 when I had a HUGE flare of positional vertigo that pretty much left me disabled and unable to workout for months, I sadly gained a few kilos thanks to my crappy metabolism. Loosing them has been a never ending battle ever since, and it seemed no amount of swimming and resistance training helped. That still didn't stop me to put it on my goal list. 

I'm sure you guessed this one is a goal that went to the dogs! 

And yes, it an extent. The draconian lockdown of March to May not only forced us to stay indoors, it also disrupted my entire diet with pretty much all the things I need to eat to stay healthy being unavailable. 
Those who don't know it, I am HIGHLY carbs and grain intolerant, as in I  CANNOT process them right, not even the so called good grains and low GI carbs. They screw my metabolism and my body just goes completely out of whack. 
My ideal diet is a diet rich in leafy greens, veggies, and animal protein (lentils are an absolute no go), and for a long while it was hard to get those at all. 
It led to the brown skin patches so typical of insulin resistance making a comeback among other unpleasant side effects. 

Fortunately, I compensated by eating the last of my my 5-6 daily mini meals smaller and more protein heavy by eating nothing but eggs or cheese, or yogurt as my last meal and giving a chance to my poor metabolism to handle the overload of grains. 

While I haven't stepped on the scale since February, because I really really don't need something as trivial as a number to stress me out more this year, I know that based on how my clothes fit and how I look in the mirror not much has changed. 
I might not have lost weight, but if I gained any, it's minimal, and all things considered, I managed to stay as fit as one can possibly hope to stay considering the circumstances. 

Expand my Etsy product range

Back in January I was thinking that in term of adding a few more physical items to my inventory, like notebooks, and look into getting more stickers, and possibly some washi tape. 

Instead, the lockdown brought the inability to ship ANYTHING internationally for months forcing me to either shut my shop down or find an alternative. 

I opted for the alternative and pivoted toward offering printables that can be downloaded by my buyers immediately upon purchase. 
I ended up pulling all physical products off my shop and for now I have no plans of bringing them back. I am constantly thinking of new printable stickers sets and digital products and I love creating them. 

This goal is one that started as one idea and had to evolve to stay practical under the current circumstances. So, I did meet it, just not in the original idea format I had. 

Plan and conduct a Bullet Journal workshop for adults

That one never made it, I am the kind of teacher who believe in human connection and interacting physically, so the idea of just talking to a bunch of people through a screen never appealed to me. 

I let it go, I might go back to it once things settle down one day.

I also toyed with the idea of maybe one day take the time to create a Skillshare class and make the step into becoming a Skillshare teacher, but I am not that ready for it just yet...and that is ok

Learn to make and edit videos

Speaking of videos, learning how to make them and edit them and have a YouTube channel had been on my mind for years. 
I ended up biting the bullet and just do it this year. I am not as regular as I wanted to with it, but it's because having enough quiet undisturbed time with everyone at home has proven a lot more challenging than I thought when it comes to creating videos. 

I still did it, and god a bit better at it and I got to put those editing skills to good use when Etsy decided to introduce video features as part of their listings.

So, that's another of my big goal that I managed to get off my list. 

Cross the 50k a month income threshold

This one never came even close to become a reality, I was on track to make it when I wrote it down in January, but then Covid happened and just loosing my current art classes account of a 20k a month loss. 

Threw in a few months of not earning affiliate sales because Amazon suspended the program, and not being to ship anything out of my Etsy shop and it did add up. 
Fortunately, the income from my Redbubble and Society6 shops went up so that never really was a month that was too dry for comfort. 
I got a few commissions that came in still, for which I am grateful. All in all, though, I don't see it as a total loss, just a slow down that left me time to explore new ideas. 

Sell my products in a local fair or market

I never even got to even start exploring on how to make this goal happen and there is no indication that fair and open air markets will resume until 2021. 
I don't really mind not even getting anything to show toward that goal, I'm not even sure I will want to carry it over to the new year because I'm busy exploring other ideas. 
It might happen, or it may not, but it's no longer something that has the status of "Goal". 

The bonus achievements that I didn't expect

I ended up achieving a few more things I had not even planned on this year. The weren't goals, at least not the ones with a deadline attached to them, and most of these achievements are more of the personal development kind and are the stepping stone to something yet to come. 

The biggest of all was tackling emotional issues and childhood trauma that had been holding me back for decades. 
I had been working on these for a few years now, but the breakthrough really happened this year, while processing the new normal that we've all been dealt. 

I don't want to go into details as to what those trauma were, because frankly it's nobody's business but mine at this point, but I'll say that : this was holding me back in major way and became incompatible with my business goals and who I want to be as a person. I'm still working on it, and I know I'll still be working on it for the foreseeable future, it's just that this year I figure out how to tackle it and overcome my internal struggle. 

One of the thing I knew of quite a few year but never came to appreciate as fully as I did this year is my grit, stubbornness to keep going and ability to turn a problem around and make something work. 
My mom says I had always been laser focused on an idea or a thought until I got something out of it even as a toddler. 
That kind of power has seen me through things that others run away, like culture shock in India. This year it has helped me go through 9 months of loosing my introvert space, loosing certain streams of income, faced uncertainty like anyone else, but despite it all, I kept going, re-invented a few goals, accepted a few setbacks, worked on things I could control, let go of many I couldn't and actually made peace with the fact that life happened and that it wasn't the end of the world if I kept moving along with it. 

This doesn't mean I didn't have low points and moments of anger and helplessness this year, I just tend to be able to snap out of it before it consume me whole. This is a special skill, and anybody who has the ability to do it should pat themselves on the back and consider it a huge achievement. 

What goals did you have in January? Did you stay on track? How many did you see through? How have you tackled this insanity year? Let me know in the comments. 

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  1. Congratulations on your achievements this year. I thought your YouTube channel was a wonderful idea. Hope to see more of your videos on art.

    This year was difficult. The single greatest take away was that we need to be ever vigilant about our health. So I drank khada everyday and did pranayama through out the lockdown.

    The second is picking up mundane skills that empower you. I realized that I need to be more useful at home. Then ofcourse the technical curve ball that the school is still throwing at us through online classes. We got to learn so many new things. My son got to showcase his musical skills online which he could not otherwise. It was a big boost to his confidence.

    The fact that the world could stop one day was itself a lesson that we need to be more careful about our health and our environment in general.

    1. My mom and I were talking about the need to pay more attention to our health, and how this virus wouldn't have been as big a deal of we weren't a society obsessed with productivity to the point of only seeing a value in people only if they work and earn money.
      Before the industrial revolution people took it easy in the winter months, it was the downtime period, like nature, we were meant to rest. Less daylight meant less vitamin D and an immune system on a break. Nowadays we are all business all year round and before Covid we were prescribed a couple of pills if we were sick so that we could go back to work immediately.

      We went from a society that understood that there are less productive time in a year and that the body needs to rest, to suddenly being little factory floor machines conditioned to never miss work/school because doing so would be punished in a way or another.

      I think the world over, a lot of men suddenly realised how much work goes into keeping a household and how important it is to find a way to help :-)

  2. Glad to see your accomplishments and the goals you have set for the next year.
    True, one thing that has this year has truly focused on is health.
    Let's hope everything gets better in 2021.

    1. Thanks,
      I actually haven’t set the 2021 goals just yet, those were all my 2020 goals. I might carry some over to the next year, but I usually reassess everything and start with fresh new goals in January, unless the missed goals from the pervious year were totally missed and still are important.

  3. Hi Cynthia, Great writing and very inspiring that despite not fulfilling all your goals you are staying so positive. I myself am going through a tough time healthwise... and experiencing recurring virtigo for the last 4 months and symptoms are exactly same as the ones you described in your 2017 post. In my case though it seems to be linked to problems in the cervical spine since I'm also experiencing pain in the neck and recently in the upper arm. Although the ENT claims my ears are fine and I just need to destress, and the orthopaedic seems to believe that all issues will be resolved if I lose weight and change my "lifestyle" which already includes 40-50 mins of early morning yoga and an hour of walking in the afternoon/evening along with the house work and whatever I'm able to do in the office! So basically I am clueless as to what I need to do. For how long did you experience virtigo symptoms, or are you still having any issues? Mine just seems to come back every few weeks, although on the positive note the symptoms last for shorter time and are lower in intensity with each passing month. But at the moment life sucks!

    1. Vertigo can be due to a lot of things. I still get vertigo from time to time, for me it's purely a vestibular issue, loud noises do tend to make me dizzy and situations that are disorienting with lot of movement, lights, and noise like being in a crowded mall makes it worse, I usually avoid peak hours or public holidays to go shopping even to the supermarket because I know it's going to make me feel dizzy for hours.

      I went to many Dr to investigate everything possible before we settled on benign positional vertigo. If you have pain in your neck and shoulder, I would check with a physiotherapist, or better yet an osteopath that could help relieve pressure in the spine. When I was a teen and young adult in Switzerland we had a osteopath that treated the whole family, he was the first guy we would go visit for issues that clearly weren't a cold or the flu, and he helped me with several related back and joints related issues over the years.

      Sometimes pain and things like vertigo could be due simply because a vertebrae is slightly misaligned and is pinching a nerve, and a few sessions with an osteopath can put it back in its place.

      If weight is an issue, it could have little to do with excercise in itself and more to do with your metabolism, whcih a Dr specialised in metabolism should be able to help you figure out.
      When I was 83 kg I was walking close to 2 hours a day and still was on my feet doing housework and running errands the rest of the time and I was eating a healthy balanced diet. What we found out is that by treating my lifelong insulin resistance the exact same way as diabetes with a tailored diet of 5-6 small meals rather than 3 big ones helped a lot, along with it, I needed to vary my workout regimen because cardio burned close to no calories for me, it still doesn't. I needed to have a lot more strength training in my fitness regime on top of the 1-2 hours of daily cardio to start loosing weight.

      I hate weight lifting, so I don't do it, instead I did strength training in the pool 2-3 times a week, and some strength excercise on my yoga mat at home the rest of the time. I also do take metformin 3 times a day because without it I get back on the pounds real quick as I am really hardcore insulin resistant and carbohydrate intolerant.

      All in all, you need to find a fitness regimen that is working for your body, and it's better to check with a doctor for that. There are two many health guru out there that advocate all kind of crazy stuff and have a kind of one size fits all approach to it.

  4. Appreciate the response. Thanks for your time!


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