20 “things” I Loved in 2020
5 Favourite Things I Own From This Year:
- This flower was gifted to me earlier in the spring. As the plant serial killer, I wasn’t able to keep it alive. I moved in the early fall and was gonna replant something else into the pot but somehow I noticed it was still ALIVE. Two months later, that little bud is slowly turning into a flower again. I spent the early part of this year struggling with adjusting so many of the new changes including working from home, sharing a small space with my boyfriend and having a new job and everything started to turn up in again in the later half so I found this lil buddy is a perfect representation of how this year for me.
- Twenty twenty is the year mask became an essential accessory for lots of us. I got this reusable one with traditional Chinese design on it and it fits perfectly with my face with a very nice chin structure. I find as the year goes on, more and more people start to expressing their personalities through their mask and this has been the perfect one for me.
- I am still getting there but I love my workstation at home. I invested in this standing desk convertor pretty early on and is very grateful for it. When I went back to the office, I grabbed my name tag in the office and sticked it onto the monitor. I am constantly improving this as this is one of the places I spent most of time throughout the week but I am grateful for the resources given me to figure out a space that allows me to be most productive working at home.
- My boyfriend, Xiang gifted me this weighted blanket for my birthday and I have been sleeping with it since. Sleeping is such an important part of my day and I love the slightly snugging feel this gives. It has two sides but I mainly use the side for summer/colder days (without the tiny bumps) as the I enjoy the way that texture touches my skin.
- Everyone probably know at this point, my boyfriend and I got a Prusa printer! It has been such a highlight for the later part of the year and hands down, the best investment we made this year. Not only it kept us engage while we are at home, it gives me an option to send customized gifts and make things with my hands. Photo here is the first print we had with the printer — Buddy.
5 New Experiences That Brought Me Joy:
- Earlier this spring, I started a new job at Vena Solutions. The second Friday on the job, we switched to WFH. It was wild to think about my onboarding experience while adjusting not work from an office. I am grateful for the people I work with to make this year wonderful for me. I feel loved, valued and appreciated every day I go to work as I know there is always someone I can reach out for a question.
- I also started keto diet late October this year. Earlier this year the topic of food came up in a conversation between me and Xiang and I realized I have been struggling getting a healthy relationship with it for a while. For me the biggest thing is that I stop thinking about overeating certain type of food as coping mechanism. I eat only while I’m hungry and stop before I am stuffed. I learnt to pay attention what I fuelled myself with every day.
- Like many, I became a mom of a lot more plants. On top of the fish babies I already have, I started my morning with taking care of them. I find those time truly fuel my soul. One of the favourite parts of my morning routine is to have a black tea while watching my fish getting their food.
- I received this bouquet of flower from my friend, Rafi. For days, I was trying to changing the water for it with our DIY homemade plant water and the flowers will leave my fingers smell so good for a while. As I was sniffing the smell on my fingers, it reminds me of that old Chinese saying, “送人玫瑰手有余香” (roughly translating to when you give others roses, there will be lingering fragrance on your hand). I am grateful I am in a position to help.
- After months of working from home, I spent a moment to build a corner of slowness. I find although I have my work station, I work sometimes at other places at home. What I needed was a corner to be slow. I now meditate, read and do DIY projects at this corner. It’s the space for me to charge.
5 Memories I Shared With Others:
- At very beginning of this year, I had the pleasure to gather with friends that live in Ottawa and Montreal and spent a weekend together in the cottage. I went tobogganing the first time and had lots of fun. As someone who is not so good with winter sports, I always struggle with finding things to do during the colder months. But it was such a great experience.
- After months of zooming, I got the chance to meet my team in person in the summer. It was the first time I saw anyone outside my immediate social circle at the time and getting to put bodies onto those faces I get to see every day online is something I really enjoyed. I cherish this very much as we are in lockdown again and will not all work from the same space again in a very long time.
- I was part of an internal panel event at Vena for International Day For People With Disabilities. I was given a space to share my story with depression, suicide and mental health with the people I work with. That experience taught me how vulnerability is the very strength that bridge and build connections and I was lucky that I can bring my truthful self to work every day.
- Twenty twenty truly threw the event industry a challenge and I am amazed how the event professionals adapt to this challenge. I love live events and wasn’t able to experience much this year. Yet Terra Lumina at the Toronto Zoo was truly a highlight for me.
- For 4 weekends in a row in November and December, I mentored the web development course at Juno. This was the very first class I took when I decided to give web development a go and I am grateful for the chance to meet so many people started out their journeys the same way I did 2 years ago.
5 Moments With Myself / Lessons Learned:
- I took a walk one morning through the Ex in September. It would be the time for the CNE in any other year so the place would be packed with people. Yet it was just me that time and by myself. This year has been special but it allows me to see a place in its other side, the side I have yet to develop a memory with.
- This year I learnt how therapeutic walking can be. I took walks after work to wind down, the morning to start my day with fresh air, during lunch to get some movement in. I had many many calls with friends to catch up when I walk. One of my fav things to do on my walk is to find pieces of objects in the colours of the rainbow. I learnt this from a 99% invisible episode.
- The last two months, part of my morning routine has been doing my makeup. I used to do them before work, always in a rush. It felt like something I have to do to look presentable. Yet I was inspired by a video I watched from Emily Noel, which she talked about the time spending with the markup mirror could be a relaxing time for self. Now it’s exact that, plus a time for me to explore, play and most importantly, slow down.
- I also watch lots of sunsets and sunrises, especially after we move to the side of the building I can see the lake. I never grow up next to water but somehow I love seeing the lake on a different day. Just like the old saying, no matter what happened that day, the sun will also be there, on time.
- I also spent lots of time slowing down. Sometimes I was fidgeting, sometimes I was drinking tea, sometimes I was people watching through the window. I love those moments when I realize something I have never noticed in the space I have been living in a while or trying to learn how one thing works and be amazed by just the discovery. Those are the things you would only notice when you slow down.
Despite this year being special for everyone, compiling this list was a lot harder than I thought — not because I was having a hard time coming up with things but to limit them to only 5 per category. On that note, I want to leave you with this quote Ro also used in her video:
If you forgot the language of gratitude, you will never be on speaking terms with happiness.
Here are some other places you can find me on the Internet:
- Wonder what is this place I work that sounds so dope? Feel free to reach out if you want to know more about working at Vena: https://www.venasolutions.com/
- I write at-the-moment short blog post (people also call them tweets): https://twitter.com/ChaoyueZ
- Did you know I used to plan events? Wanted to know about my career journey? Head over: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chaoyuezhao/
- And of course, you want to see my sunrise and sunset photos: https://www.instagram.com/chaoyue_zhao