Jump to 50 things that made MY year, or 2020’s year-in-review.

50 things that made our year:

1. Adding Seollal (Lunar New Year) to our list of holidays. At first, as a way to connect to my roots, then, it replaced January 1st as our official “fresh start”. Kudos to anyone who can emerge from Holiday Insanity with their wits in tact by January, but we are not those people. We need to rest, recharge, and eat the last few Lindt truffles before launching into “New Year New Me” mentality. Enter: Lunar New Year, our beloved and elegant life hack. 

2. Making coffee in the Aeropress. 

3. Learning International Morse Code! (Surprisingly easy and fun.) 

4. Skiing at Crystal Mountain instead of Steven’s. Finding fun pit stops in Enumclaw and Greenwater. 

5. Skiing Mount Baker! 

6. Devoting one day a week for total rest (sabbath!), with no work-related tasks, conversations, etc. …It’s challenging, but deeply rewarding whenever we get it right. 

7. Welch’s Jelly Beans. The best! 

8. Upgrading our chair in the living room. 

9. The theragun. 

10. Ukrainian friends raising money for Ukraine, and the time and energy they invested in posting informative updates along the way. 

11. Walking to Molly Moon’s for ice cream after a long day. 

12. Paddle boarding amidst the heatwave(s). On Puget Sound: seeing seal pups lounging on the rocks. Lunch at Miri’s (r.i.p.). My epic fall into the water in front of the entire beach. On Lake Washington: seeing the eagle’s nest, paddling from Magnuson to Matthews Beach, going to Seward Park and indulging in Breezytown pizza afterwards. 

13. Celebrating the Brinks parent’s 50th anniversary, here in Seattle with the whole family. Hiking around Mount Rainier, summiting Mount Si, boating Lake Washington, seeing salmon (and one seal!) in the fish ladder at Ballard Locks. ‘Jiggle Jiggle’ by Louis Theroux on repeat the entire week. 

14. Camping at Mount Rainier. The wild flowers, swimming in alpine lakes, seeing a mama bear and her cubs mosey through a field. Re-hiking a favorite section of The Wonderland Trail. 

15. Our COVID saga: getting it 4 days apart and how bizarre that time was. 

16. …Surviving COVID. 

17. Drinks at The Screwdriver with Seattle Cocktail Club. Staying out late. Behaving like extroverts.

18. Live shows: Sigur Ros, Fleet Foxes, Sebastian Manascalco, Jack White, TSO, and James Acaster.

19. Clay surviving the crow attack.

20. Updating our resumes! 

21. Barbara’s cheese puffs (thanks, Mike!). And other good groceries like the pico de gallo at Top Banana; AOTT’s hummus, and pretty much everything they make; Pike Road Pinot Noir.  

22. Exploring New York City for the first time, and doing so alongside great friends! Making an on-point itinerary. How surreal it was to walk by iconic landmarks, in real life. Walking faster than the locals. Channeling our inner New Yorker, during and after the trip. 

23. NYC museums: Morgan Library, Museum of Natural History, the Tenement Museum.
…and never being able to pick our jaws up off the floor at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

24. NYC’s food and restaurant scene. 

25. Casually shopping alongside David Harbour and Lily Allen at Goods for the Study in SoHo. 

26. Visiting family and friends in Michigan. Beers with Bryan, Nate, and Katy. Staying with Brown and Dana in Traverse City. Lunch with the Meyer family. Staying at Shelly’s. Walking around my hometown & driving around Clay’s. Meeting up with CU friends. An afternoon with the Borck family. Quality niece/nephew time. Dinner at Kyle and Danielle’s homestead; D’s baby bump!

27. Splurging on Shuttle Express to get to/from the Sea-Tac airport. 100% worth it. 

28. The Michigan State vs. University of Washington game and the MSU friends who flew in for the weekend. Befriending strangers. Tailgating shenanigans. Watching the game from the second row. 

29. Spontaneous visits from Michigan ‘framily’: Having my mom here, on a last minute trip with her friend. Quality time with Stringers, eating churros and celebrating her baby bump. Steph! Hiking Wallace Falls, worldview chats, dinner at Annapurna, playing Catan. Grabbing a beer with Scott, and having our bartender (a fellow Michigander) pick up our tab.

30. Halloween: playing Until Dawn, watching bizarre horror films, MSU fans in costume watching the game at LTD (an MSU bar). 

31. The surplus of Little Free Libraries in our neighborhood, and the dopamine hit when we’d find the book we were looking for. 

32. Splurging on salon-grade hair products.  

33. Noticing comical similarities between the characters of Modern Family and our own family. 

34. Re-signing our lease for 7 months to get out of our Christmas to Christmas lease cycle. 

35. Deciding to always have a chilled bottle of champagne on hand for spontaneous celebration, and the many times it came in handy. 

36. MOVIES: Pig, The Lighthouse, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Hustle, The Meyerowitz Stories, The Christmas Story Story.

TV: Severance, Our Flag Means Death, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Somebody Somewhere, Jennifer Coolidge’s one-liners on White Lotus, The Rehearsal!, Only Murders in the Building, Stranger Things, Russian Doll. Re-watching: Gilmore Girls, Friends, Modern Family.

DOCUMENTARIES/OTHER: Aziz Ansari Nightclub Comedian, Nick Kroll Little Big Boy, Bo Burnham’s Inside Outtakes, and Stutz.

PODCASTS: Rich Roll (with Tony Riddle)1: on being “information rich vs. experience poor”, on the importance of posture/standing. Robcast episode #322: “There’s confidence in trying.” Robcast episodes #331, 332, 333: good good thoughts on hope, which continues to impact us almost daily.

37. The Ballard Town & Country employee who gave us a $65 gift card. 

38. The benefits of renting: no time or money spent when the washer, microwave, and faucet broke. (Mind blowing fact: we’ve officially lived in this apartment longer than we lived in our house!) 

39. Brewery hangs with various friends. 

40. The audio clip Clay shared of author Oliver Burkeman comparing grace to productivity debt. “Instead of starting the day in a deficit (clawing our way back to a zero balance through hard work, and finishing our to-do lists), starting at zero the moment we wake up. The liberating perspective that just being alive is enough, and everything we accomplish after we get out of bed is a surplus to requirements.” (Paraphrased) There’s also an article that says the same.

41. The Seahawks. Geno! Kenneth Walker III! Watching the Hawks/Panther’s game at Leny’s Place.

42. Restaurant highlights: My Friend Derek’s, Aroom, Made in House, Sushi Kashiba, Seattle Biscuit Company, Ooink Ramen, Canlis (and our remarkable friends who made the experience extra special), Schmaltzy’s (r.i.p.), Sunny Hill (and the wise decision to order a cookie to-go). Trying out all the breakfast joints near us to find our favorite one (still undecided).

43. Remembering our wedding day and how much has changed 10 years later. (TEN!)

44. Checking in more frequently with our basic needs. Like…have you eaten? Showered? Have you been getting enough sleep/exercise/water/fresh air? And how—usually—asking alone is enough (regardless of the answers) in preventing meltdowns, irritability, and those hangry “hulk smash” kinds of moments—at home, work, and otherwise. Key word: usually!

45. Going for a run around Green Lake, and then coming home to make Thanksgiving dinner together.

46. Spotify “karaoke.” 

47. Being intentionally inefficient and old school when it comes to errands: walking instead of biking, biking instead of driving, mailing instead of emailing, and so on. Appreciating the little encounters and delights that occur whenever we slow down enough to notice them. 

48. Christmas in Michigan: ladies lunch/guys lunch, Brewery Vivant with some of our closest friends, making waffles for my nieces, the entire Brinks family laughing during a game of Telestrations, reading by the fire while “the storm of the century” raged outside, Meyer family Christmas and the silly saran wrap ball prompts. The Van Gogh exhibit at DIA. 

49. Making it back to Seattle on Christmas day—against all odds. And! Despite the horrifying mid-flight battle between the lady in 36C and Influenza. 

50. Flying into Seattle at midnight on Christmas, thinking: “It feels good to be home.”

50 Things that made my year:

1. The momentum of a new year. 

2. Learning Korean. (Sometimes slowly. Sometimes aggressively.)  

3. Going to talk therapy for the first time ever. (Also “ending” #26)

4. Starting a daily drawing practice. Filling 3 or 4 sketchbooks throughout the year: a first!  

5. Playing through Shadow of Tomb Raider. 

6. Solving L.A. Times’ crossword puzzle every day in January and February. 

7. Painting a small mural in our apartment, on a whim. 

8. Being excused from jury duty on an intense case.

9. Learning new ways to support friends who need a hug but live far away.

10. …and having them do the same for me. 

11. Biking to Golden Gardens and drawing on the beach and/or reading in my hammock.

12. Turning 35 and not having an existential crisis about it.  

13. Seeing Sigur Ros perform at The Paramount on my birthday; how unexpectedly cathartic it was.

14. Joining Emma Carlile’s Patreon: participating in her virtual sketchbook sessions, and my subsequent obsession with a Royal Talens sketchbook, acrylic ink, and Caran D’Ache colored pencils. 

15. Summoning the confidence to draw in public, especially on airplanes, and absolutely loving it.

16. Comparing old sketchbooks to current sketchbooks and how nice it is to see tangible progress.

17. Deciding that regarding persistent concerns of The Bod, it’s best to skip Step 1 (anxiously googling symptoms) and instead go straight to Step 2 (scheduling an appointment with a medical professional). Can confirm that this approach is free from the anxiety associated with You are Actively Dying disease, which, of course, is Dr. Google’s favorite—and most common—misdiagnosis. 

18. …Going to physical therapy* and everything it taught me about anatomy and life. How everything is connected, how to celebrate the tiniest improvements, how to sit/walk/run/stand/sleep/breathe correctly, how to rest well, how maintaining mental and physical health is all about balance, how to stop comparing myself to others, and more. I left feeling like a brand new person in every way.

*ICYMI: I had severe pain in my arm(s) and hand(s). The pain and healing process prevented me from drawing and writing for most of the year, unfortunately. My PT utilizes the PRI method of PT, which I find fascinating. 

19. Annotating books… 

20. …and sometimes mailing them to friends. 

21. Thinking about the concept of taking feelings for a walk, and illustrating (some of) it. 

22. Seattle Public Library…always, but this year specifically as a resource for movies, using the ‘scan to usb’ option on printers (great for cookbook recipes), and using the free museum pass program. 

23. “Asking God to do the dishes.” —via Elizabeth Gilbert on Glennon Doyle’s podcast

24. Overcoming a brief stint of insomnia. 

25. The ‘ambiguous loss’ episode on the On Being podcast.

26. Ending talk therapy! And doing so with control, confidence, and a sustained pattern of growth/stability. I figured (or hoped) therapy would be a short term support from the get-go, but it felt great to hit that milestone and get to a place where leaving felt good, and right. 

27. Learning a thing about creativity and overcoming obstacles from Gloria Vanderbuilt

28. Learning about writing and friendship from Nora Ephron

29. Seeing Everything Everywhere All at Once for the first time. The kinship between friends who also laughed/bawled/laughed/wept when they saw it. “Raccaccoonie!” 

30. Laughing out loud on the drive home after helping a stranger jump his car—by myself, on a steep Seattle hill, in a downpour. Neither of us were confident with the jumper cables, and he only spoke Spanish; Google Translate was a hassle in the downpour, and of course, the jumper cable directions were written entirely in German and French. All I could say was “¿rojo aqui?” and “¿correr ahora?” in an attempt to ask “Is this where the red one goes?” and “Is your car running?” (I was surprised to remember “correr” which means “to run”, as in “to run” a marathon. However in Spanish it does not apply to a “running” car. I will never forget the look of total confusion and concern on his face.

31. Walking…long distances in the city. Finding new viewpoints or obscure landmarks along the way; getting to know Seattle’s nooks and crannies; the sense of adventure and accomplishment. 

32. Walking…at sunset. Going out of my way to watch the sun go down with unobstructed views. (After my PT mentioned that watching the sunset is good for the circadian rhythm.) 

33. Walking…at night (aka 4pm in the fall/winter), listening to this moody playlist.

34. Recognizing one of my inner personalities as Paris Gellar from Gilmore Girls, and taking that part of me less seriously. Striving less. Chilling the heck out. Letting go of perfectionist tendencies.

35. Making peace with the portfolio incident 11 years after the fact. And then thinking—for the first time—that when Past Katie’s digital portfolio was tragically erased, she could have simply scanned her physical portfolio to apply for online jobs. How funny/unbelievable that no one thought of it back then either. Life is wild. 

36. Re-watching old movies like As Good as it Gets, The Cable Guy, and When Harry met Sally… 

37. Reading about burn-out when I was burnt-out. (Laziness does not exist, by Devon Price ph.D; Can’t Even, by Anne Helen Petersen)

38. Getting legitimately good at cutting our hair.  

39. Jumping through all the hoops to clear up a confusing insurance claim. Also learning, once and for all, the difference between a deductible and coinsurance. (What a racket!) 

40. Being told/shown that I am an achiever, who is pragmatic and incredibly hard-working. And finally believing it, after years of telling myself (and hearing) that I am not those things. 

41. Signing up for an annual kayaking membership, and how serene the lake is in the winter. 

42. Watching Clay go after it this year: training for a half marathon, biking to work daily, and meditating consistently. “You go Glenn Coco!”

43. Consignment shops, and finding the exact items of clothing I was shopping for. 

44. The staff-picks section at Phinney Books. 

45. DM’ing artists I admire and how cool it is to have a mini-conversation with them. 

46. Doing jump rope workouts on our rooftop deck at night, looking out at the skyline. 

47. Sending and receiving snail mail.

48. That even though most of our friends/family live in other states, how gratifying it is to genuinely keep in touch.

49. The cathartic act of curating a soundtrack for the past year

50. Clay. 

Thanks for reading! I stole this year’s idea from the blog of artist/author Austin Kleon. I especially appreciate the way he points at what was good, even on the darkest and toughest days of the year. Or, in Claytie-speak, the belief that everything does not happen for a reason, but everything can be redeemed. Like the alchemy behind #10 on the first list, for instance. 

We hope you can look back on 2022 with the same spirit.

You can read our first attempt at a year-in-review here.

Cheers to 2023. Onward and upward!

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