My Favorite Things of 2020

December for me has always been a month of rest and reflection and with 2021 just around the corner, there’s no better time to reflect on the year that was 2020 than now.

I could be overly positive and say that this year’s been awesome, but I’m not going to lie, this year has really sucked. That being said, I’d like to try to find something good about this year.

Since publishing the favorite things episode on the Critically Casual Podcast (and then stopping the podcast), I thought it’d be nice to keep up with the concept in the same way that Oprah did, except I’m not giving stuff away for free nor am I recommending physical things to buy. I mean, I try to be a minimalist anyway and haven’t been buying a lot of stuff, which is fantastic for my wallet and storage. But there are some ‘things’, hobbies and experiences that I’ve discovered or rediscovered in 2020 that I think are worth sharing.

So here are a few of my favorite things in 2020.

Favorite Thing #1 – Improv

I joined an Improv group this year. It’s really fun. We play games, be spontaneous and act, sometimes all three at the same time. It’s a place to let go of the critical, perfectionist mind and kind of just accept things that are thrown my way.

Starting was the hardest part. I remember seeing the promotional poster for my improv group back toward the end of 2019, and I was terrified to attend on my own especially since I rarely would’ve done things unless I could get a friend to do them with me. But I went, knowing that I enjoyed drama classes back in the day and acting seemed like fun, and I’m glad I did. It was a kind of ‘safe space’ which was really great. I laughed and continue to laugh at the sessions and have a great time.

Improv might seem like something that only ‘drama kids’ are into. But it’s not really. We all improvise every day. But after going to improv this year, I have to say my confidence has improved. I’m able to start difficult conversations and put myself out there more. I’m still a bit of a perfectionist but that’s becoming less and less. And the characters, scenes and stories that pop up during improv are great inspiration for my creative business.

So there you go, if you’d like to break out of your shell a bit, try doing a bit of improv. And if you’re terrified of going, just do it anyway. The kind of people you’ll meet there are probably looking for the same thing you are.

Favorite Thing #2 – Best Movie of 2020

Cinema’s kind of been a disaster this year. And admittedly, I don’t watch very many new films. But there was one movie I watched that was really enjoyable and also came out this year. And that was The Old Guard.

I don’t have much to say about this film except that it’s got good world-building, characters and the writing is solid. Basically, it’s a fun flick with plot holes that could be looked over. I don’t know why, but most big budget Hollywood films recently haven’t been able to tell a cohesive story, but anyway.

An honorable mention is a film that I’m 7 years late for. (Because I’m not the biggest film buff). It’s called Disconnect. It’s a serious drama about how the internet affects a bunch of characters whose lives are all tied up together. It touches on real topics like cyber-bullying, online gambling and infidelity to name a few. And I like it because it made me think. It made a point without being too pretentious. And 7 years later in 2020, the question the film asks seems even more relevant. Is technology overtaking human interaction?

Favorite Thing #3 – Learning a Musical Instrument

During lockdown, I rediscovered the joy of playing a musical instrument. It started when I found my old saxophone in storage. I’d never had a lesson in saxophone but picking it up and then jamming with some friends reminded me how fun it could be to just stuff around with a musical instrument.

Back in high school, I was in a band where I was a Clarinetist. And everyone had their roles. Violinists, Flautists, Drummers, etc. I didn’t dare dream to play anything else except the Clarinet.

Thinking back now, that mindset was pretty self-limiting. As an adult, I can pick up the saxophone blast any old notes without being told off. I didn’t care that I wasn’t a saxophonist. I was just enjoying experimenting with a musical instrument.

I don’t play much saxophone now. But I bought myself an electric piano and have been enjoying learning that. I teach myself with books I’ve borrowed from the library as well as learning through instructional videos on YouTube. And whatever musical instrument you might be interested in learning, I’m sure you can find learning materials for it too.

Favorite Thing #4 – Making-Of Art Books

I like books and I’m a visual artist. So this one makes sense.

I’d always thought art books were just for display. But since buying myself the “Art of Over the Garden Wall”, I see the immense value in studying these books. They show the development process and nailing down concepts for a cohesive looking project, which are almost as important as making the art. And that’s something I want to master as I go forward with my own creative projects.

These kinds of books can be expensive and large to shelve, but this is good in my opinion. It makes me choose. I’m selective about which ones I buy and that really makes me think about my stylistic influences and what I love about each book I do choose to buy.

Favorite Thing #5 – Domestika

Domestika is a learning portal similar to Udemy where you buy perpetual access to courses that interest you. Most of the video courses are in creative areas like art, video games or animation which is why it interests me. And I find that the production quality is consistent and very good. Each course ranges from around $10-20US and there are regular sales too (don’t be suckered into the time-limited offers that always seem to be on the site).

There is a caveat though to keep in mind. Most of the courses are in Spanish, but there are English subtitles for most of them. These videos make me really concentrate when I watch them because I need to read the subtitles. I can’t just put them on in the background and do something else, like I have done with a lot of English-speaking video courses. And I’m improving my Spanish listening skills at the same time (which I think is a bonus). This might not be for everyone though, because lots of people really only want to listen to English resources.

If you’re up for learning some new art skills, and don’t mind reading subtitles or can understand Spanish, then check out Domestika.

So there they are – my five ‘favorite things’ I discovered or rediscovered in 2020. What do you think were your favorite things this year?

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