Today is December 31, 2020 and it’s MY BIRTHDAAAAAYY!
HOORAY! *confetti* *fireworks*
Before anything else, I’d like to thank everyone who clicked the tiny follow button on my humble blog. I’ve only ever dreamed of getting a hundred follows by the year ends but I can’t believe that there are now more than 200 of you guys! Thank you so so much! You guys made my birthday extra special!
The one thing that people always assume when they hear that my birthday is on the 31st of December is that I get to have a grand celebration. Well, yes and no, Yeah, I mean it’s grand in a sense that my neighbors, and more or less the whole world, prepare feasts in their homes and put on a spectacular display of fireworks for the new year. It’s fun to see it that way but I also get this sense of everyone wanting to rush things because they can’t wait for the past year to finally expire.
This year was tough for everyone. All of us have been tossed, turned, and bruised by the events of the world. I feel for everyone who has been victims of injustice. I pray that life will be kinder and more gracious to you as we move into 2021. Thank you for persevering to survive despite the weight of the world. I greatly admire you.
2021. A fresh new year, a clean slate, an empty canvas, where you’re free to do anything you’d wish and hope for. A happy new year. I’m with you guys in welcoming 2021 with arms wide open.
But you know, for me, going through 2020 was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received.
I think one of the best gifts aside from a boatload of cash is extra time with a side of courage.
I am thankful for 2020 because if I didn’t go through it, I wouldn’t have time to do all the things that I didn’t know I can even do before. Many things in my life shifted and I saw them from a different perspective. My dormant skills came alive and used in creative ways. Because of 2020, I experienced several amazing things the first time.
With the gift of time and a side of courage, you get to experience many firsts.
Now as I turn a year older, I invite you to look back at 2020 with me and remember all the “firsts” that made this year a memorable one.
1) Spiritual direction at the Cenacle
Coming from a retreat in 2019, I wanted to start 2020 right by meeting with a spiritual director. I met with Sr. Ana from the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle and we talked for a while about discerning my life direction (I’ll share more about this on a different post). What’s amazing is whatever we talked about that time was tested and proven during my time in quarantine. If not for the extra time I had I wouldn’t be able to see where my talents and skills intersect and where they would lead me.
2) Experience ashfall from a volcano eruption
January this year, Taal Volcano erupted in the Philippines spewing toxic ash into the air that continued to linger for many weeks. We had to wear face masks and protective eyewear to avoid inhaling ash. It’s a precursor to the pandemic here in the Philippines. I never imagined that I’d be able to experience this in my lifetime since Taal has been dormant for a long time.
3) 5km Run at Manila Bay & Intramuros
Originally, I planned to join at least one running event per month this year. I wanted to rake in medals! I only got to February, but the way things turned out was better. I started my year with fitness and now I’m still on the same goal. I miss running with my friends.
4) Start growing a blog
I started my blog last February thanks to a strict nudge from a blogger friend of mine. To be honest, I didn’t even know if my content will ever be read by people. I just wrote down my thoughts and honest feelings. Primarily, I want my blog to be a space of connection (My first post: Creating Spaces for Connection) whatever content it may have.
Today, I’m still surprised to reach more than 200 follows and post my 50th blog entry. I’m so thankful of everyone who’s reading this blog. It’s also amazing how I’m able to connect with fellow bloggers. More to come next year!
5) Facebook and Instagram accounts for Kalvin Five
With the drive to reach more people, I created a Facebook Page and Instagram account for Kalvin Five. I’m happy that I still get to reach people who might find what I write relevant or helpful to them.
6) Be a contributing writer for a religious community
I’m blessed to be able to be a contributing writer for a religious community on Facebook. Through writing for the community, I’m able to deepen my Catholic faith and at the same time learn something new about it. Unmasked.
7) Poem collaboration with a friend
I wrote a poem in Filipino in collaboration with a dear blogger friend of mine. It was both our first time and it was magical how every piece just fit together and we finished the poem in a few hours. We published it as a spoken poetry video as well on our pages. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years and it finally comes true in this amazing piece!
Watch the whole poem here: Liwanag
8) Host a wedding reception in Singapore
A few days before our country went on lockdown, I was in Singapore for a wedding. It was my first time staying in a capsule hotel and going around Singapore alone too. Due to the lockdown measures, the original host needed to fly back earlier than expected so I filled in his spot. With little the remaining time I have, I prepared for the hosting gig and everything went great! Who knew that my first ever hosting gig will be in a foreign country?
9) Host live online prayer meetings
Ministry has to adapt to still reach out to people. As we moved our actual gatherings online, I was blessed to serve as a host in some of our live streams. It takes a little getting used to but it’s all fun once you get the hang of it!
10) Participate in an online choir
It’s a challenging feat but the end result is just amazing! I was able to stitch together a full-voiced choir using software too!
Check out this performance here: Diwa Ng Pasko
11) Read three self-help books in a month
April was hardest month for me this year and reading helped me out a lot. I don’t usually read self-help books that much but these three helped me stay sane and just keep myself moving forward. These books helped me become more grounded and not spiral out of control. Especially, they made helped me figure out the inner workings of myself more.
Resisting Happiness – Matthew Kelly
How To Befriend Your Shadow “Welcoming Your Unloved Side? – John Monbourquette
How To Discover Your Personal Mission “The Search for Meaning – John Monbourquette
12) Do my own laundry on Facebook Live
Since lockdown happened I learned how to do my own laundry. We don’t have a washing machine at home so I hand-washed everything! There was even a time that I broadcasted my laundry session live on Facebook which people found interesting to watch.
13) Purchase my own bed frame and mattress
I’ve always wanted to remodel my room bit by bit. It was such an adulting move to finally purchase my own bed and mattress! I also decluttered my room of trash and unneeded stuff. My nights have never been so full of comfort and rest. Next up for my room is to paint it blue and get a new desk and a chair.
14) Find out I have high alcohol tolerance
I was out with a few friends of mine a few blocks from where I live. I wasn’t counting how much I’ve already taken in but after sharing a bottle each of wine, tequila, and brandy I’m still up and sober. I was amazed that I did not feel the classic symptoms of being intoxicated as it was my first time to drink that much. Fellas I don’t recommend drinking until you drop. Always keep it safe and keep to your limit.
15) Bake bread and desserts
Baking has become one of my stress busters this year. Buying an oven has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made this year. My dad has learned how to bake as well and now we don’t buy bread from the supermarket but bake them whenever we need some. I’ve learned so many things in baking and the science-y stuff always amazes me seeing your creation transform behind the glass oven door.
16) Make roast chicken and lechon belly
Having an oven also made me try out recipes that require roasting. I’m proud to have made my first ever roast chicken and lechon belly (Filipino porchetta) and they tasted amazing! I’m getting more confident in my cooking skills. I basted the lechon belly above with a little too much soy sauce on the skin hence the dark color though it’s borderline on getting burnt! haha!
17) Commit to my fitness journey
I’ve already told you guys about my fitness journey this year. I started at 121 kg last January and today I weigh in at 94 kg. It’s been a long journey and I’m still reaching for my goal weight. I started out by changing my diet and doing home exercises. My weight loss stalled and that’s when I enrolled in a gym last October and my Fitness Friday posts were born. I find it hard to keep my diet on track this Christmas season. I need to burn a lot of fat again for a better and fitter me in 2021.
18) Get a proper massage in a massage parlor
On my first full week at the gym I was really sore all around my body which is totally normal if it’s you’re getting back to lifting after a long time or if it’s your first time. I’m really shy about my body so I don’t go to massage parlors but this time I didn’t care about what the therapist might think. I just wanted the aches to go away. Under the hands of a therapist with 20 years of experience under his belt, he soothed my pains away and sent me home relaxed. Go get the massage that your body deserves!
19) Squat with 90 kilos
Coach Joel is just an amazing encourager! I never imagined myself being able to do the things I can do at the gym now if he didn’t push me to do it. I mean wow! 90 kilos! What’s next? 200 kilos? Everything is possible if you remove your own limits 🙂 Thank you to everyone at Fitness and Health Gym you guys rock!
20) Get a facial treatment
This is prickly business! I just did this one last Monday. All this mask wearing and sweating made me breakout with acne around the area. I wanted to have my acne treated before it gets worse. For the first time, I had an online consultation with a dermatologist and she prescribed me with facial treatments and medicine. The dermatologist recommended getting a Glycolic Micropeel treatment to hasten the healing of my acne.
By the gods! The technician pricked my pimples and I shed a few tears! Three days since the treatment, I feel it working! Now I just need to follow through with the skin care regimen.
In a few hours 2020 will be officially over. Today, as I look back I will remember it as a year filled with challenges that helped me come closer to the version of myself that I want to become. I’m another year older now and I feel like there’s more out there for me to experience and enjoy. This year was surely not a joy ride but it’s roughness smoothed out my rough edges. Thank you so much 2020!
I want to end with three birthday wishes.
I wish for 2021 to be a year where I reinvent myself to fully become who I envision myself to be – a person who truly loved and fully lived.
For the person who reads this:
I wish that you get to finally do the things you’ve been wanting to do your whole life and share it with the world.
For the world:
I wish that the world will have more safe spaces for connection where people can be loved and accepted without fear.
Oh! And I really really wish that we can already go out of our homes feeling safe without the threat of the pandemic. May our world leaders be guided. Hope to meet you guys outside!
I love you guys!
May you have a happy and meaningful new year!