Kate’s Complete 2020 Year in Review


Kate's Complete 2020 Year in Review | Wit & Delight
Photo by Nicole Feest at NYLONSADDLE Photography

When I sat down to write last year’s review, I hadn’t realized how emotionally impactful that process of writing would be for me. Until that post, I rarely allowed myself the space to reflect on the past without interpreting what it meant for my present.

I’ve found that when there are bits and pieces of my life I have yet to process, they show up in subconscious ways. In dreams. In impulsive purchases. In the amount of wine I didn’t mean to drink on a Wednesday night. The truth is that my feelings about what I haven’t processed—and haven’t categorized neatly into a “moment of growth”—make me squeamish.

So…this year.

This year, I got curious about what scares me—what makes me want to run for the hills or change the subject. The confidence to do so was directly linked to having made it through 2019, but I didn’t realize how important that confidence would be in helping me make it through 2020 without losing my marbles. 

In the year that broke down our societal systems, our means of escape, and the vices we used to turn to when we needed to hide, being scared became less scary. After all, fear is part of being human. Uncertainty is certain in this life. 

In the year that broke down our societal systems, our means of escape, and the vices we used to turn to when we needed to hide, being scared became less scary. 

After all, fear is part of being human. Uncertainty is certain in this life. 

We should all be proud of the people we’ve become this year. Below, I’m sharing snippets of the lessons and moments that shaped me these past twelve months.

January 2020

Fresh off the year that almost broke me, I was flying high on the promise of a clean slate, excited to leave the past in the past. Joe and I took a trip to South Carolina for work, and those two days without kids made me realize how easy it is to ignore important questions meant for our most important people. Questions like, “How are you *really*?” It’s a hard question to answer, and a hard one to ask.

February 2020

I started watching the daily COVID-19 infection rates in Italy like a hawk. By the end of the month, I had purchased my weight in pasta and was scrolling through articles on the 1918 pandemic like I was an armchair epidemiologist. Joe told me to calm down. I canceled our trip to Japan. We looked at a house that wasn’t on the market yet across town and realized it was time to move. Like, immediately.

Kate's Complete 2020 Year in Review | Wit & Delight

March 2020

We photographed the house for HGTV Magazine and nervously chatted about COVID-19 with the crew who had flown in from New York. There was a sense of impending doom. A week after we wrapped the shoot, I had the entire team leave the office in the middle of the day upon hearing news of small outbreaks in Seattle and New York. I had just spent three days with a crew that had flown all over the country. I didn’t think we wouldn’t be coming back.

April 2020

We decided to close one of my businesses indefinitely. Studio 125 had just hired a new event manager a month before, and suddenly, we were sharing a P&L statement that showed no way out, even with a loan. We closed on a new house that would be able to provide some of the space we were going to lose with the studio. 

Kate's Complete 2020 Year in Review | Wit & Delight

May 2020

We moved into our dream house and found out it was another nightmare. In a sense, this was fun, because when you really love something, you don’t really care if other people can’t see in it what you do.

June 2020

George Floyd was murdered over $20 at the end of May. Our city burned. Communities rallied together. I questioned myself, my biases, my decisions, my white-centered view of the world. I met people online who broadened my horizons. I learned the true meaning of the cliché…talk less, listen more. It is the best skill I acquired this year. 

July 2020

I took classes. I read books. I tore apart my garden. August turned FOUR and it broke my heart into a thousand pieces. I played so much Animal Crossing, I had to visit a chiropractor. I got the first house plant I really TRIED to keep alive, and succeeded in becoming a true plant nerd. 

Kate's Complete 2020 Year in Review | Wit & Delight

August 2020

Faced with the avoidance that is my vice when it comes to doing things I don’t like, I unpacked the last boxes from our move. I was living in a house with more than enough space for our family, and my problems with disorganization and clutter were the same, only BIGGER. I learned that more space will not make you more organized. It will only make your current problems bigger and harder to fix. 

September 2020

My sweet baby Pearl came into our lives and instantly made them brighter. I started decorating the room we used the least. I learned how to use a miter saw. We stripped wallpaper and painted and painted and painted.

Kate's Complete 2020 Year in Review | Wit & Delight

October 2020

I painted walls green and thought I’d hate myself for not playing it safe. I’ve only come to love this house more. I bought Joe a scooter for his birthday. It snowed early, which made me giddy with excitement, mostly because any kind of change felt like something to celebrate. It seemed Joe and I still very much liked each other, an important realization considering we had never spent this much time together in our entire seven years as a couple. 

November 2020

I unceremoniously turned thirty-seven. We officially celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and decorated for Christmas, all within the first three days of the month. We were busy with work, which made me weak with gratitude. We watched our country’s COVID-19 numbers rise and rise and I left the house less and less.

December 2020

We celebrated Bennett’s third birthday, and she turned into a legit comedian overnight. I bought four Christmas trees, two Norfolk Island pines, two cypress lemon trees, and way too many presents. We made pasta on Christmas eve, drank champagne on Christmas morning, and didn’t get out of our sweats for three days.

Kate's Complete 2020 Year in Review | Wit & Delight

Through all the uncertainty, one thing I know for certain is that we have emerged from this year as better humans. 2020 forced so many of us to make room for grief and confront the uncomfortable truths we tend to spend our days avoiding. Reflecting on this year—this painful, scary, traumatic experience we’ve all been living—has shown me how capable we are of doing hard things, together.

We learned to keep going, even when it felt like there was no reason to. We saw our shortcomings; we took note of our failure to see each other fully, to show up for those who cannot be heard. I want to take it all with me. I want to remember this time of profound change, so when the sting wears off, the lessons remain front of mind.

There is so much to lose when we place our happiness in what the future could bring, and everything to gain by feeling grateful for the present. 

There is so much to lose when we place our happiness in what the future could bring, and everything to gain by feeling grateful for the present. 

Happy New Year.

BY Kate Arends - January 4, 2021

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Tiffany Elias
January 4, 2021 12:55 pm

Happy New Year! All these years later I am so happy you are still blogging – it has been so fun to watch your styles shift and your family grow. Here is to a much brighter 2021!

January 5, 2021 7:09 am


Heather Magner
January 5, 2021 12:26 pm

Completely enjoyed this reflection. Your ability to be honest and insightful is refreshing and so helpful. Thank you!

January 7, 2021 9:13 am

These are so beautyful

Carol Bruess
January 8, 2021 9:46 am

“There is so much to lose when we place our happiness in what the future could bring.” AMEN. Thank you, Kate, for continuing to live this truth–and helping the rest of us do so too. Carry on being you, being vulnerable, listening, un-learning/learning, and helping all of us readers become our best selves with a daily practice of living in the messy, perfectly-imperfect present.

January 11, 2021 9:58 am

So beautiful! I also did a year in review and there is so much joy that happened despite the world crumbling. One thing that I wrote down is that I am dang proud of who I am today because I have grown so much in the past year. It was wonderful to read your reflection and wishing you a sparkling 2021!

Also, I just have to know – care to share more info about the sweater you’re wearing in the first photo? I’m trying to expand where I typically shop.

January 31, 2021 11:37 am

An interesting story. I like it and Would like to share it with my friends!

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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

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