Top 10 Highlights – A Look Back At 2020; The Beginning Of Frugal Living

I just finished cooking, done preparing the dining area, tidied myself up and now just patiently waiting for the last day of the year to end.

As I curl up in the sofa, I just wanted to share a few highlights (of good and bad) in my life this year 2020.

1. Ginzan Onsen, Yamagata

A lit up Ryokan at Ginzan Onsen, Yamagata.

At the start of the year, my husband (then friend) visited Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata. It’s one of the things in my bucket list and I am just glad I was able to checked it off my list before COVID happens.

According to CNN, Ginzan Onsen is “Japan’s most charming winter village”. It is located in the mountainous region of Yamagata and is famous for its onsens and traditional ryokans than lined up along the river.

We specifically went there during winter because the place is in its most beautiful form with the snow covering the path walks and the roofs of the ryokans. It is even lovelier at night when all the ryokans lit up and all gas lights illuminate the mini-bridges which connects the narrow streets on both sides of the river.

If you plan to visit Japan during winter months, make sure to include Ginzan Onsen in your list!

2. Back To PH

Aspan Family Portrait: France and Shane (back row). Isaiah, Lumen and Romulo (middle row). Princess and Aleah (front row).

I stayed in Japan last August 2019 until February 2020. Last February, COVID is still on its early phase and travel restrictions were focused on international level. Asymptomatic patient was not even known yet. Because there are still available trips domestically, I was able to go home to Bacolod and for the first time in six months I saw my family. Who would have thought that a month after, lockdown and travel restrictions will limit the movements of the whole country up to this day.

The sad thing is, from February up until now (the end of the year) I wasn’t still able to see them again. I honestly envy others who right now are in the comfort and the arms of their loved ones. But praise God for technology! We somehow can be with our family gatherings in spirit.

3. TESDA Online Courses

Certificate of Completion for taking up entrepreneurship course in TESDA Online.

On the early days of quarantine, I saw a post regarding free online courses from TESDA. With nothing else to do, I decided to took up three courses and finished the two already. The one remaining, I plan to finish early next year. Investing on myself during the lockdown was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Visit https://www.e-tesda.gov.ph for complete list of online courses offered. There are wide selections of courses ranging from agriculture, automotive, plumbing, electrical and electronics, entrepreneurship, HVAC, health care, maritime, food and beverages, tourism and etc.

I personally want to improve my finances and knowledge about business so I took up three courses in Entrepreneurship and have been wanting to took up some more!

4. Getting Engaged

I said yes!

I have been single for so long and I honestly thought I will never find a man to marry. I surrendered the desire to the Lord long ago and accepted my destiny of single blessedness. I also noticed that I liked to spend more time with my family and by not marrying means I will be with them for the rest of my life and that makes me happy. However, the Lord did not forget about me, cleared my visions (I was once idealistic) and led me to the man he destined for me to spend the rest of my life with.

If I hadn’t accepted the work in Japan, I wouldn’t have met the love of my love. We built many precious memories there and were blessed to have met church mates whom we can be accountable with.

5. Getting Married

Officially Mr. & Mrs. Gastones.

Getting married without my parents is the hardest thing ever. So we agreed, with the blessing of my father to get married in court and then have a church wedding after when COVID is over. Getting married earlier than expected is the best thing ever. We plan on tying the knot somewhere around December 18, 2020 onwards, but it turned out no judge will be available the whole month of December. So on November 27, 2020 I became Mrs. Gastones, yay!

Check out my separate blog post about our civil wedding: https://trishaspan.wordpress.com/2020/12/12/civil-wedding-in-mandaue-cebu-comprehensive-guide-time-frame-fees-tips/

6. Purchasing Our First House

This photo is part of our Christmas Card 2020.

While still engaged my husband (then fiancé), already started looking for a property for our family in the future. Luckily, we found one that we wanted and we are very much excited to move except that it will be ready three years from now. So for the moment, we are just happy doing research and watching videos by architects and engineers in YouTube.

We chose a two-story townhouse located two towns away from our current house. We are currently staying in a condominium and although it is convenient in here, we want something where we can build a family-oriented atmosphere for our future children. We want a lawn where they can run and enough space to store our belongings – something a condo living situation cannot offer us due to space limitations.

7. Online Business and Other Opportunities

An instagram story from my account @aspantrisha of our products prior to delivery.

I have an online business prior to COVID which stopped because inter-island delivery of goods is not yet allowed, except for essentials. As the pandemic hints that it will not be over soon, my husband and I decided to come up with other small businesses to have another stream of income. We felt that nothing lasts forever (work-wise). There are a lot of companies suddenly declaring bankruptcy, some are on a skeletical workforce scheme – meaning the wages are also in skeletal form and worst, some took advantage the pandemic. But people were left with no choice and must survive.

We began to sell various products online and we managed to supply packed-lunch to our officemates since dining in is not yet allowed. We still continue doing small online businesses up until now. Even though the pandemic has only brought separation and loss, we did not let it hinder us to look for opportunities. But hoping it will soon pass, gosh there are so many things needed to be put on and just delivering food to the neighbors. LOL.

8. Losing Weight

A beach photo taken during our honeymoon at Shangri-La, Mactan.

I decided to put that up in here because I want to remember that in the beginning of 2020 I became fat and decided to lose weight and succeeded. Since July of 2020 I have been on low carb diet. I haven’t eaten rice since then and became serious in my sugar intake. I monitor each food I ate and started to walk more as my form of exercise. I was 59kg when I came back from Japan and now I am 50kg. My weight goal is 47kg so I am determined to lose a little more.

However, I noticed that I have a tendency to indulge in sweets such as cake, chocolates and my favorite – pizza when I don’t feel full after eating. I observed, my weight would easily spike up and I get the bloated feeling until I get back to my routine (eating low carb + walking). So although I loose a couple of weight now, it’s the maintaining the ideal weight that dictates the victory.

9. Blogging

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Setting up this blog I must say is another highlight of my 2020. I love to journal, help people with my insights and experiences. I want to tell stories of my struggles and victories, especially in the areas of money. Setting up this blog is the realization of all these things.

10. Staying Healthy

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

For me staying healthy and not contacting COVID in 2020 is the biggest milestone, not only for me but for everyone alive in this planet. COVID plainly means death and it takes a lot of hard work to keeping oneself from contacting the virus.

In 2020, everything changes because of COVID and someday when I want to look back and read this article again, I would like to remember everything; Wore a mask and face shield for almost an entire year, never saw my loved ones and family because there are travel restrictions around the world, and stayed at least six feet away from everyone. Hope everyone is safe and better in 2021. Let’s end the year hopeful and safe.

Do you have any highlights to share for 2020? Let me know!

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