2020: What Went Well

For the last probably 5 years, as the next new year celebration was approaching, I kept reading/hearing from people that they were glad “this year” was ending and looking with hope for the next one. And all those years I was thinking – and even using it as a celebratory toast more than once – that I hope that personally for me the next year would be at least not worse than the year we were seeing off.

Several years ago, I came across What Went Well Wednesday series on the Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities blog. As Old Herbaceous has described, it is a gratitude exercise when you’re on a regular basis list three things that went well and explain why (“Adding “why” allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well”). I mentally played that game for a while, and even contemplated “borrowing” the idea for my blog but had never implemented it.

As challenging as 2020 was for everyone, believe it or not, I still stand by my New Year mantra: I hope that for me and my loved ones the next year will be at least not worse than this awful, strange, “unprecedented” and totally unexpected 2020. And I want to share with you what went well for me this year.


First, nobody from my close circle of family and friends got sick so far. Mostly, it is just luck (though we all are trying to do our part), and I realize that we’re not out of the woods yet. But I’m glad that until now we’ve been lucky.

Second, an unpleasant health issue that started for me last December has finally resolved (at least temporary) without a surgery that seemed inevitable mid-year. I’m so relieved! I did all I could, including some folk remedies and postponing the surgery until I found a surgeon I trusted (we had a hilarious conversation about those folk remedies, none of us really believing in them but not completely dismissing either) and not going with the one who suggested to go ahead with the surgery right there and then. My vSO was so helpful, supportive and patient through the whole ordeal, that whatever role the moral well-being might have played in fighting infection, he deserves all the credit.

Finally, Rusty who had some stomach issues, seems to be better now when he doesn’t shed as much. And his lab work results are all good, which was a huge load off our minds. But it reminds me that I should brush him more regularly.

Rusty on the Bed


We both stayed employed, and our jobs allow us to work remotely. Moreover, though much better than it was the previous year and with a better staffed team, my work kept me so busy, that I barely noticed the “stay at home” part.

Also, this year I got a great performance review from my manager. I’m mentioning it because it was the first time ever in my life. I’m quite used to not getting any feedback or getting (and, frankly, giving) formal and meaningless reviews. The fact that somebody made an effort and expressed in written words what I know I did good was an absolutely new experience. If I ever write a performance review for anyone again, I’ll need to remember how it feels to get a deserved acknowledgement.

And the last in this section, this year we finally were able to take time off during the winter holidays and get some so needed rest.


Our state was partially open just in time for the local trip that my vSO and I planned for our big anniversary this year. Originally, the plan was just for two of us to get away for several days – spas, wineries, eating out. But after four months at home and most places still take-out only or outside seating, it felt less of a getaway. And since the house we rented was big enough for more people, we invited four of our closest friends whom we knew for decades to join us – and they did. It was a very pleasant mini trip. Picture below is taken from the balcony of the rebuilt tasting room of our favorite winery – Paradise Ridge, that burned down three years ago in the first big North Cal fire. They opened earlier this year, which I also write down in the positive column.

Paradise Ridge Winery

Friends and Hobbies

I’m lucky to have friends to talk to, exchange news and share worries. These are people I’m ready to help, and who is ready to help me. I miss seeing many of them, but I hope we’ll have more time to spend together, to travel and celebrate important events next year or the year after that or…

I’m also glad I have my Perfumeland friends. Not only we share our love of perfume, which is even more important now than it ever was, but we also help each other to stay informed about what’s happening in different countries and parts of the World, which allows us to better understand the situation, compare experience and get prospective.

Thanks to Portia who passed on me the APJ’s weekly Saturday Question series, I got what I always wanted for my blog – a continuous conversation with perfumista friends and loyal readers. And thanks to, again, Portia, Narth, hajusuuri and Christine W, my wonderful guest writers, the blog got more inhabited and diverse. I’m also thankful to all who’s reading this and other posts, commenting or not (though, I would prefer to have a chance to talk to everybody, even from time to time).

Thanks to Tara’s (A Bottled Rose) Beauty Reviews, I revisited my skincare routine. I don’t know if I’m getting any results, but at least it’s something new and it’s a pastime that I enjoy. The next thing will be to follow her and Vanessa’s (Bonkers about Perfume) suit and start reading again.

I’m thankful to Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle), my scent twin (well, triplet with hajusuuri, to be precise), who keeps reviewing new perfumes, even in this environment with limited access to new releases, so that I do not have to wonder whether to get samples for any of those: our tastes do not coincide 100%, but they overlap significantly, especially on perfumes that can be qualified as “unisex.”

And I’m grateful to hajusuuri who, in addition to being an inspiration with her daring 8-spray perfume application, just single-handedly provided me with a month-worth daily testing subjects. So, not only I got a wonderful gift under my New Year tree (see the photo below), but I also have something interesting to look forward to every day in January when all the holidays that I love so much are behind us.

NY Tree and samples

Speaking of Christmas/New Year trees. This year, we managed to decorate not only our house outside (seeing decorated houses makes me happy, so I wanted to help brightening this gloomy year to others who also enjoy holiday decorations) and inside (spending that much time at home, I wanted to make it more festive), but in addition to the big tree in the living room (on the postcard below), I decorated a tiny one for the bedroom (that’s where all those samples went to be safe from Rusty). And for the latter I used ornaments that are more than 4 decades old: my grandmother bought them for my tiny plastic tree when I was a child, and I saved them and brought with me when I moved to the US. The wooden decoration with a reindeer is a gift from Lucas, and the orange cat is an ornament that I bought in Hawaii several years ago and painted to resemble Rusty.

And finally, this year allowed me to wear my favorite perfumes more freely, not worrying whether it would bother my co-workers. I re-tested many of the samples I accumulated over the years, finished some, passed on some, got new ones to test, and found new perfume loves. Same as in years before, I haven’t tested enough new releases to do my own top N releases of 2020, but I will be back early next week with my 2020 Year Round-Up Entertaining Statistics post, in which I’ll mention my favorites from this year.

Rusty and New Year Tree 2021

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers! I will take mine 2021 at least not worse than 2020, but to all of you who felt that this year was too much of a leap (pun intended), I wish 2021 to be kinder, calmer and more joyful.

Will you share at least one thing in your life that went well this year? (But you do not have to stop at one)


50 thoughts on “2020: What Went Well

  1. Wishing you a 2021 that will bring an improvement compared to 2020, dear Undina.
    What a great way to part ways with this awful year by saying what went well this year and for what you’re thankful.

    I can be also grateful for my health (though we experienced some loss in my family), for still being able to work, for a chance to stay in touch with friends too.

    I’m happy that this year we had our first chance to talk live on Skype. We should do this more regularly.

    And my biggest achievement in 2021 was losing over 20kgs of weight. It’s a new me ;)

    Wishing a better 2021 to all ULG readers!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Really enjoyed this lovely positive post with great photos. Nice to hear I played some small part in what went well.

    Doing Couch to 5k went well for me. I was worried how I would cope working from home and it made all the difference. It pushed me outside and gave me an emotional boost.

    Wishing the three of you continued health and happiness in 2021.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’ve cheered me with your sweet post – thank you! And thank you for all the lovely posts throughout the year – my feedback for you is that you’ve done very well indeed. Wishing you and Rusty the best of health from now on.

    Happy new year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Jillie. I’m glad that my posts had at least a tiny positive effect on someone. Stick around to see together and discuss how things improve – or at least to distract ourselves from what isn’t in our control.


  4. Happy New Year, Undina! 🎉
    It was very difficult year personally, but I am very grateful for everything I have, especially my health and the health of my beloved ones. I have a job, a perfume hobby that I keep enjoying and I am part of a perfume community that has been so generous and understanding with me this year! Let’s hope for a new year full of bright and wonderful things for everyone!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Happy New Year, Undina! I’m delighted to see your personal “What Went Well”. I’ve already posted about mine on my blog, so I’ll add here my hopes that 2021 brings us all more serenity, more mindfulness, more scents, and more opportunity to share our sensibilities. I appreciate and value all the folks here and on other fragrance blogs who so generously share their experiences and insights. Happy 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy New Year! What a wonderful positive list. I too am thankful for hajusuuri who is always so generous – I got to try Le Lion with my Rubikona giveaway sample. My work life was cut short this year (still on leave from teaching preschool music) but I started to turn my sports photography hobby into a small business which was fantastic and also got me lots of outside time this summer and fall after being indoors most of the spring. I completed my year long no-buy (learned a lot about myself!). Still challenges ahead with my son’s remote schooling and trying to narrow down his list of colleges without campus visits, and hoping that I will be allowed to teach by fall. I am glad you and yours are well, and of course Rusty who is the handsomest cat on the internet IMO!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry that your job has been affected. But it is great that you found an outlet and use for your talent. Please keep doing that – who knows, maybe it’ll be the beginning of a different career :)

      I think it’s even harder to deal with everything that’s happening when you have kids who are you responsible for: in this unprecedented situation, nobody can tell them that they know how it’ll turn out, and for them a year or two feel like a lifetime. Good luck with your colleges decision.


  7. I fell in love again when I thought I was done and had been done for five years. It flipped a switch of hope and showed me I still have the capacity for love. Though my oldest cat and my horse were stolen from me, they tried to take my youngest cat, too. He survived the surgery and long recovery only because I lost my job the same day and was home all day to nurse him. I lost a job I loathed and was saved from abuse. I found the job of my dreams and have been blessed there for three months.

    Happy New Year to all, and if you are not happy at the moment, I hope we recover our joy and are blessed with healthy, peace and bounty in the new year.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. It made me smile to read about the things that went well for you this year—reasons to celebrate! I like the dose of cautious optimism, too, with wishing for “no worse” next year. I’ve been lucky as well, health-, job-, and people-wise. Happy New Year and I do hope it gets better for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think what went well is that I survived, our business did so far, my marriage did (it wasn’t in jeopardy but we had a lot of stress to deal with) and I am still relatively sane…There is so much to be thankful for, in spite of all everything that happened this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy New Year! I agree, while 2020 was certainly unique, it was not all bad. I am very thankful for having bought and moved into a beautiful new house that has the perfect office for working from home and enough room for my family and my parents so we can all share in the immense amount of effort it takes to raise three young kids in a pandemic! Perfume has remained a wonderful escape from the mundane even though I do miss being able to make day trips to NYC for some sniffing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Three kids in these circumstances must be close to impossible. I’m in awe of everybody who’s dealing with that type of situation. It’s great to read your news though. And for trips… I hope we’ll all be able to take those again one day. I miss New York. I miss London. I miss Hawaii…


  11. I’m very grateful this year that my health and my husband’s health has been good all things considered. We both have some chronic health issues, but they are under control. I’m glad my family is well and safe and that no close friends have been ill from the coronavirus. I’m very happy to be retired so I don’t have to endure endless Zoom meetings… LOL

    I’m grateful to have enough $ to pay for food and shelter and $ for some perfumes from time to time. I’m grateful for my lovely local friends, my family and the wonderful perfume community of online folks. You have all helped to brighten my days and my year with your perfume reviews and thoughtful posts. It has made the year a bit easier to handle knowing that people all over the world are going through the same things. I’ve enjoyed my perfumes so much this year, going all out with the 6 to 8 sprays like hajusuuri.

    Thanks Undina and all the others who have posted on Undina’s Looking Glass this year and thanks to Lucas and Old Herbaceous for your blogs as well. You’ve helped all of us get through some difficult times.

    Let’s all keep sniffing lots of perfumes, keep our spirits up, love our families and our animals and hope that 2021 will not be worse than 2020. Special hugs for Rusty. Hope he’s feeling much better now. Here’s to a happy 202!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ll glom on to rickyrebarco: “Thanks Undina and all the others who have posted on Undina’s Looking Glass this year and thanks to Lucas and Old Herbaceous for your blogs as well;” could not say more, or better. My job-related furlough was a 2020 event that went well. It was brief; vacation time and a follow-up bonus from my wonderful bosses smoothed over unpaid hours.
    I also got some extra housework done while I was at home. Also, I and all the guests who attended were healthy after a family wedding that was modified for COVID precautions but did involve travel. So, two things. Happy New Year to you, Undina, and to your readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always glad to read about companies that value and support their workers. I hope it stays positive for you this year.

      I sympathize with people whose graduations, weddings and other pleasant events were affected by everything that’s happening. Of course, it’s not the worse, and there are people who lost their lives or loved ones, but it doesn’t make it better for those who didn’t get to have those events or have them the way previous generations had. So, I’m glad you were able to attend the family wedding, even though a modified one.


  13. Of course it hasn’t been all bad and it could definitely have been a lot worse. I’m retired so I don’t have to face Zoom meetings all day while trying to homeschool small children and worry about losing my job. I had Covid but it was mild, my parents and family never got sick. However, I am prone to anxiety so that has been exacerbated and my chronic insomnia has gotten much worse. But we soldier on and wait for the day when this will all be a memory. Meanwhile I enjoy the small precious moments of love and beauty in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes 😱! I’m glad it was mild. At Cousins’ Zoom yesterday, two doctors mentioned they got their first vaccination and both said, regardless of the inoculation side-effects, they are still better than getting COVID.


    • I’m glad it wasn’t a serious illness. If you do not mind me asking, do you know how you got it? (if you do, just ignore the question.)

      We all should value and enjoy what good we have in our lives, and I keep reminding myself about it all the time.


      • We are snowbirds and were in our California home when Covid hit. We had to drive from California to Quebec and of course had to stop for gas, food, and stay at hotels for the three days it took us to get back to Canada. I presume I picked it up on the road as I got sick during our 14 day quarantine.


  14. Good on you, Undina, for all the positives. As bad as 2020 was overall, it actually got me to be more self-sufficient, at least in terms of preparing meals. At the beginning of the pandemic, my plans were to decide which takeout to purchase food from and for how long they will last. Of course I had other options but it’s much nicer to have variety. Anyway, although I still have a limited menu (I tend to stick to the things I really like, over and over again), I have been preparing most of them myself rather than just heating up. That said, I now need to start eating the freezer stuff 🤣.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You shouldn’t keep food in the freezer for too long, you should rotate! :) I’m almost done with all the initial freezer stuff. Now I need to move onto canned supplies.

      I’m extremely curious what your favorite dishes are. Will you reveal any?


  15. Thank you for the thank you, Undina! 2020 was pretty OK for me, and I’m grateful for that, when so many others have suffered terribly (and will continue to do so in 2021). It’s not really my thing to look back on the year just passed: onward and upward for me! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a heart warming round up of the best things to extract from a pretty wild ride of a year! Thanks for suggesting this positive approach, which I had been quietly mulling over myself lately in fact.

    As you say, not getting Covid yourself, or having a close family member or friend get seriously unwell, is already a big win.

    I have lost all my sources of income for now, but am grateful the pandemic happened when I am in the twilight phase of my career, mortgage-free, and old enough to raid my pension, even if I might miss it later.

    I am grateful to Truffle for not hardly bringing in any dead things all year(!) – her tally has been three mice and two birds in total for 2020, which normally represents a couple of weeks’ worth of hunting. She may well feel less need to seek attention now I am around so much.

    Lastly, I have embraced exercise in a big way, inspired by Val. New for me in particular is a weights regime that has helped transform my arms, and made my legs fill their skin a lot better. ;)


    • Thanks, V.

      I’m sorry about your job situation, but at least you can concentrate on your health. I do need to start exercising as well… Hm… maybe I should start with reading that book about exercising? That would almost kill two birds ;)

      Truflle is being extremely considerate. I’m glad you don’t need to deal with those “gifts” too often now.


  17. Undina I thank you for this positive post. I’ve been actively avoiding going online because of the daily negativity surrounding the current state of affairs.
    2020 has been a good year for me and I have much to be grateful for including being able to babysit my furry granddaughter for long stretches at a time. Also, for learning how to let go, including friendships that I once valued, and devote more time and energy on loving my family and close friends in my inner circle.


    • Brigitte, you sound very calm and content, and it’s great. I’m glad that you manage to find positives despite everything that is happening. Our families (including furry members) are the most precious and important things in our lives, and they deserve to get all of our inner resources in the first place.
      Stay safe!


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