Bad Year/Good Year: Goodbye 2020 (and good riddance)

New year 2021 and old year 2020 written on sandy beach with waves

I am not going to waste a lot of words on all that went wrong in this seemingly never-ending year we’re about to step out of. Our family has been fortunate, more fortunate than many if not most, but it was still a year full of surprises, disappointments, and things happening we didn’t expect. It was an expensive year for us as well – our move back to Kaua’i was not cheap, and we decimated one of our savings accounts to set up housekeeping again. We’re grateful we had the funds, but it was still a blow we were not mentally ready for.

However, in many ways it was a good year as well, and I feel it’s far more productive and satisfying to reflect on all the good things that happened this past year as well as the things that went right for us:

Our family has stayed healthy. I consider this our biggest accomplishment, not just for Brett and I, but for our entire family as well. Meiling has stayed isolated and worked from her apartment in NYC since March, and WenYu and YaYu have stayed safe in Massachusetts and in Pennsylvania. Our son and daughter-in-law worked at home for most of the year in Japan, and the grandkids survived months of remote learning. Brett and I have stayed in our apartment most of the time this year other than weekly trips to Costco or Walmart for food, up to Kukuiolono Park to walk, or over to the nearly always deserted beach at Barking Sands, but with vaccines becoming available this year we’re all hoping we will be able to gather here for a big reunion next year.

Here are the other good things that happened for us this past year:

  • We ended up back on Kaua’i. We were frankly surprised last Christmas when our girls sat us down and said they hoped we would return to Kaua’i whenever we finished traveling. That got us to look at Kaua’i with fresh eyes when we visited last January, and when it was time to return to the U.S. because of the spreading pandemic, we knew just where to come. We couldn’t be happier and we know now for sure that Kaua’i/Hawaii is our permanent home.
  • We found a great place to live this time. After living in an attractive but uncomfortable house and dealing with the Landlord from Hell for nearly three years during our previous time on the island, this time we lucked out and and found a great location and space to live in on the south side with great neighbors as well and a terrific landlord, and all for hundreds of dollars less than we were paying when we lived here before. The microclimate here is nicer as well, and we have everything we need just a short drive away, including great beaches and a wonderful weekly farmers’ market. We started from scratch getting ourself settled, but generous merchants on the island opened their stores for us so we could buy basic furniture, and we were able to get the rest of what we needed from Costco, Walmart, and Amazon over the next few months. The arrival of our storage shipment topped things off and our little apartment is now a comfortable and relaxing home.
  • We saved more than expected in 2020 for future travels. When I set up a new travel savings account I thought we’d be lucky to put $1000 away this year for future travel, but we instead saved nearly $2000 ($1984.19), which includes a $500 Delta Airlines gift card I earned through doing Swagbucks. We put away everything “extra” that came our way all year (change, $1 bills, refunds, rewards, rebates, etc.), and it really added up. We’ve given ourselves a goal of saving $8000 this year – it will be a challenge, but we think we can pull it off.
  • Both Brett and I have lost weight and are in better shape than ever. We completely changed how and what we eat, and I have lost 28 pounds since last June and Brett has lost 10. We both want to lose another 10 pounds this coming year and will be working toward that end. When we started walking up at Kukuiolono Park last May (a venue that has yet to lose our interest), we could barely manage two laps around the Pavilion (slightly over a mile). These days we’re walking nearly an hour each day and putting in almost five miles, and have a goal of doubling that by the end of 2021. We both honestly feel healthier than we have in ages, and we’re both sleeping better as well. 
  • We’re living better than ever with less. We downsized a lot before we left Kaua’i in 2018, and having to start from from scratch again means we began here this time with a greatly reduced amount of stuff. We bought just 12 pieces of furniture and one rug, a few kitchen items (including an InstantPot), and a reduced number of linens and it’s all more than enough. We’re very much enjoying having less to keep track of and clean, and if and when we ever move in the future that will be a whole lot easier as well.
  • Another child graduated from college. Although we missed her celebration, and she missed all the hoopla (literally) and traditions, another highlight of this past year was WenYu’s graduation from Wellesley College, with a degree in Computer Arts & Science. She has been able to earn money from her art since graduation, and has been hired as a graphic design instructor at an area tech school and will begin teaching after the first of the year. YaYu is now our only remaining student, with another year and a half to go, but this past fall we filled out a FAFSA for the last time! Yeah!

Good or bad, I’ll be happy to see 2020 go this week, and although life is most likely going to stay as it is now for the new few months, I’m looking forward to better and brighter things overall in 2021. I’m feeling hopeful that better days are coming – here’s to a wonderful new year!




14 thoughts on “Bad Year/Good Year: Goodbye 2020 (and good riddance)

  1. Your life adventures are so amazing and I am so happy you landed in Hawaii! You are so much safer there than most places in the U.S. I personally know multiple close friends with Covid at this very moment, one high school friend in ICU, and a close friend’s dad died Christmas Eve of Covid. You are safe. That is the most important thing. It is truly a blessing to see your beautiful photos. It gives me such hope that this horror will eventually go away, it is only temporary, and things will be safe and beautiful again. I can look at your photos and think the world is a beautiful place!!!! I am really glad your daughter is staying there for the time being because she is safe there from Covid. I am so tired of having to walk on eggshells every time I go to work, or even get gas to get to work. So sorry for venting.


    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Cindy – made my day. It’s been a very tough year for you, but I’m glad you’re still here. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful location, and it does my heart good to hear how much you enjoy the pictures – I’ve had a good time taking them.

      We’re glad YaYu is here with us as well – it’s not an easy situation for her (she sleeps out on the sofa and puts up with her old parents) but she stays positive and helps us out with lots of things. She looks forward to returning to school, but wants to stay safe.


  2. Last FASFA! Woo Hoo! Health! Weight loss! Safety! Savings! A breather of a year.
    I think we all needed to slow down- unfortunately it was not the easiest way to do it.


    1. It was a HUGE relief for Brett to finish that FAFSA and realize it was the last time. He’s working on another form now, but we need to have our 2020 taxes figured out first before he can submit it. But it’s the last time for that form as well.

      I am looking forward to a year of saving versus spending. This last year was awful for us – we really had no idea what it was going to take to get settled again. Biggest surprise was setting up a pantry and getting into the flow of having everything we needed and use regularly on hand. It was especially difficult because for a while many things were unavailable.

      We’re in a good place now though, so time to move forward! We’re looking forward to it.


  3. Indeed good riddance 2020 and don’t stick around. I read a comment somewhere that instead of 1/01/2021, it’ll be 13/01/2020 next month with the way things are going. Please no!


    1. You and your family really had a time of it where you were, but you made it. I agree though that 2021 is going to be a continuation of 2020 for a while. I’ve prepared myself mentally as best as possible, but it’s all getting so tiring.


  4. In thinking about how 2020 went, we have much to be thankful for, even though things did not go the way we thought they would. We, too, had travel plans that had to be scrapped and did not get to see our grandchildren in Africa this year. But we have been able to FaceTime with them to our heart’s content. We had a death in our immediate family (not from covid) and are thankful that we were able to have a small service when many were not able to have any kind of service. Because of some extenuating circumstances, we made our daughter and her family (who live very close by) part of our “core family’ and have been able to see them on a regular basis. Even though we don’t sleep in the same house, we consider us as one household. We’re both retired, so we didn’t have to worry about losing jobs. We have been outside more than we would have….have met more neighbors….got more projects done around the house…… Really, we cannot complain very much at all, since so far we have been well and healthy. My wish for 2021 is HOPE….for all those who have lost so much and for us all to have a better year!
    And I look forward to your continued posts – I totally enjoy them!


    1. Thank you, Addy! It does help to focus on the positive of last year, doesn’t it? The things we got to do, the good things that happened versus all that we missed out on.

      Being retired was the perhaps the most underrated positive for us, and not having to worry about losing a job, etc. Settling down again was difficult and expensive, but we’re done with that now and can move forward.

      HOPE is a very good word for the new year; I am also adding rejuvenation and restoration as my watchwords for the year.


  5. Quite an interesting year for us as well. We downsized as well by selling our expensive house in an expensive area of CO and we are living free of the house payment noose. Our new rent (MIL) is our “landlord is half of what our mortgage was and we are remodeling our barn apt to be exactly what we want with cash only. we have a fully funded emergency account thanks to the proceeds, we could pay off the motorcycle but I am happier with having the savings account fat. I kept my job and moved it with us and am now in a much less aggravating environment. We can now afford for Chris to retire if he chooses to and after 32 surgeries I hope that he does.
    Happy New Year!


    1. Congratulations on your move! We have started talking about buying, but don’t think 2021 is going to be the year for it yet – better a year to sit tight and fatten our savings accounts. We have enjoyed being without a mortgage these past few years – it has enabled us to enjoy a different lifestyle and adventures we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

      Here’s to your husband being able to retire! He deserves it. Happy New Year to you both!


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