Samantha Andrews

My 2020 year-end review and 2021 preview

Traveled to New Zealand and got engaged! #

My partner AJ and I traveled to New Zealand for the entirety of February and we got engaged! While this part of 2020 feels like a lifetime ago, I find myself looking back at the photos and feeling a swell of gratitude. We spent the first week with his family who lives in Auckland and the last three weeks driving a van from the North Island through the bottom of the South Island.

As a natural homebody, travel isn't easy for me. I often feel there is too much prep and planning involved to execute a proper vacation. But it does make me feel good to break from my routine and get out of my comfort zone. I especially love road trips with AJ because it means we get to spend time talking and listening to new music, taking long walks, and learning more about each other. We've been together for almost 7 years now, so the engagement feels just right.

hiking in new zealand

ReflectionQuestions.app went live! #

ReflectionQuestions.app is a free journaling prompt generator that I built and launched this year. Using a database of reflection questions that I've collected over the years (about 400 total), I created a simple web app to share them with the rest of the world.

I'm proud of this project. It was a great exercise in scoping, managing, and marketing a personal project. Next time I launch a project like this, I know I'll work harder on the marketing and promotion side of things. It's not natural for me to talk about my work, but I now realize that people like to be involved in the making process. "Making in the open" is something I'm going to be doing more of in the future.

I started getting serious about freelancing #

Somewhere in the middle of 2020, I started thinking about future career plans. While I'm happy in my current role at Descartes Labs, I know there is a big and open future waiting for me when this current chapter comes to a close. After much reflection, I came to the conclusion that my next step would involve working for myself. It's been a dream for some time, and if I don't make the leap I know I'll regret it.

So I started making strategic plans to make this transition smoother, whenever the time comes.

Made an investment in business coaching and leveling-up my web design skills #

I invested in two different coaching programs this year, Wandering Aimfully (WAIM) online business coaching and Flux Academy web design courses. Both of these resources are incredibly useful and well worth the investment.

WAIM coaching has helped me build a rock-solid foundation for my freelance business. The two coaches, Jason and Caroline, are extremely knowledgable, friendly, and aren't afraid to share all the vulnerable and gritty details of running an online business. Above all, they understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for running a business and they've helped me start to trust my intuition more when it comes to making decisions about how I want to work and live.

Redesigned my website and launched a new email newsletter #

I completely overhauled my website this year. Previously, it was built using HTML, CSS, and a little bit of JavaScript. Now, I'm using Eleventy as a static site generator and moved hosting to Netlify. I've re-worked the design a couple of times (the designer in me is always in overdrive), but overall love the simplicity. I enjoy writing blog posts now that I can format them using markdown and post effortlessly by pushing content directly to GitHub.

Built a brand new website for my community gym, Student Athlete Headquarters! #

SAHQ.org is a custom Squarespace site that launched in October. I'm really proud of the design, UX flow, and Acuity scheduling integration that allows people to sign up and pay for classes with the click of a button.

This was my first freelance project in a very long time. It felt good to make something for a business that is doing so much to support living a healthy lifestyle in the community.

Committed to building an equitable, intersectional future #

I admit, in the past, I have turned a blind eye to racial and social justice issues. I felt it wasn't my place to get involved. Now I realize just how backward that thinking really was. 2020 opened my eyes to the deeply rooted racial disparities and oppression of BIPOC in America, and as a white person, it is absolutely my business to fix this mess.

I am not going to ask for any praise or share all the work I'm doing related to learning about and dismantling systematic and systemic racism. As a very privileged white person, I am simply trying to do my part to educate myself, to be part of the change, and to make this part of my daily life.

You can read more about my commitment to social justice if you want!

Got my money in order #

At the beginning of the year, AJ and I read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. We worked through his 6-week step-by-step process which involved consolidating our credit cards, opening Roth IRAs, and creating automation to hit our savings goals. As a Type-A and generally frugal person, I knew some of the basics about money, but Ramit helped AJ and I get on the same page about how to manage our finances now that we both work full-time. One of the biggest changes I made was moving all of my existing investments from managed Morgan Stanley accounts (read: high fees) to a lower-cost Vanguard account.

Spent a lot of time at home #

This was, perhaps, the defining factor of 2020. Once the first confirmed Covid-19 cases hit New Mexico, my office in Santa Fe closed and everyone started working from home. This has come with its own set of challenges, but it also removed the daily 3-hour round-trip commute from my schedule and left me with more time to rest and daydream.

What did I do with all of this free time? Well, I did watch a lot of Netflix and scroll through TikTok! And I did not read many books. But I also hosted my first virtual Bad Art Nite, where friends came together on a Google Meet video call to make bad art together. I started writing 750 words every day. Learned a little more about my family history and made an online family tree. Daydreamed about future design projects. And thanks to the 12-week Artist's Way program, started taking steps to build the life I envision for myself, my family, and my community.

I'm ending 2020 with a sense of clarity and centeredness that I haven't ever felt before. I can only assume this is due to the long stretches of time I've spent alone, away from the noise of other people's opinions. Learning to trust my intuition has been the most valuable lesson learned in 2020.

Don't be fooled, 2020 was hellish, and I would gladly give it all up if we could reclaim the millions of lives lost from Covid-19 this year. My brother-in-law's father died of Covid-19, and I would do anything to change that. My heart broke this year. It broke for my country and my little community of DIY artists and zinesters. I miss my friends and the smell of their houses. I miss gross, sweaty bars and dancing with strangers.

Looking forward to 2021 #

I’m not one to choose a word for the year, because it is easily forgotten or loses its spark by March.

But I do want to make the work feel more fun and light, to take myself less seriously, pray more, and actually commit to therapy.

In 2021 I want to come out of my creative cocoon and put myself out there as an artist and designer. I’ve laid the foundation, and 2021 feels like the time to build and to bloom.

How do I plan on making all of this happen? #

My method is simple. I will build on top of the systems and routines that are already working. My “cornerstone” habit/goal is to write 750 words and go for a walk before starting work at 9. I think this is achievable since I’ve already integrated the morning walk habit! But I’ve learned that I need to write before I walk, otherwise it won’t get done. I also know that when I sit down to write at my computer, I often get distracted by other things. My messy desktop, emails, etc. So I'm currently brainstorming a way to write online sans distractions.

Writing in the morning helps me feel centered and grounded. It is a form of prayer for me. A place to get the anxious buzz out of my head and onto the page. If I write, everything else is easier.

That being said, here are some of the things I hope to accomplish in 2021...

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