gapmuse year in review: stories and moments that got us through 2020

Typically the title for this blog would be “gapmuse Year in Review: Best of 2020.” But “best” just didn’t seem appropriate for 2020! The most fitting was “stories and moments that got us through 2020” for a year where most everything seemed to go to hell in a handbasket and stayed there!

From the worst pandemic of our generation that took millions of lives and infected more, saw millions unemployed, hungry, evicted, and helpless, forced us to stay home, wear masks, socially distance and accept virtual meetups as our new normal; to the ugly truth of racial injustice in America where black men and women were brutally murdered by police, it seemed that everywhere you looked, 2020 was a sh*t show! (We can all agree that niceties just won’t cut it here.)

2020 revealed the inequities in our society that are sometimes masked by superficial progression. It showed us again that women always bear the brunt of childcare during a crisis; that our jobs are the most impacted when the worst happens; that we’re the most financially vulnerable during a disaster; and that we’re more likely to suffer domestic violence in the hands of our partners when they feel insecure.

…the human spirit is resilient!

It showed us that the poor and those from minority and low-income communities are the most vulnerable to pandemics, unemployment, and hunger and that many are only a paycheck away from homelessness and despair.

But most importantly, it revealed that the human spirit is resilient. You would think that with this pretty bleak picture, we would just sit back and wither away from despair (which might be justified given the circumstances.) Yet we didn’t. We found ways to survive and sometimes even thrive.

Here are the moments and stories that got us through this tough year.

Most Popular Stories

1. How to stay positive & motivated during COVID19

Collage of beautiful pink flower, woman dancing West African Dance in her living room, woman doing the side crow yoga pose, baked banana bread, amazing drawing of an eye, beautiful sunset, Maya Angelou photo with quote, and skyline with lemon tree in the forefront

Is there a reset button? Seriously, could we reset this year and start it all over again?

The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted our lives in 2020. One minute we’re going about life wondering if we will accomplish our goals for the year; the next minute we’re wondering when and if we’ll ever be able to leave our homes and interact with others freely! Heck, it didn’t even give those of us who had slipped up a bit time to get back on track!

If you could have predicted that in the last 3 weeks of March we would be home quarantined, schools and non-essential businesses would be closed, events canceled, restricted travel, millions of people out of work, and sadly, over 1.5 million across the globe infected with coronavirus and thousands losing their lives, we would have thought you were nuts!

Yet, here we are, wondering what in the heck happened and when it’s all going to get better. With the media preaching doom and gloom and politicians seemingly confused on how to handle this crisis, it’s easy to feel helpless. But we must not allow that to happen. We can either allow this virus to defeat us or we can choose to fight. We choose the latter! Read on…

2. 6 must-add books to your 2020 reading list [from our 2019 gapmusebookshelf]

Collage with images of different books
Happy Reading!

We’re so excited we made it into another year and a new decade! We’ve finally set our goals and we’re ready to get going. One of those goals is to read more in 2020.

If you love to read as much as we do, you know how challenging it can be sometimes to find the right books to add to your reading list. This year, while thinking about our 2020 reading goals, we set out to make it easier for you to discover the most intriguing books by sharing:

  1. Our gapmuseBookshelf curated throughout the year
  2. How we discover our most interesting reads
  3. Our Book Collection compiled in collaboration with our Facebook gapmuseWomen community, and
  4. The strategies we use to achieve our reading goals (at least close enough) Read on…

3. 6 things to make mother’s day special for mom during COVID19 [+video]

Image of mom cuddling her baby

“But I’m always with you.” That’s what my mom always says to me when I tell her I miss her and wish she could be with me. They are the same words she used to comfort my brother on the phone 18 years ago when he was terminally ill, confined in a hospital thousands of miles away, and worried he would not be able to be with her. I remember vividly hearing her tell him that if he closed his eyes and visualized her presence, he would realize she was right there with him. Though an extremely sad moment for me to witness, I couldn’t help but notice he became calm and less fearful. Read on…

4. We will not shed our skin [a beautiful poem by my teen daughter]

Image of African American Girl looking out into the beautiful sunset over the pacific ocean
My life matters.

This beautiful poem, written by my 16-year-old daughter, is dedicated to all the black girls, young women, and women who throughout their lives have been made to feel less than.

She wrote it following the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests happening in the U.S. and across the world.

We Will Not Shed Our Skin

I came into this world,

With rich melanin all over my temple,

Mind you it does not burn

When the sun hits, Read on…

5. How to be an ally to the black community [to help us breath]

“Did you watch the video?” No, I said to my friend. It’s the same answer I give for any video released this year of innocent black men being brutally murdered in the hands of police or white men.

Why? You might ask? Because as a black woman who is a mother, sister, auntie, cousin, and friend to black boys and men, I want to honor their memory by remembering them as they were when they were alive – healthy and treated with dignity. I don’t want the last image imprinted in my mind to be one of them suffering. I want to honor them the same way I celebrate my family members who have passed. Wouldn’t you? I don’t memorialize my dad, sister, or three brothers who have died the way they were while they were ravaged by disease. I think of them and see images of them as they were healthy and vibrant. Read on…

6. Why every woman & girl deserves to live with dignity [& how you can help]

You’re hungry. you have $10 left in your pocket. You don’t know when you’ll have access to another $10. But this morning you started your period. You have a difficult and unthinkable choice to make; should you buy food or pads or tampons? Which would you choose?

Dramatic? Perhaps. But that’s the choice thousands of homeless women and youth have to make every day. According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community, Planning, and Development, there are 216,211 (39%) homeless women in the U.S. Globally, that number jumps to the millions; there are an estimated 100 million homeless people and 44% of those are women! Read on…

7. Why education is the key to women’s independence & happiness [a personal story about the power of investing in girls]

Image of school girls in uniform at a school parade
Image of school girls in uniform at a school parade

According to UNESCO, “of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults, two-thirds are women.” I grew up in Indonesia where I discovered that uneducated parents raise many girls who grow up to become poverty-stricken. It was the norm for girls not to pursue higher education because they were expected to receive financial support from future husbands. This mindset led women into forced marriages at an early age without the financial stability or chance to form any marriage ideals of their own.  Read on…

8. How to keep your face clean [helpful skincare tips from a certified beauty expert]

Photo of beautiful young black woman with flawless skin looking at the camera
Photo by: Jessica Felicio

A few months ago, I was watching one of my favorite talk shows when I heard one of the invited skincare experts mention that women should cleanse their skin with a cleanser once a day (during nighttime) because doing it regularly strips the skin of essential oils and nutrients. I was perturbed because most of my adult life I had been advised to clean my face with a cleanser at least twice a day. Looking for clarity, I decided to conduct a quick Google search on skincare. Unfortunately, I came away more confused by all the conflicting information from my search.

Fast forward to a month ago, I reached out to my good friend, Anna, a licensed and certified skincare expert to clear up my confusion. She’s also a certified Dermalogica expert and a lash artist from Borboleta. Anna operates her own beauty bar, Anna’s Beauty Bar, which she opened last year. Read on…

9. How to reduce your closet’s carbon footprint [& still be stylish]

Image of woman wearing a grey sparkly jumpsuit and pink open toe heels taking a selfie

About a year and a half ago., we published what turned out to be one of our most popular blog posts of the year. It was about my 6-month challenge to shop in my closet. At the time, I was doing it because I wanted to refrain from a shopping habit I had developed over a few years of buying stuff even when I didn’t need to. Little did I know my exercise was doing more than just saving me money and space; it was helping reduce my carbon footprint. It was a pretty awesome discovery, which compelled me to do some digging around for more information.

Did you know the fashion industry contributes 1,715 million tons of CO2 emissions, which is more than the aviation and shipping industries combined! (Yeah, I know! my reaction was one of shock too!) Read on…

10. why every mother should have a life outside of her children [without guilt]

It’s back to school again (can you believe it!) and you’re busy juggling your kids’ schedules, last minute shopping, transportation, lunches, and anything else that needs to happen for a successful school year. Some of you may be sending your kids to pre-k or kindergarten, some to elementary, while others to middle school or even high school.

For moms in the latter category, you’re probably starting to grapple with the idea of becoming empty nesters. Yikes! And if you have an 8th grader or high schooler, you might even be feeling like one already since he or she may have declared their independence and spends less time with you.

It’s a scary thing to go through. One minute you have this little person hovering around you and hanging on to your every word and the next, you have a young adult. Read on…

Most Remarkable Moments

1. Launching our HerCanvas Podcast!

2. Giving back to homeless women & girls

Collecting and donating 2,200+ pads, tampons, and liners ($750 value) to homeless women and girls. Plus raising $575 for Distributing Dignity, the organization that distributes feminine hygiene products to homeless women and girls.

Most Memorable Moments On Instagram

1. Sisterhood

2. Learning new skills at any age

3. Shuttering glass ceilings at the highest level


4. Turning Injustice into good

5. Finding beauty around us despite the pandemic

Most Notable Moments On Pinterest

1. Timeless fashion & beauty trends

2. Gender equality revelations

3. Ethical fashion ideas

Whether it’s getting out more for fresh air, reconnecting with your family, friends, and community, giving back, learning a new skill, pursuing your passion, discovering a fashion trend, or reading more, whatever you did to survive this year, take a moment to celebrate you, your small or big wins and most importantly your resilience. Use these things to start the new year with optimism and a renewed sense of hope.

2020 has taught us that we can survive anything! We have the capacity to take something challenging and to find the tools and resources to navigate through it.

Here’s to wishing us all a brighter and lighter 2021.

What did you do to get through 2020? Please share to inspire us as well.

Happy New Year gapmusers! Be inspired.

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