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Grateful for 2020, Yup I said it...

Yesterday I spoke with a friend that I have known for over twenty years. The years often get in the way and we lose touch but we always find each other again, bouncing in like no time ever passed. In 2020 she lost three family members in extremely tragic, non-related deaths. She could have easily allowed herself to fall into a trap of depression, victimization and rightfully claim that "2020 sucks". Instead, with the pain that came her way, she decided to make improvements in her own life. She now practices yoga daily, meditates once to twice a day, prays each morning, seeks the help of a therapist, and gets her hands on as many self-help-type books as possible. These are activities she would have normally never engaged in. She is a beautiful, radiant soul. She made the best of 2020 despite the wrath it released on her family.

We can all focus on the horrible changes and circumstances that 2020 brought our way or hopefully we can try to find the lessons and moments of growth that came along with it. Since the pandemic erupted, I have committed to finding the light in what many are calling the darkest year yet. Personally, I don't think 2021 will be any better, or worse per se, so I am diving into the new year with even stronger convictions to make it as bright as possible. Hopefully, you can all join me in finding the positives that came out of a year that turned many of our lives upside down.

I am extremely thankful for the following things that only 2020 could have brought my way:

Attitude of Gratitude. I am naturally a pretty grateful human being but 2020 taught me to pause hundreds of times throughout the day to notice all the blessings around me- my children's splendidly large feet, the sound of their laughter, our continuous conversations, and inability to ever run out of things to talk about, the fact that my heart beats, my acceptance of change and new willingness to be flexible with change and surrender to it rather than resist it, the miraculous fact that my eyes open each morning after a deep slumber, the list goes on and on...

This epic road trip. Had the virus not hit, in turn encouraging schools to teach remotely, we would have on no occasion embarked on a several-month-long journey together as a family. The past five-plus months on the road, traveling through the United States of America has been the most awesome adventure of my life.

Social distancing. Yes, I am thankful for the social distancing that came with 2020's new rules and regulations. Had I not been forced into distancing myself from certain friendships, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to reflect from a distance and do some much-needed housekeeping in my relationship department.

Random acts of kindness. I have always been the one to pilot random acts of kindness but on our road trip somehow the tables have turned and I have been the recipient of such warmth and goodness from complete strangers. Some examples:

  • Through Instagram, I "met" locals in Portland who went above and beyond to send me the most detailed itinerary for our visit to Oregon. I'm talking a megillah's worth of information and recommendations. The time she took into sharing her favorite locations, answering my many questions, and supporting our travels along the way really warmed my heart and I will always remember this thoughtful gesture.

  • Our Airbnb hostess in Coeur d'Alene was simply unbelievable. To have a stranger check in on you so often, welcome you so warmly, and approach you with such love is not so common. I guess this is how we strangers quickly became friends.

  • When Feedspot contacted me to let me know they selected my blog as Top 25 Road Trip Blogs of 2020, well... I couldn't imagine anything more kindhearted from people I have never met.

  • Somewhere, across the globe in Ukraine, is another mother of three children who has reached out to me with such sweet words, an authentic heart, words of encouragement, and oddly has read my mind a few times.

I have learned that there are hundreds of strangers around us on a regular basis that are ready to make a mark on our lives. If we are open to others and approach them with a warm heart, it is remarkable how much tenderness comes back our way. Although I have always believed in this theory, 2020 has emphasized this idea even more in my daily life. Since I am a chatty one, I find myself speaking to random people more than ever, especially since we are mostly around strangers on our road trip, bringing me to the conclusion that most people are pretty awesome.

An extra year with my kids. 2020 gifted me an entire year spent with my kids. Just as I began to cry at how quickly the years have flown by and how soon they would be leaving the house, Covid hit, blessing us with having our children by our side from morning till night for an entire school year. Only 2020 could have made this happen and I am so deeply grateful for this outcome.

A hubby that brings me coffee to bed. Before I open both eyes each morning, I have a wonderful husband who brings me a freshly roasted cup of coffee to bed. I mean, this new 2020 custom is by far my favorite new tradition.

More opportunities to read. Usually, reading is reserved for summers because I just can't consistently fit reading into my normal daily schedule. Nowadays, with "normal schedules" out the window, I have been able to read on an ongoing basis for the past several months. I have read such fantastic books and my desire to read only continues to grow.

Bigger dreams, fewer fears. 2020 taught me that anything can change at any moment. It has also shown me a way of living in the present by forcefully removing any ability to make future plans. Learning how easily anything can change or be taken away has taught me to face my fears and have new experiences I would have never ever engaged in previously. Nowadays, I think to myself "I'm going to die, I may as well try X before I do". I grasp on to life even more tightly than ever by experiencing as much as I can both inside and outside my comfort zone. 2020 pushed me outside my comfort zone more than ever.

Unapologetic perspective. I am no longer apologetic for people's asinine behavior nor am I apologetic for my own. 2020 has taught me that I thrive best with people who are on the same frequency as I am and that it's best to tune out those who are not. It also taught me to stop being so hard on myself.

Survival. We survived 2020. Holy Moly, it was an uphill battle, one that made us warriors and showed us what we can and cannot handle. It was rough but like a Spartan race that kicks you in the ass like no other, it feels so good to get through the finish line stronger and more ready to take on another challenge than ever before.

In 2021 things won't be back to normal. But what is normal? Where we are now in our own lives is our new normal. Whether the upcoming year will be good or bad is really up to how we perceive it. Many people actually had an extraordinary 2020 and that's because these people committed to making the best of a situation (and please don't say "that's because they have a trust-fund or no kids/more freedom" or some other ridiculous comment that is self-victimizing and will never get you out of your rut). With the right mindset and willingness to accept what the year ahead throws our way, good and bad, it will also be equally possible to have an incredible 2021.

Wishing you all the deepest findings and lessons about yourselves, many adventures, the conquering of your fears, the courage to love others, and most importantly lots of health and happiness. Please share with me what the Coronacoaster of 2020 has taught you and if you think it was a wonderful or horrible year!


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