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Thankful for 2020

By Matt Cavallo

I am thankful for 2020. I know. I know. I know. 2020 was not a good year by many accounts. Three quarters of the year have been spent in quarantine. We lost people in record numbers to a virus for which there was no cure. COVID-19 touched my life personally and I two close family members in the throes of the virus. I watched from afar as a dear friend and MS blogger was hospitalized because of the coronavirus. My mother has told me, on more than one occasion, that it is the end of days.

So why would I be thankful for a year that has been so devastating to so many, myself included? I vowed back when I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I would see the good in each day and do the best I could no matter what my MS was doing. By making that promise to myself, I was really committing to living life with a positive mindset regardless of the challenges that I might face. I can’t control MS, but I can control how I live my life despite the new challenges I faced.

I feel the same way about COVID-19. While I have not had COVID, I cannot control that it is here to stay, at least in the short term. However, I can deal with it in the same way I deal my MS. With MS, I understand my limitations. I know I have MS and know what works for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still have fun and live my life. 

I do the same with COVID-19. Sure, there are some things I can’t do right now because of the risk of getting the virus, but that doesn’t mean it has stopped me from living life. Robert Schuller said, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” We are living in tough times, so we need to reach deep inside and find the inner toughness to persevere. Let the lessons learned in 2020 make you a stronger going forward.

When I look back on the last year, am I going to focus on the things I couldn’t do or am I going to reflect on what I was able to accomplish despite the challenges of 2020? I choose the later. Here are some things that I am thankful for that happened in 2020.

* I’m thankful for dogs. Being quarantined bought five extra months of life for my 15-year-old dog because I was able to stay home and assist him in his final days. Being home also allowed us to start our next chapter by welcoming home two new puppies. 

* I’m thankful for my family. This extra time at home has definitely brought us closer. Spending so much time together forces you to get creative and try new things. We have tried new recipes and new hobbies. We have grown closer and stronger and have actually got to know each other better from spending all this time together.

* I’m thankful for new adventures. Our vacations had always been out-of-state prior to COVID. We live in Arizona and our kids had never seen the Grand Canyon. So, we actually took road trips and visited some of the beautiful nature that Arizona has to offer, including giving the boys their first Grand Canyon experience.

* I’m thankful for being less busy. When I think of all the things I am thankful for, my life was really busy prior to COVID. I was traveling a lot and missing out on things at home. Now, I am spending more time with my family, enjoying my new puppies and looking forward to our next adventure. 

So while 2020 was a bad year by all accounts, think of the things you are thankful for. If you ended 2020 in a negative mindset, you will begin 2021 in that same negative mindset making the new year a continuation of the old one. Each day alive is one to be thankful for. While I am thankful for what I have today, I am optimistic we will be able to celebrate together in the not-so-distant future. So, think about what you are thankful for and let that positivity carry you forward into the new year.