I’m going to be completely honest and I’m sure this won’t go over well with everyone.  2020 hasn’t been so bad for my family.  Now, don’t hate me right away — hear me out.  I know that for many families, businesses, and front-line workers, the last nine months have been unbelievably difficult.  I realize that our country — our communities — have endured some of the most stressful and trying times many of us have seen in our lifetimes.  I’m well-aware of the fact that many have lost friends, family members, jobs, businesses, and their way of life.

I’m not here to make light of any of these losses.

However, I’m a “glass half-full” kind of gal and this year has given me a new perspective and a new appreciation for the simple things that sometimes go unseen.

Just like everyone else, March came and overnight our house became a workspace, an office, a school, and a 24/7 restaurant and entertainment zone.  We definitely felt the stress and strain like everyone else, but we eventually found a groove.  We found a routine and kept going.  And you know what?  We stumbled upon…joy.

We found joy in the simple things.

Simple things like morning walks and talks with my kids.  We made a point of getting out every morning to chat about anything and everything that was on our minds.  During those walks in the sunshine and sometimes the sprinkles, we discussed politics, faith, what scared us, and what made us laugh.  We told jokes – lots of jokes — we sang songs, and we connected on a whole new level.

We found joy in trying new things.

My family tried so many new recipes from bread, to cookies, to soups, to classic casseroles we hadn’t made in decades.  We not only tried new food, but we also tried out new hobbies.  We took time to learn to play ukuleles together.  In our version of a family band, we strummed and laughed.  We’re not great by any means – but we love relaxing together strumming away to our favorite songs.

We found joy in simple nights together.

Our family was so used to spending money, making reservations, going, and doing “something.”  But we found we didn’t have to spend money or go anywhere.  We put together puzzles, watched old movies, and played old board games and created new ones.  More than that…we laughed.  A lot!  We found joy in spending time together.

So, when I hear 2020 referred to as a “dumpster fire,” or “the year we want to forget” I cringe.  See, although this year has been filled with uncertainty and chaos – more than we could ever imagine – in the midst of these awful circumstances my family made some amazing memories together.  We found something great: each other.  We connected on a new level and that has forever transformed our relationship with each other, and I wouldn’t want to change that for the world.  The struggles of this year have made us stronger, better, people… a stronger, closer, family.

As 2020 comes to a close and we maybe – just maybe – begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic and unbelievably tough year, I’m grateful.  Despite the trials of 2020, I’m grateful.   We walk into this new year with a new perspective on life in this world and how our family fits into it all.   I truly can’t wait to see where this year takes us.  And you know what?  No matter what it brings… we will find joy. Joy in the simple things!

For the simple things are all around us.

Don’t let the chaos cloud your view.  Take a moment to slow down, stop, and take in the good you maybe didn’t see right away.  Look for the joy.  Love more.  Laugh more.  Stop waiting to be happy – shift your focus this new year and begin to appreciate the small things, because often they are what matters most.

Cherish simple things such as family, friends and love, because great things appear simple from far away. Place your simple things in the best light; there’s enough sunshine for all of them.

Val Uchendu