Even in a year full of hardship and obstacles, my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude.

I’ve been thinking about it all weekend, maybe even all year, how fortunate I am to simple have the basics in life; abundant food, a warm bed, supportive family, loving friends. We often think of them as “the little things,” when in reality, they are the big things. Life is not about how many vacations you took, how big your house is, how shiny your car is, or what brands you wear.

While obviously this year has been horrible for many and I would never wish for it to have happened and would do anything in my power to make it all go away, I do think this year gave  lot of people (myself included) a rare opportunity.

When the fun vacations or frivolous shopping were taken away, I was gifted with something money can’t buy—a moment to pause; a moment to pause and reflect on what truly makes me happy.

I used to be happy and fulfilled if I was planning a trip to see friends or family, out shopping, or had the latest shiny thing to play with. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect, I still very much enjoy online shopping, but I will say that, when those things were taken away and I felt “oh so sad,” it made me realize what I was actually dependent on for happiness. I began to realize that I was sad, and yet I still had the means of an amazing life. I had food. I had a roof over my head. I had amazing family around me. I had loving and supportive friends. And I noticed that before, those were not the blessings I was counting.

My perspective changed—and again, I’m not saying I’m perfect—but I am noticing my mindset more. I am redirecting myself toward what really matters. I am noticing the moments I am truly happy and taking note of them. I am pausing more often to recognize what I have been given.

When playing cards with my family around the table and joking back and forth, I can’t help but pause and feel so thankful for the ability to laugh. When eating leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, I am reminded that not only do we have delicious food to nourish our bodies, but we come from a long, tightly-knit family heritage that gave us those recipes, and how amazing it is that I have that to identify with. When watching Hallmark Christmas movies on the couch, I hace noticed the fluffy blanket on my lap and the fireplace making my toes toasty and warm. When putting together Christmas gifts for friends, I am reminded that not only do we have the money and means to put together said gifts, but that my quarantine consisted of me teaching myself to sew, and how lucky I am to have the leisure to do so.

All of 2020 has brought hard, trying, and emotional times for everyone, in one way or another. But through those times, I still feel so fortunate to look back on all the people (pictured here along with many more) that I have FaceTimed, all the people across my Zoom screens, all the text messages sent back forth, all the supportive people in my life that have created such happy moments, that have shined even such dark times and I am so grateful. You have shaped my life. You have shaped my 2020. My heart is bursting with gratitude and love because of you.

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