This year began with genuine excitement as I thought about “2020” and what was to come. What trips my family would take, what my business would look like and how it was a new beginning for some of my friends and family members who had a difficult 2019. I love the idea of something new and refreshing… I like mornings and Mondays and January 1st. The idea of starting a day over, starting a new diet, starting a new job—that is a little scary but also exhilarating.

And so 2020 began, fresh and new, and of course I look forward to Spring Break as a time to rest and enjoy all the hard work I put into the new year. Except, the Spring Break of 2020 became something completely different. It wasn’t a break at all, but a new beginning of something I could not have imagined. More like a sci-fi movie that morphed into a scary movie, yet it was my life. Not only my life, but everyone’s. Unified in something new that would rip us apart slowly, and then suddenly.

This could be another article about the woes of 2020, and there are so many—I know you know what I’m talking about. However, I am forward-focused toward the light at the end of this year. And it all starts with some humility and gratitude.

The most important thing that I am grateful for this year is the health of my family. I know that many of you have not been as fortunate. Many of us have experienced loss. Loss of someone close to us, a friend or even a person you barely knew. There has been a lot of loss in our community. What an odd time in our lives to be socially distant from one another while having life illness and tragedies occur. It’s heavy. So let me say that I am grateful for my years of friendship with Annie, for the brief moments with Jenny and the sweet memories of little Riley. Who has made an impact on your life this year?


On a much lighter note, I am grateful for living in this beautiful area that has allowed me to get out and about. For the first time ever (it’s kind of embarrassing), I hiked Flying J, which is such an easy place to walk around. I finally bought a state park pass to hike Staunton, and paddleboarded at Chatfield’s gravel pit pond, which was so clean and quiet. It was actually one of my best summers to reconnect with long lost friends, get in a bit of exercise and take in mountain vistas. Where have you traveled to locally this year that’s new to you?

The most shocking thing that has happened this year has been watching my friends and family adapt to our pandemic situation. People are amazing, aren’t they? Teachers have been overloaded with new procedures, new expectations, 1000+ Zoom meetings and continue to do their best. They are incredible people. My children, who actually said that they wish they could go to school and have adapted to their new school experience, are amazing. To the small business owners who have sanitized every inch of their spaces, created safe experiences and environments for their customers and risked it all to open their doors—you are amazing! I am beyond impressed with so many people who have had to brainstorm, shift and restructure their livelihoods. If you are that business owner, your hard work has not gone unnoticed; you are appreciated for trying to provide the rest of us with a morsel of normalcy. Who has amazed you this year?

What are you grateful for? It might be more difficult than any other year to identify the positives, the good times or the happy moments, yet those things probably stick out more than usual. If you take a moment to find something you’re grateful for, you might just see the brighter side of this moment in time. I love this quote by Vern P. Stanfill: “There is no darkness, so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light.”

I believe there is always hope. I believe that there are new beginnings with the rising sun, and the sun will always rise. If you know someone who is struggling this year, remember to reach out. We have local service providers who can help you, your friend or neighbor, whatever their need. If you want to help, contact one of our local nonprofits to see how you can be the light for someone in need!

When I feel overcome with grief and fear, I immediately want to change how I feel. I want to rid myself of negative thoughts and feelings and I’ve come to realize that taking action is the best resolve. For the last 10 years, I’ve teamed up with Conifer Jazzercise to support breast cancer patients and survivors, and this year, we will be donating some of our proceeds to local mental health providers as well. If this is a cause that speaks to you, please contact me to make a donation.