I've seen signs, tweets and posts declaring how much 2020 sucks, as if this was a thing that really needed to be clarified. To be honest, I think every year I see people detailing how much that specific year is flaming garbage. It seems easy to dwell on the negatives and this year may be easier than other years. If you've already decided that a year is the worst, then it can be rather hard to get yourself into a mindset where you can be happy and appreciative.
Since positive thinking is the hot new thing that I've been rocking this year and in Canada it is Thanksgiving this Monday, it seems like the perfect time to list 10 things that I am actually thankful for this year.
1. More time with my family. Has it been harder to get writing done this year because my kids are constantly around being distraction ninjas? Yes. Do these distractions almost always leave me with a giant smile on my face? Yes. My kids have taught me a lot about living in the moment and taking immense joy in the simple things in life like playing a board game or enjoying a snack with each other. My kids have also taught me how much everyone is really capable of achieving and being able to overcome our fears as both learned to bike and become much stronger swimmers despite some initial fears. Emily continues to amaze me with how much she devotes to our family and even after being stuck in a house with them for most of the year, I can say I love my family more than anything else in the universe.
2. Supports from friends. You know what helps during a year where a huge portion of one's work evaporates thanks to a recession causing pandemic? Having awesome friends who check on up you to see if you're doing okay, being willing to be accountability for freelance work and personal projects, point in the direction of potential leads and just be the type of people that are willing to chat, so you can have a distraction from negativity. Friends are the vaccine to hard times, and they work way better than injecting bleach.
3. Medeba. Some of my fondest and most cherished memories in my life are from this year-round camp and adventure learning centre. It is where I met and fell-in-love with my wonderful wife, Emily. It is where I spent several memorable summers where I made important friendships and had many life-changing experiences. It is the place where my self-confidence built as a creative leader and I was able to excel in a role with high responsibility. I love Medeba and all the people associated with it. It was extra special to finally be able to share this magical place with my kids this year. I look forward to when it will be able to open up again as a summer camp.
4. Popcorn with butter. Just ask Emily, I've had many nights where I was very grateful for this.
5. My imagination. We don't tend to be grateful for our natural talents and skills. In my case, I never really even thought my imagination and creativity was a skill, and it was just a thing that everyone had in them. This year especially, I've learned to appreciate that my mind goes a mile-a-minute and I constantly have new ideas and stories popping in. I have more worlds, characters and universes in my head than I'll ever be able to share and write about, and I recognize now that it is a blessing that a fall walk or looking at a carton of juice can trigger a story. It has been even grander to discover that both Danika and Everett have been blessed with this imagination, as I watch them travel to fantastic worlds to obtain magical treasure.
6. My readers and listeners. Covid-19 is not a fan of freelancers, and that has made 2020 a harder year to land clients and publishers. But one of the great pick-me-ups has been getting very kind emails and notes from my readers and listeners letting me know how much they appreciate my work. I've had great joy interacting with many readers and listeners this year, and it is so humbling to realize there are perfect strangers that enjoy my work. These interactions have been the inspiration and power-up to keep me working hard throughout the year. I love you guys, and I'm so thankful for you.
7. Seeing Tenet in the theatre. I don't know how many more times I'll be able to go to the movie theatre this year. I am not even sure if theatres will remain open this year, considering there are so few major movies getting released. But it was pretty special finally returning to the theatre at the end of the summer and being able to see a movie completely crafted to be a massive big screen experience with bone-rattling sound, huge sweeping shots and how-did-they-do-it special effects. For two hours, I had a spiritual experience of being back in the magic world of the movie theatre and experiencing an event that was designed to be on the biggest screen and best sound possible.
8. Rejection letters. This is the year that I've pushed myself to pitch to some very large and lucrative magazines. I've always been nervous writing for the places that my writing heroes published their stuff. What makes me think I'm worthy? Well, since I'd lost so much work, it was the time to take that gamble. One thing that I've learned about freelance writing over the years is that a rejection letter is a huge positive because usually, you just never get a response, since publications are so busy getting hundreds of pitches a day. This year I've got a few personal and encouraging rejection letters from major publications that said they love the pitch, but it just doesn't work right now, but want me to pitch again. It was a sign that I'm on the right path and need to delve into that creativity to come up with some original and fresh stuff that 'wow' the editors of the publications that I've always dreamed about having my stuff in.
9. Clients. And even better than rejection letters are the kind folks who do accept my stuff and reward me with some of that sweet cash money.
10. Obstacle. This is the year that I promised myself that I'd incorporate positive thinking and be a more optimistic person. Little did I know there would be a global pandemic and even more challenges for my dream career than the usual struggles. This was a chance for me to see that there are no problems but only solutions. To see this as a year to push myself and see all these obstacles as opportunities to make my life better and to come out of all thus stronger. Some days I am a flaming van speeding towards the firework factory, but other days, I'm a majestic unicorn farting skittles in all directions with golden roses popping all around me. Obstacles make me a better person and I am learning to respond to them as challenges that improve my personal life and career, so I'm thankful for them.
What are you thankful for in 2020?