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Not Just Surviving, But Thriving This Holiday Season

Posted by Sara Orellana Paape on Dec 18, 2020 4:32:55 PM

As 2020 comes to an end I find myself exhausted. This year has been a rollercoaster of a year. Difficult decisions have been made, dreams placed on hold, new skills learned, and relationships have ended. Looking back, it’s no wonder that I would like to nap the last month of the year away. But giving in to the naps somehow feels like I would be letting 2020 win.

Those who know me know I am a fighter. I greatly dislike losing, and if I can say I learned something or grew from an experience I will classify it as a win, and not as a loss. My parents describe me as scrappy, my daughter would say I am gritty, and my boxing coach says I am determined. These characteristics have taught me how to thrive in any situation.

In life we are faced with two choices, to survive or to thrive. There are days that if we survive we are in all actuality thriving. I remember when my daughter was cutting her molars. I don’t think we had a minute of peace for weeks. Finally, in desperation, I asked a pediatric nurse for help. She told me to find an old, rough washcloth wash it well, then twist it into a knot and freeze it. When it was frozen, give it to my daughter and encourage her to chew on it. After little to no sleep, it sounded like the best idea ever. I tried the trick and she found peace. We survived that moment, and in surviving it, we thrived.

I know the holidays and life in general does not look glamorous right now. Our dreams of sparkly lights, carols, and sugar cookies have been dashed by a pandemic we cannot see. The worst thing in life is to face an invisible enemy, one who fights with no honor and strikes when you are the weakest. No matter how we try to create effective battle plans, the only way to overcome this enemy is to hunker down in our homes and wait. Wait some more, and then ten more minutes. We are on the longest collective timeout in history.

We can choose to use this timeout to sulk and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can reflect, grow, and emerge stronger than before. The choice is up to each one of us. I am choosing growth. I will be the master of my own fate; I am willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. We make similar choices every day. When we choose to save a dollar and pass on a cupcake or eat the cupcake, we are making the same decision. Sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

The adjustments to life have even affected my dogs. Stark, a devoted Granny’s Boy, has learned to talk to my mom on the phone. I have never seen a dog wag and smile so hard as when we place the phone on the floor and my mom tells him he is a good boy. Raffy, our lab, has learned to dance for the iPad, showing off his new sleek svelte figure, he has lost almost 20 pounds this year and feels like a pup again.

Military families are the strongest families I know. You live with uncertainty, orders can change in moments, and spouses deploy for months, and yet your family bonds are some of the strongest I have ever seen. Choose to thrive in this season, choose to be part of the solution while growing as a person.

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