In a year so full of challenges, it’s easy to become mired in negativity. So, we asked AAA Members to seek out the positives—things they learned about themselves, surprising ways their lives changed for the better and what they’re most looking forward to next year.

See some of what they had to say and find out how to share your own good news.

Lessons Learned

Michelle K. on finding time to learn and grow:

“About a year ago, I decided to change careers and become a life coach. I was just starting to go out networking one-on-one, and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. So, we started doing it all on Zoom calls and Skype and Webex, but my skills were more suited for one-on-one. So, I decided to use the extra downtime to take online training courses that would help me learn how to grow my business, Soul-ga with Michelle Life Coaching. It was the perfect opportunity to take the aftereffects of this global pandemic and make them into something good.

“At home, we just really tried to make the best of things. We started eating better, for example. I was already a proponent of having groceries delivered, but with the extra time, I could really fine-tune my menus and get my teenage kids involved. They were so tired of playing on their phones that they’d be like, ‘Hey, Mom, what are you gonna do today?’ I’d have them cook with me or plan a menu. And I think it really strengthened the bond for me and my teens. I’m sure they’ll want to go back to doing things with their friends, but I don’t think it’ll take away from that bond that we strengthened even more during this time.”

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“I have learned that we have to be more compassionate and listen more. During times of added stress, it helps to keep an open mind and listen to others in order to better understand their perspectives.” —Ian H.

“Adaptability is the key to success. No matter how bad things seem, you can always find something to be grateful for.” —Robin D.

“I have learned how to save and budget my money better. I also found that sharing a smile can make a difference in a person’s day.” —Shauna W.

“Life is a lot less settled than we often lead ourselves to believe. The creature comforts that we all become accustomed to in our regular lives can evaporate overnight, but the relationships we have with friends and neighbors, of love and solidarity, help us weather the turbulence.” —Adam R.

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Unexpected Blessings

Cindy K. on mastering a new way of teaching:

“I started teaching math six years ago and had just changed grade levels from high school to middle school two years ago. So, I had that learning curve, and then I was thrust into a distance-learning situation with my students—all 129 of them.

“It seemed like such a daunting task to all of a sudden switch gears from in-person teaching to online. It was a lot of trial and error. I tried different things, and when they didn’t work, I tried something else until I finally found my groove. That made me realize that I can do really difficult things. I don’t have to have that mindset of ‘oh, no, this is terrible.’ It’s just ‘what are my resources and how can I use them?’

“It took a lot of patience on everybody’s part—teachers, students and parents. And I was really impressed with most everyone. My students appreciated my efforts, too. Some of them sent thank-you cards and emails, which made it all worthwhile. You don’t expect anything like that, so when it comes, it’s just really touching. When it’s not something they’re required to do, you know it comes from the heart, and that makes it extra-special.”

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“I was suffering from anxiety due to COVID-19 and found a Facebook group that connects women. One of them brought over a care package with wine and other items, and it inspired me to do the same for two women. One I didn’t know, and it just so happens the day I brought her wine and gift was her wedding anniversary.” —Lisa S.

“I decided to try online dating for the first time and met the man of my dreams. Because of the quarantine restrictions, we weren’t able to go on a typical dinner date until two months of dating. The whole situation made us be more creative about spending time together.” —Renee P.

“A blessing in disguise came when I lost my job in July. It was unexpected, but it propelled me to do things I’d been wanting to do for years—improve my skills in new areas and seek meaningful and challenging work on my own terms.” —Joe T.

“I have an elderly dog, and being able to spend time with her when I know her time is short has been wonderful.” —Marguarite R.

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Hopes for the Future

Dominique C. on recapturing the vibe at live music festivals:

“Summer music festivals are part of the culture here in Wisconsin. There are live music festivals just about every weekend over the summer. It doesn’t matter if you like rock music or country music or whatever—everybody just bonds over these festivals. Just perfect strangers. Everybody is laughing or enjoying the music.

“The biggest is Summerfest. People travel from all over the world for it. You have these huge bands—Aerosmith, Tom Petty before he passed, Paul McCartney. Chris Stapleton was coming this year. But you also have all these mini-stages with all kinds of music. You’ll meet someone standing at the reggae band or whatever and strike up a conversation, and you see them next year and you’re like, ‘Hey! How are you?’ These are my people.

“This summer, the music went virtual. They started bringing cover bands into the nightclubs or bars, and they would livestream them on Facebook. And you could interact with other people on the chat. Is it the same? No, but for a moment, it brought back a bit of that feeling of community. Plus, I didn’t have to put on shoes or makeup. You have to look at the bright side.

“But that’s the feeling that I miss—that feeling of community where everyone is just enjoying the moment, singing the words to the same song. I hope that at some point we can get back to that, just so we can all be out and be a community again.”

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“I love traveling and have been very fortunate to see a lot of the world. I am very much looking forward to going many more places!” —Sharon M.

“Since spending our honeymoon in Florence, Italy, we’ve visited the city every five years to celebrate milestone anniversaries. We hope to be able to make the trip for our 15-year anniversary in 2021.” —Amanda C.

“I hope to say ‘yes’ more often when opportunities come my way and learn new things in the process.” —Allisun S.

“My wife and I are planning a trip to visit friends in Germany in late 2021!” —Spencer C.

This story was featured in the
November/ December 2020 issue of AAALiving Magazine

What Silver Lining Did You Find in 2020?

Share your unexpected blessings and lessons learned with us on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #AAAEveryDay.