Seeing The Good When Surrounded by Misery

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2020 is coming to a close and the general consensus seems to be hallelujah and good riddance!

To say that 2020 didn’t have its fair share of problems would be a slight understatement. Between a global pandemic, shortages, lock downs, job insecurity, political discourse, and all sorts of extreme weather, it’s hard to think of anything good that happened this year.

As I was considering the effects of 2020 on the goals and objectives I set for myself this year, I was reminded of this Zen parable.

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

Source: Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

It is easy to get hung up on the tigers and mice that we always have to deal with. But, there will always be strawberries and it is with that mindset that I focused on the strawberries.

Here are my strawberries for 2020

Grocery Delivery and Pickup

The delivery and pickup options for the grocery stores I shop at saved me from having to physically go to the stores. Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and Target all have amazing systems for delivery and pickup of my favorite items. It was a little rough at the beginning, but things have improved and now I can usually get my items within 24 hours.

My Favorite Restaurants

Being in the restaurant business is tough enough. Add in the lock downs, curfews, and general uncertainty, it’s no wonder that restaurants are closing at an alarming rate. Small, locally owned restaurants are particularly vulnerable. There aren’t many restaurants I dine at, but I’m grateful for Tea Fusion Cafe, Lekebab Grill, Joel’s Asian Grill, and a few of the large chain restaurants for continuing to serve their delicious food and drinks to us.

The Company I Work For

I work for a large online financial institution. What they have done for their employees and customers is nothing short of brilliant. It is because of them that I do not have any job uncertainties to worry about. We transitioned to work from home at the very beginning of the pandemic and they have provided the necessary tools to get our jobs done and still provide top notch service to our customers. No employee has been, or will be, laid off during the pandemic. We’re actually hiring in quite a few positions.

Master Eric Sbarge and The Peaceful Dragon

Like all fitness businesses in North Carolina, we’ve had to adapt to all the changes and restrictions enforced on us. Master Sbarge quickly transitioned to online and outdoor classes to continue to serve their students during this time.

I am also thankful to Master Sbarge for all his training and teachings over the years that helped prepare me to handle all the change that is swirling around us. That allowed me to serve my students, staff, and family with a level head and measured approach.

My Support Staff

Dale Saufley has been helping me teach classes for many years. Her approach to teaching and her insight in the arts has been a tremendous benefit to my students. She teaches our yoga classes and is an advocate for the Veterans Yoga Project. She is the force behind getting our Veterans Yoga Project classes going in 2021.

Katherine Snider has recently joined to help me with our digital marketing. She is the force behind our Facebook presence and is instrumental in retooling the website and restarting this blog. I look forward to what we’ll cook up for 2021.

My Students

I am especially grateful to all my students who have not only continued their training to counter balance all the crazy, but who continue to come to class and take advantage of all the resources we created due to the lock downs.

It’s easy during times of immense change to stop doing certain things. We’re off our game and easily distracted. I am proud of my students who have continued with their studies. I know it’s helping them relax and relieve stress.

My Wife and Daughter

My daughter started Middle College in the fall and, like most folks around the globe, attended from home. Considering the stress and anxiety of a teenager in non-pandemic times, it’s ten-fold in our current climate. I am proud of what she’s accomplished under these trying circumstances.

My wife, Maricris, has been my most ardent supporter since I started Lake Norman Tai Chi Center. When the pandemic hit and forced us to shutdown for a few months, she was instrumental in creating videos and taking pictures that were used in our online student resources.

Between the three of us, we support each other in our pursuits. Yes, the house gets a tad messy and we may eat out a little more than we should, but we’re always there for each other and always make time to just chill together.

Looking Ahead

Even with the turn of the calendar not all of our tigers and mice of 2020 will disappear. There are bright spots on the horizon to combat the global pandemic, but it is far from over. 2021 will present a whole new set of tigers and mice. But, the strawberries will always be present if you look.

What are your strawberries for 2020? Write them down. Focus on them. Give gratitude and thanks for those on your list. It is needed, warranted, and will be appreciated. With all the doom and gloom we are hearing, it is refreshing to give and receive thanks and appreciation for the good and positive around us.

Here’s to an abundance of strawberries in 2021!

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