While I acknowledge and witness the world’s backdrop of today, I reject accepting it as something that resembles anything that is normal or just. I have always been a light-hearted and peaceful person, a born optimist, and have never been bored living in my own head. It has also been my nature to see the goodness and potential in others. While this outlook could sound naïve or weak to some, it is actually the opposite. Today I am ironclad-strong and proudly stand with my position of being a loving optimist. It wasn’t an easy path to forge, but one that was worth every step to get here. At one point in my life, I had a choice to either let this outlook steamroll over me into stale complacency and be passive about who I wanted to be or take the reins and mold myself into someone stronger, someone I always had hoped to become. I chose the unchartered path, as it was the only choice to find inner happiness, which showed me what I was truly capable of – unconditional self-love. This choice taught me that I could still be loving to others even after putting up boundaries; that I could stand up for myself in a peaceful way; that I could rise above challenges and gain strength and determination; that I could choose my own well-being and put it first while still caring for others; that I needed to teach others my value by valuing myself. With strength and love in my heart, my loving optimism outlook has been shaken by a challenging year. I’m sure it’s challenged you too in some similar ways and in some ways unique to you. Perhaps you can relate in the sense that it has not only shown me some of my own blind spots, it seems to have aired out a lot of negativity, toxicity, violence, hate, racism, fascism, sexism, greed, and superiority all at once. Ignorance on my part has been replaced with shock, anger, and most of all, rejection of accepting any of it as ordinary. As a loving optimist, I not only reject it, I want to stomp on it repeatedly till it’s gone. Ah-hem, that’s where I’m at right now – a state of frustrating rejection. While 2020 has surfaced an ugliness that needed light shed on it for the masses to see to make everyone aware of the kind of world we actually live in, I believe why we all needed to see it was to create change. I believe we have it in us to be the change we want to see. "We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”~ Mahatma Gandhi I believe that the majority of people are good and want to do the right thing. I believe we can all learn, improve, and evolve our mindsets to be kinder to one another and to our environment. I believe how we can get there is by valuing our well-being. I believe that when we as individuals prioritize our own self-care, it transmutes into self-respect and self-love – fuel that allows us to stand up for the kind of world we want and deserve to live in. This is the kind of world we are respectful towards one-another regardless of how we appear on the outside. This is the kind of world where we care about one another and want others to thrive and live full, healthy, and happy lives just as we do for ourselves. This is the kind of world I believe is possible.