What 2020 taught me about gratitude

Obviously 2020 was a terrible year. Not only did I get sick with COVID, but so did my mother, brother and niece. Also my company Netlandish had the worst year financially of it's 12 year history. Protests, election madness (at least in the United States), and finally the storming of the capital (which I'm chalking up as an extension of 2020) was the cherry on top of a horrible horrible year.

However I don't want to pine on about that. I want to talk about the positive things that 2020 showed me or reminded me of.

My daughters

I'm always grateful for these two young women but despite being trapped 3000 miles away from them, I got to learn a lot about them by how they handled themselves during the pandemic. And of course, continue to do so. They're both bright, responsible, and caring people and that really makes me feel good.

My ex-wife

Me being stuck in Central America really put a lot of pressure on her. I still feel terrible for the situation she was put in but unfortunately there was nothing I could do about it. She stepped up big time and took over all the responsibilities of dealing with the girls, her work, maintaining two households (hers and helping with mine), and all without missing a beat. I owe her for this and I won't forget it.

My girlfriend

Being in quarantine with someone can really test your patience. And I am definitely the type of person who needs my alone and quiet time. I like to be left alone to read, think, or just zone out. I was a bit worried we'd step on each other's toes being stuck together for months on end but it was quite the opposite. We became a lot closer and worked quite well together. I'm very lucky she came into my life, especially when she did.

(Funny aside, today happens to be her birthday. Happy Birthday!)

My family

I haven't seen my mother or brother in over a year. Sometime in 2019 was the last time as we live in different states and I also live outside the US half the year. When they both were sick with COVID I was terrified I may never see them again. While I still haven't seen them it's really made me realize how much I miss them.

My health

I recovered from COVID rather quickly but then came the long term after effects and those scared me a lot. I didn't know what it was at first and I truly thought I had some serious heart damage. And maybe I do but I no longer think so. Today the symptoms basically gone. Only the occasional flare up now and then. I can still exercise intensely and I feel pretty good over all. All my stats are good so I am hopeful the worst is behind me.

My work

As I said above, it was the worst year in the history of Netlandish. This really stressed me out as I have employees I am responsible for. This really made me reflect on how fortunate I've been the previous 11 years. Not only did we take the loss on the chin but we came out just fine. This was only possible because of the past success the company has had. Nobody was let go, had hours or pay cut, and raises were given out as normal (though I admit, smaller than a typical year). We even hired a new person in 2020.

I was also able to use my extended time in Nicaragua to work on Colonial San Martin as well. We launched the new website, got the water pipes ran through the entire project, and put up new fancy fencing for each lot.

Finally we were able to focus attention on our internal products while not working on client projects. This has us ready to launch a new product in the coming weeks.

My partners

My other company Insight Miners is doing just fine and this is in large part to my partner in the company. She has an brilliant mind, is extremely kind and thoughtful, and continues to drive us forward. We used the downtime to really plan and execute for 2021 and 2022. So far the progress is excellent.

My practical nature

Some people have joked that I'm cheap or stingy. I couldn't disagree more. I think I'm very generous with the people I care about. I also think I'm extremely practical in my money management.

I refuse to spend money on brands unless the quality is the best solution for my given need. For example, I would never spend $300 on a fancy brand belt when a $60 one made by an expert would not only provide the same functionality but last 10x longer and look just as cool (imho).

I choose to do my splurging on adventures such as travel, events, experiences, and yes, electronics.

My clients

Client work may have been slow but our long term clients are still sticking with us. This truly means the world to me and as always we will continue to do our very best for them. Finding new clients is hard work and something we've never been particularly good at but we've always aimed for long term partnerships and when we find those good fits we like to hang on to them. I'm grateful we continue with this idea.


Of course I wish COVID never happened. The deaths, health issues, turmoil it's caused can not be undone. But being forced to look on the bright side, COVID definitely reminded me of something very important. Life is fragile and short. Work is important but definitely not everything. I've been putting off some travel and other things I want to do but I will go and do them as soon as it's safe to do so. Especially a long trip. Maybe Asia or Europe again.

Also, thanks to my friend Andrew, I'm getting into sailing. Not sure I'll do anything more than some classes and spend some time on his boat but it's definitely something I'm looking forward to.

Moving on

So far 2021 has proven to be challenging in some aspects. I've got a set of issues I've been trying to resolve for some time now and it's very frustrating because it's totally out of my control. Hurry up and wait basically. So while I'm waiting I'm trying to focus on the good and keep a smile on my face. Hoping to have a better 2021 for everyone and learn some new, or be reminded of old, lessons as well.