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COLUMN | Take a moment to enjoy the positives in life during stay-at-home: Dave 'Dino' DeNatale

There are many reasons to be despondent right now, but there are also joys to be found as we work through the pandemic.

CLEVELAND — So how are you holding up as we continue life in quarantine? 

Maybe if you're like me and working at home, much of your daily routine kind of feels the same. You are given assignments to do by your manager, you respond to emails, you have meetings (via Zoom), and clock out after your eight hours or so. 

But of course it's not the same. It can never be the same. 

For millions of Americans, the days are filled with unavoidable anxiety. Loved ones have been stricken with COVID-19, others are waiting desperately for test results. 

Jobless rates are at their highest point since the Great Depression as layoffs, furloughs, and closings continue at companies large and small. My heart is with every single person trying to figure out how to make ends meet while state and federal leaders come up with a plan to re-start the economy. 

While there are so many reasons to be despondent, I wonder if you are looking at life through a different lens now. Have you found positives during these difficult weeks? They're out there if you look hard enough. 

Many of us have been granted the gift of time. With that gift, have you been able to tackle those things that have been on your to-do list of life?

We all have them. You know those things that start as New Year's resolutions and end up as things that get tossed on the back burner under the guise of "I'm too busy" or "I'll get to it next weekend." 

Maybe it's something as simple as getting more organized. You've attacked that closet and gone through those old clothes. Maybe you've cleaned out the garage or done a little landscaping. I can't tell you how rewarding it was for me to put a new shower curtain and liner up and get my bathroom cleaned. 

Of course, the most challenging item on the to-do list of life is getting motivated to exercise. Heck, just taking a little walk every now and then. Yes, it's difficult because of social distancing and even more challenging when there's snow coming down on April 17th in Northeast Ohio. But you'll be amazed by what you see outside. Messages of joy and hope everywhere from yard signs to chalk art. And when you're cooped up inside your house or apartment, little things like that tend to lift up your spirits. 

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You know what I've discovered that I've taken for granted the most? Human interaction. I miss my friends and colleagues from our newsroom so much. My walk-and-talks to our lunch room with my manager Denise Polverine and the digital team, doing the Donovan & Dino nightly show with Jimmy Donovan, talking sports with everyone, chatting about politics and movies with Russ Mitchell, laughing, crying, working, playing. All of it. 

We spend more time with the people we work with than the people we live with. And if you're as fortunate as I am to have a work family and a home family, you get what I'm talking about. 

This week, I did a radio interview with my friends "The Sports Animals" from ESPN Honolulu. I was actually supposed to visit them next month in a planned vacation to Hawaii before the pandemic had other ideas. For ten minutes, I got to talk Browns football and the NFL Draft with my buddies. It felt almost...normal. 

The simple joys of life can be found everywhere. In a text message from a friend who is just checking in to see how you're doing. In a book that's been sitting on your shelf for months or years that you've finally opened. In that Netflix or Hulu show that you've been wanting to binge watch. (By the way, I haven't seen Tiger King yet.)

It's completely understandable to have moments of fear and sadness right now. You wouldn't be human if you didn't. And if you're like me and deal with depression and/or anxiety now and then, this experience can feel even more overpowering. 

There are positives to be found. Reach out to someone close to you, or someone you haven't spoken with in awhile. Challenge yourself to accomplish something on your to-do list of life. Take a walk and appreciate nature.

Most importantly, know that you're not alone. We truly are all in this together.

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