2020: My AHA! moments in a nutshell

It was the eve of Christmas Eve when I reunited with my good friend, Linda.

She traveled to Denver before Thanksgiving to help out her sister with a relocation and set up the new house. Then, COVID-19 hit again and she was gone for nearly four weeks.

That’s what sisters do, even in times of COVID.

We both love dogs and our “girls” missed each other as much as we, the humans, missed the “live” connection. The distance in time was felt by all.

It was great to regroup, refresh, and reconnect on an afternoon excursion on my little electric boat, the “Voice of Reason,” to rendezvous while maintaining social distancing and a glass of wine as we tooled through the Coronado Cays.

But, was it cold!

Now, many of you might laugh: Coronado, CA “cold?” Yet, it can be with the cold wet wind blowing off the Pacific Ocean. We were bundled as if we were in snow country, UGGs and all!

But the friendship was warm and comforting.

And, the beauty of reconnecting was amazing.

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I shared how I now have ZOOM meetings with my four sisters at least once per month for a couple of hours at a time. We haven’t talked this much except when at family reunions every couple of years.

I also shared how I’ve reconnected with my five good friends from high school via Zoom every three months or so. It used to be every few years when I traveled back to MN for a family reunion and carved out time to also see them.

I hear these kinds of stories from friends and clients all the time. Increased time with friends and family virtually. I even learned over the holidays how people have set up Secret Santa via ZOOM with gifts ready to ship from Amazon and bonuses for who can get them out the fastest. Amazing!

The human mind, in times of adversity, gets creative. Stories abound about the clever approaches people have taken to maintain connection in the midst of stay-at-home orders.

Back to my eve of Christmas Eve boat ride, our conversation shifted to Hallmark and Lifetime movies instead of the latest on CNN and Fox and others.

We both agreed we’re so in need of “feel good” moments. It’s important to take the time and make the vision for creating our own “feel good” moments at any given time. That’s what we were doing on the “Voice of Reason.”

I must admit – I was encouraged by the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn right before Christmas as the closest they’ve come in 397 years. Often referred to as the Star of David signifying the birth of Jesus in Christianity, I was simply inspired by a rare phenomenon happening in this particular year.

To me, it was a bright star signifying hope in a dark world, a positive omen for 2021 and a light leading the way out of a difficult 2020.

It gave me an opportunity to reflect throughout this holiday season and Linda reminded me of some key lessons learned.

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#1 As catastrophic as 2020 has been, it’s served as a “reset” button on life.

Without our usual distractions, places to go and people to see, we’ve learned to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones, both near and far. I am so much more content and at peace in ways not experienced before.

#2 With nowhere to go, people, including me, have tuned in to our true passions whether it’s a hobby, an activity, or a new goal.

I’ve wanted to be a writer “forever.” Yes, I wrote a doctoral dissertation and write mediation summaries all the time. This year has provided me with an opportunity to clear out activities that kept me busy but not fulfilled. I’m now writing in ways that fulfill my goals through articles and recently published my first book on Amazon Kindle. A milestone for me and my writing on topics near and dear to me keeps growing and growing.

Finally, fulfilling a lifelong goal!

#3 With the world of work (and living) shutdown so unexpectedly in mid-March 2020, I’m confident that all of us faced bewilderment as to “what’s next” in how we continue to earn an income.

I was reminded back to the days of 2007-2008 as the economy started to decline. The academic world in higher education was already making the shift to virtual platforms. I was teaching dispute resolution on the ground for National University as they made the shift. I was bewildered and confused as I contemplated how I would transition teaching conflict resolution skills from an in-person environment to a virtual platform. Much to my surprise, it worked wonderfully.

The whole knack of on-line meetings and classrooms didn’t seem to catch on with the rest of the business world. At least, not until COVID-19 forced us into a new way of doing business. The shift has been amazing for millions. Zoom reports 10 million users at the end of 2019; by April 2020, this grew phenomenally to 300 million users.

And, surprisingly, there have been many wonderful aspects of doing more on-line never before seen. And, for many, including me, actually broadening our geographic market base and ability to serve more people. Teaching and speaking across the U.S., in Hong Kong, and soon India - all from the comfort of my home in Coronado.

#4 And, as I faced the fears of what would happen to our livelihoods with COVID-19 and the shutdown of the economy, I was reminded on many fronts that this wasn’t our first rodeo.

While there were many unknowns ahead, I wasn’t afraid. I put this out to Facebook with my 30-day challenge to MINDSET Shift in April 2020.

The 2008 recession and subsequent years were pretty devastating for me, not only financially but those few years were marked with a number of family losses, one right after another.

I realized that, if I could survive those five years, I could face the uncertainty of the COVID-19 year ahead and vowed to make “mindset matters” a focal point in my life and work with others.

#5 Working virtually has actually created so many new opportunities.

The cost of doing business is reduced by letting go of office space no longer useable. The added costs of travel and time to events is gone, reducing stress and increasing time available to do other things (like writing).

And, in my world of dispute resolution, there have been some surprising benefits to working virtually. Mediations are actually more time-efficient. The display of emotion tends to be less intense and less threatening than in-person meetings. And, the ease of scheduling is enhanced while the cost of resolving disputes is reduced.

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While it’s been a difficult year filled with uncertainty on so many fronts, there IS a silver lining.

When we stop and reflect where we were and where we are now, I keep hearing people continue to shift and adapt in many creative ways. It’s been an opportunity to regroup, refocus, and refresh. I know I have and it’s been enriching and fulfilling.

This is certainly not to diminish the losses experienced by many for which we are heartbroken.

It’s a heartache we’ve all experienced in some form or fashion.

There’s always lessons to be learned.

As we wrap up a tumultuous 2020 and slide into 2021, I want to wish you all the best for this holiday season!

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