Ten things 2020 taught me.

1. Pivot and stay flexible. All the goals I set at the beginning of 2020, the years long decision-making process, carefully crafted transition to the next phase: turned topsy turvy. It’s been years, but I’ve been here before. That state of all the things you know to be true being turned upside down.

2. My leader/s matter. Hold them accountable. From a botched COVID-19 response by our government to other thought leaders I had chosen to follow: 2020 illuminated what is really needed to lead. With the truth illuminated, it is time to hold our leaders (and selves) accountable for responsibilities and commitments. Those who lead in 2020 will not be the same ones who lead us in 2021. A massive change is underway.

3. The 5 people closest to me matter even more. Love them hard. Loving local became the only way. Find your people and love them hard.

4. Slow (the f*ck) down. 2020 begged us! Sheltering in place, smoke from wild fires, death, unstable internet, an overdue uprising for racial justice: all a repeated invitation from mother earth to slow down. Stay present.

5. A broken heart has much more surface area from which to radiate and receive a love. This is a quote from my TEDx Talk, still true for me today. Allowing my heart to break, carefully admiring the new edges, cracks, and surface area for giving and receiving love is a ritual part of integrating as the world shapeshifts around me.

6. Make space for grief. There is no growth without grief. It began in the fall, every Zoom meeting including private, direct messages with dear colleagues around the globe disclosing the death and loss around them. Not quite ready for prime time, even as we carry on with dealing with the day to day, we need to make space for our grief. We are grieving the loss of our sense of knowing, relationships that are not what we thought they were, the death of family members, and dreams we had imagined.

7. Practice gratitude. Each morning, I text three things I am grateful to with a stranger-turned-friend I was paired with eight or nine years ago. This daily devotion has fundamentally changed what I notice, how I begin my day, and what I cherish. Admist the loss, the longing, the division, this practice of being grateful has kept me centered toward the glass half full.

8. The importance of clear communication and boundaries. Whelp, the process of discussing and negotiating COVID transmission and different people and household’s comfort levels with risk has been a wild ride. Even has tensions rise and some relationships permanently shift, we are gaining the skills to communicate even more clearly what we need to feel safe. We are making compromises for people we love. We are taking calculated risks. We are giving up our individual needs for the collective good. We are learning so clearly the value of communication, transparency, and boundaries.

9. Trust is fluid. We are always moving toward or away from trust. Through my work as Founder of PleasePrEPMe I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be trustworthy and how one gains and keeps trust with others through online connection. While preparing to be a guest on the In Trust podcast and thinking more deeply about my relationship with trust, followed by a series of conversations Medical Mistrust hosted by the folxs at Spotlight Trust I spent the second half of 2020 in deep reflection on the tenuous and powerful nature of trust.

10. Art transforms us. “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” Toni Cade Bambera The cacophony of events in 2020 had us turning to art and artists for healing and to illuminate the path forward. One of my favorite icebreakers on Zoom calls as we neared the end of 2020 was to ask people to share what art was giving them life. Often time, these insights made me fall in love with people just a little bit more. Frequently, I was taking notes and finding new songs, books, shows, and films to be inspired by. 2020 brought me more time for podcasts and binging shows with my kids-turned-roommates. 2020 brought me a new playlist. 2020 brought me to a fountain of knowledge and art where I am drinking from, like a fire hose.

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