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A new year dawns!

And the experience of 2020 is dawning on me . . .

Happy New Year! It's 2021 at last and 2020, the year that daunted us all and upended everything, the year that we're all glad to see the backside of, is history. Sure, the demarcation between one year and the next is a social construct, but it feels meaningful to have a line between past and future; and with vaccines becoming available right at as one year rolled into the next, it felt like a real boundary.

Are we quite done with this now??

But as I do my usual reflections1 on the year past, although there were many challenging and some very painful moments, it's dawning on me that this year gave me a lot, too. Without a doubt, I'm among the luckiest of the lucky.

As 2020 dawned, I had been happily working and exploring in Buenos Aires for a couple of months (where I shot the top photo at sunrise on the day I arrived); and then at the end of January, work took me to one of my favourite places to land, Cape Town.

There are an awful lot of beautiful moments to choose from in those two vibrant cities! Here are just a few of my favourites: Argentina along the top and South Africa, bottom row.

With the pandemic, I headed back to Canada, landing in another vibrant city - Montréal. Lucky again. My consulting work was intense and scattered across continents and time zones with far too many Zoom meetings; but I have brilliant, inspiring team mates, and we even added two new ones. Through my work, I got to support change makers across Africa and, in a small way, contribute to important research on how COVID is affecting community development processes on the continent. I co-wrote a paper on evaluating in complex adaptive systems. I got to take loads of awesome online courses and attend learning events.2 I got to learn new things and make lots of mistakes in complete safety. I got to speak with family and friends far more often than usual, and reconnected with some people with whom I'd been out of touch for a long time.

Just a few favourite Montréal moments.

It goes without saying that I read a lot of books.

And I wrote. In fact, I published two books - which, by the time I'd reached the end of 2020, I'd forgotten that I'd done, both within the past year!

You can learn more about both books on my website at

And I even got to become part of a monthly virtual writer's group, led by the brilliant Kim Kessler, that feeds my writer's soul in so very many ways!

So, it's dawning on me that, although I knew I was very lucky, I'm even luckier than I thought; that I built relationships more than I thought; that I got more work done than I thought - and I was even more creative than I remembered. Just one more way in which 2020 has been the most twisty-turny of years.

What's next? Another novel, at least. I'm more than 20 chapters into the next Quandaries tale. More on that to come. For now, I'm starting out 2021 feeling grateful and energized!

[1] My year end reflection process is borrowed and adapted from Tim Ferris. I recommend it!

[2] Some of my current favourite places for courses and learning stuff include Domestika (note: most of the courses are in Spanish); all the Storygrid podcasts and the Storygrid Guild; Valerie Frances' and Leslie Watts' UnPodcast; the Self-Publishing Formula courses; Tim Grahl's book marketing courses; Intelligence2; International Conflict Group podcasts and briefings; Munk Debates; Massy Lectures; Centre for International Governance Innovation podcasts and briefings; Curiosity Stream; Coursera sometimes (I especially recommend Yale's The Science of Well-Being which I completed this year); and Rick Beato's What Makes This Song Great? series.

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