Turning the Page

This could be another New Year’s reflection piece. There is something about starting a new calendar which promises that everything can change.

Turning the page on the past is something we can do or can have done to us.

My mind still goes back to that day in March 2020 when my world changed. I attended a few events in February prior, where we joked about the pandemic “out there”. At one workshop, inspired by the images circulating through social media, we held a contest to find the most creative way to greet without shaking hands. There was the foot shake, the elbow touch, the hip bump, the wave, and the bow, all done with a giggle and a smile. It felt surreal, a make-believe theatre. Why were we changing this most fundamental of human rituals?

Then, like a thunderstorm sweeping through the city, came the lockdowns. When the premier announced Friday morning that all offices would be closed the following Monday, I raced to see the facilities manager, asking to cancel my month-to-month lease without the required 60-day notice. To my surprise, she agreed. We all were confused at the moment. I still don’t know what led me to cancel because I loved my downtown office. The lockdown could not last that long, no? I rented a car next door, emptied my office into it and drove home. Thus started the weirdest year – going on three.

On that day, the page was turned on me.

Despite the constraints, 2020 was a good year. I signed a contract with a local university (Universite du Quebec a Montreal – UQAM) to develop a series of workshops to help SMEs recover from the shutdown, which had gone on for 90 days (not knowing it would drag on until January 2022). I called it “Everyone’s a Startup”, presenting the fundamentals of the startup to business owners who had to relaunch their companies.

Then in the fall of 2020, I was invited to submit my candidacy for a full-time position at the National Research Council of Canada, helping technology companies launch and grow. It was – and still is – my dream job.

The page that got turned on me led me to turn two other pages.

Going into 2021, I signed another term teaching contract with UQAM to deliver my “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course via webinar to two French business schools. Juggling this assignment (6 am to 9 am my time) plus my day job was an exciting exercise in energy management. I delivered, and it felt good.

This was also the year I got serious about writing my book after three years of futzing.

Although there was more change in my life from 2020-2021 than in the previous three years, not everything was rosy. I got too comfortable with cocooning. The continuous lockdowns just encouraged me. My connection to the outside world was mainly through Zoom for my public life and Teams for my job. Despite my best efforts, I was increasingly sedentary, adding 30 pounds to an already overweight frame. I developed trouble walking, and my diabetes worsened from marginal to full-blown.

I wanted 2022 to be different through a conscious turning of the page. We were promised no more lockdowns. Professionally, it was a great year. I received a pay raise at work. I relaunched my blog. My writing was well-received on social media. I treated myself to a two-week road trip adventure, something I hadn’t done in decades. Health-wise I maintained my weight, not losing but not gaining.

Was there a significant shift for me in 2022 compared to previous years? I consider it a year of consolidation in my new way of being. Being self-employed for 20 years before joining NRC meant a lifestyle change. In 2021 the job was “out there”, existing only in a virtual world. In 2022, I started to engage in-person with my colleagues, which meant re-learning the basics of social interaction. I still feel awkward.

For 2023, my 60th lap around Sol, what do I want? The most important deliverable I want to ship is my book, which I’ve spent two years putting together. I want to improve my health, continue my job and enjoy life.

I start the New Year with the intention that 2023 is deliberately a year of consolidation.

Who knows if I will consciously turn the page or if a page will be turned on me? This is the decade of the unpredictable, so are resolutions even relevant anymore? Or maybe this: my resolution for 2023 is to live fully so that I have as few regrets as possible when my number comes up.