See Ya later 2020! I sure am happy to welcome in a new year. I frankly can’t wait to see the back of this one.

My 11-year-old granddaughter insists that, even though there are no fireworks in Melbourne this year, she wants to stay up till midnight to make sure 2020 goes away. She said, “it’s like 2020 is over in the blink of an eye, but it’s been going on for 20 years”. I think we can agree that this year sure feels mixed up. Her mother said, “it’s like someone put 2020 in a blender”.

Here’s our chance to draw a line under the year that was. All over the world, people celebrate New Year with rituals and traditions that signify renewal and a welcome to good things coming.

In Ireland, people open the back door of their house just before midnight to “let the old year out” and then open the front door to “let the New Year in”.

In Spain, the tradition is to eat one grape for every toll of the clock at midnight. The twelve grapes are meant to represent good luck for each month of the coming year. I’ll take my grapes in liquid form this year.

In Ecuador they create large effigies of politicians and pop culture icons to burn away the “old year”. I can see that one working well for this year.

January 1st is just like any other day on the calendar. COVID-19, bushfires, financial pain and racial tensions won’t go away because we hung a new calendar on the wall. Nevertheless, greeting a new year, especially this time, is an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned from the past, then march bravely forward with shoulders back and head held high, carrying forward the lessons and renewed intentions.

2020 wasn’t great but some good things did come out of it. Here are a few good things that emerged for me, and the lessons I’ll take away.

Blow HornI travelled to India.

In February I saw the Taj Mahal, the Himalayas from a distance, the pink city of Jaipur, all the vibrant colours of the markets, the splendour of the wedding season, and the admirable patience of the Indian people as they navigate noisy traffic jams.

I learned that honking can be a friendly warning, a sharing of information, and occasionally an aggressive act. In any case, it’s not personal. It’s just honking.

My wish for 2021 is to understand more about what makes people tick, and to remember Eckhart Tolle’s quote: “When you realize it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were”.

Zoom became important.

In my personal life – for church, virtual dinner parties, breakfast with girlfriends, to meet new babies, and to hear of our own new grandchild on the way – Zoom became a lifeline.

In my work life it was the same. While in home services went on hold, I kept my clients motivated, accountable and taking action via Zoom. I stayed connected with my organising colleagues at the monthly Professional Organisers of Melbourne Zoom meetings. And together with Wendy Hanes, Hoarding Home Solutions was able to pivot from in person workshops to deliver hoarding and squalor-related training to governmental housing staff who worked from home.

I learned that the strength of the internet connection was less important than the strength of the support and personal connection. Imperfect backdrops, imperfect sound quality and imperfect technology did not stand in the way of receiving and delivering support.

My wish for 2021 is to continue connecting with people that matter in ways that matter.

I got in touch with my instincts.

Some things raise you up. And some don’t. And it’s my gut instinct that knows the difference.

There have been many things throughout the year that I could not control – the devastating fires, elections I don’t get to vote in, the behaviour of other people, the weather! They were all outside my control. But I can control my response. I can select the media I engage with, take actions to limit risk, manage my involvement with people and things that do not raise me up.

Things that do raise me up include cooking for my family, a night at the opera with best friends, cheering on my team, quiet time alone, walking in the fresh air, seeing the people I work with enjoy success, helping others learn about organising.

I learned to pay greater attention to my instincts in order to select those things that raise me up.

My wish for 2021 is to unapologetically spend more time with the people and things that raise me up.

Happy New Year wishesLife goes on.

During our weeks of lockdown in Melbourne – which I fully understand and support – we Melbournites took full advantage of the freedoms available. A walk outside to explore every nook and cranny of our neighbourhood, a picnic in the park, a nod and a smile to the many passers-by from behind the mask, takeaway coffees, gourmet meals and cocktails on a special occasion. Melbourne life did not stop. It adapted.

I learned to adapt as well, and to make the best of a bad situation.

My wish for 2021 is to never forget the privileges I enjoy and to savour every moment.


What are your lessons from 2020 and wishes for 2021?


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