I was going through pictures on my phone today. Apple has been pushing me friendly reminders that I am about to max out my obscene amount of icloud storage-- again.
Maybe I should make organizing my photos my New Year's Resolution. Or maybe not since a couple of years ago I resolved to quit "shoulding" on my friends -- and myself.
Anyway, as I was going through my photos this selfie caught my attention.
Just one of the many I captured in 2020. I snapped it to send to my sweet friend who had left this sunshine and the kindest note on my desk, the note thanked me for shining bright in a world that needs it.
Here's the thing that caught my attention though. This picture was taken on March 6th, 2020.
I had no idea. The world had no idea.
The word pandemic was something in a blockbuster movie. Virtual learning was something that tech companies did. We were trying to help kids see the value in putting down their devices and connecting IRL. I had never thought it hurtful to say all lives matter.
My sweet smiling selfie had no idea of what 2020 would look like.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I am a professional Noticer (if that's a real thing) and there was A LOT to notice in 2020.
There was good … from essential workers like the ones we supported with coffee tabs and meals, to the small businesses that provided the food and drink, and the people who donated to keep the goodness going. The families who got creative, embraced technology, and found new ways to celebrate old traditions. The educators who found new ways to teach, connect, and inspire - and the AMAZING students who are adapting and learning from wherever school is taking place.
There was bad … fear, worry, unrest, unknowns, frustration, complaining, distancing, loss, and the fear of it. I saw families mourning. I saw children afraid to hug because they were afraid they might be carrying the disease that would kill you. I heard people talking about being afraid to go to church because "you never know what you're going to pick up there", I was paying attention to the mental health experts' growing concern that mental health related conditions and deaths by suicide were on the rise.
There was ugly … everyday cable news looked like clips from Outbreak, Deep Impact, or The Day After Tomorrow. Messages questioning the validity of data and advice of leaders and the orgazniations they represent created so many unknowns and so much divisiveness among people. And IMHO the divisiveness coupled with a mandate to distance ourselves from one another was something that we as humans were not prepared for. It has both overtly and subtly changed the way we connect and those habits and practices have impacted and will continue to impact our communities. It has changed how people Notice one another. In some ways it made the already vulnerable task of Noticing someone seem potentially intrusive, and I fear not worth the risk at a time when people need to be Noticed more than ever. This hurts my heart, and can send my head into overdrive just brainstorming how to help solve this problem.
Yep, I had no idea. But here's what I did know on March 6th, 2020.
When people know they are Noticed the world is a better place.
I snapped that selfie because I had been Noticed. I wanted to shine brighter because I had been seen, I had been heard, and that note fortified my belief that I matter in this big world. I wanted to thank my friend for reminding me that the world (no matter what year it is) needs my particular brand of goodness.
As I reflect on this year I have so much gratitude for the opportunities I've had to grow. I have watched the principles, tools, and practices that I believe in and teach work in a time when the choice to focus on the negative could have been easy to make -- and very destructive.
As 2020 comes to a close I am humbly grateful to shine. I am more confident and resilient because of how I navigated the gauntlet of 2020 and I know that navigation was only possible because of the AMAZING humans that I am connected to!
To the AMAZING humans in my family. Carl, Karly, Katelyn, Kelly, & Kristen I love you so and I love growing with you!
To everyone who is a part of The Noticed Network community! Thank you for being your AMAZING selves and for shining your lights so bright!!! The world needs your goodness!!!
I would love to hear your stories! How has Noticing and being Noticed impacted your 2020? You can send your stories (and your selfies if you'd like) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's to an AMAZING 2021!!!