20 Things I Discovered, Learned, or Loved in 2020

In no particular order this post highlights my ah-ha moments of the past year. It was a good exercise in reflecting on a year that was like no other and for also helping me to identify themes and focus areas for the year ahead. Onward!


“It’s the quality of our relationships that determine the quality of our lives.”

I connected deeply with this statement as it describes how I’ve focused my energy over the past decade and continues to be a guiding principle in my life.

Said by: Esther Perel – Therapist, Author and Speaker 

Heard on: WorkLife with Adam Grant: Bonus: Relationships at work with Esther Perel | TED Talk


“Fear and uncertainty are always going to loom over us, but we need to consciously choose the self growth option.” 

Heard during the Making Sense podcast by Sam Harris with guest Barry Kaufman. I also picked up on the terms ‘Spiritual Athlete’ (the project of becoming a better person) along with ‘Self Actualization’ which to me signifies doing the work of discovering the unique core quality within yourself that can make the greatest positive impact in the world. 

Listen to the entire podcast: Making Sense Podcast #209 – A Good Life | Sam Harris

Mantra: I am (on the inhale). Here now (on the exhale).

Guided by Sarah Turner during class at Take Care Yoga in Seattle

“The core of leadership should be care, and then performance is a result of a system in which there is enough care.”

Said by: Psychiatrist Gianpiero Petriglieri, MD 

Heard on: When Work Becomes Personal | Goop 

This year work, home, and personal life became more blended than ever before. In the two weeks before I listened to this podcast, the following things came up at work: 

  • Managers struggling with how to encourage people to unplug from work and take time off. 
  • I found myself explaining to my manager how I was trying to detach my work from personal feelings.
  • The question “Is this survival of the fittest?” was raised during a senior leader call. 
  • Sentiment from leadership that it was their job to push our teams to do more, and do more faster. 

I don’t believe in coincidences and listening to this podcast helped me reconcile some of my thoughts and feelings about work. Here’s more from the official podcast description: Dr. Gianpiero Petriglieri and Elise Loehnen talk about what is lost when we prize productivity above all else, why it’s important to give your team space to ask questions and be imaginative, why he thinks having vision isn’t an important quality in a good leader, and our growing tendency to intertwine our sense of self-worth with our performance at work.

Simplicity and kindness at work. 

I started a new job this year at Microsoft amidst a pandemic and during a considerable change in my immediate group. There was also the adjustment of working at a company the size and complexity of Microsoft which was outside my experience and comfort zone. Working remotely I didn’t have co-workers nearby for a quick question or chat over coffee, so I instituted the principles of keeping things simple and being kind to myself and others. 

I shared this same sentiment on Instagram.

When you are ruminating / anticipating / anxious ask yourself the question: Is this useful?

Within days of hearing this advice I shared it with my daughter and also applied it to my own mindful practice.

Said by: Dan Harris describing advice from his father

Heard on: Dan Harris on Becoming 10% Happier, Hugging Inner Dragons, Self-Help for Skeptics, Training the Mind, and Much More (#481) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Nothing in this world purifies like spiritual wisdom. It is the perfection achieved in time through the path of yoga, the path which leads to the Self within. 

As instructed by Krishna to Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, along with the many choices for living a meaningful, fulfilling and worthwhile life. I read this book about once a year and refer to it often. There are many lifetimes of lessons there!

More: The Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran

The conscious shift of not waiting for an enlightened leader to show up, but to do my best to be the leader I want to have through the practice of Karma Leadership. 

More on this journey: My Path to Karma Leadership – Sharman Ghio

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”

The book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is an astounding account of Frankl’s experience as a prisoner in various Nazi concentration camps and the subsequent founding of Logotherapy – which means healing through meaning. Frankl believed that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Being in a pandemic is difficult, but this book helped to put things in perspective.

Eating a vegetarian diet. 

This change in my diet was part of my overall wellness and self care goal to feel good. For the past seven months I have been following these personal guidelines and I’ve noticed an improvement in my gut health, energy, and skin:

  1. Eliminated beef, chicken, pork and other ‘meats’
  2. Incorporated natural or organic foods whenever possible
  3. Choose local options when available

I’m also using Plant Life Meals for vegan meal delivery service about every other week – it’s a locally owned small business and I’ve been happy with their food and service. 

We are one in this crazy beautiful world. 

The Bhagavad Gita, My Octopus Teacher film, and the pandemic all contributed to me feeling a greater feeling of oneness with people and nature. The film also inspired me and reaffirmed that finding your life’s purpose is a unique journey for everyone and that you just gotta be patient and respect the process.

More about the film: My Octopus Teacher – Sea Change Project

Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider

Written by: Katherine May

Heard on: The Goop Podcast – Normalizing the Need to Rest and Retreat

I feel like I’ve had periods of Wintering all of my life, but never put a name to it. The entire podcast is excellent, including this take away: When someone is wintering, rather than avoiding them or awkwardly struggling with what to do, the compassionate thing to do is to acknowledge that they are suffering. Along with this, acknowledge that you have suffered too and offer this person the same treatment that you hope others offer you during periods of difficulty. 

60 (hours) in 30 (days) Wellness Challenge

My inspiration for doing this was from tracking my time each day for the previous 18 months and noticing that my ‘best days’ included at least two hours dedicated to movement or wellness. I wanted to delve into this further by being very intentional about these two hour daily blocks and challenge myself to reach some personal goals. I also realized that I tend to do things on my own, and how much more fun and inspired I could be by sharing this experience with others, and so I recruited a group of women to do it together. 

We communicated through a group chat, the group included women who lived on the East and West coasts in the U.S., some who knew each other previously as well as new relationships that were formed. It was a no judgement environment with participants sharing written messages and photos of all kinds of wellness inspiration. As a ‘doer’ myself this message from a group member stopped me in my tracks (literally): Today I did nothing. The ultimate self care. 

See my post on LinkedIn with an outline of the program.

The power of thought to heal and bring about a desired state.

I do believe in the law of attraction and this year I built upon that belief by using the intentional power of thought to heal a physical injury. I’ve struggled with back pain for years and this year I changed my attitude about it and began to think about all of the great  ways that my body serves me. Along with this change in attitude, I channeled breath during meditation to the areas in my body that could benefit from some extra TLC. While I’m sure that reduced weight lifting sessions and  physical yoga practice (due to pandemic restrictions) helped with allowing my body to rest and recover, I also feel that the power of thought contributed to my back feeling better than it has in years. 

It’s an example of Skill in Action and a reminder that we are what we think. 

Change is the only constant in life.

~Heraclitus of Ephesus, Pre-Socratic Philosopher

As I expressed in this post on LinkedIn, the one thing we can count on is change and Nature is a powerful teacher and change agent. 

Living the sunscreen dream. 

I love hearing entrepreneur’s stories and when it involves a product or service that promotes a healthy lifestyle I’m doubly interested. So when I heard the story of Supergoop on NPR’s How I Built This podcast I was sold for two reasons – 1) I’m pretty much a fan of all of Guy Raz’s interviews, and this was no exception, and 2) After going through my fourth skin surgery in less than two years I was excited to discover an all natural sunscreen that feels fantastic on my skin. 

Nothing is certain, everything is temporary, and the thrill of losing control and letting go can be good for the soul.

In a year of uncertainties I made a conscious effort to focus on the present and the things that I could control, like how I responded to what happened around me. I was also reminded of this quote: “We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but feel most alive when they’re not.”

The book that’s from is here: Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected

I had my first appearance on a podcast!

This year, as part of my commitment to two hours a day of self care, I logged hundreds of ‘nature therapy’ by walking or hiking in my neighborhood and nearby trails. Many of these outings involved listening to podcasts, and truth be told I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a host or a guest on one of these shows. So, I was super excited when Rabiah Coon, a former coworker of mine, invited me to be a guest on her More Than Work podcast. It was a fun experience and now I’ve got the bug!

Listen to our episode: Sharman Ghio – Director in Customer Experience at Microsoft — Rabiah Coon – Comedy | Blog | Podcast (rabiahsaid.com)

Daydreaming is a way of giving me hope for the future in a time that feels uncertain and bleak – it’s a vacation for my mind that keeps creativity and optimism fired up.

There is no denying that it has been a tremendously difficult year, however I believe that how the Phoenix rises from the ashes, the human spirit is resilient and will be stronger as a result of this year’s hardships. I am inspired by the innovation and creativity that I see with businesses repositioning themselves and people pivoting to new careers. I’ve always been a dreamer, but this year it felt especially important to put my dreams out into the world and encourage others to do the same.

Read more on this: It’s a good time to dream – Sharman Ghio – Wellness

Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast.

Sure, there’s tremendous value in cranking out work, but there’s a price to pay for continuously running at full speed. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “allow yourself time to drift.”

A bit more on this in this LinkedIn post. 

*Bonus Entry*

This year I realized that I’m in the most important relationship of my life – with myself. I’m working on making it great. 



In 2020 we all experienced a disruption in nearly all aspects of our daily lives. This change in rhythm caused me to question things, one of which was whether I had the propensity to push myself harder more physically than mentally. 

I know that I am resilient and disciplined, which are qualities of mental strength, however I was curious what it would be like if I pushed myself to explore my mental capacity like I had my physical strength. What could I accomplish if I challenged my brain like I challenged my body, e.g. what was the mental equivalent of pushing through a leg workout where pain and exhaustion were part of the experience?

In reflection of where my curiosity and interests led me in 2020, I’m dubbing 2021 The Year of Learning. I’m excited to see where it takes me!


2 thoughts on “20 Things I Discovered, Learned, or Loved in 2020

  1. Wow, lot’s of great stuff you are touching upon here. Thanks for sharing! Congrats on your first podcast appearance. I’ll check it out soon.

Leave a Reply