I haven’t done a great job staying connected – for reasons I’ve described here. But I want you to know that I’m with you and feeling grateful.

This year, there was no holiday celebration at my house. Unless you count the dogs joyfully destroying stuffed toys in 10 minutes on Christmas morning. I definitely count that. Both Dom and I had Covid. Stuffing was strewn everywhere for two weeks, neither of us had the energy for sweeping.

This morning, I am on my way to NYC for a doctor’s appt. She’s going to tell me that I’m okay, recovery just takes time. She’ll encourage me to keep resting. Over the holiday, when I asked her what to do, she said, “Rest. I suspect you don’t know what “rest” means, so let me define it for you.”

Honestly, I didn’t have much choice. Everyday I hoped I’d be better; everyday I wasn’t (much). I still get winded climbing the stairs.

On New Year’s Day, I did what was previously unthinkable — I cancelled a six-week course I was teaching starting in January. I cancelled an upcoming speaking engagement in London later this month. I made time and space to recover. Now, I just need to figure out what “recover” means.

You might be thinking, and you’d be right, that I did too much in 2023. Too much travel, too many deadlines, too much working everyday ”temporarily". I did nowhere near enough self care. Or exercise. Or reading snarky sci-fi novels.

On Boxing Day, while I played Chants of Santaar with Dom (a game my son recommended), we realized that we hadn’t spent a day playing together in … we couldn’t remember the last time. I’m sad it took “trying not to cough so hard I cracked my ribs” to sit me down for a fun afternoon together.

In my defense, I did many wonderful things in 2023. Things I’ve hoped to do all my life. I have grown in valuable ways. I don’t regret it. I wrote two books (both are nearly done). I taught an online course, gave keynotes and workshops at wonderful events. Podcasters interviewed me with insightful questions. I developed immersive learning experiences with other people who taught me so much. I met knowledgable, inspiring colleagues from around the world.

I’ve made new friends. Never in my life have I been this socially nourished and satisfied. In August, I began a new project with a savvy client, some of my favorite people are building it with me. We are doing difficult things together. I look forward to showing up for the work, which is a true luxury.

I can’t say, though, that I “enjoyed” all the work I’ve been doing. Mostly, I stressed about it. I was always afraid that I wasn’t doing enough, fast enough, publishing enough, juggling it all. By mid-year, I started dropping balls. While pretending (to myself) that I’d pick them up again soon. I met most external deadlines but my newsletter hasn’t been published in six months. Always feeling behind, even when I kept up, was rough. The whole year was a cruel lesson in … I won’t say balance because I detest that word but, okay, balance. Or rather, imbalance.

I think “recovery” means “create a rhythm that is sustainable”. That’s … a foreign concept. One I don’t love because, I suspect, stress has been my fuel.

My anxiety level was so bad by September, I started asking for help. And discovered … to my utter shock and amazement … that I have ADHD. I can’t fathom how someone so self aware could have missed something (for half a century) that now seems so obvious. I am neurodivergent in a few ways, like a Venn Diagram, but this discovery (and the medication) has started me down a new path.

On this new path, I am learning to measure my energy and renew it every day. Rather than seek stimulation, in the form of caffeine or stress of worry or drama or fear. Rather than keep push push pushing. This, isn’t easy for me. I like pushing.

I see now that I have been living on “hard mode”. Rather than creating systems of support, I push through blockers that are, to some extent, immovable. For example, rather than prioritize projects and then decline whatever doesn’t make the cut … I try to get it all done. As if magic hours will suddenly appear. I focus on self discipline and time management strategies.

I probably don’t need more self discipline, or management strategies. I probably need to rest between tasks and do things that nourish and support me, so I can thrive. I probably need to take a deep breath.

My brain confuses me. That’s my biggest obstacle – feeling confused by my own process. Some things that are easy for others, like prioritizing, are super hard for me. And some things, like orchestrating complex initiatives, are relatively easy. Reading is rest; socializing is tiring. Days off are stressful … depending on how I define “off”. Off from what?

Now, slowly (very slowly), I am figuring out how to do hard things on easy mode. At the moment, I don’t really understand the concept. I understand, for example, that exercise makes doing hard things easier. I don’t actually know how to show up for exercise without making it another TODO.

Covid has been my teacher. An abusive and overly-dramatic teacher, a teacher that can go fuck herself. But constraints, when viewed wisely, improve the system as a whole. I hope I am making wiser choices.

If I am wiser, it’s only because of my friends and colleagues. The people around me in 2023 have given me a treasure trove of good guidance. I hate that I owe almost everyone an email response. I wanted to send everyone a Happy New Year note – an apology for not having been in touch lately. And a commitment to do better, connect more often, in 2024.

More importantly, I want you to know (you know who you are) that I am thinking of you. And grateful, every day, that you shared your time, energy and attention. If I’m quiet for awhile, it’s only because I’m learning to take better care of myself … you have helped me understand that matters to do. I’m right here, with you.