In one of my newsletters in the first year of Covid, I quoted Arundhati Roy’s essay in which she compares the pandemic to a portal through which we, as a global community, must pass through, and choose whether to carry the baggage from the pre-Covid era—smoky skies, dead rivers and dead ideas—or to leave behind the debates about how we got to this place, encouraging us instead to begin a post-Covid era with new ideas and new behaviors, based on the transformational learnings from a global reckoning with an invisible microbe that disrupted everything that was “normal” before.
As I assess those learnings in my own life, I have had some reckonings with what I value and will carry forward. In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I share them with you with gratitude for your follow-ship.
1. The Best Antidote to Aging Is Activism.
I’m certainly not the first to acknowledge this—my good friend, Jane Fonda, at 84, always an activist, is my prime example of a “primetime” spirit and strength that comes from a life of activism!
For me, every commitment to a worthy cause—be it signing up to be a climate justice warrior or strategizing evacuations for Afghan journalists and women leaders following the Taliban return to power or just showing up where I can add value to a forum or a movement—these are the sources of my deepest joy. I believe that staying active and engaged contributes to what my grandchildren call “Gigi energy” and what I know is a part of an ageless spirit.
2. Travel Is My Most Important Teacher.
Growing up as I did in a small town in south Georgia, going anywhere for any purpose outside those limitations was my deepest desire and resulted in my greatest learning experiences. From my earliest travel adventures, chaperoning my college students to Europe in order to afford going there or more recently, curating women’s trips with my friend Deborah Calmeyer and RoarAfrica.com, each and every adventure to someplace new, each encounter with new cultures and communities, opens my mind as well as my heart. Even during this pandemic, I traveled to Kenya five times and each time had a learning journey that could not be duplicated in any other way for me or for my traveling companions.
Travel, especially for me and my husband, to the African continent where we re-wild in the wild, learn and re-learn—while certainly more challenging in the Covid era—remains a priority for me.
3. Celebrating, Elevating and Connecting Women Is My Most Important Work.
I am clearly a pro-women woman—believing as I do, that women who connect around common experiences and values, who support each other, mentor and advocate for each other, can redefine power by how we use it and share it. I believe this is our biggest lever for change, and a shift in the balance of power in all leadership positions is the work that is needed now more than ever.
My life on the other side of the pandemic portal won’t look that different from this side, except for the clarity of my choices and the deep gratitude I feel for having choices, and the privilege that comes with good health, a loving and supportive personal partnership and a loving, supportive family, and a large global community of friends.
I begin every day with a prayer of gratitude for these blessings, and I begin this New Year, walking briskly and somewhat impatiently (the pandemic has improved my natural impatience but not banished it!) toward the other side of the pandemic portal where I believe we have the opportunity to leave behind the heavy baggage of doubts and fears that have populated this reckoning, and embrace the hope and joy that can come from activism, from travel—even to the other side of your town—and from being engaged in forward-focused work.
Happy New Year!
PS – All of this activity keeps me at 78 (soon to be 79!) years young and makes me more dangerous than ever! (For that full story, you might want to read Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World!) It also keeps me interviewing other dangerous women about their journeys to becoming dangerous in my FINTECH.TV series, Dangerous Women, Leading Onward. These women continue to inspire, instruct and propel me forward.