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To say that 2020 presented many challenges is a giant understatement, but the flip side is many of these challenges turned out to be opportunities for learning and living a happier life in disguise. On reflection, it has been a really good year, crazy as that may sound.

First: I count my incredible good fortune to get Covid early on while not getting very ill with any lasting sequelae as the major plus for 2020. A corollary to that is being more grateful for my good health in general and how lucky I am to be from a place in the world that has really excellent healthcare.

Second: My family, significant other, and good friends are all ok! Any and all visits with family and friends were much more appreciated than before and a lot more spontaneous dancing occurred.

Third: Soft Power Health in Uganda was able to stay open and operate throughout the whole year – lockdown and all – we survived! This has been huge, not just for our staff who have reliable employment and can feed, clothe and educate their own families, but also to continue to provide health care and health education for many needy people in Uganda. We had some big heartbreaks this year of course too – patients we were trying to help died; Patients we had long relationships with died; the cracks in the Ugandan healthcare system turned into giant chasms for most Ugandans highlighting the incredible inadequacy and unfairness in an already weak system. Patients were starving and we had to do emergency food aid – secretly in order to not get in trouble. It was impossible not to be frustrated with the Ugandan healthcare system, but Soft Power Health tried to address as many problems as we could. We were very lucky we could do that! And we are still here!! I am incredibly grateful for all of that!

Fourth: I have been able to paddle a lot! Thankfully, I have been healthy and could keep paddling throughout 2020. Despite some niggling neck nerve issues and some unintended incorrect lifting, I got out a lot! All paddling opportunities – flat water, ocean surf, tidal reversing falls, rivers – all of them were great. Always something fun to explore, see, work on or experience. Every kayaking opportunity provided a new adventure and a chance to touch nature. Not much could be better than that especially during a pandemic!

Fifth: I got to explore my backyard in depth, seeing things I never saw before. The daily transition of the seasons occurring in real time was magnificent. Not being on the road much made all of this possible and has been very relaxing.

Sixth: the slowed pace of life is the new normal I enjoy…Not sure I want to go back to the pre-pandemic pace of life.

Seventh: Juerg and I got to try alternative routes to enter the US together – new and different adventures! And they worked! Double bonus!

Eighth: We fostered two donkeys down the road. I am now much more proficient in donkey!

Ninth: I got to participate in the first ever flat water nationals in freestyle kayaking. That was super fun and helped me feel connected to my kayaking community even if I could not see people.

Ten: I paddled the local river near my mom’s house in flood stage on Christmas Day!! While this uber manhandled suburban river is not normally thought of as a paddling run, with enough water, it has whitewater and is fun. My mom ran shuttle, another first – it was awesome! Best Christmas present!!

Thank you 2020 for all these chances to enjoy my life even more and reflect on my extreme good fortune and welcome 2021!