Paris was inspiring. Paris was in the Pandemic. Paris was cold.

I took a risk - 3 times in 60 days to do some travel as things started opening and felt safer with vaccinations, boosters and testing with masking.

And I know I am not alone in breaking free from the close quarters we’ve all been living since March 16, 2020.

For someone who used to travel at least once or twice per month for work and deliver training, the sudden shut-down was shocking with a huge loss of income with canceled but scheduled on-site training contracts.

So, it has been a challenge, to say the least, to regroup, refocus, rejuvenate, and, yes, refinance.

When I reflect on this odd odyssey over the last 2 years, I marvel on what we encountered, experienced, and endured. No lives were untouched across the globe.

When it first happened, I thought “Well, this is a time, with drastic work reductions as an independent contractor, that I could complete my book sitting in the wings since 2016. Well, I didn't complete my book under contract, but there is so much that I did achieve.

What did I accomplish, albeit my 'big' published book?

Since I am all about 'mindset,' I started off with a 30-day live Facebook-feed to challenge the mindset on how to get through the sudden COVID- induced lifestyle, supplying tips and strategies to support a healthy lifestyle.

As a mediator and therapist-coach, I saw the world of solving conflicts and daily challenges greatly impacted, if not escalating. The shift for me and for many was quick & swift, but not comfortable. This was further exacerbated with the social unrest that evolved followed by the political turmoil and divide that erupted over the presidential election.

I then transformed what I knew, what I had experienced, and what helped others into free online training, tips and techniques for self-awareness and self-management into videos, and started writing articles for online publication, and gained opportunities for virtual international speaking and training.

What emerged were massive changes to my website with the help of an amazing virtual assistant across the pond. Not only did we create three eBooks (one of which is available on Amazon Kindle and the other two are free at my website), we also revamped my ‘Mindset Mondays’ podcast to ‘Decoding the Conflict Mindset’ dedicated to bringing thought leaders and their insights on how to approach conflict and people differences to communities across the world.

We didn’t stop there.

Given my focus on Mindset and the rapidly shifting transition into the virtual world for doing business, we launched the AGILE Workplace Leader and AGILE Lawyer | Mediator initiatives.

Great innovative programs for the workplace emerged around the psychology of conflict and building conflict competent teams as well as a wonderful interview series with Lawyers and Mediators who shared their own personal shifts in mindset (and healthier, happier work/life balance) as they embraced the mediator persona in a move away from the litigated (conflict) mindset.

Rather than being busy and filling my days with activities that involved social time or required travel, I focused on using my new COVID-induced time to write, create training content and deliver programs virtually. Now, I’ve really learned to love my ‘quiet’ time at home and the other part of who I am…the introvert that’s been lurking in the shadows.

Who would have thought? The COVID shutdown helped shift my life in new directions that I never imagined.

Back to my Virtual Assistant. She helped make so many things happen, and I am so forever grateful. And, as the saying goes, all good things come to pass. She is growing and gaining new experiences, so I wish her the absolute best after 2 years as she moves on to bigger and advanced projects.

After two years of being so careful, my friends tease me about the introvert I've become as they know me so much more as an extrovert. Sorry... the "I" in me has always been there but I've lived my adult life bringing out the 'E' in me.

And, after two years of extremely limited travel, I decided to take a risk to celebrate with my favorite cousin for my birthday and traveled to CABO. It felt so good to get out and see a different world.

So that takes me back to the friends I've gained in Australia, Hong Kong, and Paris, some of whom were gained through virtual experiences while others were made through my ‘risky’ travel while COVID restrictions were still in place. I thought I had it under control with two Moderna vaccinations and the booster along with active mask-wearing.

The Paris speaking opportunity at the STAR GLOBAL Conference was in the works in 2020. Well, we know what happened there.

When it came back up in the Summer of 2021 and things were looking up, I decided to make some firm commitments. Afterall, things had to get better, right?

However, it was' touch and go' given the upswings in COVID infections and hospitalizations - are we going through with this or not?

I asked my 27-year-old daughter to travel with me as we are great travelers together and she is French-speaking but never to France.

We were so elated since it had been four years since our last international adventure when we traveled to Spain for her college graduation. We went to Spain in 2018 as I spoke better Spanish than she did French. This time the roles were reversed.

So back to Paris. Travel requirements were changing regularly. Aside from air travel, we held off on certain commitments until the new year. When everything was decided a “go” with the speaking engagement, we went full board in finishing our commitments.

What was happening with COVID before landing was different upon arrival. My daughter flew separately from SFO through Portugal to Paris while I flew from Lax via Copenhagen to Paris.

I had a long layover (by choice) and experienced an exciting time doing a Segway tour of the waterfront, touring Danish palaces and history, and navigating the metro-system.

Meanwhile, my daughter arrived in Paris nearly two days earlier, accomplishing her youthful desire to stay in a hostel. We'll come back to the hostel experience.

I was so honored to be invited to speak at the STAR Global Conference in Paris on the 'Neuroscience behind People in Conflict: How to shift the mindset' It was well-received, and I met so many amazing people - truly a global network of friends and like-minded professionals. And, in the process, I am sure that we made some long-term connections.

So where does this take me. Paris was amazing, prolific, and prophetic. Beautiful with both cold early Spring days and hints of warmer Spring around the corner while walking along the Seine.

As we prepared to leave Paris, my daughter tested positive while I tested negative. We concluded that my daughter must have been exposed during her hostel experience given her onset of cold-like symptoms while there. She ended up having to stay one week longer than expected. Once home, I tested positive for COVID after our stay together but was very thankful it was not severe because of my Trifecta. I viewed it as another layer of quarantine.

Thank goodness that my world had moved so virtual. It was a bump in my work world.

PARIS was still an awesome experience!

Coming home and testing positive for COVID, it was a time to reflect.

As my daughter says, "lessons learned!”

So, what are the lessons learned to share here:

#1 It's important to stop and reflect on how life throws us curve balls, even with the best planning. Take a deep breath, or maybe three or four. Allow your brain to slow down, calm the heart rate, and expand the lungs.

#2 It’s also important to reflect on the decisions made and the direction it takes us, shaping the future in different ways than what we expected.

#3 Step back before you step forward. Be in the moment, breathe through the moment, and break free from the moment by visualizing how you want to show up differently.

#4 Reflect on what can we learn from the experiences encountered and how do we want to move forward differently.

#5 How can we learn from looking at things from another perspective(s) and shift our mindset to make better decisions?

#6 What changes do you want to make in your life as the world around us continues to evolve and change.

What are the lessons you've learned during your pandemic experiences?

Let's continue to live. learn and grow. It isn’t over yet.