Happy New Year! My Top 7 blogs of 2020

2020 saw a renewal of the Black Lives Matter movement superimposed with the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Every Year for the past several around New Year’s, I share my top 7 most read blogs of the year. It is really fun to go back and pull my website stats to see what people read the most. And interestingly enough, once again a few blogs I wrote several years even ago made it into the current “Top 7” List.

Quick stats about his year’s list:
• Four of the top 7 were published this year, and 3 are from previous years
• Six of the 7 dealt with some kind of diversity topic and one was around career development
• Three of the 4 blog published this year had a connection to Black Lives Matter

Here are the seven most read of 2020, starting with number 7 and working up to number one.

7) This year’s number 7 was last year’s number 3 – a blog published way back in 2011 on using career mapping as a tool for career development. This performance of a 9-year old blog certainly signals an ongoing focus on the importance of investing in skills and career development as a way to recruit and retain the best employees. You may also want to check out my 11-question Skills Development and Career Road Mapping organizational self-assessment.

6) Published in late September, Trump cancels federal racial sensitivity training – Five reasons why this is so wrong discusses Executive Order 13950, which basically attempts to curtail any discussion of the USA’s historic systemic racism.

5) Published this past June given the intersection of June being LGBTQ Pride Month and the recent protests around racism and police brutality following the killings of George Floyd and other Black and Brown Americans; Five Intersections – LGBTQ Pride Month and Black Lives Matter.

4) Also published in June, yet another example of blatant racism and sexism in American life and politics. Black Lives Matter and the $20 Bill – An Awful American Travesty. What happened to the plans to place African – American abolitionist Harriett Tubmam on our $20 bill? This story is a slap in the face to “Black Lives Matter” and women’s rights.

3) And published in July, another blog that deals with our nation’s racism and connection to our monetary currency. In “A Black Lives Matter and an American Coinage Travesty – blog 2,” I recount the sad story of a Ku Klux Klan-inspired coin.

2) With the growing number and visibility of Hispanic Americans, Number 2 for the third year in a row was “Seven Misconceptions or Stereotypes of Hispanic People”, a guest piece written in 2016 by my part-time bilingual consultant on staff, Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado.

1) And finally, With over 5,500 hits across the two blogs were 2018’s Seven More Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating (and One Bisexual Woman) and my 2016 personal labor of love which included several personal photos that I took, “Seven Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating.”

I wish all of my faithful readers a happy 2021 and hopefully a return to normalcy both with a new more inclusive President and with multiple vaccines leading to an end to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Introducing Gracie Gold – the Ultimate “Get Up” Story

Coach Gracie Gold and I are all smiles as I exit the ice with my props after my Light Entertainment Program

There are several other links toward the end of this blog with other inspiring figure skating stories, please do explore them.

Though I am diversity and career development consultant and trainer, many of my blog readers and clients know of my love of figure skating and my story of starting my own figure skating career at age 59. Several of them have encouraged me to even add a figure skating page on my website and enjoy hearing about my own skating journey.

In a recent “virtual breakfast” meeting with one of my favorite peers (Carolyn Naseer – read about her own innovate business – link to blog) that we did via Zoom instead of in person due to the CoronaVirus, I told her about my recent East Coast Adult Figure Skating Sectionals and being able to secure 2-time US Figure Skating Champion Gracie Gold as my coach. After sharing some photos online and telling her a little about Gracie’s journey, Carolyn she encouraged me to write this blog.

Gracie Gold’s help was instrumental in me winning my first East Coast Championships gold medal.

Gracie Gold is such a positive coach with excellent technical skills and an encouraging demeanor who helped me win my first Eastern Sectionals gold medal. My favorite photo (at the top of this blog) from Eastern Sectionals was a candid shot showing the pure joy on both our faces after I was getting off the ice with all my props following my Light Entertainment program.

What makes Gracie Gold so special? In figure skating circles, most people are familiar with Gracie’s story. After winning two US figure skating titles and attending the Olympics, her life took a difficult turn. Two and a half years ago and reeling from multiple traumatic events on and off the ice, including gaining 40 pounds, Gracie, then 22, entered a 45-day program at the Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, to address an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

There are multiple stories that you can google and find about the details of Gracie’s struggles (here is one from The Guardian)

And then Gracie did the nearly impossible. At the highest levels of figure skating, people simply do not come back to compete after being off the ice so long and getting older in “figure skating years.” It just does not happen. But Gracie, filled with her love of figure skating showed tremendous grit and determination to start over again, and she worked her way up for the bottom, including having to compete at two smaller regional events to even qualify to compete at US Nationals.

Gracie finished 12th. Let’s put this in perspective; Gracie came back to become the 12th best female skater in the entire United States! When Gracie won her gold medals at past US Championships, people stood and applauded because they loved her skating. This year at Nationals, Gracie received tremendous standing ovations because they loved Gracie. In one of Gracie’s favorite photos published by US Figure Skating as she kneels on the ice at the conclusion of her program; if you look closely, you can see me there in the first row middle of the photo standing and applauding next to my mother seated in the white jacket.

One of US Figure Skating’s signature themes is “We Get Up,” that skating, like life, is difficult. But when you fall on the hard ice, just as you fall in life, you need to pick yourself up and move on. Gracie is indeed the ultimate “get up story.” And I count myself blessed to have met and worked with this outstanding young woman.

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Eric Sjoberg is still excelling! With his mother in the stands at 2020 Nationals. At the junior level, Eric climbed from sixth place after the short program to win second after his nearly perfect long program.

Here is another inspiring short story of a skater, Lessons in Character from a Young Teen, about Eric Sjoberg, who overcame challenges with determination instead of quitting when things got really tough.

Two years ago, I wrote a series of “Get Up” blogs which included people getting up from challenges both on and off the ice.

Author Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz has written a series of books about figure skaters young and old who overcame various difficulties. Here is my blog about Joanne and her books.

And finally, my own get up story.

Thanks for reading!