With six weeks left in the year, this newsletter should be all about getting in gear for the 2021 planning cycle. Or, maybe, it should be about Q1, JPM, and how to tell your commercial story in a nanosecond or less. Or how about gratitude, since it is almost Thanksgiving?

The fact is, this month’s e-conversation could be about any number of “normal,” year-end things. But here’s the thing: it is very difficult to write about normal things in such abnormal times.

Earlier this month (it was around that completely normal, nothing different day of November 3rd), I sent a note to my team acknowledging the huge distraction we all felt. I shared my struggle to cut myself off from the daily “doom-scrolling” and do some of the self-care things we all read about ad nauseam but find so hard to do.

I described how I vacillate between following Nike’s motto (“Just Do It”) when I have work that must get out the door and trying to step away from my computer when my eyes and brain have become Zoomed out. (What do we really think about those blue-light glasses?)

I know, you know, what I mean. If you have children that are remote-learning at home, loved ones suffering from an illness (COVID or otherwise), job loss, or any of the other pandemic-fashioned tragedies, you know even more.

I do have one mantra, though, one that has kept me going these last several months. It’s an expanded version of that Nike tagline: “Just Do It — the best you can with compassion for others AND yourself.” Even Harvard Business Review (HBR) agrees with me, as summarized in a recent article: Self-Compassion Will Make You a Better Leader.

There is no alternative! People are counting on us. The patients our work is meant to serve, the healthcare providers that give hope to the families who so want to hear good news, and the colleagues we work with daily, each of whom has their own story, worries, and aspirations. (If you are wondering whether this is also me projecting my own pep talk, you are right.)

Since expressing gratitude is also something that helps us reframe how we view the world and our place in it, I would like to share…

I am personally and professionally so grateful to be part of such a smart, passionate, and caring community. Long ago, when my choices coming out of college were to work as a sales rep for either a toothpaste company (one of the big ones, humblebrag) or a critical care drug company, I know I made the right decision (granted, my free samples were much more limited as a result).

I am grateful for my team. Rarely in life is one as blessed as I have been to work with such intelligent, collaborative, and caring people. Those of you who have been clients of ours know I am right.

I am grateful for our clients. In the almost 18 years we have been in business, we have worked with more than 120 companies — companies with incredible leaders and people coming up the line who have become leaders since. They have trusted us with their work, their careers, and their frustrations. Through those engagements, I have made some of the dearest friends I could imagine, sharing many cocktails and glasses of wine along the way — an activity I sorely miss. (Well, I still do the activity, just not in a social setting.)

I am so looking forward to getting on the other side of this pandemic due to the amazing science and innovation our industry contributes and then figuring out how we keep the best of the new business practices that have resulted from it — connecting across the miles without jumping on an airplane, learning to set work boundaries (ok, maybe not that one), no more Spanx!

I am grateful for you, my readers. Having this platform to share my thoughts, and those of my team, on so many topics, has been energizing. Finding one’s voice, and having the courage to use it for good, is something we all need to do, no matter how late in life. I look forward to musing more about topics big and small in 2021.

I wish you and your loved ones a safe Thanksgiving, wherever and however it will be. In our house, my 23-year-old son (whose belongings are sitting in some storage unit in New York City) wants all the traditional “homemade” Thanksgiving menu items we do for our typically, much larger crowd, even though there will be just three of us. (We believe in the experts’ and scientists’ recommendations.) He says he will help. This year, just having him home with us, I am even grateful for that empty promise.