Shedding a Skin: 2020, A Year In Review

“We go through life. We shed our skins. We become ourselves.” — Patti Smith

Big River Beach, Mendocino. 📸 by Eli Zaturanski.

Some people called 2020 a dumpster fire.

So let’s dive into the mud, shall we?

Jumping into 2020 in Yosemite National Park, 📸 by Eli Zaturanski

“The call to the creative life is a call to dignity, to a life of vulnerability and adventure and the call to a life that exquisite excitement and indeed ecstasy will often visit.” — John O’Donohue

Lessons from 2020 🙏🏽

If it’s not a “hell yes”, it’s a no. Trust your gut.

Do fewer things, but do them well.

Channel your inner grandfather.

You can’t both fit in, and stand out, at the same time.

It’s easy to hide behind humility as an excuse to not take risks.

“Look good — feel good. Feel good — play good. Play good — get paid good.” — Khamall Jahi

Every day, ask yourself: “How can I make today the best day of my life?” and “How does it get any better than this?” — Yasmeen Turayhi

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.” — Yogi Berra

“You are already healed. Your mind just doesn’t know it yet.“ — Joel Decker

“A lot of times the person we are complaining about is actually our teacher.” — Jim Dethmer

“Sometimes you need to let yourself fall through the cracks to remember that the Earth will always be there to catch you.” — Joel Decker

“Your word is your wand. “ — Yasmeen Turayhi

“Breathe.” — Wim Hof

“The inhale is essential if you want to continue to exhale.” — Roshi Joan Halifax

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong.” — Brené Brown

“No fact has ever caused you any suffering. The only thing that causes you suffering is your stories. And you make them all up.” — Jim Dethmer

“Our true home is the present moment. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment.” — Tich Nhat Hahn

Mendocino Redwoods 📸 by Eli Zaturanski

Daily quarantine questions (to keep me sane during the Covid-19 lockdown) ✨

What am I grateful for?

Who am I checking-in on or connecting with today?

What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?

How am I moving my body today?

What beauty am I cultivating or inviting in, or creating today?

Projects and Facilitation in 2020 🙋🏼‍♂️

Presenting at TEDxSonomaCounty in front of 900 people 📸 JJ Harris aka Techboogie Media

Delivering my first TEDx talk 🎤

  • No one does this alone. I am deeply grateful for the people who helped me hone my message and crystalize my talk: My Mom, Denise Blanc, and friend Smiley Poswolsky were truly instrumental in this process. As were Nadia Chaney, Andrew Nalani, Marilyn Nagel, and so many others!
  • “After you are mic’d up and about to get on stage, take some deep breaths and strike a warrior pose.” — Ashanti Branch.
  • “Blast them open with your heart!” — Forest Stearns. This is not about acting, it’s about being authentic.
  • Don’t be afraid to pause. Trust your voice. There is no need to fill space.
  • “Before you begin, take a deep breath and look out at the crowd. This will connect you with everyone and help get you grounded. Make eye contact with one person you feel comfortable with and focus on them. Tell your stories to THAT person.” — Denise Blanc (My Mom)
  • “Take your time getting off-stage. Acknowledge everyone. Give it a moment. Let people clap for you. Take it in.” — Forest Stearns

Shifting Late Nite Art® to virtual

“Everybody is the creative type .” — David Kelley

“Creative Doorway “— the first-ever digital version of Late Nite Art on March 30th, 2020.
  • We facilitated 31 experiences (8 in-person, and 23 virtual)
  • We pivoted the business from leading face-to-face events to 100% virtual (until we can come back together in person!)
  • We designed a new website with a fantastic designer: Lala Openi and creative copywriter Corey Rosenberg
  • I joined the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Accelerator, a rigorous business development program that will help launch Late Nite Art to the next level (and reach $1 Million in revenue).
  • We had the opportunity to work alongside amazing clients this year — many of whom, have become friends. Our 2020 clients: Adobe, Clif Bar, Twilio, Verizon Media, Kaiser Permanente, Asana, Genentech, Google, Girls in Tech, Gainsight, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, FinancialForce, Affinity, Common Future, Beneficial State Foundation, and LaunchDarkly

Illuminated Notes 🖌

“Show up and do good work.” — Forest Stearns

Forest Stearns and I doing Illuminated Notes at the Culture First Conference in SF
  • Verizon Media hired Forest and me to illustrate portraits of 33 leaders from the Spark Multicultural Leadership Program as a gift for each leader as they closed out their 1-year leadership journey (check out a few of the pieces below).
Illuminated Notes of Didier Sylvain: Drawing by Forest Stearns, Text by Adam Rosendahl
Illuminated Notes of Garnesha Ezediaro: Drawing by Forest Stearns, Text by Adam Rosendahl
  • Forest and I taught “Bring Your Notes to Life with Illuminated Notes,” as a virtual class for the students at Santa Barbara Visual Arts and Design Academy.
  • I led a “Bring Your Notes to Life” workshop for the employees at Verizon Media.
  • I was delighted to see some of my close friends and clients begin using the Illuminated Notes method in their notetaking :)
Examples of Illuminated Notes 🖌

Illuminated Sounds 🎶

My Top Spotify Playlists of 2020:

Adam’s Top 20 of 2020 🚀

H E A R T 💓

H E A D 🗣️

H A N D S 🙏🏽

Scaling Intimacy ⚡️

The Scaling Intimacy School of Experience Design

“Go slow to move fast.” — Jenny Sauer-Klein

The Scaling Intimacy facilitation team! Jenny Sauer-Klein, Julia Winston, Joanna Miller, and myself

Peaks and Valleys of 2020 ⛰

Boom 2020: A music retreat to restore the soul. In Carmel Valley, CA. (From left) Shaun Saperstein, JP Labrosse, Aaron Kierbel, Adam, Julia Winston, Spencer Honeyman, Jenny Sauer- Klein

Boom 2020 🥁

Officiating Eli and Jannah’s wedding on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand 🇹🇭

Helping Eli recite his Vows (left) 🕺🏽The pre-wedding dance party (right)
Not a bad setting. Koh Samui, Thailand 🇹🇭
The love tunnel!

Traveling solo through Penang, Malaysia 🇲🇾

Amand, Arissa, Daus, Damia, Tina, and me (left) 🇲🇾 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia (right)

Self-quarantine, and living alone during the pandemic

This was my single favorite video/art piece to come out of 2020. The director, my friend Ivan Cash, created this 3-min video to humanize the challenges and isolation many of us were facing during this time. When I first watched this in April 2020, it struck a chord and I couldn’t stop crying. It was comforting to feel that people across the world were all experiencing the same swirl of emotions.

“I’m finding a small boat to carry me across the river of my anxiety. But that river is drying up and I am coming across to the other side.” — My journal

What I forgive myself for during quarantine:

  • I forgive myself for getting moody.
  • I forgive myself for not eating “on time” and turning into a monster.
  • I forgive myself for spending too much time on screens.
  • I forgive myself for being hard on myself.
  • I forgive myself for the times I felt lazy, scattered, unproductive, and lost.
  • I forgive myself for sometimes playing a victim.

#BlackLivesMatter and the global fight against racism

A memorial for George Floyd
Hitting the streets

The journey of the fish man 🐠 and bull woman 🐂

“That’s what a man is, yaar. A man is truly a man when he wins the love of a good woman, earns her respect, and keeps her trust.” — Vikram (from the book Shantaram)

Livingston, Montana 🏔
  • Mount Shasta
  • Sonoma County
  • Livingston and Bozeman, Montana
  • Mendocino
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Chicago
  • Tulum, Mexico
  • Sedona, Arizona
  • San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
2020 was a year of many picnics 🍜
Meeting Yasmeen’s parents Amir and Sue in Chicago, October 3rd (left) 🎨 My illustration of her parents (right)
Secret beach on the Sonoma Coast with Yasmeen and my Mom, September 6th
Closing out 2020 on a rooftop in San Miguel de Allende 🇲🇽

Friends and collaborators this year

“It’s not the quantity of friends but the quality of a few relationships that actually matters.” — Brené Brown

Teachers I studied with in 2020

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Sedona, Arizona 🏔

Growth and Learning

Books that changed my life this year

Big River Beach, Mendocino 📸 Eli Zaturanski


“When day comes, we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman