Hello again folks
Here's my Newsletter again, this time with a working link to the excellent podcast on Boarding School Syndrome with Karen Macmillan.
Hello there, old friends and new readers, and I hope all's well with you. Thank you for being here!
I don't know how many of you will actually open this one, as it's half term and the Jubilee etc. But my desire to stick to the first week of the month won out!
This month, down below, you'll find:
a really powerful conversation on the podcast about the effects that Boarding School can have on us as children and adults. If you know someone who went to Boarding School or if your wondering why your organisation feels loveless, take a listen.
details of an amazing workshop that changed my life when I did it and that continues to influence how I show up
news of another short (and free) Love Lab with me with more opportunities to explore your own relationships with love - plus leave with lots of things you can also apply in your organisations.
4 excellent books to recommend...
and scroll to the bottom for some of the work that's really been a delight for me this month.
It's been a busy month. My week away at the start of May meant that the weeks that followed were jam-packed with Zoom, reminding me that it's not how I like to work. But highlights have been trips to beach to squeeze in a swim or two; a glorious walk on the South Downs between Firle and Alfriston; a Guardian Masterclass with Ella Frears on writing short poems and hearing Tom Hirons read from his new work; launching a long awaited leadership programme with a key client; a conversation with Michelle Holliday about #ODforLife; and starting a Deepening Your Practice mindfulness programme with Ed Halliwell.
And at home, we were waiting for Dom's knee replacement surgery that finally went ahead last weekend (hurrah!). And I've been trying to talk down any fears of 'I'll never get back to full capacity' after a post-Covid chest and sinus infection which is taking a heck of a long time to clear. The phrase 'you have to rest you way out of it' is always in my mind - and that helps. As does my trusty Neti pot.
OK, so stay well, do what you need to do to navigate these delicate and troubled times, and I'll see you in July (July already!)
Much love in the meantime.
I'd love to hear from you, by the way. You can email me using this link. I read everything, and always reply. And if you received this email from a friend, and would like to subscribe, please go here.
And if you find something useful in this Newsletter, I'd love it if you could share it on social or forward it to someone in your network so that it can reach more people. Thank you!
Boarding School Syndrome or, as it's sometimes know, Boarding School Survivor Syndrome is a very real thing and the impact of it is felt in so many or our organisations.
If you went to Boarding School, if you have someone close to you who did, if you're coaching someone who's an ex-Boarder or if your senior leaders are likely to be, I think you'll find this a fascinating - and illuminating and useful - conversation. Therapist Karen Macmillan specialises in working with ex-Boarders and her insights are gold.
I came to understand the powerful effects that Boarding School can have on young children - and thin into adulthood - when my husband, who was sent to Boarding School at 9ys old, started to explore the effect that it had had had on him - and how it still does, as an adult.
And linking leadership and love, after talking with Karen, I could see more clearly how, when you're raised in an 'institution without love' it would be very likely that you might unconsciously recreate, through your leadership, an institution without love.
There are some other resources mentioned at the end of the podcast if this feels like something you'd like to know more about, but the main book I'd recommend is this one by Joy Shaverein.
If you like the podcast, please do share with other podcast listeners you might know - and let them know they can subscribe via Apple or Spotify. As can you, of course :-)
Celebration of Being
There are many places, people and experiences that have been important and powerful forces in shaping me. I've written about a few of them here and it's one of these that I want to tell you about now as they're running workshops again, post pandemic.
Celebration of Beingwas, in part, set up to help heal and integrate the masculine and the feminine in the world. But first we need to do that work within ourselves - heal the masculine and the feminine within each of us. As I say, that has made all the difference to me. It's really not an understatement to say this work - the women's workshop, but also working with the men too - has changed my life. And I am so deeply grateful.
Music is a big part of the weekend if I say that this song and also the spoken word version of this poem was what set in motion a whole heap of new growth for me, you might see what I mean. As I include
Love Lab 2
Well, I thought and thought about running another Love Lab. And I decided I would as the first one was so delicious and the more recent Blocks to Love was too.
So details of the next Love Lab is below. You don't have to have done any of the others. And I'm keeping it free. Even though it means many people don't show up at the last minute, I've decided I'm really fine with that at the moment. Whoever comes, comes!
This one is slightly different as I'm intending it to do 'double duty': and everything we do together can also be used within your organisational work to help develop greater connection - love, compassion, empathy - between people. So lots of practical things (activities, experiential structures ...) to take away.
Just as Audre Lorde said 'caring for myself is not self indulgence [but] an act of political warfare'. Jenny Odell has made a case for both art and doing nothing as being radical and political acts. Here, Mary Oliver reminds is that joy is also a way of fighting back and reclaiming something for ourselves and for the world.
'If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb'
Joy Is Not Made To Be A Crumb, by Mary Oliver
Some great reading
Fiction-wise, two great reads (thanks for the recommendations, Moira!). The Cure for Sleep was a knock-out. The autobiographical story of a woman's search for ways to integrate her deep pull for creative expression into her life. So powerful, so beautiful. AndSorrow and Bliss, also excellent. Very witty, dry. About love and relationships, mental health and families. Don't expect too much bliss though.
Workwise, try Giles Hutchins' new book, Leading by Nature, on regenerative approaches to leadership - and life. For leaders, and also for L&D and OD, he brings together all the essential bedrock thinking from Theory U, vertical development, constellations, complexity and living systems (the theory is held lightly) and integrates them into a clear and practical read. Practically, what does it mean to lead that recognises that organisations are living systems? What do we need to let go of to do less control/manage and more sense/respond?
When I run gender allyship workshops for a client, I usually quote from Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez for some 'did you know ...?' things that people rarely do know, that reveal the extent of gender bias, historical and current. Like did you know that more women are injured and die in car accidents because crash test dummies are built to to the size and shape of men? I'll now also be quoting from this one. Fix The System, Not The Women from Laura Bates is a shocking read and the reveals the misogyny and injustice deep within so many of our social systems, like education and criminal justice. Such an important read, IMO.
And at work
A spacious month but with real jewels of work:
designing a 'playful leadership' programme outline with a colleague I haven't worked with in many years. I don't know that the client will end up running it but we know that we have something pretty special ready to go.
launching the first of 10 workshops for a client, designed using shadow work, voice dialogue, embodied and somatic work. I don't get to run it myself for a few weeks yet, but am really looking forward to it. It's the sort of work that rarely gets permission in organisations ('it's edgy', the client says) yet is what's really needed.
lots of coaching - some of it very powerful and work that went deep very quickly. I'm always so, so grateful for the two coaching supervisors I work with that help me do this work well.
A workshop for Apolitical, for the Civil Service worldwide, on how we start to create more human workplaces.
and a Blocks to Love event that saw 20 people dig deep into what gets in the way within themselves and within their organisations when we try to create workplaces that are more loving.
And if you think a conversation about how I might support you, work-wise, might be useful, please do get in touch. You know where I am on Twitter and LinkedIn, or connect via Email. Or call me of course, whichever suits.