Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser
Leadership Developer • Coach & Facilitator • Writer

Welcome to the December 2022 Newsletter

Hello lovely people

Like many people, I keep commenting on how fast the year's gone. And if you're feeling completely exhausted, there's good reason. This has been a(nother) very demanding year. 

This month I've been doing a lot of learning: completing my year-long training in Systemic Constellations (the gerbera lower down was part of my closing ritual, and very lovely it was too) and part-way through accrediting with the Harthill vertical development framework.  Maybe no wonder I'm feeling too full to take any more in and now just crave some time to let it all settle. 

I turned down a piece of work. It wasn't huge but it felt hugely significant as I am increasingly bored of myself saying that I need more space and time. So a small step is a small step, right? And this feels like a deep call. It feels like a life stage thing. And raises all sorts of questions for me. And it's not just getting more important but rather core and central to how I want to live.  I'm experimenting next year - I've blocked out all Fridays to keep them free from client-facing work and booked June 2024 as a one-month sabbatical.  Let's see...

Also, had a lovely week's holiday in Aldeburgh with Dom - gentle walks, great fish and chips, plenty of reading and spent more money in the Two Magpies bakery than should be allowed. 

By the time you read this, I should just be finishing a significant proposal for a client.  And then the heavy lifting is done for the year.   So ...catch up, take a breath, spend time with Dom's grandkids, walk on the Downs, have some long overdue coffees with friends, a few days solo retreat in the Welsh mountains... and let things compost for a while.  Can't wait!

Wishing you an easy run through through the festivities and I'll be back in early/mid January.  And in the meantime, stay close to yourself and go gently. 

Helena x

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'Working with Complex Change'  - new date

Matt Fairbrass and I are running a second 'Working with Complex Change' workshop, on 16 Feb, in central London and full details to book are here. with the EARLY BIRD price held until 1 Jan.  I know many people wanted to come in November but the date didn't work out.  Hopefully this is one will.   

Participants described the day as well-paced, fascinating and really rich, with facilitation that was both light and profound, practical, and a safe space for learning.

We'd love to see you there. 

We explore four key aspects of Systemic Constellations work that feel particularly important for change and OD work in organisations today - and for all of us in these tricky times

We looks at belonging and how this core human need is probably the main thing to attend to when leading or shaping change. At its heart is the importance of welcoming everything in and giving everything a place in the system, because if we feel that something is excluded in any way (explicitly, or just ignored, forgotten about or kept as a secret ...and even known by some but not by everyone ...) then it threatens our fundamental need to feel we belong. 

Also the need to gather resources to support us in change, and especially for those who support others through change. In tough times this gets doubly important because 'emptiness produces emptiness'. 

We look at how change practitioners can use the wisdom and the intuition of the body more than most of currently do, and the importance of intentionally stepping back so we can include more of the bigger picture and see patterns more clearly. 

Hope you can join us for what I'm sure will be another rich day. 

P.S Great HBR article here from Deborah Rowland on belonging and 'un-belonging'. And a link to her excellent book is down in the book section. 

The Love Lab

As you might have seen in the separate email I set out, I'm thrilled to say I'm running another Love Lab and full details are here.

I've run shorter versions of this workshop before and now I'm bringing the best parts - as well as some new thinking about love - into a one day in-person event. Feedback from previous workshops has been that it's a powerful, beautiful and important experience.

I think it takes some courage to look love in the eye. And so in some ways this workshop invites us to take a risk in allowing ourselves to be seen -  and to see another person - in ways that we might not usually allow ourselves to do. 

It's also practical.  You'll be able to take a lot back to your organisation, to help build 

And if you read the details and find yourself thinking 'nope, that's definitely not for me' then you'd be especially welcome :-)

Maybe I'll see you there.  And please do share the details with others, if you reckon they might like the sound of it. 

Deepened by diminishment

As I grapple with some pain in my leg,  it reminds me about something Sharon Blackie said on one of the recent Hagitude programme sessions.   She was asking 'what IS the nature of an elder's wisdom?'.  And she went on to talk about the wisdom of the body and how, when the body starts to break and show signs of wear-and-tear, it allows us to deepen a sense of our embodied nature. We get a very real sense of what it might be like to be a tree losing its leaves, she said. And this can be a deep source of wisdom for us.  If we let it. 

As I listened to her, I remembered that I'd written something on this.  I'd written about how we might - to use a phrase from Stephen Jenkinson - allow ourselves to become 'deepened by diminishment' as part of the work of ageing intentionally, and looking for way that we might grow just a little wiser as well as older and move into eldership

My friend Jo reminded me this week to listen to pain and see what it has to teach us.  So I'm going to do just that, and see what comes up. 

Daily delight

My husband, Dom, is quite possibly possibly the brightest person I know, deeply engaged with Big Matters in the world. He's also someone who can spend ages scrolling and laughing at silly cat videos online.

I can't be doing with those, but he has introduced me to the Daily Cloud and I like that a lot. 

Celebration of Being
It was one of the most powerful and memorable workshops I'd ever done.  I turned up and tried to look like I was totally ok with it all - I'd done stuff like this before, after all - but I knew this was different and I could feel all the parts of me that were resisting.  But two tracks of music completely cracked me open, and I was in.  One was hearing David Whyte read The Well of Grief.  The second was Beneath My Beautiful, from Labrinth. Both went to places I'd been denying for a loooong time. 

So many things started to shift for me over the course of this weekend.  Important, deep and also joyous.  I can't recommend Celebration of Being enough.  Their women's workshop is running again 2-5 March and if there's even a small part of you that is intrigued, I'd say trust that part you and and book your place. 

(Men, 5-8 Oct is the equivalent for you.  And a section on men's workshops coming next month ...)


Dark Horses

If only I were more like my dark horses,
I wouldn’t have to worry all the time
that I was running too little and resting too much.
I’d spend my hours grazing in the sunlight,
taking long naps in the vast pastures.
And when it was time to move along I’d know;
I’d spend some time with all those that I’d loved,
then disappear into a gathering of trees.

If only I were more like my dark horses,
I wouldn’t be so frightened of the storms;
instead, when the clouds began to gather and fill
I’d make my way calmly to the shed,
and stand close to all the other horses.
Together, we’d let the rain fall round us,
knowing as darkness passes overhead
that above all, this is the time to be still.

by Jodie Hollander

A few good reads 

A bunch of good fiction this month.  Well, mostly. Because no-one in Book Group thought much of Snow Country, from Sebastian Faulks, including me.  Our Dec Book Group choice is Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, and while it's a strange book I adored it.  Also lovely and wonderfully powerful was Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These.  And in the can't-put-down box is the third one of the Boudica series and the truly wonderful Matrix from Lauren Groff, a creative imagining of the life of Marie de France in the 12th century.  

Work-wise, I never got any further than Still Moving, an excellent book on leading complex change, drawing on the field of Systemic Constellations. 
So, folks, that's it for me for 2022.  Thank you for reading, and for being here.  I'm looking forward to spending time with you in 2023. 

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.

Helena x

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