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

Welcome to the January 2023 Newsletter

Hello lovely people and I hope you had good December, and that you managed to find even small versions of the Christmas you wanted or needed :-)

In the run-up to Christmas, we had 4 days with my step-grandchildren staying.  Of course, a deep joy.  But really, how anyone thinks raising children is compatible with work ...let alone' if you want to write that book, just get up an hour before the children ...'!!  I have always had a deep respect for working parents.  That sense of awe has increased massively. 

And while I never really look at the year ahead or make any solid plans or resolutions - I do like to look back at the year I ended up having because life can only be understood backwards (as the man said)

There were several big threads. The Systemic Constellations training that has made a real difference to how I see things - taking a much wider perspective and allowing more in; two poetry courses were both inspiring for what I might do and humbling in showing me my limitations; Dom's two knee replacements meant I learned more about care and compassion in practice; and a big piece of client work really held up a mirror to me and taught me way more about how I show up than I have room for here!  

I have no idea what 2023 has in store for me. That said, I'd like it to include more time in nature (in the sea, out for long walks), more time for creativity and expression (more poetry) and stronger boundaries between work and play (including experimenting with blocking out Fridays from client work).  Other than that I'm open to whatever other plans are brewing for me!  And I'd like to keep practicing holding things more lightly. 

I'm starting the year well though.  When you read this, I'll be repeating my 5 day solo-retreat in a beautiful log cabin halfway up a Welsh mountain with no phone signal and no wifi.  My own little 'hibernacle'. Last year's stay was wonderful and it's not an exaggeration to describe it as transformational. Let's see what magic it might hold this time.

 I'll see you in February.  And in the meantime, in this Newsletter  ...a new date for the Complex Change workshop (now in March not February) , a wonderful new podcast episode exploring belonging with Matt Fairbrass, some powerful men's workshops, a poem, a film and a story..... and some great reads.

Helena x

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Complex Change workshop - 16 March (not 16 Feb!)


Matt and I realised that the original Feb date for this workshop was during half term and so we've changed it to 16 MarchFull details to book are here with the EARLY BIRD price held until 15 Jan.  

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 (everything...) and giving everything a place in the system, because if we feel that something is excluded in any way 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. 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. 

P.S Great HBR article here from Deborah Rowland on belonging and 'un-belonging'. 

P.P.S Scroll down for a great new podcast episode with Matt and me exploring Belonging 

The Love Lab

There are still some spaces available at The Love Lab on 20 January - perhaps the perfect way to start a new year - and full details are here.

A workshop exploring how we might tap into the love that already exists between us - that's already in the room - so that we can create greater trust and connection between us. 

You'll probably know the African proverb: if you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far, go together.  This workshop creates togetherness in ways that you can take back to your other places and let them work their magic there too. 

Podcast - Belonging, with Matt Fairbrass

In a departure from a love-based podcast, in this episode (first of a series exploring the world of systemic constellations and what it can bring to those of us working with complex change) you can listen to me in conversation with Matt Fairbrass about 'belonging' and why it matters so much today. 

We explore why belonging matters so much generally and also in organisations.  And we suggest some practical ways that we can all help to cultivate a greater sense of belonging in teams, groups and organisations. 

You can listen HERE

Men's workshops 

Last month, I said I'd share some great resources for men who want to 'do their work'.  Because while the patriarchal system that we have in our lives - and certainly our working lives - doesn't work so well for women, it's also the case that, in many ways,  it doesn't work well for men, either.  

For many years, I've been lucky enough to have had direct and indirect contact with the world of 'men's work'.  And so I'm making some recommendations here for those who want to explore what sort of man they are or want to become.  

The first three are workshops.  Celebration of Being runs The Noble Man, and I've staffed this several times and know first hand its immense power and impact.  Another, but this time only run by men, is The Mankind Project, again a strong 'rite of passage' workshop.  Both of these are often described as life changing.   I don't know the work that Will Johnson does - I only know Will from Twitter - but based on what I see of him there there, it's enough for me to include his Circle of Trust workshops here

And if you're looking for a way to give back in 2023, you might look at becoming a mentor with abandofbrothers, an organisation that runs workshops for boys and young men to mark the transition from (perhaps) a difficult adolescence into a healthy masculinity.  An amazing set up.

And finally, a book.  This is a new one I've not yet read, but Hugh Newton's has been a leader in three of the four organisations above at some time, and so The Sovereign's Journey will be a great read, I'm sure. 

And read on for another story of two men ...

Just the loveliest documentary for you, on Netflix.  

Stutz is a beautiful and touching glimpse into the relationship that someone - the actor Jonah Hill -  has with their therapist, Phil Stutz.  It's a delight.  Not only because its so rare to get to see such a relationship on the inside.  But also because of the way both men deal with their vulnerability. Plus the way the film also looks at the process of making the film.

It also said a lot to me about ageing, and how we integrate our aging into our work and our practice.  Highly recommended. 

The Dark is Rising
Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising came straight from my childhood into my ears this Christmas.  Superb dramatisation, and best listened to on headphones for the binaural effects which are perfect for this tale of the light and the dark.  

Listen on BBC Sounds here


Head, Heart

Heart weeps.
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love.  They will all go.  But
even the earth will go, someday.
Heart feels better, then.
But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help, head.  Help heart.

by Lydia Davis

A few good reads 
Hmmm, not the most satisfying month, fiction-wise.  And with Christmas, not so much time for reading.  Abandoned The Echo Chamber, a rare thing for me, just wasn't feeling it.  But The Harpy was good, and I think it would make a great Book Group choice - lots to discuss, I reckon.

Belonging is written by someone from the world of sports coaching, which isn't my thing at all.  But much of the book is based around understanding the Maori idea of 'whakapapa', which recognises how we are all part of an unbreakable chain.  Really good.

And then Poetry Unbound.  A zillion years ago I dated an architect who was way older than me (Peter Bodoano, I'm about to thank you, if you're somewhere out there ...)  and while it didn't last long, what did last was the impact of him standing with me in front of my first ever Paula Rego paintings and giving me some ...well, guidance ... about how to see her work, how to read the paintings.  Some of you will know my abiding love of Rego's work, a love affair that started at that moment in the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, thanks to Peter.  Padraig O Tuama does a similar thing in this book.  He takes a poem and shows it to you. Look, he says, can you see this, and this? And also this.  It's such a loving thing to do. And such a beautiful way to learn. 
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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