Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser



Leadership Developer • Coach & Facilitator • Writer



Welcome to the May 2024 Newsletter

Last week, I did two days walking on the South Downs Way, from Eastbourne to Lewes, along the Severn Sisters, and it was so good to be out-out. So fresh and green. There was no rain (no rain!) and it was even warm enough for me to roll up my trouser legs at one point :-)



This month, I had time in London too, on a training module looking at group coaching supervision - a deep and rich piece of learning that I'm still reflecting on. A couple of lovely sea swims and a pop-up sauna near where I swim, Pilates and some Rolfing treatments all created the counterbalance I needed after all that time on my laptop and Zoom.

So this month:

  • a new blog exploring some aspects of hope and considering whether it's a useful thing to have - or not - for these times we're in
  • a really helpful frame to consider grief - ours and other people's
  • some rules of thumb for change agents
  • new ways of seeing and thinking of organisations - and organising
  • as well as the usual mix of fab books, poems and workshops from other people...

Until June, please keep yourselves well and safe, and if you can find a way to slow right down and find your heartbeat, please do. It's good medicine. 

With love
Helena x


'Love and grief are sisters'



'Love and grief are sisters', says Francis Weller. Since Emily Bazalgette and I have had to postpone our podcast recording exploring love and grief for a few weeks, I thought I'd fill that gap by sharing Weller's five 'gates of grief', which I find so helpful.  They are:
The loss of someone or something we love: death, bereavement, suicide, illness and our degenerating health, aging...

The places that have not known love: the parts of ourselves that we deny/disown or judge harshly

The sorrows of the world: climate crisis, conflict, species loss, homelessness, loss of innocence in commercialism and consumerism, loss of our connection with nature...

What we expected and did not receive: what we assumed or thought we would have – children, health, a bigger house, a long marriage, community, a loving mother, a world where bees would still exist for your grandchildren…

Ancestral grief: the grief we carry often unconsciously from sorrow experienced by our ancestors, e.g. colonialism and racism, being refugees or exiles...

Which ones feel most familiar to you - and which ones least?

This summer, I start some training in death, dying and end-of-life care and so you're likely to find the fingerprints of that theme in more of my work. My interest is not only in supporting individuals but also thinking about how to support other elements of our lives - systems, organisations - that are ending or dying. 


Acts of Love for Tough Times - May & June



The April session of Acts of Love for Tough Times was wonderful. We looked at how grief and hope are forms of love, did some bold writing, had some tender and stimulating conversations and read some glorious poems.  People said, it was both nourishing and stimulating. 

The May session will focus on how forgiveness and creating connection are essential forms of love that can resource us all ahead of tougher times.  June will likely focus on joy and listening

Both are now open for booking and both of which are free.

Please do spread the word by sharing the details if you know anyone who might be interested. I'd bet my hat on them being glad they came along. I can't tell you how wonderful the people are who show up to these gatherings. 

(Pic: Ash from Modern Afflatus, Unsplash)


Some Thoughts on Hope - New Blog



Hope is about to come more centre stage, I think.  I reckon we're going to see it being talked about a lot now. There will be more books exploring hope.  We'll start to create a new relationship with it.

Of course we will. We'll need to. Because in many ways, things might be looking and feeling less hopeful. 

I like exploring hope, 'the thing with feathers'.  It's often one of the 'acts of love' I explore in my workshops.  I think it's up there with love in its complexity and depth.  So here are a few things about hope - some themes that I see in common across lots of people's writing at the moment.  I'll add to this over time, I'm sure. 


'As long as you are breathing, it's never too late to do some good'

Maya Angelou


Rules of Thumb for Change



I was at Steve Hearsum's book launch the other week, for his book No Silver Bullets.  No, not read it yet.  To be honest, part of the reason is that when I peek inside, I find much to challenge me and my practice and I know that it's going to hold up a mirror to how I work in ways that I'll learn from, but almost certainly will not like. The ways that I collude with the system or with clients, for example. Ouch. I think it's going to be an impactful read.  

Now, that was a long intro to me saying that Naomi Stanford was also in the group and she referred to these Rules of Thumb for Change Agents, which I hadn't come across and I like very much.  They include Stay Alive, Don't Build Hills As You Go, and Light Many Fires.  A lovely read. 


'Our hearts, once open, can stretch a very long way indeed'.

Nick Totton



Ecological Organisations



Many of us here have worked with the metaphors of organisation-as-machine and organisation-as-organism in our change or OD practice.

For those of us drawn to exploring the organisation-as-living-system end of things, and who like to take an (eco)systemic perspective, do take a look at the work of Anna-Marie Swan and her work on Ecological Organisations.  I think you might like it.


'There is a bird and a stone in your body. Your job is to not kill the bird with the stone'.

Victoria Chang



Exploring Endings Workshop



Grainne McAnallen and Andrea Langlois are running two more of their online events Harnessing the Power of Endings using approaches drawn from yoga nidra and systemic constellations. They take place on 23rd May and also 25th September. 

I have a couple of endings myself that I haven't had time to give much thought to yet, and so I'm very much hoping to be at the one in May.


'The longer I live, the more deeply I learn that love is the work of mirroring and magnifying each others' light'

James Baldwin






Instructions On Not Giving Up

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor's
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of spring rains, it's the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of the white
and taffy, the world's baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come.  Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty.  Fine, then,
I'll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist, I'll take it all.

Ada Limon


Good Reads



So Romantic Comedy was a good bedtime read, but I've been a little low on fiction, I can see.  

Nonfiction, I finished Citizens and made a good start on Holding the Hope, a series of essays about the psychology of facing the climate crisis. Additionally, Intervals from Marianne Brooker about her mother's voluntary death by 'stopping eating and drinking' (VSED).  Likewise, Anne Lamott's latest, Somehow, about love, was gorgeous. 

Finally, the wonderful and just-launched poetry magazine, Clarion.  It's a huge feat to bring a project like this to life and Tom Hirons has brought something wonderful into being.  If you love 'poetry for a world on fire' then do consider a subscription.  Tom uses a sliding scale when charging for his work (which I love) and so if you have plenty of money, it's £100 a year, and if you're struggling you can pay just £35 for an annual subscription.  



And at Work



Action learning sets, project management and set up for three new leadership programmes - one new and two with an existing client - and plenty of coaching and coach supervision. 

Lots of conversations about interesting projects - coaching and team development with a well known arts organisation and team development at a housing association.  I think most of these will not come off, for one reason or another.  And this does feel like a bit of theme... things looking as if they might happen and then not. I hear this from many people in this line of work at the moment.  Something in the air.  

And a three-day module for me as a participant exploring group coaching supervision, which is encouraging me to think about setting up a group in 2025. 

(Owl drawing is by my talented friend Pat Foreman) 


Do get in touch and let me know how you're finding these Newsletters, or if you'd like to see more info on anything I could include.   I love hearing from you.  You know where I am on LinkedIn, or connect via Email. Or call me of course, whichever suits.

Helena x

07771 358 881

Join me on social media







Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.