Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser



Leadership Developer • Coach & Facilitator • Writer



Welcome to the July 2024 Newsletter

Last week, I celebrated my 60th birthday with a second week on Gower, at the wonderful Rhossili beach.  Once I'd talked myself into accepting that I was getting a week of Welsh summer and not the blazing weather the rest of the UK seemed to be having, I settled in. Plenty of skinny dips (me) when there was no wind, and joyous body boarding (us) when the wind picked up.  Good walks, plenty of great reads.  The perfect start to my next decade.



Two other highlights.  The second gathering of people who'd read Hospicing Modernity and wanted to  explore their understanding and curiosities with others.  It was a wonderful group of people and the power and value of coming together like that is really quite something.  I'll set up a third group soon.  Plus the final Acts of Love for Tough Times workshop this side of the summer.  We explored joy and presence as forms of love that acts as resources and support for us when things are difficult in the/our world. It was wonderful and I'll be back with more dates for the Autumn in the next Newsletter. 

This month there's: 

  • a new podcast exploring grief and love
  • a workshop for anyone who wants to use their words in the world
  • a question of when being positive tips into toxic positivity
  • some great shadow work workshops and facilitator training
  • and a big questioning of what we mean by progress

This month, I've also used fewer of my own pics, and several stunning images that have grabbed me on Facebook, mostly from Rob Brezsny's posts

So, until August, when the world will have done a few more turns ...

With love
Helena x


Grief and Love - new podcast 



I'm delighted to be sharing this new podcast episode with you, exploring grief and how it's a form of love.  Emily Bazalgette and I talk about the work of Francis Weller and his 5 gates of grief, plus 3 other gates from other people; about the importance of grieving with others; why it matters so much to tend to our grief; and what it was that had got us us interested in exploring grief in the first place.

I get to meet Emily IRL later this month as she's part of the facilitation team for this 5 day Apprenticing to Grief workshop I'm joining. I'm looking forward to it. 

(art: Jane Davies)


Delaine le Bas



About 40 years ago, in a tiny art exhibition in Cardiff, the work of the artist Paula Rego grabbed me and didn't let me go. I have loved her every since. You probably already know that.

It's way too early to know if this is anything like that love affair.  It might just be a short and exciting fling with a deeply interesting person.   Delaine le Bas is a mixed media artist, from the Traveller community.  Her work can be seen at the Tramway in Glasgow until October.  I hope she gets to London soon. 



'Hard times require furious dancing'

Alice Walker


Shadow Work



My training and experience of Shadow Work has been a core way of understanding myself, and most definitely shapes my practice as a coach and in my other organisational work.

If you’d like to experience Shadow Work yourself, as a participant, then there's a weekend in October with Liz Remande and Nick Klyne that you can find on the Shadow Work general site.  And if that date doesn't work out for you, then you'll see other options there too.

And if you feel ready for the Basic Facilitator Training, than details for the week-long trainings are here, including some with Liz and Nick. I cannot recommend it enough.

(art: Eric Wert)


Toxic Positivity



I like exploring hope -  the contrasts between hope and optimism, and whether hope is even a helpful thing in these tumultuous times. 

It's also worth adding positivity into the mix, alongside hope and optimism.  When is being positive a good thing?  I'm thinking of Appreciative Inquiry and the whole field of positive psychology - and how it's t's generally the case that most people in organisations say that more encouragement, praise and appreciation would make a huge difference to them. And even though some of the research behind the Losada positivity/negativity ratio has been questioned, I do still often tell groups about the research because it creates a great discussion. 

But when does it tip over into something less helpful, and even harmful?   When is being positive toxic?  This HBR article gives us a glimpse. And this episode of All In The Mind  is also excellent. 


'Despite our fears of falling, the gifts of the world stand by to catch us'. 

Robin Wall Kimmerer





I love listening to people with brains much bigger than mine, offering things to think about that both join dots and then stretch me into new territory.  So spending 3 podcast hours with Nat Hagen talking to Daniel Schmachtenberger about progress in The Great Simplification podcast (thanks Richard) ticked a heap of boxes for me, including:

  • what can be called progress if a species is going extinct, or if people are still held in slavery, or if someone's body (even an oligarch or a billionaire) is now contaminated by the chemicals in the air and is looking for a cure for the illness that was caused by those chemicals in the first place
  • to what extent is power, and the urge to have it at all costs, nature or nurture
  • how the Sabbath was once a social contract that, at least in part, existed as a tacit agreement that we wouldn't use that time to try and get ahead of other people
  • and the ways that 'keeping things going' and maintaining what we have -  the sacred gift that is the life we've been given - is by far the bigger part of what we need to focus on rather than striving for new things and to make things better

And for those of you who have an interest, as I do, in Vanessa Andreotti's Hospicing Modernity, she has an episode in there too. 

(art: The Emerald Podcast)


'War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace'.

Thomas Mann



Calling all Warrior Poets


Tom Hirons and Rozi Hilton are running another immersive retreat, The Warrior Poet Rebel Assembly, for those who want to put what they're feeling into words, and find a way to take those words into the world as a counterbalancing medicine for what's happening in the world.  A countercultural resistance movement. 

You might like to call it a poetry workshop. But that's only if you need to pay for it through your business account.  Otherwise call it what Tom and Rozi call it: time for engaging the tools of poetics in the rising seas of despair.  

Tom says: "if you’re looking for sustenance through community and/or solitary time in nature, in the context of a ragged band of visionaries, vagabonds and poetic misfits, this camp is for you."

I say: "if you feel more like a timid corporate mouse who buys her clothes from White Stuff but who knows there's stuff to be said, this camp is also for you. "

I can't recommend Tom and Rozi enough, by the way, as I think you know by now.  Oh, and Tom's new book of poetry, Queen of Heaven, has just been released this week and you can get a copy here.  





Buds on a Fallen Bough

The buds still open
on the fallen bough, 

and nothing is lost
though everything is lost, 
and it has always been this way:

does not require
sound reasons for hope, 

only a desire
to open
towards the sun,

to return
the blazing beauty
we received. 

Sean Padraig O'Donohue

(art: Tui Sankamol)


Good reads



The Covenant of Water is a truly lovely read. And then holiday reading ...four excellent ones.  Migrations from Charlotte McConaghy blends a future in which mass extinctions are now commonplace with a gripping story line about a scientist with a back story. Another mix of bleak-yet-hopeful was A Whole Life from Robert Seathaler.  Ashley John/Baptiste’s Looked After, which is a piercingly good glimpse into what it’s like to be raised in the care system. And Soldier, Sailor by Claire Kilroy - gorgeous. 

I took some poetry with me. I’ve taken to reading a book of poems all the way through and turning down the corner of a page when I really like something.  There were very few of those in Jane Hirshfield’s Ledger as I mostly don’t understand her.  Plenty more in Jack Gilbert’s Refusing Heaven though. And lots in Tom Hirons’s first edition of his poetry magazine Clarion.

(Our book group really disliked Victoria Hislop's The Return, btw, and the various heated responses made for one the funniest evenings we've had in ages.)



And at work



June has been more holiday than work, but there's been:

  • That project set-up work that continues to roll on, and is still confounding but it's inching in the right direction. 
  • A new piece of work with the Top 100 leaders of a London university, which began with the first day of the project in Bristol with my colleagues - one of whom is a long time friend and this is the first piece of work we've ever done together. Joy! But as we got together the night before, we heard from the client they were postponing the programme.  Huh!  Another colleague of mine who runs her own consultancy tells me that they have recently won 5 new pieces of business but none of them have actually happened.  So this theme continues.  I don’t think it’s a pre election thing as this pattern has been around for many months now.  As frustrating as it is for folks like me, with that level of  constant change and movement, it must also be a reflection of what it feels like within organisational systems. 
  • Discovery calls and design work for an upcoming team development day with the new leadership team of a charity.

(art: Rochelle Bird Mbitjana)


Do get in touch and let me know how you're finding these Newsletters, or if you'd like to see more info or 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

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