How was this year for you, really?
Welcome to our December Newsletter.
How are you doing? How was this year for you? December marks the end of the year, a time of slowing down and reflection. I am spending most of my free time looking back at the year 2022 with a heavy heart. If you know me, you may find this surprising: I am, in fact, a sceptical optimist – optimist nonetheless. However, in order to move forward, look into the future and change, I find it incredibly important to pause and assess the past twelve months. Since I started blogging in 2004, I have also used the December time for written, public summaries, so here it is.
I had a very challenging year full of endings and grief – with almost every week posing a new challenge, testing my resilience skills. Add to this the collective lack of preparedness for COVID+ years and the post-Brexit economic crisis (conveniently named as a fancy “cost of living” crisis to blame citizens for it, cringe!), and you can only imagine how much energy it took to maintain a healthy balance to provide support for others. 2022 took a lot of careful balancing.
Why is this important to reflect on the year? You see, if I don’t take stock of all my losses and challenges, I won’t be able to realise the wins and support I have received along the way.
Yes, I lost some significant people and projects, but the gravity of those losses marks the depth of continuing bonds we had with those people and organisations. It also marks our hopes and dreams. It’s so important and so radical to dream and hope in our reality. In the process, I was supported by wonderful old and new friends; I learned the true, deep side of people I am surrounded by and also learned to ask for help more skilfully. It takes a village to face hardship, and this way is most sustainable for our wellbeing, but those connections need to be nurtured and treasured too. It takes intention.
Yes, I witnessed how some people changed and how dysfunctional some projects are. We live in the unveiling times, and the process is not easy. It’s sad to see the loss in the making, but I have learned from those experiences for my own life and business. I learned through witnessing. It’s a myth, especially in neoliberal individualistic societies like ours here in the UK, that our knowledge depends purely on our individual experience. We stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us and who walk side to side with us. We also live and work in outdated systems built by dead giants and nurtured by people in positions of power who continue to defend them. In order to dream, fight for and design kinder and more sustainable ways of working & being, we need to observe, assess, and learn – critically. We need to invent, re-invent and do better. We need to pay attention.
Yes, I have lost myself too. This is probably my deepest learning of 2022.
I lost myself in some of that dysfunction myself. I lost my integrity. I think our personal and professional integrity is fluid and should be flexible, but there comes the point when/where we need to draw boundaries to keep ourselves and others safe.
I lost myself in “good enough”. Especially in the third sector – doing your best is always good enough. A crisis is nobody’s fault. It just happens. It is, and we need to put up with it because we are all doing our best. I disagree with this approach because it denies us the need for safe, kind, caring spaces and basic standards of life and work. What if someone’s best is not good enough? What if their best is not safe for us or even abusive? What if their choices lead to exploitative systems? What if their absence leaves us holding matters no one should face alone? Are we hired to witness, tolerate and allow it regardless of the impact of those behaviours? Are we to remain pleasantly neutral to the suffering of others? Just this year, I have witnessed too much to agree with this approach.
I lost myself in not accessing my care systems effectively enough. Life tipped the balance in April: intense period at work, a few significant lost people and the unveiling of so much unexpected dysfunction, so I was catching up for the rest of the year. Three major work commitments, three placements and my studies meant I had to learn more about trauma stewardship and do better. Only in November did I start catching up on some significant changes I had to make. On reflection, I think I should have left some spaces sooner – the signs of dysfunction were always there. I realise now that the systemic “busyness” got under my skin, and I stopped trusting my instincts. Soft leadership is based on a lot of well-calculated signals that are then combined with our life knowledge almost in our gut: we know what is right for us. Yes, we need to question our biases and still, with that filter of “what if I am wrong”, we can pause, listen and FEEL the right way forward too.
This is my main learning from 2022: resilience comes with a cost – we put up with too much, we rationalise too much, and we get on with things often without questioning the status quo. We see the signals, but we minimise them, which may mean that we ignore some very important changes happening just in front of our noses. We stop paying attention to significant details and to ancient basics: health and safety, mature & kind leadership, nurturing tribes, and freedom of our agency. We get distracted. We lose our focus or have to spend a lot of energy on regaining it.
So for 2023, my main intention is to nurture the better quality of my attention to sustain my focus, critical thinking, working and living easier, lighter, and softer.
I see my goal for 2023 with clarity because I am making time to reflect on my life this year, and so I encourage you to do the same. The process can be heavy and uncomfortable, too – so please take care when you do it. Pausing to look back can be challenging, so think about anchoring yourself in something or someone with enough gravity to keep yourself safe and well. And don’t forget to list all your achievements, wins and celebrations too.
At Voxel Hub, we are going to post about the benefits of reminiscence. I can also tell you that 2023 will be about digital wellbeing content for us. We have at least two wonderful bloggers joining our team soon to share their insights with us. You will see more of my blogging on the main site. We will run an AI experiment on our blog. We will also open our doors to counselling clients, launch our corporate packages and are already talking to local community groups about possible partnerships. It’s all exciting, and I cannot wait to tell you more soon.
I thank you all for your continuous support of Voxel Hub, and I wish you a peaceful Holiday Season and a soft, kind start to the New Year 2023!
My favourite topic this month
This month I am going back to myths and archetypes:
“Great Goddesses: Life lessons from myths and monsters” by Nikita Gill
“Circle” by Madeline Miller
“The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campell
“The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self“ by Dan P. McAdams
“The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings” by Kevin Crossley-Holland
“Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“Gender Swapped Fairy Tales” by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett
“Gender Swapped Greek Myths” by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett
If you have any recommendations on the topic, please let me know! Thank you!
I have recently found out a bit more about the last stage of the Gestalt cycle of experience – the withdrawal/assessment stage. This is the point when we tend to move on too quickly, not allowing enough processing time, and thus, we may miss out on important learnings from our experiences. So I am exploring how to benefit from this stage and from the Gestalt approach in general. Here is a small introduction to this way of working in coaching and in counselling (generally in working with change). Enjoy!
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