Love #21daysofWriting – Day 18

Today’s topic was set by Neil Baker who is part of the incredible Dark Angels 

Is “love” the most subversive word in the English language? Destabilising, moving – one of the greatest powers we have. I think it is a super-power – to love. To connect. To acknowledge and wrap yourself into another – a child, a lover, a partner, a family member, a stranger, a pet, a piece of music. You give a little of yourself up, you get something more back. The rapture that can come from looking squarely at someone else and knowing you love them. It can hurt. It can be frightening. It can lift you to places you had no idea existed – exulting. It comes in many many different guises.

The Greeks hypothesised there were 8 differing types of love – one four letter word was in no way enough to articulate the breadth and depth of what we could have access to… and I for one love that love can be expanded so….

Eros – The Passionate One – full on furious, intense, take-your-breath-away, makes your eyes sparkle, haven’t-slept-in-days, loss-of-control, bit bonkers… and fairly superficial – a lot of projection of perfection, almost bound to not be sustainable unless backed up by at least one of the others…Eros is grand gestures and heightened awareness – it burns bright, but fades fast. Beware young lovers etc.

Ludus – The Playful One – daftness and mooching about – teasing, laughing, flirting – with lovers, with your friends. Youthful, delightful -it is love at its lightest and most joyous (but only if reciprocated)

Philautia – The Self One – this is self-regard, care of self, nurture of self – looking out for oneself. According to the Song it is “The Greatest Love of All” – maybe… but it is, without doubt, one of the most important. If you cannot love yourself, how can you love another with any seriousness or sustainability? Surely you are giving away something you need first? This is love that is deep and true and private – not the narcissism which is a pretend love, thin and unrooted, held in a position or possession of beauty – it’s love based on worthiness:  knowing you have worth & operating thus.

Mania – The Obsessive One – the core narrative of many a movie… Manic love is one born from an unhealthy reliance on the “love interest”. This love is headline grabbing, mostly for the wrong reasons– madness, stalking, preoccupation. Fanaticism, fervour and zeal all hang out in this space – this is love without generosity – it’s often about possession or ownership.

Pragma – The Committed One –  When Eros leaves the building (it might still come tap dancing back, at times) Pragma begins – the long-term love, based on understanding and harmony – giving, taking, patient and tolerant. Pragma is what lies on the other side of Testing Things – the place and space when you have seen the other’s dark, their muddy, their grubby and you love that anyway.

Storge – The Familial One – Family, Connection, duty, respect, kinship, unconditionally present – oft tested. It may come from dependency or loyalty – Storge is powerful and deep-rooted. It forms us – and family can come in many guises – tribes, friendships, workplaces.

Philia – The Friendship One – Equality, companionship, friendship – lone-term regard. Affectionate, without that whole dizzy attraction thing – it’s deepened by shared experiences and stories.

Agape –  the “highest form” – the love we feel when we are elevated to a spiritual level – in nature, through music or dance – the sense of loving kindness- wellbeing to all others – a deep and lasting love.

And as I look at these – there is a venn diagram in there somewhere -and I wonder how many of these I have experienced – how many of these I currently have in my life and if I’m happy with that.

Love is essential and nurturing – hard work and exhausting at times – but it shapes us and makes us who we are. A world without love? I’d hate it.

 

 

Reflection

So I wrote a blog with a list… this is very not-me. I started waxing lyrical about old loves and love and thought – yeh.. this isn’t what I want to say.. that and I’ve had an idea for fiction tomorrow that is nagging me to get written….

I have some love for the Greek 8 – I like the way it allows you to explore some nuance in the feelings and relationship – from full on crazy, to long-term settled… it seems right to me. So loving love and the forms of it.

The Day I’ll Never Forget  –  #21daysof Writing – Day 9

Today’s topic was set by Vicki Mallows.  I took a slight liberty as Vicki asked for the shift/ day I’ll never forget… it’s gone in a slightly different direction.

Do I have a day I’ll never forget? A whole day?

I could say I do… write that day… but mostly I really don’t. I have parts of days, fragments and moments. My memory plays tricks – re-conditioning the past in accordance with present information.

Days that are “meant” to be memorable –  Wedding Day, Graduation, Significant Birthday etc – are sometimes less memorable than Normal Days Where Good Stuff Happened – a long walk in the hills on a sunny Saturday. Swimming in the North Sea in April this year. Looking out over Barcelona from the outdoor public swimming pool (the one where Kylie filmed her “Slow” video)  on a hot summer day (OK – so not “normal” but you get the idea)

Then there are parts of days seared into my memory for more awful reasons – the news of my father dying came at the very end of a perfectly “normal” day. I was out at a dinner thing in Edinburgh – I remember the phonecall, the earth shifting under my feet, my world dropping away – forever altered and not even beginning to understand that in the moment.

Memory is such an important part of who we are, and is so bloody unreliable. No wonder life gets complicated, sometimes. We are creatures who live in moments, responding to the Present based on stuff we have learned in the Past, reaching toward a desired Future-state, sometimes without even knowing we desire it. We are wonderful and strange, noble and occasionally unwise. We do our best. We base many of our choices and decisions on memory and story-of-myself, and these are so ludicrously fluid and fickle – we fool ourselves that we are rational, free-willed…. Sometimes? We really aren’t.

Remembering and forgetting takes on a different resonance when you live with or witness something like dementia, particularly in a loved one. The slow dismantling of a life, the fading of Things Remembered, piece by piece is the painful and galling consequence of a brain atrophying. And it is cruel beyond words. As the person loses their memories – they lose themselves. My mother was diagnosed at 58 with early onset. I don’t remember the day of the diagnosis, because by the day it came, we knew it was something akin to this. Months of her making multiple phonecalls on the same night, saying the same thing. Car parked-and-lost countless times. Blank looks over afternoon tea as a well-known story was told. Unable to find the bloody word for the crossword puzzle, despite knowing the answer. Her terror at what was happening to her. Our woeful inadequacy in knowing what to do, how to deal… I have forgotten much of that time – these are things I can’t bear to remember, to dwell on… intolerable memories wrapped carefully up with a Warning Sticker on them. Open with caution. Only now, when friends are facing similar things with their, more elderly, parents do I return to those memories.. and then I can empathise, ask questions, understand the complete hopelessness they feel – that sense of ineptitude, of impotence.

Remembering is important.

Remembering how to remember without derailing yourself is also important.

It takes practice.

So the day I’ll never forget doesn’t exist. .. and I quite like that. I quite like that my inner-hardrive only stores certain things… the stuff that’s in there can serve me well. The memories I’ve made, the memories life has forced me to make… these are the very foundations of who I am and what I can choose. I’m pretty happy with that, to be honest.

And… all of this has led to my “deathbed” philosophy – the one that goes: when I’m just about to shuffle off, I want to look back (because I’m refusing to have dementia. It sucks. I’ve unilaterally decided it’s not for me) and go: Good Memories. Life Lived. These are my Unforgettable things.

Yes. I think that works.

 

Reflection

Ouch. This one… this one got me as I wrote it.

I rarely, if ever talk about my mothers dementia. In part it’s out of respect for my family. I am not the only one who lives with it. The story is only partially mine. In part it’s just so loaded and emotive….I’ve done my own “work” around the illness and the loss and the grief – but you start talking about it & others also want to talk…which is fair… and sometimes, selfishly, it’s hard enough working with it.  It’s a self-preservation thing.

Sometimes it’s good to talk. Sometimes, not so much.

I’ve debated whether to publish… basically because stuff will come back and I’m not sure I want what comes from unwrapping all of this. I’m a little scared.

Mum is now 76 and has been in a care home for a good few years. As someone who has survived with dementia for around 18 years, she is unusual…and now part of a Stirling University study into communication for advanced dementia patients. Her illness means we have, as a family, lived through every non-cheery emotion known to humans. We have mainlined guilt, anger, anxiety, sadness….and, like millions of others who have had dementia in their lives – somehow you continue to live…. If you are anything like me, it means you just want to live as much as you can with as much joy as you can muster.

The writing is bleaker than I expected – lots of death and loss.

I don’t like dwelling here. My preference is more sunshine…

What Could We Learn from Our Pets?  #21daysofWriting – Day 7

This was a topic chosen by Kez Smith & I hope touches something close to most of our hearts.

If you are joining now.. this is a #21daysofWriting Challenge I’ve set myself – topics crowdsourced by good people in my network.

—-

Our pets.

They come in all shapes and sizes, Furry, Hairy, Fluffy, Shelled, Scaled, Finned, Combed….. Some say we look like our pets. When I look at my slightly overweight, middle-aged black Labrador, snoring peacefully beside me, covered in grey hair with really bad bad breath…I hope this isn’t so.

But what do we learn from our non-human buddies? What life lessons do they bestow upon us with their presence?  Based on previous pet-experience, here are two suggestions:

Point 1: Death is inevitable

Yes. I thought I’d start straight on a cheery note.

This lesson is brought to you, courtesy of 2 goldfish, won at the Aberystwyth Fair one night some time in the mid 1980’s.  The terrible truth of this story is I can’t remember the names of said fish (In my head it is Finbar & Fishbar, but I know these were the names of my brother’s goldfish, later in life).

I remember winning them at something akin to a coconut shy (again – details sketchy on this one) and bringing them home, carefully holding the clear plastic bag in the back of the car. Either my Dad or my big brother warned me the fish were unlikely to survive the night. I was determined. These fish would live until I was old – like, maybe even 17. These fish would be kept alive with love.

That first night, the fish swam in a Pyrex bowl usually saved for cooking stuff in the new microwave. I was concerned about this… that they might end up in the fridge or zapped accidentally, but they were still there the next day. Alive.

They were pretty and orange. “Why do they call them gold?” I asked – I still don’t think I know, now I think of it. No matter. To me my orange-goldfish were perfect.

After school that day, mum took me to a pet shop (I’d never been to a pet shop) where the fish were bought a proper bowl, gravel, food and the wee man gave me instructions for looking after fish. The need to clean the bowl and top-up the water carefully was verbally underlined. Don’t worry, Good Sir.  I am keeping these fish alive and happy.

On returning home, the fish were transported gently into their new aquatic surroundings – with Mum adding a special prize of two fairly large white coral chunks which had previously been ornamenting the bathroom. Happy fish. New landscape. All was well.

The fish survived for months. And months. And months. It became a talking point with visitors – the fairground fish faring well. Our fairground fish were not the dying kind. They kind of grew and we got a bigger bowl…My fish-for-life plan was working.

Until, that was, I returned home from school one day to feed the fish, as usual. There they were, floating on the surface, pale and un-orange. Surprisingly white in death. Both fish. Gone. Both. On one day. One must have died of heartbreak when the first one died. My plan for old-age fish died with them. I was devastated.

The fish were given a proper burial, in the back garden. I made a little cross out of lollipop sticks and the white coral was placed on top as a sort of marker. Sad times.

The end of that particular fish-tale you’d think…only….it turns out my fish did not collectively and naturally meet their maker, as I had assumed.

The fish had, indeed, been alive for months. And in that time the white coral chunks had grown slimy and greener and greener. My lovely mum decided this wasn’t a good look and reasoned it was probably not good for the fish, so she took the coral out and gave it a damn good bleaching…. Not fully realising that coral is porous. So when, even after rinsing it through a few times, she put it back in the water….

Two bleached fish.

Point 2: They don’t speak your language

Around the same time, my Dad decided we needed a working sheepdog. We were living on the Welsh Agricultural College’s sheep farm in mid-Wales. Dad lectured there & ran the working farm. A little dairy, a little arable, but mainly it was the flock of a few hundred ewes that occupied us. We had a full-time Shepherd, Bertie – who was wee, barrel chested and dark. A serious man of few words. He spoke Welsh as his first language, English as a halting second. Bert trialled sheepdogs Nationally. He was a man who knew his stuff. To my knowledge, Dad consulted Bert about the sheepdog purchase, then went off somewhere to Powys, bringing back a 9 month old, semi-trained, skinny black-white and tan Collie.

Choosing to acknowledge our Scottish roots, we named him Jock.

We had high hopes for Jock – he came from a proud lineage of working dogs. Dad commenced training with the dog with gusto… but after 10 days or so, he admitted the dog confounded him. One Saturday morning, as I pulled on my wellies, Dad said we were going to pick up Bertie in the Truck to “See what can be done with Jock.”

Jock was in the back of the pickup as we drove, face fully into the wind, trying to bite the air as it passed him. My father was unimpressed “look at that daft mutt.”

It seemed we had been sold a pup. Literally.

20 minutes later, I’m standing on the field gate, beside Bert the Shepherd, who was leaning on his crook, flat cap pulled firmly on, Pipe in mouth, watching Dad and the dog.

The dog split the flock. He ran left, enthusiastically, when right would have worked better. He lay down only after several screams. Jock-the-Dog was, indeed, hopeless.

I said so to Bert. Confidently repeating Dad’s assertion that  “This dog is no use”

Bert sighed. Shook his head. Took his pipe out of his mouth and said darkly: “It might not be the dog, Julie fach”.

I looked on at the scene anew.

My father, increasingly agitated. Shouting louder, gesticulating more.

The dog LOVING every moment of running about with sheep – the sheer joy on his face, utterly unconcerned by the yelling Scotsman.

Eventually, Bert could take no more. He shouted Dad back and went into the field.

He called Hopeless Jock over, knelt down beside the dog and seemed to talk to him.

After a minute or so, he stood, full-shepherd, crook slightly out and began running the dog.

Of course, it worked perfectly. The dog dropping, running, shifting direction as bid. Whistles and shouts, calm instructions man-to-dog…. One flock, neatly rounded.

Bert walked calmly back, broad chested and slightly bandy-legged, Dog at his side. As was his way, he stopped without saying anything & started stuffing his pipe.

After a moment or so, he lit the pipe, took a puff or two and looked at my Dad.

“I think I know the problem, Bill.”

My Dad looked up

“This dog. He came from Powys, right?”

Dad nods

Bert starts to Chuckle….

“He don’t speak English…. Mae’r ci yn siarad Cymraeg”

I didn’t understand.

He chuckled again

“The dog speaks Welsh.”

——-

Reflection

It took a while to find what I wanted to write. The title invited an element of “expert”

What Could We Learn From Our Petssounds like something requiring something Proper.

I spent a couple of hours trying to write properly… racking my brains for something intelligent and wise to say.. and in the end, it was stories from my childhood that really resonated… the Goldfish tale and the, frankly daft, notion that a dog might “speak” Welsh. Both are true stories –blurred by memory and my brothers will doubtless tell me I’ve made stuff up… creative license? But when I started writing these tales, it flowed more easily, it was fun – I remembered more deeply than I expected to….

I also felt dodgy putting Welsh words in the tale of Jock – the endearment fachinstead of the formal version of little, bach. Google Translated “The Dog Speaks Welsh” and for any Welsh speakers ( Mark Hendy & Kate Graham, I particularly have you in mind) I may have added something comedy or true or awful in trusting a search engine…

Both stories still make me giggle… so I guess that’s been part of the pleasure of sharing.

21 Day Writing Challenge

I haven’t blogged since December.

I knew it had been a while, but I hadn’t realised it has been so long…. And when I look at 2018, it was hardly a bumper year for my writing on the blog. That has made me sad – I get a real kick out of blogging and my fuchsiablue voice – it was hard fought for, personally, to publish and “speak” – to show myself and share in that way… why, then, would I stop?

I am writing, of course – mainly personal stuff, not formed for public consumption – raw, rough and reflective – to figure out a situation, a puzzle. To hear myself clearly.

But something is shifting.

Last year I very nearly got to that writer retreat I’ve been so-long promising myself and have been so-scared to do. Since 2012, Blogging has given me confidence – folk being really kind about what they read, about what I wrote – people recommending and complimenting…it’s been good for my soul.. so the possibility of “taking seriously” that I could write started to hold some weight. What if… what if…..?

In the end, Work kicked in and I “postponed” the retreat, telling myself it was always there, I could always do it “another time” – classic avoidance, I realise now. I could have chosen writing over Work.. I didn’t. 

And slowly I’ve come to see how afraid I am of going to the retreat (now re-booked for August) – because what if… what if I’m not a writer? What if everyone is better than me? What if I fail? What if I hate it? The simple act of application means I’ve asked myself to start applying. 

And I’ve loved my relationship with my words and the writing process….what if I arse that up? What if I lose confidence? It’s so comfortable and cosy where I am….

But there has been a wee whisper…A little voice going: What More?

What I’m realising is I’m “naturally” (whatever that means) able to articulate stuff – for myself, for others… but that doesn’t mean I’m a writer – I have no craft, little practice beyond the drills I’m so familiar with. I haven’t tried to stretch myself, particularly. I have this voice, which I worked hard to find and share..and I stopped challenging myself shortly after locating it. I didn’t push myself or try much different. I found a thing. It was more-than-enough that I blogged. That in itself was beyond anything my 20-something self could ever have imagined.

I stuck with that…. which means I might be stuck with that.

It’s a slow process, with me. I lack discipline a lot around my writing, if I’m honest. I put my energy into work and life.. and writing is there, quietly waiting when I need to understand a thing or hear a thing – like the most patient and wise friend – but it’s not something I’m terribly… serious about.. I’ve taken for granted that I can pick up a pen or open a new Word Doc and just fill up the page with stuff – that I can access my head and my heart without vast amounts of anguish  – that for years I’ve been doing just that and actually, I’m fairly well practiced at it now.

And that’s becoming unsatisfying.

Today I’m going to my darling friend Anne-Marie Garner’s book launch. She has been writing Knot, Albert stories for her children (my gorgeous Godson & his beautiful little sister) since they were tiny. She has put in monumental effort to craft those stories, get them published, get merchandise and websites – I have watched her with awe and pride…and a little pang of envy. 

She, who says she isn’t a writer, absolutely is and has. 

I, who would claim affiliation with writing, absolutely haven’t. 

Yeh… I’ve got to face into my own nonsense on this one.

So… I’m off to a writer retreat in August. No excuses. Nothing short of natural disaster will prevent it. I’m utterly, white-knuckle terrified.. and that’s OK.

In the run in to August, I’ve reconnected with Natalie Goldberg’s work. Her wild-mind writing techniques are familiar in my work on the Facilitation Shindig and with coaching clients. This time round working with her thinking, I’m paying more attention to her craft, trying to write in different voices, from different angles, practicing stretching my tone, pace, broadening my vision.

And so it is with this I’m asking for a little help. If I leave myself to my own training regime, I’ll do a variation of what I believe I can do and the true stretch might not happen. So I’m going to try a thing.

I’m committing to some discipline and practice – 21 days of writing. 

No fewer than 600 words, no more than 1500.

I’ll publish whatever I write, no matter what I think of it – but I’m committing to write the best I can on the topic – no half measures, I might not like what I publish, but I have to have put my heart into it.

And so to you , dear reader, I’m asking for topics areas or scenarios – what would you have me write on?

I’m looking for 21 subject matters – I’ll start on Friday 10thMay, finish on Friday 31stMay. I’ll try to write daily – if I’m on a roll, I might write a couple & feed them in of different days – this is about me practicing different “drills” and trying out different subject matters or voices.

I’m going to use the #21daysofWriting hashtag – which is already partially established on Twitter.

You can tweet suggestions or DM me on Linkedin/ email me julie@fuchsiablue.com

It could be a glorious disaster or great fun, hair-pullingly frustrating or cathartic – it might well be all of the above, but let’s see…

Clairvoyance*

*this is the written version of the story I told at #HRsOpenMicNight in Manchester on Wednesday 12th December. We were raising money for Retrak – please donate here

I went to a Clairvoyant on Monday night.

I blame my mate Liz who, after 3 glasses of fizz, was determined that Amelia-the-Psychic was a better investment than the Crimes of Grindewald….
Palmistry, tarot… the future would be ours.
Bag of bollocks.
But we go.

We stand outside the beautiful gypsy caravan… in the dark, cold Edinburgh night, in the midst of the Christmas Markets, in a queue full of expection.
The young girl in front of us aches with a question: Should I move to California?
I can’t help myself… I’m a coach and a pragmatist…. I ask her: What do you think?
She says she doesn’t know
I change tack – what’s your sense? You gut?
Yes, she says. It feels right.
So Trust that, I say, Be your own psychic – you know this stuff, you can tune into your own energy and sense.
All this [waving my hand at the caravan] is…. it’s an external manifestation of your internal conflict.

She looked at me oddly at that point…..and things moved on.

So I go up the stairs to see Amelia – she’s northern. Quietly spoken. Mid- late 60’s. Beautiful eyes. Warm. Welcoming.
and I relax, but I’m still running cyncism.
It’s so rare that I’m on the end of the questions – I’m often the one asking or telling the story back. So it is strange for me. I feel unshielded…..but she is gentle… I’m grateful for that.
As she turns the Tarot cards, she asserts and she asks, she puzzles her way through what is on the table – how does this-fit-with-this-and-then-this? And I find myself looking at her going: your job and mine hon… not so fecking different….

I don’t believe she is psychic, exactly – but this woman is empathic, warm , wise – she can see stuff, the energy I run, what I’m willing to reveal, where I hesitate – where I meet her eyes… where I look away.. the tone of my laugh… the set of my jaw… she is exquisitely tuned into me (and presumably my £20)

And I laugh – because I’m the first to scoff at bloody psychics and charlatans…. But here, with her….I recognise some of my own practice – some of the stuff I access to access others…the minute data… the receipt of a feeling…. The sense of a thing… the puzzling out of the story….
And how this way of working can be dismissed.
When we say where is the evidence? Where is the data?
If the answer is: you can feel it or hear it, you can sense it…..that’s not often well received.
A board meeting where the Feeling Report is the primary focus? not so much……

It makes me think about my work…
What work DO I do?
I work up close and personal with clients.
I give views. I support. I challenge. I annoy.
I have high standards about stuff I think matters – relationships, ethics, creativity, freedom, treating folk right, not being a dick – and stupidly low standards about stuff that seems to matter to other folk – status, power, financial gain, bottom line, certainty.
I’m about the culture and the heart of the business – our social, relational and emotional state. Sometimes I feel like the only one in the room talking about that shit.
Sometimes I really am.
Outlier, outsider, difficult, different…..
And I love.
I love what I bring and who I work with.
I love complexity and puzzles and strangeness.
I love stopping stupid things & starting less stupid ones.
I love saying “I don’t know… but we can figure it out”

This work… I see it as social, relational, emotional – and it’s still less valued than I’d like in organisations. This stuff – emotional labour – is so frequently seen as an add on – less powerful.

And I’m going to do the feminine thing. This work is inherently seen as feminine… not female, because I know blokes who work in this sphere with grace and skill. This is NOT about the gender we claim… it’s about the gender we give to What Matters.

If all that matters is strong, rational, assertion, advocacy, agency – we end up in a world where everyone is strong and rational and asserting – no one connects.
If all that matters is connection, emotion, communing, asking – we end up in a world that is too soft and indecisive… we need both.

We say we need both – but we really need both.
Emotional labour is not pink and bloody fluffy.
It take guts and tenacity to be with someone’s emotions.
High expressed emotion can be almost excruciating to be with, for some….it’s not faint-hearted in any way.

Which brings me back to Amelia.
Amelia sitting in a gypsy caravan in Edinburgh, connecting with people… listening to them…
Emotional Labour requires calm and wisdom and maybe even beautiful eyes….

Being kind and saying: Go to California to my wee friend……

Perhaps…. Perhaps I’m a little bit Clairvoyant….

Facilitation Shindig – Design Reflections

The second part of the London Facilitation Shindig season ran on Thursday 17th May. Each Shindig is themed, to give us an opportunity to run a “deep dive” into an area – to hold focus for a day around a particular part of our practice. (see more here for background) This time round, we looked at design.

The Design theme is the one I think I worry about most – firstly, because the topic is vast – Facilitation Design… where do you begin? With content? With aesthetics? With Presence? Should we focus on establishing clear outcomes? Structure vs emergence?

Secondly, the topic has the potential to be “heady” – we have learned or been taught an approach, which we carry on and carry out – start/middle/end, models, experiences etc – there are rules and methodologies…we know stuff, we are experienced.. we have tried and failed and refined……. what I always wanted for Shindig Participants is that we get under some of that “already known” stuff and reach to continue the stretch.

How you facilitate is pretty much a reflection of who you are – you are unavoidable in your own design process – that’s the stuff I want the gang to get to – recognition of who are you and what is important for you, where that is working and where that’s holding you back… and then what else?

And so it is I kick them off, days before, with some pre-work thinking:

  1. What’s important to you when you design (events or sessions)?
  2. What’s your “signature” design (The things you always use. How I would recognise it’s your design… mine, for instance, pretty much involves flipcharts & not much tech)
  3. What do you never use? ( this causes some discussion – how do I know what I don’t know. If I never use a thing, am I aware of that?)
  4. What’s your design process?

The Shindig is participant-focussed. I bring the theme & some ideas about how to populate it or work with it… but within that, the “learner track” is theirs. What they take away or choose to work with beyond the session is deeply personal…. I always assume they will work with something… I sometimes get nervous about that assumption… am I doing enough? Should I structure it more? But they are smart and willing folk – I know they have signed up to sign up – I have to take my own medicine and trust the process.

I find that a difficult line to navigate, at times – how much do I intervene or sit back and just let folk take what they take? The Shindig feels personal to me, but I want it to be others’ too. If I’m not “giving” people lessons or learning, if I trust they will work with where they are at and move forward at their own pace and path, am I doing my job properly? Delivering the intention set? I don’t have the answers… I have to ask the people who take part.

What it throws up is the quandary where I want to be able to say: Come to the Shindig and leave with X Y Z … I’m sure that would give people comfort… it would sure as hell make it easier to talk about…. But it’s not designed that way – it’s made to be an open process, a place to explore and find out from others. It means stuff I never knew or intended to bring in comes to the surface as significant –for instance, an emerging mantra from London of “connection over content” which was layered in through the deeply wonderful Gary Austin on the first Shindig. There is something quite delicious about the richness that comes.

Yet when we get to 11:15am and themes in the room range from:

  • What Design Principles do we have?
  • How to build safety,
  • The role of space (physical and time) on design
  • creation of emotional experience
  • Inclusion
  • Anxiety
  • Role of the Facilitator

I find myself fearful I have encouraged scatter-gun learning, which is more likely to confuse than inform. It’s meant to be about working with a few things deeply. Am I holding myself to that principle? Then I intervene, capture the themes, pause for a few moments, move into activities which might help deepen or clarify…I am so often as in their hands as they are in mine.

I hold to the belief that there is enough in the room to feed the learning and stretch of participants, that it’s OK to expect a lot from them, that they are up for it and very able… and so far that seems true.

It’s not for everyone. Structure Junkies and those who like a Learning Outcome might be eating their hands in frustration right now. I get that. Equally, It might not be the most efficient process either – exploration and experimentation over didactic explanation – the intention is for it to be a place for practitioners to work on their own stuff, in their own way, at their own pace, supported by others….I kind of stick to that.

Whichever way, through our non-linear explorations, we bump into all kinds of good stuff and things to think about and work with… Resource on the Slack channel this time has included things which both indirectly and directly affect our design:

Frank J Barrett – on Jazz Improv
https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/08/10/leadership-lessons-from-the-geniuses-of-jazz/#b1becb8c8b79

Selective attention test https://youtu.be/vJG698U2Mvo

Emptiness and form – To Structure or not to Structure – Blog by Steve Chapman https://t.co/JSoCsOJlaf

Nesta’s Playbook on innovation and learning: http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/nesta_playbook_for_innovation_learning.pdf

So I’m interested…when you think about your own design style for facilitation, how would you describe it?

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The facilitationShindig season continues in London on July 12th at Amnetsy International Offices, Old Street. To find out more, follow @Shindiggery1 on twitter or go to www.facilitationShindig.com Tickets are available here:

Or contact hello@facilitationShindig.com if you want to chat to us.

We are working with Manchester University to bring some dates for a 2018 Manchester Season soon… Contact us to reserve your space.

Slight Return….

Hello.
I’m back.

That’s how it feels.

13 years ago, fuchsiablue was cobbled into being at a kitchen table in an Edinburgh flat. After several attempts to name my new enterprise – most iterations of which sounded appallingly Apprentice-like (I literally cannot remember some of my first attempts, I have purged them from memory) – the breakthrough came by flipping through a massive thesaurus, with a massive glass of red wine… finally I found the words-to-fit-the-thing.
Fuchsia blue it was – reflective of a short career where I was consistently been told all things HR/ L&D were pink & fluffy & I robustly insisted that I was not, I was blue & practical…

There have been a few iterations of the business – the first 3-4 years it wasn’t really a business at all. I worked interim contracts – resourcing & managing TUPE transfers into the newly-forming Transport Scotland, later working in Communities Scotland on resource projects…. And a gnawing realisation that I didn’t have a business… I had a series of contracts.

Cue next iteration – years 4 -8 ish – I trained as a coach, got MBTI qualified, began working as an Associate more – learned what sort of folk I like to work with. Tried out as an Organisational Consultant for a firm I desperately wanted to work with – got feedback about “faking good” that cut me to the core, but was so bang on the money that I had to go lick my wounds and learn..I did fairly standard Associate work for fairly standard companies and I rarely rocked the boat. I turned up, did a good job, got paid, went home.

And I was pretty bored. I began to pay attention to a whisper in me about the work I could be doing if I was prepared to be brave, to be true to myself, to be more creative and authentic and stop behaving like a good girl in case I didn’t get a good wage….Hello years 8 – 13.

The last 5 years have been about writing, about creating, about social media, about carving a coaching and consultancy space that sits slightly outwith the received wisdom of what it “ought to be” – I’m not Avant Garde, exactly, but I stretch stuff where I can. In 2012, I went to Ashridge Business school and took on a MSc which blew up my practice and from there I’ve reconstructed the bits in different ways. The last 5 years have been defined by running a business against a backdrop of divorce, debt, dealing with dementia, death, depression, deficit stuff – these years have also been defined by abundance – deepened old friendships & family ties, new friendships, new horizons, new work, new relationships, new location…

I’ve been told I’m lucky – I believe that much of that “luck” has been hard worked for and won. I acknowledge I have privilege – my background, education & ethnicity means I can walk more freely in the world than many do – my intention is to use that privilege in the best way I can, to include others, to encourage others, to be a bigger, better person.

Never have I felt more privileged and lucky than today – as I write this, I am in a new office space. For the past 6 months I’ve had no fixed place for fuchsia blue. In that time we have started the single biggest piece of work ever undertaken by FB – a piece of culture & OD work with the newly forming Greater Manchester Combined Authority – and I’ve really noticed the impact of not having a single place to work from.

In some ways, necessity has been the mother of invention – I’ve sought out co-working spaces, hot desk arrangements and operated when and how I can…but FBHQ, it turns out, is not merely of the mind. It comes with stuff – post it notes & sharpies, paint and glue, books and flipchart paper…the work is often as physical and visual as it is conversational and dialogic. The work, my work as I do it, needs reflection, consideration, peace and a lot of staying connected to folk.
Without a room of my own, I’ve struggled to write, to be connected, to be productive. Without the physical space for roots, I’ve been unable to grow and I’ve felt tighter, more constricted, less able to be expansive and relaxed.

That changed yesterday – after 12 hours of hard work, 2 coats of paint, hands aching from allen-keys, tunes on, working methodically, with good coffee & music and a stream of helpers and co-working colleagues in my new space – I finally have a new home for FBHQ.

So here’s to the re-birth of blogging and working more consistently. Here’s to reconnecting and being productive and pushing for different work that makes a difference…. Here’s to beginning of 2018, finally….