#DiverseEd

Yesterday, Bennie Kara and I, the co-founders of #DiverseEd hosted our latest virtual event. Bennie is a Deputy Headteacher in the Midlands, and soon to be published author. I am a former Headteacher – we founded a values-based school with Diversity as a core value.

If you missed the event you can view the broadcast via Twitter here or Youtube here.

Panel 1: Diverse Children

Amanda Jane Carter-Philpott – a campaigner for inclusivity – shared her work with refugee children – encouraging us to consider the labels we use and the approaches we need to take to be both inclusive and trauma-informed.

Anton Chisholm – a Maths teacher – reflected on his experience as a black student and now black male teacher, sharing some of the stark workforce statistics. He shared a letter sent by a group of students asking their high-performing school to become actively anti-racist.

David Hermitt – a MAT CEO – shared his trust-wide approach to responding to the impact of COVID-19 on the children with protected characteristics his schools serve. He also suggested how trusts can deploy their diverse staff to enable more children to see visible role models.

Lisa Stephenson – the Founder of the Storymakers Company, one of our partners – encouraged us to consider how we can diversify storytelling to amplify pupil voices. Sharing the pupils’ feedback on their experience of co-creating their own stories emphasised the powerful impact the process had had on them.

Nic Ponsford – the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of our latest partner, GEC, challenged us to think about representation and how our biases are formed. The GEC app and #SmashingStereotypes campaign are some of the practical steps schools can take.

The threads, for me, from part 1 were the need for visibility of diversity, how we can increase and amplify diverse role models and who has voice in our school system.

Part 2: Diverse Curriculum

Amardeep Panesar – a Headteacher – shared her leadership of cultural competency in her school to develop her pupils’ ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures by being aware of one’s own world view.

Christopher Richards – an international teacher in Spain – addressed the lack of diversity in textbooks and encouraged us to identify the gaps of who is invisible. He urged us to consider the voices being silenced through their absence.

Laila El-Metoui – Equality Advocate and Trainer – shared her vision for a compassionate, bias-aware and trauma-informed curriculum. She reminded us that visibility and representation are needed every day, all year long. Moreover, that ESOL funding + provision of digital devices are important to ensure all children are supported to access the curriculum.

Sufian Sadiq – a Teaching School Director – emphasised that inclusivity needs to be part of the ethos and culture of the school, not just another box to tick, and it needs to be done in a way that adds value. He urged us to reflect on the micro and macro pictures of diversity and inclusion in the local context and to use the dominant characteristic in your setting as a catalyst for exploring other ones.

Penny Rabiger – our partner speaker for Lyfta – spoke poetically about the power of human storytelling. She invited us to get curious about each other and ask us to share our stories with each other. She is also introduced us to a new word: ‘Firgun (פירגון)’ an informal modern Hebrew term & concept in Israeli culture: genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other person.

The threads, for me, from part 2 were for us to consider our perspective, to explore human storytelling and to create opportunities for all stakeholder groups to be catalysts for change.

Part 3: Diverse Staff

Abena Akuffo-Kelly – a Head of Computing/ ICT and Councillor – unpacked her intersectional identity. As she peeled back each layer, she shared the challenges and conflicts of each circle she sits in.

Javay Jeff Welter – a MFL teacher – addressed the lack of diverse males in teaching and asked us to challenge the lack of visible role models. Reflecting on the lack of representation at every layer of the education system he challenged us to consider how we can meaningfully diversify the school workforce.

Lily Bande – a PSHE lead teacher and Councillor – encouraged us all to challenge inequality and discrimination as we see and hear it, by being upstanders and not bystanders, by being consistent in our commitment to making a difference.

Yamina Bibi – an Assistant Headteacher – shared the analogy of diversity not being a handbag that we pick and choose. She spoke passionately about inclusive allyship and how we each need to consider our power and our privilege to address inequities in our workplaces to give voice to those who are marginalised.

Tasha Fletcher – an international teacher – was our partner speaker for Teaglo. Joining us from Uzbekistan, she shared a A-Ha moment during lockdown. Tash was a central voice in the #DailyWritingChallenge and joined me at an #IamRemarkable workshop where we unpack our relationship with self-promotion. Her call to action was there is no better time than now for us to stand up and be counted.

The threads, for me, from part 3 provoked reflections on authenticity, allyship and the call to be upstanders.

Part 4: Diverse Schools

Andrew Moffat – a trust Personal Development Lead and the founder of the ‘No Outsiders’ campaign – reminded us that diversity is not a single issue (one protected characteristic) work but the need for true equality in context – the desired outcome of everyone being equal, everyone being welcome in our schools.

Ebanie Xavier-Cope – a Year 6 teacher and KS2 lead – shared her sobering story of dealing with racism as a teacher. Her distressing experience highlights the need for systemic change – she emphasised that schools need to address these incidents, not the individual who is the victim. The racism she has experienced has galvanised her passion for change and she is leading on projects to re-educate her school community.

Jared Cawley – an international teacher in The Netherlands – talked about the importance of feeling safe in your school, how diverse people can be celebrated not just tolerated. Being given opportunities to thrive, include creating cultures where diverse people can bring their whole selves to work.

Sajid Gulzar – a MAT CEO and OBE recipient – shared his thoughts on talent management and how we need to create open cultures and transparent conversations to have the difficult conversations. From recruitment, to retention to talent-spotting he shared some of the thinking and conversations his team have been having about how to commit to a system wide strategy.

Professor Vini Lander – our partner speaker from the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality, encouraged us to create a safe space for all of our children as racism is a safeguarding issue. Race and racism has to matter to all educational leaders because our CYP are demanding that their teachers are conversant in and cognisant of all matters related to race. Her call to arms was for “courageous leadership” to move beyond the status quo and to commit to being ”Racially literate”.

The threads, for me, from part 4 centred around safety and the need to create safe spaces where everyone in our schools can be themselves, where our commitment to inclusion is for our staff as well as our children, and the call for us to be courageous leaders in our commitment to this work.

A massive thank you to everyone who contributed to the event, your contributions were phenomenal. Thank you also to our partners for supporting the event, to my co-host Bennie and wingman (behind the scenes) Richard and to the audience for joining us – your engagement, reflections and questions brought the virtual event to life.

At the end of the event we invited everyone to revisit their #MyDiverseEdPledge from June and to make a new one – please do make a commitment for something you can actively make happen in our collective responsibility to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in schools.

If you have not yet visited our #DiverseEd website the quick link is here.

You can sign up for our monthly #DiverseEd newsletter here.

You can submit a blog for us to publish here.

We will let you know the details for how you can contribute to the Diverse Educators book and will update on the Diversity in Governance series once they are live.

Finally, Bennie and I are hosting Diversity Masterclasses during half-term on October 29th for Teachers, Leaders and Governors if you would like to join us.

The Academy of Women’s Leadership: The Launch 03/10/20

5 years ago today we launched #WomenEd. The energy and excitement in the room as 200 women in education came together at Microsoft HQ in Victoria, London, was palpable and it gives me goose bumps even thinking about it.

5 years on and today Diana Osagie, CEO of Courageous Leadership, launched the Academy of Women’s Leadership, via zoom. The butterflies were the same – anticipation for the impact this initiative will have, the power this community will generate.

How things have changed in the last 5 years in how we connect and collaborate?

How things have changed for me in the last 5 years, both personally and professionally?

I entered the zoom room, buzzing with excitement, to meet the 50 women in leadership, from a range of different sectors, from around the world, who we will work with this year. I am one of the 13 women in leadership veterans working with Diana to bring the AWL programme to life. I felt privileged to be there as a curriculum designer, session facilitator and coach for the inaugural AWL cohort.

Diana dived straight in!

Anyone who has met Diana will know that once you have met her, you cannot un-meet her. Anyone who has met Diana will know she puts the rocket up your backside. There is no hiding. She challenges you in every way to make the changes you need to make. She lives her brand of courageous leadership to her very core.

Diana Osagie

Her opening wisdom was advice to all as we step into this journey about an affirmation to our current selves:

“Whilst I am making upgrades, I will not criticise the current version of myself…”

Diana had asked me in the late summer who I thought would be an inspiring and empowering keynote for the launch – I realised I knew the perfect person! During the summer when I was in Devon catching up with my sister she had introduced me to Michelle Robinson. Her words to us both individually had been “you must meet, you have so much in common, you will get on like a house on fire”. When we did meet our world’s collided as we realised we shared the same vision, values and passions about people, leadership, authenticity and representation. We even had some mutual contacts in common and we later realised she had come to a school where I was AHT to present awards for sports day!

So Michelle agreed to share her journey as an Olympian, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter with the cohort. AWL is about us showing up as our whole selves, of us stepping in our truth, about us sharing what makes us vulnerable, about us owning our authenticity and she did not disappoint.

Michelle Griffiths-Robinson OLY

Michelle shared her story of going to therapy to process her journey and to become as strong internally as she was externally:

You need to commit to investing in you… I am still a work in progress… I am more confident now at 48 than ever… because I know who I am!”

Some of the pearls of wisdom she shared:

“Say No Early!”

Don’t compromise who you are, what you need and what you want for others.

“Rise and Leave!”

Don’t hang around to be disrespected. Rise above the negativity.

“Find who is in your corner.”

Know who has your back and who is championing you.

“YOU know where to find me. Go and find YOU! Own YOUR journey. Own YOUR truth!”

Self-awareness and authenticity of the way forward for everyone to have a happier, more confident and more fulfilled live, and a healthier relationship with ourselves.

The 60 minutes flew by as we listened, we reflected and we discussed our journeys as women in leadership. Diana chaired the Q&A superbly, and held the safe space we had created, for some of the community to share some deeply personally stories about their personal and professional journeys.

There are so many takeaways from this first hour of the year long programme, but my reflections are on the collective vision and responsibility of this group of women in leadership.

We all know our ‘why’ for being a leader. We all know ‘what’ our goal is. But often we are not confident in the ‘How’. The Academy of Women’s Leadership fills that space, the workshops, the reading, the coaching are all tools and resources to empower everyone to be, to become, to own the leader inside of them in an authentic and courageous way.

Cohort 1 of AWL

Are you ready to join us for a journey of self-discovery and growth?

To find out more:

Check out the website, the videos and take the Influence and Confidence test.

Follow the #AcademyWomensLeadership posts on social media to see the feedback from the 1st cohort.

Join a Discovery Call with Diana to find out more about the programme and how to join cohort 2 launching in January 2021.

#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Disruption

noun. disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process; an act or instance of the order of things being disturbed.

2020: the year the world stopped. The year everything we knew changed. The year our lives were disrupted. The year the ‘order of things’ was disturbed. The year that everything that was certain became uncertain overnight.

Synonyms for disruption include: disturbance… disorder… interference… upset… interruption… unsettling… confusion…disintegration… discord… breaking up… separation… alienation… hostility…

Antonyms for disruption: union… amalgamation… reconciliation…appease… organise… order… compose… sooth…calm…

As someone who loves change, is disruption always a bad thing? Is disruption a negative or a welcome occurrence? Is a disruption always a ‘problem’ or can it be a catalyst? The word seems to be very loaded.

I have decided to embrace and own my disruptive nature. I am a positive disruptor as my friend Jaz would call it. I challenge the status quo through my disruptive thinking, my disruptive questioning, my disruptive conversations. I am a disruptive leader. I don’t cause chaos, although I have been compared to a whirlwind at times…

For me disruption is about challenging what we know to affect change, positive change. It is about innovating and challenging systems and processes to transform things as we know them. Disruption brings a cycle of change, it encourages things to evolve and iterate.

Thus a positive disruption is when the equilibrium, when what we know or think we know, is disrupted intentionally and deliberately.

A good example of positive disruption is the grassroots movement around diversity, equity and inclusion – educators over the last 5 years have taken things into their own hands. The rise of #WomenEd, #BAMEed, #LGBTed, #DisabilityEd and #DiverseEd is an act of disruption. The systems and structures have been challenged to affect change.

So what are we intentionally and deliberately disrupting through our work with the #DiverseEd community?

  • We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diversity in governance and trust boards.
  • We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diversity in ITTE.
  • We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diverse representation in the sector.
  • We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diversity in thought leadership.

As a leader I am quite comfortable being disruptive. I am bold as I am values-led and have the conviction of my actions. I am confident in breaking the rules and in remaking the rules. I don’t really have a comfort zone, and I don’t really stay in the safe zone of equilibrium and I don’t maintain the status quo.

For me a disruptive leader is someone who is outward-facing, someone who has a growth mindset, someone who focuses on the positives of change. A disruptive leader has a vision and is strategic in working towards that bigger picture. A disruptive leader influences and inspires others to go bigger and to go further. A disruptive leader breaks through barriers and shows a different journey.

So if you want to cultivate a disruptive mindset here are some tips:

  1. Be curious – constantly ask why questions and open doors to possibilities.
  2. Be courageous – get visible, stand up and be counted.
  3. Be agile – create new opportunities and bring others with you.
  4. Be influential – exchange knowledge and understanding with others.
  5. Be reflective – reflect on how diverse your circles are and how you can cross-fertilise your connections and skills.
  6. Be innovative – get creative and see the solutions not the problems.

#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Journeys – an anonymous blog

The Journey You Took Me On

I wasn’t ready for you and I wasn’t expecting you. The moment I saw you I veered very steeply off the road and landed on a different path. A path that took me to the most magical and scariest places I have only ever read about in books. The moment it happened my true journey began and I’ve never regretted a single day of it.

Freedom

The conversation that changed everything. Are we free to make the decision we want to make? We discovered this in more ways that we could have ever imagined. The decisions we took, the places we went and the times we had. Were we ever free to enjoy them? To embrace them and to truly discover ourselves in these moments? We would argue, as we did that day, that we were free to enjoy and we were free to choose but the extent of this freedom we can both agree on is that there just wasn’t enough.

Make it worth my while

We were bound by constraints our whole time together. Time constraints filled us with both ecstatic joy and immense sadness as we had to make each minute count, and fill each second with conversation, laughter and silence. You made it worth my while each and every single time and I know I did the same, despite the arguments that you were in fact wasting time.

As we journeyed together we knew how to make it count, we treasured the moments as if it was our last and even when it was our last we didn’t dwell on it. Every second was treasured and so my heart was filled with more love than with each passing day. I could never regret a single thing as you made it count, you made me count and you made me who I am.

Unknown

We never knew where we were going and even if we were going together side by side. The years we spent together were side by side but in different modes of transport heading the same way and following the signs together. We were never together in the way we needed to be and stealing the moments were the hardest to contend with.

There are many things I do know though. I know where you are and I know who you are. I know you, probably better than I know myself. I know myself through you and it’s thanks to you I know where I need to go. The problem though is I don’t know how to get there without you but I’ll keep going anyway as I want to make you proud of me as you always were.

Shine

You made me shine and I made you shine. We elevated one another as we went down our paths of discovery as friends, lovers and soul mates. I always said you were my person and when I looked to you I saw where I needed to be but sadly, who I needed to be with. I say sadly because this realisation meant that it could not be with you as we went our separate ways. I watched you drive off in your own direction and this time I could not follow you.

You continue to shine through me and I through you. The bond we made will never be broken and our fire will never go out. This we know, among the many things we do not know.

I miss you!

#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Journeys – Part 2

I have always associated the journeys I go on with suitcases, rucksacks, packing up the car, getting on a flight and travelling to a new place. The journeys I have been on are physical experiences: backpacking in Peru, whitewater rafting in Brazil, jungle trekking in Ghana, walking the coastline in Thailand.

But more recently my journeys have become more internal. The journeys I have experienced in the last few years have been emotional journeys, personal journeys, journeys into my inner world, rather than journeys to experience the external world.

For me journeys have become a series of choices. As one door shuts, another door opens. As I take one step forward, I often take a step back and sometimes a step sideways.

My choices are decisive but I am agile, quick to pivot and adjust. No choices are finite, another choice can always be made to change directions mid-journey.

It is looking like my passport will be stamp free for 2020, which is most likely the first year where I have not physically travelled, but the emotional journey I have been on in the last few months has in fact been as impactful as any other journey I have experienced.

My journey has been one of thinking, reading, writing, talking and listening. A journey of being coached and of coaching others.

If anyone is feeling lost, I recommend having some coaching, I also recommend writing, be it blogging or journaling to process your thoughts and feelings. The act of putting pen to paper has become a sense making process for me.

Some of the choices I have made and the journey it has taken me on include:

June 2016 – I chose to accept a Headship and start a new school from scratch.

February 2017 – I chose to relocate to another part of the country.

April 2017 – I chose to become an Executive Headteacher of a second start-up school.

October 2017 – I chose to step-down from the #WomenEd steering group.

January 2018 – I chose to be the Co-Founder of #DiverseEd and create a new space.

January 2019 – I chose to buy a house down the road from the schools I led.

March 2019 – I chose to resign from Headship and walk away when my values were compromised.

June 2019 – I chose to go to South America for 2 months and find the silver lining.

September 2019 – I chose to take a demotion and a pay cut to work in a university.

October 2019 – I chose to share my story of Gardening Leave with other school leaders.

January 2020 – I chose to resign from the university role and seek a new opportunity.

March 2020 – I chose to go independent and work freelance, during a global pandemic!

April 2020 – I chose to train to be a coach and join a community of practice.

June 2020 – I chose to flip #DiverseEd into a virtual event and increase our reach.

July 2020 – I chose to pilot the #FastForwardDiversityInclusion webcast with Isa.

15 pivotal choices that have taken me on a fascinating journey and brought me to where I am today. For someone who usually has a life plan, a map, goals for where I am going to be and what I am going to be doing for the next 3-5 years I have gone with my gut and followed my heart for each decision.

The irony is that I am the happiest and the most at peace I have ever been. Throwing caution to the wind, tearing up the map, and journeying inwards rather than outwards has served me. The pause for Covid-19, the slower pace, the time and space I have had to reflect and explore have given me the opportunity to really think about Who I Am and What I Do.

My core values of Passion and Purpose have been woven together and my day job has become being paid to do what I love.

#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Journeys – an anonymous blog

The Oxford English dictionary defines journey as:

‘an act of travelling from one place to another, especially when they are far apart’.

Over the past 12 months I have been on a journey on an emotional rollercoaster. This time last year I was employed at an executive level in a job I enjoyed and was good at. I had a fantastic salary and what I thought was great job security. For reasons that I cannot discuss, mostly as they are too painful, I took a severance package.

To say the last 12 months has been hard on my mental health is an understatement. I felt like my whole identity had been taken from me. If I wasn’t the boss, if I couldn’t support my family, if I didn’t have a job what was my use?

Then Covid-19 happened, the world changed and now I was in the same boat as many thousands of people. No job, no way of earning money and no end in sight. Well-meaning family and friends tried to ease my pain by telling me ‘it is ok as there are lots of people feeling the same.’ But is it ok for me, just because there are people feeling the same or worse? How does their plight make me feel better? Yes, I agree there are many people who struggle more than me, they worry about how they will feed their children, pay the bills etc. I wasn’t in that situation, far from it, but it still hurt. Psychologists who have studied this ‘Other people have it far worse’ advice say that this only makes the situation worse. I was ashamed about my situation and now had added guilt to my feelings. People had it worse, what right did I have to feel the way I did?

I busied myself home schooling my two boys, I enjoyed it and it gave me purpose but it wasn’t the same. I am searching for a new job and have had a few interviews. My feedback has included ‘you answered the questions correctly but with no confidence’ ‘you came across as too vulnerable’ ‘you gave little eye contact and didn’t command the room’. I can agree with most of their comments but how do you get a job when you have little confidence in your abilities due to a major life setback?

I can see light at the end of the tunnel and am still applying for jobs. I have support from people around me and I’m going to keep knocking on the door until an opportunity opens for me. If a journey is an act of traveling from one place to another then I have been on one hell of a journey. Each day is another peak or trough on the rollercoaster but I don’t want to get off. 

#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Journeys – a blog by @Kat_F76

2020 has been a year of journeys – not the type I had envisaged and certainly not the type I would want to repeat!   However, each journey does bring a special something that is worth holding onto.

Those that know me well know I love a quotation to reflect on and gain strength from.  So, here goes… God loves.  God guides.  

‘The Lord will protect you…’  Psalm 127:8.  

I am sure I am not alone in questioning these beliefs, particularly during these unprecedented times.  As I worked my way through active treatment for breast cancer this year, I had a profound experience that highlighted just how much the light does shine in the dark.  

Receiving chemotherapy during Covid-19 was an incredibly lonesome experience.   It was almost like entering a morgue with staff covered from head to toe in PPE and patients reacting of fear, uncertainty and also a sense of gratitude to be still receiving treatment.    People were meticulously trying to abide by the government guidance on social distancing which was tricky when medication is being administered for prolonged periods of time.

There is one particular Wednesday I wanted to reflect on.  On this day I was welcomed and settled into the treatment area really nicely.  I was calm and focused on getting through the day.  Then, things took an unexpected turn for the worst.  I felt incredibly unwell.  I had never known anything like it.  I thought I was going to instantly combust and die.  This is no exaggeration!   The nurses swooped around me.   There were panicked sounds as the area was cleared and the curtains pulled round me.    I am so very grateful for what happened inside the unsociable distant cocoon.   Gloves were off.  Reassurance was given.  Tears were wiped.  I was brought back to a safe place.   I was terrified and just about managed to whisper ‘What is happening to me?’ Amanda sat down with me and stroked my arm for ages.  I could feel she didn’t have her gloves on.  She told me I would be okay.  

This emotional journey taught me so much about there being a light in darkness.   Whether you are a believer or not, I invite you to flip the bad / dark journeys on their head and focus on a special something such as acts of kindness that may have been demonstrated.  

There is always good – even in bleak situations!  

An original photo by Kat

#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Journeys – Part 1

noun. an act of travelling from one place to another.

verb. travel somewhere.

Journeys we have been on… Journeys we are on… Journeys we will go on…

Physical journeys, mental journeys, emotional journeys, virtual journeys and metaphoric journeys are a theme of our lives.

Journeys we have been on:

Places we have been, paths we have walked and adventures we have taken conjure up so many memories for me. Facebook reminds me regularly of my trips – today’s memory is of Croatia 3 years ago, a few days ago it was Thailand 6 years ago and the last few weeks it has been bringing back memories of my travels in South America last summer. Going on journeys has always been a carrot for me: I work hard to travel far and wide. My summers have always been about escapism and seeing the world, discovering places I have never been before.

Journeys we have been on also include the paths we have walked, the relationships we have had, and the things we have accomplished. My career journey was linear for a very long time, it was a ladder that I climbed methodically to get higher up each rung. Last year I flung myself off the top of the ladder and held my breath until I found out where I was going to land, how safely I would land and who would catch me to prevent too many breaks. I was bruised, but those bruises have healed.

Journey Quotes (1913 quotes)
Journey we have been on…

Journeys we are on:

For me, journeys are fuelled by wonder, awe and curiosity. For someone who is a planner and a bit of a control freak, I enjoy the sense of adventure of going on journeys where everything is not planned. I know where I am going, when I am arriving and when I am leaving, but I leave the details to unfold. This for me is part of the adventure.

The journey I am currently on is unexpected in many ways, but it feels like it is right at the same time. Since going independent on May 1st, there has been a feeling of momentum propelling me forward. The irony of lockdown is that physically this journey is all taking place in my house, in my head and my heart, through my laptop and my phone.

I have been on a journey through coaching this year too. I am soon to qualify as a Resilient Leaders Elements coach. Training to coach involves being coached too, and the group coaching model, buddy coaching model and 1:1 hinge conversations has helped me process everything that has happened and is changing in my life. I was self-aware anyway, but the model of seeing ourselves through the lens of ‘who I am’ and ‘what I do’ has heightened my sense of self awareness and made it more acute. The journey we walk with ourselves internally, is as interesting and insightful, as the journey we walk with others externally.

New Journey Quote | Quote Number 975613 | Picture Quotes
Journeys we are on…

Journeys we will go on:

Lost of journeys have been cancelled in the last few months as a result of the pandemic. A belated trip to Paris with a friend for my 40th, a trip to Krakov with another friend took a hit. My best friend who lives in Canada was due to come and visit too, I have missed our annual catch up. I hope to be able to rebook all of these journeys in the future.

This summer is the first summer I have not been away. I miss the ritual of packing, going to the airport and getting on a flight. There is something magical about airports and something cathartic about flying that restores me. In August I was due to be in Rwanda and Uganda for our next Action Aid project, and I am hoping that this journey will now take place in August 2021 instead. In the Spring I am due to travel to the UAE to do some work in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I am hoping those journeys will take place too.

I do wonder sometimes if we become more focused on the destination than on the journey we are on. One thing I have definitely learned and reflected on in the last few years as that there is not one path laid out for us – life is a series of crossroads and options, each option is a choice. But when we make these choices they are not finite and we can change our minds.

Learn to Trust the Journey | Journey quotes, Learning to trust, Wisdom  quotes
Journeys we will go on…

So today’s theme for our first #MonthlyWritingChallenge is an opportunity for us to reflect on the journeys we have been, the journeys we are on and the journeys we will go on. We look forward to reading your reflections. Perhaps that first step is leaning in to putting pen to paper, fingers to key pad and to journey into our heads and hearts to share our stories.

Best Journey Quotes - Because Life is about the Journey
Journeys we will go on…

NourishEd: Dreams and Desires

Dream

Noun. a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep; a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.

Verb. experience dreams during sleep; indulge in daydreams or fantasies about something greatly desired.

“A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, although they have been a topic of scientific, philosophical and religious interest throughout recorded history”.

Desire

Noun. a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

Verb. strongly wish for or want (something).

“Desire is the emotion of longing or hoping for a person, object, or outcome. The same sense is expressed by words such as “craving”. When a person desires something or someone, their sense of longing is excited by the enjoyment or the thought of the item or person, and they want to take actions to obtain their goal”.

I am a dreamer. I dream at night and I dream in the day. I dream in technicolour. My dreams are cinematic and lifelike. My dreams are vast and limitless.

But what do my dreams reveal about my desires? Are my dreams my sub-conscious and passive? Or are my desires my conscious and more active?

Dreams and desires need courage. Courage brings them to life.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them”.

Walt Disney

I am a dreamer, but I am also a doer. I get frustrated by people who share their dreams and their desires, but they do not do anything about making them a reality. We all know those people in our lives who can talk a good talk, they are good with their words, they are compelling in their vision but they do not walk the walk to make it happen. Their mission is incomplete, it is hanging in mid-air. 

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”.

Lao Tzu

Our dreams do not suddenly come true. Our desires do not suddenly manifest themselves. Our dreams and our desires need time, energy, attention and resource. They need to be brought to life. They need enacting.     

A good friend and soul sister of mine has become an accountability partner and we have coined a mantra that we both mirror back to each other. It is simply: “Getting shit done”. Pardon my French, but I think it will resonate.

To fulfil our dreams and our desires, we need action. Our dreams and our desires are alive, they are active, and they need our commitment. As we sow each seed, we then need to create and maintain the conditions for growth. Our seeds need nurturing, our garden needs cultivating, then we can harvest, not before. 

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake”.

Henry Thoreau

So, it is all well and good thinking about what we want to do, what we want to achieve, what we want to change, but we need to be deliberate, intentional and purposeful to realise our dreams and desires. We need to change the lens through which we view our dreams and desires; we need to reframe our commitment to making things happen. 

“Intense, burning desire is the motivational force that enables you to overcome any obstacle and achieve almost any goal”.

Brian Tracy

We need to project manage our dreams and desires like we do every other aspect of our lives. As women we organise, we manage and we serve – quite often everything except for ourselves! We need to apply those principles to this aspect of our life too.

That “series of thoughts, images, and sensations” need to be brought together. We need an action plan, we need to set goals, milestones and success criteria. We need to be active, reflective and evaluative as we create a sequence of intentional activity.   

Here are some practical tips to get started:

  1. Visioning: creating a vision board a good way to start is with. Building a collage of everything we dream about – at night and in the day. Putting our intentions out to the universe.
  2. Affirming: bringing those dreams to life through a daily affirmation, a commitment to ourselves. Articulating in writing what you want and verbalise them regularly.
  3. Journalling: exploring our dreams and our desires in writing helps us to make sense of what we are thinking about. Looking for patterns and meaning. Listening to the messages. 
  4. Articulating: talking opens and honestly with close friends and loved ones about what we dream and desire, enables others to help us fulfil our potential and realise the abstract.
  5. Reviewing: reflecting on our progress, celebrating out progress and reviewing what is and what is not working will keep us focused on our goals.

We should not let anyone place limits on our dreams and desires, including ourselves. Our dreams and desires are valid.  Our dreams and our desires need voice and agency.

“No matter where you are from. Your dreams are valid”.

Lupita Nyong’o

As a future-focused and solutions-focused person another reframe is the tense through which we think about and talk about our dreams and desires which can be a subtle shift in mindset. The language we use is important, so it needs to be intentional too.

I dream about… I desire… is a waiting game.

I wish… I want… is a power game.

Let’s stop musing and let’s start doing. For each statement extend it by adding “so I will…”

I dream about writing… so I will set up a blog.

I wish I could meet a partner… so I will join an online dating site.

I want to lose weight… so I will go on a health kick.

Even then the action is finite and needs expanding with a commitment:

I dream about writing… so I will set up a blog… and I will commit to writing weekly.

I wish I could meet a partner… so I will join an online dating site… and I will commit to regularly meeting new people and going on dates.

I want to lose weight… so I will go on a health kick… and I will commit to doing the Couch to 5k this month.

Whatever it is you are wishing for or wanting, by adding an “I will” statement and by making a commitment for what you are going to do about it is that step towards making it happen. 

“Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment”.

Vince Lombardi

Let’ stop waiting. Whether we are waiting for permission, waiting for an answer, waiting for an offer.

Let’s stop “wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen” and let’s take control and make it happen! Let’s not only own, but also let’s realise our dreams and desires.

Let’s get shit done.

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 7: Gratitude – an anonymous blog

Gratitude does not replace anger,

repress sadness

or quash guilt.

Instead they all sit side by side,

And the voices of all must be heard,

And the voices of all are significant.

The voices of all are significant.

To end the day with gratitude is to remember the whole of it,

not just the last, worst, or most extreme part.

It honours that cup of tea you had this morning,

And that phone conversation

And that sandwich,

And that woman who smiled at you in the street.

That woman who smiled at you in the street.

Gratitude is a shield against existential dread,

And protection from cosmic angst.

It holds back the tide of cynicism,

restrains the strength of anxiety,

And foils the plans of self-pity.

Gratitude is essential to the millennial first aid kit.

Essential to the millennial first aid kit.