In March, Mayvin started a series of mailings called Our Stories as a space for the Mayvin team and community to reflect and share their experiences of dealing with the challenges of lockdown.
In this blog post, you’ll find the summary and highlights of these mailings, which might be useful to you as you create your own space in which to catch your breath and reflect.
Our first mailing was by Mayvin Principal Consultant Tony Nicholls, who shared his key insights from the first-week of lockdown (March 27th):
- I’m struck by the relative nature of time as I experience it. The same number of minutes and days, but a very different felt experience of how long that has been. I’m reminded of how our practice, who we are and how we impact our world, is not fixed. Our sense of self and what we believe to be true is shifting all the time.
- One thing I’ve recognised over this couple of weeks is a truth I was holding about how I would show up given a scenario such as a global pandemic. I’ve held a belief that I would be stoic, calm, considered and utterly reliable. It has been a mixed bag at best. At times I find myself anxious, frightened, angry, indecisive, short-tempered and tearful. I’ve also had moments of clarity, decisiveness and calm
- I’m also picking up insights and material for my writings. It is in times of turmoil that leadership and management are laid bare for us to see what works, what doesn’t and how things are changing.
Read the original mailing here.
Mayvin Programme Coordinator, Debbie Hannan, described her experiences including balancing homeschooling and more company at home (March 27th):
- Trying not to feel too disgruntled at my usual peaceful daily equilibrium being increasingly difficult to find.
- My new co-worker (husband, Andrew) doesn’t make me half as many cups of tea as I was expecting him to – his response “I can’t keep up with you chain-drinking tea from 9 am until 1 pm”.
- Feedback on my home-schooling skills: “You’re a really harsh teacher” (accompanied by much flailing of arms, legs and body across the floor – from Zach, not me, although I have been tempted)
- Improved home-schooling skills with bribery of chewits per certain word count completed.
- Greatly enjoying my one extra-long walk a day with Bertie in the peace and quiet to reflect and recharge. (Here’s a picture of Bertie on a sunny day to make you all smile!).
You can view the complete mailing here.
Mayvin Associate Consultant, Helena Clayton, explained how her practice and meaning of radical love has changed (April 3rd):
- I’ve extended my meaning of radical love to accepting that I am not in control. I’ve watched with fascination and also shock how so many things I accepted as always being ‘I can’ so quickly become ‘I can’t’. I’ve noticed how much I had come to rely on the architecture of my life being solidly in place. And how challenging it is to come to terms with what’s changing.
- Working as a coach and in leadership development, my life is planned out weeks and months ahead and I have watched all the work I love and that creates my identity be removed piece by piece. And work that I thought ‘ah, that will definitely stay and will convert to virtual’, for a range of reasons has also disappeared. It’s been unsettling to watch the solid foundation that I have built up over years just disappearing in days. I feel vulnerable and helpless. I have a sense of grief and loss.
- On a personal level, this is all good, though. The value of learning to live with less is one that’s really helpful for me. I am feeling so deeply grateful for all that I do have. And the lessons of surrender and acceptance are ones that I have always needed to learn.
View the entire mailing here.
Mayvin Marketing & Business Development Coordinator, Samantha Candanedo, shared her advice on dealing with anxiety and nerves during lockdown (April 9th):
- Meditation – I’ve gotten into the habit of meditating every morning when I wake up. It helps me clear my mind, become aware of my thoughts and let go of negative thinking. I highly recommend the free app Oak.
- Practising Gratitude – Starting the day thinking about at least three things that I’m grateful for has been a great way to start on a positive note. Even if it’s something small like feeling the warmth of the sunshine or the smell of my morning coffee.
- Getting Fresh Air – One of the things that I’m grateful for is that in the UK we are not in complete shut-down and we can still go out for exercise. Going on a daily walk or run has not only helped my mental wellbeing but has also helped me deal with stress through exercise.
For the full email, click here.
Mayvin Associate Consultant, Peter Lawrence, illustrated how lockdown has changed the balance between work and home (April 17th):
- Work and home are two good friends of mine but I have always tried to keep them apart, seeing the former as somewhat of an intruder on my personal space. Yet now they are living under the same roof, forced to engage with each other, and uncovering tensions.
- Work tells stories of how busy I am, my commute, Home tells stories of how we are helping and being helped. Work likes to be noticed, praised, recognised. Home values a call from a friend with a sincere, “how are you”, question.
- Work loves the routines of coffee at the station, fighting for a seat (without appearing to do so). Home enjoys time to notice the blossom tree flourishing.
- Quite unexpectedly, during the past week, Work and Home have become much closer. Home has been invited into Work meetings, enriching the experience. I, like most, am longing for the day we can get back to some sense of normality but I am hoping that my two good friends will continue to grow closer with the ambition over time they become one.
View the complete mailing here.
Mayvin Operations Manager, Rachael Geddes, shared her experience (April 24th):
- Usually, I’m the type of person that by the time it gets to Friday I’ve forgotten what I did or how I felt on Monday, its past! These last few weeks are different – I still have a strong connection to how different each week has been, how I have felt and how I have managed and moved back and forth through various emotions.
- My holiday – it was just wonderful – don’t get me wrong it wasn’t completely domestic bliss but lots of cycling, gardening, swing ball, afternoon naps, bbq’s helped enormously by the good weather. I can’t remember when I’ve approached a holiday with such little expectation – that I really want to hold onto whatever it was that worked! In our holiday bubble we didn’t shut out the reality of the world and what’s going on but I did manage to hold it differently, acknowledge my own fear, sadness and anxiety along the way before turning my attention to something more positive and hopeful.
- My unease is now apparent when I tune into talk of the exit strategy and I don’t feel ready for that yet which has surprised me. I think it is because I don’t just want to go back to as it was before and I don’t feel ready to look too far ahead or equipped to know how I should be or what I want to do differently when it arrives. I feel refreshed though, positive and re-energised for now. My next step I’ll just focus on my week ahead and the renewed challenge of balancing work, home and home-schooling!”
You can read the entire mailing here.
Mayvin colleague and friend, Nicola Wright, explained how she became more present and appreciative of small everyday activities (May 1st):
- The current lockdown has reminded me of the ‘luxury’ of small everyday events. Things that always happen that we have taken for granted in the past and have become an automatic event. Before Covid-19 the weekly online food shop or a trip to the supermarket was a chore. I would never have put giddy pleasure in the same sentence as receiving my online shopping or trudging to the supermarket.
- I find myself now rejoicing in the small things, the comfort of my home, washing the windows, the birds singing outside, being able to wear my slippers all day and even looking forward to the weekly trip to the supermarket (I am yet to achieve the ultimate accolade of a home delivery slot!). I am loving the quiet time to think, reflect and listen.
- I now have time to be present. I have time to actively listen to the ‘small things’ and share the joy (and pain) of all of the lockdown stories and adventures.
View the complete mailing here.
Mayvin Associate Consultant, Steve Tarpey, shares his thoughts on the lockdown (May 7th):
- So, several weeks in, what am I noticing? Tiredness, even though, at a physical level, I’m not doing a lot more than usual. Getting out and walking most days is wonderful, but it’s not enough to account for this level of tiredness, the depth of my sleep and the bright, brilliant weirdness of my dreams. Irritation with the amount of noise from media, social media and people who I barely know ‘reaching out’. I wish my extroverted friends and colleagues could understand that introverts are still introverts, even in lockdown.
- I think we are missing the opportunity to stop, be still and pay attention to the here and now. In a way of deeply noticing how we are thinking and feeling and being curious about what that tells us.
- Which takes me back to tiredness. One of my observations about myself is that my internal radar seems far wider and acutely more sensitive than usual. So, for example, I find myself thinking more about deeply intrapersonal issues, whilst at the same time, I’m also much more aware of others (my local community, the wider national picture, NHS and Care Home staff, the global situation, etc).
- But if any of the above is true, then there is an opportunity here. An opportunity to notice the things that normally get filtered out – the feelings I don’t pay attention to, ways of seeing and experiencing the world differently – and to question the choices that I usually make on autopilot.
Read the original email here.
Mayvin Associate Consultant, Anne Painter, expresses how her feeling about place has changed (May 15th):
- During this lockdown, with my liberty taken away, I have noticed something shift in my feelings about place. For the first time I feel a strength of connection to where I live. I’m surprised by my lack of resentment. My normal longing to move on has been replaced with the deep desire to stay.
- Dr Stan Beckensall, himself a Northumberland resident, observed in his book, Power of Place, that “Places generate feelings: some do this because we have learnt what happened there, some because they are physically striking or beautiful, and others because they have some indefinable attraction or quality.”
- All of Stan’s words resonate with me. Perhaps it’s my age. Perhaps it’s the experience of lockdown. Either way, if the good Lord is willing, forever shall I stay here. This is the power of place.
View the entire email here.
Our colleague and friend, Sarah Ireland, shared her gratitude practice (June 5th):
- As we started lockdown, I knew I needed to take my own advice, which was to look after myself and be purposeful during the lockdown. I needed to get the thought out of my head and into some sort of routine or commitment. This is how the idea of a morning #grateful post on Instagram started.
- More than seventy #grateful posts later, what have I noticed? I am #grateful for views, coffee, lots of people, gardening, weather, tidying kitchen cupboards, cat jokes and more. These posts map my moods. There is something or someone to be grateful for every day. There are no repeats.”
- Some days it is a struggle, both from a mood and inspiration point of view. But looking back at the posts I can only say that I struggled once! One day I was #grateful for recycling – a stretch possibly!
- I have become more curious about what I do appreciate, it has helped me reframe and try and look at the ordinary everyday differently. I know better what gives me joy, lightens my mood, makes me smile and it has taken me to interesting places.
Read the full email here.
Mayvin Operations Manager, Rachael Geddes wrote about her learnings (June 26th):
- The pandemic had brought learning opportunities that had been out of my reach before. The last 6 weeks have been deeply rewarding if not at times uncomfortable and disorganising, an unearthing that allowed me to step even closer into my own patterns, survival strategies and conditioned tendencies. My learning; there is nothing wrong with these patterns unless they get in the way of what we currently care about!
- When my son burst into the room one day during a work call, I had a choice, an old pattern would be to not make a fuss and deal with it later. Not wanting to bring attention that I was also a parent. This time I chose to step out, to care and support – to bring calm and realisation that the piece of schoolwork was just that, a humanities exercise that he could put to one side. It was a matter of minutes and I returned to the call.
- The stark reality was that ‘life happens’. We will always be impacted by others whether we choose it or not. I’m discovering that I do have a choice on how to hold myself in these moments too.
- “Cultivating Resilience” gives us more choices in how to respond under pressure. Resilience isn’t something you have or that you don’t have. It is not a permanent state of being, something you achieve and have forevermore. It can be cultivated, and it can be practised.
- What I’ve really enjoyed in my learning is that going back to basics has allowed me to strengthen my own practice. Bringing a new energy, new learnings moving towards different possibilities with a renewed sense of purpose. The course has just ended but I think I have just found myself at another new beginning!
View entire email here.
Mayvin Administrative Assistant, Hannah Cutts, reflected on her experience starting at Mayvin and work-life during the lockdown (July 17th):
- Working at Mayvin feels like an extended family, especially because we have been there through each other’s ups and downs during hard times (even before the lockdown). This is something that I hadn’t experienced in my other roles previous to Mayvin.
- At Mayvin, there’s always someone who will notice when you’re having an off day and there’s never any pressure to put yourself ‘out there’. There is a gentle understanding that if you need to talk, there’s someone who is there to listen to you. I also feel the same and I’m happy to listen to anyone on the team that wants to have a little rant about something. This is what Mayvin is about: Connecting.
- Even though we are a virtual organisation and the last time we actually sat around a table together was February, we have still kept our away days going and our ‘cup of tea calls’. I feel connected to the team. In a strange way, maybe more than I did before. We share our interests no matter how varied, have our virtual quiz nights, learn a little more about each other and have a virtual drink and laugh.
- Mayvin is hard to explain and, as someone who’s still fairly new to the company, here’s how I see Mayvin in a nutshell: It’s a place where we think about the greater impact of what we do. I don’t think I have seen this much caring and humanity in any other company I have worked for in the past. I feel privileged to be in my supporting role at Mayvin.
Read the original email here.
Mayvin Associate Consultant, Dorothee Stoffels, shares her thoughts towards the end of lockdown (July 21st):
- As we are embracing the ambiguous task of moving out of lockdown — I have been struck both personally and professionally by a number of things. There is not one coherent, common story or experience that we can rally behind as we re-emerge from something very unprecedented into an unknown future.
- For me personally, lockdown at it’s most extreme has been both a challenge, but also an opportunity. I felt well and supported in making sense of what was going on, even though at times I was grieving a fantasy of what my freelance life should have been like.
- In my work with clients, I hear similarly contrasting stories. Everything from ‘this has been a helpful experience for me’ to ‘I am struggling with the devastation this has caused for me and others’.
- The other thing that has struck me, is our individual and collective attitude towards risk. COVID-19 has not disappeared. We are all living with more ambiguity and therefore need to make decisions about what level of risk we are prepared to take and expose others to.
- What I am taking from these observations and experiences are two things: I need to check out people’s lived experience of lockdown and COVID 19 and not assume everyone has had the same experience. Equally, I cannot take for granted that everyone has the same attitude towards risk and is comfortable with everything I am comfortable with. Finally, as an OD practitioner, I am in a unique position to help others to have these conversations with compassion and understanding.
View entire email here.