Time To Celebrate International Women’s Day!

As this International Women’s Day comes around, I’ve been casting my mind back to women who have been my teachers over the years, right back to Mrs MacLean in Primary school who gave the shy, sickly little girl I was in those days space to shine.

In my early 20s I met Miss Rose Li, an elderly Chinese woman and Martial Arts master who I trained with for a over a decade. I’d get up at 5am to practice TaiChi and HsingI before catching the train to London – then I’d get home in the evening and practice again – oh for the energy of youth!

Miss Li is the girl on the right in the front row, flanked by her WuShu family. Miss Li taught me Mandarin too, on the commute I’d listen to language tapes, I’ve forgotten pretty much all of my Chinese but I still have the Beijing accent I picked up from her. Sadly I drifted away after I’d been through some big life changes and we lost touch. A generous and humble teacher, she was instrumental in bringing Internal Martial Arts to the West, at the time I didn’t realise how famous and revered she was! I wish I’d kept up the TaiChi, but I didn’t. I’ve recently taken it up again, and I have to admit it’s hard to be faced with all the skill I abandoned. I never let go of my love of Daoism which still influences my worldview today.

Judith Firman and Diana Whitmore were my Psychosynthesis trainers back in the 1980s . I’m no longer in touch with Judith, but forty years on I still work with Diana. We’ve been on quite a journey together and feel blessed to count her a friend as well as a wise and trusted colleague. Her dedication and her work with young people is an inspiration..

I first met the amazing Joanna Macy in 1987. She introduced me to Gaia Theory, Deep Ecology, Buddhism and a systemic approach; all of which continue to flow through the my work today.  I trained with her, and was part of a facilitation team working alongside her at the Findhorn Foundation back in the early 1990s. After a few years my work went in a different direction, but our paths would cross from time to time, at workshops, conferences and other events; meeting her was always a joy. She’s in her 90s now, and as inspiring as ever!

Then there’s Margo Russell. I joined Margo when she founded Psykosynthes Akademin in Sweden in 1989. She was an outstanding, inspiring trainer and a beautiful human being. Margo took me under her wing, mentoring, encouraging and challenging me. I wouldn’t be doing the work I do today without her. We worked alongside each other until her death in 2001. She was only 62. I still miss her humour, fiery intelligence, friendship and irrepressible, irreplaceable spirit. The Swedish Akademin was my core work for 25 years, an enriching part of my life that happened because of Margo.

Last but not least, Sue Farebrother, my oldest friend. Over the years we navigated births, and deaths, marriage and divorce, we saw the best of each other, and probably worst of each other too. She wasn’t a ‘teacher’ as such, but we never stopped learning together. Almost fifty years worth of friendship – such a gift. Sue died in 2022.

Having started this account I realise just how many women friends colleagues have inspired and supported me over the years. Too many to mention, but I will mention two; Sybille Schiffmann chair of Wise Goose who has just gained her PhD (she deserves a medal for putting up with my bad jokes about every meeting with her being a doctor’s appointment now.) The other is Josie Sutcliffe who, every International Women’s day hosts Occupy the Airwaves – a marathon 16 hours of live broadcasting from 8am until midnight on Phonic FM, Exeter’s community radio station. Josie definitely deserves a cheer for the amazing job she does.

The list could go on and on. Basically I wouldn’t be where I am, or who I am today without the generosity of a whole host of women and the gifts and love they have given to me. So, for this years International Women’s Day I want to celebrate the contributions of all the women I know and have known – you inspire me in so many ways as you work to forge a better world, and you have definitely made my world a better place.

Who are your women teachers past and present? I encourage you to join me in taking a few moments to celebrate them today.

Will you make that change in 2018?

Advanced Diploma in Coaching


If you are feeling stuck in the wrong career read on – thanks to Wise Goose graduate and career coach Lucy Weldon for sharing her thoughts in this post…

A new year often kick-starts conversations about the future.  You might be thinking about changes that need to be made around your career or your current job.  Time away over a festive period can bring a different perspective.  What matters is action and not letting the months slip by.   Here are some typical predicaments that you may have talked about over Christmas and the New Year period.

Do you continue to grit your teeth in a job you don’t like?   Feeling stuck?  There are a number of factors that influence how you feel about your job.  Here’s a rule of thumb (from Ann Guo, Passion Analytics, USA) for how long you should ‘suck up’ a job.  In your 20’s, it’s four years; in your 30’s, it’s two years; in your 40’s, it’s 1 year; in your 50’s, it’s 6 months. How long have you been in a job that you don’t like?

If you don’t like your job, be clear on the reasons.  And if you’re not sure what they are, go and talk them through with someone, as well as start to explore what you could do.  There’s lots of aspects that could improve your lot before you change job.  But if it is a change that you are looking for, there is plenty of advice available.  Start with friends and family; then go and talk to peers/colleagues or someone who’s recently changed job.  Be positive.  It helps achieve the right outcome.

You’re coming to the end of this particular career path, what else can you do? It’s a great question and so relevant today.   It can also be about a change that is being forced on you.  Are you a specialist?  Have you been in the same company or in the same kind of role for a long time?  You might be a bit rusty when it comes to CV writing and interviewing, let alone looking for a new role.  A bit of courage can also come in handy as well as a proper professional process to look at what you do next and how to manage the transition successfully.  Multiple careers with on-going personal development are the hallmarks of the world of work now and going forwards (The 100-year life. Gratton & Scott).

What are you going to do when you retire?  You still love working.  Well, you don’t have to retire and maybe you can’t afford to retire yet.  Statistics about pensions and the lack of funding in pensions are well known.   It’s important to have an idea of what life looks like after the official retirement takes place and financial plans are made.  Working, keeping one’s hand in, contributing, keeping the finances going are characteristics of our society now.  It can be a great time to consider new opportunities.  PWC predicts that self-employment is a growing trend, over the next 10 years. The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 1 in 5 people aged over 50 is self-employed, a higher proportion than for any other age group.  You might become an olderpreneur.

What’s the advice?

So, for all these predicaments (and others), there is no set piece of advice.  Career advice is bespoke and should be holistic and thorough.

I’m a

‘look before you leap’ kind of career coach when it comes to any major change.  It needs thinking through.  It can be a combination of ‘head’ and ‘heart’ that helps you make a decision. But there is a professional process available.  A coaching conversation will give you clarity, confidence and a much firmer grip on what needs to happen.

There are steps that can be taken to reduce uncertainty about the future. But what I am certain about is that ‘managing uncertainty’ is a skill that helps inordinately in life. It’s the knowing when to push, when to wait and allow luck, the Universe, or whatever to intervene, provided the groundwork is done.

The groundwork takes time and effort.  It’s all about building a sustainable career that addresses your needs today and it’s always good practice to keep one eye on the future.  Don’t wait for a crisis.  Keep up to date by talking to people, know what’s happening in terms of market trends and keep your network thriving.

Lastly, I want to talk about money.  Life is often fundamentally shaped by this.  Terry Waite, once envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was kidnapped in Hezbollah in January 1987 and held captive for nearly 5 years.  In an interview in the Sunday Times recently, he said that his most important lesson about money was that whilst you must make sensible plans for the future, live each day as it comes and live it as fully as you can.  In other words, don’t let financial concerns dominate at the expense of your day to day life.  That’s beautifully balanced advice in my book.

Are you looking to develop a more sustainable career then you have at the moment?  You can contact Lucy lucy@lucyweldoncoaching.com or via www.lucyweldoncoaching.com.