Celebrating 2023

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A person looking out on the horizon with arms stretched with a title CelebrateI have found that celebration is an important part of maintaining my capacity to do leadership development and diversity/inclusion work. The work I do often challenges the status quo, which means I must be prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically for resistance. Because I ask people to push beyond comfort, I also experience a higher likelihood of cancelation. And I did experience that twice this year. Both took a toll. One made me question whether conservation is worth my limited energy.

Celebrating this year’s accomplishments is a way to remind myself of work well done. It also evokes gratitude for others who are willing to open difficult conversations about workplace culture and well-being in the fields of conservation and the environment.

The slide show provides more detail. Let me summarize some thoughts below.

Nature cures

This struggle is why my #1 celebration/accomplishment is about taking time in nature to be present to beauty and re-energize me in this work. I spent as much time as possible at my seasonal RV site in central Minnesota, walking the one thousand acres of woods I have access to while at camp. I also chose to go hiking for several one-to-one meetings this year instead of sitting at a coffee shop or other indoor meeting space. I also invited one of my partners to stay at camp so we could get to know each other more intimately while enjoying time in a camp setting.

If you are not taking time to get outside, as mindful as possible of what is around you, I invite you to do so as often. I have always found peace with nature but this year, I realized how much I need it as a regular part of most days. I cannot do the work of conservation well if I have disconnected from nature’s powerful embrace.

Understand trauma

I could probably combine celebrations 3 (speaking to the Student Working Group of The Wildlife Society), 7 (A trauma-informed workshop for an Indigenous community), 8 (various writing throughout the year, 9 (A trauma-informed article for The Wildlife Professional), and 10 (work on diversity and inclusion) into a bucket of trauma. We are all swimming in it, even if authority figures do not want to talk about it. The celebration is that some people ARE creating spaces to talk about our workplace culture and wellbeing issues, including trauma.

If there is one gift I received from doing this work, it is that I need to incorporate more humor. Sometimes we need to laugh – even at ourselves. I heard this from several Indigenous and First Nations peoples loud and clear. During an event for Truth and Reconciliation Week in Canada, I was amazed by some of the First Nations people who could laugh while telling their stories of trauma.

I am a terrible joke-teller, so I found some lame jokes online to include in my workshops. It worked – I could see people’s nervous systems settle – even if the joke was not that great. And our nervous systems could all use some rest.

I am proud to be working with groups of people taking on these difficult conversations around trauma. I am shifting them toward healing and thriving.

Always learning

I am putting accomplishments 2, 4, 5, and 6 into this learning bucket. You will never find me without at least one book in hand and I love learning from other experts. This year, I completed my Inner MBA, a program offered through Sounds True, LinkedIn and Wisdom 2.0. It is a nine-month program helping people find more meaning and purpose in our professional lives. It’s meant to build capacity as well as get to the heart of what calls us professionally. I was a part of cohort three of the program.

I was also inspired to complete an Advanced Ecotherapy certificate as I continue to teach classes on Nature in Counseling. My partner Bre and I had another great group of students in the class who shared their perspectives and knowledge with us so we could all become more nature-connected. The field of ecopsychology continues to grow and that is exciting to me. I even wrote a blog about why both conservationists and counselors cannot ignore ecogrief.

I am always learning from my coaching clients and participants in workshops. My work is not just about sharing my expertise. I consider these two-way learning opportunities. To me, learning is a community effort since we all have blind spots. My coaching clients inspire me to think differently. My workshop attendees often insert their expertise and ask powerful questions that expand my understanding of the topics I bring to the table.

Finally, I learned a lot while writing a book with my daughter. She continues to inspire me with her insight and perspectives. We learned more about each other through the process of writing together. The manuscript is now in our editor’s hands, and we hope to launch it in mid-2024.

Feeling grateful

A big shout out to my partner who supports me in my work. I cannot be more grateful to have someone who helps me see new ways of doing things and picks me up when I am feeling defeated.

I have an amazing team of partners and contractors helping me keep my business running. My partners Bre Cahoy, Jyo Maan, and Christine Park make this work easier. Editors Nicole Devereaux and Jona Ohm helped improve my writing (although neither was consulted here, so errors are likely). Virtual assistant, Hannah Klingman provides professional-looking posts for social media and keeps my brand looking fresh.

Thanks to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Management Assistance Team for continuing to include my work in their offerings. It was fun being a part of their promotional video this year.

I am grateful that my daughter allowed me to be a part of her book journey. She could have written her story alone – there is plenty to tell. Sharing our stories together has been an incredible gift to me and we hope, to the world.

Looking forward to 2024

In 2024, I am offering a keynote entitled “More than Burnout.” In my work over the past five years, I have learned more about what is affecting the well-being of people in workplaces, especially in conservation. Burnout and imposter syndrome are commonly mentioned. What is happening goes beyond conventional thinking about individual responsibility for well-being. I already have two bookings. Please contact me for more information.

I will also be starting a research project on wellbeing in conservation and the environment fields as a part of a Master’s in Transformational Business Leadership. I hope to expand the knowledge I have already learned from workshop participants over the years and provide data to those who can affect positive change in these critical environmental fields.

Of course, I will continue offering a solid list of workshops that help people connect to themselves, others, and Earth. Contact me for details and pricing.

If you have not done an end-of-year celebration for yourself, I encourage you to do so. Take a deep look back at all your accomplishments great and small. They all help you grow the capacity to reach farther. And we need everyone’s gifts to make this world a better place for all.

Cheers to a great new year!

Tags: #2023 #Celebrate
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