Today I am delighted to introduce Helen Green, a talented blogger who is making her first appearance in the Advent Blog series this year. Helen has a powerful background in sales and marketing, working with some of the world's leading brands, where she showed a flair for insight. She has a degree in psychology, a masters in organisational change and is an accredited executive and business coach. She is based in London and runs her own company, Orient8, which she founded in 2011. She is active on social media (you can follow her on Twitter, her handle is @orient8you). As you can guess from the title, Helen's year could be described as "coal dust" - hard found, dirty and difficult, but there is a twist. She has been brave enough to share with us some very personal moments and I am sure we can all learn from her words.
It’s been a challenging year.
I was out for dinner recently with good friends and recounted the story of my year to them. One of my friends seemed a bit exasperated with me. She reminded me that I have so much that is good in my life and to be thankful for, despite the challenges.
Of course she was absolutely right.
Dr Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and meditation teacher says in his book “Buddha’s Brain - The practical neuroscience of happiness, wisdom and love” –
“we evolved to pay great attention to unpleasant experiences. This negativity bias overlooks good news, highlights bad news, and creates anxiety and pessimism.”
So the chances are your brain is just like mine and you’ve had a challenging year too.
Or have you?
Just in case, I have an insight I would like to share with you.
In July this year, as I said goodbye to my Mum just before she went into surgery, not knowing if it was for the last time, I kissed her forehead, stroked her hair and wondered what on earth I might say. Although my body was screaming at me with pain and fear, stroking her hair had a calming effect and the words started to flow.
Twice recently I have shared this story.
The first time was with a young woman who was really struggling. She has moved half way round the world to be with her love and was trying to work out how she could pursue both of her passions – her relationship with him and the beautiful work which she feels called to do.
We were on a workshop together and I recounted my story as she listened. Tears filled my eyes as I spoke – it is still so raw and powerful - and when I took a little pause I looked at her to discover tears in her eyes too. We let the moment just be, words not necessary as we connected at some deeper level.
Soon it was time for her to tell her story whilst I listened. She told me she had been moved by my story and was starting to notice that what had felt like a tortuous either/or situation, was no longer that way. Love is everything and her love for her boyfriend and for her work mean that however hard it may be to reconcile the two, she knows she can and will do it.The second time I recounted my story was with a friend who is going through a tricky time in his relationship. After listening to him talk for some time, I told him of my experience.
I said “in the end all there is, is love. Everything else is just stuff. You love each other - don’t let the love go.”
I was crying again though more softly and in less pain than at my Mum’s bedside.
His response? A silence, followed by a rather breathless “wow, that’s a powerful insight. I just want to hug you.” This was not possible as we were talking on the phone at that moment, but I felt his love - that of a true friend - for me. I know too that he is in some small way changed by that conversation, that connection.
Mother Theresa said;
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
And as my favourite philosopher (!) Audrey Hepburn once said;
At this holiday time of year when we get to spend more time with our loved ones, let’s hold onto each other, love (and be loved) until it hurts.
After all, in the end, all there is, is LOVE.
I was mistaken – it’s been a wonderful year.
"All You Need is Love"played live at Buckingham Palace
by Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart, 2002