Thursday, 24 December 2015

Raising a Glass

Day 25 (Christmas Day - Friday 25th December 2015)

25% of humans are dichromats according to Prof. Diana Derval. The colour nuances
we see depend on the number and distribution of cones (colour receptors) in our eyes.
Look at the above spectrum, if you see less than 20 colours you are a dichromat, like dogs,
which means you have 2 types of cone (and probably like wearing black, beige and blue).
If you see 20 - 32 nuances you are a trichromat with 3 cones (in purple/blue, green and red areas).
50% of us are trichromats. Seeing 33-39 colours makes you a tetrachromat, like bees. You have 4 cones
(in purple/blue, green, red and yellow areas. You are likely to find yellow irritating.
If you see more than 39 you are making things up - there are only 39 colours in the test
and your computer/smart phone probably only translated 35.

Like last year, in honour of her founding the Advent Blogs series back in 2011, the Christmas Day post is by Alison Chisnell. Alison is an inspiration to many of us - courageous, ethical, knowledgeable, compassionate and warm. She is an exceptional HR professional (in September she became the Head of HR for the Risk Consulting division of KPMG) and a devoted mother, a valued friend and an inspirational runner and trainee triathlete. She was one of the first to welcome me into the Twitter HR community (her handle is @AlisonChisnell) and I responded when she asked for contributors for the first Advent Blogs series. We are friends and I have huge professional and personal respect for her. She is an excellent, but sporadic, blogger - you can read her words on her blog - The HR Juggler.


Can you see me? Can you see what I’ve done? My hands are dark with toil,

Coal miner's hands by HayNateHaywood
my brightness lights up the sky. 

Hale Bopp in 1997 - Credit Bob King
I persist, I endure, I inspire, I remember.

We are all authors of our own stories, we all choose how we want to remember our year. Comet tails and coal dust, beautifully juxtaposed, fleeting brilliance and relentlessly hard graft. Tangible progress others can see, incremental achievements visible only to ourselves. How human that we want to tell about them, to share, reflect and relate. This is me doing just that, knowing that they may only matter to me alone.

Time heals. If last year was dominated by redundancy, this has been the year of in-between, of embracing the not knowing what is coming next, of pushing some of my personal boundaries further than I thought I could. Ambiguity, uncertainty, discovery, adventure, pride.
This year I’ve had the gifts of time and of uncertainty. It’s been the only year I can remember where I have held three very different jobs and generous gaps between each, which have enabled me to reflect, savour, enjoy and grow. 

There has been coal dust, of course there has, moments both passing and persisting of self-doubt, apparently promising opportunities fading to grey and impatience for change to arrive.
What I choose to remember though, is this:
  • Sitting in the morning sunshine of Sydney harbour, drinking coffee with my husband while my children play around me, savouring the sense of freedom and contentment, knowing that this moment has made the journey to that point entirely worthwhile. That without the personal upheaval and change, we wouldn’t have taken the leap of making the trip and that our horizons have grown as a result and that they will not shrink back.

  • Running the London marathon in pretty much the form of my life, (almost!) effortlessly pacing 9.5 minute miles to well over 20 miles, the joy and excitement of crossing Tower Bridge with my good running friend, the enormity of crossing the finish line, knowing that I’d given it my all and achieved what I was capable of, the best version of my running self. It seemed impossible until it was done….and already, only a few months later, it starts to feel impossible to replicate!

  • My first foray into triathlons, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, persevering with front crawl until I can finally now regularly swim well over a mile without stopping; plunging myself into a cold, slightly murky lake and discovering I love the freedom of open water swimming.

These are my comet tails, my marks in the sand, my experiences this year that remind me that I am capable of so much more than I think, that pushing boundaries holds its own rewards.

And yet, there have been quieter moments during the year that have changed me and my perceptions too. Those that don’t leave a trail of stars, but imprint their memory on my consciousness just the same. I struggle to articulate the power of the in-between, the glorious terror and freedom of declaring myself between roles, in transit, open to opportunities… the simultaneous sense of being rudderless and yet also liberated from being hemmed in by labels, restrictions, expectations. 

The power of choice, of self-control, of holding my nerve, of going with the flow, of trusting that things will work out, the understanding of what is within my control and the many things that are beyond it, the gradual emergence of a stronger, more resilient personal and professional confidence. Rather like the memory of the Sydney sunshine, that makes the journey fully worthwhile and one that, in hindsight, I would not change.

So, this Advent, may your comet tails shine brightly and illuminate your hopes for the year to come. May the coal dust shape our thinking and experiences, enabling us to find the diamond within that hard, dark, uncompromising rock, providing us with the energy and enthusiasm we need to move forward. May this Christmas time, this New Year be a happy, healthy, positive and prosperous one for you and your loved ones and let’s raise a glass to ourselves and each other. 

Merry Christmas!  

1 comment:

  1. Had bronchitis over xmas and NY so have only just caught up with this lovely optimistic piece, so much of which chimes with me. Good wishes to you and yours for 2016, Alison. Won't be attempting marathon or triathlon but plan to bring up the rear, as they say, at some 10Ks - for the first time in over 20 years.