Blog Archive

ByJoanne Lockwood

Giving Yourself a Gold Star

Pam helps organisations by providing them with stress management techniques and works with their teams to help them build their own coping toolkits.

At the end of ‘live’ Conferences, Pam gives each attendee a gold star, as a reminder that they are a star – someone truly amazing, with the ‘r’ standing for, yes really. These sessions are designed to help people realise what they bring to the world, to identify and stop denying it, to celebrate it.

 
Published Published: 25.02.2021 Recorded Recorded: 07.01.2021 Episode Length Duration: 1:06:20 Downloads Downloads: 205
 

Research shows positive thinking and recognising our own strengths plays a huge part in our ability to thrive. We tend to focus on the negatives and get fixated on these. Using visual props or relating content to people’s emotions helps them remember positive changes they wish to make and stick with them. Even now with online Conferences, Pam gets her clients join in the sessions, take part in breathing exercises as once they see the positive impact of this, they are more likely to carry it on.

Before Pam begins working with organisations, she works closely with the management teams to ensure they have policies and strategies in place to make sure each employee can bring their whole self to work. Without this structure being in place at an organisation, her stress reduction sessions will only be teaching people how to tolerate an unsafe situation.

Pam has a book that outlines the 33 red flags that you are heading for burnout and what to do about it. One of the warning signs is constantly saying, ‘I’m fine’, especially if your loved ones are questioning you on this, and you are responding negatively to their concern. People who finally succumb are not weak people, they are people that have been too strong for too long. If you are checking in with someone, the question needs to be ‘how are you really?’ and organisations need a culture of trust for people to be secure enough to answer this honestly, and strategies to deal with whatever the answer may be. Often stress is unconscious, we are not aware of it, and this has been made more so during the current pandemic, so it is about understanding the warning signs and making sure we focus on what we need to stay healthy. Currently we are all coping with the same ‘thing’, even though we are experiencing it differently – so people are finding it easier to talk and be honest about how they are feeling.

The background hum of stress is triggered when we are on medium alert all of the time. It keeps us switched on constantly and stops us switching off to let our body do its maintenance. Pam has a ‘care model’, the a in care being acknowledge. If we try to acknowledge the positives in the day, however small the wins may be and write these down we are able to fall asleep easier, sleep better and wake more refreshened. Without this acknowledgement we can get stuck on things we can’t control and become stressed, often no longer paying attention to the things we can control. Pam advises to not underestimate the small things and the big difference they can have to your stress levels, often shifting the mood and your state, she asks you to look at your life through the eyes of someone who would love to have what you have, not about recognising your privilege and feeling bad about it. It is about learning to appreciate what you have.

Workplaces need to be proactive, letting colleagues know that they are not expected to perform at 100% during lockdown, whilst trying to home school, support family etc. They need to be aware that home responsibilities may be disproportionate for some people. For many people not being present in the office sparks concerns they may be made redundant or placed on furlough. With this concern many employees try to over perform, to show themselves as invaluable. The problem with functioning under this constant state of adrenaline and stress, is that it is addictive, so when you do stop it feels unnatural and makes you feel guilty, that you should always be busy. Pam advises introducing a structure to your day, habits for the morning and evening before and after work to allow you to switch off. We should try to set realistic targets for the day and celebrate achieving them, rather than trying to achieve too much and feeling a sense of failure.


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SEE Change Happen

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Pam Burrows Pam Burrows
People Booster
ByJoanne Lockwood

Finding the Magic

Mark is a former accountant who now combines his passion for magic into his consultancy work to try and help everyone find the magic in their own career, life and find their loves/passion.

Whilst working as an accountant, Mark kept his love of magic a secret from his clients, worried that it would adversely affect his professional credibility. It was only after being made redundant that he decided to focus on his passion for speaking, writing, and mentoring and is now happy to reveal his passion for magic, believing that you need to reveal parts of yourself and be your authentic self.

 
Published Published: 18.02.2021 Recorded Recorded: 17.12.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:03:23 Downloads Downloads: 56
 

During Mark’s career as an accountant, he did not openly discuss being a magician with his clients, for fear of their reactions and the perception that as a magician you are good at deceiving people. Looking back, he feels keeping it a secret was a mistake as he now believes it may have helped cement more client relationships. He now uses magic as an analogy in his talks, showing the audience different ways to stand out in a professional setting. The skills he uses within his speaking were gained from the magic shows he has taken part in.

It was only 25 years ago that women were able to join the magic circle in their own rights and Mark is passionate about making people aware of the breadth and depth of experience now available within the industry. We are no longer limited by the historical approach that was always adopted in the past of magicians typically being white middle-aged men. Mark is perhaps more aware of discrimination and stereotypes than others as a Jewish man, and says although he hasn’t suffered overt racism, he knows many that have. He explains his religion, an accident of birth has no bearing on who he is, what he does etc. A minority characteristic should not impact the way someone engages with you.

Stereotyping also exists within professions the most persistent of these within accountancy being the view that those doing the role are boring. This view is also around the job itself, that bookkeeping/numbers are not interesting so to want to do that as a job must make you boring by default. Mark would encourage people to ‘find the magic’ with their accountants and let them really use their expertise to assist you. Many people are not aware of the full extent of support they can offer, notably around broad business knowledge and context. Our biases and prejudices play a role within who we chose to use as an accountant, with people tending to choose someone they relate to, to work with. There has been an increase in the number of people using professional headshots on their CV, as a way to help them find clients, but also whittle out anyone that may not want to work with you based on any inbuilt prejudices.

Both Joanne and Mark agree that the only way to change our perceptions and inbuilt prejudices is by meeting and talking to lots of different people. As a society we tend to think of anyone that is not ‘typical’ as being someone we need to help or try and fix, with the belief that what we know is right. However, if we step out of our comfort zone and talk to people not obvious within our network, we can make new connections, develop, and grow.


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Mark Lee Mark Lee
FindATaxAdviser.online
ByJoanne Lockwood

Who am I, and Who are You?

Roland, an HIV positive survivor, talks about the impact of hidden disabilities and how he had to overcome the stigma of his AIDS diagnosis at work.

How many hats do you wear and if we change hats for labels, which labels do we apply to ourselves or do others apply to us and how interchangeable are they? When does one label become more dominant? Individuals are multi-faceted, and our leading labels will vary, depending on the context at the time.

 
Published Published: 04.02.2021 Recorded Recorded: 08.12.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:08:36 Downloads Downloads: 35
 

Roland for years, was not ‘out’ at work and didn’t share that part of his private life. He avoided social events for fear of anyone catching on to his truth. It was only in 2000 when he joined the Foreign Office, he was subject to an in-depth security check, so had to be honest, which afforded him a huge sense of relief that he could be wholly who he wanted to be. He feels this allowed him to be more productive and engaged within his roles as he was not always on high alert to ensure he did not trip up and reveal his secret. 3 years into his employment he became unwell and was diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, needing 5 months off work. On his return he was advised by HR not to share his diagnosis with the wider team as they could not be responsible for how they may react to this type of news. This deprived him the ability to be fully authentic, which had a huge impact on his mental health, it is mentally exhausting to not be your authentic self. An authentic person in the workplace is a happy person, so engaged, hardworking and likely to stay longer.

This happened 13 years ago and treatment for HIV and Aids has moved on rapidly since then. People testing positive for the disease now are able, with medication to get their virus levels down to a non-detectable level. There is still no cure but symptoms can be managed and reducing the virus level stops them being infectious. This advancement is still relatively new, only occurring within the last 3 years so is something many people are still not aware of. When Roland was diagnosed his employees reaction was based on the outdated mentality that the virus could be transmitted via sharing a cup/on the keyboard etc. Many of the reactions he received from people, were from a place of fear and it was this that sparked his drive to educate people on his illness.

HIV/aids used to be named GRID – gay related immune disease, but nowadays 50% of the HIV community is not gay. Currently the most at-risk categories are; post-menopausal women who are divorced/separated and engage in unprotected sex as they no longer see the risk of falling pregnant, and the black/African community. The primary route of infection being through unprotected sex. Statistics from Public Health England on annual infection rates show, over the last few years that there has been a drop in the number of gay men being diagnosed in the UK. Roland explains this is primarily due to the introduction of PREP, a form of treatment that can be taken as a preventative for the disease. Since its introduction infection rates for other STI’s has increased.

Roland, especially as a gay man has noticed that levels of acceptance and attitudes towards differences have improved, although there is still a lot of work to be done and there are still territories in the world where it is not safe to just be you. This leads Roland to question ‘how far do we have to go in order to be accepted for who we are and can we ever be truly authentic, especially in the workplace? In the privacy of our own homes, you may be a completely different person than you are in a professional setting, so Roland states that maybe authenticity is recognising the different hats that we wear and knowing when it is appropriate to wear each one.


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Roland Chester Roland Chester
Chesters Network
ByJoanne Lockwood

Me, My Hormones and I

Lauren is an Executive Coach and Menopause at work specialist, who is passionate about raising awareness on a topic that is often avoided and misunderstood in the workplace.

It was only after leaving her job due to suffering with low self-esteem, palpitations, anxiety and memory loss that Lauren discovered from her GP that all of the symptoms she was accrediting to onset dementia was actually due to going through the early menopause. This prompted her to start working on raising awareness and understanding of the menopause - something that is just a natural life stage and stop any other woman going through the same thing she did.

 
Published Published: 01.02.2021 Recorded Recorded: 07.12.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:01:20 Downloads Downloads: 48
 

Menopause has a far-reaching impact which many people may not be aware of.  Lauren explains that peri-menopausal starts when your monthly cycle become irregular and oestrogen levels begin to fluctuate. Once you have gone 12 months without a cycle, this is the menopause. There are over 30 symptoms of menopause and although no two women experience it in the same way, it is reported that 25% of women suffer with severe symptoms, if not prepared for it and do not know where to get help and support; 55% have mild to moderate symptoms and may need some sort of intervention, even if this is just lifestyle changes and 20% will sail through.

The average age of menopause is 51 and that is also the same average age of woman taking their own lives, leaving work and divorce statistics spike in ages 45-55, which is why Lauren is a strong advocate for being aware of what the symptoms can be and where you can receive help from. She works with fitness and nutritional professionals so she can offer people a one stop shop for everything related to the menopause. The youngest recorded case of menopause was in a 12-year-old, so this has now become part of the education system, working to increase awareness from a young age.

Lauren believes that women often don’t recognise that they have testosterone, a really important hormone and for some when it begins to drop can experience a lack of confidence, or self-esteem. This can be prescribed within hormone replacement therapy. Lauren recommends before visiting the GP that you keep a record of your symptoms and read up on HRT and whether this may be right for you.

It is important for employers to become educated about the menopause and for women to understand what they are going through, so they can put their own processes in place to help them through the journey. Quite often in the workplace others may notice these changes in you, before you notice them in yourself, so it is about being able to open these conversations, how to signpost people to the correct support and help, in a supportive way rather than in a threatening one. Lauren has noticed that many organisations are now adding women and menopause to their agenda, as we see an increase in the number of women in the workplace, holding more senior positions and working later into their lives. 6 years ago, when Lauren went through this, there was a lack of understanding in the workplace and even she did not know what to look for, or that perimenopause was a thing. Due to this lack of awareness she couldn’t manage it, or take control, something she is hoping no other woman has to face.


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Women of a Certain Stage
ByJoanne Lockwood

Being Visible, Listened to and Respected

Susan works with very successful clients who have received feedback relating to how quiet they are and them needing to them to being more impactful.

Susan from an early age has been an introvert. Through her own life experience and client work she is aware that introverts tend to be underestimated and not as visible as they could be so can miss out on opportunities and be overlooked for promotions. In corporate culture it is not always the person that works the hardest that gets rewarded, it may be the person that is most vocal and seen.

 
Published Published: 21.01.2021 Recorded Recorded: 02.12.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:08:27 Downloads Downloads: 41
 

The way we were raised can have a huge impact on how we are perceived. We need to expose our merits, as this gets you recognised and remembered. Often, we need to escape our programming to be able to self-promote ourselves. It is a British trait and perpetuated by the media that we easily judge those doing well and try to drag them down. The rise in social media can bring out our ‘green eyed monster’.

Susan works with very successful clients who have received feedback relating to how quiet they are and them needing to make more impact. Inevitably these people are just more reflective and take time to consider what they want to say, before speaking. Culture in the corporate world seems to value those that are speaking up, over those that are speaking with high quality content. If a person is perceived as too quiet they are easy to be left behind or passed over. Susan believes if you are at the table in a meeting then it is your duty to share your opinion.

There will always be polarised opinions that become very divisive and do not allow any room for centralised discussion. We need a forum to allow people with different views to express themselves, without fear of being shouted down or ridiculed. We should be able to ask questions, learn other viewpoints and in that way either reinforce our own beliefs, or perhaps change our stance. This can be difficult to do as our ‘group’, the people we surround ourselves with tend to share our values/beliefs, so we are not challenged on our views. With rise of popularism and the internet, the unquestionable authority of professionals, medical etc is no longer believed as we can find research online that disagrees, despite this often having no supporting evidence.

Susan has created her own spoken communication model based on 5 key areas she has identified as being essential to speak more effectively with impact. The areas are; audience, content, preparation, performance and voice. She says you need to consider your audience in any communication, ensuring that your talk pitched at a level where people are engaged and will not switch off.  Speaking to be understood and recognise if you are not being and adapt your style.


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SEE Change Happen

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Susan Heaton-Wright Susan Heaton-Wright
Superstar Communicator
ByJoanne Lockwood

Everybody can fit into the Soup model

Derek’s biggest Diversity and Inclusion wish is that there is no need for it because common sense and decency rule.

Derek believes we implement so many rules that people begin to look for loopholes and they lose their power. Derek argues we should change our approach, starting with pupils at school and stop worrying about what they are learning, instead teach them how to learn. Once they have that skill, they can learn anything that they wish, which will carry them through life. It should not matter who we meet in our lives, we should be able to rely on our listening and communication skills.

 
Published Published: 14.01.2021 Recorded Recorded: 30.11.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:03:58 Downloads Downloads: 34
 

Derek believes we need diversity in the widest sense, utilising and taking contributions from a variety of people to help develop creativity and innovation. Bringing together people in this way means we need to expand our vocabulary and be careful of language used.

It can be the case that people do not know how to, or do not want to educate themselves to learn about other cultures or people. Often, they can be worried about asking questions, especially due to the fear of getting it wrong or offending people. For some this fear leads them to avoid these interactions completely, which only exasperates the problem.

Another issue is that language is always evolving and understanding that certain phrases may cause offense to different people. We can change the way we interact with the world and talk; it just takes practice and the desire to learn. Our habits are not hard wired, it just comes down to the effort we are willing to put in. As a traveller and a guest in another country we cannot enforce our culture upon anyone, we need to learn their culture first. It needs to be a meeting of minds. We need to try and be culturally intelligent and not adhere to the stereotypical ‘Brits abroad.’

Councils are going to be regenerating cities and towns using a hybrid model of accommodation and retail post COVID. This pandemic will be the catalyst for more artisan, bespoke shops opening, as with the rise in online shopping, many of our high street stores become redundant. Derek believes that this pandemic has caused us to ask ourselves how different is your different, what is it that sets you apart and where is the value added. At the beginning of the pandemic presenters/speakers pivoted their offerings online and had a captive audience, but as more people started to do this they have needed to come up with new innovative ideas. We need to look at ourselves as not being like anyone else, being able to differentiate ourselves from others and be relatable to our audience. Finding a niche, rather than trying to sell everything to everyone.

Derek’s ‘soup model’ begets a hierarchy. The soup is the culture, an organic culture that just grows. The croutons are us, the people. He believes our worth should be measured by what we know, the trust networks, and our connections. In this model you are rewarded according to your contribution meaning that people would be able to stay where they are happiest without the desperate pressure to advance yourself. This would create globalisation of knowledge and creativity and could be a place that people are happier to live/work in. Derek believes everyone has a role to play within this.


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Derek Cheshire Derek Cheshire
Derek Cheshire
ByJoanne Lockwood

Reducing your fear and anxiety

Mark offers people practical techniques and trauma guidance so that they are able to deal with whatever life may throw at them.

Fear and anxiety are universal and unless we manage to conquer them, they can hold us back from performing our best and reaching our potential. Despite the richness of our society there are still too many people that are discriminated against, mistreated, bullied, or ignored. Mark works on empowering these people and offering techniques on how to deal with this effectively and appropriately to ensure they can reach their full potential.

 
Published Published: 07.01.2021 Recorded Recorded: 30.11.2019 Episode Length Duration: 1:07:03 Downloads Downloads: 49
 

We all have unconscious biases and sometimes this can be overt prejudice, which can be very hard for the person on the receiving end to both accept and deal with. Mark works with his clients to develop coping techniques; ranging from communication techniques to staying calm when terrified/nervous. He also works as a trauma therapist, working on taking away the emotional context, so people can function without worrying about how they feel about it.

Everybody has their own fear and anxiety, but the grades of this and types will differ greatly. Our formative years dictate so much of the rest of your life. The fundamentals of who we are is said to be set by 8 years old, so if there is a negative event or trauma in your early years this can stay with you, unless you are able to deal with it. A lot of it is also learnt behaviour, if your parents were prejudiced against a particular group of people then you are likely to accept this as the norm. We now live in an age of instant gratification, which permeates in to so many different areas and often we struggle if our expectation of speed is not fulfilled. As technology advances, we have seen the introduction of cyber bullying and Mark works with schools on how to deal with this.

The way people reaction to different situations will vary greatly, this can be magnified within the workplace especially with ‘banter’.  Often people’s intentions are not malicious – they are just trying to have some fun, but you do have those that will be doing it on purpose. It can be hard for people to stand up for themselves and express their discomfort, with it sometimes not being appropriate to deal with immediately, as you may be on the back foot and feeling overly emotional. It is important to pick the correct time, often without an audience as others may not have been impacted in the same way. It can help to step back from the situation, rather than reacting in the moment which may be from a place of anger. There is still a lot of discrimination within the workplace which can reinforce limiting beliefs. This is often not helped by the company leaders, who need to look at their company culture and how this is implemented across the business.

Mark has run programmes with three different train operating companies training staff in assertiveness and giving them techniques to deal with difficult customers. Their aim is to be focused on customer service, but not at any cost. The training instilled confidence in the staff, something that Mark finds very gratifying. They need to find the right balance of assertiveness without aggression. As part of the training, they deliberately frighten people, setting up intimidating scenarios to provoke fear and anxiety in order for them to learn to deal with this in real life situations.


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Mark Wingfield Mark Wingfield
MAX Conflict Management
ByJoanne Lockwood

It’s never too late to be what you might have been

Amy is a strong advocate for being a midlife beginner after starting multiple businesses in her forties; a Coach, Mentor, Podcaster, Mastermind Host, Speaker and Property Investor who inspires and empowers clients to discover the life they dream of.

Amy believes who you are, what you do and what you have is all within your control and what you want to have determines what you become and what you do. She is a strong advocate for switching from just existing to living. Like the Henry Ford quote, ‘whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.’ You must put the effort in to get results.

 
Published Published: 31.12.2020 Recorded Recorded: 23.11.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:00:15 Downloads Downloads: 41
 

In your midlife Amy believes you can leverage the experience you have amassed and turn it into something you have a passion for. Doing things because they are right for you, rather than being worried about other people’s opinions.  Growing up Amy said her generation had limited exposure to opportunities, very different to nowadays with the use of the internet, which meant you can often set off on a path and fall into a career that you are not totally sure about, and often get stuck with this. 

Amy has two children and the best piece of advice she was given was to treat them individually, rather than equally. As a parent you are making the best decisions with the choices you have at that moment. By focusing on her passion and building her businesses her husband was able to step back from a hugely stressful role and they are now able to spend more time together as a family.

Due to COVID-19 and lockdown we have all had to slow down, meaning a lot of people have used this period as an opportunity to press the reset button and pursue their passions. Often a trauma or catalyst triggers a lifestyle change, but Amy is trying to teach people that you don’t have to wait, by taking responsibility and becoming more self-aware of who we are and what you want to do is empowering. She worries that too many people are sleep walking through their lives. She explains that it doesn’t have to be a huge change, it can be small things – taking time to prioritise what is important to you and what you enjoy doing, perhaps through that realising there are opportunities that can turn your vocation into a profession. It takes time to invest in yourself and your abilities, all about personal development and banishing limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome, perhaps making ourselves lifelong learners, because as Amy says, ‘she doesn’t even know what she still doesn’t know.’

Our self-talk is critical and has a huge impact on how we can move forward. Amy advocates writing a journal, especially in the morning, as by writing our negative or limiting thoughts down we stop carrying them with us and they become less powerful. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day, many of which are repetitive and negative. Often when we are in the moment, we can’t see the bigger picture and get stuck. Recognise all the little steps and celebrate the small wins that occur.

We feel belonging when really listened to, so checking in with others and checking in on our mental health is so important. We need to feel able to share our experiences. Amy has been quite conscious of filtering out negative elements in her world and focusing on the positives. Need to focus on solid relationships and your circle of friends, making sure they are having a positive impact on your life. Shift in mindset and that you are in control, see obstacles as being on your way, not in your way.


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Amy Rowlinson Amy Rowlinson
Focus on Why
ByJoanne Lockwood

Planting a seed of kindness and understanding

Ryals a singer and song writer who was born and raised in the Ukraine talks about how he moved to New York where he got married to his husband to begin a new life

Growing up in Ukraine, Ryals lived through the revolution, a time of suppression where he did not feel comfortable to come out as gay. It was only through moving to the US and finally coming out that he found acceptance and was able to let go off the anger he had held onto for so many years. He is now using his lyrics to empower people because, as he says, “we are all the same at the core and all need acceptance and love.”

 
Published Published: 24.12.2020 Recorded Recorded: 15.09.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:12:25 Downloads Downloads: 35
 

Ryal’s stepfather raised him from 18 months until he passed away in 2013, he was a spiritual influence within his life and planted the seed in him from a young age of kindness, love, and empathy to others. He started this process in him, turning the little boy into a man with understanding and instilled in him that although he may not always have the answers he needed to carry on.

Growing up in Ukraine, Ryals kept the fact that he was gay hidden due to societal pressures. Early on in life he developed a shield to protect himself from others, showing them that he could not be hurt. He always believed there would be a place in the world he did belong, aged 18 he moved to the US, leaving behind family and friends to start a new part of his life.

Ryals was in the Ukraine during the revolution and explained it as a very scary period living in a supressed society. He said that even when he moved to America it was hard to shake off the years of shame and oppression and come out as openly gay. When he did come out as he was full of anger for the years, he had spent living a life that was not authentic. Not feeling accepted or accepting himself had created a huge barrier between him and his family, although when he did tell them the response was largely positive.  Ryal says it is easy to forget, living with acceptance in the US, that in the Ukraine many people still feel unable to come out and there are many countries where being gay is still punishable by incarceration or even death. Some countries are regressing and now have anti-LGBT agendas.

Aged 13 Ryals started writing songs to share his emotions. He has released his own album and writes songs for other artists, one of which was created for the Eurovision. He uses his music to try and empower others to live more freely and be kinder. He now feels ready to speak his truth and help others who have experienced similar things. He suffered with depression during his teens after falling in love with another boy and not understanding what the feelings meant, or what to do with them.  

Ryals couldn’t find his life in the Ukraine and was worried about settling into life in the US when his family lived so far away. He struggled to find peace and sought therapy to resolve this. He had grown up thinking the whole world was against him and had so much hate towards his country and people because of it. He is now thankful for this experience because it makes him appreciate what he has and how he is now able to be himself, which he never felt he was able to be within the Ukraine. By finding love and peace he feels like his life has meaning, which is why he is passionate about being the voice to help others. 

Ryals wants to plant the seed that you can expand yourself and try new experiences before deciding what you want to do. We are often told that we must make one decision and stick with it, but we should all be able to find our own direction.

We should all try and find our own version of happy.


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Ryals Ryals
ByJoanne Lockwood

Anti-racism work is not rocket science

Merel, who describes herself as a "wise woman and a crone", talks about how she believes anti-racism work can be delivered to white people in a way that is non-threatening and ensures that people don't become defensive.

A white male seems to become the default norm that we benchmark others upon, and we want to assimilate everyone to the same standards. The western world has built its economy on power, wealth and control and we want to compete and be better than others, and we assume everyone feels the same way. We still do not see other cultures as on a level playing field to us – it still matters where you come from and we fear the unknown. To become anti-racist needs not only a fundamental change on an individual level, but also as a culture and how do we take the first steps to achieve this? But if we were to embrace our differences would we all have more enriched lives?

 
Published Published: 17.12.2020 Recorded Recorded: 02.09.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:06:02 Downloads Downloads: 51
 

Joanne sat down to talk to Merel van Haastert to discuss ‘Anti-racism work is not rocket science.’

A white male seems to become the default norm that we benchmark others upon, and we want to assimilate everyone to the same standards. The western world has built its economy on power, wealth and control and we want to compete and be better than others, and we assume everyone feels the same way. We still do not see other cultures as on a level playing field to us – it still matters where you come from and we fear the unknown.

To become anti-racist needs not only a fundamental change on an individual level, but also as a culture and how do we take the first steps to achieve this? But if we were to embrace our differences would we all have more enriched lives?

Merel lives in the Netherlands and owns her own company, ‘Solid Ground’ which conducts energy and spiritual work, where she guides people through problems they encounter in their lives. She believes when talking about anti-racism there is nothing out there that we do not know. All of the information is there, we just need to see it. She accepts that it is difficult, indoctrination built up in layers from childhood, but she believes the soul knows. Everyone is the same, irrelevant of skin colour. Young children do not have the filters to see people as different – so we need to try and take ourselves back to this.

White people find this a difficult subject to talk about and tend to take it personally, on an individual level, rather than looking at it as a system that we were born into. We forget that we have ‘white culture’ – the settled norms and values that are imprinted upon us. Similarly, we have a white narrative that we are so used to we no longer consider unusual. White becomes our privilege, and we cannot tell, as it is always there. Merel says you need an entry to see the wider scope of the world, you almost have an advantage when you are not the standard. The amount you do not fit, allows you to see and pick up on different perspectives and see other narratives.

We marginalise people by categorising them and diminish their lived experiences. White has become the default, we put ourselves in the centre of the world and then everything relates to you. There is still a hierarchy within white highlighted by our views on immigrants; we have jokes about the French, Italians etc. Racism is more than white/black people, it can be between communities, religions etc. We categorise and label people based on where they are from. Merel explains that despite 70% of inhabitants of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, being from different cultural backgrounds, the standard is still that being Dutch means you are white and from the Netherlands, and they are not considered equal citizens. As part of the systemic racism people will often hear, ‘go back to your country’ because they do not see them as being part of where they are from.

Due to colonialism, we feel a sense of entitlement to the world’s history, our ancestors have given us the idea that the world is ours. We made it our default economy, with the power and privilege that we have today gained from wealth we plundered from other cultures. We have even use science to justify our actions, with scientists studying brain sizes and determining that a white male would be more intelligent than others. We used science to promote white supremacy. We think we have evolved past all of this and that we are now racially accepting, but this is not in the past, we still set ourselves above others as western society and consider other areas as third world, who just need to come up to our level.

We are not used to thinking of white people as a group, a culture. We need to think about what this means, and what this means for the rest of the world. We do have freedom of speech, but it is still not widely accepted to go against our government, we are brought up to follow authority. We are taught from a very young age that family is everything, so people do not want to do anything that will put them outside of their group, as this can be a very lonely place. As an individual it is very difficult to affect the social structure, we have power, but it is difficult to weald this without a community approach.

Merel set up ‘Project ColorWhite’ initially to create a safe space for women but has now expanded to encompass all white people to allow them to discuss the world that they want and how to break down their beliefs and ideas around racism. She has found this quite difficult as people still carry a lot of guilt for their ancestors.


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Brought to you by your host
Joanne Lockwood Joanne Lockwood
SEE Change Happen

A huge thank you to our wonderful guest
Merel van Haastert Merel van Haastert
Wise Women at Solid Ground
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