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Reflections on New Beginnings Workshop

New Beginnings, how did it all start?

In July I was contacted by Alex Sandys, who had taken part in one of my Pawprint workshops as part of an event led by Nicky Davey at Saltbox. Alex had noticed that Bear was showing up in several areas of her life, including through a story teller friend of hers called Anni Sheppard, and was I interested in a collaboration. I jumped at the chance as I am always looking for new ways to expand my work and range of experience.

Over the following weeks and months, we met via zoom to share ideas. During one of our early calls, Annie told her New Beginnings story, which she wrote, that then became the heart of the workshop. I was very moved by it and had immediate strong responses, mainly excitement and enchantment, but also a little challenged. I continue to feel it’s a big story with many important themes which are pertinent for the times we are living in, amazing creativity Annie! In my initial discussion with Alex I had planned to simply repeat the Pawprint workshop she had first met me through. But once I engaged with Annie’s story and the themes, we were discussing I felt my part in the emerging New Beginnings workshop needed to be something slightly different. I have always enjoyed creating ceremonial workshops but this was something new, I have always followed my own spark, I’ve never used a story as a focus for creative inspiration in such a pivotal way. I read it over and over, Annie told it to us again and my connection to it deepened. I felt myself being stretched to think more keenly about the purpose of my part in the workshop both by the story and our meetings. Sometimes it was challenging, in the way waking up from a deep sleep is not always easy, but in the long run has led me to a more awakened appreciation for the whole process. As we came closer to the time of the workshop it became clear that Alex has a strength for keeping admin and practicalities on track. I felt held by the way she sent updates, marketed the event online and kept things quietly but smoothly flowing forward towards the day. During our run through in the week beforehand I finally got to experience what Alex was going to bring to the workshop: yoga! I have no previous experience, and loved the way she taught, the moves were simple but powerful. She also began to shine out as ‘continuity woman’ as she created the links between the different parts of the workshop in a way which wove the whole thing together with strong smooth threads.

On a cold autumn afternoon, we gathered together with the 12 zoom participants for our New Beginnings workshop. We heard Annie tell the story, she completely brought it to life and I enjoyed it with fresh ears. The participants then did a couple of breakout room activities to reflect on parts of the story that had spoken to them. Alex led us through yoga moves that engaged us with other themes in the story and rooted us firmly. After a break I wove together my ideas of Pawprints as intentions for the future and the roles of the Bears in the story. We also engaged with our child selves through playful feet and did a guided meditation to go for a walk and gather magical dream seeds. We did some simple crafts and made a dream seed pouch. This led back to Annie who rounded off the workshop with a meditation to energise and activate all the work we had done.

For me the 3 hours flew smoothly by and I was left feeling connected to Annie & Alex and all who took part.

We have received some wonderful feedback:

‘I just wanted to thank you both for a really excellent session yesterday. It was beautifully facilitated (by all 3 of you) – very calm, competent, warm and authentic, and I thought that the way you used the themes of bears and seeds and wove this thread through the whole session was really well thought through and worked brilliantly. There was a great mix of activities, and the whole thing was really well put together. Loved the use of story, metaphor, nature etc etc – all very holistic and right up my street!’ Nicki Davey, Saltbox.

‘First of all, thank you for offering such a wonderful, thoughtful, nurturing event.. It was such a beautiful story and l loved hearing it as told by Annie... such a treat, I really felt taken into the magic of it. Perfect day dreaming for an autumn’s afternoon. I loved the next transition into movement and it all flowed very easily and naturally. And I loved of course, the bear part and the thinking around it and planting the seeds.

So much to learn and follow and hold onto!!’ Catalina

Last week we met and took some time to reflect and share thoughts on how the workshop had gone and what the next step is. I’m delighted that we will continue working together to create another workshop early in 2021. We will act on all that we have learned from our experience together so far, to have a clear outcome for the next workshop, and to allow more space for group reflection and connection. Until then we listen in the winter darkness for the New Story and what ever comes next.

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