Woman Around The World, a mosaic of feminine impressions and inspiration in times of Corona

Introduction

In the context of Corona I have taken the initiative to create a series ‘Women around the world, a mosaic of feminine impressions and inspiration in times of Corona.’ I do that on a voluntary basis using the talent I have been given to host essential conversations in different contexts and languages.

The purpose of this series is to give female leaders the possibility to be heard, bring together various points of view from different sectors and co-create a new vision. Please note that a series implies that there is linearity to this conversation. Yet I call it a mosaic of impressions, preferring to see it as a hologram in which various systemic levels of our awareness are shown, as these dialogues will evolve in the next weeks.

Sometimes in leadership development, personal development is amplified as we do realise more and more that true transformation starts from within as a reaction on outside circumstances. Personal awareness of what and how we are sensing and structuring our acting is important and collaboration essential.

This series is a public dialogue with bold women who are prepared to talk about their intuiting and their insights on three levels that reflect the

o personal (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) impact Covid-19 has on them,

o professional (place of work, freedom of movement, choice of place, change in relationship)

o feminine vision of the chance we are being given to reflect on our own life, that of the communities and possibly our global society.

The women interviewed work in he domain of

Entrepreneurship
– Diversity & Inclusion
– Leadership
– Philosophy
– The arts
– Health & Safety
– Coaching

I would like to thank in this context Stéphanie Leonard who at the right time in the right place has encouraged me to hold these essential conversations. I also want to honour the mothers of all the women who have answered straight away to this request for an interview and the millions of mothers who initiated against all odds a new way of life no matter where.

We all stand on their shoulders and we are the result of our shared ancestral lineage in which some dialogues between men and women were held in a loving embrace and others in less loving circumstances.

These life interviews are not reedited, and are published with the trust that they will resonate with that which this Corona Virus wants to bring to our shared consciousness.

The voice of Emmy Galama from The Netherlands

Emmy is a permanent representative of the International Council of Women at the UN-HABITAT in Nairobi and Geneva (EU). She has more than 30 years of experience in sharing practices in various women’s organisations, both national and international including Het Zeeuws Vrouwen Platform, De Nederlandse Vrouwen Raad and the HUAIROU Commission. I had the honour to work with Emmy piloting a program to help survivors of domestic violence to fully participate in society and travelled with her in 2012 to The World Urban Forum in Naples.

Essence of this conversation

It is an illusion to assume that emancipation and women’s rights will continue to be respected; especially in Europe people are almost bored with these themes and all related issues. If we are not careful these legal agreements, that are human rights, will deteriorate again and laws that have been taken for granted will even less be applied. Women and men need to be attentive and stay on the ball. The Me-too movement has brought about some change, yet domestic violence against women, does not diminish as statistics show.

However on local and regional level women around the world, whether in the Philippines, Guatemala, the Bronx in New York or South Africa, are better prepared due to previous disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as wars and the HIV virus. They have learned to organize themselves and structure their impact in the caring sectors and around essential necessities such as food and water supply also thanks to international collaboration. These women, often united in various grassroots organizations, should be in the spotlight, heard and reinforced and celebrated for their positive impact on the communities rather then marginalised.

Because of her medical background Emmy is being asked to advise with regards to medicines in this crisis. She pragmatically states that it does indeed matter whether you live in the Netherlands or somewhere in a slum. Especially basic medicines such as Davitamon and Paracetamol are always in her suitcase when she travels as they are not as easily available as in The Netherlands.

According to Emmy this Corona crisis also shows that our way of working can be organised differently. Partly because of the current technical possibilities, people can work more from home with all the additional positive effects such as less driving, pollution and stress. If employers and employees then also make agreements about, wherever possible, fewer hours at the office, this could create a different balance between work and private life for many working parents and more shared quality time with the children.

Many thanks Emmy.

La Voix de Stéphanie Leonard

From power to presence

Stéphanie Leonard is an independent Consultant based in the region of Paris under the name aimotion. This interview is in French: https://youtu.be/UM8rcyJTAk8

The essence of the conversation

Stéphanie shares how the Corona Virus is impacting her directly as an entrepreneur and mother. Just now, end of March, she is still in the phase of ‘inhabiting her time’ in a calmer way. Staying at home means that she has the time to do the administration, cleaning out the house and take the time to cook a nice French meal that she then shares with her family accompanied by a good conversation. With other words this virus Covid-19 gives her also the chance to honour traditions of la douce France including the Christian and Jewish tradition of a spring clean that prepares us for Easter.

She points out that she is in a privileged position as she has a partner that from the very start of their relationship and parenthood has shared the tasks of the household and is used to take up a broom when necessary. However in many households this is not the case and indeed since the outbreak of Corona domestic violence in France has risen to 36% according to Stéphanie. This abrupt call to stand still is a great challenge to find new ways of co-habiting our time together and brings out the best and the worst in people.

She points out that she would prefer not talking from a feminist point of view. Rather then thinking in terms of conspiracy and opposites she would prefer to move inwards to see what would like to emerge from the inside out to impact positively herself, her direct family and the wider community. Yet collectively and systemically also look at what would like to emerge for the individual, the local and the global community.

She would rather speak of feminine or masculine energy present is both women and men to start a different conversation in the privacy of our homes or in the communities. She sees a co-responsibility of couples, independently of gender, to redefine the tasks.

Suggestions one: She suggests that we collectively look at the tasks at hand. When for instance domestic or entrepreneurial tasks need to be shared she used to say: ‘who would like to help me with …’ Today she would say: ‘This and this needs to be done, who picks up what?’

Suggestion two: Female experts in the media are greatly missed and she would appreciate if more expert women would speak up.

Suggestion three: Redefining leadership that is often associated to the notion of power, to a notion of presence. Had she a magic wand she would like to invite each individual to realise how s/he can positively impact self and others and to dare being present and take responsibility.

31.03.20 Interview by Cécile Masson

La voce di Myriam Ines Giangiacomo

This interview was held April 6th in Italian as part of the series ‘Women Around the World, a mosaic of impressions and inspiration in times of Corona.’

Myriam Ines Giangiacomo, founder of Bottega Filosofica based in Rome does consider herself to be a practical philosopher. To her, philosophy is a way of life in which to learn how to hold back judgment. A way to look at the reality through the eyes of a beginner, like the ancient and eastern philosophers did.

Looking at reality for what it is, critically yet also staying open for dialogue, active listening, imagination, that are useful skills and resources especially in these times.

In her boutique – a consulting company – she invites business to merge with philosophy to co-create and re-imagine new ways, just like the craftsmen did in their shops in Italy of the Renaissance period.

How does this crisis affect you personally?

I am surprised to find myself emotionally calm yet mentally preoccupied. I am surprised because usually an emotion triggers a certain agitation, yet now I observe that exactly the contrary is happening. However the preoccupation is a real one. I realise that not everybody is living the crisis in the same way, the actions undertaken are not necessarily the best, nor our personal ones nor the ones of our governments.

The governments have the responsibility to give guidance to the people of their own country yet also to people around the world in the greater community. In various countries the metaphor of the war is being used. I do not consider this to be a metaphor that is useful. It helps us to accept the gravity of the danger yet is totally useless in the understanding the nature of the crisis.

So if we do not understand its nature we cannot start to imagine escape routes. War is something that is visible and that one can fight, yet the virus is invisible and therefor one needs to learn to live with it. A war has a beginning and an end, yet this is a condition that will not disappear, with which we will need to learn to live with. So instead of using metaphors, we need to simply state that this is a planetary pandemic. It is a phenomenon that touches us all wherever in the world. It is serious enough. We do not need a metaphor.

However, as somebody else was saying, to use this metaphor invites the citizens to be more obedient.

As a philosopher and as a coach you look at this crisis systemically. What do you observe as patterns and other?

We have not yet understood that this is a systemic crisis. There are various levels on how to look at this systemically. Looking at it for instance purely from a point of view of a therapist that looks for remedies we lose the systemic angle of spirituality. Spirituality not intending religious practices, but spirituality in the sense of understanding that we are part of a bigger whole, to sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, within a whole on which our actions, to say the least, have an impact. So if I think of war, I think of an enemy that is outside of myself, so in some way I am save and I have been assaulted. But that is not the case at all. This is not an external enemy. It is a virus like many other organisms. Yet a virus that we do not know yet, of which scientist confirm to be jumping of one species to another, which implies that we have done something wrong. We have trespassed our own limits. The ecological system, of which we are part of, is reacting on this with a virus that usually would belong to another species in the wild. A wildness that we consider having the right to invade, to destroy and manage with a short-sighted capitalism that predominates all the rest. So if we would consider this a systemic crisis we also need systemic skills to re-establish the connections, the links, and the inter-connectedness that we have completely neglected robbing the earth of its natural balance.

Would you say that now we are practicing the social distancing we could speak of a different dialogue that needs to be re-established that asks for a deeper listening to re-invite back our own humanness into this conversation? Would that be the spirituality you spoke about earlier on? A spirituality that cultivates a certain depth of listening, a certain silence that allows access to another intelligence that is also ours, to be really human in the proper sense of the word? Is that what you mean with spirituality?

Yes, but also to really question our own of what really is important and what not. If you think of it, this crisis makes us think of what really is essential and that what is not, yet appears to be indispensable.

Essentials are the relations and the affective contacts we have because socially we exist as long as somebody else recognise us to exist. So the cultivation of our feeding and dressing, the cultivation of resting physically but also mentally is important to make better choices. Certainly now that we have realised that we have constructed an economy that is based on non-essentials, choosing is important.

Do you recon that this pandemic gives us the chance to reorganise and re-think and re-create our society on a local, national and global level to fit better the natural human nature?

Certainly. Maybe we could relook, for example, at the society Adriano Olivetti was dreaming of. He was a great entrepreneur. His vision has given us the occasion to look at a business not only from a production point of view but also from a spiritual and political point of view based on the community.

From a systemic point of view one could also consider to recreate the dimension wherein person could meet person and a community within certain settings that are not defined as regions because somebody has decided to give them a frontier but because naturally they are recognisable as such, due to certain types of vegetation, the quality of the ground etc.

Do you mean like a region such as the North of Italy could be a region?

All of Italy is a region, the entire Apennine is one region, the Alps would be another region, Islands obviously etc. Yet I would not want to adventure myself into territories I do know too little about in this conversation. Yet as a suggestion I would propose that we have designed artificial boarders, administrative areas, separated people and detached them from their natural habitat. As one says, ‘think global act local.’ The global aspect is economical, the physical characteristics is planetary. So we would need to rethink and be conscious that there is inter-connectedness on a planetary level and there is a socio-economical global system. But our action only makes sense when executed on the local level.

And then there is also this spiritual dimension of which you spoke earlier on that is also economically linked to the territories.

Yes, certainly. You know our Latin culture and in this culture we have what we call the Lares, that are guardian deities in ancient Roman religions, or genius loci that are minor deities watching over a particular place. The spirit or atmosphere of a place, especially conceived as a source of artistic inspiration. So the community could be defined by a certain characteristic, cultural, artistic, etc.

When I think of Italy I obvious think of the richness of the culinary habits of the Cucina Italiana, yet even in Switzerland that touches Italy it will not be the same. This characteristic that in French is called the Terroir, is not the same.

This is an excellent way to explain what I mean. These regions are not necessarily the political regions, yet the regions in which a certain dish will be prepared in a specific way that is recognisable as such to belong to that part of the territory. And then, you know very well, every family has its own recipe in how to prepare a certain dish.

So the small system is surrounded by a bigger system and yet another system.

Yes. And to be conscious when you look like that is becomes even more important because then we also speak of the ancestors that inhabited these places for centuries. And in todays society it seems that we lost that sense of ancestral belonging and thus a sense of loss also in the present moment. So if you do not sense it anymore it is difficult to perceive a possible future.

So we perceive life in two dimensions rather than in its roundedness.

Is there a practice however small that you would be willing to share that could be of use to others in these times?

Yes, any practice of presence. The habit of meditation, of gratefulness just standing still to appreciate in gratitude the day that is about to close, is one of my practices.

You live in Rome, and I do ask you also because you live there. There is the prayer and there is the meditation. What would be the difference between the two for you?

Again, on that I can only answer you from my own experience. I experience meditation as the creation of space; the prayer is the initiation of a dialogue. Meditation is a space in the sense of stillness, of a calm, of a possible. That space we access through various meditation techniques that will enable a prayer in the form of a dialogue, an internal dialogue, and a dialogue with a God outside of us but also inside of us. So the prayer and the meditation are not alternatives but complementary. Just think of the Pope praying on an empty St Peter’s plane, in the rain and that empty space around him also opened an empty space in the heart of non-Catholics to receive some form of blessing.

So you mean also the practice of spirituality independently of religion wherein you are free to access that inner space of calm?

Yes.

Had you a magic wand, what would be the first change that you would like to realise in your community, in Roma, in Italy and internationally?

That would be a major capacity of listening of oneself and the others. A listening that also means observation. Yes, the capacity to listen. That would be the change, yet it is not a practical change, it is an inner shift. A listening that embraces the self and the values important to the individual and the community that would be deep enough also to question the inner certitudes.

NB: Interview by Cécile Masson in Italian. This document is not pretending to cover all the details of the exchange. For that the original should be considered.

This is the third interview published.

Die Stimme von Béa Bieber

Since more than thirty years Béa Bieber is politically active in the German part of Switzerland. She is specialised in the social domain advising municipalities and care institutions on how to create, structure, and lead child care facilities. For more information on her person you may visit her personal website www.beabieber.ch

This interview was taken on the April 8th in English and Swiss German as part of the series ‘Women around the world, a mosaic of feminine impressions and inspiration in times of Corona.’

In essence

Learning to sense differently to cultivate meaningful relationships

Béa notices that Corona invites her to work in different ways and to analyse a situation from a distance rather than being in direct contact with colleagues or sensing whether a physical space is suitable for children or not. This is a challenge she will need to learn and work with. When asked she confirms that much communication on which trust is build happens when meeting face to face and the kinaesthetic aspect of an encounter is something she is missing. However this encourages her to chose her words more carefully when meeting in digital ways with political colleagues. The lack of touch she would not necessarily call pain, but certainly an extra challenge that many face during this lock-down.

Because her colleagues in politics and in the municipalities are all in crisis management they are also happier to exchange knowledge, support and find solutions together. The great challenge for all, on national, regional or municipality level was to assemble some reliable facts to formulate clear guidelines and advise for all the institutions and organisations they are serving. Because of the crisis and the urgency however, there is much more readiness to collaborate. This crisis highlighted that coaching and advice will continue beyond this crisis to be very important and knowledge and know-how will need to be shared more openly with all.

This crisis shows a rising of drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence. In many fields more coaching will be needed well beyond this crisis. Domestic violence is present throughout society in all parts of CH yet the confinement is challenging many on a very personal level. Education is of great importance on how to become more resilient to stress.

The care sector will need to be re-evaluated. Without a well-organised care-sector any society cannot cope with a crisis. To her it is not enough to clap hands, even though greatly appreciated, the appreciation should continue after the crisis in re-valuing these professions.

What we now sense and learn should be taken into consideration in the long run. The process of developing consciousness to learn and grow from this crisis will depend on all and will be needed. How many people really will want change, will be of great importance.

People are getting more sensitive, and are intuiting that a new way of doing things will emerge on personal level and also collectively.

The home schooling is another aspect Béa is raising attention to. The aspect of equality in accessing schooling and education is clearly very different depending on the home situation, marginalising certain groups of society more than necessary. Specific care and focus will need to be kept to ensure equal chances for all, which is a democratic right.

Diversity of teams are essential in these times, not only gender, also cultural background, language, etc. We do need diversity in teams to find sustainable solutions.

A virus is not an enemy one can declare the war to what some masculine world leaders are proposing. The feminine leaders have a very different take on the virus, mainly to educate and empower the weakest of society.

However a feminist leader is not necessarily a woman, some men have the quality needed to create a more balanced approach to politics and economy.

Self-care and appreciation of personal needs are important to contribute in positively to decision making in all realms of life. We are together in this, and not alone, even if it might sometimes feel like that.

De stem van Nenita la Rose

Nenita (1956) is the president of the Dutch Council of Women (NVR) since 2017. The NVR represents more than 50 women organisations within The Netherlands. In 2018 she became a board member of Amnesty International. In that same year she was elected City Councillor for the Social Democratic Party (PvdA) in the city of Amsterdam being the spokesperson for Diversity & Inclusion amongst others.

From 2007-2015 Nenita was Executive Director of Child Helpline International (CHI), a UN Recognised organisation that advocates for the Rights of Children and Young People around the world.

Born in Suriname and raised in the Netherlands. Studied Law at the University of Amsterdam and started her working career at the City Amsterdam lasting for almost 20 years, as Deputy director at the Mayor’s Office, Director International Affairs and Management Board member of the Southeast City District. She is happy and proud to be a mother and grandmother and a spouse.

This interview was taken by writer and leadership coach Cécile Masson on April 15th and is in Dutch.

The essence

Just now another pandemic becomes blatantly obvious

Nenita is troubled about the growing number of women and children that are victims of domestic violence in times of Corona.

This second global pandemic that has been amongst us for a while yet today cannot and should not be ignored anymore.

Domestic violence knows many forms. Psychological violence at home also has a major impact on life and so has physical abuse. The most serious form of violence against humanity is femicide. Women and girls are abused and murdered simply because they are women.

Domestic violence happens everywhere in all layers of the population, it is so large and widespread and in all countries…

The numbers of victims are growing in The Nederland’s and elsewhere. In average in the Netherlands, 100.000 children are witnessing or are victims of abuse every year and in 96% of the time a parent is the perpetrator and 74% of these perpetrators have also been victims themselves.

It is generational spiral of violence …

Last year in Amsterdam alone, 5700 reports of domestic violence were received in the first six months at an organization called Safe Home. The vast majority turned out to be very serious. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now with this crisis it is actually all hands on deck … the subject is so important, so intense, especially when children are involved, that you should not spare the resources. It is important to invest and take a good look at politics, make an analysis of where we are now, also in Amsterdam.

Ask serious questions:

– How come there is a yearly increase and that it is not being taken seriously enough to invest into prevention?

– What is the nature and origin of the violence?

– Is this acceptable at the heart of a democracy?

– How can we turn it around?

It is important that society should, as much as possible, know about this and be aware. If you have a suspicion try to be open to it, try to have a chat, no matter how difficult that will be, to see how you can help. Many women and their children benefit from being given that helping hand.

Accepting violence against women and children as a given is undermining the human rights and the very democratic nature of our society.

For more interviews of this series “Women Around the world, a mosaic of feminine impressions and inspiration in times of Corona, visit www.cecilemasson.com/en/blog/

Stella Litton is a generatieve mBraining master coach.

This interview by Cécile Masson, Coach host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life was held on the 14th of April in English.

The essence of the exchange

Step forward wisely from a state of inner alignment

Women have a vital role to play. The feminine role is very different from the male role and it should take centre stage now.

Rebalancing the division of workload in business and in the home is key.

Using the full range of the physically present intelligences that are not only found in the head but also in the heart and gut can be of added value to inform any gender dialogue.

Care and self-compassion should also be part of our daily routine to appreciate guttural signals that indicate boundaries. Appreciating our body is vital to make wiser decisions, be that for women or men.

Stella reads from the book, Rose letters of love to life.

“I want to find a way to be a working woman contributing to the world of business with all the femininity I have in me. If all the talents women are making such an effort to hide worldwide could be liberated, not only would business benefit from it in terms of turnover but also the entire economy would take a very different turn. Maybe it is that paradigm shift which is so much needed to make this world a better place.”

This book is highly suited also for men. Men should also be more honest with themselves as a brother, father, husband or employer and ask themselves the following questions.

· Am I treating the women around me equally?

· Am I really honouring their birth right or paying lip service to it?

· What actions am I taking?

By dropping down into our bodies rather than staying in the head we sense what is really important for us now in these times of uncertainties and ask ourselves: what do we truly desire? And breath for that is an anchor.

Initiative and interview were taken by generative leadership mBraining coach and Trainer Cécile Masson

The voice of Dorian Baroni

Dorian Baroni is an executive coach and a leadership team advisor. She is also the founder of Women Agents of Change

Interview by Cécile Masson, Coach host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life was held on the 9th of April in English https://studio.youtube.com/video/FcK-dHtLa3k/edit

The essence of the exchange

Imagine all the people…

I resource myself with a number of tiny practices to help me consider what are possibilities, the bigger, larger possibilities that intellectually and emotionally draw me forward into optimism. And then what are the pragmatic smallest next steps I can take whether it is just taking 60 seconds to breathe, whether it is writing an e-mail to a friend who I haven’t heard from a long time just to feel the connection, or taking a walk, applying some self compassion, or whatever else it might take.

Self-compassion?

This idea and practise (based on the great work of Kristin Neff and Nelisha Wickremasinghe) is to remind ourselves that we must care for ourselves and acknowledge that the joy, the pain, the hurt, whatever may show up, is natural, it’s occurring … So not to try to ignore it, but if it hurts, just give ourselves a little hug, metaphorically, and say: ‘it’s OK, it does hurt, this is not easy.’ Let us remind ourselves that this a sign of our common humanity, that there are others who are probably feeling this way in this moment and that we are not alone, whether we feel lonely or not, we are definitely not alone.

In a plane, in case of turbulence you put on your own oxygen mask first, in order to help others and this is very much the case with leadership. It is not self indulgent to grow our capacity for resilience, because it is that very capacity for resilience that is a generous gift to others. So yes, a little indulgence perhaps in the moment, but it has positive ramifications for everyone else as well.

I think that one of the gifts that is most prevalent in my mind right now in these days is the quadrated leadership model that is at the heart of the Coming Into Your Own programmes as well as so many other cutting edge leadership programmes. For me the four archetypes, the Sovereign, Warrior, Lover and Magician are examples of how to, in your day to day and in your person, manage polarities …

Sustainable, systemic solutions are never coming out of one polarity, it’s always an AND … that invites us into a model of wholeness … and the question is how can we embrace the full mature range of each archetype in ourselves.

It starts with the sort of the inner acknowledgement that any one reaction to the current level of crisis is a natural, well-meaning reaction. Then to invite a dialog in oneself and with others to help everyone to bring their truth to the table and see how to step up out of reaction and into creativity bringing the best of our various lenses, our various propositions to the issue at hand.

I think the world of work will change dramatically. Everyone has experienced the power of being able, if they their work allows for it, to work remotely and they don’t have to live in particular urban centres and drive to work or commute to work. They actually can leverage this new technology that is available to us … But it also reminds us that there are essential jobs and industries in urban settings and beyond, where people don’t have the luxury of working remotely from home. And these roles are critical to the survival of our civilizations, as we know them and they’re often the most underpaid and undervalued sectors of our society. So I think that it is becoming so blatantly clear to all of the rest of us who have the luxury of locking down at home, that grocery store clerks and nurses and bus drivers and truck drivers and farmers and people who manufacture the goods we need or the food we eat, they are not sitting at home, working remotely. They actually are the core, a foundational essential base of activities and sectors of work that we rely on every day without even noticing it. So I think that there has to be a way that this type of essential work might need to be reorganised and the value of that work needs to be re-imagined.

My last words… Questions more likely

How can you stay curious?
How can you stay hopeful?
How can you let go of old answers?
Trust that each of us will find our ease, our clarity and our knowhow in these times of change. We have been here (historical times of pandemics or wars or natural disasters) before and found our way.

De stem van Daniëlle Doeve

Daniëlle Doeve is founder and owner of two businesses. One is called Hartskracht, (The power of the heart) which offers systemic coaching, family and organizational constellation work. The other is called HeartFire. She runs it with her husband Jeroen van Kemenade. Together they organise heart-opening concerts. To Daniëlle Music is Medicine. She is a faculty in the Feminine Leadership Program Coming Into Your own. Daniëlle has the rare gift to discover new voices that move the heart, and her inner wisdom is based on a life journey that has know many challenges. It does take a brave heart to meet the dark sides of the severe mental illness of her mom and to keep the light of love shine no matter what.

This interview was taken 6 April in Dutch and for the full conversation you may go to this link https://youtu.be/RtlLuC4GWMM

Essence of the exchange

The abrupt stop of all her business activities has shaken her and many others. She faced fear and she shares how she daily practices to stay well rooted in her body, in her own breathing not to let the head take off on its own. Nature and rituals are most important and she stresses how important it is to take distance of the outer turbulence to feel the inner centre that resonates with the greater wisdom that surrounds us to keep resilient and focused.

She shares that if there could be a deeper meaning to Corona, it is the honouring

o of our own mother,

o honouring of self,

o honouring the feminine in both men and women,

o honouring our earth,

so that we return to a world that is in balance and in harmony and that can give life to everyone and everything that lives on it.

We are not bigger than “Mother Earth”. Humility is in order.

She tells of the Ancient Hawaiian Practice of Forgiveness.

Ho’oponopono: I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

It all starts within. It does take courage to enter that path. It is the journey we are on now collectively, the inward journey.

Also for men this path of turning inwards is important. The male energy is so necessary to support and hold the feminine, for the world of humanity to come back into balance. How beautiful could it be if men would stand in a circle around the feminine, and say, ok women it’s time, you know, it’s time to show up authentically and to bring back balance to this earth.

Over a few months? I hope that people have really come into contact with themselves and their dear ones, with what is really important to them and have clarity of what their contribution could be.

– “What can I actively bring to this world instead of being on autopilot?”

– “What are the choices I am making with regards to living life more consciously?”

– “Why am I here on this earth? What do I have to bring?”

If we keep running, there is no time for reflection. Daniëlle hopes that this virus will wake us all up and contributes to this waking-up together with others.

Interview taken by Cécile Masson

La voix d’Isabelle Pujol

Isabelle Pujol is Founder and CEO of Pluribus Europe, a Global specialist of Diversity & Inclusion that helps companies to create and foster a culture of inclusion. At Pluribus, a global team of facilitators is deeply committed to inspire, include and support organisations, teams and individuals to help them value and leverage the diversity of their workforce. By addressing stereotyping and biases with her corporate clients Pluribus helps individuals to feel valued and encouraged to live their full potential.

This interview was taken in French on April 8th by Cécile Masson, leadership coach, host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life.

As a globetrotter used to being with clients around the world Isabelle finds herself in lock-down at home and was very much in the resistance in the beginning of this crisis. Now some weeks later she is in another rhythm.

Travelling is for her a way of being in contact with her clients. The difference to meet them now in a virtual space is revealing. She thought that in a face-to-face consultation the dialogue was more real, truer. Yet she now notices that the spirit of inclusion is improved by the smaller space of the virtual reality.

The need to be listened to is growing as all changes are happening at an increasing pace. A hunger for more authentic, generous and sincere dialogue is growing. Corona enables open exchanges and invites presence from the heart. The quality of presence, individual authenticity and true listening has much increased.

Isabelle observes that we live a unique moment in history and is fully conscious that she is in a privileged place with her husband, knowing that her children are well and that she can go into the garden whenever she pleases. Her heart and thanks go out to all the caretakers, shopkeepers, and cleaners and obviously more specifically to the corona patients themselves.

All levels of society are affected, emotional, mental, and economical.

– How can we not fall back into the old rat race and individually and collectively hold this gift of slowing down?

– How can we keep honouring our lost ones in the aftermath of this horrific crisis?

In leadership terms we do not necessarily speak of hierarchy but more of posture. So how each individual holds her life and how she can influence her life matters. We will always encourage to be centred in our self, and from within access different forms of leadership, of which one is performance leadership.

Performance leadership in the corporate world is the one that is mostly valued and has a speedy nature. Without wanting to fall into stereotyping, this masculine type of leadership is quite integrated in business. The relational leadership is slower, as it is a form that helps to reconnect with the intelligence of our body, the heart, and our intuitions. In companies this type of leadership has generaly been less valued. Isabelle again is careful not to fall into stereotyping, yet observes that women appear to have more facility in accessing this type of leadership.

In our feminine leadership programs Coming Into Your Own we also work with the strategic leadership stance that allows us to take distance and look at what is happening right in front of our eyes.

The visionary leadership stance holds an intention through time, looking at the past, seeing the present and envisioning a new future. So on an individual level and collectively, the art is to access again the centre and look at this unfolding reality from the varied positions to grow from an experience.

A pattern that she observes in corporates is the perpetual race, which is based on action, result, action, and result. That is what we all have been taught at school, in business and that many consider normal. Yet there is another approach possible. In our CIYO programs we call it the Creative Process. It can be used as a tool to break this pattern. It starts with a stop, with stillness. And that is exactly what we are experiencing just now individually and collectively.

So despite her knowledge of this tool, she is at this very moment being forced to slow down and to appreciate this state of immobility. The space of this interview is a gift as we are having a dialogue. Isabelle feels invited to listen to herself, to reflect and might come to a point where she can celebrate and let go of old patterns that do not serve anymore. In the time before the crisis she forgot about the immobility and celebrations of results as business was guided by action, result, action, and result. What Isabelle truly hopes these times will bring, is to reconnect with immobility and with the notion of true relationship.

So yes, we are in the performance and in war against a virus to protect ourselves, she states. Once this war is finished we need to learn to dance again, dance between the four leadership stances from an inner centre that accesses more the emotional intelligence connected to the earth. Planet Earth feels better today.

All the work that needs to be done in the context of inclusion, the respect of the other, is long-term work. Yet many companies with which Isabelle and her facilitators have the pleasure to work with have lived something unique and some leaders notice the raise of solidarity, of respect for each other and are confident that this contributes positively to team spirit.

In terms of gratitude and appreciation of the other, the appreciation of earth and the gift we are being given daily without necessarily realising it, this crisis might bring a new sense of recognition of the gift of eating in a restaurant, dancing, hugging family and friends, and seeing colleagues at work. The challenge will be to maintain this awareness. Appreciation of each single day is key.

To improve a quality of presence it is crucial to feel free to be entirely oneself, authentically present. The check-in for inclusion is a beautiful way to start any conversation with colleagues, friends or family. It is a practice that allows each one to express her of his very own truth. In terms of inclusion you might think that somebody is excluding another, but sometimes there is also the auto-exclusion. Not being self-insured enough, not to find one self legitimised to show-up that we call the impostures syndrome. So to encourage each other, women and men to speak up and tell her or his truth will help many to develop a sense of belonging and a sense of inclusion.

The voice of Margriet Krijtenburg

Unity in Diversity!
Practice Appreciative Inquiry Dialogue, so that each feels encouraged to get the best out of it for the other!

This interview was taken in English by Cécile Masson, leadership coach, host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life

Margriet is Senior Lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the European Studies Programme and researcher on European Integration.

Margriet was going to give a course on how Personal Leadership is connected to the Core Principles of European Integration in Brno, Nancy and Lima, but Corona decided otherwise.

The topicality of the thoughts of Robert Schuman, one of the main Founding Fathers of the European Union, about whom she wrote her PhD thesis keep her engaged. Robert Schuman’s thoughts are very important for the EU today but also for the world and individual citizens especially students and children. This is one of the reasons she transformed her thesis into a children’s book called ‘The Father of Europe,’ together with Arjen de Wit, a writer and colleague of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

Who was Schuman?

Schuman was born in Luxembourg, father from Lorraine (French-German), mother from Lux. (Lux. who became German because of her marriage) and thus in a multicultural environment. He was born a German as his father had become German after the Prussian-French war of 1870-71. He was ALWAYS searching for a solution to the everlasting conflict between France and Germany because of Alsace Lorraine and acknowledged and promoted an attitude of reconciliation. He studied law in Germany, did his PhD in Strassbourg (SCL) and became a successful lawyer in Metz (Lorraine). But then when his mother died in an accident (his father passed away when he was still very small) in 1911, he experienced a personal crisis. He wondered if he was called to the priesthood or if he needed to continue as a lawyer. A friend of his recommended him to remain a lawyer with the words “the saints of the future will be saints in suit”. Schuman decided to give heed to this advice.

This episode says a lot about Schuman and is very interesting, because the universal call to sanctity, trying to become the person one is meant to be by God, as old as Christianity itself, will only be made explicit officially during the Vatican Council of the Catholic Church several years later (1964) This period had an enormous impact on his life and thoughts.

After the 1st World War, 1918: Schuman became a representative of the Département de la Moselle (Lorraine) – that goes back to France – in the French central government. As a lawyer and politician he had to adapt the laws of Alsace Lorraine to those of the central government of France. He knew how to content both the central and the regional governments by applying the subsidiarity principle, not adapting more laws than necessary for the national common good. This was called the Lex Schuman.

2nd World War, Schuman would be the 1st Parliamentarian to be caught by the Gestapo. Later put on house arrest he escaped. He nevertheless continued with his reconciliation policy. Despite the fact that Nazis promised an Enormous amount of money for the person who delivered Schuman to them…

A great description of Schuman’s character is found in his leitmotiv in life, that he wrote in a letter during that time (to a colleague of his)

Schuman’s LEITMOTIV! “We are all instruments, however imperfect, of a Providence who uses them to accomplish grand designs which surpass us. This certainty obliges us to a great deal of modesty but also confers on us a serenity that our own personal experiences would not justify if we consider them from a purely human point of view.”(Robert Schuman, 1942)

The Greek-Roman tradition with Socrates, Plato, Aristoteles etc. and the Jewish Christian roots still are in the DNA of our educational, health and law systems here in Europe, however anti-religious we might be.

Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany, De Gasperi, Prime-Minister of Italy, Schuman, Minister of Foreign Affairsand Monnet, Director of the French Planning Committee, and economist, were the main Founding Fathers of the European Integration project. Monnet being the one who knew how to put Schuman’s ideas combined with his own economic insights on paper in the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950. The first three had a lot in common. They were all three of a conflict region and two of them changed nationality. Schuman, from German to French; De Gasperi, from Hongarian-Austrian to Italian. All three were practicing Catholics and saw the European spiritual and cultural heritage as the already existing intrinsic binding element for European countries and thus for European integration. (Schuman had the courage to launch the so called Schuman Declaration also know as the “Bombe Schuman” for the surprise and enormous impact it had on European countries).

Together they managed the reconciliation of archenemies that for more than a thousand years were in conflict: France and what’s now Germany. As equal partners they started a peace project changing instruments of war, coal and steel into instruments of peace. That on a supra national level (not French, not German, but above states) and opened this union for other countries to join. The first six countries of the European Union were France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

All agreed that Europe should take care of the African continent as soon as things had calmed down after the Second World War. We know better.

Schuman’s frame of reference was:

· Reconciliation,

· Effective solidarity,

· Subsidiarity and supra-nationality only where needed.

Schuman followed the Social Doctrine of the Church and this also meant that persons women and men, with their social and spiritual dimensions have to be at the heart the economic, political and social structures. The economy and politics are meant to serve mankind and not the other way round.

Just now what binds all countries all over the world is the Corona crisis. So you could say that this crisis is positive even though nobody wants this and certainly not the economic crisis and social pandemic that will follow. That is why Schuman’s frame of reference in which the person is at the heart could be useful to remember for solving problems based on the common interest to get through these crises together as well as possible. Schuman’s personal life mirrors the greater patterns. He lived to serve others and that’s how each person and state is asked to live so as to achieve both the best possible personal development and community of peoples.

Next to Corona lets also remember that many countries experience famine, war and floods and their citizens then flee to Europe. Great migratory movements are the consequence with crime, terrorism and more cycles of war.

EU leaders and other world leaders have an opportunity to solve the greater problems together.

Take the health workers as an example. They are curing the people from Corona, politicians could do the same for the world. Where are the huge problems that we need to solve? Big problems need big solutions. The only way to get peace is to focus on reconciliation despite personal and global hatred. Schuman’s Life motive is an important one to remember: ‘Nous sommes tous des instruments bien imparfaits d’une providence qui s’en sert dans l’accomplissement des grands dessins qui nous dépassent.’

To practice reconciliation implies:

· Focus on the positive of every persona and state, focus on what binds and not on what separates and build on that. Think of Thomas Aquinas’s dialectic method on peace and reconciliation

· Practice Appreciative Inquiry Dialogue, so that each feels encouraged to get the best out of it for the other!

· Unity in Diversity! The leitmotiv of the EU!

Personal leadership implies that you ask yourself some basic questions:

· What’s my main aim in life?

· How do I know who I am meant to be?

· What kind of qualities would I like to see in another person?

· And practice being the best version of yourself!

Corona is in that a perfect training field to practice desired qualities and notice the positive effects.

Practicing the response-ability that we have to decide ourselves how we react to stimuli of impatience, laziness, comfort seeking etc. That is solidarity and makes the world a better place to live in for ourselves and for others. It’s about serving!

EU and other world leaders need to take care of the countries within and beyond the EU taking into account not only the European, but also the universal common good, by practicing Schuman’s frame of reference despite the financial investments needed.

A paradigm shift is needed!

Corona offers a chance for the EU to shine. Like it gives each single person and citizen the chance to be the best possible version of herself and be happy in practicing solidarity.

The voice of Maija van Langendonck

This interview was taken in English by Cécile Masson, leadership coach, host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life

I am here I am now. What is the gift?

Maija van Langendonck is together with her husband co-founder of Beyond-C. She is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist with a solid background of more than 25 years in the corporate environment. She is a mother of young adult lady and a toddler boy. Maija elegantly blends her multiple talents into all she does and is a true creative generalist.

Beyond- C stands for beyond

· Culture

· Care

· Community

· CIYO

· Change

· …

With a goal to bring the ‘ME’ back into the heart of Business.

Always on the move, she used to be restless staying at home doing nothing in the weekends. Now she experiences more ease and peace and presence with her children. Toddler entertaining spurs creativity to look at life in a different way yet there is less me-time.

Professionally re-invention is important. The slowing of the more traditional business assignments during lockdown has created space to re-engage with other interests and initiatives such as: woman’s circles, design of a program dedicated to entrepreneurial women and a local community project inviting the municipality to take centre stage in enabling social enterprises and local start-ups.

Creating together… The human & community dimension has become extra important.

Maija sees herself as a contemporary nomad. If it were only up to her she would be travelling the world, which from an ecological point of view is of course not ideal. Surprisingly despite the travelling bug she now finds peace in the confinement. Where previously whilst in corporate her goals were big – her ambition has now shifted. Like a pebble thrown into a pond creating circles. Previously she would aim for the biggest outer ring – her focus is now on creating change from the inside out and as such on the smaller rings close to the centre (to self).

‘How do I create an inclusive and welcoming circle for my family and what can I do with regards to all around me?

Change starts within to radiate towards the outside like we do acknowledge in the Coming Into Your Own feminine leadership program.

Maija affirms that she is speaking from a place of privilege. Corona is turning the world upside down. Professions that were previously undervalued have become critical and things that seemed important are that no longer. Things taken for granted are taken away or at risk and caring and community have regained a place in the heart. Throughout this period – Maija has mainly been in a mode of observation:

· Who is gaining and who is loosing?

· How are leaders responding and standing-up?

· How are woman and men leading and deciding differently?

· Who is following and who is challenging?

· What is happening in the shadows?

· Where is this a force and possibility for a better future? And who is being overlooked?

· What am I blind to?

Finding a new approach and balance to life could be most impactful for women and children. The gift for her is that we have pushed a pause bottom long enough to see other things emerge.

Ecologically, how do we want to learn from less traffic, less air pollution, more bird songs and cleaner air?

There is also a deeper human connection. She wishes for a flatter societal organisation and working from a place of passion rather than obligation. That is where the feminine comes in. Female driven societies are flatter where masculine ones are more hierarchical and competitive. The pandemic gives us the opportunity to move more to a feminine societal structure.

Having always worked according to masculine energy and being a highly committed person that wants to exceed expectations she has found that the quality of being together with her children is something that this lock-down has inspired her to maintain. Many women experience the guilt of never being perfect enough either as a spouse, mother or professional. So let go of perfection because if you add ambition and drive to it, it will never be good enough, or enough.

There is an opportunity to reinvent how we use our time. The gift is being in the moment, the choice of that time. Society presents us with too many expectations and too many choices, which end up in pressure. I am here I am now. What is the gift? What can I take away? What do I find challenging and hard?

Appreciation is key.

THE VOICE OF NANA EFUA-LAWSON

Let us tap into our inner wisdom and stop our separate minds from overthinking

This interview was taken in English by Cécile Masson, leadership coach, host and writer of Rose, letters of love to life

Nana is an Occupational Psychologist specialised in Leadership and Cultural Change based in the UK with an extended international experience specialised in Leadership and Team Coaching. Leadership development and women in leadership have her particular passion and so has minorities in leadership and inclusiveness in leadership in the corporate and public sector.

From a more philosophical perspective she is interested in evolutionary leadership, how we evolve as humans, how humans evolve within organisation and how organisations are lead in a more sustainable and responsible way for the planet and for humanity. Important to her is bringing humanity into organisations on a deeper way.

As this crisis deepens she really notices the good, the bad and the ugly.

· The good being the great sense of community and caring spirit of so many people around in her own community and else where.

· The bad is that some leaders do not seem to realise how interconnected we are on a global scale and how fragile the systems are we have comfort in and thought that were waterproof. Brexit, no Brexit speaks to separateness. In the US it has become so blatantly clear how much disparity and inequality is present in world. We should be all ashamed of it.

We are in a space where we need to be humble enough not to speak in terms of separation but rather connectedness.

· The ugly in the greed of some that do not take into consideration the weaker personas who do not have the same financial or physical means as they have.

If this invisible virus does not show how interconnected we are as humanity and with the planet what does?

There is an opportunity not to forget the key workers like the bin collectors, the cleaners of streets and hospitals, the importance of teachers and nurses, the supermarket suppliers and bus drivers. There is an opportunity to reward them properly for the great contribution they are making to society. It is these people who are keeping us going. The NHS has for many years been underfunded and we should be careful that other things that appear to be more urgent should not take priority again in decision-making.

A paradigm shift is needed in the way we operate and reward people not to go back to business as usual. We could, but will we?

Leaders should really check and double-check their assumptions.

The challenge will be to keep the human and their health right at the centre of the conversation.

From an evolutionary perspective people at the top do not have all the answers so different structures could be put in place with more trust right in the middle of them.

We are humanized again in this crisis. The gift is that we are one person that informs the private and the professional sphere and the perception of being a separate entity when at work or in our homes is being smashed as others witness the cat or children barging in.

Authentically, consciously, and transparently present and leading with purpose is key. We have the knowledge of the universe within us. Let us tap into that wisdom in us. Let us stop our separate minds from overthinking. Do some mindfulness practices journaling. Going for a walk connects to nature and the planet… and help to go away from our ‘brilliant’ head.

We have all our stories yet are not our stories. We are not any of these things, but can integrate them into what we want to contribute to the world and when you feel comfortable giving other people access to it.

Just stripping away the burden of the mask that we tend to carry around. When you show a little more beyond the mask naturally empathy will follow. Naturally you care for the person and deeper relationships are formed and therefor you are having more honest conversations as you get a sense of the intention of that person rather than sitting in our own believes, our own assumptions.

The gift for Nana is that she realises yet again how positive and strong her nature is and how she can use it to help others that are in a less fortunate position than she is in.

The voice of Amel Murphy

This interview was taken by leadership coach, host and writer Cécile Masson in April and is in English. https://youtu.be/jEz1_hy4s5c

Slowing down is the new going fast. We have to find our own rhythm.

Amel introduces herself as a daughter, a sister, a partner, a friend and just a host, that is who she is at this time in her life.

Covid-18 impacted her as an opening, a break free. Raised in different cultures she now is involved in the domain of leadership. In her dark times she learned to appreciate the slowing down. This time invites her to redefine and define her perceptions she had about herself, the world, and her work.

God have mercy!

“As I find my own rhythm, my own gentleness, as I meet my own self I feel at peace. I am greatful to myself, for daring to do the work, for daring to question, for daring not to follow. For daring to actually follow my own voice for that was the one that never died. My flame has always been there and continues to be there and I don’t think that any other can lead me apart of that flame.”

The voice of Ania Pijpelink

Essence

Anita Pijpelink is Political Executive in the Province of Zeeland, The Netherlands and representative of the Social Democratic Party. In this context she represents the domain of culture, water, nature, climate strategy and international collaboration.

Previous to the political function she worked for more than twenty years in leading roles in the educational sector after having studied history. She is a mother of three adolescent children and married.

This interview was taken by leadership coach, host and writer Cécile Masson on 22 April and is in Dutch. https://youtu.be/Z-jJON0sT9E

Working mostly from home in lock-down the Corona virus makes Anita realise that the roles she fulfils are not that sharply defined anymore and separated. She walks out of her office and meets her children that ask her to be present as a mother for a cup a tea and half an hour later she is back in a strategic meeting with her colleagues. The roles are melting into each and are closely interlinked.

Corona gives her the chance to rest and rethink in how we live our lives, as consumers, as tourists, as people.

To her it doesn’t seem wise to go back to how we always did things once this lock-down is over and she would like to take the opportunity to create something better more balanced and more beautiful.

Questions that are important to her are:

What are the requests we have on life as an individual, consumer, and tourist and in other roles?
Where does our food come from?
How was it produced and under what kind of circumstances?
Is it good for the people that produce the food but also for her as a consumer on the other side of the world?
Is it normal that we eat strawberries at Christmas?
Does all the food supply need to come from the other side of the world or can it come more from your own regions?
What would that mean for our interaction with nature in our own environment?
Creating a healthy balance between economy, social welfare and the natural environment in which we as humans reside starts with the insight that we humans do not have infinite control over nature. History tells us that as mankind (hunters and collectors) we try to gain control over nature, especially in the western world. We put ourselves like the Sun King Louis XIV, in the centre of everything. We thought that we could prevent natural disasters and that we are in control. This crisis shows that if we continue to do this it can turn against us and that it is happening right now. This crisis shows that this was a deceptive way of thinking, creating a fake sense of safety.

It is a question of awareness and the government has an important role to play. We have to think carefully about the natural conditions in which we as humans have a future, for the earth to have a future. Which means that nature should be in a healthy state, that there is enough fresh water, food etc. for everyone, the quality of the air where citizens live in and breath, good. This demands something from each of us especially our behaviour as a consumer and consumer society generally.

Anita sees it as her job to start another type of conversation. She obviously understand the first tendency to help minimize economical damage, also in the cultural sector, by giving the necessary financial support to keep companies from falling over so that people have a job to go to.

Yet at the same time we should also put some energy and money into reflecting how we want to proceed.

Do we dare making difficult choices, which are very necessary for the future of this planet?
Do we dare making drastic choices by looking, for example, at our industry, traffic, aviation, and shipping and intensive livestock farms not to speak of our own consuming?
On the one hand we need to focus more on the local economy and culture: the people, the organizations, the companies, and nature. And Corona yet makes us go back to strict country boarders (in this case between Belgian Flanders and Zeeland Flanders) and that was a painful situation.

Yet on the other hand the digital contact with a number of fellow administrators, such as the Provincial Political Executive of the province of East Flanders in Belgium shows that personal contact is essential. Borders or treaties do not form Europe. It is the people, the relationships between the people that shape this, starting with prime ministers, various ministers, regional political leaders and the civil servants and all the economic traffic that shape us.

If we continue to invest in this and that is more necessary than ever, I have confidence, provided that we want to show solidarity and walk our talk with regards to the treaties we signed. In other words: collective action is needed and helping the other persons is necessary, if they are faced with even greater concerns. It is about people-to-people contact and the sincere intention to help each other and not only within the Netherlands.

These are not normal times, it asks a lot from leaders yet there is also a collective responsibility on local and international level.