Into a year of ‘hand picking your yes’

Two things have happened over the last year that have made me feel very grateful for people who have had my back.

Paul of Solo

The first stems from a chance encounter with a rather fantastic lad.

Back in pre-pandemic world I gave a talk to an organisation which had invited Paul Fee of Solo to film my presentation. Paul and I had a bit of a chat over a triangle sandwich or two and he encouraged me to be more proactive in getting my message out.

We had lunch a few weeks later (the day of the 2019 election). Paul explained to me how to eat artichoke hearts and while I made a mess of them, he had a look at the website my husband and I had created over too many Sundays to hold links to the various talks I do and pieces I write.

Paul was not entirely impressed with that website. Fair enough, it was uber-amateur.

But instead of laughing at the mess I’d made with the artichokes and with the website, Paul offered to help.

A couple of months of work with his lovely – and very patient – team resulted a shinier, much better looking website. I’m dead chuffed with it. It is entirely down to the generosity of Paul: supporting my work and the message I was wanting to share, recognising how I was inadvertently limiting its promotion, and gifting skills and time to help me address things.

Now I just need lockdown to ease so I can buy Paul a plate of artichoke hearts by way of thanks.


The other case has been how my colleagues at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance have helped me to take a step back and catch my breath. I’m now doing just one-day a week with the global team: as an advisor more than a team member the way I used to be.

What’s behind this was a slow-growing sense that I was entering a stage which can only be described as ‘knackered’.

The last few years have been full and full-on: being part of setting up WEAll (both the global network and the Scottish hub), supporting the emergence of WEGo and using every chance I could to promote the message of system change.

They’ve been tiring years. And at times they have been bruising, too. And they have left me asking if I should think about a dramatic career change – perhaps I am not cut out for the work I’ve been doing?

Instead of rushing to a dramatic career change, I spoke with my WEAll friends and we concocted a new scenario where I can do what I most love doing: promoting the ideas of a wellbeing economy by talking about it and writing about it.

And that’s what 2021 is going to be about – being close to WEAll, but not in the midst of it. Taking the time to read and to write that I just haven’t had these last few years. Getting up into the Scottish hills when we’re allowed. And being a little more selective about the tasks and gigs I take on in an effort to recharge.

While I have been trying to adjust to this new regime in recent weeks, making sure I resist the temptation to be part of every team discussion, and not to say ‘yes’ to every invitation just because I was invited to something, I saw a post on Instagram that captures this new intent. It was from Lena Ski and spoke of “Hand picking your Yes; Celebrating your No….”  It had the following messages that I will keep returning to (and I hope others can too):

  • You are allowed to be human
  • You are allowed to rest
  • You are allowed to relax
  • Being human takes practice

That last one is where I am right now – practicing this new era, telling myself to close the laptop more often than before, and taking time to recharge the energy I fear had been sapped by the concurrent excitement and challenge of the last few years. I will have the words of the amazing Audre Lorde ringing in my ears:

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare…