Kia ora e te whānau

Greetings to you as another week has flown – wet and coldly – by.  Does it feel to you that life is speeding back up again?  Some shared with us how helpful they found sloooowing down, and a less crowded calendar. Others really struggled with being told to stay at home and felt trapped in the four walls. Still others of us found a kind of safety in that.  We had to do a bit less.  Now that everything is back open, we are getting back to perhaps where we were before – and not all of us want to go back to that.
Like many other organisations, things became tougher for the Retreat’s work through Levels 3 and 4, and much of our work had to be done online or on the phone – it’s never the same, eh. But there were learnings too – ways in which we discovered we could decrease traffic to our site – and therefore keep things more peaceful, by moving some team meetings online, and arranging more catch-ups in the community. 

Bonus, more time to be alongside our Guests and those we’re working with at home! 
If this post-lockdown period feels strange and uncertain to you, it could because we are now having to re-assess and make decisions about how we prefer to do somethings, having been forced to try out different ways of doing life.  Many of us missed having the treat of a take away, but some found that actually they enjoyed being more adventurous with their cooking instead.  Sometimes it is good to look at everyday things in a new light and consider changing it up and sometimes the absence makes us even more sure we want to keep that in our lives.  Like hongi, shaking hands and hugging :). What a relief to be able to connect physically again!

To keep our doors open, a gnarly chunk of my time is spent assembling applications to every single possible grant-making body there is! It’s a heap of admin, spectacularly tedious, and depressing fruitless most of the time…. I am determined that, one day, we will find the route to some kind of social enterprise or corporate funding solution that will mean the Retreat’s programmes are sustainably funded. It’s there, somewhere – just needs a stroke of genius.

So many applications boil down to quanatitive analysis (how many of this, that or the other); I find it a diminishing process for the mana of those we support trying to put a measure, or draw a graph that expresses “the value” of our mahi.  People’s lives are not easily depicted with statistics which make a nice pie chart; we are not numbers, and are much more complex beings than that – and we strongly stand against quick-fix approaches (guess what; they don’t work!). Working on the narrative part of a grant application this morning, I was so moved to read this chunk of feedback (below) from an awesome Guest who had just completed one of our programmes.

Feedback is critically important to us; indeed a constant process of listening, learning and improving what we do is built into the Retreat’s policies and procedures. We made it so that we had to be intentional about this – knowing that the most vital source of learning for any caring organisation, are the stories – those whose lived experience, tears, laughter and narrative teaches us constantly what was most needed – where, and when, and how. We don’t and can’t get it right every time, whānau, but we do do a merry dance of celebration where something has worked well. 

Working with Liz, the Retreat’s Life Coach, has been lifechanging. I’ve had a safe and neutral space in which I have been able to navigate dark corners, had reliable and practical love and support and built the confidence to dream about what my ideal life would look like moving ahead. I’m so happy (and proud) to say that thanks to Liz’s support, reflections and guidance, I’m now living that life – I still have to pinch myself! Liz believed in me and cheered me on when I didn’t think I was worthy of all that I have now and I’ll never forget my time working with her. She’s down to earth, real, warm and one of the very best things I’ve ever allowed myself to receive. Thank you so much, Liz & the team at Taranaki Retreat. You’ve all completely transformed my entire life. xxx

I believe that Coaching is one of the best tools in our kete – and, indeed, that we have the very finest practitioner on our Team, offering it. Liz embodies heart-and-wairua the Retreat’s ‘way’ – and that’s this… empathy:

The lifechanging experience that was spoken of in the feedback, happened because of Liz’s alongsideness. That’s the magic that makes all the difference. Suddenly the voice of ‘not good enough’ has a counterweight. We all need that from time-to-time, eh.

Interested in learning more about Coaching? Hit up our blog page here, to read some of Liz’s material. If it’s something that you, or your loved one might find helpful – just hit reply to this message.

Just before I let you go – I want to thank you again for ‘being there’ and reading our e-news updates. Your part in all this is that same kinda empathy. It makes such a difference. 

Next week… ohhhh there’s exciting news to share! An update on an awesome new programme we are offering. For now, here’s the logo for the programme – hot off the press thanks to our in-house/in-whānau graphic designer, Zach.

Guys, it’s the coolest new Pilot Project – watch this space – I’ll tell you more next week. 

Arohanui, Jamie

EO, Taranaki Retreat