Retreat to understand

The natural quiet of Hampshire’s rolling fields of corn and hay, magical woodlands, and green pastures where sheep loll, is the breathtaking setting for The Krishnamurti Centre, where I have just spent four days.

A reader of Krishnamurti books years ago, I was drawn to the Centre for its allure of resounding quiet, peaceful reflection, and study away from daily distractions most of us contend with.

The Centre has to be visited to be understood. The grounds are spacious, yet intimate. My room opened onto sweeping lawns, and a majestic tree – probably oak though it was unimportant to know for sure – and fields beyond. The air was still, and alive at once with squinting birdsong, bleating sheep and the sweetest of breezes before the hot sun baked the land.

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There was no agenda or timetable to adhere other than meals – all wholesome and delicious – where we met other kindred spirits, or if preferred, sat in solitude at the ‘silent table’. I sat with others – often different people each meal, and shared serious, intense, light-hearted and generous conversations. With barely any introductions necessary, exchanges of substance ensued. There is an underlying understanding that all of us at the Centre respect each other, the surroundings, the building, the quiet, the thinking, the solitude, the togetherness, Mother Nature and our own.

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I love walking by myself amidst Nature’s earthy smells, sumptuous hues and unspoilt spaciousness. Taking notice of the delicate beauty in a wild flower, or in the wondrous panoramic views as far as the eyes reach, fills me with gratitude and purpose. Nourished, my London lungs expanded, and breathed more easily – with a smile on the inside – during each of the three long walks I went on whilst on retreat.

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The sheep I met crossing their fields, were variously friendly or scared of my presence. Either way I found it very natural talking to them as I walked by, or in some cases lingered when they appeared interested. To the ones that ran or bleated in panic, I reassured them (out loud) that I was just passing by, and no harm was intended here. I would like to think they understood I was a friend.

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The Centre’s library, complete with a video archive of Krishnamurti talks, and dialogue, is open to all guests. I chose to view one video from 1975 that put a face, and voice to the books I had read. Immersive viewing. There is also a Quiet Room, where shoes are left outside, and anyone can sit in silence to meditate, contemplate or reflect. When I visited I was the only one there – it was a rare experience to feel uplifted, grounded, nurtured, and giving all at once in the light-filled circular room.

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The Grove is a wooded sanctuary in the grounds where I discovered a very special place to meditate and practise yoga outdoors. In the secluded shade of this gentle, soothing and accepting spot, on one day of my practice, I decided to document some of my postures. Neither through vanity or show-womanship, simply because I wanted a visual witness to capture how connected I felt, to my body, my mind, my yoga practice in these peaceful woods.

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Sometimes words and images fall short of the true feeling we have, in any given moment. Sometimes we have to just ‘be there’ to understand ourselves more clearly. Sometimes we have to dialogue with others – we may have just met – to see a quieter truth.

I visited the Krishnamurti Centre to allow my quiet self to breathe, my true nature to understand, my whole being to reconnect to meaning. I am thankful to everyone who works there, guest helpers or just visited like me for your heart-felt welcome, and endless generosity of spirit. Till next.

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https://www.krishnamurticentre.org.uk/

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© amanda yensa manor 2017

 

 

 

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Liberating mentoring

Serene spacious change.

Too many tabs open, too many demands, too much clutter in our brains – let alone our lives – can be overwhelming, stressful, and demotivating. 

This stops us from being, and expressing who we really are, in a life we really want.

It often takes that one drop that makes our vase overflow to realise we need some help, guidance, support to make meaningful changes in our work or personal lives.

People across professions, life stage and purpose simply need that extra guidance at some point, as my clients confirm.

“I also just want to let you know that I think the mentoring is a great thing – really makes me think –  and I am very happy I chose to work with you!”

A colourful career in the creative industries, combined with a yoga and zen inspired life practice has shaped the liberating mentoring programmes I design and deliver to people in architecture, arts and wellness.

Having mentored hundreds over the years – in my leadership, brand, marketing and communications roles, as well as in my capacity as a professional mentor – I see recurring themes that people wish to deal with.

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Many of us are consumed with the onslaught of day to day responsibilities, tasks, deliverables at work and in our personal lives. We get caught up in getting things done, ticking lists, filling our days, keeping busy, telling others about how busy we are.

When do we actually make space for ourselves? To take pause, to review, reflect, and revise the way we are leading our lives if they elude our intent for something more fulfilling?

Losing sight of our ‘true self’ is a classic conundrum in the world we have created where everyone is judged so openly. Thanks to the multitude of media we all partake in, fear of what others think of us, or how we should be perceived, has an even easier time of taking root. The fear itself is nothing new, it’s the prolific distribution of it that has us by the neck.

The mentoring work I do with individuals, and groups, starts with a re-acquaintance with their ‘true self’… often hidden beneath layers of expectations defined by society, family, work, and even our own idea of who we should be.

Nonetheless, there is no off-the-shelf remedy for people to re-discover their true self so this fits with their day-to-day priorities, or so they can communicate their needs and intentions more clearly. Nor is there a one-size fits all response to what a fulfilling big picture looks like for them.

What did you enjoy most about our mentoring session?

“The real listening, I felt heard. There were no pre conclusions – I felt the mentoring was tailored wholly on me and therefore when we came to looking at next paths they were unique to me. This was appreciated as it allowed for paths I had not considered before but were right for me”.

I like to ask my clients to describe their mentoring experience with me in three adjectives (or words). It helps me understand very succinctly and simply how they feel about their participation in my programmes. It also gives me a human measure of the effect the mentoring has. I am always heartened by their responses.

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Life gallops by for everyone, and I for one advocate that we make every day count for something meaningful that resonates with our true self. Be that in our day-to-day priorities and communication, or in our intent for a more fulfilling big picture life.

Am here if you would like to find out more how we might work together, as your mentor.

yensamentors@gmail.com

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We are London-based.

© amanda yensa manor 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-realisation

Self-realisation > fulfilment of one’s own potential

Some of us are on a quest for extraordinary achievements in our lifetime. Others barely manage to make it through the day. Many of us are somewhere in between on the sliding scale of self-realisation. Or more simply put – being the best version of ourselves, in every moment, of every day, however challenging and difficult circumstances are.

Whether that’s climbing Everest, or making it to work on time; saving a life, or spreading good cheer when everyone is down.

At least that is how I see self-realisation. Being able to rise to any occasion – good or bad – and give it our best. It is less about the size of achievement, accomplishment or potential fulfilled – though these are nonetheless to be admired.

Having previously worked with the London Symphony Orchestra for many years on various communications, writing and training projects, I was in complete awe of the consistent superhuman quality of music making that the 100 piece Orchestra created. The discipline, the talent, the hard work are testament to those fulfilling their extraordinary potential, and delivering it daily – for the inspiration and pleasure of music lovers worldwide, across all walks of life.

Part of the work I did with the LSO was to write exclusive feature articles in an internal newsletter for UBS – at the time their principal partner. This meant interviewing some of the Orchestra’s musicians, such as their Leader, First Violinist Roman Simovic, and Principal Percussionist, Neil Percy. Behind the staggering external facing brilliance of these outstanding players lay other humbler challenges. Roman, to his joy – at the time of my interview – had become a first time father. His quest for extraordinary achievement had changed dramatically. He was now managing the impact of sleepless nights, whilst still playing at world-class peak performance during each of his multiple concert commitments. Respect.

Self-realisation (or fulfilling our own potential) changes as our lives change. 

Mine has. My own potential has changed shape as life wears on. My expectations of what is achievable and what is not, have become clearer. We must adapt to the here and now reality of our own potential too.

The ‘bumper sticker’ mentality that encourages people to believe ‘dreams come true’ – though filled with positive intent – does fall short of taking people’s individuality into account. What is possible for one person is usually far from possible for another. There are so many variables in individuals’ personal capabilities, emotional history, and current status quo, that ‘blanket’ life counsel is hardly a viable, lasting fix.

As I mentor groups and individuals, I am struck by how hard people are on themselves. (I’ve been there so can easily relate). Frustration at feeling they have yet to reach their peak, or their preferred work scenario takes over. Self-blame at under achieving based on goals is rife. Anxiety at life passing by without ample attainment for the effort made is prolific.

We are somehow wired or taught to focus on the what is not working, or what is missing from our lives, rather than look at the parts that are working well, and what we have.

Drawing on yoga philosophy and my own practice of yoga, as well as my interest and self-study into zen writings, I have found these themes extremely useful in my mentoring approach, and tools I have developed for people I mentor:

  • Self-observation / being aware of how we behave, what we say, how we say it, the impact it has on ourselves and on others
  • Self-acceptance / recognising this is where and how we are right now – no matter how far off from where we’d like to be – also, knowing work to self-improve has to be done
  • Self-understanding / how and why we act, and repeat actions no matter how ridiculous or unhelpful they are
  • Self-discipline / consistently repeating desirable forms of behaviour – catching ourselves when we revert to old habits before returning to consistent self-effort
  • Self-realisation / or self-actualisation when we achieve our full creative or intellectual potential

To fulfil our own potential (or at least attempt to), we must observe, accept, understand and apply self-discipline. No easy task. This approach may be used systematically as ‘blanket’ life counsel – however the way each individual responds, and how that response unfolds is entirely personal to each and everyone of us. Since the here and now moment we are each in varies tremendously, from one day to the next.

There are days we may feel fully self-realised, and the next it’s like we are back at the beginning of our journey towards fulfilling our own potential. Our enthusiasm deflates, our opinion of ourselves plummets, and we’re back to feeling frustrated, as well as wielding self-blame and anxiety. The trick is to observe this, and get back on the ‘self-realisation’ cycle as soon as humanly possible.

I find the depth mentoring work I do with individuals (women and men working in architecture, the arts, and wellness currently) very fulfilling of my own potential. And from what they tell me, theirs too.

Individual mentoring programmes available include

  • 6 month programme / 2 hours per month / focusing on specific themes such as self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership skills, effective communication, verbal skills, writing skills, facilitation skills to name a few
  • One off intensive workshop / 4 hours / identifying human brand values, establishing work and life needs, exploring dreams, writing up a realistic 12-month action plan
  • 4 – 6 hourly sessions / via skype or face to face / as a follow up to the above workshop or as stand alone / building on themes and actions identified in the workshop, or tackling the themes one by one as outlined in the above workshop
  • One off hourly sessions / 1 hour / guidance on very specific, immediate work and life challenges, such as career moves, preparing for performance reviews, handling a project crisis

Get in touch at yensamentors@gmail.com for a conversation about your individual mentoring needs.

Meanwhile, here’s some good press.

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We are London-based.

 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2017

Confidence

One definition of confidence is <A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities>. A seemingly simple premise, though inaccessible for many. 

Firstly, to show an appreciation of one’s own abilities and qualities, we have to know what these are. Since low self-esteem can begin at a very young age (there is a mountain of research on the troubling consequences of low self-esteem amongst girls and women, in particular regarding their body image and appearance*), all the more vital to identify and encourage abilities and qualities early on.

For the naturally confident or adept this might be easy. Perhaps good results at school, university or in the workplace might point a clear finger at academic or professional ability. Therefore making it seemingly straightforward enough to appreciate said ability. Of course this might depend on whether others convey appreciation or criticism. We have all experienced the backhand of a critic, whose intentions may originate as well meaning, but often wind up crushing us – especially if dished out repeatedly.

Confidence can be innate, though fortunately it can be learned too.

If we repel the urge to listen to and take as read what our critics say – be that family, friends, peers, colleagues, bosses and even some teachers – and focus what we know (or feel) to be a positive quality in us, we’re off to a good start building up confidence.

We all have positive qualities in us. We just need to retrieve them, and give them the space they need to puff up their chest long enough to inspire a little more aplomb. Positive self-talk can be a big help with reinforcing appreciation of our own qualities. For example, “I am resourceful, focused and zen” (one of my personal mantras at present). By saying this short sentence out loud or even to myself, something almost magical transpires. My spine straightens, my chin lifts, my voice steadies, and I feel inexplicably empowered. Confidence ensues.

There is also ample science behind the use of this simple tool. Emile Coué, (psychologist and pharmacist, 1857 – 1926) the forefather of “conscious autosuggestion”, gave us a widely known formula (“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”) to demonstrate positive self-talk – if verbalised and repeated without strain or effort – can improve our personal wellbeing.

Feeling good about ourselves, and positive about our abilities and qualities puts us well on our way to appreciating them. And if we appreciate them a feeling of self-assurance might well arise. The epitome of confidence.

Other techniques, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), also focus on the use of positive language (versus the overuse of negation) in writing and speaking. Avoiding don’ts, didn’ts couldn’ts, wouldn’ts, shouldn’ts helps to improve confidence in the way we communicate and behave.

I was first made poignantly aware of how confidently I came across back in 2000. I was facilitating a naming and brand strategy workshop with clients that had never been through that kind of exercise before. A colleague said after that it was my unwavering confidence in the outcomes, the material and the ideas we generated during the workshop that gave everyone else the confidence to share in the enthusiasm, agree, and move forward. My confidence made everyone else confident. I had never really quantified confidence before that day, as something of intrinsic value to a creative process. For me it was just the way I was.

Since however, I have given confidence its due, and value it in myself and where possible mentor others so they can strengthen and value theirs.

It is a key theme during the Presentations Skills Workshops I have designed and run for creative and design professionals. We focus on bringing out the abilities and qualities in each participant which leads to an appreciation of them, through lots of practice and constructive feedback. As a result, confidence has a real chance to stick.

My next workshop is with the Museum of Architecture on 2 and 9 March, 6-8pm, at the Saint Gobain Innovation Centre, 95 Great Portland St, London W1W 7NY.

See you there.

http://www.museumofarchitecture.org/present-with-confidence.html

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*   http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-dove-research-finds-beauty-pressures-up-and-women-and-girls-calling-for-change-583743391.html

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 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2017

Kind, strong, and free

Years ago I made a conscious decision to keep world news out of my daily consumption of knowledge and information. It was and is too debilitating and negative a force to be useful or enriching from where I stand.

I see how powerfully external viewpoints, reporting and opinions affect those close to me. They are swayed by the doom and gloom of world affairs. They cave into unsettling trending opinions. They are outraged by political decisions and the state of humanity.

Much discussion is had. Berating becomes second nature. Frustration climbs the walls. Fuel pours on the fire.

All the effort and energy on moving lips, throwing arms up, rolling eye balls in protest of the sorry state we have created across cultures, society, and the planet, is exhausting.

One of my values is to remain non-judgemental towards differences found in the way people choose to live their lives (as long as these choices are harm-free). It’s a tough value to practise when I too, despite my non-consumption of world media – feel outraged at so much injustice, so much ignorance, so much cruelty, and lack of kindness prevalent in all walks of life.

The seething hatred that I glimpse expressed towards what is transpiring in the political landscape of the USA is palpable. And necessary, it would seem. Though in essence it is pointing hatred at hatred, which strangely seems our default stance in response to unacceptable, untenable, appalling human practices. A world leader hates, and attempts to impose his hatred. We hate back, and try to stone wall, or repeal his hatred. Fuel pours on the fire. Hatred begets hatred.

Any form of negativity can get under our skin, and hijack our emotional and even physiological wellbeing. It takes a strong person to stare the negativity in the face, accept its invasive nature, and stop it getting the better of us. The science is abundant on how our mental and physical health suffers if subjected to ongoing detrimental feelings, damaging thoughts or adverse actions. Negativity begets negativity.

Many (if not most) of us aspire to be free in some capacity. Freedom comes in all shapes and sizes, and represents something different from one individual to another, from one culture to the next. I have found over the years, that the simplest way to feel free (rather than be free) is to bring everything back to how positively I choose to respond, to any given situation, at any given moment.

I can be angry or kind. I can fight or accept. I can complain or change. I can rant or take action. I can hate or love. The choices of course are rarely so black and white, however it is a good system to consider when looking for a freer existence, in the face of a world in distress.

Even if we do it once a day – ‘I choose to respond in this positive way to this negative situation’. Positivity begets positivity.

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 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2017

 

 

 

A full year

2016 felt full. I make no reference to the seismic shocks our world political landscape has sustained. Those are for conversations off line. By full, I mean my personal trajectory in work and volunteering,

WORK

Here are the highlights with some detail in the four project areas I cover in my work: architecture, arts, business and wellness.

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Last year I worked with some brilliant new clients – in particular architectural practices.

Aukett Swanke

International architects encompassing over 60 years of professional experience, with a network of over 470 staff in 15 studios across 6 countries.

They commissioned two Stress, No Taboo masterclasses and six lunchtime Zen Yourself workshops for their people in London to learn techniques that help alleviate stress, and manage pressure in the workplace.

It was very liberating to guide them through various tools and techniques I have conceived drawn on my experience in yoga, visualisation, NLP and personal study in Zen principles – all adapted for relevance in the workplace.


“Good tips about being centred and dealing with stressful situations” / “Liked the anger, frustration, blame and panic analysis” / “Liked the role play of scenarios – not taking anger or blame” Zen Yourself workshop participants

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Stress, No Taboo Masterclass, Veretec


White Arkitekter 

Scandinavian pioneers in architecture for 65 years. Their ideas are brave, intent on empowering the people that live in, work in and use the spaces and places they create. They work democratically, within a shared ownership model of 900 team members.

They opened a London studio this year, and I was asked to design and run a workshop to facilitate the shaping of key international messages, in line with the White brand. Norway, Denmark, Sweden and London were represented.

From a mountain of compelling, yet lengthy narratives, we worked our way through to a clear, focused message architecture with five key messages. Each one supported by proof points that were developed in depth after the workshop. It was a profound pleasure working with these brilliant, challenging and creative architects on this project.


“I was very impressed with your toolbox, and the way you moderated the workshop as well as your thorough preparations. And I’m very glad you managed to pull us through and really identify 5 strong core messages”. Practice Partner, London

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“The fact that we managed to get the five sentences was very important, and it was a great success given the amount of words and discussions. You also put us back on track several times which was important so as not to lose time”. Architect/Studio Director, Sweden

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Museum of Making by White, Clerkenwell Design Week, 2016


SimpsonHaugh

Visionary architects, with success as design leaders for the highest quality architecture in Manchester, London and internationally. They enter their 30th year in 2017, and their brand was in need of a refresh – both strategically and visually. I teamed up with Kimpton Creative for this job. We had already collected in February and March two industry awards from our brand work on Purcell architects. The strategy – both in its lively process and simplified outcomes – was a huge success. We had immense fun during the workshops in particular – a natural balance of creativity, laughter and seriousness seemed to carry us through all  the tasks. The approach was collegiate and open resulting in a very collaborative outcome. The identity is yet to be launched.


“It was very refreshing to have worked with you this year.” Practice Partner, SimpsonHaugh

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“We were impressed that Amanda was able to keep the meeting running smoothly and on time, something that we aspire to do in our own meetings”. Practice Partners, SimpsonHaugh

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Clients I’ve worked with before also presented challenging and rewarding projects  – again in the world of architecture/property, as well as in the arts and in business.

Tishman Speyer 

A leading firm in commercial real estate across the USA, Europe, Latin America and Asia. In 1978, American founders Tishman and Speyer, took on the legacy of Tishman’s grandfather who started Tishman Realty and Construction Co. in 1898. Tishman Speyer has acquired, developed and operated over 390 projects – creating properties of enduring value. Their portfolio includes prestigious buildings such as the Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Center in New York City.

Having run two brand strategy and naming workshops previously for Tishman Speyer’s buildings Verde SW1, and The Point in London, I was invited back to design and facilitate a more complex workshop for an exciting new project (still under wraps) of a listed building.

The workshop was in two parts. The first, looking at key narratives of the asset vision (the stakeholder sensitivities/historic and heritage value of the asset and its surroundings/the commercial strengths of the buildings), and the second at the name, brand proposition, and personality). The name and brand proposition always spark heated debates, and much wrangling to gain consensus.  Though shortest in word count, it’s often the longest process of any brand strategy.


“Thank you for your work and time today. It was nice to go through this exercise and the whole team has really enjoyed working with you.”  Acquisition and Development Associate, Tishman Speyer

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“You were so prepared!” Acquisition and Development Associate, Tishman Speyer


Barbican Centre

Home to world class arts and learning, the Barbican invites millions to discover and love the arts in all their forms. The Barbican presents 2000 events each year across the major art forms. They bring artists and performers from around the world to London, and represent London and the UK on an international stage. Their community work inspires young people, raising their aspirations and developing skills.

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In 2012 and 2013, I worked with the Development Team on their Corporate Membership communications, and Individual Giving strategies – including a message architecture to use across all comms platforms, including the Support Us pages of barbican.org.uk.

In 2016 I was invited back to help with a number of small yet vital projects to reinforce the Barbican’s fundraising strategy.

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These included a refresh of Corporate Memberships and Partnerships communications, a strategy for Youth Sponsorship, a series of three Business Planning workshops for 2017 – 2020, and a naming exercise for business membership packages and business partner recognition. A bespoke mentoring workshop was also designed for internal communications and presentations.


“Thanks Amanda, and for the work also – we ‘re really pleased with what you’ve come up with.”  Senior Corporate Partnerships Manager, Barbican

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“It’s been great working with you too… Your sessions have been really useful for me as one of the newbies in the team.”  Senior Trusts and Grants Manager, Barbican


“Great to work with you again on these, and spend the time today bouncing ideas around.”  Senior Corporate Partnerships Manager, Barbican


It is a privilege and highly energising working with one of the most iconic arts organisations in London.


RIBA

Invited for the second year in a row to take part in RIBA’s speed mentoring event for small architectural practices, I met and mentored some very talented and motivated architects.


“Had a lovely speed mentoring session with some good advice from Amanda.”

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The London School of English 

High quality English language training for motivated adults, in London, Canterbury, other parts of the UK and online. They have been going since 1912.

I was invited to become a regular guest speaker in late 2015 for business professionals (younger students, aged 20-30, and more experienced students, aged 30+). The topic I started with was Developing a personal brandand later in the year we introduced an additional module, Creative audience research. Both topics draw on my professional experience as a brand strategist, and mentor. The guest workshops are designed to be dynamic and highly participative.


“Very interesting workshop – Dynamic, perfect mastery, fit to the audience.”

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“Great workshop with a lot of useful information, exciting and entertaining.”

The students I worked with in 2016 came from all over the world – Argentina, Brazil, China, Columbia, Germany, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey to name a few. Most were already in careers, spanning a variety of sectors, including banking, technology, marketing, tourism, telecommunications, automobile, jewellery, consultancy, healthcare and retail.

It always feels good to pass on knowledge where needed, and to inspire those willing to learn. More guest workshops already booked in 2017.

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“Useful, interesting. I do like the speaker, she is inspirational.”


Collaborations and individual mentoring with people eager to self improve.

Yoga Light Vibes 

YLV is the brain child of Quantum yoga teacher Sally-Anne Reynolds whose teaching style is uplifting, vibrant and challenges students to live free from burdens of the mind.

Together we co-created and delivered two yoga/life mentoring workshops last year in a wonderful studio space in Islington.

1. New Year, True You Workshop


“I really enjoyed the yoga flow and visualisations and the simplicity of the mentoring workshop. I loved how nourishing both dimensions were, and appreciated the care and thought put in.” 

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2. Light Heart, Light Paths workshop


“Loved doing yoga to music, and connecting with others.” 

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In addition, our creative collaboration extended to working together on the naming and brand strategy of Yoga Light Vibes. This involved a number of idea storms, and workshops that I led. We agreed an energy exchange – my brand and marketing expertise for a number of private yoga sessions. Win, win!

It is pure joy working with Sally-Anne, both on her brand, and designing workshops drawing on our complimentary skills, and mutual love for yoga, and self-development. More workshops in 2017.

http://www.yogalightvibes.com/


Private mentoring for individuals

Three new private clients came into my sphere last year – two in the arts, and one architect. I ran work life workshops with two of them, followed by individual hourly sessions for one and just hourly sessions for the third person.


“I liked how interactive and analytical the session was.”, Elena D.

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“Loved the mood board. Creative and free and very enlightening” Elena D.

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“Thank you again for meeting today. It was so helpful and I’ll get to work practicing my tactics for these meetings!” Claire M.

In addition, I mentored two clients I’d worked with before. A communications manager in an architectural practice, and a design entrepreneur/business owner.

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Mentoring individuals is a quiet, creative, thoughtful and challenging experience – I cherish it.

VOLUNTEERING

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Since March 2016, I have been volunteering for the British Red Cross once a week, in their Refugee Support Service, writing grants for destitute asylum seekers, and refugees.

We are a small team, building a case for support for our destitute clients, appealing to grant organisations for financial assistance, and sometimes for other other vital items (school uniforms, children’s beds, prams).

The humanity I witness with my colleagues, and amongst our clients who fled their countries to seek asylum here, is unstoppable. I am moved beyond words by our clients’ courage and dignity. I feel privileged I am able to use my abilities/gifts in this small way to support those who really need help.

For the festive season, I was asked to coordinate an appeal we named ‘Shoebox Santa’. We invited British Red Cross staff, volunteers and friends to fill shoeboxes with appropriate gifts, for our clients, that we could hand out before the holidays. Everyone’s generosity was overwhelming. Our target was 200 shoeboxes for women (100) and men (100). We exceeded this by a large stretch, nearing the 300 mark. And the contents of each shoebox were tremendously heart warming – so much thought and care had gone into making them up. All the gift shoeboxes were handed out, with none left. Wonderful.

It is an immense pleasure being part of one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/


As for my artistic endeavours (writing, poetry, sculpture) in 2016, I leave them for another time. As years go, 2016 was pretty full – and so is this post!

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 © Amanda Yensa Manor 2017