Hege Sæbjørnsen shares her personal story one year on from Findhorn’s New Story Summit….
After a long period of rewarding but exhausting work for a foundation in London, a round of redundancies and a particularly challenging break up, my energy levels were dangerously low and I was partly mired in my own victim stories. While life had been serving me several big portions of ‘opportunities to grow’ for a while, new shoots were also emerging and I could feel a shift starting to happen. For a start, I found out about the New Story Summit at Schumacher College, on a brilliant course in Ecological Leadership and Facilitation, and it was there Polly Higgins had told us about the summit. I knew instantly I had to be there.
The summit was oversubscribed; however, I had managed to secure a place by offering to volunteer my photography skills to support the week long event. I was over the moon.
Finally in Findhorn my experience was one of relief, anticipation and slight overwhelm. So many brilliant and inspiring people and sessions, so much to soak up and engage with, and I had the dual role of participating and capturing what was going on. I was faced early on with one tension I had been facing for a long time; the opposites of being a participant and an observer. I was living this dual existence and was faced with questions about how I engage with the world, how I allow (or avoid) intimacy and vulnerability. When is the time to participate fully and when is it time to observe? I had to admit to myself that I struggle with true intimacy, daring to lean in and fully commit to life in all its multi dimensional messiness. Daring to be fully responsible for my own story, my own lived experience – daring to show up 100%.
The content, structure and facilitation of the summit was absolutely unique, profound, deeply moving and courageous. Being part of 250 people in a room together, opening up to honest communion and vulnerable enquiry, was life changing. The mature recognition of the need to mourn, the need to grieve in order to heal is a conversation I have never had the privilege of having with anyone before. The grieving ceremony allowed me to start the journey of healing old wounds, of letting go of hurt and anger, and led me on a path of renewed connection with myself and this beautiful world. Seeing a new way of being demonstrated and embraced by so many people opened up to new beginnings.
Since the summit I have achieved more than I thought was possible. I dreamed up and imagined having work that enabled me to look after my own needs (meaningful work, financial security, ability to influence large scale positive change) and being a contribution in the world. Seven months ago I started a new role in the sustainability team in a global company as Sustainability Expansion Manager, a new role that I am able to shape and lead with the potential to affect change to thousands, maybe millions of people. I truly didn’t see that coming. I feel valued and appreciated and more importantly I seem to have become better at valuing and forgiving myself.
Embracing my own imperfect self and allowing the adult me to emerge has given me a renewed sense of place in the world. There is a small taste of surrender. Life is still messy, a bit scary and sometimes overwhelming but I have a new sense of trust and belief that a new story is absolutely emerging for all of us. And in it we can be all of who we are, without editing out the messy bits and compensating for a lack of love, intimacy and connection by destroying life as we know it.