We invited all our volunteers, staff and associate freelancers to come along to a special Team Time at The Nest event that was kindly funded by HOUR Manchester to share a memory, hobby, activity or skill that they love with the team in any way they chose; something that sparks joy within them and enhances their wellbeing. They could demonstrate through hands-on, “show, tell and try” or a more formal presentation, whatever they felt most comfortable with. The aim was to share and empower others to try new things or get involved with something new.
After the Team Time, the team headed for local pub The Blue Bell Inn for a hearty Sunday Roast. This provided more time for some unstructured sharing! The impact for the team overall was a general consensus of feeling closer to each other, learning and growth through being able to share something important to them.
Team member: Pam – Circle Time Sharing
Pam just returned from maternity leave and felt that she really needed to reconnect with the team, so she hoped that sharing the activity of ‘Circle Time’ would provide the chance to do that. Circle Time is often used in schools and youth groups to enable young people to get to know each other better and become accustomed to sharing their feelings. Pam’s share time was first activity of the day, and it helped to loosen up the group and feel warmed up for sharing and receiving.
Each person held a cuddly pig as they shared. Lauren thought Pam’s activity choice was apt given her openness for dialogue; to present a question and delight in each answer. One question required each team member to say something that they liked about the person next to them, which was enlightening and inviting when people weren’t so familiar with each other, and heart warming and empowering when they were, pointing out how other’s actions, support or even just their personality traits had affected them personally, in a positive way. Perhaps such openness should be more present in daily life – or just part of every Team Time!
“I love getting to know people better and about their lives , not just talking about work stuff, and because I’m nosey! [I liked] just having time together and not having to focus on a particular task or piece of work. Yet mindfulness and art were still very present, despite us not having to use them directly for the presentations.”
Team member: Lucie – Life through a lens
After Pam had warmed the group into a atmosphere, Lucie set up a projector to share a selection of “urban photography”. Sharing why she loves photography – the message in general was to take notice; to capture moments; to see in different ways. She thinks it is important, to see the world around you rather than being too absorbed in tasks or thoughts all the time. To stop, to notice and to create!
As well as a projector presentation showing images and things to look out for when out taking photographs (or simply all day, every day!), Lucie brought printed photographs, mostly square prints of pictures edited on and taken directly from her Instagram account. This allowed the team to see them in a different format, touch them and see the richness of the colours. She talked the group through looking out for things such as weather, times of day, layers and point of view to create an interesting image and perhaps a new perspective. Most importantly – explore! Keep your eyes peeled; you can always crop later! And never hesitate or feel embarrassed to take a photograph.
“I’m one of the newest team members and often work in isolation with a focus to get things done, so it was great to meet with people I don’t know very well yet. The presentations gave me a window to peek into their lives and what matters to them. I enjoyed the mix of subjects and how they were shared, I loved trying a new art form led by Lauren – I’m always keen to try something where I have to let go! I also liked documenting the day through photography and hearing about Jess’ emerging wild and wise womanhood!”
Team member: Jess – Finding the plot
Jess shared her ideas and plans with the group for a double allotment space from which she wants to not only grow plants, herbs and vegetables, but also run community events around creativity, eco-friendliness and sustainability, perhaps some in partnership with The Owl and The Coconut potentially called “Finding the Plot”. Jess’ enthusiasm and passion for the project was clear because of how she talked about her ideas for workshops and events (such as the recycled plastic art workshops she has planned at The Nest) from the plot and her collection of photos in a digital journal. She also talked about the growth she has experienced as a woman and as a person and how her activities and experiences are aligning with the plans for the space. She wanted to share it with the group because she believes it is something that could potentially “be amazing and benefit all”, and she wanted to gauge enthusiasm and energy from others about it.
“I absolutely just love being in the building. The Nest is a lovely environment to be in, with its beautiful high windows. There’s nothing better than coming to a place amongst a group of likeminded and mindful lovelies, which in turn brings me serenity and comfort knowing I’m in a safe environment. It gave me a snippet into my fellow colleagues’ lives, a fraction of the hobbies shared with us, it was mindfully inspiring. It topped any team minutes I’ve ever attended. I loved learning more about other team members, I’ve never done that in the workplace, though this seems far from your usual workplace.”
Team member: Gemma – REFLECTION ON AN IMPORTANT TIME OF LIFE
Gemma was next, and she has chosen to share photographs and memories of her 8 or so months travelling and living in Thailand during her 20s whilst studying for a BA in Photography. She told us about the people she met and how it had impacted her life since. Her photos of smiling faces and foreign lands painted a rich picture of her friendships and experiences there. During Pam’s ‘circle time’ Gemma shared how she was at a point in her life now when her favourite place to be is at home spending time with her son, husband and dog, chatting and watching TV, and that though she enjoyed experience living in a place that has a slower pace of living learning how she might be able to do that here, she is content with her life and doesn’t feel an urge to travel anymore because she loves her home and area she lives. She said she chose this to so she could share with the team an experience in her life that was important to her. “It influenced my interest in meditation, creativity and living life in the ‘middle lane’; the Buddhist idea of the middle path or equanimity.” Lauren loved seeing Gemma’s treasured photography paper box, filled with a collection of photos and tokens; shareable memories from an incredible adventure. Jess is keen to visit Thailand, so was really interested to hear about the country.
Gemma said the special Team Time helped her to feel closer to the group. She particularly enjoyed hearing people tell what they appreciated about each other and found it heartwarming.
“It was lovely to see everyone lighting up when sharing their interests and passions and good to share time outside of ‘work’ mode.”
Team member: Lauren – Letting go of control with MINDFUL painT play
Last, but by no means least, Lauren asked us to “let go”. Despite being mainly a digital artist since getting her first drawing tablet more than a decade ago, getting her hands into paint and chalk and ink has been one of Lauren’s favourite feelings for as long as she can remember. Generally working with “tidier materials” and enjoying the abundance of control that digital art allows, the way that Lauren works rarely allows space for play.
She chose to share “fluid art” with The Owl and The Coconut family for Team Time not because it’s intentionally Mindful Art, but because it’s a kind of messy and playful art that just happens to also be mindful – and one that she’s grown fond of. She discovered when she started researching acrylic pouring techniques last year, that it is a satisfying way of playing whilst making something that always ends up with a great result but is also messy, and – as much as you can try – it’s pretty uncontrollable.
“I find helps to break me out of the structure of the way I usually work. It’s a kind of art-making that you have to be patient for, that you can guide but mostly develops on its own, and that often uncovers all sorts of secrets and happy accidents as the paint mixes and shifts and settles. I knew that even if we went in with the exact same colours on the exact same coasters we’d all end up with results as individual as we are, and end up with a lovely little souvenir as well.”
“Just like the coasters, everyone at The Nest is wonderfully individual too, but also – somehow – crafted from the same materials. A bright streak of kindness and compassion here, a whorl of sparkling creativity there, all layered on top of our own palettes of personality and knowledge and passions, which pull together to complement each other in a collaborative exhibition; one that hadn’t been planned or intended, but happened naturally – and a bit like it was meant to happen all along.” She relished the opportunity to find out a little more about the team, to share and learn something more about each other throught individual ways of visualising, collecting, and sharing information.
“Just like each colour we used in our acrylic paint pours, we as a team all found each other and added something new and unique to the canvas that is The Owl and The Coconut – I think that Team Time was a great reminder of that.”