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June O'Sullivan, LEYF CEO

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RiRi, Bedouin Tents and the I Ching: Welcome to 2012

Happy New Year and welcome back to my blog. (Thank you in advance!)

As I recover from cooking, eating, talking, reading and watching TV (little different there then, except this time a lot of it was done with my extended family, including the delights of my youngest brother and my nieces and nephews who are placed on this earth to remind us about our duty to listen to the young), I have checked out the predictions of Nostradamus, the Mayan calendar, the I Ching and various political pundits in order to sound informed. Ironically, the best advice came from RiRi, my favourite pop singer of the moment, who in Fading (Away) tells us that life is too short to worry. The only downside to the lovely RiRi is her acceptance of lyrics which lack any reference to women’s rights or suffrage! She is certainly no feminist.

Back to the gloomy predictions of 2012: deflation, interest rises to 8%, employment increasing to 4%, tougher economic year than 2011, crazy election results, Eurozone debacle, cyclones, volcanoes, storms… and frankly more of the same. Hey ho.

Of course, here at LEYF we work with children – preparing them for this very future – so let’s take RiRI’s more optimistic, pragmatic view and challenge this dire outlook with a positive attitude. (We know that optimism breeds positive attitudes and a better chance of successful outcomes; in my book that means balance risks but don’t ignore the opportunities.)

For us, irrespective of the bigger issues, this year I hope to do more around our core LEYF values: being child focused, collaborative, courageous, creative and constant.

First and most important of all, we will strive to be even more child focused than ever before, as we know children are the ones most hurt by poverty and stupid adults.

We will collaborate more, particularly with parents. I learned a lot from a meeting I had with parents at our Noah’s Ark community nursery recently, and it’s a lesson I won’t forget. Parental perspectives matter and need to be valued and understood.

Even greater courage is required as we discover how many more children are suffering economically and emotionally from some of our leaders’ dim-witted policies. We really must do things differently, and so I hope we get our LEYF research hubs motoring in 2012. I want to have Meet-ups with parents and all those who want to talk about new ideas or anything that will get our little grey cells operating. (Yes, you guessed it – I received a box set of Poirot for Christmas!)

Creativity is a fascinating value and one that is demonstrated in many ways. For example, I have just finished the biographies of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton and his wife Isabel Burton, both great Victorian travellers. He was an irascible character with a fascination of the East and wrote prolifically, including a translation of Arabian Nights and Kama Sutra. He showed creativity in how he overcame the challenges of exploring and brokering relationships across unknown places; his grasp of languages and understanding of cultural behaviour was a clear means of ensuring that he could broker a mutual understanding. However, his creativity was less well received by the stuffy and hierarchical hide-bound Victorian society. When he died he was snubbed by the establishment and refused a burial place in Westminster Abbey, so his stalwart and loyal wife Isabel persuaded the British public to fund a mausoleum in a cemetery in Mortlake in the shape of a Bedouin tent, one that she designed. She was both constant and creative in her efforts to support her husband in a way that celebrates what we struggle with today; a genuine and honest appreciation of east and west.

So, whatever Nostradamus and his pals say, here at LEYF 2012 will be shaped by the 5 Cs from a positive, creative and optimistic outlook.

And if you don’t believe me, I completed the I Ching and asked what we might need to tackle. The answer came in the form of the hexagram KU. The translation is:

  • Work on what has been spoiled
  • Has supreme success
  • It furthers one to cross the great water
  • Afterwards there is order

Good Advice; let’s go forward. Happy 2012.


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