Holiday Greetings 2019

Dear IODA Members and Community,
I hope this holiday season brings you time for rest, renewal, and reflection.
For those of us who participated in the Chile conference – and probably for many others around the world – the sense of upheaval and the call for change is in the air.  Whether the issues are social and economic inclusion and justice, or acknowledging and responding to climate change, massive shifts will be needed to respond to the challenges facing us. The timing of next year’s conference theme of “Breaking points” is very appropriate.
At an individual level, these upheavals can be experienced with anxiety, stress, hardship and uncertainty.  And many leaders seem to be steering towards polarization and negativity. This time of the year reminds us to be positive, optimistic and forward looking – how do we see the opportunities in these upheavals, and how do we equip ourselves, our organizations and clients to adapt, thrive, and integrate in 2020?  For me 2019 brought many lessons and gifts that are equipping me.  I’m sharing some of these below, what were yours?   
Honoring each other with our attention 
One of the most powerful moments in the Chile conference for me was during the session “Opening ourselves to change – let’s start with our bodies” The inclusive movement exercises of fully seeing each other and saying “I see you. I accept you.” Te veo / Te acepto had such power! How do we bring this power even across great distances and where there is no trust?
Rebuilding our relationship with nature 
My favorite read this year was “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It offers immense inspiration on how to rebuild our reciprocal relationship with nature and ground our way of being and our actions in the world on this foundation.

“Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”

Science is showing that nature is also a practical ally in modulating our stress response – whether forest bathing, barefoot walking or adaptogen teas, calming our systems can increase our openness to change. 
I personally feel deep gratitude for this IODA community, with the richness of the people and experiences it brings, the diversity of perspectives we offer each other, and the opportunity to see the threads that connect us.  Opened hearts and eyes, shared tools, and strengthened networks feel like our best chance of supporting the waves of change. 
Looking forward to what 2020 may bring for our IODA community and hopefully seeing many of you in person during the 3rd OD World Summit in Bangkok | Thailand, October 15 – 17, 2020.

Michelle de Bruyn
South Africa
IODA President