This is Pete. Tuulia usually writes these blogs. Over the past few days, while Tuulia and I have huddled and cuddled here in our candlelit log cabin beside frozen Lake Vaavu in Finland, I’ve been thinking back on 2019 and what Tuulia and I did this past year in terms of organizing and leading Radical Honesty events.
I’m making myself quite happy reflecting back on 2019. I judge that I very much enjoyed the work Tuulia and I did together. I still love working with her leading workshops. The other part of our work (organizing the workshops) is something I sometimes struggle a little with. I don’t like often thinking (e.g. while lying on the couch reading a book) that I should be doing some organizational task instead. And I’m glad that I judge such moments are fewer and fewer. That being said, I really enjoyed our work this past year.
In 2019, two RH trainer candidates—Seán Middleton and Anna Haas—who participated in our trainee program with us (working as our workshop assistants) completed their traineeships with us. Last month Anna was certified as a RH trainer and is now off leading her own RH workshops. Congratulations, Anna! In the past month, we also saw RH trainer candidate Bernie Reingruber join our team as our newest trainee. Welcome, Bernie!
In 2019, we ran 19 Radical Honesty multi-day workshops. (See the group photos below!) In 2018, that number was 21. Of the 19 in 2019, Tuulia and I facilitated 15 of them together (2018: 15). Of the other four, Tuulia led two on her own (in Finnish), one with Anna and the other with Seán.
Of those 19 workshops, 10 were non-residential weekend workshops (2018: 10) and 9 were longer residential retreats (2018: 11). Two of the residentials were RH 8-day intensive retreats (in Mallorca and Javea, Spain). Among the other 8 residentials, we led three at our cabins in Finland, two in Holland and two in Greece.
We ran workshops in a total of eight countries in 2019 (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Greece). In 2018, we also ran workshops in eight countries, with the difference being in 2018 we ran ones in the U.K. and Italy. Those two countries were replaced in 2019 by Switzerland and France (leading in Paris the first-ever RH workshop in France!).
Of the 19 workshops, 12 of them were fully booked. Of the 7 that weren’t fully booked, 4 had one or two available spots in them. The other three had 4-7 available spots.
277 people attended our multi-day workshops. We had space for 300 total people, which means 92.3% of the spots at our 19 workshops in 2019 were filled. In 2018, 300 people filled 322 spots, a 93.2% capacity rate. The last time we cancelled a workshop due to lack of registrants was almost three years ago.
Among those 277 participants, 151 (55%) identified as female (2018: 58%). In the three weekend workshops that Tuulia led in Helsinki without me, 74% of the participants were female. At the three weekend workshops she led in Finnish in 2018, 80% of the participants were female. So, among Finns, while interest in our offerings has remained larger among women, we’ve certainly seen a trend of more Finnish men attending the Finnish-language events.
Also, together or separately, we led a number of RH evenings / full-day events for a couple of hundred people. (I don’t want to spend time counting exactly how many.)
Downsides to our workshops in 2019? We had one person leave in the middle of a workshop who felt the workshop wasn’t living up to their expectations. (2018: two people left mid-workshop and in 2017: four people.)
Another downside: In January, we learned that a journalist had attended one of our workshops without having told us their intention to write an article about the workshop that would appear in a magazine and several newspapers. Like many of the participants in that workshop, I had mixed thoughts and emotions about this. I didn’t like knowing that someone had spent several days in my presence withholding from me and the others something like this. I want to help create an environment where people feel safe and secure enough to reveal themselves and do all that we do in the workshops. At the same time, I liked the resulting article.
Along those lines, in 2019, we continued to get asked by television producers to film in some way our workshops. While we would like more people to know about the practice of Radical Honesty and know particularly about our workshops, we don’t want that to come at some sort of negative expense of the participants in our workshops. We haven’t quite figured out a way that works best for us and for our participants for a television crew to really capture what we do in our workshops. And until we do, we will probably continue turning down such requests from television producers.
Other downers? While I make myself happy thinking about the number of our workshops that were fully booked in 2019, I also feel down thinking about the 35-40 people who were on waiting lists for fully-booked workshops who were unable to attend their desired workshop. One solution to this issue would simply to allow more people to attend workshops than our chosen maximum of 14-16 participants. While that solution would also mean us easily earning more income, we have chosen for now to stick to not taking in more people into workshops as we judge that with each additional person, the experience for the others in the workshop can, in some way, be “lessened.”
Similarly, we simply weren’t able to lead all the workshops that we’d been invited to lead or had hoped to lead. We don’t like saying no to people who request that we come lead workshops in their cities, yet with our work and parenting schedules as they are, we chose not to fulfill all the requests.
Well, those are the downers for 2019 that come to mind as I look out at the frosted pine trees here at Lake Vaavu.
We experienced many, many more positives, mostly with experiencing and witnessing so many people express themselves far more openly and honestly and get over their shit and live happier lives. I especially made myself happy reading the dozens of post-workshop accounts of people having honest conversations with others in their lives (particularly with their parents and romantic partners) and getting to places of deeper connection, forgiveness and love. And I love how many parents, adult children, siblings, romantic partners, friends and co-workers of our participants have decided to attend our workshops after directly experiencing how someone was after a workshop.
In 2019, Tuulia and I also co-organized the first Honesty Gathering. We liked having more of a festival setting with a larger-than-workshop number of participants who could choose to attend either of concurrent sessions or choose to do something else (like go to the beach). We liked it so much that we’re organizing another Honesty Gathering in 2020 (Easter weekend, 10-13 April, in Elontuli, Finland).
In the past year, we also began leading free webinars. We enjoyed doing those particularly being able to speak with and answer questions with dozens of people who are interested in what we do in our workshops.
We also created in 2019 a new Facebook group called “Honesty Europe Community (closed)” as a place for people who have attended our multi-day workshops to share whatever they want to share.
In 2019, we were excited to purchase and erect on our land a Finnish-made yurt, which has helped making the sleeping arrangements at our retreats in Finland more accommodating. And in one of our outhouses on our land, we installed a toilet where the solid waste and the liquid waste is separated into different containers, which makes for easier and more effective composting of the solid waste. (Maybe this is something more of interest to me than those reading this?)
Overall, I love doing this work and I love working with Tuulia (even if she likes working more hours in the week than I do).
So, that’s the end of the year report for 2019 for Honesty Europe.
Happy New Year! I hope to see and/or hear from you in 2020!
Love and hugs,