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TWO MORE couples fit into the fantastic Couples retreat by a lake in Finland 7-13 August!

Thank you for being part of our year! ❤

This is Pete. Tuulia usually writes these newsletters. 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 2023 and what Tuulia and I did this past year in terms of organizing and leading events.

(I copy/pasted the above paragraph from what I wrote for each end-of-the-year newsletter since 2018. All the above information is again relevant with just the year being different…)

You’ll find the statistics of our Honesty Europe in-person workshops and retreats (that I make very important for these year-end reports!) at the end of this letter.

Notable Events of 2023

For the most part, our workshop calendar followed much of the pattern it’s had for the past few years. In the winter, we led an 8-day Intensive on Lanzarote (the third different Canary Island to host an 8-day of ours) and in the autumn, an 8-day on Mallorca (for the fifth time). We led five retreats in Finland throughout the summer and various weekend workshops (in Amsterdam, Helsinki and Copenhagen) throughout the year. (After that 8-day Intensive on Lanzarote, I recall telling Tuulia that I enjoy leading the 8-day workshops so much that maybe we could drop all the other stuff from our calendar and do nothing but 8-day Intensives.

A highlight for me was the two Couples Retreats that we led. We had been leading a single Couples Retreat annually for the past few years. And then in 2022, Tuulia and I felt especially excited and fulfilled after leading our Couples Retreat that summer that we thought we’d get crazy and schedule two Couples Retreats for 2023. So we did that and both were fully booked and I enjoyed them both immensely. I like what Tuulia and I have created with them over the years. (And after the second Couples Retreat of 2023, I recall telling Tuulia that I enjoy leading Couples Retreats so much that maybe we could drop all the other stuff from our calendar and do nothing but Couples Retreats.)❤️

Another highlight for me was hosting our fourth Honesty Gathering retreat, this time with more than 50 people attending. I still really love the concept of having a larger group of people coming together (almost all alumni of our other workshops) and us offering concurrent workshop sessions led by various trainers that attendees can pick and choose from. This is another retreat that I’m excited about being on our annual calendar (though I haven’t yet gotten to the point of proposing to Tuulia that we drop our other stuff and do nothing but Honesty Gatherings!). (Next one: 18-22 September near Berlin!

We have also continued to do other things like hosting Honest Date Nights and Open Evenings and Webinars (and even an Honesty Comedy Evening led by a comedian), as well as our online forums Honesty Europe and the private Facebook group Honesty Europe Community. And we’ve begun leading more events in the city of Tampere, Finland, where we’ve enjoyed seeing a large turn-out of people.

Practitioner Program

For the fifth straight calendar year, in 2023 we again ran our Practitioner Program. I also continue to enjoy this program in which people work more closely with us over the course of the year, attending a number of workshops as well as participating in ongoing buddy groups and monthly themed calls. I liked that we had 15 people in the program in 2023 and I liked witnessing the work many of those people did through the year. For the first time ever—per request—Tuulia started to a Finnish language Practitioner Program with eight brave souls.
And we have been asked to lead an Advanced Practitioner Program. We are considering starting this around May 2024!

Movie Nights

I have continued to host monthly Film Evenings in Amsterdam. Earlier this month, I hosted the 26th such event. I still especially love watching films that have themes related to the work we do in our workshops (e.g. characters making themselves miserable by not telling others what’s really going on for them and then finally sharing that). And I love hearing what triggers, emotions, thoughts, memories, images, etc. arose in the others who watched the film with me. And I’m still fascinated that so often the experiences of others are so different than mine. We watch the same film yet we each have our own unique experience.
I have dozens of more films lined up that I plan to watch with groups. (And, at the same time, curiously I’ve found myself more drawn lately to listening to the telling of Life Stories in our 8-day Intensives. Hearing real people tell their stories in person about their real lives has become much more captivating to me than watching manufactured stories portrayed by fictional characters on a screen.)

Dance Parties!

Earlier this month, I hosted our 92nd(!) online dance party. I still really like organizing and hosting our online Dancing Alone Together dance parties. These began a few days into the initial Covid lockdown in March 2020. Since then, more than 200 different people have attended these dances (open only to people who have attended our workshops). I like that more than a hundred people have attended four or more times.
I never thought that I’d be DJ’ing music for other people to dance to or even be dancing alone together with others online would be something I enjoy. In fact, it’s one online event that I don’t dread attending, let alone leading. I like thinking that in 2024 I’ll host our 100th dance. (I seem to like reporting numbers when they hit one hundred.)
Oh, and I’m very much looking forward to our 4th annual New Year’s Day dance in a couple of days. I hope to see you there!

Trainee Program

Our Trainee Program remained active throughout 2023. In June, Michi Weichselbaum—who had assisted us in workshops for more than a year—was certified as an RH Trainer. And in August, Christian Zehetner—who had assisted us in workshops for more than a half a year—completed his time in our program. Tuulia and I wish you each well, Michi & Christian!

Currently in our Trainee Program are Josh Brostoff and Sanni Lehto. We’re looking forward to working with you more in workshops in 2024, Josh & Sanni! (And Sanni has also been helping us behind the scenes, including with things like sending out this newsletter.)

Trainings

Throughout 2023, Tuulia attended a year-long Comprehensive Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy Therapist training. While she has enjoyed the training tremendously (and the additional tools she has taken from it for her toolbox), she has decided to not continue with the full four-year training. Meanwhile, I did a five-day Voice Dialogue training which I enjoyed a lot (and similar to Tuulia, learned new things that I now use to assist me in my work in the workshops).
For 2024, Tuulia and I are excited to do more trainings, especially in Forest Bathing. This is a concept we plan to make more explicit as a part of the retreats we lead in the woods of Finland.

Radical Honesty Institute

I suppose the biggest change for us in 2023 was that Tuulia and I left as owners of the Radical Honesty Institute in July. While I had been proud to be part of the team that helped create a new RH organization after Brad Blanton’s retirement, I eventually learned that me being passionate about leading workshops didn’t translate into me being passionate about running a broader organization. Being part of a 10-person group trying to run a large organization created for me more stress than joy. Since mid-2022 especially, I spoke about how little pleasure the position brought me. Since stepping down as owners in July, I’ve enjoyed re-focusing my energies on what I am passionate about and what does bring me joy: organizing and hosting workshops and retreats. Tuulia and I will continue to run Radical Honesty workshops, though, while also organizing and hosting our other events.

Goodbye Vaavunjärvi!

Well, not necessarily a complete goodbye to Vaavunjärvi since that’s where I’m sitting at the moment as I type. Yet, after hosting retreats here since 2016 at Tuulia’s family’s simple summer cabins, in 2023 we hosted our 24th and 25th—and final—retreats here. While this place served us and our guests quite well—and many retreat attendees expressed great joy and appreciation about the place—Tuulia and I came to accept that it just wasn’t suitable to comfortably host groups in the way wanted for our retreats. Not having running water—while quaint and romantic—was also a pain in the ass (in terms of hauling in the drinking water, and working to compost hundreds of poops and scatter hundreds of liters of diluted urine in the woods and so on).

After the Summer Retreat in July 2023—our final retreat at Vaavunjärvi—I became rather nostalgic. As Tuulia and I broke down our summer set-up one last time, I recall thinking things like: “This is the last time I’ll rearrange this room after a retreat. This is the last time I’ll stack all these chairs in the garage.” And so on.
I think the most sentimental moment came when Tuulia and I had to deal with our six-meter-long outdoor dining table. Normally, we would have three or four other people help us haul it to its winter home in the lumber teepee. Yet Tuulia and I were on our own and there was no way we could carry that bulky and heavy table by ourselves. I then realized that since we would no longer be hosting groups here, we no longer had a need for an outdoor table that could comfortably seat 20 people. So I told Tuulia that I wanted us to dismantle the table. She was against that idea, preferring to keep it in tact, just in case we ever needed it. I told her that if we ever indeed needed it again, I was willing to rebuild it.

Dismantling our six-meter-long outdoor table was momentous for me. This table—that Anna Haas and I had built five years earlier to host my and Tuulia’s wedding celebration—returned to being just two very long, very thick planks of wood. Tuulia and I slid them underneath one of the buildings, not knowing if we’ll ever use them again. The realization that indeed Vaavunjärvi would no longer host groups then hit me hard.

Hello Syvilla!

Of course, the reason for us ending Vaavunjärvi as host to our retreats is because in 2023 we continued our process to make Syvilla our retreat home. Syvilla is similar to Vaavunjärvi in that it’s a collection of lakeside buildings in the woods of Finland with a wood-burning sauna. Yet it has running water(!) and a lakeside jacuzzi and has buildings much better suited to host groups outside the summer months and, in general, is much better set up to accommodate 15-20 people. In 2022, we became part-owners of Syvilla and in a few weeks from now—in February—Tuulia and I will become full owners of the place. (After typing that, I noticed my belly tightening with a thought of: “Oh, my gosh! All that added responsibility!” And, at the same time, my chest expanded with a thought of: “Yes! I’m excited to embark on this new adventure!“)????

In 2023, we led six retreats at Syvilla—including an 8-day Intensive in May—and we learned that the place indeed suited very well what we desired for our groups. For example, we hosted a couple of retreats in late-March / early-April, while there was still snow on the ground and ice on the lake. And all seemed to have run well (especially the guided meditation walks on the frozen lake!).❄️
In the spring of 2024, Tuulia and I will take off three months from leading workshops and retreats (our first calendar months without such work in 7.5 years!). During that time, we plan to do the aforementioned Forest Bathing trainings (including in Japan!) as well as work to organize Syvilla how we want it to be for our retreats (as well as our home!).

Private Clients

Tuulia and I have each continued to see private clients in 2023. My work continues to focus mainly on leading people in Somatic Experiencing sessions while Tuulia has found herself increasingly working with couples and parent & adult children in ongoing sessions (which she says she really loves.)❤️

Book!

In 2022, I created an 80,000-word manuscript about the power of one talking to their parents and sharing what they have been withholding from telling them (e.g. expressing their anger, sadness, appreciations, lies, worries, etc. to their parents). And by doing so completing a lot of the unfinished emotional business in one’s life and connecting with their parents more deeply. Much of that manuscript consists of inspirational success stories from fifty participants of our workshops.
I had hoped that in 2023 I would complete the book and make it available to be read by others. Instead, the manuscript sat on the shelf for most of the year. Now, though, in recent weeks, I’ve revised my enthusiasm for the project and have employed a couple of people to help me complete it. And if all goes well, you’ll be able to read this book for yourself in 2024! ✨

So, that’s the end of the year report for 2023 for Honesty Europe.

Happy New Year! I hope to see and/or hear from you in 2024!

Love and hugs,
Pete (& Tuulia)

PS—Oh, I just got excited as I watched through the window a fox run—no, gallop!—through the snow across the frozen lake.

Statistics! (Personally, my favorite part of the year-end newsletters!)

Number of in-person, multi-day Honesty Europe workshops per year

2015:  1
2016:  11
2017:  18
2018:  21
2019:  19
2020:  17
2021:  17
2022:  22
2023:  22

Number of those that Tuulia & Pete led together per year

2018:  15
2019:  15
2020:  15
2021:  13
2022:  16
2023:  19

Tuulia-led-without-Pete workshops per year

2018:  Three in Finnish, two with Jakob, one with Taber
2019:  Two in Finnish, one with Anna, one with Séan
2020:  One in Finnish, one with Bernie
2021:  Three in Finnish, one with Bernie
2022:  Two in Finnish, one with Micha, one with Kasia (when Pete had Covid), one with Michi
2023:  Three in Finnish (two of which with Sanni)

Types of workshops per year

2015:  1 weekend workshop
2016:  10 weekend workshops, 1 retreat
2017:  12 weekend workshops, 6 retreats
2018:  10 weekend workshops, 8 retreats, 3 8-day Intensives
2019:  10 weekend workshops, 7 retreats, 2 8-day Intensives
2020:  8 weekend workshops, 6 retreats, 3 8-day Intensives
2021:  7 weekend workshops, 7 retreats, 3 8-day Intensives
2022:  12 weekend workshops, 7 retreats, 3 8-day Intensives
2023:  10 weekend workshops, 9 retreats, 3 8-day Intensives

Number of countries per year

2015:  1 country (Netherlands)
2016:  5 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, U.K., Denmark)
2017:  8 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, U.K., Switzerland, Greece, Lithuania)
2018:  8 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece, U.K., Italy)
2019:  7 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Greece, Switzerland)
2020:  5 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain)
2021:  6 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland)
2022:  6 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Denmark)
2023:  5 countries (Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Denmark)

Number of people attended / number of spots available / percentage of filled spots

2018:  300 / 322 / 93.2%
2019:  277 / 300 / 92.3%
2020:  242 / 267 / 90.6%
2021:  245 / 272 / 90.0%
2022:  320 / 369 / 86.7%
2023:  309 / 367 / 84.2%

Female-to-male ratio per 100 participants (noting, of course, that not all of our workshop participants identify as either of these genders)

2018:
  58:42
2019:  55:45
2020:  63:37
2021:  59:41
2022:  55:45
2023:  49:51(!)

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