What has transformation felt like to you in 2021?

The NEW team shares short reflections from the last 12 months.

Flavio Di Stefano

2021 was one heck of a bag, filled with emotions, moves, accomplishments, and doubts. It was a year of finding meaning in my studies, my work, my internships, and my relationships. At the NEW Center, we dealt with major emergency repairs while also trying to uplift the spirits of the NEW Center community members. This was hard at times – people were facing all sorts of challenges, and I didn’t want to force positivity on them and on myself. It was something that I wanted to come naturally, but many times it did not, and so I surfed the waves. And from time to time, moments of joy came through. That’s when I felt meaningful transformation take place. My 2022 begins before the end of the year, going back to see people and places that bring me the most joy after two years of not being able to visit them. I will have a lot to tell them about the past two year. How I completed my master’s at home, on a laptop, at 3pm one afternoon. How much I learned about mold remediation. How refreshing it was to see the Huron River going into work. How I was approved to become a US citizen behind plexiglass. And more. But most importantly, how excited I am to begin a new year knowing that I did all that alongside family, friends, partners, and colleagues whom I am inspired by and cherish, knowing that they will continue to be by my side.

Flavio Di Stefano, Building Coordinator

Hamida Bhagirathy

What a year 2021 has been! This season’s writers created some wild plot lines. There were moments I totally wiped out and felt the depths of sorrow, and moments I was able to ride the crest of a wave and revel in joy. I often drew upon Eckhart Tolle for inspiration – “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” This is not to “silver-line” this year’s events, but there is something to simply accepting “it is what it is”, taking a deep breath, picking oneself up, and deciding what the next move will be. There is also something to savoring success, taking a deep breath, dusting your shoulder off, and affirming “yes, yes I did that”. 

As I’ve led our fledgling Learning Communities, we found ourselves asking the hard questions, responding more than reacting, and searching for learning within tricky situations. Season Two of Covid has been a wily one, and our team has risen to these challenges in deeply honest, earnest, and thoughtful ways. Ultimately, we coalesced to carve out new paths and sketch out new maps–sloughing off things that aren’t serving us and trying on new things for size. Throughout this, a question I’ve repeatedly asked myself and others is “How are you showing up for yourself?”, and I offer the same question to you. As we usher in 2022 in a scant month, how will you show up for yourself?

Hamida Bhagirathy, Director of Learning Communities

Judy Nimer Muhn

In a word, INTENTIONALITY. At NEW, when we get an inkling to change something but aren’t sure how, we often begin with the question, “What’s not working about the way we do things now?” 2020 shoved this question into our faces, and pushed many of us to confront the ways our lives are structured to prevent us from flourishing. I entered 2021 with a clear sense of “what’s not working.” That allowed me to transform with intentionality. I was astounded by how much this intentionality guided me in making the right changes at the right moment – even through the continued limitations of the pandemic.

Hillary Watson, Organizational Development Consultant

Judy Nimer Muhn

Transformation has been an up and down journey this year. Losses of loved ones, personal connections, and the ability to stay in touch created some truly difficult times. Zoom fatigue was part of that as my community circles lost patience with themselves, the technology (or lack of access), and sometimes each other. Emotional nights and traumatic misunderstandings have left a gap in my network. AND…I am deeper, blessed and enriched by these too, as there was a clearing, a cleansing and a revival of relationships that came to a new level because of what was happening. My spiritual practices have deepened and sustained me in truly marvelous ways, and connected me to a new “river” of energy that I can tap. I am ending this year with a new centeredness and hope for what is coming, as my Elders have offered, “a Spirit Being this way comes walking” – which is a hopeful message of anticipation that I embrace. My gratefulness to the NEW community, especially my co-workers, has been sustaining in ways they don’t even know!

Judy Nimer Muhn, Organizational Development Specialist

Terri McKinnon

Transformation has taken on a whole new level for me in 2021. But we were led here by the events that have unfolded, in particular, the last five years.

It has been a struggle to navigate these waters and stay afloat on the waves. These were tsunami waves rippling throughout my work life, my personal life, and the cultural and political landscape that backdrops it all.

For me, the ability to stay afloat lies in my deepest connections. My best friends, my children, my parents, and always my soul partner (my husband) and our fur-babies.  Although these relationships test me at times, they also provide me the needed support to stay steady and persevere.

I have grown so much in the last eight years and spread my wings in ways I never imagined for myself. I have tested myself and the world around me, and found that there are pathways awaiting to be explored and relished.

The future is never certain, the past written for better or worse, the present is the moment to live and seize upon.  Saddle up because we’ve only just begun on the journey to a better world.

Terri McKinnon, Director of IT Operations

Yodit Mesfin Johnson

For me, 2021 brought a deepening practice of wellness and wholeness personally and at NEW. “You cannot pour from an empty cup” resounded loudly in my mind and spirit. It was also a year of operationalizing and honoring the radical imaginations that we uncovered in 2020. This included institutionalizing rest, listening and taking guidance from local leaders of color, and incorporating more embodied practices into our work with clients and partners. We breathed, danced, laughed together, and so much more, in spite of all that was happening around us. I also found myself shedding old habits of perfectionism, urgency, defensiveness, and scarcity – replacing them with abundant thinking, generative conflict, and a willingness to ask for help and admit my own shortcomings. This year felt like we made transformation more than an inspiring word, but a way of being that’ll forever change how we work and interact with those around us. I am ending the year with a sense of accomplishment and greater clarity about our work in 2022 – which includes transforming our physical space!

Yodit Mesfin Johnson, President & CEO