Recommended – the Fourth Annual Chisi Awards

Way back in 2017 I did a slightly tongue in cheek blog post, back when I was writing more frequently, passing on recommendations as “awards” for the things which had made a real difference to me that year and which I thought others may find interesting or hepful.

I decided to repeat this annually and feedback has always been appreciative of the suggestions, so here we are, at the fourth annual Chisi awards. As mentioned in those previous posts the name Chisi comes from a nickname from a very good friend and it seemed a fitting title for the awards. I am always very nervous when writing these annual award posts, I don’t want to upset anyone by missing them out or by suggesting a winner. I know what it is like to do something creative , to share with others and to open yourself up to the vulnerability and feelings that brings with it. So I hope that all those mentioned, and indeed all those who write, talk and share stuff that helps others who I haven’t mentioned, see this post as a heartfelt thank you for what you have done this year – your work matters.

Okay, so as opening speech’s go that wasn’t perhaps up there with Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, so lets wander down the red carpet and join in celebrating some brilliant folks doing fantastic work…and hopefully you will find some recommendations which you might also find useful….

Books – as is often said, so many books, so few hours. This year am going to have a number of winners, across different categories. And I will be honest, a few of these have been featured in the #365DaysOfCompassion book club, which has been another privilege to host this year – but not every book that appears there is included (although they could have been) and the authors don’t know about these awards….(in fact I may do a separate blog about the 2020 book club before year end).

First, the Chisi Award for Books That Are Helpful For Young People – the runner up is “What is mental health? Where does it come from?” by Lucy Maddox , which featured in the book club in February. It’s a down to earth look at various aspects of mental health, featuring some great contributions and presented in a very accessible manner. The winner was also a book club feature, and its the wonderful ‘Freedom’ by Chris Fraser and Heather Doyle Fraser. Blending compassion and acceptance concepts to help understand and look after mental wellbeing in the teen years, accompanied by beautiful illustrations, it’s a superbly written and presented book.

Moving onto the Chisi Fiction Award and this was an easy winner – its the truly wonderful “The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse” by Charlie Mackesy. Imagine a fireplace, a snuggly chair, with a warm drink and a comforting throw or blanket – now add this book and you may just experience a moment of perfection. It’s not only the drawings, its the common humanity and sense of understanding that pervades throughout its pages.

The winner of the Chisi Award for the ‘I wish I had read this book earlier in life’ is Malie Coyne’s “Love In, Love Out”, which is full of compassionate wisdom and inspiration for parents. Full disclosure, a quote of mine does appear amongst the pages, it is a very helpful book drawing upon CFT principles to support parents, acknowledging its hard and we often get it wrong, but meeting that with compassionate wisdom and non-judgementally can help.

The winner of the “This book has really made me think” Chisi Award is one which features somewhere in my thinking just about every time I use social media. It is Elaine Kasket’s “All The Ghosts In The Machine”, which considers what happens to our digital legacy after we die. It really goes further than that, bringing to mind about how we view and talk about grief and death, what we leave behind and the connections we make. Seriously thought provoking.

The penultimate book award and its the Chisi Award for ‘The Book That Made Me Laugh When I Wanted To Cry’, which actually I was introduced to through the book club – it is James Withey’s “How To Tell Depression To Piss Off”. Mental health conditions like depression are often not topics for humour and it can be a fine balance to get right – and James gets it spot on. The book is helpful, with good advice, but its not a self-help book that will tell you how to “beat” depression. Rather it’s an honest, wry and well observed account of things which may help, but never preaches, from someone speaking with real experience. It’s like a conversation with a witty friend.

And now onto the Chisi Book of 2020, which I decided on by answering the question “If I had to recommend one book from this year what would it be?” This is a book that has resonated so deeply with me, both personally and at an academic level -it is Sue Stuart-Smith’s “The Well-Gardened Mind”. The book blends research and personal reflections to consider that fundamental relationship we have with nature, in many contexts and situations. From our own garden, to horticultural therapy , to urban green spaces and much, much more. And it’s beautifully written too, interwoven with understanding, humanity and yes, compassion. Cannot recommend this book highly enough.

So moving on from books but sticking with writing, its the Chisi Blog award. I haven’t written as much personally this year, something I may address in 2021. It really does take time and can bring with it many emotions when posting, so I have huge respect for two blog writers, with some of their posts shared under the #365DaysOfCompassion hashtag through this year – Naomi Whittingham and Jo Moss, both who write with an openness and honesty about their chronic health conditions and wellbeing in very eloquent ways, with the gift of offering an insight into their daily challenges. Thank you both for your writing. The Chisi Blog Award goes to Miles Richardson, whose Finding Nature blog provides a view on the role nature can play in supporting our wellbeing, sharing some of the work Miles does with organisations as well as sharing research around nature connection. All three of these blogs are worth following and taking some time to read back through their many posts.

I’d like to mention here someone who dabbled with blogging this year and I hope she writes again – so the first ever Chisi Blog Encouragement award goes to Maggie Murray. Go on, write some more Mags!

Half-way there now….let’s move onto the Chisi Video Award. I am going to highlight three really good YouTube video channels you could consider subscribing to. Firstly, Chia-Ying Chou, whose video series looks at hoarding through a compassionate lens – but you don’t have to suffer from hoarding to benefit from her overviews on key compassion concepts and suggestions on how they can help. Secondly, Jonny Say’s brilliant guided practices and talks via The Mindfulness Circle series, covering key concepts and providing daily hints and tips. Lastly and the winner of the Chisi Video Award is Stan Steindl, who this year has absolutely owned YouTube (well, okay, when it comes to compassion, while wearing a t-shirt he has…). Informative, well timed and presented with good humour, these are brilliant overviews on compassion principles, concepts and ways to help in daily life, for both professionals and non-professionals.

Right, the most hotly contested category of the awards, podcasts, which is always difficult for me to judge and this year there are two Chisi awards.

The first is the Chisi For Best New Podcast , where the series needed to have started at the very end of 2019 or during 2020. Runner ups for this award are – The Compassion Collective hosted by Michaela Swee and Susan Murray; Pause, Purpose Play hosted by Michaela Thomas and Playing It Safe by Patricia Zurita Ona. All three would have been worthy winners and hope they all keep going in 2021. The winner of the Chisi For Best New Podcast goes to the Noble Mind podcast by Alex Gokce and Katherine King, who have hosted some great guest discussions.

It’s time for the coveted Chisi Podcast Award, as I have a real soft spot for a good podcast. Every one of the following podcasts could have won. The Compassion Initative hosted by Stan Steindl and James Kirby promised so much at the start of the year, but the dynamic duo were thwarted by coronavirus restrictions and so only a few episodes for us to treasure. Lucy Maddox has continued to deliver informative and helpful monthly episodes of the Let’s Talk About CBT series, and Sarah Rees also continued with a mixture of guests and solo episodes , including a great episode to end 2020 on and look ahead to 2021. The runner up for the award is the excellent Off The Clock Psychologists, so close to wining this year. Outstanding level of quality discussions, diverse topics covered and brilliant guests, it really is a podcast that grows stronger, hosted collectively by Debbie Sorensen, Jill Stoddard, Diana Hill and Yael Schobrun.

And so onto the winner, with its gentle wit, openness and honesty, the authentic personal sharing that its host provides, alongside some super guests, it’s a repeat win for the brilliant PeopleSoup and Ross McIntosh. Have followed PeopleSoup from episode one and know how much it means to Ross, it really is an excellent series (with lovely free bookmarks too)…and not forgetting the amazing Big G, the powerhouse behind the screens.

And that leaves one more award, the Chisi for Compassionate Inspiration. It goes to someone who has made a significant difference to me personally during the year. This is the award which makes me most nervous, as it could go to many people I have the honour of knowing and also don’t want to embarrass the recipient. Here goes …the 2020 winner is the wonderful human being that is Rose Horton-Smith. Not many people may know Rose, but she has been a long time, steadfast member of the #365DaysOfCompassion community, who provides support and encouragement to many of us within that community. Thank you Rose for your support this year – it made a difference.

And that is the Chisi Awards for 2020 – hope there was something in this post which has inspired you and all those mentioned are all winners, I can’t wait to see what you do in 2021.

Perhaps you could leave a comment here or on social media with your suggestions for a Chisi- what blogs, books, videos or podcasts have inspired and helped you this year – am always looking out for recommendations too!

Right, the post-award red carpet interviews are calling….take care and have a lovely Christmas.


PS coming up on the blog next week will be the plans for #365DaysOfCompassion in 2021!

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