Highlights

If you haven’t already seen Highlights, the “dazzling annual showcase of artwork by members of Arts & Minds”, you now only have until Sunday, and you’ll really miss something if you don’t see it. The quote in the previous sentence is from the blurb in the Love Arts programme, but it’s really not an exaggeration. This is an extraordinary collection – very varied, in terms of the type of image on display, with photography, straight and manipulated; pencil drawings; paintings abstract and realistic, ranging from the fantastical to simple images of domestic pets and other animals; scenes of gritty urban life and idyllic scenes of nature – but all generally of a really high standard, at least as far as I could tell, as a lay person who likes to look at such things.

One of the artists, local poet Liz Helliwell, has already blogged about the opening last Wednesday – see  http://www.lizhelliwell.co.uk/2014/10/light-fantastic/ for her take.

I’ve put a few examples below to whet your appetitie, but they are really rather random – I liked so much of this collection that I’d have had to photograph most of it to give a true reflection. The Light is open from 6 a.m. to 12.30 a,m, daily, and the exhibition is staffed during the day. It’s free and the brochure says:. “Just turn up”. I would.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The images above are Royal Park School, by Jill Setterington; A Daydream by the Water’s Edge, by Ian Gill; Villification by Liz Helliwell; Veiled Garden by Amanda Burton; and Divine Mystery by Patrick Hanratty.

Leeds Abbey Dash 10k race -16th November

leeds abbey dash

 

MJD_8724

Age UK organise the above event annually, they are inviting you take part. Of this year’s event they say,

“This is the 29th year the Dash has taken place and it has grown to have 12,000 runners taking part this year and is the last event in the Run Britain Grand Prix Series.

The Abbey Dash is number 9 in Men’s Running’s top 10k races, and is now considered ‘one of the best events in the UK!’ The course is flat and fast, creating a great atmosphere for both beginners and advanced participants.

Money raised from the event will help to support older people in both the Leeds area and nationwide!”

SIGN UP TODAY – www.ageuk.org.uk/dash

Race information

Start: Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 4LT
Date: 16 November
Entry cost: £22 (£20 UKA)
Length: 10km (6.21 miles)
Course: Flat roads, out and back
Start time: 9.30am

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on this coming Friday, the 10th of October. The focus nationally this year is on ‘Living with Schizophrenia’. Throughout the week a variety of groups in Leeds will be doing their bit to raise awareness of ways to improve understanding of mental health issues generally, and about ways to wellbeing for those living with the experience of mental distress.

The third sector organisation Volition will be hosting a celebratory event on  World Mental Health Day itself. from 11 a.m to 3.00 at the Civic Hall in Leeds. This event is jointly organised by Leeds City Council’s, Adult Social Care, Time to Change Leeds and others. That such events are an annual occurrence, when people with lived experience, the public and related organisations can come together to speak openly about mental illness, is a cause for celebration. One aim of this event is a quest for conversation starters, and to help bust stigma, indeed having experience of mental illness is no reason for shame or stigma. Those of us with lived experience of mental distress can be proud of the ways we strive to grapple with symptoms. Our willingness and forthrightness in speaking  out about our experiences can aid others wellbeing.

As we approach the day it is useful to also reflect on this years highlighted theme, ‘Living with Schizophrenia’. What is the impact on individuals who’s symptoms lead to this diagnosis, on those who love and support them and the wider community?

We might also like to consider the Government’s recent report on public mental health, in which the Chief Medical Officer of Health states a commitment to the need for change in addressing stigma. In addition the report also highlights  the need to improve support for people who have lived experience of distressed mental health, to retain or find work. The aforementioned aims are worthy and do require ongoing attention, however as the following excellent article by Mark Gamsu points out, many of the causes of poor mental health are directly attributable to social inequality, the profile of health inequalitiies needs raising. Additionally the article highlights the need for wellbeing initiatives that have already proven effective to be retained, not curtailed.

You are welcome to join in or start a conversation about ways to maintain good mental health.

Sue Margaret

A realisation of Autumn – and a question…

That lady had brown eyes; the shop assistant.                                                                   She smiled and rustled the bag with a glint.                                                                           I went on my way, a hand in my pocket, as I crossed the road, and dragged my feet.

My watch says I should leave; its red second hand.                                                       A breeze on my face as my hands turn too cold.                                                         Imagine my luck, the path is now littered, in cases so small, right below my feet.

2014-09-24 12.29.05

Then all at once I see; that brown again.                                                                       Different to before though no less stirring.                                                                         Then now it begins, wholesome excitement, as my hat is conquered, in October wind.

2014-09-24 12.29.13

As I look at the conkers.                                                                                                 “Cool, great” I think.                                                                                                           “Yes, I’ve got it…. that’s what I’ll write about”                                                                         My phone barely has time to blink.                                                                               Literally tickled as I move my palm across it.                                                                 When in an instant,                                                                                                         Flash… Flash… Flash… and the conkers are remembered forever.                           Stirring questions in my mind, like a big vat is stirred at a factory.

Indeed, if I may be so bold as to think, “what a strange word”.                                         And why is it so called?

Conker?”                                                                                                                                Is it because it…

Conkers the paths?                                                                                                     Conkers this season?                                                                                                 Conkers the imaginations of kids in the yard?                                                             Conkers my thoughts?

2014-09-24 12.28.56

Or perhaps, my friend, yours.                                                                                           After just having perhaps partaken, in this little adventure.

By Amanda Lynsdale

The Scientifically Proven Times to Post on Social Media for Optimum Engagement

Originally posted on Red Website Design Blog:

One of the keys to a successful social media marketing strategy is generating engagement with your followers. Whether it’s a retweet, comment or a like, that engagement propels your message into the timelines of others and increases your brand awareness.

To ensure you’re posting at times that generate optimum social engagement take a look at this infographic from Argyle Social. It looks at the best times of day and week to post depending on the network you are using and whether you’re B2B or B2C.

View original

Body learning*

The saying “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”, is often incorrectly attributed to Buddha. Regardless of who first coined the phrase, I find it a wise saying, and applicable to myself as a student of body learning.

Recently over a period of days it’s wisdom floated up into my consciousness. A aha moment as I was practicing the Zen art of washing up!. I’m not making fun of such philosophies. I do believe there is much to be gained spiritually from doing seemingly mundane chores, especially if whilst doing them we remain mindful of body use. I don’t always feel so reverential towards my dirty crockery, this particular episode of enlightenment came soon after a ‘top up’ Alexander Technique Lesson.

I was first introduced to the Alexander Technique many years ago after recurrent attacks of debilitating and painful back spasm. At that time my focus was primarily on relieving pain, I did not complete the recommended course of 12 weekly sessions. The student was not ready. In more recent years I did take the full, one-to-one course. I now see my current teacher, Grant Ragsdale, just a few times a year. and often when I am ill at ease with self or external events. I saw Grant this week for a ‘top-up’, on this occasion ……the student was ready.

I don’t consider myself a particularly good pupil, or example of effective body use. I easily slip back into poor use, hunching shoulders or slumping my spine, thereby compressing my chest. and constricting my breathing. Maintaining poise is an ideal but I look forward to being ‘topped up’, applying the principles more fully, and with gratitude well in to later life. Having a lesson always frees me up, although immediately after I might feel disoriented, as if I’m in a different body and head space. A lifetime of poor use is hard to undo.

Habitual misuse can be the result of  defending ourselves from perceived, or actual physical and emotional threats. In addition circumstance might mean we constantly act out of harmony with our feelings, by so doing we risk cutting our thought off from feeling, I do, and that’s why reminders are necessary. I find the Alexander Technique lessons serves as a reminder.

That the physical and emotional influences, we experience during childhood impact on our health and well-being can hardly be disputed. If our physiological inheritance is sound, and we are lucky to observe from “significant others”, effective use of emotions and body, our general resilience can be enhanced. We therefore have a better chance of withstanding the many ordinary, and extraordinary life events we humans face. If our role models in childhood did not allow us to mirror a useful sense of self, it makes inroads on our later resilience, it’s then that our emotional balance figures large in bodily tension. It is easy to see how when under stress this can be the tipping point for mental distress. Should this happen and our distress becomes pathologised, medicalised,  the body’s signals along with our voice may get quietened.

The modern Western lifestyle itself can place an additional strain on useful functioning of the body. Within our relationships ‘mirroring ‘ occurs and it ‘s common to imitate dominant physical and emotional traits. Gang culture demonstrates this well, when a particular body stance or swagger signifies membership. Climate too has an influence on the way we use our body. In cultures and climates where less restrictive clothing, and all year round outdoor activitities, allow for freer posture, good use is evident. Inhabitants of developing countries where material disadvantage, and where the oppression of civil unrest is common, nonetheless manage to maintain erect posture well in to old age. We in the West seem less fortunate, our bodies telling the tale of our mind/body split when under stress.

Often times a mental or physical breakdown, though very traumatic, can also be a chance to see what’s up,**  through it we may become more  aware of our misuse and untenable lifestyle. Awareness is a step toward undoing poor use.The Alexander Technique is a means whereby we can have a go at undoing poor habits. Remaining mindful of the Alexander Tachnique principles is not a cure all. The Alexander Technique as Grant tells us in the following video is about psycho-physical unity.  Like most things if you don’t take heed of your body’s signals there will be times faulty body/mind connections might trouble you.

As Grant has explained the ideal way to learn the lesson is in a one-to-one session, and this incurs a fee (concessions may be available).Group lessons are a viable alternative and a cheaper introduction. Grant Ragsdale and his colleague Maureen White offer both methods of learning at the Swarthmore Education Centre. New group sessions commence on Monday 29th September at 3.30p.m.to 5p.m. and on Tuesday 30th September at 6p.m.-7.30p.m., and continue for eight weeks. Swarthmore group sessions are subsidised for some income groups, therefore concessions are available.

Affording lessons can be an issue, at the time I first took a course of lessons, when as currently my income wasn’t huge I still made lessons a priority. I’ve paid for lessons by a combination of forgoing other priorities, or when a L.E.T.S, (Local Exchange and Trading scheme) was active in Leeds, paid in beads!…doing childcare, ironing, cleaning ovens, bookkeeping to accrue beads in the ‘bank’. There are stirrings of similar schemes starting again locally, (if you know of more please share the information).

Learning the Alexander principles has not cast a rosy glow over everything in my life, knowing them did not prevent me from having breakdown. My Alexander teacher at that time was accepting of my seemingly bizarre, unfolding story, having her alongside me accepting of my truth when at my worst, was in itself a stabilising, and calming influence. I am still often presented with troublesome and disquieting times, but I believe the Alexander Technique principles enable me to be more  ‘present’, more able to identify thoughts and feelings, and thus to reflect …why do I have this headache, feel tense, have ‘butterflies’,feel elated, high? …..it’s rarely just physical.

Sue Margaret

* ‘Body Learning’ by Michael Gelb.

An inspiring book about learning and applying  the Alexander Technique

** “Inward Bound” by Sam Keen.This book has helped me on many occasions of self doubt.

Recommended Reading: Virginia Woolf’s Diaries

Leeds Wellbeing Web:

An inspiring piece for writers; aspiring writers, bloggers and readers alike. Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Most successful writers do one or two things really, really well. Then there’s that small group of word magicians who can keep us riveted while recounting their trip to the greengrocer. Virginia Woolf firmly belongs among the latter. If you ever need proof, check out her diaries, where you’d be hard-pressed to find a non-mesmerizing sentence:

VirginiaWoolf

The heat has come, bringing with it the inexplicably disagreeable memories of parties, and George Duckworth; a fear haunts me even now, as I drive past Park Lane on top of a bus.

Diary entry from May 25, 1926

Beyond the mere pleasure of her prose, however, Woolf’s diaries contain so much wisdom, so much focused insight on the craft, and struggle, and pleasures of writing, that reading through any random entry is worth roughly 73 “How to become a better writer” articles. Case in point:

Yesterday I finished the first part of To the Lighthouse, and…

View original 491 more words