The times they are a’changin

Tock-tick!

& miraculously!… (actually mechanically) with a quick flick of the wrist. Hey Presto we’ve turned back time. To find we’ve earlier darker evenings.

No matter that the turning back time ritual takes place  each year in UK it makes many people disorientated. That’s hardly surprising for it occurs when nature is already heralding a change for the colder seasons. And we’re humans not machines, unlike time pieces, we’re not so easily adjusted.

One of my time pieces depicted here, doesn’t keep time anymore. With it’s zany numbering it never accurately told time. Always Dylanesque. It’s a keepsake, reminding me of its maker and also I guess that measuring time needs the occasional disruptive and zany take.

In my ‘Songs of Praise’ blog I suggested the darker evenings were an atmospheric time to reflect and write. The return to longer hours conjures memories of crafts done by the fireside at home. There’s no doubt writing is a craft and not the easiest for some!

Those of us old enough to remember using (and making) coal fires will know that as a focal point of our homes, fireplaces served both practical and symbolical uses. Images of sitting near a radiator just  don’t comfort in quite the same way.

Mother Nature would have got us to the darker evenings in her own sweet, slower way, but that’s humans for you always manipulating nature. Not that I think that’s all bad.

So at least for a week or two ‘she’ allows us a lighter hour in the morning. And what  spectacular Autumn mornings we’ve had.

November already! And just a short sprint to mid-winter festivals.

Because this is a blog about wellbeing, and I referred in my earlier blog about simple pastimes that aid my wellbeing; good friends, songs and how a dissenting religous upbringing gave me much to be happy about..

…bear with me while I tie those two notions; ‘wellbeing’ and ‘dissent’ together, as I relate a recent experience in my quest to remain well.

In my desire to reduce use of medication I’ve been prescribed for many years I agreed for my GP to refer me to a psychiatrist for advice how to do that. I was 99% confident I was mentally well and therefore not intent on seeking assessment for that.**(check footnote)

The 1%  doubt?…. I do think having once been acutely mentally distressed and receiving a diagnosis does even though well, allow self-doubt to creep in. It does for me especially when I encounter things that seriously test my sense of perception, at those times I can quickly become emotionally aroused, filled with self-doubt, distressed, and disorientated because I can’t match thought with feeling…..

Feelings like….stomach churning, dizziness, forgetfulness, a pounding head…and then feeling ‘down’, emotionally, drained; wrung out like a wet cloth.
That’s how ‘stepping’ in, and then out of the psychiatrists office on this occasion left me. And with a prescription for increased medication!

I’d been discharged from  CMHT for years but I’ve visited the same building for different services in the interim.CAB etc but it’s not been triggering. Although seeing people in the waiting area there who are acutely unwell is never a pleasant experience.

So what has a dissenting religious upbringing got to do with that? For me its because it helped me develop an inner strength when stigmatized for my core beliefs. Alert to other similar instances when ‘gaslighting’ occurs. And a drive to voice any injustice in creative ways. Experience shows that addressing them directly at ‘source’ is not always a safe option or wise when mental health is in doubt.

Time will tell how this current assault on personal truth pans out. It did knock me off course but the reassurance of friends, very much appreciated, helped me regain composure sufficiently well to draw upon my inner wellspring of self belief, to declare I am mentally well.

Lily.P

** my view on psychiatry are personal and I know many do excellent work, I’ve experienced some good practice.  Medication has it’s place and I do not ‘pill shame’ or advocate anyone stopping medication without appropriate support. I was however recently able to attend the relaunch of Sorteria in Bradford and the Soteria Network  are a useful resource for anyone who does seek support reducing or coming off.

 

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Songs of praise

 

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So, in among the Autumn season, with all it’s mellow vibes and vistas, the slow turning of Summer hues edging into Fall’s more glorious gold and amber tinged days.
Blood red & burnt orange berries (so plump and plentiful this year), the rustling leaves, and blustery days,… I get the ‘call’ to go to church.

I hasten to add I’m no longer a Christian nor was I ever a traditional church goer. My upbringing though firmly of Christian tradition was the dissenting kind.
I am pleased that it was!
(But that’s another blog story) to be told when turned back clocks will suddenly make our daylight hours much shorter.

So why or what ‘called’ me to church earlier this Autumn? … I’m not sure. Maybe the memory of the harvest hymn with it reassurance….”all is safely gathered in”. The gathering together of people for other than material needs?

I went to a faith school as a child, and there learned to love many of the things which at home I’d been told I ought abstain from! But I loved Harvest Festival, I loved the old hymns, and songs of praise in daily assembly. And so did my parents when I sang hymns for them at home possibly reasoning that ‘true’ Christians saints could well have written them…”For all the saints…”

Church buildings? …I was a little fearful of them when young especially the gargoyles but not these days, now I embrace the iconography of dark and light, the cherabim, seraphim and gargoyles alike.
I like the musk or myrrh incense, polished wood pews, mosaic stained glass windows and that rather musty smell.

At the start of Autumn I attended church and though none of the old hymns were sung it was lovely to have a live music  trio to play the newer ones. New tunes, a newer dogma for a different era of belief. The sermon was more like a public talk, and the prayers led by a young female member not clergy. I liked the fellowship that happened halfway through the service when everyone circulated and greeted each other, “peace be with you” and shook hands.

I’ve a regular visitor who comes to my home after attending their Sunday morning church service, and we do sometimes lapse into songs of praise or …nursery rhyme after our hastily assembled corner shop lunch offering.

Mr Kipling still does ‘fancies’, and Del Monte, their fruit cocktail, which probably aren’t full of vitamins, or health giving but they seem to aid the snooze factor, because soon after eating we doze off in our respective chairs! We are after all well over a certain age.

And then on waking a sing-song before we bid farewell.

It happened this last Sunday, I’d thought to cancel the visit as I wasn’t too well, but low and behold a dose of “Love divine all love excelling”…and other old hymns, together with an interchange of simple pleasantries with “my good friend”,* perked me up.

A ‘taste’ of former days when sans landline, gadgets & digi devices people popped by, and ‘entertainment’ was spontaneous….often accompanied by corner shop bought fodder. Angel Delight! Anyone remember that? Or Spam…when spam only came in cans with a key! None of your ring pull modernisation..

I love many of the advances we’ve made technically and gastronomically!
…but I hope we can still hang on to enjoying face-to-face times with good friends along the way.

Lily.P

* “my good friend”.My visitor who I’ve known 30+ years  (we were only on “good morning” terms back then, as part of our respective daily commutes) always greets me this way.
Most other friendships don’t need this kind of affirmation, for it’s taken as read, but I still find it pleasant, and one of an earlier era where quaint was welcome.

Creativity

Five words that I feel capture the essence of creativity most are: spontaneity, catalyst, commitment, expression, and relief. You can contribute your own words here.

The explanation for my choices is….

Spontaneity
Creative ideas can occur to us unexpectedly.

Catalyst
Like a photograph our initial creative thoughts develop quickly.

Commitment
No matter how long it takes, we should pursue our creative idea to completion.

Expression
Creativity has to reflect our individuality.

Relief
Like the painter who draws their best portrait, you can feel fulfilled with your creative output.

With respect to my creativity, my chosen words become most relevant under certain ‘conditions’.  I am at my most creative when I’m; getting positive feedback, in the company of friends and family, when seeing the creative work of others, and when refreshed after a walk.

Motivated by these ‘conditions’, my creativity is channelled in the following ways…

Writing
My creative ‘vice’ is writing. My ideas come from anywhere. I see my body of writing as a continuous record of my emotions. I feel that writing frees me from the ‘responsibility’ for my ideas, for then I can think about new things. I try to use language creatively when writing.

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Media
I creatively express myself, by choosing to absorb media products (like DVDs and books) that are distinctly ‘me’. Some media products profoundly, and positively, alter me. I am amazed when I find other people have given them to charity, because these products (like the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) gave me different perspectives.

Clothes
Being able to choose my own style of clothing at college, meant I could express myself through fashion. I often chose to wear layers, a poncho, and odd socks. I like buying clothes. When I wear clothes from charity shops, where items are not donated in bulk, I like feeling “unique”.

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Tidiness
“A place for everything…”. As a lecturer of mine once said: humans tend to scatter things behind them. Where something ‘lives’ might therefore, kangaroo-like, ‘hop’ about. In my living space, all of my belongings have their ‘place’. I like being organised because I get a cathartic sense of achievement, and I like the space that materialises when I’ve uncluttered.

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Social Media
I customise the look of my social media pages, for instance WordPress. My Facebook activity log, and wall, have links to internet articles of personal interest. I get a creative high from compressing a small section, of the internet’s large field of digital content.

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Making others laugh
I enjoy using my verbal skills to make others laugh. I try to emulate the comedians that I admire, such as Jim Carrey and Tommy Cooper. I frequently experiment with word play, and create jokes, as I have done for years. Making people laugh this way is uplifting.

In view of the fact that this article is for a website that discusses well-being, I will now explore the link between my creativity and well-being.

My creative impulses spontaneously compel me to do creative things, like cutting my own hair or colouring in. When I do have an urge to be creative, which is similar to an innate ‘drive’, I just have to follow the impulse before I can do anything else. Doing creative activities makes me feel that I am being positive and constructive.

People seem to like the feeling of being spiritually ‘freed’, as well as feeling productive, when they do something that expresses who they are. I think these are the traits of creativity, that most benefit well-being.

Thank you for reading – I hope you enjoyed it.

By 1Blog3

Sources:

social media image – social media icons: Ibrahim.ID (author): 03/01/06 – found on https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Socialmedia-pm.png (accessed 22/06/2018)(Attribution) By Ibrahim.ID [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

comedy stage image – Empty stage for a stand-up comedy show: Carlos Delgado (author) – found on https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stand-up_comedy_-_Stage.jpg (accessed 22/06/2018) …  (Attribution) Carlos Delgado [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

comedy mask image – A Comedy icon, based on the Drama Icon: Abu badli~commonswiki (user author) – found on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Comedyicon.svg (accessed 22/06/2018)

Springtime in the countryside

Spring lambs, Daffodils, and a cheeky Muscovy Duck

It’s such a beautiful time of year to explore the countryside.  I find spring is good for my soul!  After a long winter it’s finally here (although still cold!)

I went on a beautiful country walk this morning around Ilkley Moor,  and what was most memorable were the beautiful daffodils of differing shades and spring lambs kicking their heels and wagging their tails whilst suckling milk from their mums.    I felt joy at these precious sights, and forgot about other things for a while.  I was in awe at the  delicate beauty of the flower, and captivated by the energy and playfulness of the little lambs, who radiated happiness! 

Nature isn’t  a panacea for all my woes, but I found today very soothing and I feel refreshed.   On  Saturday evening,  I visited Golden Acre Park and fed the ducks.  (Rock and Roll!:))  There is a Muscovy Duck there who is such a confident character,   I read a couple of local birding blogs, and it seems others have had encounters with him,  apparently he’s bitten a couple of people.  I would say he is a cross between a goose and a duck, he has the cheek of a goose.  I enjoyed his company.

#springtimeinleeds #soothingnature

 

 

Friday Sketch Club at the Aubrey and Stanley Gallery in Leeds.

The Friday Sketch Club is a fantastic resource in a beautiful building, the Aubrey and Stanley Gallery at the University – just up the Parkinson Steps.  They provide the paper, pencils and a topic.  I find it cathartic and soothing.  Yet I haven’t been in ages.

I always told myself that I was “crap at art” – I think I’ve said those three words to myself over and over again since school days.  I probably have etched a superhighway in my brain telling me this.    However…

I now often challenge this thinking and understand that our appreciation of art is subjective.  Poetry is written from the heart, no matter how eloquent, or not, the wording may be.  Creativity doesn’t feel so soul enriching when it is restricted to the elite.  I like to think that it is not about the end product but the process – for myself at least.

Allowing myself to be creative can feel very nurturing – and a catharsis at times.

Friday Sketch Club – Aubrey and Stanley Gallery        The secret Lives of Sculptures

The Maquette of the Levitating Woman  (Model of a sculpture – The real one is in the University grounds)  by Quienten Bell – to See if you can capture the fluid lines of the drapery and the dream-like figure in your sketch today.
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My Sketch  levitating-lady-sketch

 

A final note:  I actually started writing this blog post eight months ago! I had stopped drawing and other creative activities as I felt I had pressing issues which should take precedence.   However in retrospect I can see that it was especially important for me then,  to keep activities which made me feel happy and in the moment. Keeping my spirit alive really is important for me to stay well.

I found this draft and for me it is a reminder for me of the importance of Joy.

Reading Lives

You meander back after a long bus ride
When something catches your eye
From that charity shop window

And a mat shakes hands with your shoes

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Shelves burst with wallpaper samples
That swallow chunks of intricately shattered porcelain
Showing skillful limbs or perceived skirts

Then you see droplets
Marked with words like “Huckleberry Finn”
Whilst, somewhere,
Clusters of other letters dissolve into a grid

That canvas bucket can carry each drop
But it doesn’t hold the aroma of royal silver

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Your feet create the latest dance craze
Born between those display cases
And kindled by the looks of tired assistants
The calcium in your arms turns blue

Finally a plastic bag cradles a clear conscience
Anticipating only the journey
Unobstructed by personal greetings
To the reader who thinned the pages

Once home your new book falls open
To reveal an abyss 
From where Twain returns a ticket
To the city of Yellbormoon

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You claw for the box
Where an envelope addressed “…”
And a faceless group image
Both specked with red wool
Scrunch the train ticket to Y….moon
With the energy of 4,000 giants
And they will for 40 years

Like stranded boatmen
At times bump a buoy
Familiar strangers
Gently graze your history
Requesting in lieu of your gratitude
A mere time capsule

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By A.L. 

This poem is about collecting together the old train tickets, messages, and even photos, which are sometimes found in books that are bought at charity shops. Though I certainly do not keep things that aren’t mine, my poem here aims to hint at the notion that by putting each of these things in a time capsule one could hypothetically preserve the existence of strangers (who have floated into an out of one’s life) for years. I contributed this poem to Leeds Wellbeing Web, because I felt the above notion was an interesting concept.

Writing on the wall

Short on motivation or inspiration for something to write about?  I often am, I start drafts then abandon them.

If that happens I find using a pictorial and/or photographic image that I own might act as a prompt, or alternatively there are many on the internet that inspire me.

Here I’m using a photo of an ‘art work’ I did in the early stages of recovery from ‘breakdown’. Which was long before smart phones, it’s a polaroid…..fading fast.

As one of the last people on admission in the soon to be closed psychiatric hospital, I along with others had been asked to create art ‘on the wall’. Not previously known for my ‘art’ skills, I chose words.

The photograph helps me to remember the sheer determination and slog  it took to recover from the experience of ‘breakdown’, the kindness of some, in this case a male nurse who helped me, and though heavily medicated, the inner voice that helped me be bold enough to write an indictment on the wall of that particular establishment. It felt good, it still does!

I wasn’t making a statement about the staff, for most were kind but was a statement against a society and an institute that uses both invasive and psychoactive medication as the first line of treatment. I think since then there has been some progress in using complimentary and alternative treatment, and much of that change has come from the activism of those with lived experience, often called ‘survivors’. People who continue to tell their truth whether it’s ‘writ’ large or small, in text, verbal or pictorial.

And the writing on the wall? What does it mean? A ‘google’ search might give you an approximate translation but the interpretation of the art is yours and mine.

Sue.