World Mental Health Day 2016

Knowing the value of good mental health after having experienced the disruptive force of losing it, is a great reason to keep the relevance of World  Mental Health Day, October 10th, in mind.



My experience with acute distress which led to diagnosis and treatment I’m now pleased, and proud to say is well behind me.

Each year that World Mental Health Day  comes round I find time to reflect on that experience 16 years ago, and how it changed my life and also just how far, despite it’s residual effects, I’ve come.

I feel compelled annually to both reflect and contribute a written piece as witness to the value of good support, and attest to the value of  effective listeners and friends, when  one’s own emotional reserves may need ‘patching up’.

The theme of this years World Mental Health Day is two-fold,

Dignity and psychological first aid

Maintaining dignity after experiencing breakdown or trauma isn’t always easy but it’s an aspect of self-worth that’s important to strive for. It’s that inner core of being which aids us regain our sense of self when things get emotionally blurred, or practically chaotic, reminding us,

‘you do deserve to be well and have peace of mind’.

Dignity itself acts like first-aid, it can help people not to be cowed by negative or traumatic experiences.

The World Federation of Mental Health who are responsible for World Mental Health Day say that psychological first aid is primarily,

‘A humanitarian and appropriate response during times of mental health crisis’,


the WFMH also acknowledge that it not always situations of crisis which precipitate the need for psychological first aid.

Stress factors that occur either as a result of everyday pressures and mishaps that befall all, the more extreme aspects of mental illness that affect some, and pertinent to this years theme those global issues where major trauma , such as war displaces people from their loved ones and homes.

Some can be alleviated, their effects possibly reduced through particular interventions, the World Health Organisation have an extensive and excellent  report on proposed ways it can be addressed.

As respects individual mental trauma, professionals are the obvious first-aiders when its extreme or acute forms disrupt wellbeing, however it is also good to see WFMH acknowledge that telling our personal stories, related in informal ways, can also act as triage.

With that in mind they are encouraging people to share their own ways of coping with trauma and as an aid to manage their own incidence of trauma. They also give credit to the contribution of non-professionals who come to the aid of those who’s good mental health is disrupted.

On or around  World Mental Health Day,  people are asked to consider getting together with friends or family for ‘tea and talk’ and to use the occasion to consider making a donation to the Mental Health Foundation.

Making time for someone in distress so they can talk through it is a quick, low cost act of first-aid simply but effectively applied.

Put that kettle on! tea-and-talk-logo

Keep your conversations about ways to positive mental wellbeing fresh.

Finding effective personal strategies or accessing relevant available resouces can be a challenge, epecially if ongoing emotional/mental distress sometimes dints your dignity.

May World Mental Health Day find you with your dignity intact.

Sue Margaret

Mindfulness drop-in at Oblong, Woodhouse Community Centre

As the nights turn darker earlier and the leaves turn brown and fall from the trees, perhaps it’s a nice time to get together with others to practise Mindfulness?  And to bring ourselves into the moment. Well the good news is that there is a new mindfulness group starting in Woodhouse!

Steve Hart is an experienced Mindfulness and Meditation practitioner and will be facilitating drop-in sessions along with other facilitators from Leeds Mindfulness at Oblong, Woodhouse Community Centre The sessions start on the 19th October – on Wednesdays from 7.15pm -8.45pm. 

Steve is a friendly fellow with a gentle approach and I am sure that it will be a lovely community down there. The sessions are intended for anyone who is interested and all are more than welcome.  Steve describes the sessions as ‘ Simple meditation exercises using awareness of breath and body and self nurturing and loving kindness meditation.’

Practising Mindfulness can bring many benefits for everyone, especially if you are feeling stressed or fatigued and it’s also good for pain management.  It can help us to achieve a state of calm and tranquillity, a positive mental state and to have a better connection with others.

Certainly it will be a nice community down there.. pop along..  I intend to!


Steve can be contacted on 07999 218450 if you need any more information,



Zine and heard!

As a part of a local library project, ‘Focus on Photography’, participants created an exhibition about ways of seeing their locality when about their daily routine


they also made a ‘zine’.

The intention is to submit the zine which has the theme, ‘This is Me’ for the Love Arts Festival which starts TOMORROW. 5th October and continues until the 20th.

The annual Love Arts Festival, now in its 6th year has as its theme;


Not knowing, most of the time, quite what I am

….I produced the following zine which explained, at least on the afternoon I made it, …

‘This is Me’.


I bought the tee shirt, because of its slogan, sometime ago, I was sure the right occasion for wearing it would present itself. Here it is on the zine during its first airing at the Zine Festival at the Left Bank arts centre.

Zine events have been trending on social media for sometime, not knowing quite what they were led me to attend the Festival to find out.

Lo and behold I discovered zines are in fact little different from pop art or rag mags of ‘old’,  or even older grass root publications.

Zines promote a d.i.y. ethic in the face of an array of corporate glossy magazine content, zines are not dissimilar to blogging in their  intent.

Zines and blogs put content publishing into the hands of amateur and professional alike.

Challenging the accepted norms or order of things has long held an appeal for me, though it’s never been an easy path to take, at times it has led to my state of mental wellbeing being in question.

….I will let the zine ‘say’ the rest of who I am….

At least that is, what I was one late summer afternoon in LS13! Keeping in mind that like the  British seasons and weather, I am susceptible to change.


Colour me orange


As the summer turns slowly into autumn, the glorious days of late summer have made up for this summers later than usual start.

A bunch of orange and yellow blooms, bought at low cost,  helped to further prolong my summer break from course timetables.

I don’t have a garden and so I have to rely on simple bunches of fresh cut flowers to bring nature indoors.This bunch, with their sunburst of colour, daily lit my north facing room.

Despite the heat of late summer days the fresher mornings and evenings, together with the early turning colours of green foliage, herald autumn with its own promise of orange and gold shades.

Orange has long been a colour that


holds some poignant memories.

Here a fresh cut, orange rosebud worn in the hair, on a certain October day moons ago.

During the ‘flowers in the hair’ era, aka ‘the 60s’, a favourite pair of jeans were also orange, …..bright orange! …. ‘loon’ bell bottom trousers.

They were ‘bell bottoms’ in every sense, as I had sewn tiny bird bells down each outside leg seam….

..’in the jingle jangle morning,’

usually evenings, I tramped around my favourite haunts in them.

Although at that time considering myself shy, I did of course wish to be seen by that ‘certain one’.

I can’t have been too shy as the bird bells and bright orage bell bottoms ensured I was both seen and heard!

Although the lyric, ‘jingle jangle’ was more likely about the jangled, on edge nervousness of recreational substances than tinkling bells, I had in mind their ‘tambourine in time’

Not being green fingered I don’t know which flowers are late garden bloomers, but each autumn a particular type of orange rose blooms in a neighbours garden. They are often still around to greet the frosts and mists. I admire their tenacity.

This is the time of year I feel most wistful, and enjoy these late blooming roses in their inevitable fading beauty, but admire their determination to hold on, adding their own splash of colour well into the “season of mists’ and greyer frosty days.

The song ‘Misty Roses’ by Tim Hardin, a person much troubled in mind,suits them well, one dare hardly touch them, as their now frozen leaves may snap.

As my eyesight changes, bright colours have become increasingly important to me. My household  filing system is colour coded in bright luminous colours, this not only ensures I can locate them easily but also acts as a memory aid.

Shocking pink is the finance file!

Bright orange my ‘Focus on Photography’ notes.


Edinburgh Fringe (2016)

At 70 years old next year, I think I am right in saying that the Edinburgh Fringe is one of the most long-lasting festivals in the UK.  

As we meandered through the busy and bustling streets of Scotland’s capital, it was difficult to imagine that the Fringe of 1947 may well have included only a hand-full of events, which perhaps took place in perhaps a dozen venues (or less). This is a far cry from the number of venues that host the festival’s events today; a total that I think comes very close to the 200 mark.

The bit of the Fringe we saw most of, was that which happened around the Royal Mile. This is a street that is located towards the south of Edinburgh, and runs horizontally to that prestigious piece of architecture that is known as Edinburgh Castle.

Try ambling and navigating through the Royal Mile (and surrounding areas) during August, and you’ll find it easier to ride a frighteningly tall unicycle backwards. To put it simply, at this time of year the Royal Mile is “choca-blocked”. If people aren’t watching a piece of entertainment outside, they are attracting passers-by to their show, travelling between venues, or possibly taking a  moment to enjoy the weather.

My visit to the Fringe this year was the first time I had been, and before I went I was used to hearing “well we came out of the Fringe but we’re going in again”.  I tell you, I now fully appreciate what people had meant by that. When you are at the Fringe you are inevitably part of the festival. However upon leaving there is the sound of night crickets, the view of stars, and the feeling of a kind of instant numbness.

We didn’t go “back in” again, but during the time we spent there I for one got a sense of the buzz and momentous cultural significance that the Fringe has come to symbolise. 

The first event of the day we were there, was a book tour. This runs on most days of the year, however we booked our places through the Fringe. The tour took us on a journey through the Edinburghs of different decades, right up to the present day. Amongst the things we learnt on this tour were that some of Alexander McCall Smith’s Number one Ladies Detective Agency series was published by the Edinburgh University Press, and that the Waverley area of Edinburgh was named after a series of books written by Sir Walter Scott.

The next thing we saw was an acrobatics performance. This show featured two break dancers, a drummer, a keyboard player, a basket ball player, a cyclist, and a hoop user. It is difficult to say in writing how spectacular this act was, and the incredible and captivating effect that was achieved by blending acrobatics and beat-boxing. The dance music was impressively, mostly all created with the synthesiser player’s voice, and many outstanding special effects switches. 

The final event we saw was named Fast Fringe. This comedy show lasted for one short hour, but in alot of ways it had all the substance and material of 12 separate stand-up shows. 60 minutes, 12 acts, 5 minute slots for each of them. This event really was an inspired way to see some of the many comedians that the Fringe offered, within a short space of time. It also gave the new audiences an opportunity to experience more of what the Fringe is all about. It came to mind that the skill of the featured comedians in making full use of the snippets of time they were allocated, had to be admired. 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival then, is the perfect festival for anyone who feels that they have the opportunity to take a few days away during the summer season. With so much on all at once, the Edinburgh Fringe truly allows viewers to have a tailor-made cultural experience. 

By 1blogger3

Heritage open days


Each year at the beginning of September there is a Heritage Open Day Festival. This year  it’s happening from Thursday the 8th September to Sunday the 11th September and it will be a great opportunity to see places of interest not normally open to the public.

The program is extensive and therefore it involves being selective, many events though free are bookable. Local programes are available on-line but if you prefer a hard copy program, start searching for them earlier on in August, public libraries usually have them.

Here is an account of one Heritage Festival enjoyed a few years ago.


Your chance to get involved in Inclusion Week — Better Lives for People in Leeds

September, the month when lots of innovative events and activities get started, here is one not to miss…… your place. be sure you are included. Reblogged from Better Lives Leeds

Inclusion Week runs from 26 September until 2 October and there will be a LOT going on in and around Leeds. On Tuesday 26th September, Leeds City Council is hosting ‘Innovation through diversity’, a conference to better understand and explore opportunities of being a more culturally diverse city. From 1 -4.30pm at Leeds Civic Hall, speakers will include Sharon […]

via Your chance to get involved in Inclusion Week — Better Lives for People in Leeds