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.

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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

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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;

I AM

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’.

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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.

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Colour me orange

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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

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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.

S.M.

Mood change

One of our intrepid community reporters frequently finds low mood limits her motivation to keep active,  or track down local news stories. Fortunately West Leeds Dispatch are good enough to regularly host a news café in her neck of the woods, LS13,

‘it’s a great opportunity to share local ‘happenings’ and spark ideas for possible blog ideas.’

she says.

In the following two video clips she relates how a ‘lollipop’ has broadened her horizons and helped raise her low moods.

 

Focus on photography

It’s understandable, says Sue Margaret that if emotional and/or mental distress is part of our lived experience, to focus on that, but Next Monday, the 20th of June, will be an opportunity to focus on something which might aid our emotional wellbeing.

Focusing on photography is the theme of a five sessions community activity organised by Leeds City Libraries.

‘Focus on Photography’

will take place in Leeds Libraries, Bramley branch, LS13 (see more details on poster below).

The first session which I attended, took place a couple of weeks ago during Mental Health Awareness week (MHAW16). The focus of MHAW16 week was the value of people’s relationships on their all round wellbeing. Few would doubt the value of relationships to wellbeing, whether that relationship is with self or others, and it would be hard to have one without the other.

Having an absorbing hobby is well known to be a useful aid in having a happy relationship with yourself, and having hobbies and interests help many transcend the cares of their everyday life.

The intention of the ‘Focus on Photography’ sessions is to bring local folks together to collaborate on a short photographic project, it will involve discussion and practise.

Participants will be encouraged to bring along any existing photographs they’ve taken, as well as engage in a local field trip.

Getting involved in group activities can be anxiety provoking for many, especially if it’s the first time. Meeting strangers may similarly be nerve wracking. The event  took place at my local library, a place with which I feel ‘at home’ and this helped dispel any reservations I might have had.

It was obvious that the sessions being launched in MHAW16  would include some mention of mental health. A simple quiz about mental health acted as an ice-breaker.The main focus however was on photography and relationships. Nevertheless people did feel comfortable enough to share some of their experiences and observations about mental wellbeing in the community.

Bramley Library is flooded with natural light because not only does it have huge windows but it also has two art deco glass roof domes. These allow our wonderful, ever changing moody English skies, to influence the mood of this particularly, ideal photographic location. The location has  on previous occasions inspired and enabled me to capture some atmospheric shots.

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I’ve no particular ambition time or money …..yet! to be more than a phone camera snapper. I do have other digital cameras but they are less convenient. Like many people nowadays my phone is always conveniently to hand.

I’m particularly interested in the results reflected light and reflections in glass add to photographic images so I think I’ll make this my focus…..

‘Reflections on a Summer of Light’

If you are in the area at 5pm on the dates mentioned below look forward to sharing ideas and photographs.

Cheers, Sue

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Ancient and modern methods to wellbeing

Daniel has been contributing his poems and blog posts to the Wellbeing Web for two years, we recently spoke together about the many things he does that aid his wellbeing. Our informal chats revealed the intriguing blend of ancient and modern techniques, and pastimes which Daniel uses to keep positive.

The first of our chats took place during our trip to buy essential oils and joss sticks that might help our respective current mood.  Among the blends we chose was myrrh, known from ancient times for its medicinal and spiritual healing properties. When we next met to conclude our discussion we burned the myrrh.

People have been orating and writing poetry from ancient times as their muse inspired. Daniel’s recent such musings, ‘Road of Joy’, was his latest blog post. Daniel combines poetry, the ancient means of expressing thought and feeling with the modern art of blogging. Previous discussions had us pondering how and in what way we considered thought and feeling.differed, hindered or helped us in our wellbeing. Lets see if of the things Daniel engages with give any hints if we reached a conclusion.

I like spending time with close friends, playing and listening to music, meditating, consulting the I Ching, reflecting on Zen,Tao and Buddhist philosophy. In addition I take part in a variety of skill based and healthy living courses at Inkwell and Swarthmore Education Centre,  this last twelve months it has included; creative writing; short stories, poetry writing, web design, group Alexander Technique sessions, and art classes. Workshops at Leeds Mind have also helped me with my confidence and to work on relaxation techniques.

Knowing very little about consulting the I Ching, I asked Daniel to describe the practice and how he feels this helps him.

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese book which traditionally is consulted by use of either throwing coins or willow sticks to determine which of its 64 hexagrams to read. It is similar to the way some Christians use bibliomancy when seeking guidance. After opening the bible  at random any text found there is taken as a guideline for resolving a particular issue that may be troubling the person.

I use coins when I consult the I Ching, I feel this works on the principle of synchronicity, enabling and revealing advice and information from the book in a way I find profound.

Daniels musical interests include his playing keyboard in the band Burning Skies Revolution

and he explained what about this is enjoyable, and how he deals with any ‘nerves’ when performing at gigs.

 I find playing a musical instrument raises my spirits, which is cathartic. Socializing with other band members during the nine years we’ve been together is beneficial, and it’s helped me not to watch too much telly.

As a kid I liked listening to electronic music and had a keyboard bought as a present. Earlier this year it was highly enjoyable to see the band Icebreaker, who play electronic music, at Howard Assembly Rooms, and I reviewed it for the Wellbeing Web see here,

I can read music  a bit but mostly play by ear.  Jamming at our weekly rehearsals or on other occasions when me and my mates are just relaxing is fun.

Public performance isn’t something I ever envisaged the band doing, it only happened because we stood in at short notice for another band. Although I get nervous before a gig, my confidence is helped by both the social support of the other band members, and by keeping in mind that I’ve done it sucessfully on previous occasions.

Daniel acknowledged that like most of us keeping active and remaining positive are beneficial for our wellbeing, but that it’s not always easy to remain upbeat. I asked Daniel when the ‘going gets tough’ which of the things he lists is he best able to hang on to.

I’d say it’s the things I can easily access at home, or close to home  that help me if I get down. Contact with my friends who live nearby, and the meditation on ancient philosophies and techniques which I can do at home are my mainstays. In recent years however access to modern technology via the internet and my smart phone have also  helped.

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Discussions with Daniel about wellbeing didn’t reveal a clear divide between thought and feeling, except perhaps that they are flip-sides of the same coin. We might sometimes find ourselves relying more on one side than the other but Daniels use of ancient and modern techniques shows he does much to keep them well balanced.

Sue Margaret

 

Road of Joy

Hello. This poem was inspired by a little place in Horsforth, Leeds, that me and my girlfriend visited a couple of months ago.

White pony’s happy

Trotting down

Road of Joy;

Leaves whisper

Communicating

With birds and bees

Shaded by wood

And clouds

By Daniel Tavet(c)

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