Clocks go BACK ending British Summer Time: Memories of light

British Summer Time ends on Sunday 30th October at 02.00a.m.

We turn the clocks….. BACK one hour.

Click here to see …..why we do it!

I’ve always enjoyed the interim period as we’ve counted down to it, though not without a twinge of sadness for the diminishing light.

The nights have been drawing in naturally enough without the need of human interference. Nature in decreasing its daylight hours has alerted us that we have still had time to enjoy, what have lately been, wonderful autumnal splendor on sunlit evenings.

The words of the beautiful harvest hymn, ‘Come you thankful people come’…..are always recalled to my mind at this time of year.

…….”All is safely gathered in”

Humans and animals alike start to ‘gather in’, or replenish their store of winter ‘comforters’.

My comforters this year include a fleecy hoodie, and in keeping with the mantra of my mum….. ‘layers’ of thermals which keep me snug, these enable me to enjoy the fresher weather of the season.

It’s a time when memories of how comforting the coal fire’s warmth and light of my childhood days were.

October, the ‘season of mists”, when the ‘feint blue land’ prior to adjusting our clocks, still has sufficient light in the morning to wake me naturally, and in the early evenings to feel unrestricted by the ever increasing darkening streets.

It’s a time of year where festivals involving light abound,

Diwali almost upon us. diwali

Even Halloween and Bonfire night with their ‘darker’ side involve colour and light in one form or other.

During the last few year the newer festival of light,….. ‘Light Night’ has become a must see festival.

This year’s Light Night outing included for me and my fellow Light Nighters, a jaunt to China courtesy of the Nankai University choir.

Nankai Uni choir by Sue

Nankai Uni choir by Sue M,

The colorful costumes I photographed here, (and there were more) represented each of the different Chinese ethnic groups and their traditional dress.

The audience were treated to a variety of Chinese folk songs, one, Mo Li Hau,  we learned a verse of in Mandarin Chinese, and sang along to it with the choir.

Apparently the folk song is very revered in China. Many in the audience were Chinese and sang it with such depth of feeling, that it moved me to tears. A sudden ‘catch’ in the throat, I was uncertain from where it came,…

was it just the power of music and lyric that  tugged at my ‘heart’ and memory? though I don’t remember having heard it before, or perhaps the tender way those beside me sang it?..I can’t be sure.

The Light Night concert also revealed that the Chinese performers alongside their very disciplined, and polished classical and folk performance could also appeal, with comedic effect, to a Western audience.

The somewhat stern facial expression, and composed body posture of the choir mistress gave little hint of her sense of well timed humour.

….although she did later revert to a warrior like role as well as sing in fearsome tones

During her initial entrance, and as she paused to gain the attention and composure of her troupe and audience, her body language indicated , ‘I’m in charge’….except that is to a young child in the front row who let out a yell…or two!

At first the choir mistress didn’t flinch, remaining composed, unruffled for a further minute while the small child still continued to break the silence. She captivated us first by casting him an annoyed glance over her shoulder,  then by proceeding towards him with mock anger, …..he shut up then!…..

rather than looking frightened he just seemed transfixed, even though subsequently he remained on the receiving end of  other choir members attention, who singled him out during the enacted war scenes. He remained quiet!

Possibly because of the swirling swords!

Nankai choir warriors - Sue M.

Nankai choir warriors – Leeds Uni

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.

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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!

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

ENJOY

LWW

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 A

Heritage open days

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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……..book 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

Leeds Abbey Dash 2016 | 10k race | Age UK

large abbey dash

abbey dash 16

The Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash is a 10k race through the streets of Leeds with up to 12,000 runners, from across the country, aiming to gain a personal best on our fast and flat course. This will be our 31st race and every year it gets bigger and better.

The early bird offer, which can save you 20% on entry, will end on August 31st so sign up here today!

It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite or beginner runner,

we know you’ll enjoy the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash

Fast Facts

  • Date: Sunday 6 November 2016
  • Time: 9.30am race start (9.00am warm-up)
  • Distance: 10k road race
  • Ages: 15+ (the Junior Dash is open to 8-14 year olds)
  • Cost: Earlybird rate £20 (£18 UKA)
  • Facilities: Water station, chip-timed, sport photography, finish line goodies

Take a look at our 2014 highlights,

Find out more about other events and activities of Age UK here

 

Mental Health Awareness week 2016

MHAW16 logo 300x300

This week is Mental Health Awareness week. For anyone who is often emotionally/mentally less than well, it’s a useful time to reflect on how the annual event might help.

Well acquainted since childhood of the shaky mental health of people close to me, and then subsequently my own brush with ‘breakdown’, I might as a result, claim to be ‘aware’. I try to remain mindful however ,that there is much to learn from the experience of others.

Disclosing aspects of my episodes of emotional/mental ill-at-easness feel like a risk ,but one I usually take. It’s also an opportunity to reaffirm that it’s just one aspect of my life experience, and one of which I’m not ashamed.

Frequently, and especially this awareness week, I find myself still reflecting on the ‘language’ the ‘powers that be’ would label the experience of emotional/mental ill-ease, and I assert that emotional response is an appropriate one in a ‘world gone wrong’, and therefore not necessarily a treatable behaviour. It’s useful to remain aware!

The theme of this years awareness raising is relationships. The organisation Mental Health Foundation have a lovely set of free downloadable logos which highlight the different aspects of the value of our relationships, see here

May is also National Walking Month …..strolling with friends new or old is an ideal way to build on any existing relationships , or make new ones. Here is a site for some walking suggestions. Often times people with a common interest just meet up informally , and within our group we’ve been privileged to do that. You can read here about one such occasion.

I lead a sedentary life for most of the winter months but usually get motivated to restart some brisk walking in April. Spring was late this year so getting out seemed harder but May blossom was my wake up call to ‘move it’, as was my good neighbour’s invites to join with her for an occasional walk after work……a welcome gesture.

In an age when relationships appear to be increasingly carried out in cyberspace, and many irrespective of age report feeling isolated, I find the physical proximity of relationships ever more important. Perhaps this week is a good time to think over ways our relationships might be mutually rewarding.

Cheers, Sue

 

What Works

This is a workshop hosted by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing at the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University on Thursday, 10th September 2015 from 09:30 to 12:30 to examine how wellbeing evidence can be used to improve community wellbeing. The workshop is an opportunity for you to inform the early stages of a key evidence programme which will have national impact.

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is a UK government-funded initiative recently launched by the What Works Network to enable a range of stakeholders to access independent, high quality, accessible evidence syntheses on wellbeing.

This workshop will explore how wellbeing evidence can be useful in the day-to-day work of those working in a range of sectors including local government, the voluntary and community sector, public health, housing and the private sector. It is aimed primarily at those in the Yorkshire region.

We will be focusing on policy areas related to place and community, including planning, housing, built environment, social capital, participation, public health, green space, transport, and community development. The issues the What Works Centre focusses on will be determined based on this stakeholder engagement, so these workshops represent an important early opportunity to influence the Centre’s work.

During the session we will be tackling questions such as:
•What ingredients are important for community wellbeing?
•How can your work enhance community wellbeing?
•What are the key challenges in our work for improving community wellbeing?
•How might wellbeing, a focus on wellbeing, wellbeing data, or effective wellbeing interventions, address these challenges?
•What gaps are there in wellbeing evidence?

There are just 12 tickets left so if you want one, sign up for What Works at:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leeds-what-works-wellbeing-stakeholder-engagement-workshop-tickets-17933870690

Poetry slam

Winter nights sees me pretty much grounded for their duration, and with each year that passes the need to get active after them, becomes ever more apparent. Getting out and about keeps me physically and emotionally better, and attending the Headingley Literature Festival each March is often one of my first Spring evening jaunts.

LS6 always seems to buzz but the festival gives it that extra vibe. The programme of events is always extensive and varied, many events are free, of those that aren’t, they’re reasonably priced. This year’s theme was ‘Something Else’, and concludes on April 2nd  with, ‘Own Your Words’ …advertised as a poetry slam, see details here.

So far I’ve only managed to attend one of this year’s events, this too was also billed as a poetry slam, and named, ’One City – Many Voices’. For an entrance fee of £4 we were entertained by the internationally renowned poet, Lemn Sissay.Lemn Sissay

I’m not sure when the slang use of the word ‘cool’ became so commonplace. I don’t recall it being used in ‘my day’, and don’t feel comfortable saying it, BUT writing it occasionally seems expressive?,,,,Lemn and his performance were….. cool!

The word slam in ‘poetry slam’ is also slang, but this too I find expressive. It was used initially to describe a competitive poetry event, and was coined by Bob Holman. ‘a poetry activist and…slammaster’ who called the movement “the democratization of verse”…..he also said

The spoken word revolution is led a lot by women and by poets of color. It gives a depth to the nation’s dialogue that you don’t hear on the floor of Congress

The ‘One City – Many Voices’ poetry slam wasn’t competitive, but those who performed alongside Lemn were a group of talented wordsmiths from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They were pupils of Leeds City Academy and Ralph Thoresby High School.  The flair and conviction of their words was astoundingly good. The young people had been coached by local writer and poet Michelle Scally Clarke.

Michelle told us how when younger, she’d struggled academically because of her troubled life, but she liked writing poetry and after sending some to Lemn, he’d encouraged her to continue. Ms Scally Clarkes’s performance, and presence were impressive. The Academy’s, Head of English, was an equally animated and motivational speaker, he spoke of the personal hurdles he’d overcome to be so. The teacher told us of his difficulties with a speech impairment and shyness when young, and then when older in a southern University, he’d faced ‘teasing’ for his Northern accent. I’m sure his and Michelle’s commitment and mentoring skills were a huge factor in the pupils finding their words and voice.

Most of the young performers displayed a confidence, beyond their years, they recited forthrightly, the young compere was dynamic and as an introduction demonstrated his moonwalking. The focus of the students poetry topics revealed many difficulties in their personal lives, they were angry at injustices they’d faced, but this seemed to spark the passion to expose it.

Though I like performance poetry, my preferred way of ‘hearing’ poetry is to read it silently to myself. Poets performing their own work however are most likely best able to add the nuance, or inflection which conveys their intended message. Lemn is a charismatic performer and he described writing poetry as ‘playing with the spirits’, that point alone inspired me to write about the poetry slam. Hopefully we who only listen to or read it, get to commune with them too.

Of the poems Lemn read, the following one stayed with me, as it spoke of the rejection he’d suffered. The poem also illustrates how when we’re a child, what it’s like to live in the land of ‘giants’ who sometimes get perplexingly angry. It was clear Lemn wrote the poem from experience but it wasn’t until after the event I found out just how difficult his childhood was. I also discovered that he’s an MBE, and whereas I claim letters before or after someone’s name mean little to me, I might have felt a little shyer inviting him to a World Poetry event elsewhere, or about his fee! Lemn, as the cliche goes, appeared to have ‘no edge’ and graciously, whilst not exactly accepting the invite, managed to appear not to rule it out.

Though childhood rejection wasn’t an obvious contributory factor in my angsty youth, it’s something many experience at some time, either as children or adults. Making it easy perhaps to identify with the boy in the poem who was misunderstood, and imputed with wrong motives.  It is only as an adult, and lately, that I’ve come to recognise the insidious ways certain groups are marginalised. If we find ourselves amongst them, choosing to re-frame the experience, see it as an advantageous place from which to act, gives the freedom to draw up inspiration from ‘that wellspring of creativity’.¹

Suitcases and Muddy Parks by Lemn Sissay

You say I am a lying child I say I’m not you say there you go again

You say I am a rebellious child I say no I’m not you say there you go again

Quite frankly mum I’ve never seen a rebellious child before and when my mates said jump in that puddle and race you through the park (y’know, the muddy one) I didn’t think about the mud.

When you said why you are dirty! I could feel the anger in your voice I still don’t know why. I said I raced my mates through the park. You said it was deliberate. I said I didn’t I mean I did but it wasn’t. You said I was lying, I said no I am not. You said there you go again.

Later in the dawn of adolescence it was time for my leave

I with my suitcase, social worker,

you with your husband, walked our sliced ways.

Sometimes I run back to you like a child through a muddy park, adult achievements tucked under each arm, I explain them with a child-like twinkle, thinking any mother would be proud…

Your eyes, desperately trying hard to be wise and unrevealing, reveal all.

Still you fall back into the heart of the same rocking chair saying

There you go again.

And I did.

And I have.

,Sue Margaret

1. Bob Dylan in interview.