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)

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.

Finding a voice

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A series of upcoming presentations found me feeling somewhat apprehensive, they’re not my ‘thing’. If the topic I have to discuss is something I’m not enthusiastic about, I also find presenting it nerve racking. I strongly dislike feigning enthusiasm for something my ‘heart’ isn’t in, If I’m obliged to do it, I suffer physically with anything from headaches, to an upset stomach.

With the hope of learning a few tips on how to ‘act as if’, the topic was the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ I signed up for a voice workshop.

I didn’t have the expectation that one or two lessons could help me completely overcome my reticence, or that I’d become an actress overnight. The class teacher however was an actress and an experienced voice coach, who gave me just the right amount of complimentary and encouraging feedback. She thought my existing use of voice and body was effective for the task.

.’Have you ever done ballet? she asked, as I performed a particular arm movement, part of the warm up routine for the workshop. It possibly being 50 years since I’d done a demi-seconde or an en avant, and now being more of a sugar plump, than sugar plum fairy! ……..I thought she was just trying to be kind, she told me however, that many people, including herself, found the arm positioning didn’t come naturally. I can’t say her compliment had me thinking……. ‘I’ve possibly a latter day career as a ballerina in the offing’, but the amusing thought did cheer me up.

Whereas I care less these days as to what people might think about my appearance, it is still a morale boost if someone pays a sincere compliment.

Having done the preliminary warm-up stretches, the teacher wanted me read some set pieces aloud. As an aid to finding good breath control while reading, she first asked me to do what she described as breathing ‘movements’. I found the idea of breath work being movements, preferable to some breathing exercises I’ve previously experienced at similar workshops, where having been directed to breath ‘properly’, I’ve held my breath a bit longer than advisable!

One of the readings was a poem, and though the location of the workshops was in a leafy laned, backwater of LS6, the poem transported me via sea-going vessels to more exotic climes, and to returning home again through the choppy waters of the English Channel.

Here it is,,,,,,

Cargoes‘ by John Masefield

 

 

Nodding acquaintances

On the value of having nodding acquaintances.

If you’ve lived in a neighbourhood any length of time it’s likely you will be on nodding acquaintance terms with many people. This type of recognition can be an aid to your wellbeing as it places you in a context, of the time and spaces you inhabit…..you belong!

In an age where many report feeling they don’t belong, that they are isolated or lonely, nodding acquaintances can be a reassuring acknowledgement that you are not alone…..we are known.

If over time you’ve been on nodding acquaintance with someone, you might have progressed to stopping and ‘passing the time of day’ with the them. You might chat about what’s trending in local, national or International news. These kind of conversations are valuable, even if the chit-chat remains only that, about …….’the price of fish’ or the weather.

Often when I’m about my daily chores in LS13, I see an elderly lady standing inside her house and looking through the window, as yet we only wave, but it’s a connection, I hope we get to talk some time.

Other people who see me sit awhile to catch my breath when carrying shopping, or simply if I’ve stopped to enjoy good weather, or just ‘people watch’…. may smile…..

‘Hills….you can’t avoid hills in Bramley love, can you?’……

It is said that Leeds is one of the friendliest cities in UK and certainly its rare if I stand at a bus stop not to start up a conversation with someone.

On days when the news is particularly alarming, as it was yesterday with the US election results, you might like myself only  have accessed it via the media, and without the opportunity to discuss it with anyone, the potential to feel disoriented, destabalised is real. You may doubt your own perception, or indeed the sanity of the ‘crowd’ who brought about that result. You might as a result phone a friend and commiserate along with them about ways to avert feeling hopeless. Just how can you as individual combat that?

On hearing the news, and feeling downcast I ventured out to the local greasy spoon cafe in a somewhat defensive mood. The conversation in there is often similar to the tabloids that are scattered on its tables, it is frequently sexist and racist…….usually because of that I don’t linger.

‘If someone praises that man’s success’, I was thinking ‘I’ll challenge them’.

The cafe was empty except for the staff who also seemed as dismayed at the result as myself. Fortunately other more pleasant topics were discussed and a simple personal compliment from one member of staff, cheered me on my way, my equilibrium was restored. By the end of the day I did need a ‘top up’ by discussing the days news with a friend but I still valued the earlier time of day passed.

Lily P.

 

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