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.

 

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.

“Being Out and About” – A consideration of what keeps me well.

There are few chances in life,
for self reflection.
It is this that makes answering questions such as “what keeps me well”,
quite hard to do.

When Leeds Wellbeing Web asked
me to discuss this topic,
there was no clear starting point for me.

Indeed after one or two conversations
with my fellow Leeds Wellbeing Web blog writer Sue,
in which we discussed “what keeps me well” for this article and video,
I still could not get my tongue past the words,
“I don’t really know”.

I have been a writer with Leeds Wellbeing Web since 2013, and I have contributed a number of varied blog posts. My interests are equally diverse. Indeed as a student I studied both Social Studies, and subjects related to the Arts and communications. I attended two universities, successfully completing both a BA and an MA degree programme.

I finally realised that keeping busy, and being ‘out and about’, are what I describe as keeping me well. Once I had realised this ingredient of my wellbeing, I asked myself three questions for the purpose of this article and video.

By Blogger 13

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.