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 1blog3

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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Compassion is vital in the Workplace

Compassion is essential at work. Sadly even workplaces which are by nature supposed to be compassionate are often not, especially when scratched beneath the surface. 

The workplace can be a difficult area for many of us at times.  We usually work in teams, may have deadlines or targets, we may be placed within a hierarchy, change could be forced upon us, we may feel under-stimulated or over stretched, we may be observed and  judged, things may not be fair and equal and we don’t always feel in control. Phew!  You can see why we need to be resilient in this modern age.  Sadly we don’t always have huge reserves of resilience and may feel below par and not always handle such challenges well.

Problems at work can really knock people and there are huge costs involved – both the impact on people’s lives and financial consequences for society as a whole. People may suffer from stress (work) related illnesses and reactive depression.

It’s true that life can be  complicated and often problems outside of work can increase our difficulties within the workplace and everything can get a bit mixed up. People may be dealing with big issues such as grief, chronic loneliness or perhaps struggling in a relationship.  Lets face it;  life is life, we all face difficulties from time to time.  Employers need to understand this and cater for this with compassion, enabling employees to thrive rather than struggle.

Schemes such as the Mindful employer exist but often they fall short of protecting employees and don’t work.  We need more than tick boxes, we need a culture which supports people rather than punishes people.  We need ethical employers who act with kindness and understanding. We need real living, breathing compassion.  

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace from the Mental Health Foundation.

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BE COMPASSIONATE 

Some people seem inherently more compassionate (it is active) than others, however the good news we can learn about compassion and we can strengthen and develop our compassion muscle.

Mental Health Awareness week 2016

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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

 

Can a digital app turn my life around?

Why I’m using a digital Android application called Colornote to help me become more organised, less stressed and have more control.

 

Firstly it’s important to know that I am a huge procrastinator. I avoid and forget things. I often catastrophise when faced with something stressful. I can become absent minded and I wonder if this has become a trait of mine.  I have self-diagnosed myself, especially the younger me,  with Attention Deficit Disorder on numerous occasions.  Or at least when I type the symptoms in Google that’s one of the options!

I do know that leaving things to the last minute or missing opportunities isn’t helpful for me.   In the past I tried to write lists on bits of paper and  I even bought a special to do list pad from Wilko’s.  However it didn’t work for me although I know it works for many.  In my case the Wilko’s pad  gradually became submerged under newspapers, paperwork and unopened mail.  I found it six months later and noticed that I was only half way through a to do list.  I had no chance with a scrap of paper!

My organisation skills are one of the first things to slip if my mood becomes low or if I become overly anxious.  This decline in organisation and my ability to manage time effectively can lead to a negative spiraling of my mood.  

Hello digital !

Moving forward a few years and I’m in a slightly different state of mind and my Smartphone is now attached to me like an umbilical cord.  So hey ho, why not try again with digital?  I am trialing Colornote which is an Android App for note taking, to do lists and general organising.  It is free to use,  at least for the basics.

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The verdict

It feels like it’s working and I feel like I need it.  I’ve had a very productive day and I doubt that I would have written a blog post for a while without it, at least not yet.    I also feel very satisfied after I tick things off as I watch a little line appear through the task relegating it to the bottom of the list.

Managing the overwhelming feeling that comes with some of the tasks

Many of us have to manage our mental or emotional health.  We may be less robust in certain areas.   I have to guard against feeling overwhelmed with stress, at least I do presently.   The words to do list immediately send me into a Flight, Fright and Fight response, so I alternate my tasks and soften my approach.   I complete one stressful task and then move on to a comfortable buffer task, I see this as a recovery phase.   For instance a difficult phone call may be followed by ten minutes of guitar practice and even the washing up can feel therapeutic at times.  The app is aesthetically pleasing and user friendly.

It is early days but I’m really hoping that I stick with this app and that it helps to keep me on my toes.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has any  comments, maybe you feel the same way? Maybe you have some tips or questions?  An app you can recommend?  Maybe you feel the opposite ?

Please either leave a message on the blog, send us a tweet or a comment on Facebook. 

Many thanks XXX