• Launch of Reading Ahead at Wishaw General Hospital Today!

    Today the new staff reading scheme was launched at Wishaw by the library staff at NHS Lanarkshire, and I was asked to give a short talk, ‘Reading Is Good For You!’, all about the benefits of reading. It was great to chat with people who enjoy reading generally. Readers are often passionate people who are convinced of the benefits – because they feel it and know it themselves.

    So, I was speaking to at least some of the converted, which felt really good!

    I talked about story and how, basically, it’s what we all do all the time.

    I quoted from Joseph Gold’s book ‘ Read For Your Life’ – he says that :

    ‘Story is basic to how human minds see their world and to how those minds work.”
    He then quotes another researcher, Bateson who says :
    “A story is a little knot or complex of that species of connectedness …that we call relevance…”
    Bateson believed that story is organic…that all living beings grow into their own story, which is its history, its very nature- shape-form and function.
    Gold says, that. ‘The idea of connectedness is basic to story…’ Linking up bits of information, we grow stories, we grow knowledge. We weave some bits into our own life story.’ I think that this connectedness with all that is alive is like when Shakespeare says ‘We are such things as dreams are made on’.

    I read out a poem by Maria Venditozzi, who is a poet and a speech and language therapist.

    ‘Spending Time with Stephen’

    He sits cross-legged in his wheelchair

    eyes averted, picks at scars on his arm

    or flicks light through his fingers.

    Locked-in world of personal safety

    from the chaos of external existence.

     

    Senses overwhelm, invoke

    sensory storms, a crash of any control

    he can normally contain.

    Self-mutilation marks this territory,

    feedback at its most ferocious.

     

    Speech is a jumble of sighs and spits.

    He has tried to master more

    but he stumbles on the stumps of words,

    gnaws on sounds that make sense to us.

    His world makes no sense of syllables.

     

    Showing interest in his present moment,

    sharing his sounds and movement –

    our lives touch on his terms.

    Neginnings of positive interaction.

    Tiny steps into his fragile world.

     

    Slowly assuring that what he brings has value,

    that interaction can be pain free.

    Fear leaves his senses for a while,

    creates a space, opportunity for curiosity.

    He breathes softly, safely.

    He smiles. We smile together.

    Maria Venditozzi.

     

    I think this is a touching poem, where the poet enters the mind of the person who cannot speak. It shows how we can edge our way into someone’s story, by sharing movements and sounds that they make- ‘on his terms’.

    Story connects us all. Eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart.I encourage everyone to read more and share it!Talk about it in groups, or wherever, as there are more possibilities for benefits in a group discussion.

    I hope the new reading scheme is very successful and look forward to more events with NHS staff.

    I ended with a poem by Elizabeth Bishop, One Art.

    One Art (Extract)
    BY ELIZABETH BISHOP
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master…

     

    Poem avaiable here

     

     

  • Wee Read – Winter Reads

    Wee Read has been having a rest and a proper winter’s cold. But best of all, time for a read.My novel at the moment is Diana Gabaldon’s     ‘A Breath of Snow and Ashes’, it is the 6th of her series now on US TV as ‘Outlander’. I love a story set in the past. This one has a wee bit of time travel and some interesting learning about the 1745 rebellion, and Charles Stuart is in the stories.Quite funny at times, as well lots of tragedy!The prologue :

    “Time is a lot of the things people say that God is. There’s the always preexisting, and having no end.  There’s the notion of being all powerful—because nothing can stand against time, can it?  Not mountains, not armies.

    And time is, of course, all-healing.  Give anything enough time, and everything is taken care of: all pain encompassed, all hardship erased, all loss subsumed.

    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

    And if Time is anything akin to God, I suppose that Memory must be the Devil.”

    I also enjoy the wee bits of the Gaelic running through these books. Mo chridhe, a leannan,… one day I will study and learn this beautiful mother tongue. Thanks to my pal Eilean for her encouragement to read the books, and for learning the Gaelic and offering to bring me into that process with her!

    Laugharne  2015 2015-06-17 057 (640x480)

    Ofcourse, as I read the stories of others, I also reflect and wonder at my own story- and the power of the stories I believe about myself, which are probably not fixed and lasting.Or true!

    It’s helpful to talk to myself about my stories, and maybe loosen their grip on my whole life. Things indeed do change and two new books I have been given lately will help me do some loosening-

    ‘the art of meditation, the heart’, by Vessantara,  is a simple introduction to developing loving kindness. Looking forward to reading it all, and using it with my friend, Dhanabhadri who has lent me it. We will bring the meditation classes to The Hope Cafe in the New Year.Here’s a bit of the introduction :

    “In this short book we shall learn some methods from the Buddhist tradition that will enable us to explore our own hearts, and to develop more satisfying ways of being. These methods can help us become more loving and compassionate towards others, and kinder and more understanding towards ourselves.” 

    I think the attitude of kindliness towards myself is the most fundamental thing to try and get into a habit of, and also noticing when I am not doing it.

     The next book to help me to loosen-up my views about myself, is Pema Chodron’s  ‘when things fall apart’, heart advice for difficult times. Available here.  She also talks about metta, or maitri- that is translated as loving kindness- and offers support in loving ourselves more.

    “Cultivating that unconditional friendliness toward whatever arises in your mind….Like clouds in a big sky or waves in a vast sea, all our thoughts are given the space to appear…

    If any of these have inspired you to read them as well, that’s great! And also ask what are your stories are to yourself?Listen to your heart and let the secrets come out!

     2015-08-13 011

  • Words Work Well Toolkit

    The Words Work Well bibliotherapy toolkit for practitioners is much improved and ready for use! Enjoy!Please add comments and if you notice gaps, we are looking to continue adding more examples of good practice!
    http://wordsworkwellscotland.co.uk/

    Includes a video of Ted Bowman introducing stories and creative bibliotherapy.