• 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.

  • Wee Read at The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival 2015

    I am excited to announce my Wee Read event at the festival on Friday the 16th of October in Hamilton.

    I AM    I AM    I AM

    The poetry of Sylvia Plath and
    Maya Angelou is the starting point
    for this workshop, which explores
    writing about mental health stigma
    in a supportive environment.

    Be inspired, talk about the way it is
    and let your voice be heard!

    Fri 16 Oct, 2–3pm
    Hamilton St John’s Centre,
    Duke Street, Hamilton ML3 7DT
    Free / Booking required
    Booking: 07952 982 868
    christine@weeread.scot

    simple logopsd3 copySEE_ME_HEXSMHAFF regional logos

     

     

     

    mumprintlow (1 of 1)

    Image copyright Mellis-Fox Photos

     

     

     

  • Hope Cafe Session 2nd September

    We started with a poem by Joseph T. Renaldi, Gratefulness, here is an extract:

    Gratefulness
    I am grateful for the eyes that I can see
    the activities that can be done by me.
    I am grateful for the ears that I may hear
    the sobbing of those who need me near.

    I am grateful for the lips that I might speak
    words of comfort and peace to all who seek.
    I am grateful for a mind that I might know how to aid those who need me so.

    Full poem is available here2015-08-13 009

    The format was to focus on each of the 5 senses, so we used our listening, our seeing, our taste, smell and touch to write what the Hope Cafe gave to each.Some of the great responses are here:
    What do you see here?

    Friendliness, dedication, light;

    I see different people all pulled together; sharing health, stories and friendship;
    sharing good things

    A nice group of people getting me out and about. People chattin’, laughin’;

    Cheerful people seeing the same as me.

    What do you hear in this place?…

    People talking, laughter;
    voices, door opening and shutting;

    What do you taste here?…

    Irn Bru;

    Coffee – bitter, chocolate – sweetness.

    What do you smell here?…

    Coffee.

    What do you touch here?…

    Empathy, someone to listen , to take time, is valid in every way;
    We can touch life together and feel it flowing around us.

    I love the way some senses mingled with others, especially touch, which showed the open-hearted approach in The Hope Cafe.We all touch each other’s hearts.

    I shared my own poem, ‘After Mum’s Stroke’ -describing how grateful I felt about caring for my mum. We moved on to write on the thoughts and emotions that we have about the Hope Cafe –

     What do you think about this place?
    It is so unique;
    I think it is a brave place – in an uncertain life, there was no guarantee it would work out.
    I think it is a good place.
    I think Hope Cafe is a wonderful place where no one judges you and I feel accepted.
    Hope Cafe is a lifeline.

    What do you feel about this place?
    I feel I am at home.
    It is comfortable and friendly.
    I am thankful it is near to my town.
    Socialising – feels a relief to know I can go any time without any pressure. I feel I can say what I feel to volunteers and it is a release.
    I feel it’s a very worthwhile meeting place and I enjoy coming and socialising and of course the expressive writing!

    Then we explored  objects for each of the senses:

    Hearing

    – a story called ‘Oor Street’ by Margaret Boyce.This was written in the voice of a wee lassie, and wis fun to read and share oor ain memories.It is in The Scottish Book Trust 2014 book Stories of Home

    cropped-weeread-logo1.jpgHere’s a wee bit:

    “A take ma gob stopper oot ma mooth, an A wonner if ma tongue’s blue noo.  A stick it oot as for as A kin, but A canny see it.  Wiping ma sticky hauns doon the back a ma bran new pink shorts, A look roun tae see if anybidy’s watching.  A feel guilty.  Ma daddy always tells me no tae clean ma hauns on ma claithes.  Eh says it’s no lady-like.  Black tar fae the melting pavement oozes up the side a ma white sandal an onti ma clean white soak.  A try to wipe it off oan the grass – but ma soak’s streaked green an black noo…”

     

    Seeing

    -Dr. Seuss picture book, I Can Lick Fifty Tigers Today a fun story too!Made us smile.

    Best line “I can lick one mighty tiger today…”.More Dr. Seuss here

    Taste

    Mango bits, coconut…
     Smell

    Lavender oil, a rose, basil leaves and mint leaves.
    Touch

    A wee soft leprechaun, a wooden goblet, a twig.

    ?????????????

    The writers had a lot of thoughtful pieces and some will be used for the coming booklet.Here is one gorgeous example:

    Donna 2
    Oh to indulge,
    on such wonderful things created for my pleasure;
    made perfectly.
    It’s truly a gift.
    No money exchanged would I depart,
    for this awesome beauty all surrounding me
    makes my heart skip a beat;
    Calm, peace, serenity endures.

    Thanks, Donna!

    We felt grateful for two new faces and voices today, and as usual, I felt happy and buzzin’  at the end.

  • Wee Read at The Hope Cafe Writing for mental wealth on Wednesday 5th August 2015

    We gathered  inspiring quotes from people and added into a word cloud to remind us. This week, we had a couple of new members. Hearing voices speak from the heart is inspiring.Some really moving writing thanks to everyone who came!

    Here’s a selection of what we did:

     

    We read Mary Oliver, The Summer Day,
    Extract:
    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    With your one wild and precious life?

    The poem is available here:Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
    Then, we wrote about what we would do with this wild and precious life…
    Later we spoke about writing something for our booklet for October’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Passion is the theme for the festival, so we had a shot at writing our words that we associate with passion.
    Here is my starter list of words:
    Drive
    wild
    Love
    extreme
    life
    desire
    energy
    strength

    Try it! Write a simple list- if you want to, you can start with one of these words or not – whatever you write is right!
    Then write your own list of words that you connect with passion.
    You can have many passions in life – not just one!
    The group came up with:
    determination
    sex
    heroes
    energy
    nature
    the elements
    belief
    If anyone has a bash at this above exercise or has any ideas for a jazzy title for the publication of photographs and poems Festival please let me know!

     

    ________________________________________________________

    We also read Ellen Bass’s the Thing is and used our mantra “dot dot dot” to write in response to it…
    The Thing Is
    To love life, to love it even …
    when you have no stomach for it

    when grief weights you like your own flesh
    only more of it, an obesity of grief,
    you think, How can a body withstand this?
    Then you hold life like a face
    between your palms, a plain face,
    no charming smile, no violet eyes,
    and you say, yes, I will take you
    I will love you, again.
    Ellen Bass

    (Source: punch-in-the-face-poetry)
    http://poetry.newgreyhair.com/post/50517192436/the-thing-is-ellen-bass

     

  • The Hope Cafe Wednesday 8th of July

    Jpeg Jpeg
    Second session in Mandy’s Place at The Hope Cafe!

     

    A small group of us met this week and we had a very frank, open and meaningful reading and writing session. We started with The Voyeur, by Tom Leonard, which is all about the word ‘wee’.

    It starts:

    ‘What’s your favourite word dearie

     is it wee,

    I hope it’s wee…’ 

    from  Tom’s book, Outside the Narrative which I recommend. It’s a very interesting collection of works for those of us who feel like “foreigners on their native soil.”

    A suggested prompt to write from this was: What are your favourite words?

    We made lists and some amazing stuff came out.

    Then we read William Stafford’s poems,  ‘Ask me’ and ‘The Way it is’. 

    We wrote from the prompt: Ask me… and got some strong responses with this.

    From strength to strength, we went on to experience the power of Maya Angelou, by reading ‘Still I Rise’ and chatted about it.

    We had a read of an item from the Scottish Recovery website,  Write to Recovery, called: ‘Eat a frog’  about anxiety- eating the frog is one step in breaking through something you are worried about- and relates to the technique of thinking of a big problem as an elephant,  How do you eat an elephant? In small chunks.

    My suggestion for home writing was: What are your frogs or elephants?Only a suggestion, as we can write whatever we want and know it is right!

    More mental wealth at The Hope Cafe next week! Anyone can write, please come along!