• World Mental Health Day 2018

    Speak out everybody!

    It is okay to talk!

    For me, creative bibliotherapy is defined by the conversations that happen while meeting in a group.The actual reading, or writing or the content, is almost inconsequential. It’s the connection with one another that counts, and that makes a difference. this is what my thesis said ten years ago, and I still stand by this.

    I used to get into trouble for saying ‘Ye can do bibliotherapy wi’ a bus ticket!’, – because it was not the content that some people think is appropriate- not Tolstoy, not Dickens. And whilst I love both these, and many writers, it is still foremost in my mind that for a person to talk about their deepest feelings, traumas, existential angst- that is the thing! The thing that that can make the difference to our mental wealth or wellbeing, the thing that saves one person from killing themself that day.

    See Me in Scotland is making a call today for action- to start more everyday conversations on our mental health. Talk about your mood, ask how someone is managing with a stressful part of their life. It is ok to talk. Make it easy for your people to talk about their experiences.

     

    Sharing is therapeutic, so this works well when I use a writing prompt or just reading a piece of writing. It makes it easier than having to break the ice with  a difficult topic.

    A quote from Albert Camus,

    ‘Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.’

    May you have a great conversation today!

  • Autumn falls into view

    Autumn for Wee Read will have some exciting times! Tomorrow we continue at the lovely Maggie’s Centre at The Monklands in Coatbridge with a selection of poems to inspire.

    Wee Read expressive writing group happens between 1pm first Tuesday of each month.Anyone affected by cancer can join just a small group sharing chat and reading some poems together.Whatever you write is right!Contact the lovely Maggie’s staff on  01236 771199.

    Tomorrow I will bring an extract of a Walt Whitman poem, Miracles.He is one of my favourite writers, who inspired me at the age of 12 or so to keep writing the ‘long thin stuff’ (poetry as described by A.L. Kennedy) .

    Extract

    ‘Why, who makes much of a miracle?
    As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
    Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
    Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
    Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the
    water,
    Or stand under trees in the woods, To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

    Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

    Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the

    same,

    Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

    To me the sea is a continual miracle,

    The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the

    ships with men in them,

    What stranger miracles are there?’

    Walt Whitman

    Our Director, Adrian is busy in the background, finishing his first novel so it as an exciting time .

    At the end of this month, I celebrate my birthday and visit Paris for the first time,

    here is another extract which is about Paris:

    See Paris First – Extract

    Suppose that what you fear

    could be trapped,

    and held in Paris.

    Then you would have

    the courage to go

    everywhere in the world.

    All the directions of the compass

    open to you,

    But then danger

    seems too close

    even to those boundaries,

    and you feel

    the timid part of you

    covering the whole globe again.

    You need the kind of friend

    who learns your secret and says,

    ” See Paris first”.

    M. Truman Cooper

     

     

     

    Around the Hallowe’en time of year, I have been invited to give a presentation on Bibliotherapy and its’ applications or usefulness to mental heath nurses and patients, at the  Unite/Mental Health Nurses Association Conference, delivered in partnership with the School of Health and Social Care at Edinburgh Napier University.  So I will be  asking the question is our NHS really worth celebrating after 70 years? And suggesting that bibliotherapy can improve our services in a cheap and effective way!  The venue is Augustine United Church,  41 George IV Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1EL

    It is on the 29th October, aimed at mental health nurses/students and here are details,

    https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unitemental-health-nurses-association-scottish-conference-2018-the-nhs-at-70-a-happy-birthday-tickets-45890118580

     

    I will also take my co-director, Morin Fenton one of our volunteers for our Wee Read committee.

  • Wee Read needs new members at Maggie’s Lanarkshire!

    If you or someone you know has had cancer or been affected by cancer we would love to see you at our Expressive Writing group in Maggie’s Lanarkshire.

    We are celebrating  a very happy 4th Birthday to Maggie’s in Lanarkshire, beside the Monklands Hospital in Coatbridge this week! I have loved being involved for 3 years, with the expressive writing group. It is a real joy to hear from people who can say or write whatever they feel there. We are looking for new members and anyone affected by cancer is welcome to try it and see!

     

    We are a small informal group, just like the usual style for Maggie’s centres. You can talk or write as much or as little as you like. It’s good to hear other people’s voices and to read some poetry and stories together.

    We meet on the first Tuesday of the month, 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock.

    If you are interested please call anyone at The Maggie’s Lanarkshire on  the phone

    01236 771199

    or email

    lanarkshire@maggiescentres.org

     

    Maggie’s Lanarkshire
    at The Elizabeth Montgomerie Building
    Monklands Hospital, Monkscourt Avenue,
    Airdrie
    North Lanarkshire
    ML6 0JS
  • Teach This Poem – Academy of American Poets

     

    The Academy of American Poets

    A great resource for anyone in creative bibliotherapy! I wanted to share their news of an award they just received and just rejoice in their merits, what a great poetry organisation!

    The 2018 Award for Innovations in Reading Prize for Teach This Poem.

    I used this resource not to teach a poem in a school setting, but to discover a new poem and get hints about how best to use it with the group – whichever group I happen to be working with.

    When I select poems to bring to a group, I use a few resources, the main one my own memory.I connect a few poets, themes, and the muse provides something too..

    Imagination brings it home and I have a session usually with 5 or 6 pieces and exercises for people.They will be the planned content for my Wee Read expressive reading and writing sessions, that usually last about one and a half to two hours.But things can often change from the plan. That depends on who is there,- how I feel, or, what I intuit from the feel of the group. It’s not an art that is easily taught. Practising it is the only way to get the hang of it I think.

    Another great source from the Academy of American Poets that really helped me to build up a store of poets and poems I can use is the ‘Poem a Day’. You can sign up for a daily poem sent to your email inbox. Worth it just for a bit of inspiration!  When you are starting to facilitate poetry sessions, you want to have plenty of resources to have at hand. So a daily reading schedule for yourself is a big help, and the daily poems from the Academy can be a great boost as well.

    Just as I was browsing there today, I see a celebration of Walt Whitman’s birthday by Allen Ginsberg  

    A double-dunt as we say in Glasgow.Enjoy reading and browsing this brilliant website, plus it has audio and videos.

     

    Walt Whitman

    One’s-self I sing, a simple separate person,
    Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.
    Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
    Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the
    Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,
    The Female equally with the Male I sing.
    Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
    Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine,
    The modern man I sing.

     

     

     

  • Words Work Well for All – Training Day for Facilitators of Therapeutic Writing

    Words Work Well for All

    An Introduction to writing, storytelling, and reading for wellbeing
    With Valerie Gillies & Larry Butler

    Wednesday 11 April 2018, 10am – 4pm

    Here are details for a new event happening for anyone who has experience of leading writing or reading groups with a therapeutic aspect!

    This is a great opportunity to work with Larry Butler, a well kent face in Scotland for his contribution to writing and wellbeing in Scotland. Larry is an American with a great love and appreciation of poetry. Using words for emotional expression can help you to manage your wellbeing and health issues.Larry has worked for many years with Lapidus the UK-wide group focussed on therapeutic writing.He leads writing groups in Maggie’s Gartnavel and is a great trainer.Read more about his publishing work here Playspace Publications

    Take this opportunity if you can!

    Valerie Gillies was an Edinburgh Makar, 2005-08, and has been a published poet and writer for decades.She has a confident and inspiring attitude to leading groups.Her holistic approach is supportive to anyone who leads or participates in therapeutic reading and writing groups.Fantastic chance to be in the company of the best!Read more

    Here’s the details:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

    Wednesday 11 April 2018, 10am – 4pm
    Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

    Lapidus Scotland offers a full day workshop for storytellers, writers and readers who already work within community and education settings and would like to develop their facilitation skills within health and social care. From listening to reading to writing to sharing together, we will practise the presence of the facilitator, and the vital selection of the text, which story or poem to use.

    Cost £30 Spaces limited. To book your place, please email lapidus.scotland.1@gmail.com If you have any queries, call Philippa Johnston, Creative Project Manager on 01337 842513 / 07939 312829

    See also the website Words Work Well

     

  • The Power of Words – Event 30th October

    Christine from Wee Read will lead an event at the Maggie’s Lanarkshire for exploring the words we may use when someone has cancer.

    Hamilton Advertiser on The Power of Words event: Power of Words at Maggie’s in the Hamilton Advertiser

    Power of words press release

    Christine at Maggie's

    The importance of language when talking about cancer

     

    Language, including commonly used words such as brave, battle and victim, is often used in the media and with goodwill from friends and family. However, new research from Maggie’s, the charity which provides free practical and emotional support for people living with cancer, has revealed that these appear in a top 10 list of words and phrases that have negative connotations for people living with cancer.

     

    The research was conducted during a Power of Words workshop held in June 2017 and backed by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. People living with cancer were asked which of the words they hear time and time again carried strong negative associations for them. The following were voted as the most used and most negative:

    • Battle
    • Terminal
    • Heroic
    • Victim
    • Big C
    • My friend had it….
    • Think positive
    • Brave
    • Incurable
    • You’ll be fine

     

    Lorrie Forsyth, Centre Head at Maggie’s Lanarkshire commented: “People with cancer are often encouraged to be heroic, to fight.  When people talk about cancer in this way, they usually mean well but while some people with cancer may feel they gain strength by thinking of it as a fight, for others the opposite is true. Cancer can be a difficult subject for friends and family to broach, so at Maggie’s we listen as well as talk, and our experienced, professional staff are always on hand to have the kind of meaningful conversations that people with cancer really need.”

     

    With this in mind Maggie’s Lanarkshire is holding the first Scottish Power of Words workshop on Monday 30th October, 10.30am – 12.30pm.  Led by Christine Cather, who facilitates our monthly Expressive Writing sessions, we will explore the power words have to affect our mood and give us strength and comfort. There will be the opportunity to share words or phrases that have helped us personally and to hear the importance of words for others affected by cancer. As always, support from Maggie’s Clinical Psychologist and Cancer Support Specialists, will also be available. To book a space, people should contact the Maggie’s Lanarkshire on 01236 771199 or lanarkshire@maggiescentres.org

     

    Maggie’s Lanarkshire relies on voluntary donations to support and grow its network of Centres and to develop its unique, high quality programme of support. The charity’s aim is to make the biggest difference possible to people living with cancer and their family and friends.

     

    To find out more about Maggie’s Lanarkshire and to see how the Centre supports people living with cancer across Lanarkshire please visit the Centre at Monklands Hospital, Airdrie or get in touch on 01236 771199 or lanarkshire@maggiescentres.org

     

    Weeread2ndlot (28 of 30) (640x480)

     

    For more information please contact:

    Lorrie Forsyth, lorrie.forsyth@maggiescentres.org; 0775 234 8273

     

    About Maggie’s

    • Maggie’s offers free practical and emotional support for all people living with cancer, and their family and friends. Built in the grounds of specialist NHS cancer hospitals, Maggie’s Centres are warm and welcoming places, with qualified professionals on hand to offer a programme of support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.
    • Great architecture is vital to the care Maggie’s offers; and to achieve that Maggie’s works with great architects like the late Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, whose expertise and experience deliver the calm, uplifting environments that are so important to the people who visit and work in the Centres.
    • The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996. There are now 21 Centres across the UK and abroad, with more planned for the future. Maggie’s also has an Online Centre.
    • Maggie’s relies on voluntary donations to support and grow its network of Centres and to develop its unique, high quality programme of support. The charity’s aim is to make the biggest difference possible to people living with cancer and their family and friends.
    • 2017 marks Maggie’s 21st anniversary
    • Maggie’s President is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
    • For further information about Maggie’s please go to maggiescentres.org

     

     

     

    To book, please contact the Maggie’s on 01236 771199 or lanarkshire@maggiescentres.org

    Here is an article by Janet Ellis, who spoke at the same event in London in The Huffington Post

     

  • Writing in Glasgow- new groups at the Kibble Palace!

    Scribble in the Kibble
    Writing for Health & Wellbeing
    in the Kibble Palace – Glasgow Botanic Gardens
    Many people find using journals, poems and words helps them to understand and find new ways of coping with stress and illness. Lapidus Scotland offers writing workshops which are open to all abilities. They are mostly about ‘getting things down on paper’ and not worrying too much about spelling and grammar.A useful way into writing can be through keeping a journal, as it can provide a private place to express thoughts and feelings.
    In Writing for Health and Wellbeing we explore the ways in which words and writing can inspire and help us through difficult times and beyond.

    dates for workshops Autumn 2017
    Monday 9th 16th 30th Oct, 6th 13th 20th Nov
    12:30 to 2:30pm
    Further information and to book a place
    tel. 0141 946 – 8096
    email: lapidus.scotland.1@gmail.com
    (limited to 8 people)NB. There will be more workshops in January

    The Botanics Project is a project about listening to the stories of others. When we choose to listen we keep another company and share a journey for a brief time, walking side by side, seeing the world through their eyes.  Using sound as a medium we can share those stories, walking while listening to a sound-walk we are keeping company with another, hearing their inner world, seeing their interpretation of it as we view their images in film accompanying their words.

    Using the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, the Kelvin walkway and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as our ‘gallery’ we will create a site-specific sound-walk and videos about living with and supporting those with cancer and the role of the natural world in that context.

    The project came about as a result of my own battle with advanced breast cancer and a major operation a few years later connected with it, which I thankfully recovered from. During this time we each started to create audio diaries and small videos enabling us to listen and understand how the other felt, keeping each other company and supporting each other at a difficult time.

    Angelica Kroeger

  • A weekend event for therapeutic writers

    Facilitating Change - Lapidus Scotland Residential training course
    
    P1030510
    
    
    Change – Loss – Grief — Healing
    
    How to Facilitate groups using Literary Arts
     alongside Visual Art, Music and Movement
    
    A Residential Workshop for Experienced Facilitators AND Potential Trainers
     of Reading, Writing and Storytelling for Wellbeing
    
    2nd to 5th November 2017
     Thursday from 5pm till Sunday 4pm
     at Whatton Lodge, East Lothian
    
    
    Whatton lodge is located on Hill Road, Gullane , overlooks Gullane Bay
     and offers spectacular views over the Firth of Forth.
    
    Course Leaders
    
    Ted Bowman, Valerie Gillies, Larry Butler, plus a guest artist
     Further information and questions: lapidus.scotland.1@gmail.com
    
    
    

     

     

  • How is writing and reading helping?

    Wee Read has been slowly building plans for some community engagement in Glasgow.Christine has a few regular groups, in the Maggie’s Centre, Lanarkshire and Glasgow Buddhist Centre. Adrian continues at Stonehouse Hope Cafe and is doing a 1-1 project.The people who come to our groups find it very helpful, sometimes emotional, very supportive and one cancer patient said:

    “Christine, THIS is my therapy!”

    Some extend their reading at home with a new-found or revived enjoyment of poetry and other creative writing. It is obvious to me how it helps, when there is an improvement in their writing over a period of time, as well as their willingness to share their more personal and profound ideas.

    It’s good to see a continuing interest and valuable research in the healing power of words. Here is a link to a BBC Future article that explores how writing may affect physical healing…

    “… the field psychoneuroimmunology has been exploring the link between what’s now known as expressive writing, and the functioning of the immune system. The studies that followed examined the effect of expressive writing on everything from asthma and arthritis to breast cancer and migraines. In a small study conducted in Kansas, for example, it was found that women with breast cancer experienced fewer troublesome symptoms and went for fewer cancer-related appointments in the months after doing expressive writing.”

    Some of the research shows that wound healing can have a short-term benefit with some people, however there are always limits and people respond differently.

     

     

     

     

  • Let’s get bibliotherapy widespread!

     

     

    Weeread2ndlot (18 of 30) (640x424)Photos by D.M Fox

    If you wish to find out more about what is happening in the work around bibliotherapy, here are some

    News and Events for Scotland

    See what is on at public libraries through CILIPS and the National Library in the next year or so. There is an ‘Open Book‘ project you may wish to contact if you live near Edinburgh.

    Why don’t you come to the

    Words Work Well for All Workshops

    at Glasgow Women’s Library on the 18th of March? Sir Kenneth Calman will give a talk and he is Chair of The National Library. You can also get the chance to network with other people working in this field.Tickets are only £10 here:

     

    The workshops look really interesting :

    PROGRAMME WORKSHOPS

    Out Of The Box: Writing in the Archives with Donna Moore Using the treasures in Glasgow Women’s Library’s museum and archive to inspire creative writing. From Suffragettes to Sewing Patterns, from Radical Posters to Roller Derby, from Bunty to Badges – GWL’s collections are a cornucopia for creativity.

    Donna spends her time surrounded by words and women’s history – whether in her role as Adult Literacy and Numeracy Development Worker at Glasgow Women’s Library, as part of her Creative Writing PhD at the University of Stirling, or as co-host of the annual crime fiction convention CrimeFest.

    Balance for Life: when the wind blows the tree bends – tai-chi, poetry & healing with Larry Butler Each tai-chi move is a metaphor, each move could be the title of a poem and playing tai-chi can boost your immune system.

    Larry writes poetry, teaches tai-chi, editor PlaySpace Publications and convenor for Lapidus Scotland, and facilitates writing groups in health and social care settings.

    The Mother Tongue: how language shapes us – with Helen Lamb Everybody has a private vocabulary, which they may not even be fully aware of. Some expressions are handed down through generations; you might suddenly hear yourself repeating something to your own children that was often said to you as a child. This workshop will explore some of our earliest experiences and memories of language and use them to inspire poems and stories.

    Helen is a poet and fiction writer and has published a short story collection, Superior Bedsits, and a poetry collection, Strange Fish. Helen has facilitated creative writing groups for Forth Valley Health Board, Falkirk & District Association for Mental Health, the Maggie’s centre in Edinburgh, and for Open Secret, a confidential service for adult survivors of childhood abuse.

    Learning through Stories – a 20 minute talk with Sir Kenneth Calman

    Ken is Chairman of the National Library of Scotland; Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. Former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland then England & Wales; He chaired the Commission on Scottish Devolution, and was President of the British Medical Association. He was awarded a KCB in 1996. His most recent publication is: “A Doctor’s Line. Poems and Prescriptions in Health and Healing.”

    Paint & Write – with Janie Walker Together we will create a beautiful pastel painting followed by some “artistic writing”

    Janie teaches ‘non believers’ to create Art, writing and spiritual visualisations to increase self-esteem. Janie’s hobbies are also her work so she believes she is very grateful to have been gifted with her talents.

    Journaling and Yoga with Jayne Wilding Journaling and yoga are ways of connecting with our innermost self. Join Jayne Wilding in a workshop which will combine relaxing yoga (done from our chairs) and journaling exercises to help us on the path to knowing ourselves.

    Jayne is a freelance writer and yoga teacher. sky blue notebook from the Pyrenees draws on the experience of living in the foothills of the French Pyrenees for three years. Jayne runs writing and yoga workshops for health and wellbeing in Fife and Dundee.

    Bedtime Stories for Beginners with Stewart Ennis Working with readers and writers in the context of a maximum security prison – In this workshop I will discuss my own personal experiences of working in prison and explore the creative ways in which I’ve learned to deal with the issues of personal sharing and personal protection. I will also look at the ways in which reading and writing can have a positive impact on prisoner’s relationships with one another and with loved ones on the other side of the wall, and how creative writing can nurture empathy and help to creative positive new identities.

    How do I encourage prisoners to open up while actively discouraging the prisoners from writing about the elephant in the room, their crime?

    Stewart is a writer, performer and teacher. He was a founder member of the theatre ensemble Benchtours and has written and performed for many Scottish theatre companies. For the past five years he has been Creative Writing & Performance tutor at HMP Shotts. His first novel The Saving of Joseph Kirkland will be published at the end of 2017.

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    You can also join Lapidus Uk which focuses on writing for wellbeing. There is a Jiscmail email alert group called BIBLIOTHERAPY you can perhaps join – they advertise jobs, research and events.I can add you to my Wee Read list for occasional events and news as well, if you wish.Contact me here if you would like to write a short piece about the work you have done for this Wee Read website.

    Enjoy all your reading and writing for wellbeing!

    Christine