• The examined life…

    Today Adrian leads a group reading about spirit and literature. That’s at Stonehouse Hope Cafe, St. Ninian’s Church. Living the examined life is a worthwhile life…

    Yesterday I was at our third meeting at Lanark with the newly-named Wee Read Lanark Writing Group, formerly Hope Cafe Lanark’s writing group. We are really settling down in a lovely room. The office is run by Esteem, a peer mental health organization with Theresa Coll Elder. It is  bright, calm and fragrant with the essential oils that Karen and Joanne use for their therapy sessions. We sit around Theresa’s beautiful old family table and share some poems, reading aloud and chatting about what they mean for us.

    Display catalogue 6

    We will be expanding into an evening group in August, so watch this space*?

    This week was fairly momentous for me, completing the See Me Community Champions Training with a great group of local people who are the salt of the earth. I look forward to working with them towards a Lanarkshire that is less stigmatised about mental illness.

    We’ll be adding local events to a See Me page here soon!

    Today I spotted another great Brain Picking from Maria Popova, about hope.

    Happy reading!

    Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Dark Times, Resisting the Defeatism of Easy Despair, and What Victory Really Means for Movements of Social Change

     

  • Wee Read Writing Group at Lanark MOVING TOMORROW

    Weeread2ndlot (26 of 30) (480x640)The Wee Read writing group that used to meet at The Hope Cafe Lanark – will meet tomorrow at 2-3.30pm at the office of Peer Lanarkshire, at 38 Greenside Lane, Lanark, ML11 7PY . This is at the top of Wide Close, diagonally opposite on Greenside Lane, number 38 is near the far end,- so a wee walk.

    It is a really nice space, –  just right to write in! Come and join us for £2 donation to cover costs. We’ll be having a chat, hearing poems and writing away the summertime blues!

    Call Christine if lost 07952 982868.

    Let’s keep connecting with some words for wellbeing and a good blether!

  • Hope Cafe Reading and Writing Lanark and Stonehouse

    Lanark

    Today, we will meet at Greyfriars Church Hall on Bloomgate, Lanark, ML11 9ET. We begin at 2 until 3.30 pm  with a cuppa, for an expressive writing group. So, what do we actually do?-

    Well, first- you need NO experience of reading or writing at all!  We will hear a poem or story, have a chat about it, and then I give a wee exercise or writing ‘prompt’ so we can spend a few minutes writing whatever  we want. There is no need to share if you don’t want to – whatever you write is right.It is informal, friendly and easy-going.Everything is confidential.

    This is about safely expressing how you feel about the poems and stories I bring. One participant has said that the structure of the short writing exercises is very useful- it gives you a chance to think, to stop thinking about other things- and is a good distraction.

    Everyone can write-but if you want to just come and listen, that’s fine too!

    We will share some great poems and stories today, including Chekhov and Denise Levertov, here’s a wee taste:

    “One morning-and so soon-the first flower

    has opened when you wake.Or you catch it poised

    in a single, brief

    moment of hesitation.”…

    Extract from The Metier of Blossoming, Denise Levertov.

    Hippeastrum-Picotee

    Please join us each Wednesday for the next 6 weeks, for a wee read, some company, and a bit of writing. £2 to cover costs.

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    Stonehouse

    Tomorrow, on Thursday 9th of June, Wee Read’s volunteer co-director Adrian will be at the Stonehouse Hope Cafe to explore Literature and Spirit. This is about sharing reading aloud, and chatting about the stories and poems.

    So, please join him in the Cafe at St.Ninian’s Church, at 11-12 – free!Here is a link to his latest blog, about nature and the environment – Mountains of the Mind Enjoy!

    “Some of the best writing on the human spirit is found in nature writing, travel writing, writing that focuses on extreme battles with elements…”

    Summer is full of the joys and it is a chance to get out and feel the world flourishing, with bees buzzing, butterflies roaming and branches forming dens. Go out and get the fresh air if you can, breathe new life into your lungs!

  • Lanarkshire welcomes the Shore to Shore poetry Tour!

    Am chuffed to be getting free tickets from StAnza for the Shore to Shore poetry tour- at a local Lanarkshire venue, Biggar Municipal Hall.


      ” Picador and Atkinson-Pryce Books present Shore to Shore: Celebrating Poetry and Community with the Laureate and Friends, featuring Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Jackie Kay, John Sampson plus special guest poet.”

    The event  is on Friday, the 1st of July at 7.30pm.It should be a really good night, so come along if you can to hear the poets voices, LIVE AND LOUD!

    The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, will be there reading some poems along with other guests. Am so excited to be going to a local Lanarkshire community venue and hear some of my favourite poets.

    There is also a poetry competition about community which we can enter here:

    16lv.barnesnoble

    And you can get the complimentary ticket offer for the Shore to Shore tour too, –  from StAnza if you subscribe to their e-newsletter details here:

    StAnza are lucky to have some complimentary tickets to the Scottish events and we’ll be offering these on a first-come basis via our e-newsletter. So if you are already signed up for this, watch out for a message coming soon about this. If you are not already signed up but would like to receive our e-newsletters, then it’s very simple, just go to our homepage and type in your email address in the box provided.

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    My connection to community poetry and the Poet Laureate

    A poem Carol Ann Duffy wrote was very important to me. I read it at the very first ‘Reading Aloud’ group I did in 2009 at the Greater Easterhouse Alcohol Awareness Project- for the Women’s Group. It was the week after Carol Ann was made Poet Laureate, and I felt proud that she was the first woman poet laureate for 400 years, and a Scot, born in Glasgow. I read Louis MacNeice’s ‘Snow’ then Carol Ann’s After Louis MacNeice’s Snow, and a group of twelve Easterhouse women and me started talking about what these poems  meant to them.

    It felt miraculous to me, these women, really tearing the words apart, searching for their own personal meaning in them. Creating a community of friendship after alcohol affected them in some hard ways-they found out new things about each other. And I found out that they were wonderful.My report of that first foray into sharing poems in the community is here.

    I am grateful that now I have a miraculous job,- to do community reading with people across Scotland, bringing poetry and making friends.

     

  • The Wee Read at Hope Cafe Lanark writing group- new dates, new venue!!

    Now we are settled at the new venue Greyfriars Church Hall, on Bloomgate-  here in Lanark, here are our next dates.We meet on Wednesdays 2-3.30 pm, for listening and chatting about poems and stories, that help support our well-being. Everyone is welcome.No experience is required, come and try! £2 charge to cover costs.

    Greyfriars Church (1)

    Please note this week, May 25th and  next week, 1st of June, we are NOT ON!

    HOPE CAFÉ WRITING GROUP 2016

    at GREYFRIARS CHURCH HALL

    Greyfriars Church Hall Enter by gate before Main Church with wheelchair access.

    WEDNESDAYS at  2-3.30PM
    25-05-16 and 1-06-16 – BREAK FOR 2 WEEKS  

     

     

    JUNE-JULY Wednesdays 2-3.30 pm

    08-06-16
    15-06-16
    22-06-16
    29-06-16
    06-07-16
    13-07-16
    BREAK FOR 2 WEEKS
    AUGUST-SEPTEMBER
    03-08-16
    10-08-16
    17-08-16
    24-08-16
    31-08-16
    07-09-16
    BREAK FOR 2 WEEKS
    SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER
    28-09-16
    05-10-16
    12-10-16
    19-10-16
    26-10-16
    02-11-16
    BREAK FOR 2 WEEKS

     

    Contact Christine Cather 07952 982868 christine@weeread.scot

    www.weeread.scot

     

  • Thinking about interesting things

    Do you get unwanted email alerts, or newsletters?I tend to subscribe then get annoyed because I don’t have time to read them all, then I decide to unsubscribe.
    But there is also the option of getting a folder in my inbox for  ‘To Read Soon’ things.Things that are SO interesting I will get back to and read.

    One of my favourite reads is from Brainpickings. I never delete this without finding an interesting article to read. often about poems, and always about thinking on life.
    Here is the link to this week’s offering. I love Rilke’s poems and there is an article and links that you may enjoy too brainpickings.org

    Dial Up the Magic of This Moment: Philosopher Joanna Macy on How Rilke Can Help Us Befriend Our Mortality and Be More Alive

    Dial Up the Magic of This Moment: Philosopher Joanna Macy on How Rilke Can Help Us Befriend Our Mortality and Be More Alive

  • Wee Read at The Hope Cafe news!

     

    The Hope Cafe in Wide Close, Lanark closed this week, with a final fiesta.However, the organisation continues, with the Stonehouse Hope Cafe, fortnightly on Thursdays  and the Bun and a Blether. I was lucky to get a new venue for the Wee Read expressive writing group at Greyfriars Church. So, it’s the end of one era, the beginning of another…

    I wrote a wee poem for thr Hope Cafe final fiesta.

    Hope

    What it means to me

    is Life!

    What it says to me

    is Home.

    Who I meet here

    are friends.

    Who I meet here

    are Family.

     

    Hope we’ll keep life

    Hope we’ll come home

    Hope we’ll stay friends

    Hope our family

    stays strong!

    I also took an existing poem, and changed one word throughout, using Hope in the place of Happiness.

    After So Much happiness, by Naomi  Shihab Nye

     

    It is difficult to know what to do

    with so much hope.

    With sadness there is something to rub against,

    a wound to tend with lotion and a cloth.

    When the world falls in around you,

    you have pieces to pick up,

    something to hold in your hands,

    like ticket stubs or change.

     

    But, hope floats,

    It doesn’t need you

    to hold it down.

    It doesn’t need anything.

    Hope lands on the roof of the next house singing,

    and disappears when it wants to.

    You are hopeful either way.

    Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful … house

    and now live over a quarry of noise and dust

    cannot make you unhopeful.

    Everything has a life of it’s own,

    it too could wake up

    filled with possibilities

    of coffee and cake,

    and love even the floor

    which needs to be swept…

     

    Since there is no place large enough

    to contain so much hope,

    you shrug, you raise your hands,

    and it flows out of you,

    into everything you touch.

    You are not responsible.

    You take no credit,

    as the night sky takes no credit for the moon,

    but continues to hold it,

    and to share it,

    and in that way,

    be known.

     

    After Naomi Shihab Nye, So Much Happiness.

     

    Here are some photos of the day.

    HOPE CAFE LANARK CAKEHOPE CAFE GUESTS AND VOLUNTEERSHOPE CAFE FINAL DAY HOPE CAFE FINAL FIESTA WENDY AND GRANT HOPE CAFE MANDY'S PLACE HOPE CAFE LAST DAY JEANNIE AND CHRISTINE HOPE CAFE

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • 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.

  • Stand Up Against Stigma! 23rd October Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

    CHRISTINE , DONNA AND GILLIAN AT STAND UP AGAINST STIGMA (640x480)

    Wee Read I am – Stand Up Against Stigma 23rd October, St Ninian’s Church, Stonehouse Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival 2015

    The gala night of local folk standing up against mental health stigma at Stonehouse on Friday 23rd was a brilliant event and I felt privileged to be a part of it. The event was produced by The Hope Café and Inspire  Theatre. The contributions from the Acting Bairns of Stonehouse and Inspire Young People about stigma from were very impressive and were the core of  first half of the event. These pieces were strong and well-performed. Songs written by Angel Newlands were outstanding. In the second half, At Theatre and the Inspire group showed us all their talents . The final piece was about Scott Baker- a friend of mine through our shared work as volunteers at the Hope Café. Scott showed a lot of courage in putting his story into a dramatic performance by Inspire Theatre,  which did just what it says on the tin- inspire!

    I am looking forward to seeing more from these young people! They all showed a great deal of talent, energy and determination in their performances. Well Done to them and thanks for a brilliant evening!

    The show started with a great singing experience from the Stonehouse Male Voice Choir which got everyone in the audience singing, clapping and chair-dancing!  The event was held in the main part of the church of St. Ninian’s and I felt slightly awed by this- and by the 150 people present!

    My Wee Read was based on the I am I am I am workshop, shortened to ‘I am’ – and as the number of people was more than expected, I had to change the format to simple reading – no chance to write or interact. Gillian Grant, an Edinburgh Comedy Festival star who works with Universal Comedy,  compèred the evening with funnies and pezazz! But, luckily, I was on after the tea break, so I had time for a cuppa tea before it.

    We had some lovely home made cake too!Especially liked the Rocky Road.  It was a bit nerve-racking standing with the bright stage lights in my face, and to a full church! I sat on the stage for the raffle winners,  with Donna Barrowman, the founder of The Hope Café.  I took courage from all the 150 people in front of me who had come to stand up against stigma, and the welcoming atmosphere provided in St. Ninian’s Church by the local people.

    I was slightly flummoxed at the start, however, it went well. I read 4 poems,  and here is a draft of my presentation:

    Wee Read is myself, Christine Cather and I am also a volunteer at The Hope Cafe. We enjoy a writing group there, that helps us to express ourselves, and I want to invite everyone to new reading and writing group at St. Ninian’s Church in Stonehouse.

    I stand up against stigma because when I was in despair and having suicidal thoughts, I could not talk about it. I want everyone to be able to speak about their mental health so that this doesn’t happen to them.

    What I’ll do is read 3 or 4 poems.

    And why this title ‘I am I am I am?’

    Because it’s a positive statement and embodies that passion that we are celebrating this year in the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

    The quote “I am, I am, I am” appears in Sylvia Plath’s novel, “The Bell Jar” about a fictional character who has depression, and attempts suicide.

    The quote is

    “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am”.

    The first poem is Patriot, by Norman MacCaig

    My only country
    is six feet high
    and whether I love it or not
    I’ll die
    for its independence.

    The country is myself. It is not about political independence but personal independence.

    What is stigma?

    When someone labels you as a discredited person;

    your identity is spoiled;

    your status is lost;

    the powerful social group then discriminates against you with a negative stereotype;

    you are no longer equal ;

    it results in social oppression.

    it is the powerful group who is to blame – not the person who is mentally ill.

    And this is not just against anyone with mental health but against anyone for being different, being labelled by society in many ways. For example, being of a different race, gender, sexual preference, disabled, wee, skinny, anything !

    Let’s hear a poem by Sylvia Plath, I am Vertical

    I am vertical.
    But I would rather be horizontal.
    I am not a tree with my root in the soil
    Sucking up minerals and motherly love
    So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
    Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed

    Attracting my share of “Ah’s and spectacularly painted,

    Unknowing I must soon unpetal.

    Compared with me, a tree is immortal

    And a flower-head not tall, but startling,

    And I want the one’s longevity and the other’s daring.

    Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,

    I walk among them , but none of them are noticing.

    Sometimes, I think that when I am sleeping

    I most perfectly resemble them –

    Thoughts gone dim.

    It is more natural to me, lying down.

    Then the sky and I are in open conversation.

    And I shall be more useful when I lie down finally:

    Then the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.”

    (Extract.)

    Sylvia Plath

    Available

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-am-vertical/

    When I was in despair, my throat felt frozen. I could not speak.

    A poem by Maya Angelou, Caged Bird

    The free bird leaps
    on the back of the wind
    and floats downstream


    in the orange sun rays
    and dares to claim the sky.

    But a bird that stalks
    down his narrow cage
    can seldom see through
    his bars of rage
    his wings are clipped and
    his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing.

    The caged bird sings
    with fearful trill
    of the things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill for the caged bird
    sings of freedom

    The free bird thinks of another breeze
    and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
    and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
    and he names the sky his own.

    But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
    his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
    his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing

    The caged bird sings
    with a fearful trill
    of things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill
    for the caged bird
    sings of freedom.

    Maya Angelou (Extract.)

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178948

    Now – the final poem is more positive. This was about human rights, black rights in the 60’s in America.

    Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    Does my sassiness upset you?
    Why are you beset with gloom?
    ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
    Pumping in my living room.

    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.

    Did you want to see me broken?
    Bowed head and lowered eyes?
    Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
    Weakened by my soulful cries.

    Does my haughtiness offend you?
    Don’t you take it awful hard
    ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
    Diggin’ in my own back yard.
    You may shoot me with your words,
    You may cut me with your eyes,
    You may kill me with your hatefulness,
    But still, like air, I’ll rise.

    Out of the huts of history’s shame
    I rise
    Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
    I rise
    I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
    Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
    Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
    I rise
    Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
    I rise
    Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
    I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
    I rise

    I rise

    I rise.

    Maya Angelou  (Extract.)

    Available

    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-i-rise

     I was also given a surprise birthday bouquet and the audience sang Happy Birthday to You!

    2015-10-23 001 (640x480)

    Then before we finished a marvellous show  we all sang Lean On Me- the song that means so much to the Hope Café .We sang in unison, with all the volunteers,  actors, the many young people involved in the event and the Stonehouse Male Voice Choir all around us in a huge circle. Wonderful!Thanks to all concerned for an inspiring and meaningful evening!

    EVENT STAND UP V STIGMA 2

  • National Poetry Day October 8th 2015

    For this special day here is one ae ma poems, aboot ma Granny Cather !

     In Granny’s drawers

    In Granny’s drawers
    were towels and soaps,
    Her treasures to behold!
    To this day, Pears Golden Glory
    Still washes me in hope.

    Her potent greatness, her wicked wiles,
    She took me robbin, whilst she smiles.
    She’d pay furr the wan bag,
    “It’s only the Co”.
    Tae her, it’s her shop, co’ checks n aw’.

    Ma Granny Cather,
    wi’ her broad-chested-hands,
    she held us aw’ close,
    Noo I understand!

    We slept four in her bed,
    tap tae toe,
    Keepin us warm forever, ye know!

    Her eyes and her love
    follow me still,
    generosity twinkling
    a boundless thing.