• 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
  • Summer Wee Read- Willa Cather in Ireland

    Now we are just past the summer solstice, it feels like the heart of the year.Currently, I am busy preparing for Willa Cather’s Irish Connections, – a symposium over in Ireland, about an ancestor of my family name, Willa Cather. ‘My Antonia’ is one of her acclaimed novels, published 100 years ago.It is a beautiful read.

     This novel is considered Cather’s first masterpiece. Cather was praised for bringing the American West to life and making it personally interesting. ” Wikipedia

     

    Willa Cather

    She has a poetic way of expressing herself that I love. And her insight into character is to me, educational.

    “I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away.” from My Antonia

    One of my favourite Cather novels is the ‘Song of the Lark’, about a young girl who becomes an opera singer, and shows in detail what artists need to go through to become themselves. This relates to all of us.

    “. . . what was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself—life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose?”

         

    So I will meet scholars and others at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady,- somewhere between Derry and Coleraine next week. A rural location which will provide an adventure Willa would approve of, I am sure!

    Here’s a wee final quote from Willa, it has a nice Irish almost Gaelic sound and rhythm to it begorrah!

    “May the Hay fever give you a long vacation and the hot winds deal gently with you.”   from Letters of Willa Cather, To M. C. Gere 1901

    Have a literary good summer!

     

  • 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

     

  • Where Do I Come From?

    The questions, ‘ where do you come from?’ or,  ‘what does your father do?’, are useful in prompting your writing. I wrote this today:

    I just started reading ‘Germinal ‘by Emile Zola, inspired by watching a film about artist Cezanne and Zola, who were friends. Germinal is about mining and poverty. It’s written in what Zola called a Naturalistic style, it’s very realistic! I skipped the long introduction, but expect to find out more about Zola’s life and politics as I read on.
    Coming from Blantyre, a mining village in Lanarkshire, reading this has made me remember that my dad and two grandfathers were miners, also my step-Grandad, Wattie who helped to bring me up. I had a massive input from him ; he was a communist.
    The telling of this tale has made me actually go into the mine and scrunch myself into a ball, hunkering down under the walls to chip out some coal.(Imaginatively). It’s fairly harrowing.
    So, from this,
    I wrote a poem today:

    Buried beneath the earth,
    without a breath of fresh air,
    miners coal-tapping.

    Fearing the world will fall
    on their heads… suffocating,
    miners fighting for all.

    Squatting; back-breaking work,
    no other choice for a living.
    Compressed; lung-black; stuck.

    My father and grandfathers sat there
    Enduring. Direst of dire.
    Nae wonder they were dour.

    Their only fire,
    a lamp.
    no dry places, all were damp.

    And, empty of all uplift,-
    but walking out of there,
    believing heaven waits.

    C. Cather

     

    Related image
    Harry Fain, Coal Loader
  • Maggie’s Lanarkshire Expressive Writing Group

    Tomorrow, we read and write together at the Maggie’s Lanarkshire. We have the luxury of a beautiful space, where the style is unique and very comfortable. We need a few more people to come and enjoy a shared experience of listening to poems and having a go at writing. No experience is needed, just bring yourself.

    There’s always a cuppa and a welcome face at the kitchen table.

     

     

     

     

    Maggie's 1

     

     

     

    P1030510
    If you are affected by cancer or have cancer, please contact any of the gorgeous staff on 01236 771199 for details.We meet on the 1st Tuesday of the month between 1pm and 3pm.
    You will be very welcome!

  • 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.