Winding down after exams…with Keats

I am mindful that my blog has been neglected I have had reason to rant…but I confess I too have been winding down after exam invigilating, supporting students through the exam period and being a mature student. Though I still have an exam to do!! However, I have not been lazing around and have enjoyed a few cultural experiences alongside the usual challenges of my counselling and freelance work.

Last weekend I attended an event organised by the Redbourn Museum where we were fortunate to be visited by Professor Nicholas Roe from St Andrews University a historian and writer specialising in Keats one of the greats.  We were treated to a great talk and I managed to purchase and have signed his latest book on John Keats. This followed an interesting evening of poetry and wine in the museum gardens where various poetry lovers read from their favourite books; I chose Rupert Brookes, a few Haiku gems and one or too old favourites.

I had forgotten just how much poetry had featured in my own life and reflected on happy memories of reading from my mother’s poetry books as a small child. Writing poetry, indeed any writing is always therapeutic and it can be fun don’t forget even if you just write it for your own private reasons. However, don’t be shy try and get it published you may surprise yourself.

Normal daily blogging will resume now and for those students awaiting exam results try not to get too stressed enjoy your break you have earned it and I wish you all well with your results and chosen career paths. I will be writing about how choices change in the forthcoming weeks…and sometimes unexpectedly for the better.

 

Power of kindness

I was listening to a discussion yesterday about the power of kindness which the Red Cross are adopting. It is so easy to be judgemental but as my mentor used to say a baby doesn’t ask to be born into a country, a religion or race and we are all brothers and sisters.

I remember her telling tales about when she was a Corporal Cook in the ATS and looked after the German soldiers who were helping her, giving them hot refreshments and treats. She remarked how they had been called up just as her husband (our Dad had) to be a dessert rat! She had also experienced prejudice herself being part Jewish and brought us up to be anti-prejudice of any nature.

Kindness to others is not difficult to apply and everybody has their own story, and often, very sad one at that.

Empty Spaces

Many years ago I published a fund raising publication raising funds and awareness for a cancer charity one of my lovely writers at that time donated a piece entitled ‘Empty Spaces’ which talked about the empty places at functions at his local cricket club as one by one his dear friends were gradually dying around him.

I am mindful that last weekend a lot of people will have experienced Father’s Day without their Dad, (myself included) and may have found the day difficult. I have heard it often said that grief is the price we end up paying for loving those we hold dear.

As I discussed over the weekend with a personal friend the intensity of our grief is related to the depth of the relationship we had with the family member or friend that has died. As usual, one of my positive reminders I like to share is to celebrate their life rather than focus on the way they died or what caused their death. I.e. Cancer, heart attack, stroke, a tragic accident and possibly suicide.

The time to tell those you love them is of course whilst they are here and you may just be saying it on a day that they really need to hear it and appreciate it. As always we keep those we love alive, in part, in our mind and in our hearts.

Team work…invigilating

Yesterday I enjoyed after-work drinks with a group of lovely ladies all from within the educational sector. The group included: fellow exam invigilators, teachers, wives of teachers and pastoral support and most of which were parents too.

We had a healthy open forum about our views of many aspects of the educational system and our own parenting experiences. I think I can safely say we all agreed how stressful the exam period is for our students/children and adapting to the various on-going changes of exam structures and grading.

I think many of us also agreed that a percentage of stress that students experience is often applied maybe inadvertantly by parents and I know I shared how even with various professional skills it is hard, at times, to support our own children through their personal journeys. Again, I slipped in the subject of encouraging boys to open up and talk.

To on-lookers invigilating may appear boring but when you work as part of an efficient caring team you soon realise just how important the role is. Every shift is different and one must be prepared for the unexpected and quickly offer support to help ease a stressful situation for a student already in a stressful situation! I always come away feeling I have done something useful and this is confirmed by the appreciation shown by the great school I have the privilege to work within.

Through our eventual ‘wine goggles’ our conversation moved onto the importance of demonstrating kindness and being grateful and how events in our own life sometimes remind us to ‘live a day at a time’ (one of my own mantras).

Many of the group have other roles often working in isolation and it really is good to feel a sense of belonging to a team however small and for however long. If any of the team are reading my blog today we must do that again and soon. I for one will make more of an effort to keep in contact before we meet for the exams in 2019.

Keeping positive

Keeping positive all the time can, for many, be an up-hill struggle and my NLP coaching of clients confirms this on a regular basis. Even the most successful people have certain areas of their life where they feel they have lost control and feel bewildered to say the least.

In life, at times, we are all guilty of being just too hard on ourselves and focus on the negative elements of our lives (often out of our control anyway) rather than celebrate the positives. In my experience sometimes we need to remember how valued we are by those that know and love us. Again I like to say how it is important that we tell those we love that we do so and appreciate who they are and their positive contribution to our lives.

Without fear of contradiction many people we know within our immediate circles may be struggling but not telling us, so, sometimes we need to ask the question and give that person the opportunity to share. It is no secret that talking helps

Yesterday I made a passing positive compliment to a young student who beamed and said that they had been having a bad day…and I just made it better!  Engaging with people who cross our daily paths can be fruitful..the kindness of strangers.

Keep positive and keep caring.

Complaining

We are pretty bad at complaining in this country and if something or somebody upsets us too often we talk about it but don’t find time to complain. Of course there are ways of complaining, staying calm but getting one’s point across…and after all if we don’t give the company or individual an opportunity to apologise and/or put things right they will never learn or value their customers.

Equally we are just as bad at writing to show thanks and appreciation too. If we are impressed about service then say so we all need praising how ever old we are.

 

 

How far we’ve come

Sometimes it is hard to focus on the progress we have actually made when faced with continual challenge. For those that have great strength of character and determination they will continue fighting whilst those around watch on in sheer amazement.

I am following the great challenge a rather special lady has been facing daily for the past six months and watching her smiling face on a short video today was like winning the lottery. The lovely Kim Smith is setting the bar so high in being inspirational! If only more people could summon her courage in what may be far less daunting challenges. However, my counselling training reminds me that everything is relative and what seems irrelevant to one person is insurmountable to another.

However, there is no doubt that having a positive attitude helps us overcome what life throws at us, and, in my own experience will carry us further than any other rehabilitation. Reflecting on how far we have come will hopefully spur us on to continue our battle whatever that may be. Keep shuffling Kim.

For anyone facing an uphill challenge…don’t give up..but don’t be too hard on yourself either and treat yourself to a break and something you enjoy doing..however simple that may be. Chocolate isn’t always the answer but boy it makes us feel better, and, it is actually good for you.