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.

 

Conflict of interest

How refreshing it was to watch the two part BBC programme ‘The Doctor who gave up drugs’ it certainly was thought provoking and revealed such blatent clash of interest between the medical profession, drug companies and producers of non-cow’s milk! Dr Chris Van Tulleken showed just how our children can be helped with alternatives to drugs for such issues as AHD and teenager depression including mindfulness.

Friends know that I am anti-drugs so it comes as no surprise I would agree with his findings. However, it does disappoint and alarm me that GP’s seemingly dish out anti-depressants to children and the bereaved when counselling and emotional support is the safer bet. I know some parents will scream and say unless you are living with a child with these challenges you have no idea..but I would rather not put a child’s life and well-being at risk. The second part showed how some teens were suicidal after their dosage of certain anti-depressants being increased and that is not just coincidental.

It was extremely worrying to see Dr Tulleken’s visual presentations in terms of the sheer volume of drugs our children are taking as well as the horrendous amount of Calpol we are administering to babies and young children.

Today I am not ranting just concerned but maybe more so that the documentary revealed how drug companies and babymilk manufacturers fund Doctors’ educational conferences where their products are certainly marketed well…if that isn’t a conflict of interest then my name isn’t Manning!

Facing our fears…the talking cure

Everybody has their own personal fears and phobias and it can be a hard decision to face them. This can be a personal challenge that we know we need to learn to overcome but it may take some time before we feel that we are ready to do so.

So many problems we have as adults stem from childhood experiences and sadly can prevent us from trying new things and from leading a full life. CBT and NLP Life Coaching of course are very successful and once a client understands his relationship to and/or the cause of a stumbling block towards his/her own particular issue they go forward with far more confidence.

I am always mindful that everything is relative to the individual and time and patience can do wonders… not forgetting bring great rewards to the counsellor/life coach working through their journey.

I always admire those that make the decision to seek help it’s a brave step but shows great determination. Being in an environment of trust brings comfort in itself and talking things through really does cure as Freud knew and reported only too well.

A smile is just a frown upside down

I am chilling before coaching this evening and listening to a new CD covers of Nat King Cole by Gregory Porter which includes ‘Smile‘ a brilliant old song which was written by the great Charles Chaplin.

As my blog featured yesterday music can transport us back in time to places and people and the song ‘Smile‘ reminds me of my great mentor, mother and best friend who used to sing this song if you were feeling a bit down. Music can life our spirits or as my fab mum used to say ‘get’s my motor running’ as she would dance around the house and I know exactly what she means.

Just think of any great film you have watched which would be far less amazing if not for it’s score. Music is part of all our lives for so many reasons…it’s our own sound track.

So if you are feeling lonely or down put some uplifting music on and remember a smile is a frown that is upside down..so turn it around. Dancing is good exercise…even Dad Dancing!

 

Being kind

Being kind and grateful feature frequently on my blog and I often say how kindness is not a weakness. Today I will quote a few words from ‘Alfie’ by the great Burt Bacharach to ponder:-

‘What’s it all about, Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind, Alfie…’

On speaking about kindness and being grateful with various pastoral colleagues it often seems that to some modern day people it’s uncool to be either…but I am an old-fashioned girl and believe we only get out what we put in and demonstrating kindness in all that we do, considering others… then we are happier ourselves. At the end of the day be grateful for any small achievement, success or happy moment and I promise you will wake up the next day feeling more positive and ready to face the day ahead.

Speaking to a recently bereaved gentleman yesterday; I reminded him to think about the good times and funny moments he had shared with his wife and after our unscheduled encounter he said he felt better and that made me feel grateful for my training too.

To the icecream man who gave me a free icecream this week after a hot afternoon invigilating- thanks for that tiny act of kindness Mr Whippy. You made an old girl very happy.

 

 

Exam stress

It is that time of year when students all over the country are revising for their exams and true to form the weather is hot, the pollen count is up just as they need to focus.

As ever, I remind those that are busy cramming to have regular screen breaks, exercise, keep hydrated and enjoy a break away and an ice cream or chocolate bar or two too!

Seriously, keeping up the exercise is vital as it releases all the positive endorphins, reduces stress, clears the head and re-energises to help keep the momentum going. For those so inclined I have always recommended yoga classes and most gym clubs now have yoga lessons available. So pick up your mat and join a class. Relaxation and meditation work wonders I promise.  Keep calm…you know your subjects…you are almost there!

I will be doing my bit in starting invigilating next week and sign off wishing all students the best of luck for the coming weeks.

Celebration of Life

I have just returned from a funeral and we all take what ‘fits well’ for us from the minister’s address. What was particularly nice today was the minister knew the deceased and her family well and it was personal. What I really liked was how he reminded the bereaved that the community were there for them, and in this case it really was true. We were all there to celebrate a life and were united in that.

As I always say in life we only get out what we are prepared to put in and when people give of themselves to others it is no hardship for that kindness to be returned. During the day’s events I had some interesting discussions with various attendees; both friends and family members who openly shared their feelings about loved ones they had lost.

I had a great chat with a lovely elderly lady and we agreed how comforting it is when nice things are said…but more importantly we discussed how it is also true of telling those we love them and appreciate them when they are alive.

I often post saying tell those you love today and every day. Live your life well and as I said to one lady have that second ice-cream..especially on a hot day like today.

Finding time…

A great mentor of mine always maintained that ”we will always find time to do the things we like or want to do.‘ I guess, to a certain extent, that is true but at times ‘other stuff’ prevents us from getting on and doing things we like at the risk of neglecting what others may perceive as more important.

I had an interesting chat with a friend today on how we both avoid being judgemental on how others spend and live their lives but sometimes we will be criticised by those that we would rather support us. Unrequested advice can be very annoying and to some upsetting. We all have that friend or family member that wants to tell us what they think we should be doing but above all else we must remain true to ourself.

It would be a boring world if we were all the same..and life would be a dessert without a little rain. I will also spout more words of wisdom from said same mentor ‘that people are only important if you allow them to be.’

Realistically we can only just try to live our lives the best we can and hopefully without hurting anyone around us. Anyway who has the right to say what is and isn’t normal eh? In my experience of helping coach others; most people are just too hard on themselves. Once we learn to accept our limitations and love ourselves the rest will fall into place with time, patience and perhaps self-development and self-belief.

For the rest of the day remember what it is YOU like to do and just do it!

 

Getting ready…for exams

When I started my psychology course in the Autumn I chatted with my tutor saying how I had been putting off  beginning my course for one reason or another. After sharing for a while I soon realised that this was not the case as my work and life experiences had been preparing me to a certain degree to be in the right frame of mind, and, be better equipped to respond to what would be required of me.

I had great momentum going throughout the course returning each lesson promptly and starting reading and research for the next whilst my tutors marked my latest offerings. Then…suddenly the past few months when I should have been starting my exam I seem to have been distracted and whilst there is no time restraint (aside of those I impose) I feel I am starting it later than I intended.

The sunshine of the past few days and the welcoming blue sky brings us all out of the winter blues which I know a lot of my colleagues have found to be never-ending this year. I am now sitting in the garden re-visiting one of my reflective reading books and ready to resume my studies and face my exam. Maybe it is partly down to the fact that I will be invigilating exams the coming months and the student in me is coming back.

I am mindful that as I write my blog students all over the country are also starting to revise for exams. I will of course start to post blogs about exam stress…or should I say how to avoid it very shortly but for now here are a few quotes from ‘The things you can see only when you slow down’ by Haemin Sumin.

‘Wear confidence, It is the height of fashion’

and

‘Love, not righteous words, can change people’s lives’

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

Today I started celebrating International Women’s Day by having a ladies breakfast at the Waffle House with two of my favourite women. I am extremely fortunate in having known and worked with with some amazing women in my life many of whom have been great mentors.

I look on with pride at the younger generation of females who are so confident, sassy and non-judgemental and who have ambitions and the energy to follow their dreams. Spurred on by positive supportive mothers and great role models in other female family members and successful friends no challenge is insurmountable.

As a mother of a daughter for many reasons I realise the world can be both a cruel place and one of great opportunity and for those wanting to take the plunge and make something good of their lives…it will happen.

Last year I attended a great women’s conference where a speaker suggested that world leaders and heads of large corporates should adopt the many positive female traits of compassion, empathy, caring and sensitivity to work towards world peace and fairer and more honest business practices.

Here’s to being a women with the world at our feet.