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.

 

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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.

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!

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.

 

 

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!

 

Helping Kim

Last week I promised an old school friend that I would help his wife by posting on my blog to help  raise enough money to get her prosthetics and vital equipment she will need following contracting sepsis and becoming a quadruple amputee. I am now following Kim’s story and progress and this lady is too amazing for words. She is truly inspirational and this week she has even done her bit to raise awareness of this cruel infection which changes lives.

Tonight I read she has had a setback in terms of being measured and receiving her new limbs, but I know she will keep positive and quite frankly I don’t know how she does. What can I do? I hear you say as you read my blog tonight… well you could donate to her just giving page. Maybe cut down on just the wine or coffees for a week…every little really does help and a donation however small would be so appreciated by her loved ones.

You can donate here
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kimschance1

For those that are spiritually minded think of this fab woman I’m sending her huge spiritual hugs every day now.