Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grumpy Men

Took the dog out for a walk tonight and she escaped to have a go at some feral cats that live in the stables at the end of the road opposite. She can't usually get through to the field but a gap had appeared between the gate and the post so she squeezed through and ran off at quite a speed. This has upset the man who owns the land a great deal and made a point of telling us tonight as we returned from our walk. Accused us of all sorts and told us not to let the dog off the lead again. I was angry at the time and felt he was being unjust and petty. On reflection I am now concerned about him as he will cross the wrong person one day and his aggressive tone will end up with him being hurt. He obviously gets agitated at the dog poo on the path and other things must agitate them as they have an inaccessible piece of land where they keep two horses. They have to tend them twice a day and they can’t be finding it easy BUT if they talk to people like that they will end up alienated and in the worse case in hospital.

I hate incivility and I do not like being wrongly accused of being an irresponsible dog owner. We apologised and I am sure the cats will return to their home. I am just concerned about the couple's well-being. I am sure their mental health must be at risk living the way they do and  they are just finding all a bit much.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ways forward

Think some things are beginning to make sense and the more I write things down the more they become coherent and changes are possible without dramatic gestures - like leaving work!!

Poetry and words are at the core of what I want to be about and artistry is all part of that. It was a lesson I learnt in my professional life as an educator. Artistry and creativity are crucial to my well-being.

 Am sending off a poem to a competition run by Dying Matters and it was one I wrote on the MA at Newcastle in 2008. It sprang from a session run by Bill Herbert based on a translation of a Chinese Poem. It came from facing a difficult situation (teaching bed baths) and I have decided the time is right to put it out there. Be brave...

I sent some of my small stones from January to Fiona Robyn  and one of them is to be included in their 2012 collection – hurray!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Forward

What a difference all this daylight and sunshine makes. I bought a light box at Christmas in the hope it would help my stuttering brain during the winter months BUT it didn't make as much difference as I had hoped. I suspect you need to start in October and prevent the decline of mood and energy rather than try to reverse it!! Anyway suffice to say that with the clocks going forward I feel really quite energised and my brain working at a speed that I am used to and can cope with..

Have put this collage together as a starting point for the digital story I want to make about my visit to Great Village in Nova Scotia last August.

I promised Elizabeth Bishop officiandos in Nova Scotia that I would make the story when I received my banner from their celebrations ...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thoughts on a Saturday

Another lovely day and a weekend that follows a very interesting week.

Having become disillusioned and disengaged from work I now find myself working with colleagues in the research department that I like, respect and want to get to know better.

Also reading Bill Herbert’s contribution to Kona Mcphee's blog I realise I need to go

part-time - free my mind up and allow me to do more freelance stuff and nurture my creative self.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


What a glorious day - an early start, out walking the dog at 6 am but worth it.

Delivered a lecture on Spirituality at 9am which I have never delivered before and until today did not know I felt quite so strongly about nor did I realise how much I knew about it!!

Then had a meeting with research community about a project and got some lovely feedback about my contribution. It made me very sad and thoughtful. After 15 years at the University this is one of the very first times I have been given generous, positive feedback. It has made me stop and think about whether it is the right thing to ask to leave. I have a lot to contribute BUT also a lot of hang ups and some of those are triggered by the environment in which I work.

I don’t know what the right thing to do is at this moment in time but I do know I have the skills, expertise and passion to combine participatory approaches to research, learning and creativity. Not many people have those skilled all wrapped up together but I am just hopeless and seeing what I am good at - very critical and negative.

I need to explore this more and by writing as inquiry I might tease out the issues more fully. I apologise if I chunter on too much but I have found that turning up to write this is a method that works for me, helps me think and reflect instead of going round in circles.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I have been thinking about reflective practice and how important it is to actually WRITE about things rather than chunter on with other people. Just talking inevitably leads to rumination and lack of clear perspective so I am going to attempt to put my writing where my mouth is and begin to reflect upon things in the hope of making sense of the stuff going on at the moment.

I approached a new Professor at work as a very brave first step back into the research world. After the death of my PhD and the subsequent grieving process I have had nothing to do with research projects. I have been teaching it - a task I find incredibly difficult as I know a lot and have done a lot but not doing at the moment seems all wrong. Anyway I have made that first step and this time with the arts -based work rather than the diabetes stuff, as in the past. This time the project is about dementia and today some of us went to see a play called "swags and tails" at Longbenton - produced by Open Clasp Theatre. It was absolutely wonderful and so moving. It was a commentary on how we treat older people and using the lens of Thatcher’s legacy and how older people have views and values. A very moving portrayal of dementia was also part of the play and this was one of the most poignant parts of the play although not the only emotionally evocative part of the play. It was brilliantly acted; the scenery was great as was the scenery changes and all in all a wonderful way to spend Tuesday afternoon. I really believe that good fiction plays, novels etc are a powerful approach to enabling our students to learn about care and compassion. I fear that it might be too out of the comfort zone for folk but maybe there are more of us considering it as a possible new way of looking at age old problems.

ALSO writing for publication is bloody hard work - peer -reviewed journals hard to get in to and it is not what you know but who you know that counts.  I think if you are responsible then sharing information and opinion this way, via the blogging world, might be a great democratic and enabling way of generating debate and action.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunny Sunday

Had breakfast at the Hearth at Horsley - highly recommend it as the cafe is wonderful and the artists' studios well worth a visit.

Tracked down and bought some flat purple "Mary Jane" shoes at last - see below. It has taken me three years - for a woman who buys on impulse it has been very frustrating. I knew such things existed but the Doc Martens never had my size - thank goodness for Brantano..

Just come back from a walk with the dog and took some piccies of the view along the valley towards the city.

In the distance

City's edge can be seen

Red kites soar above

Flocks of great tits call.

Here is a poem by my daughter - they have been studying the story of the Titanic - enjoy!!

On her maiden voyage, the Titanic

Got everybody in a panic.

She sank to the sea floor

And she is no more.

Of course, she was very Britannic.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown"

Never gave any one a frown

She saved some lives

But didn't dive

Of course she was never down.

Hundreds of people died

Many of them cried

Ice warnings were ignored

Captain EJ Smith snored

Of course Bruce Ismay sighed.

The ship contained a pool

Everyone thought it was cool

Many swam

But not in a dam

Of course many from Liverpool.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Energy levels
Not sure what is happening at the moment but as Spring peeps its head around the corner I seem to have run out of steam. I am not sure what is going on but it is very irritating as I just seem to be so tired and run out of any get up and go by early evening. Think I am going to have to reduce the length of the walks with the dog so I don't get quite so tired.

New Camera
Another thing was I had to buy a new camera as I my trusty little Lumix died on me and they could not repair the lens - well they could but it would cost more than a new camera. Anyway got one with a higher spec and I have been trying it out when I can. Quite impressed with it and am pleased with results - see below

Nursing Stuff
Interviewed candidates for nursing this week - all expressed awareness and concern for patients' well being and talked about care and compassion. I wonder what happens to them?I know actually - the system brutalises them and to survive they develop coping strategies that result in them being distant and completely removed from the human being they are there to look after. More needs to be done to support practitioners and provide them with opportunities to reflect on their experience and increase self-awareness and resourcefulness.

Coaching Course -
Assignment looms and Sue  procrasinates like a good 'un

I am also getting bogged down with information have reverted to my old habit of accumulating references and books without organising what I am learning or finding some effective system to work out how I got from going in to borrow one book from the Library and leaving with four!! I do the same when finding articles – skipping from one topic to another and not settling down on one thing. A little more discipline and some organisation to the whole enterprise might be a jolly good idea!! Also think I have a continuing fear of being a one trick pony and this prevents me really focussing. Think it all goes back to a fear of being know it all and too big for my boots. Need to think a bit more about that as that fear has held me back for 40+ years and it’s about time it stopped….

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Where did that week go?

Really a week - where did that time go? That is not what I wanted to do - leave it a week between posts but it has been a funny time recently. Offers of severance at work have put me in a bit of a spin - soooo excited but may not be allowed to go. Will need career coaching if they won't let me go.

All the risks loom and that is what has stopped me going for the things I love in the past. I am good at creative workshops, poetry, collage and I think I ought to let myself do more of it.

Anyway have been doing textiles today at The Hearth at Horsley with the marvellous Mandy Pattullo - what a lovely day!!!

See what I made - inspired by Robert Frost!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

making connections

arts for art's sake
forms and ways of working

people, places and values
care and compassion

ways of looking
blind spots

Personal learning

This last week has been one of the most productive I have had for a long time. I wrote an article on Poetry and Nursing, brought together information on poetry and dementia for a research project, began an article on poetry and cancer survivorship AND wrote a report following some team development work I led recently. I am getting a buzz from this work that I have not experienced before. The coaching relationships I am developing and the learning I am experiencing is really transforming my outlook. I have started to think about what my business might be called and what I would be offering. I don't want to compete with others and I am not sure I would be competing with them anyway. I have to value my professional background and the skills and experience I bring to professional development but equally I am not certain that the nursing label is particularly helpful.

I am passionate about care and compassion in health care delivery and keeping a focus on it by supporting and nourishing staff. Without that attention care will result in being dehumanised and merely a process that people "just do". Emotional engagement will be too risky and that detachment is inevitable and very dangerous.

I need to be out there a bit more with that message and also that poetry and creativity can be a very powerful way of enabling people to (re) engage with these issues.

I also can then find time for my own creativity and art. I am not sure what I would do it with it but I am not sure whether that is a critical question at the moment. Rather the act of making art is the most important for me – doing a workshop with Mandy Patullo next Sunday – can’t wait.