Tuesday, January 31, 2012

small stone

on a day that never got light
I found myself
rushing here and there

I mustered calm
from within
when others prattled


I tried hard not to listen
found a place in the room
where I could be
somewhere else

it was just for a few moments
but it made
all the difference

this time

making links

I have been exploring writing and well-being for myself and others for about 7 years. Along the way I have met some wonderful people and have stayed friends with folk I met in the very early days of my journey - wonderful poets and treasured friends. I made a decision last year to do more as a writer person rather than the more troublesome nurse/educator thing. I went along to a Lapidus meeting in Scarborough which was the beginning of very exciting and supportive regional group. I also presented at the Poetry and Medicine symposium at Warwick where I gave a frenzied presentation on how poetry could save nursing – I have now been asked to write an article on the same subject for Lapidus – can’t bear to watch myself – too many hand movements!! I also wrote an article for a nursing journal about  the poetry workshop we have introduced to student nurses. It has all been very worthwhile but has highlighted where my passion really lies. So 2012 may be about finding a place where I can practise in a more creative and soulful way both at work and in my writing life. The distance is too much at the moment and I need to do something about bridging the gap  ...

I have a number of subjects I want to write about this year and I hope after the current marking marathon is over I can begin to start with these projects.

I also want to produce a digital story about our visit to Elizabeth bishop’s childhood home, Great Village in Nova Scotia. I am now the proud owner of a banner from the centenary celebrations in NS and now I have it hanging in my study I want to put together my own celebration of our visit. It was truly amazing with wonderful weather and I took 210 photos so I am sure I can compose something meaningful…

Monday, January 30, 2012

small stones

grey skies
a touch of snow

north winds blowing
colder than expected

should have worn gloves

Monday, Monday

Boy do I struggle on a Monday - no energy and all prickly. Anyway made it through without any emotional melt downs (so far) so that's quite good...
Not sure I've got what it takes to read poems on Friday,  the poems I have written are very young and have not been around long enough to become anything true and meaningful or am I making an excuse? Feeling quite panicky and thought I was going to be sick when I went into work today. Didn't see anyone that required me to have any dialogue so that was OK.
Need to save my energy and apply it in the right places rather then the scatter gun approach I have relied on over the years. Letting go is about knowing what and how.
Had lots of advice offered last week and words were bandied about like "portfolio career", chances and opportunities - but what do they all mean? If you are in an unhappy place with work none of this is helpful. I want someone to build me an escape pod and shoot me off into the world of health care where I can make a direct contribution to people's well-being - staff, patients, family, carers - the whole package - support folk, provide supervision and do a bit of coaching as well. Help people build their resilience and capacity to develop and cope with change. I am not sure I am up to another winter of marking and academic egos!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

small stone

putting words on the page
seems a crazy thing to do

some words may mean something
to someone but the words may mean
nothing to anyone at all, ever.

keep the faith, even one is better than
not putting words on the page at all
I love piggies!!

Rainy Sunday

Woke at 7.30 to catch sunrise on East Coast but no to no avail - it was raining. The clouds out to sea were amazing but I did not stop to try and capture it as wanted to get my breakfast.
Took a photograph before I left the room as I reflected on the fact that I used to live in a room the same size when I first started nursing - in fact lived in a room the same size for about 5 years. Now I have expanded to fill the space of a 4 bedroomed house. I just wondered whether I could condense my world into one room and realised I would never be in that place again. Very portable back then between 18 and 22 - never made the most of it. Seeking security instead. Should have made the most of it then. 30+ years later my restlessness has no where to go...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

small stone

talking, writing
walking, sharing
caring, concern
support, stories
unmapped land ahead

missing Friday

Missed posting anything yesterday as too tired to think, two days at University on the coaching course drained my battery down to very low levels. Also in on my own which was very odd - just the dog and me watching Jordan and other celebrities behaving badly in front of the camera. All that display does bother me but I guess that is where they seek the attention from and I think too many people think that is gratifying. Notice me!! Notice me!! Me, me, me...

I am writing this from a room at Cober hill (www.coberhill.co.uk), a spot in North Yorkshire I highly recommend. Here for a writing day with regional Lapidus group (www.lapidus.org.uk) and it was a very splendid day. Lots of talking with like mined folk and some writing as well. What more would you want from a Saturday. Staying by the sea is very invigorating as well and I hope the sunrise is as wonderful as last time I was here.

October Sunrise

Thursday, January 26, 2012

small stone

forgetting more than I remember
overlooking what I know
reassurance distant
seeking certainty
in a sea of chaos
take a step back
view from afar
clearer, stiller

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

small stone

sunlight lifts the colours
on hills in the far distance
grey cloud overhead
turns pink as it moves along

Wistful Wednesday

Went for a walk late afternoon and it was wonderful. I am endlessly fascinated by the patterns lichen make and try to capture it in photographs but I am sure there must be other ways. I found a piece of bark with lichen on the other day and it looks like a very beautiful piece of jewellery. A symbiosis of fungi and algae they are a wonder of nature and are indicators of environmental health. http://www.britishlichens.co.uk/index.html

I am not sure I want to know too much about them but they are very special and we are surrounded by trees and moorland which appears to be rich in these natural signs of healthy air. I love the Derwent Valley and everyday its shapes and patterns change. The view of the city, the cheviots in the north and Stanhope Moor in the south – so soothing.
view to the south

I have been planning for early starts at the end of the week and making sure our gorgeous little dog does not have to spend too much time on her own. Not sure I’m up to this kind of forward thinking but it has alleviated a lot of anxiety by acknowledging what I was chewing over and then doing something about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

small stone

grey day
snow falling
drizzle dampens spirits

January blues

It's getting to me - the dark mornings. Don't seem to be able to get going and my brain seems to be working only half the time.

Found out yesterday that one of the parents has been smuggling her little dog into the school yard. I was outraged - for the dog and for all the rule followers in the world. What if we all decided to smuggle in our wee doggies into School - what chaos would ensue.

Now think it is funny but not at the time. Put me right out for the rest of the day.

Worrying about all the things I seem to have committed to and don’t know if I have the capacity to cope. I don’t have the same amount of energy as I did before and although I need to be busy too much commitment sends me spinning off into a bit of a tizzy!

I am sure it will be fine – had a good coaching session yesterday and also found out about a textile workshop I want to go to with Mandy Pattullo (highly recommend Mandy’s workshops!!)  http://www.mandypattullo.co.uk/ and also a conference where I think I might have to present a paper - if they let me - have to write the abstract ofcourse..http://www.artscare21conference.co.uk/ .

Let’s see what happens. Must stop using quite so many exclamation marks - not good

Sunday, January 22, 2012

small stone

slow sundays

resist siren calls
from shops
retail therapy
does not work
for long
walk instead
read, slow down
on a Sunday

looking back and on not getting on

At the end of last year I took part in a series of writing workshops with Lisa Matthews (she of the Poetry Fold http://poetryfold.co.uk/). I have just gone back to the notebook I kept during those 6 weeks. We wrote a lot each workshop and produced an amazing amount of work. I have a bad habit of not reviewing my writing but have decided that there may well be some material worth exploring. Below is an edited poem from one of these sessions. They were amazingly productive evenings albeit totally exhausting but I amazed at how much is Ok and not for the dustbin.

I am supposed to reading “new” poems with Sheree Mack and others on the 3rd February ay the Lit and Phil in Newcastle. Was very worried that I would not have any new babies to take along but I think I now have found some material to work with. Have a night at Cober Hill after a writing day with our Regional Lapidus group next weekend so I am now quite hopeful that I might have something to read…

People make up things

Scream for no reason

Papier mache masks hide

Their real intentions

You can slog and slug

But get nowhere fast


Live on the edge

 Noble endeavours

Hidden from view

No one really cares

I am not even sure that I do         

Peerless, timeless

Move on, move out

Saturday, January 21, 2012

small stone

a walk along the river
a walk with friends
bookend the day

Name Change

I have been told by 3 people that I am not grumpy and I should change the name of the blog. So I've gone for quirk - I think it is more fitting than grump - dictionary definitions include the word peculiarity which I think is material for further exploration. So "thank you" to a very good friend who suggested quirk not grump!!
I am upset and angry at times but not grumpy. My moral outrage at people' s behaviour - like fly tipping and not picking up dog poo is perfectly justified. The moral compass of many people seems to have gone askew...
Have had 2 long walks to day and now realising that I might not be up to it at my age!!
Anyway let's see how the name change goes...

Thursday, January 19, 2012


softly, silently
tip toe, gently
wind blows
rain harsh against your face
seek shelter

small stones

conversations in passing

exchanges in the kitchen

all leading somewhere

pay attention - stop looking

you might notice

what is being said

Another Day

As the song says "what a difference a day makes"!! Maybe I do have more good days than bad days and that if I pay attention to what is happening then I might be able to see the way ahead.
A postcard I designed in 2008 - Stanhope Moor
Maybe I ought to notice my own creative outputs as well!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Had an exhausting day and an argument which was most unpleasant and just helped resurface all the issues I have in my current job.
Been thinking about it a lot and realise I have to let go and move on.
Change is never without some loss and leaving behind the last 15 years of a career is not going to be easy and I need to explore what I can keep and what is best to leave behind. I am not sure I am ready to order the skip etc but there are a number of things that are not doing me any good and have a detrimental impact on my well-being and they need reviewing.
A fundamental question is around the principles that people might use in their practice and the values they have in the way they conduct themselves in their practice. I very much fear that a number of people I encounter on a daily basis may not be able to articulate any of this and that is a very good reason to start exploring new territories. Scary but essential and not an issue I have raised publicly before. Time to move on...

A glorious sunset helped end the day on a more positive note than expected. Nature is wonderful - photographs will never do it justice but the sky turned purple as the sun disppeared - it was truly heart stopping...

small stone

one false step
shouts, accusations
never speak again
move on and ignore
not sure what
or why

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

small stone

mondays go missing
wait for another day
notice more, pay attention

broken ipods, marking scripts
stress will move on

stay awhile, take a breath
today is a better day


Ice at PowBurn Woods
Went for a walk yesterday in the local woods and the ice on the water was wonderful - had forgotten the camera so had to back today.
The dog was walking on the ice and looked very confused; you could see through the ice so it looked like she was walking on water and she kept trying to pick up the leaves that were below the surface.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

small stone

sharp frost
cold all day
Irish dancing
trip out
expensive ice cream
7 year old programme

Saturday, January 14, 2012

small stone

crystals of frost
waves and ripples
a beautiful day
winter sun shimmers
ochre water runs into the sea

Early start on a Saturday

Netball training beckoned our daughter so we found ourselves walking around a park near Consett at 9.15 this morning. The frost was beautiful on the flowers and grass. Also saw my first snowdrops - what a joy.

We also went for a walk on Saltburn beach later on and the light was glorious. Took loads of photographs  as inspiration for textiles and other art work as the textures and patterns were amazing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

small stone

frost still crisp
on the grass and hedges
even at the end of the day

chilly morning

Not sure I know what to write about today. i have left it quite late to write and have run out of energy and ideas.
Although I was surprised by the cold this morning it does feel more like January now and less like an early Spring. I am still very grateful for the extra minutes of daylight that we now get.
Have forgotten the camera so no photos today...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

small stone

sunset - pink, orange, red
a glorious end to the day

pointed it out to others
changed the conversation

no more top trumping
noticing nature

On not talking and the power of the pen

Facilitated a session with students where we ask them to "reflect" on their first day on placement. Invited them to engage in 5 minutes of free writing - after a bit of paper shuffling there was complete silence in the room.
made me think how rarely that happens - it was clear that they were absorbed and it made me think about how quickly we fill the space up with noise. You can't go shopping now without your ears being assaulted. in department stores there is often different music for each section. I find it all too much and crave quiet - to have that in the classroom was fabulous and an experience to hold onto..

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

small stone

robin singing in the hawthorn tree
liquid gold sound
colours ripple around me

Slow travel

Teaching at 9 this morning meant I left home at 7.45 to stand any chance of getting there on time. it was the first time in a long time I have driven into Newcastle at time of day and have not seen sunrise since October when I was staying near Scarborough.

What a wonderful sight and travelling slowly in the traffic meant I could look at it longer.

All this nonsense about the super high-speed rail link makes me wonder what has happened to us all. Why is travel time seen as time wasted - all that money on saving 20 minutes of travel time. I love being on the train and I find I can write when on the train. I find it quite liberating - tense at times if too cramped but have valued the time sat on a train overhearing conversations!! Anyway I do wonder if it is going to be money well spent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

small stone

day’s end extends
chink, chink, chink
blackbirds call out
light fades

Circular walks

Have been pondering my reluctance to retrace footsteps on walks - always preferring to find a loop to walk - funny thing that. Yesterday ended up being out for over an hour because resisted turning round. Discovered a path I had not found before down on the river Derwent and that was where I found some catkins..

Sky turned a wonderful colour this evening and tried to capture it but the camera just not quite getting it as I had hoped but this one will do!! If I could keep the camera still that would help!!

Monday's small stones

catkins dangle
fragile signs
pale yellow

pale winter sun
warm, surprising
I forget myself
walk for longer than planned

Missed a day

Got tied up with parenting duties and spent 2 hours at walk-in centre.
Good to see nursing practice developing and the skills being used.
Found time to write before school run
Some days just fly

Sunday, January 8, 2012

small stone

lichen coated branches
exquisite patterns
hard to capture in words

Sorting out

Have been having a sort out and organising some of my arty stuff. Anyone want any post-it notes? I have far too many and I am sure they need a good home!!

ALSO have so many visual images for stimulating writing I should have 6 collections of poetry!

Anyway feels good having sorted out and organising things. I need to be able to find things and having a bit of a system is a really good idea. Being organised and discipline are two words I avoid having anything to do with but I suspect they have a lot of merit in helping me move on and move up.

Letting go and moving on

Sundays are always good for contemplation - used to dread having a day off on a Sunday when I was a student nurse. There was NOTHING to do - shops shut, swimming pools shut - how different it is today. have realised that there is a lot of stuff attached to becoming a nurse back in the early 80's and a lot of that is holding me back and has held me back, if I am to work with people in their professional lives then some of that stuff needs to be sorted out and packed away for good. Letting go of the nursing side is difficult as I like "looking after people but in coaching I draw on my facilitating side and I am good at that. I am good at listening and paying attention and enabling people to find their own ways to solve problems or tackle issues. I need to keep faith with this approach and not think I have to step back into nursing. It would not be good for me and I need to be able to see myself in a different role, move on and move up.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

small stone

ivy wraps itself around
encloses with patterns

Writing assignments

I'm drained from putting words together for my assignment - but still found time to play. Love word clouds and wondered how you could make them and now I know.

Friday, January 6, 2012

small stone

new green leaves
purple spiky flowers
surprising sightings
early January

Litter and stuff

Litter is bothering me today – 3 empty wine bottles dumped on the footpath next to our house and about 8 beer cans – why can’t people get rid of stuff properly? Also a car parked right across the footpath opposite the school – lazy, lazy person....

Anyway also saw a bird’s nest in the clematis and leaves appearing way too early, as well as flowers that you don’t normally see in January.

I am beginning to overcome my resistance to acquiring knowledge about psychology and have begun my mind-map.  There is really useful theory to learn but I am finding paying attention to “facts” quite a challenge preferring to sail along with intuition and emotion. A little more discipline and concentration might not be a bad thing. Reading about cognitive behavioural approaches is very insightful and can see how some of the processes match those in expressive/creative writing exercises. Thinking then doing, noticing then changing, relooking and drafting  

Nursing in the News

Well nursing is in the news with dear Mr Cameron once again telling professionals how to do their job better. I do wonder what has happened on the wards when the nurses are told to do ward rounds and check all the patients. I assume too much has been delegated and that responsibilities have been diluted in the last few years leading to the scandals that have emerged.
I am not sure I could or would want to nurse on the wards anymore BUT I am pretty sure I would make patient care my priority. The nursing gaze appears to have shifted away from what nursing is all about and has been distorted by bureaucracy and image. Too many cost savings have been made and there are a lot fewer qualified nurses on the wards and this has to have made  a difference to the quality of care being provided. Care is seen as "too basic" for professionals and it has been handed over to the unqualified and unprepared. Good nursing care doesn't come cheap and it is about time someone realised that - you get what you pay for!!
ALSO too much emphasis is put on learning facts and acquiring clinical skills rather than developing empathy and listening skills.
We overlook the fundamentals at our peril

Thursday, January 5, 2012

small stone

Bright sunny day
wind still rushing
through trees
 mood lifts


I have an assignment to do for the Coaching Course I am on and I am finding it hard to get started... it is a mind map and an academic poster so it should be "right up my street" in that allows for creativity and connections - ticks a couple of my boxes but I am finding it tricky committing to paper. It's all about psychology and it is very useful and interesting stuff - maybe I need an extended composting time..

Writing this has become a great focus and along with Fiona Robyn's river of stones helps me pay attention and notice what is going on around me.
Went for a walk before school pick-up time and captured the view from the edge of the village. Turner painted this view..

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Small Stone

hands freezing outside school
only two more terms of waiting here
time moves on too swiftly

Back to work

I stumbled upon creative/expressive writing back in 2004 when trying to write up my PhD research/thesis. I was getting nowhere and a close colleague suggested I explore the work of local poet, Julia Darling. Julia was writing poetry about her experiences of health care and taking poetry to health care practitioners with messages about a gap in communication.  She was also running writing classes for tired academics, which was how I was feeling at the time.The findings of my research into people's expereinces of diabetes care was that the people I interviewed with diabetes found that attendance at clinics an intrusion into their life. They lived in a state of liminality waiting for appointments, test results and instructions. A minority of health care practitioners noticed this paradox/conundrum in care but did not know how to address it within the structures of existing care delivery.  Meeting Julia and discussing our shared interest changed my life and poetry has become more and more important to me.

Poems I wrote in response to the participants in my research can be found at the QNI websire -see below.

Unfortunately I never got to write up my PhD thesis as I was “stopped” by the Institution. I thought I had got over it and that I had moved on but returning to work after the festive break has just further underlined the unhealed wound that is still there.
There are those who have Dr before their name (and make sure all know about it) and then there are the rest of us without; there are those working towards a doctorate and then there are a few of us still reeling from the loss of not doing it and not completing.

I am not sure what to do about it at the moment but I am sure going to write about it and maybe explore my learning and try to bring some closure to a long standing issue.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Unseen but heard

Battling against the wind this afternoon does not leave much room to think or overthink too much about the world around. However I was very struck on my way to the fields by a chattering ivy in the corner of the cul-de-sac. Sparrows were making a lot of noise -

Windy hills

wild gusts from the west
strum low notes on the power lines

Monday, January 2, 2012

Small Stone 2

red kites mew across the valley
last night's frost lingers
in the edges and corners of fields
where the low winter sun can not reach

Change or stagnation

A crisp winter's morning - gorgeous walking the dog...

Have been pondering the wisdom of "going public" with the blog given that unedited content written at the beginning of this enterprise may reveal a little too much of my inner thoughts. Dark moods at this time of year may be a little too insightful, even taboo, as we make the best of the dark days. I find the inactivity and indolence difficult but also find motivation lacking - it is a time to recharge the batteries and although making resolutions for the new year and making changes might be misguided there is a glimmer of making possible new ways of facing challenges and also realising one’s potential in the coming year.  
Here's anticipating a more focussed and less frustrated year...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Textiles to keep the winter blues away

small stone

cold winds whip the marram grass

sandpipers scurry along the strandline

oyster catchers call

this is new year’s day – what is ahead?

New Year

Well here we are and it is 2012, I wonder what it will bring.

Went for a walk on the beach at Low Hauxley. The light was wonderful and took some lovely shots. I am going to try and do more with the photography and link it to poetry in a more meaningful way. I also will share this with others through this blog not that anyone will be reading it but that does not seem to matter. I have thought about that quite a bit recently when it comes to writing and audience. I am not sure I am that bothered and I certainly do not want to have poems out there to be savaged by critics…

I am not sure I will ever fit into the mainstream – not enough effort – too much living in the real world and not in the rarefied atmosphere of poem making that seems to be essential for writing GOOD poems, whatever they might be. I am getting more settled about simply writing what I can, paying more attention and enabling others to write poetry and thus finding new and wonderful ways of expressing themselves and giving them a voice amongst the hubbub of a loud and frenetic world.

The link between visual images and poetry is important to me and I need to pay more attention to my observations and gently and carefully create words to go with them. I also need to try not to get inhibited by my internal critic and the voices who convince me no one will be interested in what I have to say - if I am not bothered about an audience then why should that matter!!