Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New ways of working

Once upon a time I would have 3 days in a row away from the office and the classroom to write. In those days I would find myself feeling exhausted and very low. Today I wrote and edited nearly 2500 words about poetry and nursing. I am amazed how productive and absorbed I was. So much so I forgot to put the wheelie bin out!! I worked on it and in 2 days went from zero to an almost completed piece. I knew I could do it in the past but never really did it so I ended up feeling awful and performance anxiety left me choked and unable to take anything forward.

I am beginning to see where regular writing activates such as this blog can feed and nurture the other writing. I have a lot I want to share and I have an awful lot of opinions on a lot of things. I am curious and always want to know about the experiences I am having - so when I am coaching I want to know more about how I making sense of it all. I reflect when I am walking the dog and try and capture it on paper when I get home. Not always possible but I did that today. paying attention to how I work will make a difference as when I am feeling like I did last week then I don't think anything is possible BUT yet yesterday and today have been amazingly productive and have read a lot and written quite a bit. It is all still a bit mysterious to me but then that might be a good thing.

The PhD thing still hurts and I watch with wonder as good people I know put themselves into that particular intellectual and emotional mangle. No I am not even considering going down that path I am going to write articles, this blog, poems and maybe a book on poetry and nursing BUT I am not going near that discussion. I just worry about people's well being and wonder about the motives behind it whether from the person themselves or the organisation that push people to go through ancient rituals and rites of passage. How necessary is it in the 21st century?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

small seed

warm sun caresses my neck
for the first time

life begins to make more sense

coherence and purpose emerges
 small green shoots of hope

Spring has sprung

When I received a text from a friend this morning advising me to "enjoy the sunshine" I wondered what she was on about. We had grey skies in the valley and although I could see some rays of sunshine across in Newcastle I was not convinced it would find its way to North Durham. Well how wrong can one be? What a simply glorious afternoon. I walked over to a friend’s house with my daughter’s clarinet (don’t' ask) and enjoyed the first really warm rays on the back of my neck. How the mood changes with the warm sun. Kites were calling from Gibside and there were so many birds calling I got frustrated trying to pick out the species!!

Anyway my mood today is so different to the one last week I don't feel like the same woman. I am trying to make sense of it all and I wonder whether my mood has lifted because I started the week with writing with the fantastic women of Pen and Tonic. I suspect it is the ONLY way to start the week but one I shall have to cling on to as a memory rather than a reality and attempt to replicate the energy and writing for myself, become more self-sufficient in this writing thing.

Anyway if anyone is interested then Tess and Bridget have a wonderful book (hence the session yesterday at Mea House). Highly recommend the book as useful resource for those us interested and doing writing and wellbeing. To find out more go to

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I am learning about my energy levels and being more compassionate about the low times. I have had some fantastic experiences recently with writing workshops and creative sessions. I have led new experiences for practitioners and have also learnt more about myself and from that I have grown but I have also used up a lot of my energy. I need to be more understanding of the down times and the times when maybe I should be just reading and listening instead of insisting that I create and generate new things. I have had difficult times and difficult interactions with people and from that I have learnt that it is not always about me and that it can be about other people’s needs.

I am tired of being over sensitive and thinking that people don't like me, that I am too much and that I am being nosey or over interfering. My previous experiences have made me very sensitive to these things and I still have bad experiences at the back of my mind.

The coaching course is teaching me to really listen to people and to not leap in and tell people what to do for themselves. In the last week I have learnt that if I really listen and pay attention to what people are saying to me, reflect back to them what they are saying then they come up with solutions and ways forward for themselves. It has been quite a revelation but the trick is to really, really listen. I have to be really disciplined and not add my two opinion or "similar" experience and I have found this hard work but also, strangely, incredibly powerful. Not revealing too much about me has resulted in the people I am coaching revealing more of them to me. I am honoured by this but I also carry a responsibility. However the beauty of coaching is that the contract is about resilience and capacity to cope and that it does not feel as problematic as counselling. People who come for coaching are not as vulnerable, they may have vulnerabilities, don’t' we all, BUT it is not the same as someone who may have undiscovered psychological frailties or mental health issues for which they require support and guidance.

Arts based approaches to coaching are new and I am new to coaching but I can see parallels between the development work I do with the arts (poetry and collage) and the work I am doing when coaching folk. I am beginning to see a glimmer of an answer as to the way forward for me BUT it is still a bit feint.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

tick tock, tick tock,
something has to go
leave it behind move on

tick tock, tick tock,
no one is interested
no one wants to hear

tick tock, tick tock
time is running out
you need to make the change

tick tock, tick tock
it is never too late
you can move things on
improve, transfrom
make it right

tick, tick, tock, tock
tock, tock, tick, tick

Too much going on

Have not had any space to think about things over the last few days. Marking took over my life for too many days and have begun to realise how draining it all is and that maybe I cannot carry on with it all. Some difficult decisions to make in a time when jobs are not easy to find but I can honestly say I have had enough of holding student nurse's hands and expecting them to make grown up decisions, be organised and to take the profession seriously. Not enough of them seem to want to or are up to it. The battle to improve the image of nursing is too big for me to take on and one that will defeat me ultimately. One of the lessons for 2012 is about what I leave behind - let go of, it might be nursing as I struggle with what is happening and the discrepancies between what is said to be happening in the education of the workforce of tomorrow and the reality of the both the classroom and practice.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday thoughts

Am on my own this weekend and took the dog for a long walk first thing this morning. Went up the top of the village towards Stanley and encountered a very different view to the usual walk above the Derwent Valley. I got to wondering how long some of the paths might have been there for as those fields must have been worked for hundreds of years. Also how humans have shaped the landscape as some of the mounds must be leftovers from the days when this area was a series of coal mines.

The field I was walking in had a wonderful view of Pontop Pike but it didn't come out very well in the photos as it was so murky.

Met some friends at a very civilised place in Gosforth and it was great to see them.

All 3 were students 8 years ago and my goodness me how time flown since then. I am very impressed with them as they have moved on into very different areas of nursing even though they were all on the same course when I met them. Nursing can be a diverse and liberating profession and has a lot to offer imaginative and brave practitioners but I just wish we stop being horrible to each other. I think I have grown very tired of the back biting and top trumping that goes on.

I led a poetry workshop on Thursday for a very diverse group of people and I realised that I am much much happier when I am drawing on my experience in health care as a facilitator rather than being a nurse. I think I am hung up on what I would call myself if I moved away from the job I have now. I am neither a poet/writer nor an educator /facilitator.
I think I resist titles as I fear it pigeon holes me too much but at the same time If I want to free myself work wise and chase the dream of using poetry and creativity in professional and practice development I am going to have to label myself as something..

Maybe I just need to package it and then see what happens..

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

wind turbines

I have never expressed any strong opinions about wind turbines and have felt that they are a benign technology intruding into the landscape. BUT now two have appeared along the Derwent valley above Shotley Bridge and are in my eye line when I walk the dog. I thought I was seeing things when I first noticed a new object on the horizon but it was confirmed on Saturday when we were in Shotley Bridge that they are erecting turbines above the Valley.

It has upset me - an unbroken view to the moors has been interrupted and I am still wondering what I make of all of it. After all there are electricity pylons all around me and all along the valley so why do these new invaders matter. I am not sure but they are not as neutral as I thought and for the first time in my life I found myself agreeing with a Tory MP. Maybe they are not as green as we would like to think they are and they do blot the landscape and change the view....
Turbines arrive in the near distance!!!

lost days

Have felt too preoccupied to sit and write but that was probably the wrong thing to do. Write the stuff down I say - helps you process what is going on. I think I am in danger of committing to too many things and ending up running out of steam. One of my students said she felt like she has hit a wall after the first 2 years of the course and I wonder whether there comes a time when you can't take anymore and you just have to take a step back.

I know what I want to do and it is around professional development, coaching, supervision and creativity but how do I fashion a job that allows me to do that and also work in a supportive and nurturing environment. I know I can't work on my own - need interaction to help with my energy levels but I am not sure where to find it.

I need to find a balance between helping others and giving myself some compassion and time so I can create and develop. Used to giving out and helping others at the cost of my own energy levels and after 50 years you would think I would stop!!

Coaching is a great way to help others and keep a balance. The more I pay attention to not swooping in within a coaching session and rescuing the person the better I feel.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

nights out

I have been out two nights running!! Friday at the Lit and Phil - reading my poems. Felt intimidated and out of place but got some lovely feedback from a couple of people in the audience so I should pay attention to that. I am not sure I have the same gravitas or wit as I my fellow readers so wonder if I need to think about a stage name/pseudonym for the poetry Sue!!
Last night out at the Sage to see Alfie Boe - an unexpected Christmas present that I wasn't sure about when I opened it up on Christmas Day but I have to say I was blown away. What a magnificent voice and a great stage presence - enjoyed it immensely.

red kites swoop below
the low winter sun
warms our faces
as we explore
new fences

we stumble upon
recent gateways
find new routes
round the fields,
consider where it might lead
Glorious Sunday Sunshine!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Poetry Reading

I often find the poetry scene elitist and soulless - not today. I went along to my friend Anne Ryland's reading at Newcastle university - she was reading from her new collection along with another talented local poet, Pippa Little. It was a fine affair - a gentle audience and both women write quiet poems that pack a lot of punch - I am not sure that is possible but both of them lure you into the gentleness of the middle classes and then an observation comes along that makes you sit up, take notice and think again. That is what poetry should do - it should also be read aloud. Lifting it off the page makes so much more sense - both women read well and with lyric voices and feeling.

It was a great trip out and one I am pleased I made as I was tempted to stay and keep warm at home and ruminate about all the marking. Braving it out into the world was a good idea as I saw some familiar faces and some I even like/ am extremely fond of...

Anyway it was a good experience but I do often find the whole poetry reading thing all a bit dull. Also highlights the gap between where I am with poetry and where the elite and recognised body of poets are in the local scene. I am not sure I fit in there at all and won't ever be reading at a First Thursday but then again I am not sure it bothers me.

I sit at the front
keen to lend support
to my fellow travellers
women who are much
better poets that I will
ever be. I don't pay
enough attention
not disciplined
too much rush

that's what's needed
not sooner nor later
but now

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Why is it that some days are so much better than others? I feel as different today as I have done for weeks. Even enjoyed the lecture I had to give first thing this morning. Stayed positive all day and got one lot of marking finished. It seems to take me days to recover from being to busy and paying attention to this might get me to stop being quite so busy quite so often and recognising how my creative spirit needs to be looked after.

Each day is different
pay attention
rhythms patterns
hold on to the good
linger less on the bad