Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beautiful stuff

One of the other artists on the Decorated Sketchbook Course - truly gorgeous..

Decorated Sketchbook

I have previously mentioned that I am on the course with Mandy Pattullo - have not always found the inspiration but today I decided to play around with the linocuts I had done. Squidging cheap watercolour did the trick and am really pleased with some of the images. 
Also used grout with rubbing medium I bought years ago -

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sunny Weather

Have felt quite over-excited about the weather, nearly forgot that it is only May!!

Finished the final coaching essay and submitted it and now thinking about what I do with the knowledge and skills I have developed. Still feel a little ambivalent about coaching as a profession and wonder what the fuss is all about but also can see what a huge difference can be made by having focussed and purposeful conversations with an active and informed listener. It is not therapy but can see it having a beneficial effect on lots of people - but would people pay me?

Have had ideas about writing articles on some issues - self-compassion, clinical supervision and practice development. Also looking at PhD supervision and the issues and challenges that seems to surface for both eh student and the supervisor.

Think we are all too tough on each other and need to start practising self-compassion - a concept I have come across during my coaching expeditions - positive psychology and appreciative enquiry.

Lots of dots on the page but not sure quite how to join them up yet.

I asked a group of students what they would like to explore in a seminar session next week – I like to be student-centred and am often aware of how their anxieties distract from engagement with learning in the classroom. They mentioned their frustrations with colleagues who do not develop their practice – who seem stuck in rut and won’t move with the times. There seemed to be a sense of irritation with these folk – I provocatively called them dinosaurs and this immediately got a reaction from others. This was an unfair label etc – this then led to discussion about change, evidence based practice and resistance. Next week we are going to explore these issues – inertia and its cause in health care practice. As a new convert to being less judgemental then I am looking forward to our exchanges and where students situate themselves in this debate.

The ideas and avenues for research keep emerging but I am still resistant to considering PhD discussions – I can still feel the shadow loom over me. A book about issues that have interested me and engaged me over the years will be a good start. This blog the beginning of new writing practice. Let’s see what happens…
If only I had read all these books!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lit and Phil late Show

Last night at the Lit and Phil was a triumph. What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday night - instead of moaning about the c**p on the telly I was out and about meeting folk. I do hope I can get involved in more things like this in the future.
Also think I have a new obsession - folded books - see below.....

Poetry, art and folded books combine!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Inner Artist

I really do believe we all have creative capability and the trick is to locate it and then nurture it so it can flourish and grow.

I am on the Decorated Sketch book course with the wonderful Mandy Pattullo at The Hearth on a Tuesday. I was not sure what I was doing there to begin with as I was surrounded by some very talented (and intense) visual artists. Instead of running away I sat quietly and observed and listened. I am exploring images of Weardale and the post-industrial landscape and it has been very absorbing and rewarding. I am beginning to learn that the first images are often not the best and that time and reflection is needed to begin to get to a place where what is being created is from the soul rather than from the analytical rational part of the brain.

With that thought I am beginning to think about how I can use my own reflections to create knowledge and guidance for healthcare practice. We don't need any more research to tell us what is going on we need to draw on personal and experiential knowledge to inform the debate. Research does not engage people and we talk a lot about reflective practice in Higher Education without anyone actually demonstrating that they are doing it for themselves.

I have found this blog a useful place to come and park thoughts, ideas and flashes of inspiration and wonder whether it might be a good thing to share the experience of the process. I also think I need to be less worried about what people think and put the ideas out there and wait to see what the response is. I am sure one of the reasons I never wrote my PhD was that I was always worried about making a tit of myself. However the more I witness heath care and the experiences people have the more I realise I had got it right and that if had I had the grit and determination I now am beginning to cultivate then the thesis might have been written. I also am now seeing colleagues equipped with the magic title Dr and realise that that they are not up to much and that a large proportion of their achievement is down to self-absorption, ambition and no internal critic telling them to get a grip and know their place.  Back when I was a PhD student I was surrounded by people who were mindreading my intentions. I am sure they put a stop to my endeavours as they thought I might be after their positions and would eclipse their status. I am not interested in status or high office in the church of nurse education. I am there to try and make a difference and I fear I am too far away from patient care for that to happen. If I had not left clinical practice I would not know what I know now but I also might still have an influence on the services being delivered. I need to find that place again and have the confidence to make a fuss about the things I care about.

I have just submitted an abstract to the NAWE conference to talk about some of the discord (conflict) I have experienced in my interactions with writers. I wish to seek creative collaborations not competition but I have found it not as easy as I thought. We will see if I get to pontificate but having aired it and explored it I think it worthy of further investigation as to what the bloody hell is going  on for folk who identify that maybe I am not the right person to be leading writing workshops – they think that one should be a professional writer not a dabbler who works in nurse education.

Anyway lots of thoughts and ideas come into my head as soon as I start writing & before I know it I have written half and essay and I am beginning o order my thoughts into come coherent ideas – goodness me.

Please take a look at my lovely friend Kate Evan’s blog where she has had an article published on her therapeutic writing activities – marvellous stuff.

Also I am helping out at the Lit and Phil tonight with The Late Shows with The Book Apothecary – forward to it as I love rubbing shoulders with creative practitioners – always inspiring.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Travelling reflections

I am writing this on the train coming back from London. Such is the immediacy and accessibility of technology one can communicate all over the place. I knew there was a jolly good reason for treating myself to a first class ticket there and back. It was very civilised travelling down this morning and just the same coming back - free wi-fi too. Good news as well as York won the FA Trophy at Wembley – heralding a hopeful portent for their play-off final next week. All the fans I met today seem to be returning to Wembley next week – that’s being a true football fan. Little glory in the lower leagues. they take what they can. Think some of the hot heads in the Premiership could learn a lesson or two from these guys.

Anyway reflection on football supporters was not the plan here – I was going to report back on my presentation at the Poetry and Medicine symposium. Even though I say it myself it was a bit of a triumph and went really very well with some very lovely comments from participants and some very good questions from the audience in the Q&A session. I was disappointed last year as no one asked me any questions but this year I was asked some quite searching questions – both from a literary slant and a health care perspective. Managed to answer both and felt really quite confident about what I was saying. Discussions over a cup of tea with a couple of people suggest that I need to take things further – disseminate the work I did to a wider audience – possibly a book with the poems and an accompanying narrative that includes the exploration of a context and interpretation of the work I did. I shared a couple of the poems that we had written together and again the feedback was very positive with one of the comments suggesting a likeness to the work of Carol Ann Duffy – now that is praise indeed – shame I can’t share it with the lady I worked with but I will pass it onto her family…

I also became involved in a discussion about the deficits in a proper caring approach within organisations that are believed to be beyond recrimination. I am hopeful this might lead to some very fruitful collaborations and I certainly feel even stronger in my passion to spread the word about poetry and health care.

I have also had time to reflect on why I find it so much easier to read and write when on a train – I haven’t come up with an answer yet but close observation of my behaviour suggests it only takes me until Birtley for my mind to be freed up. It is a curious phenomenon and if I could replicate the thinking mode I find myself in on the train and the number of ideas generated I would be so productive!!

Any suggestions or explanations gratefully received – a caveat to that is not the one where I spend the rest of my life onboard a train. It has been helpfully suggested before with a number of possible motives behind it – it is not practical. What I want is that sense of focus and freedom that I only seem to get when sat on a train. Help please…

Patterns on rock at shoreline near Cober Hill.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Parental Duties

Had a stab of guilt about going to London on Lizzie's birthday on Saturday. Listening to Woman’s Hour on the way to work this morning (missing the rush hour!!) and single Mums were talking about negotiating the "special days’ like birthdays and Christmas with their ex- husbands. I realised that I don't see birthdays as such a big thing but that's because I'm the other side of 50. So I have had a good chat with Lizzie about it and she still teases me with her disappointment but also appreciates the significance of what happened for me with the poetry collection. The whole family knew about the work I was doing as it took over for a while as I edited and put together the poems, sorted it in MS Publisher and then found a printer who would do small runs of booklets. I found a lovely printer near Knitsley in County Durham (they have now moved to Westgate in Weardale) and they commented on the booklet when I went to collect it. I had incorporated the lady's artwork into the book and they also loved the little poems. They had also read the introduction and had realised what is was all about.

I don't think I will ever be a mainstream poet writing work that will get national prizes or get recognised by the great and good BUT what I can do is help others discover the value and power of reading and writing poetry.

I am sure I will have lots to reflect on when I get back from London but in the mean time I have that essay to put off!!

Also started the Decorated Sketchbook class with Mandy Pattullo last night – a bit intimidating as there are lots of “proper” artists on the course and I wasn’t sure why I was there to start off with and became quite uncharacteristically quiet – even got a bit defensive when I was introduced by someone as a writer – hit a nerve – imposter phenomenon me thinks!! Anyway I got absorbed in what we were doing – transfer monotype drawing and really enjoyed it – and came out with some satisfactory images. I am trying to capture images of Weardale as I really want to write more poems about the area but have failed to get anything satisfactory – wrote 2 on the MA that were OK but have got a bit stuck so I thought that the visual imagery might help focus the words.

Hope to share some of the work once I have explored it all a bit more.

The poem below is the first one in the collection and I will be sharing it with the participants  at the Symposium on Saturday – I just hope I can do it without crying!!

Also below is one of the pieces of artwork included in the collection

Writing Poetry

 Not too long.

Only a few lines.

 Involved, interested, important.

Wanted, engaged, a purpose.

 Find myself in the words .

Monday, May 7, 2012


I haven't been here for a while as I seem to have had no get up and go. I have been running workshops and thinking about my final coaching assignment and that seems to have distracted me from the blog. Anyway if you want to know what I got up to at Cober Hill please see my lovely friend Kate's blog -

I also thought I would include a photo of the our dog and my beautiful daughter for you today as I have not included them before very much as I felt very protective but I stumbled across this photo and felt it was too good to keep to myself.

Off to London next Saturday to talk about writing poetry for/with someone

 I am going on Lizzie's birthday and the idea was that we would have a weekend down in the capital BUT in the end it was too expensive. Lizzie will have a day with her dad and I have promised not to go away on her birthday again. Then again I have explained why am going to talk bout the work I did and she understands why I want to share it. I helped a lady with MS to write a book of poetry - it was exhausting but very rewarding. We had the little collection printed up and published and it was distributed to over 50 people. Sadly she died last September but she was thrilled with her achievement and I believe she died more content than she would have done if we had not worked hard together to write her poems over the year.