Saturday, June 30, 2012

Poem (draft)

Close Down

She moves quietly

amongst the worn bodies

Picking through foot stools

and zimmer frames.

In the day room the television

blasts out to no one.

Everyone stopped listening

weeks ago.

She sticks the address labels

she has just printed out

on to shoes, suitcases and chairs.

They  all wait for the  first move.

What a difference a week makes (or does it)?

Well not quite but a number of things have enabled me to gain some equilibrium – or is that a sense of proportion/perspective. The external hard disc wasn’t beyond repair so I haven’t lost over 4000 images – but it has given me pause for thought. Probably ought to sort them out a bit and the really important images need to be saved in 2 places and/or up in the ether so if it happens again it won’t feel quite so catastrophic.

The weather on Thursday was something else and it has left a lot of debris on the streets. It fascinates me that in the village streams reappear and you can get a sense of the waterways that used to exist around here and how they must have shaped the fields and valleys. The area known as The Plantation in the village is the site of one of the old pits and its slag heaps and after the deluge some frailties have really shown – great chunks have disappeared from the footpaths and water is still draining down the hill towards Rowlands Gill.

Have got half my marking done and have been surprised at how disciplined I have been in knuckling down and getting on with it. It is funny how I can do that but when it comes to doing things for myself I hesitate and procrastinate.

Listened to Start the Week on Radio 4 Monday (what other day could it be on - heard it twice ) and have bought books being talked about on the show. Also Helen Dunmore read her poem The Malarkey which won The National Poetry Competition in 2010 – made me cry as it sums up so much loss and regret in one wonderful image. I loved it when she talked about the difference between writing novels and poetry and also how she captures images and stores them for later. It was good to hear it and I have realised that is what I do and that I need to give myself permission to be the poet/artist that I AM not anybody else’s idea of what I ought to be. I like putting visual images with poetry and did so when I first started writing etc 7 years ago but I have been struggling to find my medium – a lot of my early stuff was instinctive and done when Lizzie was younger so we would be doing painting together. That was when I was less worried about what it might look like and just got into it – got into the flow of enjoyment and creation. I wasn’t bothered about whether anyone else would like it or “get” what I was creating. As soon as you factor in a critical audience it suppresses all your creative juices.

Just writing those sentences has given me insight as to what I need to do and I just play around with art and words. I hear myself saying that to others and also in some of my coaching conversations BUT I am not sure I as good as I should be at hearing my own advice – ironic that.
Other news is that the job I thought of applying for it’s not really my thing and I am not going to study clinical skills and nurse prescribing to change direction in my career trajectory. That would take me further away from the creative and artistic work I want to do and facilitate with others. As I was told the other week I need to let go of the nursing and that is the tricky bit. If anyone has any advice or direction for me with that particular conundrum, then I would be grateful. Letting go of something I started 33 years ago is not very easy.

Not sure what this all means but the more I give myself time to think about it and also write my way into thinking about it the more I can begin to see the wood for the trees.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Decisions, decisions

I had a really ropey start to the week with blubbing at the GPs on Monday and not knowing if I was here there or anywhere. Not sure what triggered this descent into a somewhat bewildering mental state but the fog began to lift by Wednesday and it may have been after a conversation with one of trusted colleagues at work. Many of my “trusted” colleagues are leaving or have left the Parish and I am a little concerned that my splendid ability to isolate myself may prove my undoing. I am also considering applying for a job that would mean a huge change – a drop in salary and huge challenge BUT I actually think that is what I need. There is no doubt about it I am sick of marking and although I am not the only one that finds this activity one of the most draining activities in my life it may have come to a point when I have to nourish my creativity not kill it off!!  Also the changes I want to see in nursing, health care and in the education and development of practitioners are well beyond my sphere of influence. So maybe I can make a change if I go back to practice. I have toyed with this for years but have never had the confidence to go for it. Teaching in the University ironically seems to have sapped my confidence completely. So much so that it has taken me to quite dark places and I certainly have lost any sense of perspective and proportion in relation to achievements etc. the key example being that I received the result from the coaching course in the post this morning – I have done outstandingly well and have been awarded a commendation. It seems a bit hollow and I can’t take it in as much as I should. Think that has something to do with decision making – it all feels a bit familiar I have to say. Back in 1996 when I was making decision about leaving nursing practice I went through the same dilemmas and quandaries.

 I also presented my (our) visit to Great Village last summer at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle on Wednesday evening. I think it may have been behind my odd mood as it was such a different experience to my professional self that the imposter phenomenon took over big style. I felt inadequate and untutored – what would an ex-nurse know about Elizabeth Bishop – I presented from the heart. I have passion for her poetry and the visit to where she lived for such a short time during her childhood has been one of the highlights of my life so far. Standing outside the house where she lived in with her Mum and grandparents and seeing its position in the village has left a lasting impression on me that I know I need to do more with. Folk who were there liked what I said, loved the photographs of Great Village and the Bay of Fundy and made it clear that the passion was enough and that I obviously need to go back to Nova Scotia.  

I had not realised until I got home after the event just how anxious I had been about it all. Anyway it was a wonderful evening and I have to thank my friend Dr Sheree Mack for inviting me to present my travels at the event and believing in my inner-poet that I find tricky to claim. I suspect it is something to do with not belonging and letting a bit of myself sabotage any chance of fitting in anywhere. I don’t even think I mentioned to the audience that I write poems – just that I was doing a PhD back in 1996 and that as a nurse I have always been fascinated by language.

I think that there is a lot to learn there and a journey of discovery worth embarking on – maybe this summer will see me give myself permission to start it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

should we have clever nurses??

I was talking to a senior manager at work this week about the future of nursing in Higher Education – there are still doubters out there about whether it should be a graduate profession. In fact when I was in the Building Society this morning the financial adviser we were talking to blamed nursing becoming too academic for the sad state of affairs in caring and compassion. Why do people think that educating nurse to graduate level takes away caring? No one would ever argue that other professions in health care shouldn’t be graduate – NO ONE so why is nursing seen as different. I am still certain that the invisibility of much of the work and decision making is the reason for this attitude. Close attention to the work being done would highlight the complexity of what is going on but health care assistants think that the qualified staff are doing exactly the same as them and that is the problem. I don't think I have the answers to a lot of this and the arguments weigh heavy on my lop-sided shoulders. I had problems as a student nurse because I asked too many questions and I wilted and faded when not able to be curious and questioning. There is a lot wrong with what is happening out there and being in the University teaching students as a lowly lecturer is beginning to become very frustrating. I feel too far from the reality of practice and want to be out there on the front line making a difference - interacting with patients and families helping their recovery.

Flourishing and Olympic Torch

Finding it hard to concentrate at the moment. I am trying to read Flourish by Martin Seligman so I can understand Positive Psychology and appreciative inquiry so I can get to grips with how I am going to approach my work with individuals and organisations – thinking of exploring the possibilities of being an independent development consultant – offering one-to-one coaching and support to organisations in service improvement and change. I am also beginning to realise that my unhappiness with work is to do with missing helping people. I buzz after one of my poetry sessions – interacting with people and giving them a voice is a wonderful thing to do. People don’t expect to be able to write poems but they do, they enjoy it and get a huge amount of satisfaction and enhanced well-being from taking part and creating something. Seligman’s book provides insight and theoretical underpinnings as to why this activity is good for folk and it is something I wish I could be paid to do every day but if I can start with 1 day a week it might help me cope with the current job!!

Went to Shotley Bridge this afternoon to see Olympic Torch – not sure that that many people have been in Shotley at one time for many years. It was great to see so many people out to see the Torch.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Perils of living in the country!!

We had a bit of an exciting time first thing this morning. I took Fudge out for walk to the fields opposite. The sheep were making a hell of a noise so I left Fudge attached to a fence post and went to investigate. Needless to say she made lots of fuss but I discovered 2 very distressed sheep trapped between a holly bush and the wire fencing. I came home and swapped the dog for Lizzie and we went off to see if we could free them. After climbing over barbed wire and frightening them a bit, one of them got out as we gently got its feet out of the wire. It was great sense of achievement to get it out. Anyway the other one was facing the wrong way and whatever we did it kept gong back to where it started - see photo below.

We had to give up but Lizzie was stuck the wrong side of the fence to she had to come down the field and trespass on our neighbours land. We saw them arrive to feed the horses so we knew they would know who owned the sheep - the man shouted at us as he saw us coming which upset Lizzie as we have had a bit of a barny with him before. They have a couple of horses and two large fields and their first approach to anyone is of defence and he got very angry with us a few months back when Fudge chased after the cats that live in the stables. Anyway I got his attention and explained why we were there and almost instantly he changed from angry man to concerned man. His wife rang the local farmer who had the number of the guy who owns the sheep and we hoped they might come and sort it our but in the meantime the man went to see what he could do. We stood talking to the woman for a while about her 25 year old gelding and her other horse who is only allowed out on the grass for 10 minutes because of laminitis. By the time we were leaving the old chap had managed to get the other sheep free – marvellous.

Their opinion of us has changed from being yobs to animal recuers. As a good deed I think we did well and as Lizzie wants to be a vet - a good experience. Have to say have some cuts and bruises to show for our adventure but worth it!!

This was followed by trip to Tesco for the essentials of domestic life - food etc. I am not sure I am cut out for this and need to find ways to make the drudgery of meals and keeping the house going easier for me as I am not a fan and will never be domestic goddess! Also as it gets me down I will never get the book written – bet Robin Youngson doesn’t have to do the weekly shop


We have been to Spain for a few days and returned yesterday to a leaden sky and dampness beyond damp!! No hot water and a dog that seems to have had a better week away from us and than with us - or is that just me being over sensitive!! I suspect the latter - she had a Border Terrier friend for a week and has learnt to come back to a whistle and chase and retrieve a ball - both things we had felt we would never achieve with her. Thoroughly chastised for our keeping her on a lead I wondered whether we were worthy owners – or I think change that to me!! I wonder whether I am any good as a dog owner.

Holidays are great but I always feel a little blue on my return and the last couple of days in Spain have seen me have great ideas about articles and books to write. I have lots of ideas and interests but no one knows what they are unless I publish them. I read most of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho on my mother-in-laws Kindle and it started to make sense to me about how we limit our beliefs and fail in living our personal legend. It is quite a concept and although irritated with it to start with it resonates with the work I have been doing with others on the coaching course. I am just really good at finding ways to enable other people achieve their goals and a bit limiting to myself!!

Prompted to write this today as I read my lovely friend Kate Evan's blog about writing with other people.

I have found that I need creative collaboration and believe I have mentioned it here before but finding the fellow travellers has been the biggest challenge. I appear to have fond competitors and also saboteurs along the way. I am going to present at the NAWE Conference in November about it as I think it needs airing. I wrote the abstract on the train on May 12th and really pleased it has been accepted.

Also  Robin Youngson   is coming over here with his message about compassion and support in health care and I don’t know if I can meet up or whether I might get frustrated that a medic is being heard and that the message I have been  on about for the last few years gets overlooked as I am a nurse!! Get the book written I hear myself say and then people will know what you are all about. Find someone to promote it for you as well – use your contacts and get the message out. Nurses can care too you know!!