Sunday, July 29, 2012


Had a great day yesterday in Durham with the HOT Lapidus group – (Humber, Ouse, Tweed). We wrote in the morning after a walk in and around the Cathedral and then we had finished writing we then spent over an hour sharing our work and exploring our writing practices and our thoughts and feelings about going public with our poetry. It was lovely supportive day and we had a lovely lunch at a local Pizzeria. In the afternoon we discussed the future meetings of the group and I can now look forward to a day in York in October and a day near Whitby/Scarborough in January next year.

I am also seriously considering treating myself to a week in North Wales in late November  at Ty-NewyddI know where it is and also it is a week exploring writing and health. I now know that is the area I want to work – writing and well-being – be it for patients, carers or professionals. Writing can be good for you it can be great for development and I believe that inner creativity can be harnessed and a new way of looking at the world can emerge thanks to writing in new and creative ways. Gaining the impetus to do more in that arena and use my new shiny coaching qualification is what I need to do.

Professional development has always been my main interest as an educator in nursing and has also widened that of health care practice in general. This week I led a workshop exploring creative writing in health care education for Cetl4health North East  and my co-presenter was a wonderful gentleman with Parkinson’s who did a far better job than I did in demonstrating the power of creative writing. His prose and poems showed other participants about the potential of writing and well-being. I did not need 20 slides listing the accumulating evidence; his story showed us all what can be achieved if we allow ourselves to explore our inner world closely with creative writing techniques. Skimming the surface is all we tend to do in health care practice – both in our conversations with patients and in our own practice of reflection. We skim we do not go too deep lest we unearth things that might concern us or might identify issues we might not be able to control. I find this all endlessly fascinating and even now just writing about it I feel a frisson of excitement about the potential for harnessing this all.

Presenting at the session on Wednesday was the guy who helped start up Patient Opinion – I am going to make sure I encourage as many people as possible to access the site and also engage the students in a bit of appreciative inquiry around what they can learn about nursing practice from the comments left on the website. I would love to be case study on the site and then maybe get invited to help facilitate workshops for practitioners about how they can use the information on the web to help develop their practice and also help identify areas for their service improvements. The information is all there it is often about people have the vision and imagination to see how they might work laterally with staff and services to improve the patient/carer experience.

I keep thinking that if I have ideas the others might have them too but I am beginning to realise that I might just have the capacity to have wisdom and insight into how people can use the information available to them. I am also a very good facilitator and that I can work a room and engage most people there to “have a go”, “take a risk” and think differently. I am also learning the flip side of this which is to be very cautious about with whom I share my ideas. I have had my fingers burnt in the past and I have helped people achieve doctorates and promotion with my too generous sharing. I am good with ideas but seriously crap at taking them forward and that is what I have to learn to do. Not just have the ideas but see them to fruition, finish them off and ultimately write them up or present them at conferences and garner a bit of glory!!

Scary stuff#

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Restless but idle, pacing the floor

Undecided about everything, feeling

Misunderstood she finds herself

Irritable nearly all the time.

Niggling doubts invade her day

Agitated and pointless she

Tries to sort herself out

End this wandering, find a place

She can belong

Ideas brewing

I am convinced that the weather has a lot to do with how I am feeling at the moment and also that when I look back I realise that I am usually a little frazzled by July – seems to be a recurring theme in my notebooks over the years. There may well be a pattern emerging and the academic year cycle may not suit me too well- another explanation to my ambivalent relationship with a job that from the outside really ought to suit me just fine.

Anyway have ideas for writing papers and also sharing projects and not sure where to start at the moment, still got one load of marking to go. Next year’s workload beckons and the same old same old will be required of me – repetition and low challenge are about the opposite to what makes me thrive as it is possible to be – BUT if I balance that with some exciting ventures into the coaching world and also see if I can get my act together in other arty directions.

Ideas for papers
  • Writing as inquiry for students writing essays
  • Reflexivity : reality or rhetoric in the caring professions?
  • Creative engagement in the classroom – perspective transformation, play or both?

I am hoping that if I write them down and start exploring the issues then I might get them written. I need to branch out into academic journals and see if I am acceptable to that audience. If not then I am going to self-publish on another blog and get the word out that I am having profound academic thoughts!!
A patch of blue sky!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


I have discovered that this is what I am good at - rumination - going over the same old same old and not really moving forward.

This week I have been on a bit of retail frenzy - felt I needed to lift my spirits with decent underwear and brighter colours in my everyday clothes. Also I bought a book called The Creativity Cure by Barron and Barron. I can't quite remember how I came across it but that is one of the things I am going to do is track my interests - where my surfing takes me and the questions I am asking as I go along. I think I visited the website of The Institute of Therapeutic Writing ( and it was a book on their reading list but I am not sure – other books bought this week are about my quest for making sense of what I want to do. What I really ought to do is get on with what I want to do.

It makes a lot of sense and is hoping me articulate a bit more what I want to achieve as a coach. I am not sure I am that interested in helping people at the top of the tree perform better at their job. Chief Executives and senior managers have a responsibility to themselves, the people the work with and their organisation to seek out help and support themselves; I don’t need to go round identifying where they might need some direction. I am quite sure that coaching has a lot to offer the grafters, clinical staff and artists. Helping people focus on the present and propose action for the future. Of course coaches do offer support to senior folk and can charge over £100 per hour but I am not sure that sits comfortably with my work ethic. I would love to provide coaching to people with diabetes, people with COPD, staff nurses, PhD students – those folk on their way somewhere rather than those who might have arrived at their destination. I am interested in transitions and boundaries. My PhD research focussed on the worlds between ordinary life living with diabetes and going to the clinic. That space needs managing, not taken for granted; people need help with that distance between themselves and their health care professionals. I also really believe that the conversations conducted in clinics need to change focus – away from what people are not doing, their disease and lots of advice giving to a focussed and purposeful conversation about how their condition impacts on their life and ways of helping them make sense and cope with the requirements of the condition. We spend too much time in health care wagging fingers at people when they don’t make the changes to their lifestyle (diet or exercise) that it is patently obvious they should do –we call them non-compliant and accuse them of a lack of adherence but often there are huge assumptions made about how people view the advice they are given.

When I was doing my PhD research I wanted to do participatory action research, find out what was going on from the perspective of people with diabetes and then work with health care professionals to address the issues. I met resistance and hostility in my quest to establish a more person-centred care approach to diabetes. I believe that all that work stills need to be done. Since 1996 a lot more has been learnt about people’s experiences of living with diabetes and their health care providers – all it does is confirm my findings BUT nothing seems to be done to change the way we deliver diabetes care.

When I am walking the dog this all starts to make sense to me and my mission in life to get the message out there provides me with purpose and direction. The next challenge is to get it down in writing and I know that writing is a method of inquiry. I am never really sure where it might go to but I do that often I discover new connections and relationships simply by exploring the words.

By writing this I have seen a way of ceasing some of my ruminating on not getting my PhD. A way of salvaging knowledge from a journey cruelly stopped by ambitious and politically motivated individuals. I need to stop over thinking the motivations, rehashing the hurt and ceaselessly trying to get to the bottom of my failure – never going to get an answer to that….