Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Love the name?
Small hamlet on County Durham/Northumberland border

Turning up to write

I love reading other people's blogs and discovering what people are sharing with others.

Two I have discovered recently have been Moira Mcloughlin 's blog and Lynne Stobbart's

I have learnt so much by writing and have realised that writing the blog has set me a discipline that I lacked before in relation to turning up at the page. After all you can't expect to write a book if all you do is think about writing.

In my friend Kate's book I shared my experience of not begin able to write my PhD and re-reading it has made me realise how tough I have been on myself. I have just read Moiras blog (see above) and I realise that my PhD journey was strewn with rocks and boulders, some of my doing and some that I could not see my way round. So rather than continue to be highly critical of my failings I have begun to see that maybe there is a reason for it and that instead of regretting not being Dr Sue I can think about whether that title would have ever served its purpose of giving me permission to be me, permission to explore the issues I am interested in - butterfly minded and eclectic!!

The police helicopter has just been over our house and it gave me flash of insight into the way I see the world. I like the helicopter view...up high , looking across and making connections and linking folk. A PhD requires microscopic and forensic analysis of a very narrow topic, not sure I want that and can do it. I know I want to write about lots of subjects and that sharing them is important but I also know that the academic environment is too exclusive, I want to share with ordinary folk, real people who inhabit the real world.


Lets see what happens.
River Derwent at Muggleswick

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Writing Day

I spent yesterday in Scarborough with  four wonderful women at a Lapidus writing event. If you don't know about Lapidus I strongly recommend you look them up and explore the work we are trying to encourage in writing and well-being.
Sue Wilson, a very talented poet and cake maker, facilitated the day and the subject was Food.
I was not enthusiastic about it but I went down because I value the companionship and I wanted to make time to write. Sue began the session with some very well prepared and demanding 5 minute exercises. I am always surprised about just how much can be splurged onto the page in 5 minutes - try it, it is amazing what pours forth, particularly when you stash the critic and editor away.

One of the exercises was about food we loathe. Here is my poem....


It depends so much

on how we are chopped.

How we, the vegetables,

are selected. We do not

intend to offend,

our intention sound.

We never wish

to repulse, disappoint.

We set out, fresh

wholehearted, to do good.

It is you that cuts us down,

makes us small, drowns us

in a curdle of cheapness.

Mixes us up with sour vinegar,

camouflages our true flavour,

attempts to create acceptability.

Perish the thought that we

might be seen as too much,

that pieces of us might be too large,

too recognisable, too obvious.

What does it take to allow

each one of us to be

savoured, identifiable,

allow us to just be.



Learning from Blogging

I have been thinking about the reasons I started a blog. There was a chat about it on twitter the other week with WeNurses  I realised how tricky stepping out into public might be for folk. I started blogging because I wanted to write more and see if I could get into a regular practice that would help me feel more at ease about that part of me. It has been interesting because I thought I could keep the different interests of mine separate. At one point I thought  could run two blogs, one on my usual musings and then one of nurse education and the issues around that, but I found that was difficult to manage and anyway the issues all stem from who I am and that is a complicated mixture of all sorts of things!!

Anyway two people I follow on twitter also blog  Anne Cooper, who has been blogging for a year and  Lynne Stobbart  who has just been brave enough to out herself “out there”.

Both blogs have really made me think about who I am and what contributes to my thinking, feelings and actions.

I realised that I have been fighting with myself for some considerable time and the part of me that trained as a nurse and qualified in 1982 has not had a lot of attention paid to her since she went to work in HE in 1996. I was ignoring the reason why I have stuck with nursing for 34 years – I was trying to devise an exit route and escape but every time I have pushed at that door I have been poorly – knocked down by depression and ground to a halt.

 I have begun to understand the issues I have having had an utterly rotten time as student.  I have realised that being a nurse is important to me and although I am hugely conflicted about the profession of nursing I am still part of the clan, albeit not one who fits neatly into any stereotype. I have not been a conformist and I found hospital nursing really difficult, finding myself at my best out in the community negotiating with GPs and helping people function in their own home. As a Diabetes Specialist Nurse I thrived when setting up a new post and challenging outmoded approaches to delivering care and working with people and their families to live more easily with the condition. However back then I was in a hurry and ambitious (I wanted to be Professor Sue) and I also found I was working with people who didn’t quite get a nurse doing a PhD and wanting to improve practice by developing evidence and patient centred approaches.

That’s why I moved into HE – I didn’t have much choice as the climate of the team was not going to let me spread my wings and thrive.  However my ambition of changing the world from an academic position soon ran into a siding and caused distress. I now know I need to be working closer to the delivery of care. It has taken me years to identify what I value most and what I can recognise in myself as strengths. I have been concentrating on all the things I can’t do and haven’t achieved – not getting my PhD, not getting promoted, not writing academic papers from my PhD research. ALL that negativity. I am reading Brene Brown’s book at the moment “Daring Greatly” and as I turn each page I may shed a tear or raise a cheer BUT boy is it affirming.

I still have lots to learn but I am beginning to enjoy my journey rather than focus on having got off at the wrong stop!!