Saturday, 21 January 2017

A Good Day At The Office

My commute is so far removed from the dreadful crush that people have to endure in cities all over the world. I shudder   remembering the time when my lips made unintentional contact with a stranger's bare flesh on a crowded tube train just because I needed to turn my head.  Aaaargh! Here's a view that I captured from the Lower Kingswear-Dartmouth Ferry that I use often. My   working day often starts and ends with a journey across the River Dart.  It is so good for the soul.

Let me tell you about a brilliant day at 'the office', a perfect end to a working week.   In my job in a community mental health team I reckon I'm exposed to human suffering more regularly than the average Joe Public. Entire days can be spent walking alongside the very poorly as they experience dreadful inner torment.  Sandwiched between my ferry rides yesterday I had five appointments.  The lovely thing  was that four of my visits were made to people who had emerged from the darkness.   I watched a bit of snooker with one of them and had to wait as another busily made arrangements on the phone to attend a club with her friend.  Just weeks before it seemed impossible to her that she'd ever regain her old life back.   Seeing a man getting so much enjoyment from playing trains with his adorably chatty three year old grandson was an absolute delight.  Best of all,  I got smiles and conversation from someone who'd just been successfully treated after a long stay on a psychiatric ward.   He's not done this in the fifteen months I've known him.   There was hugs and laughter all around on that visit I can tell you.  It made my day!

So I'm telling  story to remind myself why I'm in my job.  What I do helps get people well and back to a life where they can do normal stuff and enjoy time with their friends and family.  It's also a story of hope for those who are currently in the grip of mental illness.  Seek help and support and hang on in there. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Jigging Back to the '80s

A bit of music today because we haven't had any for a while have we?  I've thought that dancing is something that I've only recently embraced but if I look back in time there was a little window of jigginess back in my late teens and early twenties.  The place where I strutted my stuff was the Timepiece in Exeter.  It's still a favourite haunt for those who can manage to stay up past 10pm. Then it was a much smaller venue, a tiny bar and dance floor in a terraced property, an alternative nightclub rather than a discotheque.   Here's a wonderful tune that I seem to recall from those days. It seems to transcend the decades.

There seemed to be a dress code that spurned colour in that place.  I wore a lot of black and grey back anyway  then including a stack load of kohl around my eyes.  It was an attempt to be cool but I don't think that  I achieved it back then.  After all isn't being cool about attitude rather than wearing the right clothes?   I wonder if I'm nearer that state of mind now even though I'm  a relatively old codger in my '50s. Off course my teenage boy would tell me that I'm way off.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Things That Changed My Life

Inspired by that bloke I wrote about yesterday  I thought that I'd compile a list of my own today.
  • Moving to Devon from the South East at the start of my adult life and staying.  There is a different agenda and pace down here.
  • Walking 600 miles on the Appalachian Trail and living in my motorhome for nine months. Each time I realised just how few possessions that you really need.
  • Taking taxation exams and through that learning to think analytically.
  • A move to a  different career that focused on serving others rather than acccumulating wealth for myself.  Occupational therapy also changed my perspective on what it was that gave my life meaning.
  • Motherhood: Duh!
  • Living through and coming out of bouts of depressive illness.
  • Learning to drive, type, cycle and use a sewing machine.
  • Overcoming Low Self Esteem:  A book by Melanie Fennell
  • Unleashing my inner writer through blogging.
  • The passing of all those that died too young as a lesson in living life to the full each day.
  • Making the conscious decision to live a life guided by compassion and gratefulness.
  • Learning mindful meditation and its application to everyday life.
  • Being told by a doctor that they could not tell me whether I would live or die within a short space of time.
  • Marital breakdown and the self reliance this brought about.
  • Having insoles made for my shoes that stopped pain and allowed me to walk and run again.
  • Realising that it didn't matter that I wasn't as artistic as my brother.  I could still make art!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

One For The Book List

Here are words from someone else today.    For it's sometimes good for a chatterbox like me to stop talking and give the stage to other people when they're talking sense.  It's a page from Reasons to Stay Alive, the bestselling memoir about major depression, by Matt Haig. What a title for a book! There are plenty of things to keep us going even in a world where darkness seems to get the upper hand at times.  Think beauty of nature, manifestations of kindness, music, unleashing creativity, laughing until you cry...........

Given the rave reviews indicating how helpful it's been to others I've added the book near the top of my reading list.  It sounds a helpful addition in the armoury of a mental health practitioner.  And of course, I know as well as most that you never know when you might need a dose of the medicine that you're doling out to others.   In my virtual wandering I've come across Matt Haig's website. Here's a link to it .  Now here's a man who appreciates the value of a good list!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Single Horned Runners

My heel has healed!  So I'm back on track with my running albeit confined to three gentle 5K trots around the block a week.  I'm going to start to slowly increase the distance again at the weekend but easy does it has been my mantra for the last few weeks. As well as those comfy running shoes that were my Christmas treat to myself I've bought myself some new kit. There's a wicking top courtesy of those bins in Lidl and a bright, bright jacket, essential garb as part of the regular route that I take does not have a pavement.  Being hit by a passing car or van is not part of the plan.  Then there's the John McEnroe-esque headband that becomes rather necessary as I increase distance and pace.  I'll spare you the details as ladies like myself don't sweat.

What has really touched me is my own progress has inspired at least a couple of friends to try the Couch to 5K plan.  Scary Secretary took her first tentative steps this week and Disco Queen Vikki is well away.  She's definitely got the bug and is spurring me onto greater things, my first running event in over twenty years.  We are entering Age UK's '80's retro run in Exeter in March, a 10K challenge where we'll deck ourselves out like Bananarama and take at a leisurely pace.  We're getting a little team together and already recruited my dear friend Sugar Plumb is on board.

 Of course we have a name.  We are the Unicorn Warriors.   Disco Queen Vikki hasn't been working in Totnes for long but those alternative vibes are definitely rubbing off on her!

Monday, 16 January 2017

A Quiet One

I had a quick Saturday afternoon trip down to my local with Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu. They tried to tempt me off my wagon.  'Go on, have a beer. We won't tell anyone.' Naughty lads!  I remained resolute and stuck to the non alcoholic ginger variety.   I've reached the crest of Dry January today and it's all downhill from now.  I'm still surprised how easy it's been but then I've been avoiding the pub, the South Devon mecca of real ales.

Aside from that I've had a very peaceful weekend just with Louis. There's lots happening behind the scenes for him. I'll reveal all at some point down the line.  With all the goings on  I reckoned that some full on mum-son time was called for.  So after allowing  a longer than normal lie in on Saturday, as Lou's growing and needs his beauty sleep,  we brunched at Lemon Jelli, his favourite Newton Abbot cafe and then holed up at home to watch a dreadful teen movie together.    Sunday was an even quieter day.  I cleaned downstairs in the morning and when the boy eventually emerged he decided he wanted to cook.  I'd done things the wrong way around.  Have you seen how much mess the average adolescent can make in a kitchen?

Jelly first!   Now I know that isn't really cooking but Lou insisted on making some.  After all my wine glasses aren't being used for anything else at the moment.  The ingredients on a packet of that stuff are pretty alarming.    There's half a sugar plantation and the waste from an abbatoir in one of those wobbly blocks!  On a healthier note here's Lou preparing tomatoes to roast for an easy soup.   Whilst he did that I rustled up a roast chicken, his favourite.

There's been time for talking, laughing and messing about. We've pretended that we've had no thumbs, tucking them into our palms.  It took two of us to lock the front door and put salt on our roast potatoes.  Lou gave me a back massage that seemed to consist of tickles and karate chops.  And homework had to be a joint effort.   From the depths of my brain I've trawled up the stuff about quadratic equations that was laid down nigh on forty years ago and  was able to conclude that one question in his maths homework was completely unsolvable.

Yes it was a quiet, no rushing around the country like we're prone to do.  But on reflection it was a precious one. It's left us refreshed to tackle whatever the new week throws at us.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Instead of a Cow

I loved the '90's series Northern_Exposure.    It was so life affirming.   How many TV programmes can you say that about these days?  Try as I might I cannot pick a favourite character.  Each person was so multi-dimensional and complex.  Just like real life!

I'm pleased to see that many episodes are on Youtube.  I'd like to revisit the town of Cicely if I ever have a moment(!)  To be going on with here's a particularly memorable clip.