Home adventures….. Reader Cafes…

Loving York Library reader cafes this summer. We picked up a leaflet in Rowntree Park Reader Cafe encouraging us to get a stamp from all six reader cafes this summer to win a goodie bag.

It worked! We have two left to go. It’s cost me a small fortune in posh lemonade and hot chocolate – but we made it a teddy bears picnic event and the whole family have got back into reading in a major way. (Result!)

I’ve made some great unexpected finds for my PhD. Nothing better than running your (sanitised) hand along a book shelf and seeing and seeing what speaks to you right?

And we have discovered some great new resources under our noses.

For those of you interested in the bears… they are all rescue bears from charity shops ❤️ Mr Snoots (in the leopard print) only likes to be decent and clothed. Tom Traveller (strange green colour) doesn’t really give a damn. Bez the bear (in his lion onesie) is my replacement bear (top pic) after Mr Snoots surprisingly migrated from my room to my daughters.

Taking a leap of faith…

In indigenous cultures nature is full of meaning and symbolism. We can learn from this and follow our own intuition using nature as a guide. Using nature for reflection is a useful tool.

Recently on my allotment we found a very docile grasshopper. We were able to get close up and inspect him / her and the wonderful markings.

As is usual for me, I became intrigued with grasshoppers and crickets (and the differences between them) if you want to know more follow this link. It certainly gave me plenty of inspiration for my field notes.

Whilst researching I also came across a fun page on animal totems and spiritual connections. Apparently if you encounter a cricket you can expect good fortune and you should decide whether to take a leap of faith. It is also representative of finding your true voice.

Having spent some wonderful days delving into books, writing poetry and working on prose for my PhD recently, I will take this as a sign that I am on the right track!

Wednesday’s Trend…

Today was the second to last creative writing course that I will be running for St Nicks in York.

A bitter sweet day this is where my writing journey began six years ago and where I have worked with such an inspiring and lovely group of people.

I’m leaving to give more time to my independent freelance writing and PhD, but I will certainly miss it. This morning our creative writing tasks reflected the experience of writing at St Nicks. One of my lovely participants wrote that coming every week is his ‘Wednesday Trend’ to be in nature. I love those words.

Going forward I am going to continue the Wednesday Trend of connection with nature – taking a break from studying and writing to connect with the natural world.

The class will continue to run and will be hosted by my amazing colleague / friend Griselda who is also an artist and writer, so York friends please do get in touch with St Nicks if you are interested in joining them.

Here are some beautiful pics from St Nicks this morning… take care! Em 🙂

Finding some peace at the plot…

Last week I was late getting around to writing, mainly because I wasn’t feeling well. On Saturday morning I was in agony and struggling to stand up straight due to a bad back. I emailed the GP asking for an urgent review and then I went for a walk to loosen things up, when I came home I decided to lay down on the sofa to rest and something literally slid / clicked / slotted (I’m not sure which) back into place and I’ve been so much better since. Phew!

Feeling much better we spent most of the weekend at our allotment, taking a complete break from home and a change of scenery was so welcome. I even managed to finish a book and our faces, my heart, brief as photos by John Berger. This book was so evocative, thoughtful and dream like, it was exactly the inspiration I needed to get going again.

Yesterday evening I sat down with my research and began placing together fragments of a story that is emerging from lots of trial writing. I finally feel like it is starting to form a shape and coming together. I’m hoping to get my little shed back in order at the plot so that I can make myself a little writing space free from other distractions and somewhere that feels different to working from home where I am too tempted to answer emails and my phone.

Else where last week when I was able to get outdoors I loved seeing the new blossom, snails crowded into the split of a tree and fungus growing like flaking paper from a log.

Goals for this week:

Wednesday – Tutorial check in.

Four hours PhD research / reading time.

Writing, writing and more writing….

I hope that you had a good week too. Here’s to more writing…. and less lazing about like Stripes who is a total goof ball.

Is This the Truth of the NHS?

TACTICS 


If we take out the locums,


The bank staff,


The mounting costs,


We CAN hold the front line – only just.


If we hold back on orders,


Ration the needles, the swabs, the linen,


Stretch out supplies,


We CAN hold the front line – only just.


If we cut back on printing,


Buy our own biros,


Cut the funding for training,


We CAN hold the front line – only just.


If we close the services,


Double up the wards,


Use half the staff,


We CAN hold the front line – only just.


If we add a new triage team,


Screen all the entries,


Up-skill the nurses and health care assistants,


We CAN hold the front line – only just.


If we streamline the problem,


Keep our heads down under fire,


Signpost to outreach,


Keep our sights on the end of each shift…


We CAN hold our heads above water – only just.


Written in response to a discussion about the financial crisis of the NHS and ‘changes in the way self-employed people pay tax has led to some NHS Trusts to say they are facing demands for a pay-rise of over 50% for locum doctors.’ World at One – Radio 4 (05.04.17) This programme highlighted how much of the NHS language is the language of war.

This week I attended the NAWE conference (National Association of Writers in Education). I was inspired to hear from writers using their skills within the NHS as a teaching tool to support reflection within the workplace and understanding, in particular compassion towards patients, but also of their own experiences and the pressure born of working in the health system. I was particularly blown away by the writing of Romalyn Ante who’s recent book Antiemetic for Homesickness portrays her experiences working in the UK as a nurse and the distanced relationships between herself and her Filipino family. Personally, speaking as a health care professional, I feel too often our voices are not heard. There is a real need for humanity to be at the centre point of relationships between staff and patients, to build connections as people. Health Professionals are not infallible, we are doing our best under difficult circumstances, we are often as frustrated as the people receiving the services of the limitations on what we can offer.

During my MA in Creative Writing at YSJ University I completed a module on Literary Activism and chose to raise awareness of the pressures that the NHS staff are under by translating my own and colleagues experiences into poetry. The poem at the start of this blog and the collage was part of my final work. The NAWE conference has inspired me to resurrect this and to think about running some workshops for my colleagues in the NHS to support our voices being heard. If you are interested in this work, or have an interesting view on this, please do leave me a message on the comments.

Progress on my PhD this week – the NAWE conference has given me some rocket fuel and a raft of ideas to follow up. Challenges – Not to fall down too may rabbit holes!

Writing: Many notes / 0 typed words. Although I did get an extract sent in to my tutors and now have many exciting words to type up.

Goals for next week: To get typing. 500 words minimum.

*Collaged words scrap booked from old issues of the Nursing Times.

21.02.21 World Building…

Hello…..My name is Emma,

In February 2020 I set off on a personal journey to complete a PhD using my skills in writing to create a contemporary Choose Your Own Adventure book, taking a reader through the experience of a mental health journey.

Why am I doing this?

I have worked in the NHS since 2001 as an occupational therapist, specialising in mental health and vocational rehabilitation. A lot of my job involves re-sparking inspiration in life and supporting people to re-structure personal narratives and perceptions of the world.

I want to write something that conveys the human experience of mental health illness and also aims to challenge the way we think and feel about mental health experiences. I am particularly interested in the way that the stories we tell about ourselves, and others tell about us, shape our identity and how we think and feel about ourselves in the world.

So far my research has taken me back to the beginning of mental health care, looking at historical aspects and also narrative theory in relation to my writing. I’ve been using auto ethnography to explore my own personal experiences and to begin to consider characters and structures that I would like to include in my writing.

In essence I’m at the beginning of world building. Something we all do in the creation and making of stories. My biggest challenge setting out in this journey is fitting in my job, research and home schooling during lock down.

I’ve been buying myself some time at Base Camp by setting the kids off creating their own fantasy worlds (see pics at the top of the blog) for anyone interested in doing this with their kids I can recommend this excellent book which gave us our inspiration: Fantasy Mapping, Drawing Worlds by Wesley Jones.

Goals for this week:

  • Daily reading.
  • Getting to grips with One Note (reccomended by a fellow researcher).
  • To write 500 words. (One small step at a time)