Sunday, 19 June 2016

The kindness of strangers - where does this fit with the referendum?

I have been listening to many discussions about the Referendum - some with very strong feelings expressed. And then I look at the UK I am living in and see so many struggling - young people without hope of getting a mortgage or a secure job - others struggling on the minimum wage and graduates who hope that their degree will lead to a job with prospects finding that they are working in Costa Coffee and have debt they can not pay. All this is due to the policies of the current government - they have gone down the Milton Friedman economic line as opposed to that of Maynard Keynes which underpinned Clement Attlee's government, post Second World war. So now we have austerity leading to worries about the NHS, schools, housing ...

How easy it is to understand the feeling that there is nothing left to give or share.  And the deficit has only halved since 2010! I hear the Brexit voices: how can we accept more? Our schools, hospitals, services just cannot cope.. how can we take in any more? I think that these concerns need to be heard and addressed - life today is not easy and is not fair on "hard working families". But the blame lies with the Tories.

The 'Leave' camp cries 'We need to control our borders!'  In times of insecurity such as we are living through today there is, for some, a desire to control what we can, to protect, to cut adrift in order to survive the storm. In contrast during the Second World war when there was a recognised enemy,  there was the sense of "We are all in this together.." - rationing meant that all had the entitlement to the same - although anyone who has watched Foyle's War will know about some of the fiddling that went on!  And at the end of it we welcomed refugees and children who were without families.

I see on television the destruction in Aleppo, the ruins of homes - this along with other factors is driving people to flee. Given a choice I suspect that the majority would like to stay in their own country, amongst their own families, friends and neighbours - instead they flee and we see the pictures of the boats crossing dangerous waters and not all surviving.

The photographer Nicole Tung has portrayed this so well.

See for A Season of Migration

 We have seen so many walking across Europe seeking safety and hope. Would we not do the same in their situation? I see the mother cuddling her child in a small boat in choppy waters; the life of the migrant is fragile. Then I look out at my world in St Ives and I see a new mother showing her baby with pride to the neighbour, another mother takes her child to school - they share the same emotions

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A trip to Bath and a Jane Austen feast ..

I have just returned from a wonderful three days in Bath. I walked miles, the sun shone and I had a great Jane Austen feast!

I love Jane Austen novels and have read them all so many times. They have always been turned to when I need to recover from exams, illness .. and while Jane writes of a life that is not quite like today the dreams, the fears, the idiocies are all the same. She portrays human nature so well.

I have in the past visited the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street and enjoyed it. So another visit was at the top of my list and it did not disappoint. This time all the staff wore Regency dress and acted as far as they could as ladies from the Regency days. At the door you were welcomed by a gentleman who was also in Regency dress and in role of the doorman - a family retainer.

The visit starts in a room on the first floor where you are invited to an introductory talk. We were gifted a lovely young lady who was really knowledgeable and gave Jane's history and story so well, fitting it in with the history of her time as appropriate. And there was a focus on Jane's life in Bath, first as the daughter of a clergyman and then later when life was harder and she, her sister and mother had to move as the money ran out. They ended up in Trim Street, the bottom of the social scale where their neighbours were prostitutes, pimps, beggars and thieves. This talk was also focused on the part

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Good endings - how vital they are!

Yesterday I dispatched the last piece of work of my Open University life - and with some mixed emotions. It is the right time for me to go - to move on to the next stage of my life and focus on the creative side. However the Open University has been part of my life since the late 1980s and I do leave with a sense of sadness and loss which I do not remember any other ending bringing in quite this way. I will lose part of my identity even though it will be replaced with the role of being a former OU tutor.

As a psychotherapist and as a client the ending of the therapeutic relationship was not easy - but then the decision to embark on therapy is not easy either. It takes courage to find a therapist, to trust him or her with your inner pain and to pour out your heart and soul.

Ending any relationship is not easy; it can be the most difficult thing we do in our lives as we handle the feelings of loss. In therapy the ending is usually begun by the therapist, although clients may also start the discussion. If an ending is agreed a date is set.  During this time how the client feels is examined together with the progress to their goals and a review of what has been learnt or gained.And also how they feel about ending what has been a significant relationship. It can be that significant issues are brought up which only the prospect of ending brings out. Feelings of both anger and anxiety can be around. And some cannot face the final session.

What I learned during this ending time in my own therapy was that I had developed an internalised therapist. I can in a time of  uncertainty find myself wondering how my therapist would have responded. For me therapy has somehow not ended - but is this my way of denying endings?

In times of difficulty or decision making I can also wonder how my grandmother would have responded and recall her asking me - "What is the decision you will be able to live with at the end of your life?"

As I reach the end of my Open University life I am facing a clear end - no more students, no more access to my online log in. Sadness combined with excitement. And also fear. How will I cope without the structure that this work provided? Will I be able to be creative in this vacuum? Have I learnt the skills of organising my time and prioritising that will still flourish?

In today's climate my ending to this part of my life seems on balance a good one. I have been able to make the decision myself rather than face redundancy as is happening to many -  and I have had so many great messages of support and affirmation from colleagues and line managers. Later in June I will be having a farewell celebration with colleagues - a classic good ending! I feel very valued and lucky.

And as I end this blog, I realise that Any Dream is virtually finished - albeit that I am delaying the sewing on of the hanging sleeve! This piece of textile art has been so precious in the making I confess     to being a little reluctant to letting go.

To conclude - this feels like a good blog ending, with nothing unfinished.