Change, the inevitable aspect of each of our lives.  An introduction.

No-one is immune, no matter that the change is swift and easily adapted to and largely unrecognised as such; or life long, governing all our thoughts, feelings and actions.

Some change brings life, hope, joy, deeper insights.  Some change brings insurmountable challenges, and in its wake, fear, uncertainly, pain, regret and disquiet.

This is a blog about change.  Mine, but also if you wish, an invitation to you to reflect on the changes in your life, whether they be small, life-long or somewhere in-between.

In this blog we can reflect on what change has meant to us, how the changes in our lives have defined us, influenced what has happened to us and to others as a result.

If you care to join me, you are welcome to reflect on the changes in your life and record them in whatever way you see fit.  You might care to write about them, or use poetry as a means to express what has changed.  Perhaps music might be the way you find expression, or an image might better capture the meaning of change for you. If you would like to join me by contributing to the blog, you need to email me your contributions and I will upload them.  If you wish, you can anonymise what you send me. 

As for me, contributing to this blog will initiate a marked change in what the written word has come to mean for me over the past quarter of a century, in a life that has been confined by the academic restraints and demands of today’s educators. My writing has largely been defined by endless preparation and delivery of:  schemes of work and lesson plans, power-point, writing endless reports, setting and marking assessments, offering feedback to a proscribed structure, while still striving to encourage, offer direction rather than demean or leave behind the life-long message ‘stupid’, playing the endless game of class-room observations and inspections.

Simply, I do not wish to be restrained in this way any longer.  There is a voice within me that needs expression, to be free of bureaucracy and the ideas of those who purport to enable students, but in effect seem to be more concerned about achieving ‘outstanding, excellent’ accolades.

Rather I wish to be free to explore, to reflect, to take ownership; to have fun, to be serious; to dialogue and exchange ideas; to learn about the changes in your life and maybe through that process gain insights about myself; to challenge and be challenged; to be creative, to be contemplative; to be engaged.

Welcome then to this blog, yours and mine.  I have no idea where it will take us, but I hope to meet you here.

My name is Norma, and it looks as if I’m a blogger ……..

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NJ   27th February, 2017

I practice as a Person-Centred counsellor and as such my aim is to facilitate, a safe trusting relationship between my clients and myself.  This is enabled in the main by the depth of my listening and understanding, my acceptance of all that my clients wish to share with me, and that I can be honest and open with my clients in the relationship.

Listening and understanding are the first steps towards creating this relationship and its importance is recognised by the founder of the Person-Centred Approach, Carl Rogers. 

Reading what he wrote about the importance of listening to another and what tends to happen when you are not listened to, has been and always will be a guide to the way that I aim to listen to others in my counselling practice.  Importantly it reminds me of what happens when I don’t listen as well as I should. 

When I listen in this way, I have noticed it brings about change in my clients, when I do not listen, it tends to block the changes they wish to make.

This is what he had to say:

“I like to be heard. A number of times in my life I have felt myself bursting with insoluble problems, or going round and round in tormented circles or, during one period, overcome by feelings of worthlessness and despair. I think I have been more fortunate than most in finding, at these times, individuals who have been able to hear me and thus to rescue me from the chaos of my feelings, individuals who have been able to hear my meanings a little more deeply than I have known them. These persons have heard me without judging me, diagnosing me, appraising me, evaluating me. They have just listened and clarified and responded to me at all the levels at which I was communicating. I can testify that when you are in psychological distress and someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mould you, it feels damn good! 

At these times it has relaxed the tension in me. It has permitted me to bring out the frightening feelings, the guilts, the despair, the confusions that have been a part of my experience. When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens, how confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard. I have deeply appreciated the times that I have experienced this sensitive, empathic, concentrated listening. 

I dislike it in myself when I can’t hear another, when I do not understand him. If it is only a simple failure of comprehension or a failure to focus my attention on what he is saying or a difficulty in understanding his words, then I feel only a very mild dissatisfaction with myself. But what I really dislike in myself is not being able to hear the other person because I am so sure in advance of what he is about to say that I don’t listen. It is only afterward that I realize that I have heard what I have already decided he is saying; I have failed really to listen. Or even worse are those times when I catch myself trying to twist his message to make it say what I want him to say, and then only hearing that. This can be a very subtle thing, and it is surprising how skillful I can be in doing it. Just by twisting his words a small amount, by distorting his meaning just a little, I can make it appear that he is not only saying the thing I want to hear, but that he is the person I want him to be. Only when I realize through his protest or through my own gradual recognition that I am subtly manipulating him, do I become disgusted with myself. I know too, from being on the receiving end of this, how frustrating it is to be received for what you are not, to be heard as saying something which you have not said. This creates anger and bafflement and disillusion.

This last statement indeed leads into the next learning that I want to share with you: I am terribly frustrated and shut into myself when I try to express something which is deeply me, which is a part of my own private, inner world, and the other person does not understand. When I take the gamble, the risk, of trying to share something that is very personal with another individual and it is not received and not understood, this is a very deflating and a very lonely experience. I have come to believe that such an experience makes some individuals psychotic. It causes them to give up hoping that anyone can understand them. Once they have lost that hope, then their own inner world, which becomes more and more bizarre, is the only place where they can live. They can no longer live in any shared human experience. I can sympathize with them because I know that when I try to share some feeling aspect of myself which is private, precious, and tentative, and when this communication is met by evaluation, by reassurance, by distortion of my meaning, my very strong reaction is, “Oh, what’s the use!” At such a time, one knows what it is to be alone.

So, as you can readily see from what I have said thus far, a creative, active, sensitive, accurate, empathic, non-judgmental listening is for me terribly important in a relationship. It is important for me to provide it; it has been extremely important, especially at certain times in my life, to receive it. I feel that I have grown within myself when I have provided it; I am very sure that I have grown and been released and enhanced when I have received this kind of listening.”

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HB  22nd February, 2017

My life is about to change soon so I thought I would write something of my fears about that.

I am edging slowly towards my retirement as a therapist at the end of this year and am having to face the prospect of what I think will be a massive change to my perception of myself when that happens. I hope I am more refined than defined by my work but it is a big part of who I am. So who will I be when I stop working? I feel a range of feelings - excitement, liberation and relief at being able to put down the burden of other people's pain. But, increasingly, I am also fearing the loss of the me that I am when I'm working. 

Maybe I like THAT me better than any other, better than the me I am in my relationships with some of my friends, my siblings, maybe even my children.  I like that me even when I'm  struggling to cope with a very resistant client, or when I'm locked into the depths of their pain with them and  feeling completely useless.  I suppose I know that that is  par for the course and I trust the process, even though I don't know what's going to happen next. Its what I do - I venture into the unknown. And I handle it. Not a thing I manage as confidently in my other relationships. 

I come from a place of wanting to help people live their lives better. My clients come to me for that, but that's not the deal with other relationships. I'm afraid I won't be able to stop myself trying to do that when that need is not met by my work. I enjoy my reciprocal relationships. I don't want to be a therapist to my friends and family but I fear I could easily slip into that and take an inappropriate interest in other people's lives - and then end up feeling burdened. Burdened without boundaries.  I saw my mother doing that and saw that it wasn't helpful either to herself or to others. She disempowered people because they hadn't asked for help and she spent her last years in a continual state of preoccupation.

I will  miss the clean uncomplicated connection I make with my clients. I will miss the feeling in my consulting room of being present and real and alive. I will miss seeing people gradually beginning to take hold of their own lives and walk away into new futures.  Most of all though, I think I will miss those occasional moments of epiphany when it's as if a bright light suddenly pours into the room illuminating the dark abyss of a persons soul. That's an exciting but very scary moment, being on that edge of discovery and realisation with another human being. You know that  putting a foot wrong, at that moment could be catastrophic, but getting it just right could change a persons life. When you do get it right it's the most rewarding thing in the world.

My dad was a businessman always on the brink of bankruptcy, it seemed to me. Yet it never happened. He used to say you get so used to living on the edge of a precipice you develop a remarkable sense of balance. It is like walking along the edge of a cliff in the consulting room too and I have developed my own sense of balance. What will happen to that when I stop working with clients? Isn't life about  balance too? Has my work balanced me as a person? Without that might I just topple to my doom? But in so doing might I not learn how to fly? Anything is possib

My greatest fear is of facing myself squarely and realising that all these years being a therapist has served only to distract me from my own insecurities and vulnerabilities. I know that  it is at least partly true, that by helping others I have been putting off completing my own therapeutic journey. I know that carers are very often neglected little children themselves and frequently give to their patients what they need to give to themselves. So maybe the greatest challenge to me now is to do for me what I have been doing for others all these years. I said earlier that I fear the loss of the me I am when I'm working but maybe I need to let go of that me, in order to find the me who doesn't need to work to be who she actually is.

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NJ  14th February, 2017

Sliding Doors



I watched the film ‘Sliding Doors’ again last night and it got me thinking …..

Had my mother not refused to return to London when I was a baby, I would have been brought up in Harlow New Town, my father would have taken up a position of an engineer there. He would not have had to work for a pittance on the buses and the railways. He would not have worked in the mines where he was seriously injured.  It would not have taken 15 years before we lived in a house which was not shared with another family and which had running water and an indoors toilet.

Had my father not spent a weekend’s leave from the Navy with my uncle during the 2nd World War, he would not have met my mother.

Had my uncle not left the army to join the navy, he would not have met my father…. and so back and so back.

All these ‘sliding doors’ moments where people in my life made a choice and where things changed irrevocably for them.

I have of course, been subject to these changes and I often wonder what my life would have been like had these people made a different choice. If they had I certainly wouldn’t be here today writing this entry in my blog!! 

I too have had ‘sliding door’ experiences and again I wonder, had I chosen ‘this way’ as against ‘that way’ where I would be today.

Had I not had some time to fill at a motorway services on my way to a training event, I would not have read a chapter ‘On Becoming a Person’, by Carl Rogers and been blown sideways when I realised that unknowingly the way I worked instinctively with clients, was akin to one of the world’s most widely used counselling approaches.

Had my husband not been made redundant, I would not have visited the Careers Office and been advised that the local college was holding interviews for a PGCE the following day. 

Had I not phoned the tutor who had been my tutor at the college where I had studied for a Diploma in Integrative Counselling, to ask if she knew of a suitable trainer I could contact for the voluntary organisation I worked for, I would never have been invited to work at a Visiting Lecturer to accrue hours for my PGCE – the first step towards a 20 year career as a counselling lecturer.

Had I not decided to develop my interest in Person-Centred counselling and studied Thanatology instead, I would not have established and run a Foundation Degree in Person-Centred counselling. I would not now be a classic Person-Centred counsellor working as an independent counsellor and supervisor.

But I did, I did all of these, and here I am writing about chance, choice and change – and I wonder how change came about because of the choices your made?


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A return to the past?

NJ 25th January, 2017 

In June after 20 years of working as a teacher of counselling, I left it behind to re-establish my practice as a counsellor and supervisor.

I hadn’t thought it would engender many changes, but six months later, I now realise that although this new venture has many aspects in common with teaching and that part of my life, there are marked differences.  Some of these differences have been difficult and challenging for me as they have involved some losses. Some however have enhanced my life and created new possibilities.

What I have lost and what I miss, is the privilege and joy of teaching.  Not just teaching though, rather, teaching counselling; witnessing, accompanying and sometimes initiating the changes that are more than not, an inevitable outcome for students who train to become counsellors. I shall miss the interactions I had with students, their commitment, and stamina as they not only engaged with academia, but engaged with and courageously explored their lives.  I shall miss their openness, their humour and the way they constantly challenged me and consequently facilitated my personal growth.

I have lost and miss the company of like-minded tutors and academics, some of whom shared my ideas and values, some who challenged my ideas and values, all of whom helped me to remain an ethical and professional practitioner.  Some who encouraged me to research, to constantly question my role as a lecturer, to keep me on my toes.  Some who shared meals with me, chatted with me about our families; joked with me and put up with my grumbles and exasperated groans when my numeracy skills were on the line! 

Being an independent practitioner has really underpinned this loss and the dangers of becoming isolated.  It’s prompted me to ensure that I maintain links with like-minded people; to ensure that I am in regular supervision and I engage with continual professional development, which will keep my now independent practice current and informed.

Perhaps the biggest change though and despite what I miss, is that my life has become more my own.  I am not tied to a timetable that monopolises most of the year.  For instance, for the first time in 20 years I didn’t spend much of the Christmas period marking students’ assignments. Each evening and weekend isn’t spent prepping for the following day or week; writing long reports is a thing of the past.

Blissfully, I no longer drive long distances to and from work and face the inevitable traffic jams, drivers who tail-gate and/or use their mobiles whilst driving, and witness, almost on each journey, accidents on the M4. No more arriving at work and returning home agitated and stressed. 

… and I welcome that my life has become more my own, and that there is time now to tend to myself, to engage in a long overdue nurturing.  What I hadn’t expected though was that it would be this that would bring about the most unexpected challenge.

It challenges me because I now need to include the kind self-care in my life, that needs no longer to be rationalised as a kind of ‘reward’ for working hard, or to meet the ethical requirements of my profession. That looking after myself is not selfish, to consider that looking after myself is simply a good idea.  And therein lies the challenge.  Giving myself permission to do so goes against life-long scripts, conditions of worth of significant others, that would persuade otherwise.

Yet the possibilities are opening-up.  I spend longer looking at the stars, watching the sun rise and set, noticing nature, reading books that are not text books, and (heaven forbid) having fun! Perhaps even more challenging simply stopping still for a while. 

I’ve quite often considered all these to be time wasters, that my time could be better employed.  Paradoxically, the more I allow time for myself, the more present I can be with the people, clients and supervisees, who I now meet in my new practice.

I have most certainly returned to the past in re-establishing my practice.  My hope is that I have not returned to the past that kept me tied to skewed thinking about self-care.

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Reflection on the death of Leonard Cohen

NJ 12th November, 2016

Leonard Cohen is dead.  I found out about it in the early hours of Thursday, 10th November.  On first look at the morning news’ pictures, I thought it was Bob Dylan, but as sleep slowly slipped into wakefulness, and I realised who it was, I said out loud ‘Oh no, not him, not now!’

It’s taken me a while to fathom the reason for such a response, I was after all a late-comer to his music and because of my dislike of his voice, the poetry captured in that gravelly and sometimes monotone voice also passed me by.

Sinatra was my guy.  The best interpreter of American popular music ever!  It was the voice which led me to the words.  The voice and his phrasing of the lyrics resonated with and tuned into many aspects of my life.  His voice sang my feelings.

Frankly it puzzled me that a surprisingly large number of my friends could be such keen and avid fans of Leonard Cohen.  I just didn’t get it when they talked about the Cohen concerts in the 70’s, the concerts they had attended a few years back and the influence he and his music/poetry had, had on their lives. They seemed to ‘purr’ when they talked about him.

Then one day I heard Jeff Buckley sing ‘Hallelujah’, and I noticed that there were any number of other singers who were also covering Cohen’s 1984 song.  Curious as to why this was happening, I Googled its lyrics and what I found led me to search out the lyrics of many of his other songs.  And there I found his poetry and a realisation that the man left the words open to me to interpret.  To find in them what I needed, which I guess is what poetry does best of all.  Often meaning did not come easily, but when it did, I knew it was my interpretation and not directed by anyone or anything else.  I had been invited and given permission to make of his words what I wanted.

But why do I write about Cohen in a blog concerned with change?  He certainly often changed his path through life:  from writer to poet; country to pop and rock music; studio recordings to Festivals; fleeting to intimate relationships; drug abuse to sobriety; Judaism to Buddhism and back again; personal to the political; wealth to comparative poverty.   Is it more however, that I now know that his often dark, melancholic, erotic, self-deprecating and deeply personal poetry, also fearlessly captured all the existential changes of his life:  love, life, death and eternity?  





And why though did I cry out, ‘Oh no, not him, not now!’.  Is it simply that I regret that I didn’t find Cohen and his poetry earlier?  Partly yes.  More so however, even though I might not entirely understand the man, and the decisions Cohen made in his life, it seems to me that he never deceived himself and at his core there was deep and questioning honesty that is admirable to me.

In a world that has changed radically over the last few days, mostly through dishonesty becoming a flag of honour which disguised bigotry, racism, xenophobia and misled the legitimate concerns of the disenfranchised, in the moment of hearing of Leonard Cohen’s death, it felt unbearably crazy that dishonesty had won through.

Honesty, genuineness, is a corner stone of the Person-Centred Approach, an attitudinal quality I espouse.  If in in my small corner of the world, my badge of honour is to be as honest as I can be, with myself and with others, as I perceived Cohen to be, the world might not be quite so crazy. 

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Norma 6th November, 2016 

Time flies – and how!

I live at the top of a hill overlooking a town and its surrounding villages and in the distance, low hills which frame an estuary.

Thus each year from the end of October through to the end of the year, I am afforded free fireworks displays.  This is particularly so on Bonfire night and New Year’s Eve.

Last night was no exception and the clear, cloudless sky sharpened the bursting, exploding colours of rockets and dragon tails.

As I watched, I remembered that last year it rained on Bonfire night and how reds, golds and silvers softened into water-colours as they merged with the raindrops running down my window.

 Suddenly I thought, surely it cannot be a year between the two experiences, perhaps I’m mistaking the date, had it been a New Year’s display that I was remembering? But it wasn’t, it had been a year, and this seeming shortening of time marks a change for me that I don’t quite comprehend.

 Reflecting on this through the night I’ve been aware of this phenomenon for some time.  I meet the children of friends, grown as if overnight, and with eyes wide in astonishment say to them, “My goodness it’s only yesterday when you were a toddler.”

 I know that apart from times when a General Election has been held, there is an annual State Opening of Parliament, but nowadays I am often convinced that there must be at least two each year!  Turning the clocks backwards and forwards, comes around much too quickly, and the months when I don’t have mow the lawn are far too short.

 Nature also conspires against me in its blurring of temperatures, weather and its now varying lengths of seasons.  Christmas, which begins at the end of July adds to this sense of time being shortened! 

Kurt Weill’s ‘September Song’ lyrics claim that:

‘….. it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
…… And the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November ….’

Increasingly though it seems to me that it is the years which ‘dwindle down to a precious few’. This is compounded by the inescapable and extremely annoying fact that I have far few years ahead of me than I have behind. 

Dr. Seuss understands it

‘How did it get too late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get too late so soon?’

It seemed last night that there was little I could do to change this sense of time escaping from me.  Little that I can do other to change my relationship with time.

Perhaps last night for instance, instead of rushing down to prepare supper as quickly as I did, what I might have done, was to have stayed in the moment and enjoy each blaze of colour as it streaked across the night sky.  Letting this experience teach me the value of appreciating the moments that are left to me.  In my retirement, I have time to do this.  I can make a choice not to waste precious time.

I am under no illusion that this will be an easy task, as I have spent most of my life rushing around filling it with endless activities.  Perhaps though with last night’s prompting I can pick up the mindfulness that previously simply got in the way of that all too busy life.  Will it slow down time? I doubt it, but it could provide a richer and less frenetic experience of the time I have left.

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 Norma, 26th October,

Remembering Aberfan,

50 years after the event.

 It is a cliché is it not, that there are events when the world stops still and you can remember exactly what you were doing at that time.

I don’t remember the moment that I heard about the unfolding tragedy of Aberfan, where 116 children and 28 adults died. I would have been at work, no instant texts or emails then, no radios or TV’s in the building to instantly broadcast the news.  Nevertheless, it trickled in slowly, in confused, and conflicting accounts until the time when we returned home and watched the grainy, black and grey pictures on our TV’s, and took in the full horror of what had happened at 9.15am that morning, on 26th October, 1966.


Despite the fact that no one was found alive after 11.00am, I remember watching the frantic digging of men, miners ambulance drivers and policemen among them. I heard the somber, unbelieving tones of broadcasters, holding on to their tears, some unsuccessfully.  Aberfan, became our village, its children, our children, the families our families. And the news spread throughout the world as did the mounting denials and evasions from those who were to blame.

My life though went on.  I, unlike the Aberfan community, could get on with my life, whilst theirs had changed forever, in the few minutes it took for the black, filthy torrent to roar down from Merthyr Mountain to engulf a farmhouse, terraced houses in Moy Road and perhaps most devastating of all, Pantglas Primary School. Oh the children, a generation wiped out!

Gradually, and after the tribunal, where the blame for the disaster could no longer be denied by the NCB and its Chairman, Lord Robens, Aberfan slipped out of my immediate awareness.  Occasionally, a news item over the following decades would remind me of its community’s protracted and constant struggle for justice. 

My life then, did not change overmuch as a result of this avoidable tragedy. That is until seven years ago when I visited Aberfan. 

The coal tips have been removed, the hill tops landscaped, so that to the unknowing eye they appear to have been like that for centuries.  I walked through the Memorial Garden and visited the Community Centre. 


And life changed for me when I walked through the cemetery and read on the white, polished granite gravestones, the individual names of so many of the children who had perished on that day 50 years ago.

It would be totally wrong of me to compare the change it brought about in me, with the grief and trauma suffered by those who survived Aberfan, but change me it did, as the tragedy and sorrow of the mothers, fathers, siblings, and community who lost so much, captured in the sweet, heart-breaking remembrances sculptured onto the gravestones, re-entered my awareness.   

The change brought about a deeper understanding, not just about the impact of loss. grief and trauma on individuals, but also a deeper understanding of the impact of such a disaster on a whole community, compounded as it had been, by the denials, and duplicity of those in power.  It has taught me also of a community’s united bid to survive, fight for justice and at long-last overcome the many wrongs perpetrated on it.  

My visit to Aberfan then, changed not just me, but my practice as a counsellor.  It helped me deepen my empathy for those who have lost and grieve and in doing so, perhaps also to honour Aberfan and its people, lost and living. 

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Author: MK – 30/09/16

 Whenever the term ‘change’ comes to mind, I instantly think of it in two ways: by choice, or by force. And, I recognise that to change by choice is of course the easier (usually) of the two. But why? Well I’ve come to realise (at long last), that when it doesn’t go according to plan, or meet my (fantasied) expectations, that it can only really be me that can take responsibility for this.  I say, “at long last”, because before this ‘light bulb moment’, I used to suffer intolerably precisely because I did not see it fit to take responsibility for it. Now, I can do so, and in relative peace, without self-condemnation. It is easier – and this seems to provide a rich learning ground from which I can grow.

‘Forced’ change has more recently captured my attention. Because, I always thought I responded to change placed upon me really well, even from an early age. With enthusiasm, anticipation, an appropriate level of anxiety, or with resilience. And I still think I do. But it’s interesting to me, how I mindlessly refer to it as ‘forced’.  Yes, in these circumstances, change is put onto me. But I would be hard pushed in the majority of occasions to say I was forced. I guess it has been my way to respond in order to avoid the notion of taking a decision NOT to go along with the change. Because, that would often be too scary to contemplate. It seems easier, to go along with the change, even when it is taking me in the opposite direction I wish to go. 

So, for example, I wouldn’t contemplate leaving a job – just stay in it no matter how uncomfortable the experience becomes. Well, it’s familiar to me – it’s what I know, and that seems less painful than taking a direction I haven’t been in before. What’s been really fascinating however is my discovery that I can challenge my perception of being forced to change. I DO have a choice – but right now perhaps it’s a choice I don’t like. But the more I look at it – sit with it, the more I see I DO have a choice, whether I decide to act on it or not. And this tends to bring me great relief. So much so, that on occasions I have still chosen to go the way of the change – no more concerned with any dilemma and able to find the right resources to cope. I do however feel it’s really important that I retain some humility here. Because I know that at some point in the future, and probably not that far away, there will be some change I have to endure, that will perhaps be harder than any before. But, I  know now that I will do my very best. 

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HH:  September, 2016


Making A Decision

 

The week has been constant turmoil.

Until now no time to think – continual confusion.

Finding space to work things out, impossible.

A decision has to be made – but not yet.

 

The oak log is warm in the sun.

A glossy black beetle wanders along the bark

Singing above the meadow below flies a lark.

A decision has to be made – but not yet.

 

On the edge of the wood behind

A bumblebee drones giving a feeling of calm.

The path I have climbed winds gently down to the farm.

A decision has to be made – but not yet.

 

Further along a butterfly rests on a leaf,

And opens its wings to the warmth,

Then flits quietly and quickly to another.

A decision has to be made – but not yet.

 

How long have I sat here enthralled

By the beetle, the bird, the bee and the butterfly?

But maybe they’re just a distraction

From the decision that has to be made?


They’ve become a quiet time of reflection

Dispelling the stresses and strains from past days

Allowing God in to resolve the position

A decision has been made – at last. 

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Auntie Flo:  August, 2016

Hello

I am new to this blogging process but I am keen to learn.

Please bear with me as it happens, 

My name is "Flo". Sometimes called Auntie Flo.

I have held that name since I was a child in senior school a long time ago now.

I have been invited to enter into the Blogging world and I have accepted; even though I know not what to do...well that is not totally true. 

Blogs, for me, are the thoughts of an individual about a specific subject, in this case change, which may be different every time a new blog comes into their head. It is free form, generated at the drop of a hat and hopefully creates a thinking space for the reader and tries to capture the thoughts of the blogger and may be about anything at all, whatever the blogger fancies.

I guess there are some unspoken rules about being honest, not being insulting, not expecting anything in return but just "out there" for any reader to make of what they will, or indeed to ignore or digest or respond to, at will!

It is a personal view of a personal world and offered to others in order to share something about the blogger's thinking, experiences, doubts, feelings, their being and their past experiences and future hopes....and a whole lot more, without constraint - except common decency I guess!

There, I think I have created a blog about what I understand blogging is about. 

I’ve cleared the desks, well my deck, I feel free-er now and will wait for inspiration before I write my second blog, which will be about changes in my life I’d like to take a look at.

Feeling pleased by my start.... Flo.

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REFLECTIONS ON RETIREMENT

JE-H:  August, 2016

Pre-amble  (July, 2016)

“I am retiring from 20 years in the NHS at the end of July and though it is welcome as tiredness seems to be a bigger part of my life, I am left with just over 6 years before I receive my state pension so am going to be building up my private counselling practice here in Wymondham and Norwich in Norfolk, UK.  I have fears that money will be tight and I may not be able to do all that I wish to now I have the time due to health reasons but it is not stopping me trying! 

Both of the poems came from different dreams over a two night period and seemed to link to these fears and concerns and it is a life stage that opens new opportunities and doors while closing to others.  Perhaps the imagery and words may reach out to ‘speak to’ or touch you.”

 

Retirement II

 

Sleeping on the cardboard.

Sharing smelly blankets.

Eye to eye with the rats

That dance in the dark

And laugh over our faces.

It is cold.

 

The framed picture hangs alone

On the museum wall.

Bare floors welcome dust.

I walked there before,

Had a room with a mattress

Polishing the floor.

 

Keys to the mansion are

Locked in the attendant’s pocket.

“You have chosen the time,”

He said “Move on and aside.”

School days are gone

And so is the school.

In the rat’s sharp eyes I see

Memory reflected brightly.

The orchard where her voice

Was like honey, dripping down

In the summer sun,

Pooling on the grass.

 

A golden glow in the setting sun

As she dished up our supper.

Grandma made warm food,

But the rat retreats

And the night glitters.

A sharp frost cutting us.

 

                                                             Night follows us, opening its arms,

Whispering of frailty:

Aging our hopes and dreams.

“Come, come dance,” calls

The enticing young rat,

“There is the door of mourning.”

 


 

Sleeping with Strangers

 

Sleeping with strangers

In a room senza vista.

Dark light pulls the curtains

And space leaps

Through a new door.

Walk through

And see age:

Old places reeking

Of jagged familiarity.

 

Age advances. We run, dog leads

Shoved in our hands.

“Keeping running” they bark,

“Age will never give up.”

We find old roads

In dark hills

Too steep to climb

To be lost

To waking and ageing.

 

Lights glow, filling twilight.

The old Land Rover bumps along

The grass track.

I have seen this farm before

But do not know it.

Cows chat in the yard,

Mud splashing their udders.

“Welcome,” they whisper,

“Now hide. Age comes.”

 

Led by full-fleeced sheep

Up into the hills.

“We know the places

To hide. Follow us.”

We climb up into long

Grassed limestone crags.

Spiders scuttle away,

Annoyed by our intrusion.

Safe here?

“We can still see you,”

The buzzards squawk.

“Go deeper in to hide.

We will lead age away.”

Deeper we went

Into the dark, damp caves

And we hid well.

Age never did find us,

So we thought.

 

But age always finds a way

To discover hiding places.

No matter where we hide.

We could not find

Our way out.

If you enter our home.

Do not disturb the dust and bones

We dream still in a cave senza vita.

Always sleeping with strangers.

 

Translation of Italian text

Senza vista - without a view

Senza vita - without life

.........................................................................


CHANGING LIVES
Reflections on some changes incurred in moving home.
Author - NS: 4th August 2016

I had always considered myself as being someone who accepted change with relish and more than a little excitement; the assumption being that the change would bring about improvement in some way.

So when I started to think about moving and all that might entail, I started off by feeling excited and thinking only about what might lie ahead. It comes as a real shock therefore, when the dreamed of change started to become a reality, I have noticed a growing sense of sadness almost verging on depression about what we are doing.

I have never lived anywhere as long as I have here so there is so much more stuff anchoring me. The new house is smaller with a lot less storage space,  so stuff that could be stored in the loft or cupboards and drawers for no other reason than it holds memories or might one day be useful is having to be sifted through and got rid of. I have observed that some things have far less pull to be kept and some things seem impossible to be disposed of.

I should realise that things hold more value than is first seen. I think what is happening is that I am stripping away the bits of me that are represented in the stuff I own. In the past I suspect I created myself to an extent through my possessions and in many ways this was because I was less certain about who I was. Almost as if I needed the stuff to let the world know I exist; that without stuff I wouldn’t be seen, but more significantly, to let myself know I had a value, even if that value was assessed through what I owned.

But now it’s going, piece by piece. I had a lot of stuff relating to the children; photos, school reports, little pieces of artwork or items of clothing. Sifting through them, sorting them according to child, I was transported back in time. But although this was my history, most of these things were kept in trust for J, A and C as part of their histories and weirdly enough, I felt no pain in passing them on. The only hope was that they would have the emotional connection to them I hope for. I didn’t give them everything of course, the letters from them to me, the cards - so many Mother’s Day cards (have I really been a mother that long?) - I have kept. If I am honest, it’s still about making real their love for me.

The things that have shocked me to get rid of are the bits and pieces, the ornaments some more valuable than others, that define nearly 30 years of my life. I realise that these objects, bits of pottery and glass have defined me, reflecting the stages of my life both good and bad. If these go, will my memories of that time go too?  I cannot get over how many things DO get forgotten and it’s being the process of sorting the stuff which has brought back so many memories but more significantly perhaps, defined the changes I have made.