We were very grateful to have Christine De Luca, the Makar of Edinburgh (The Edinburgh version of the Poet Laureate) with us today. Christine introduced us to different poems by a variety of poets about life affirming subjects such as hope, peace, escape, growth, humour and love. We discovered that sometimes we can really connect a poem in the way that the rhythm flows, or the imagery resonates with us, or the emotions described connect with a situation in our own lives. We were introduced to the themes for these poems by going back to our schooldays and making a paper fortune teller as a fun way of opening up the session.
Christine read to us this poem, and we thought about how we may still have good memories and associations of food lovingly prepared for us by grandparents:
No one makes soup like my Grandpa’s,
with its diced carrots the perfect size
and its diced potatoes the perfect size
and its wee soft bits –
what are their names?
and its big bit of hough,
which ryhmes with loch, floating
like a rich island in the middle of the soup sea.
I say, Grandpa, Grandpa your soup is the best soup in the whole world.
And Grandpa says, Och,
which rhymes with hough and loch,
Och, Don’t be daft,
because he’s shy about his soup, my Grandpa.
He knows I will grow up and pine for it.
I will fall ill and desperately need it.
I will long for it my whole life after he is gone.
Every soup will become sad and wrong after he is gone.
He knows when I’m older I will avoid soup altogether.
Oh Grandpa, Grandpa, why is your soup so glorious? I say
tucking into my fourth bowl in a day.
Barley! That’s the name of the wee soft bits. Barley.
Christine asked the group members what the group meant to them, they said it was a safe place where they could take their mask off, and where they could be themselves without fear of judgement. The group offer a lot of support to one another. We think that the following poem by Christine De Luca maybe sums up how people are happy to have met one another and the difference that being in the group makes to their lives:
Chance of a Lifetime
From the airplane, streaks of light pick out
a little town, plumped down there by chance:
an accidence of streams and slopes,
heads and tails of nature’s providence.
For us–no more, no less–the time,
and place and fortune of our birth
is happenchance; yours and mine,
my love, as random as the rest.
Had this fine braiding of our stream not come
–this blessèd odds–I would have pined long
for it. When you’re around, your fun
and cheerfulness send every penny spinning
in the air, to land the right way up,
heads or tails, whichever one is called.
For more of Christine’s poems click here for her website
In last weeks group we explored some people’s fears and worries and came to realise that we can worry so much about something happening, or losing something, that we are unable to enjoy life and what we have because every peaceful enjoyable moment is robbed by worry. Sometimes what we fear the most is fear itself rather than the catastrophic thoughts we may have. If we can learn to deal and adapt to situations that life throws at us we will be in a far better position to make the changes we need to make. Some celebrities have talked about not feeling able to enjoy the benefits that being a celebrity brings for fear of losing it all. People who worry a lot may make say things like this; “things are going so well something bad is about to happen” “This is too good to be true” or “I am worried as I have nothing to worry about!” While we cannot predict the future it is good if we can learn to embrace the good times in life and to not worry about things that may never happen.
Today was the first group of 2016 so it was interesting to hear how people had got on over the Christmas period. Group members had mixed experiences over the period which can be common for a lot of people at this time of year. However, what was encouraging was how members who had positive experiences over this time could offer messages of hope to other members who had struggled.
We discussed the feelings of depression and what it feels like to be stuck under a dark cloud with no sign of light or hope for the future. The group had recently purchased the “Reasons to stay alive” book by Matt Haig and found it to feel very real and inspired them in their recovery. Below is an excerpt from this book;
One of the key symptoms of depression is to see no hope. No future. Far from the tunnel having light at the end of it, it seems like it blocked at both ends, and you are inside it. So if I could have only known the future, that there would be one far brighter than anything I’d experienced, then the end of that tunnel would have been blown to pieces, and I could have faced the light.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, let’s hope for a good 2016
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.
Click here to see the complete report.
We wish all the very best to our readers for 2016, and apologies for the delay in getting out what should have been the last blog of 2015. We saw out the end of the year with a group the week before Christmas with some snacks, some funny videos and messages of hope for one another as this can be a particularly difficult time of year for some people navigating family or loss and what can be a generally reflective period making difficult situations more poignant. Our group has a new book called ‘Walking on Sunshine 52 small steps to happiness’ by Rachel Kelly. With the author, we reflected on the following poem by Emily Dickinson remembering that, like the winter weather we too can feel bleak, overcast and gloomy, but that these slumps are both natural and transient:
The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.
A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.