Poems for Lockdown

This week we share poems from the group that they have either written, been amused or inspired by or are just helping us to get through. The first speaks to the all those home haircuts happening without out beauty parlours and barbers:


Today I got a haircut
And I think I’m going to cry
Seeing myself in the mirror this way
Just makes me want to die.

The top is way too short
And my ears stick out all funny
The back looks like the mangled tail
Of a mutant Easter Bunny.

My bangs look like they lost real bad
In a game of truth or dare.
A word of advice, never ever let
Your best friend cut your hair!

The second is a narrative on our changing world since the start of 2020


In Scotland on Hogmanay 2019,
The fireworks exploded, red, silver and green,
The revellers partied to celebrate New Year,
Not a care in the world, nothing to fear.

Meanwhile, in China, a new virus was born,
Sure they could contain it, they chose not to forewarn,
The virus spread fast, it was very contagious,
As cases were found in Thailand, it was getting quite dangerous.

The virus was airborne, it loved public transport,
It travelled worldwide, without needing a passport,
Us Scots, never thought it would make it here,
So much for 2020, being a lucky leap year.   

The medical experts named the virus COVID-19,
The 1st of March, when the first case in Scotland was seen,
By then, 2,900 people worldwide were dead, and nearly 88,000 sick,
In 10 days, the WHO labelled COVID-19 a pandemic.

Now it was real, it was happening to us,
The number of Scots sick and dying, increased without fuss,
We tried to keep a two metre distance, as we moved around our city or town,
Biding our time, till we went into lockdown.

The first thing that changed, was groups of 500 or more, couldn’t be assembled,
That meant spectator sports, marathons and concerts were cancelled,

Next, all holidays abroad were postponed, all other countries airports, and borders were closed,
As a result, how this virus could ruin our airlines, became exposed.
People who could, had to work from home,
Social distancing was a must, sometimes you feel so alone,

Lots of companies buckled under the strain,
Having to close and let staff go, the pandemic to blame.  
The schools all shut for the foreseeable future,
So now people work from home, and play teacher,

Everyone over 70 or with health issues,
Have to shield at home, at least 12 weeks, they don’t get to choose.   
Unemployment, has soared, people feel lost,
No-one can tell, how much this pandemic has cost,

Not just financially, but emotionally barren,
Though they have to socially distance, they need a companion.
We don’t know what the world will be like, when this pandemic is over,
Lots of people will be left with resentment and anger,

Hopefully you and everyone you love, get through this alive and well,
If anything, it’s another adventure, you’ve lived to tell.     

The third is an extract of a poem by Helen McClory which speaks to the strange times we are living through

A Charm

…A charm for the way through the days of demagogues. A charm for making a lie apparent, a truth evident, a lie scaled and upended. A charm against powerlessness. A charm against the fact that magic does not exist, a charm that has no power, but. A charm for the corner shop and all who sail in her. A charm for a plant in a window with dust on it, and a small cat who sees you and opens its mouth. A charm against consuming as feeble rejoinder to a sense of powerlessness. A charm for living. A charm for the living. A charm for all the lives that will have to resist. A charm for knowing history. A charm for seeing which side blood is buttered. A charm for autumn light. A charm for crossing the road without getting hit. A charm for all Cassandras. A charm for walking away from the end. A charm for gentleness. A charm for the fight. A charm for the air, a charm written on air, and rewritten and always needing to be rewritten. A charm for everyday. A charm against despair, and when it does come, for despair splitting like a frayed cord and sparking itself out to leave what is left, a cold feeling, less than content but fit to be retooled to better use. A charm for autumn light. A charm for the room you left. A charm against the room you left. A charm for the two worlds online and irl and more in which we live what is, and what we think it is. A charm for a lighter and a heavier heart. A charm against a hopeless future. A charm for frailty and continuing to fight. A charm for the world as it is, and your continuing to live in it.

The fourth looks at self-reflection and celebrating happy times

Before I die I will dance

Before I die I will dance There will be no tears of sadness And I will ask That all my friends Who come to say Goodbye Sing songs as they dance Throughout the day In memory of my life   Before I die I will dance To remember my younger days When I danced up a storm My feet Flying aimlessly about While I danced With all the pretty ladies Until one fateful day I danced with the one Who stole my heart Who became my wife Who danced by my side Hand in hand   I danced with the one Whose kisses were sweet Whose arms kept me warm During cold, cold nights Whose danced matched my own Step for step, heel for toe Until that day That my tears Stopped the dance When She could no longer Dance at all

The cookie thief (by Valerie Cox)


A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief. *Valerie Cox*


We have talked in the group many times about why we fear the worst in certain situations. We then looked at the reasons behind this and how the brain’s threat system is activated towards a negative bias.  How often have you be absolutely convinced of something, only to find out later that you were mistaken?  Perhaps you were certain you put your keys on the dining table, but found them in your pocket. Or you were convinced you failed an exam, but ended up doing better than you thought.

Most of us have a tendency to err on the side of pessimism, justifying this by claiming it is more “realistic” and saying that we don’t want to get our hopes up and be disappointed. 

‘The cookie thief’ is a fine example of how our initial reaction to situations is not always the correct one.

The time we Spring Cleaned the world


The world it got so busy
There were people all around,
They left their germs behind them,
In the air and on the ground

These germs grew bigger and stronger
They wanted to come and stay
They didn’t want to hurt anyone
They just really wanted to play

Sometimes they tried to hold your hand
Or tickled your throat or nose
They could make you cough or sneeze
And make your face as red as a Rose

And so these germs took over
They started to make people ill
And with every cough we coughed
More and More germs would spill

All the Queens and kings had a meeting
“It’s time to clean the world up they said”
And so they had to close lots of fun stuff,
Just so the germs couldn’t spread.

We couldn’t go to cinemas
Or restaurants for our tea
There was no football or parties
The world got as quiet as could be.

The kids stopped going to school
The mums and dads went to work less
Then a great big, giant scrubbing brush
Cleaned the sky, and the sea
And the mess!

Dads started teaching the sums,
Big brothers played with us more,
Mums were in charge of homework
And we read and played jigsaws galore!

The whole world was washing their hands
And building super toilet roll forts!
Outside was quiet and peaceful,
Now home was the place for all sports

So we played in the world that was home
And our day filled up with fun and love
All the germs they grew smaller and smaller
And the sun watched up from above.

Then one morning the sun woke up early
She smiled and stretched her beams wide
The world had been fully Spring Cleaned
It was time to go back outside!

We opened our doors oh so slowly
And breathed in the clean and fresh air,
We promised that forever and always
Of this beautiful world we would take care


Getting help before a crisis

hands-self care

This week’s topic was set a couple of months ago, but as many nations in the world readjust to lockdown it is important that we, and our policy makers attend to looking after our mental wellbeing.  We had not anticipated that the whole world would be in a crisis.  We are in this together; there is a lot of help and support out there.  Nearly all are affected by the rise in global fear and uncertainty, the change in routine.  Some are facing devastating financial consequences or a domestic situation which may now be very isolating or, on the opposite spectrum offers no respite from a difficult or even dangerous relationship. For people living with a mental health diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, OCD or bi-polar, there is a temporary inability to access usual support, this is a challenging time.

The group who meet for ‘A Life Worth Living’ are skilled and supportive of each other in recognising when they may be becoming unwell and what can be put in place which helps.  We will look at a few of these things now and then consider some of the extra advice which is now offering additional strategies for managing this health crisis and all of it’s other implications.

Over the years of various conversations in the group we have learned that there are some signs to start paying attention to in order to maintain mental wellbeing; these are a change in sleeping patterns such as insomnia, disrupted sleep or oversleeping; significant changes in mood, such as feeling low or high, a loss of routine which may impact taking medication, attending appointments and again, sleep or meals.  These factors may lead to previous coping strategies such as self-harm or risk taking; for example addictive behaviours like overspending or using substances.  Please search our archive for previous topics.

So what helps?  Well, our first defence is awareness and recognition of some of the above signs which can make us vulnerable to becoming unwell.  Once we are aware we can put some strategies in place and get help.

General tips for mental well being in addition to the five steps to well-being pictured below are to eat well, rest well and avoid stress! All sometimes easier said than done.

In order to take care of an existing mental health diagnosis it is good to have a knowledge of yourself and when you might be vulnerable.  Perhaps there are people you can talk to if you have noticed a change in mood or routine, or maybe you keep a self-care box, ready with phone numbers of supportive friends and family, helplines, chocolate, favourite socks, poems or quotes, anything which will remind you to be kind and compassionate to yourself, that you are deserving of care and the things which will look after you if you start to struggle.

5 ways to wellbeing

Please see the links below for more ways to look after your mental health at this time:

How to protect your mental health from the BBC

Mental health messages from the World Health Organisation (WHO)

Mental Health Foundation-looking after your mental health during coronavirus

BBC Radio 4 interview discussing managing bi-polar during Covid-19 (at 5 mins in)


Where would I like to (virtually) visit?

map 3

*Due to the current CV-19 world health pandemic and how it affects us all we felt it would be good to have a look back at a group we did a couple of months ago.  We hope doing this can provide some hope in what are uncertain times.  We also hope  through this health crisis we can have even more appreciation for our beautiful planet.*    

 This week’s blog is looking at a discussion we had about places people would like to live or visit. Our format for this discussion used the below template;

What do you like about this destination?

  • Culture?
  • Climate?
  • Scenery?
  • The people?
  • Lifestyle?
  • Communication skills?
  • Traditions?

Some destinations group members mentioned included;  Bermuda, Southern Italy, Florida, Maui (Hawaii) and Northern Africa. Some of the reasons for this were;

Bermuda:  Laid-back lifestyle, familiarity and churches

Southern Italy:  The food, the people and the culture

Florida: The warm climate, language and laid-back lifestyle

Maui: The lifestyle, the scenery and the tranquility

Northern Africa: The wildlife, the scenery and sense of adventure

At this time when nobody can travel away for a holiday it is still very important to take a break.  You might need some space to get your head around this situation or even if you’re working from home or around children. Lots of places have made virtual tours of their exhibitions available to us.  Please click below to visit! 

Virtual around the world tours!

Edinburgh Zoo live web cams





Supporting those left behind by suicide

Feather, Drop, Soft, Water, Feathers, Crying, Tear

When people’s lives are tragically impacted by suicide this can feel extra difficult because of the stigma which sometimes still exists in society.  People may feel they don’t know how to address it or speak about it.  It can feel very lonely, a disenfranchised grief and the impact on the person left behind can last a lifetime.

People left behind by a loss by a suicide can feel all sorts of powerful emotions including overwhelming sorrow, grief, loss, anger and guilt.  They may think ‘I should have noticed’, ‘it’s my fault’, ‘why didn’t I see the signs?’.  They may feel angry that the person didn’t say or get help, and also anger about being abandoned because the person chose to leave them.  They may also feel heartbroken compassion that the person didn’t see another way out.

Experiencing a loss by suicide, being witness to or discovering a suicide can be traumatic, for example; emergency services, passers by, family members, train drivers.

What can we do to help? If this is your experience, some people find that having an outlet for their grief is important and to be able to talk about their loss and acknowledge the pain.  It can be useful to find ways to have an expression or outlet for the grief and maybe the anger.  As a wider society, it can be tempting to avoid the person who has had this kind of loss because we don’t know what to say.  However, the person has had a loss and we can still acknowledge with them their pain.

Please see below the link to an excellent document by the NHS to help those affected by suicide.

NHS ‘Help is at Hand

the morning after I killed myself

The morning after I killed myself, I woke up.

I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels.

The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love. Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed.

The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication.

The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach.

The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.

By Meggie Royer

Playlist for holding in what are uncertain times

Time and time again music has provided a form of healing for group members. With this in mind and the current situation around the world we thought we would create a short playlist which we hope can provide some healing for you.

Why is music effective?

Faster songs facilitate concentration and alertness while slower songs promote calmness. These effects frequently last even after you’ve stopped listening. Music also impacts breathing and heart rate, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, boosting immunity, and improving overall health.

Finding hope in uncertainty

A Life Worth Living group which usually meets together at Simpson House has currently suspended face to face meetings in line with the government guidance on social distancing.  However we will still be posting blogs as a way of connecting together through these unprecedented times.

This weeks blog, as we follow our group programme, will be about ‘Prejudice’.

A few months ago we explored unconscious bias as a group.  You can see the blog by clicking this link.

The BBC ran an article about ‘Love and Understanding’ following discussion from The World Health Organisation saying that when talking about Covid-19, certain words and language may have a negative meaning for people and fuel stigmatizing attitudes.

“It is normal for people to fear something they are not aware of.” It is important we think about how our behaviour affects others when we are afraid, it is OK to do what we need to stay safe, and whatever that is we can still do it kindly. “Let’s have more understanding and love for each other.”

We share this beautiful poem


Yes there is isolation. Yes there is sickness. Yes there is even death. But, They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise You can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet The sky is no longer thick with fumes But blue and grey and clear. They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them. They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood So that the elders may have someone to call on. Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way All over the world people are waking up to a new reality To how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love. So we pray and we remember that Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic The birds are singing again The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soul And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing. Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM

Making a breakthrough

At this group we considered how we can feel very stuck in life at times, we can feel stuck in situations, or in our thinking, or in the way we feel.  Group members talked about how they had experienced breakthroughs at different points in their lives.  One person talked about how they were having difficulty within a team, and was frustrated about being misunderstood.  Their breakthrough came with a wise quote from another person who said; “You forgot to dismount”.  They realised that the attempt to persuade had not been helping.  A different approach of ‘divide and conquer’ was adopted, this allowed one to one conversations and greater understanding.  So in this situation a change of perception and tactic allowed a breakthrough.

Door, Breakthrough, Door Sunburst, Flowers

Another person had a breakthrough when they were being bullied.  They asked the person bullying them to treat them as an equal and did not back down.  The person felt better about themselves for doing this as it increased confidence.

We looked at an exercise together by using a cost benefit analysis of making a change.  We explored the advantages and disadvantages of making changes and the advantages and disadvantages of NOT making changes.  The group worked together with one person on a particular situation, this was helpful as the person was able to hear some objective viewpoints from other people who are outside the situation.  It can be helpful to be open to other possibilities, as part of feeling stuck can be to just keep thinking round and round, trying the same limited approaches as the first breakthrough story above illustrates.  We are then in a better position of what other decisions and solutions maybe available to us.