Friday, 23 June 2017

Writing in Nature

It was a bright and sunny day - just right for our writing in nature workshop at the Garden House on Saturday, 10th June.

The Garden House is a secret garden tucked away behind houses in Warleigh Road, Brighton. It's run by Bridget and Deborah who host a variety of workshops there. And a really special place as you'll see from the photos.

The writing prompts we used were inspired by a visit to the North Wales forest last year for a weekend of writing facilitated by Jill Teague. It was part of Jill's Treading Softly: walking and writing in the natural environment programme. 

Writing 1: Find a space in the garden and write about what you see looking out and around into the distance. Go with the flow of your writing.

Writing 2: Find something you're drawn to. Focus in on it. Write about what you find

Writing 3: Re-read your writing and underline the words and phrases that stand out to you. Use them to create a shorter piece of writing or poem. 

We found these prompts worked really well. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A Fox Crossed My Path
We were delighted to welcome Monica Suswin for the afternoon on Saturday 29th April 2017 to hold her powerful and thought-provoking workshop on the sensitive subject of her own depressive illness.

Monica described the process that led to an owning and integration of her Ill Self alongside her Well Self. She shared extracts from her new mini book A Fox Crossed My Path - creative therapeutic writing on a depressive illness along with writing exercises, followed by the opportunity for discussion and questions.

Monica explained how an encounter with a real fox many years ago and reading the poem The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes led to the fox becoming a metaphor for her illness.

Workshop participants were invited to think of a metaphor (a symbol/something very real and concrete) to represent the abstractness of illness, mental or physical, and to free write on this image. By giving things a personality and getting to know them better we can form a relationship with them. In this way something internal like illness may begin to become externalised. 

For Monica the technique of making lists has enabled her to make meaning from the chaotic impact of her illnesses. She asked everyone to write down a list of six things about either their own or someone else’s illness or a traumatic event in their lives. This led to some deep sharing.
The afternoon ended with Monica sharing her poem ‘Comforting Myself. She asked participants to write a sentence or two about what comforts them.

Fox illustrations c. Olivia Haughton
The mini book A Fox Crossed My Path is useful for practitioners in the helping professions by illuminating how Writing for Wellbeing may be a resource for those they work with.

For anyone who has suffered a depressive illness and is in the stages of recovery, the different ways of writing shown in A Fox Crossed My Path might be good to try, perhaps with the support of a practitioner in the healing arts. Each chapter ends with writing exercises based on different styles and approaches to creative and therapeutic writing. 

Monica says, “A Fox Crossed My Path is about mental illness: my own intermittent episodes of serious depression over a period of forty years. More than that, it is about how I have written in so many different ways about this illness over a long period of time. This mini-book shows how creative and therapeutic writing has helped me come to terms with what has happened to me.”

You can purchase a copy of A Fox Crossed My Path by Monica Suswin for £10 direct from her at (including postage and packing).

More about Monica:
Monica blogs at:
Her website is at:

Monica has a background in humanistic psychotherapy, has worked as a BBC researcher and radio producer (Woman’s Hour) and gained an MA in Creative Writing (Sussex University 2002). Currently Monica is writing a series of mini-books on creative therapeutic writing (independently published) and has contributed to the Writing for Therapy and Personal Development Series (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Monica offers workshops on the healing power of writing; supervision or mentoring, as well as sessions on all aspects of writing.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Writing Together

Our second Animal Magic workshop took place on April 8th in Brighton. 

It was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday morning - writing together in the upstairs room of the old Hop and Vine restaurant (now named 300). We were happy to welcome Tag, a doe eyed lurcher-collie cross pictured below who behaved beautifully - until lunch when his hunger overwhelmed him and he helped himself to some of Diane's pizza! 

We took inspiration from poems by Ted Hughes (The Horses), Mary Oliver (The Swan) and John Drinkwater (Deer) and wrote from Native American animal medicine cards to describe the sensory aspects and qualities of the animal we'd chosen. We went on to write from the animal's perspective or to imagine an encounter with it. 

During the two hours we shared writing about a porcupine, a whale, a bear, badgers, foxes, a snake and a butterfly.  

We look forward to holding more opportunities to write together.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Caterpillar and the Butterfly

Our Metamorphosis and Change workshop in January with Alison Clayburn chimed well with new year motivations to 'turn over a new leaf.'

Instead of resolutions to be better, it was a practical and illuminating insight into where we see ourselves now, our hopes and dreams. 

Alison encouraged self expression through drawing and writing using the metaphor of the caterpillar - pupa - butterfly.

Afterwards participants said they felt "energised," "revitalised," "more confident to be free in my writing," "more open to being creative," "good to express myself," "more positive".

We highly recommend Alison and her wonderful workshop. Alison facilitates regular writing workshops in Rotherhithe: find out more at Creative Writing in Rotherhithe.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Exploring Resilience: Workshop with Ted Bowman

On Saturday, 24th September 2016, we held our well attended ‘Exploring Resilience Workshop’ facilitated by the inspirational Ted Bowman, a leading family and grief educator from the States

Wwere delighted to welcome Ted to the Friends Centre here in Brighton as part of his annual UK tour during which he worked with Lapidus: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation and Cruse Bereavement Care. 

During the day Ted shared stories, poems and literary resources with the intention of promoting resiliency for participants and the people they work with. 

Poems included ‘The Guest House’ by Rumi, ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ by Wendell Berry, 'Blue Heron' by Deborah Keenan, and 'For the New Year, 1981' by Denise Levertov.

Ted asked the question ‘How do we bring our better selves rather than our depleted selves?’ when working therapeutically with others. 

He talked about joy and grief and the moments of intersection between them, citing a quote from 'Caring: A Feminist Approach to Ethics and Moral Education' by Nell Noddings. "... even in the deepest grief, filled with guilt and sorrow and regret and despair, I may still see and feel joy there-in-the-world, trembling at my fingertips. Turning from a graveside or leaving the hospital after holding a dying hand, joy may burst through like a rainbow over tears."  

Through writing experiences and discussion, participants were able to share and extend their resources for doing therapeutic work. Ted encouraged us to follow the metaphor when working with clients. He believes that metaphors can be even more personal and meaningful than straightforward words. When we follow the metaphor by asking certain questions we can move someone to a different place.

‘To invite people to tell their stories is one of the greatest compliments we can give another human being.’ Ted Bowman

More about Ted Bowman

Friday, 17 June 2016

Writing About Animals

Our writing for wellbeing workshop Animal Magic, for Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2016, was held in The Kipling Gardens, Rottingdean on Wednesday. 

The idea for the workshop came from our experience of pet bereavement amongst our own families and friends and the little support there is for people experiencing this type of loss.

The Rose Garden was perfect for quiet thought and inspiration.

The intention was to provide a space for those who wanted to write about an animal they knew and loved - past or present.

To begin we read Mary Oliver's poem: For I will Consider My Dog Percy.

Then we got to doing our own writing. We wrote about  a Lurcher, a Newfoundland, a black cat, an otter, two more cats - a boy and a girl, a tortoise, a Staffie and a Dalmation. 

Much enjoyment was had in the process of writing and later in listening to each other's stories and poems and chatting about them. Thanks to the Open Arts Cafe for their hospitality and allowing us to use their space when rain looked likely.

"Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?" Mary Oliver

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Exploring Resilience with Ted Bowman, Loss and Family Educator

Stories evoke stories. We story and re-story all our lives. 

In this experiential day workshop Ted Bowman will use story-gathering questions, writing prompts, vignettes from memoir, poetry and fiction to promote the caring exchange when working one to one or facilitating groups. 

Ted Bowman

Exploring Resilience using Literary Resources, Writing and Stories: 
for working creatively or therapeutically with groups, individuals and the self.  

Suitable for professional and/or personal use and development. 

Saturday, 24th September 2016, 

10.30am - 4.30pm   
£45 Lapidus Member / Early Bird Offer if booking before 22nd July.

Participants will be invited to explore metaphors of resilience with the intention of promoting resiliency for themselves and others. Through writing experiences, sharing and discussion, they will extend their resources for doing therapeutic work.

Ted Bowman is a family and grief educator who uses stories and literary resources in his workshops, teaching, consultation and writing. He is an adjunct professor in the University of Saint Thomas School of Social Work in St. Paul, Minnesota, his home town. 

Ted is the author of three books and editor of two poetry collections. He has written over 25 articles in professional journals, and over 50 articles and poems in other journals and newspapers. This will be his 20th consecutive year of work in the UK with organisations including Lapidus: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation and Cruse. Ted's Cruse masterclass is on 20th September in London. 

Sharing your writing is optional. All writing will be received supportively.