Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Finding Strength in Uncertain Times - Ted Bowman's Inspirations

Ted included The WordTherapy Centre once again as part of his UK tour.
On Saturday 11th November we were delighted to welcome Ted Bowman and a full house of workshop participants to the Psychosynthesis Trust in London. We were grateful for the opportunity to create a valuable space for the exchange of words and feelings as well as the sharing of resources. 
Ted, a leader in the field of writing for therapeutic purposes, facilitated a thought-provoking workshop on the theme of Living with Uncertainty.    
The day began in a unique way with us joining together to sing the uplifting words of 'Somewhere to Begin' sung by Sara Thomsen. 
Ted spoke about giving voice to or moving our story from the inside to the outside and invited everyone to write about a song or poem they use at difficult times in their lives. One participant shared how she finds strength from the song by Labi Siffre 'Something Inside so Strong.' 
The poem 'Father's Song' by Gregory Orr inspired us to think about coping messages and risk.  

'Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House' by Billy Collins provided a humorous prompt for us to write from on how we reframe our perspectives. 
There was a poignancy in the lines of Gillian Clarke's poem 'The Miracle on St David's Day' - a true story about a person with dementia who 'remembered there was a music of speech and that once he had something to say'. This reminded us that even in the most uncertain and unlikely times there is joy and meaning to be found. 
We ended the workshop by writing on hope and where we find peace.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

A Group Poem: Inspiration and Process

At our last Time to Write we were thrilled when this group poem spontaneously came into being from our shared writing that day. 

The impact of the oar in water.
I like this space it feels light, airy and welcoming.
Running through the undergrowth
lolling in the long grass
brings back so many memories of my childhood years

Causing ripples that last forever.

I notice the small figure in the valley 
where the steep sides of the hills rise up,
not dancing but in limbo.
In limbo, aware there's great anxiety 
but still that sense of freedom

One instant, one moment

a pivotal point.
I wonder what the humming bird might say to me?
All your dreams and ambitions - 
so much to be valued and prized.

We can't unmeet.

Through naked outstretched arms 
of trees, we see the distant hills. 
Beneath our feet, the squelch of mud and water.
Standing behind a waterfall
a sense of awe and wonder. 

The process began with each member of the group writing freely for about half an hour from one of our prompts which included objects or pictures in the studio. 

From their writing each person selected four lines that encapsulated the essence of their writing for them. They numbered the lines from one to four. 

As a group we shared back in turn our first lines then each in turn our second lines, then third and fourth to create the poem above. 

Here's an example of one person's lines as they stand alone:

The impact of the oar in water.
Causing ripples that last forever.
One instant, one moment
a pivotal point.
We can't unmeet.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

What Do You Really Want This Christmas?

Engage with the reality of Christmas 
through expressive writing.

Are you looking forward to Christmas or is it a time you dread?

What's your Christmas Story?

Join us on 25th November for writing prompts and inspirations to help you cope with the festive season and reframe your Christmas story if you want to.

Time To Write 

Saturday 25th November 2017

10.30am – 1.30pm

Hummingbird Studio, 107 Havelock Road,
Brighton BN1 6GL

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Ted Bowman Guest Blog: Living With Uncertainty

Thank you to Ted Bowman for a deeply personal guest blog
on the theme of his workshop,11 November 
at The Psychosynthesis Trust, London Bridge
limited spaces available here 

Living with uncertainty is a challenge. Even though people and families have resources, no matter how troubled they may be there is a yearning for clarity and continuity for most. 

I have been eating a similar breakfast of cereal, yogurt, fruit, granola and coffee for years. Yes, I can divert when in another’s home or for “special occasions” when eggs or waffles seem to be the better choice. But I revert quickly back to routine.

In April, I experienced the death of a grandson. That broke the rules of routine and a kind of generational justice. Grandfathers are not supposed to bury grandchildren.

In the midst of my grieving, I was sitting in a bi-monthly group that gathers for writing and supportive care of one another. Here is a poem I started that day.

Severe Clear

The prompt for the bi-monthly writing group was
Where were you when…a world changing event occurred?
Some came prepared with the first step on the moon
Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas
I thought of the sit-in at Woolworth’s in Greensboro
Most remembered September Eleventh

One person brought the September 24, 2001 New Yorker
With one line from the beginning of an article
“The day began with what pilots’ call
Severe clear – seemingly infinite visibility”
We were urged to write with whatever the sentence prompted

Immediately, the lyrics of a song were in my mouth
“I can see clearly now”, by Johnny Nash.
It kept playing in my head, stuck on the first line
No further lines emerged, only that one
I sang it discreetly while others wrote

In reality, I cannot see clearly now
My vantage is blurred, blocked, and bereft
My vantage is severe, not clear
Dying and death do that
I saw clearly a grandson on life support
The same young man I will never see
Except through reverse lenses and memories
I yearn for severe clear 

That will unravel the mystery of his too-early death
Instead, I am left with a wobbling faith
About assumptions, expectations and dreams
About choices, friends and drugs
About family and friends who looked but did not see
I yearn for the lines I cannot remember
“Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day”

Infinite One, may it be so…one day!

Looking back from now (end of October) to then (May) I recognize my uncertainty and my struggle with it.  Writing helped me then; writing helps me now. Living with uncertainty gets a wee bit more clear when it can be addressed, named, discussed, or shared.

In November, I will be in London to meet with others in an experience initiated and sponsored by the WordTherapy Centre. I look forward to sharing with others as we all attempt to live with uncertainty. It could be a bright, sun-shiny day…or it may fit the stereotype of London in November.  No matter, to be with other writers will lift my spirits!

Ted Bowman – October 2017

I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Writing Together in Brighton

Fun prompts. A safe space. Just write...

Our next Time to Write is Saturday, 28 October. We have a new venue - Hummingbird Studio, Havelock Road, Brighton BN1 6GL.

Here are some photos and feedback from our first Time to Write in September. 

"An unbelievable space where you really do get to new, different, deeper levels of thinking."

"I appreciated the freedom to write and felt comfortable not having a definitive theme on which to focus."

"Really positive time to reflect and write in the company of like minded people from diverse backgrounds."

"Great sweets!"

"Thank you for a safe and nurturing space where we could weave the magic of our writerly selves."

"I felt like I progressed my own ideas and thinking which I will use outside of the workshop."

"A rich and valued opportunity. Thank you, see you next month."

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Happy National Poetry Day

Here's a poem by peace activist and buddhist monk Thick Nhat Hanh

They don’t publish the good news

They don’t publish
the good news.
The good news is published
by us.
We have a special edition every moment,
and we need you to read it.
The good news is that you are alive,
and the linden tree is still there,
standing firm in the harsh Winter.
The good news is that you have wonderful eyes
to touch the blue sky.
The good news is that your child is there before you,
and your arms are available:
hugging is possible.
They only print what is wrong.
Look at each of our special editions.
We always offer the things that are not wrong.
We want you to benefit from them
and help protect them.
The dandelion is there by the side walk,
smiling its wondrous smile,
singing the song of eternity.
Listen! You have ears that can hear it.
Bow your head.
Listen to it.
Leave behind the world of sorrow and preoccupation
and get free.
The latest good news
is that you can do it.

Thick Nhat Hanh

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Arts Are Good For Your Health

Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

We welcome this Report published in July 2017 which sets out research, evidence gathering and discussions with health care professionals, patients, artists, MPs and policy makers. Produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing it follows two years of inquiry.

The Report finds: "arts-based aproaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long term conditions and experience a better quality of life." It also shows how arts interventions can save money and help staff in their work.

It recommends the National Institiute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) includes the use of the arts in healthcare in its guidance where evidence justifies it and hopes that:
  • New collaborations will be formed across conventional boundaries.
  • The thinking and practice of people working in health and social care will be influenced. 
  • A new culture will grow that supports the government in the process of change towards the creation of a society which is both healthy and "health creating." 

Finally the Report calls for "all those who believe in the value of the arts for health and wellbeing to speak up." 

It goes on to say "We will work with all who believe, as we do, that the arts offer an essential opportunity for the improvement of health and wellbeing."  

To contact the APPG and lend your support to the arts in health, email Alexandra Coutler on: coultera@parliament.uk

This post was first published in a slightly different form on Christine's blog at WordWell Writing Workshops