Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Words and actions

Today has been what I consider to be a productive day; I sorted out 'very important things', went for a 5k run, went to work, and went to a great yoga class this evening. Nothing of noteworthy excellence has taken place, but at the same time nothing disastrous has happened, therefore today has been good. Even better than good - it has been productive.

This evening, ITV showed an hour long documentary entitled 'OCD Ward', which of course I watched with great expectations. It didn't disappoint - the programme quite truthfully documented time in a specialised OCD ward in a London based hospital, demonstrating experiences of the patients, their families, and the ward staff. This subject is not only a personal interest, but also a professional one. I found it interesting to view how the therapists and psychiatrists worked therapeutically with their patients in order to help them best tackle their illness. What I found even more interesting was the way they interacted with their patients - it was a very behavioural approach, which of course it must be when working with a person with OCD, which has such prominent behavioural symptoms. But it was the way one psychiatrist in particular seemed ever so powerful and domineering with her patient. She informed him that because of his OCD, he was a worse person than he ever had been before; it made him the most imperfect he would ever be. In context, she was informing her patient that this isn't the desired way to live his life. But in a wider context, this comment followed his acknowledgement that he behaves as he does because he has a deep and regimented need to be perfect. If he is contaminated, he is an imperfect being, therefore he must avoid contamination in order to avoid being imperfect.

There are so many beneficial ways a therapist could work with this, none right or wrong. It all very much depends on the approach and modality of working. But to tell a client that their illness makes them even more imperfect than they fear they already are..? For me, perfection doesn't exist - as humans it is within our very nature that we are all imperfect beings. I wonder if by measuring a person's 'perfection' based upon their state of mental illness isn't just another way of communicating the message that it isn't OK to struggle?  I understand the necessity of the radical behavioural techniques in this kind of specific therapy, but words can be just as (if not more) powerful as actions.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Are you fifteen too?

I forgot to add to my last post.. The highlight of my day is as follows

A girl asked me these exact words... 'Are you fifteen too?'
To which I politely informed the mistaken girl that I do infact turn twenty five this year.

Wow - how to look ten years younger. Gok Wan, I've finally cracked it!

The process of living and a drive home

Today I rediscovered my absolute appreciation for Bon Iver. I was driving home this evening and it was that time of the evening where it's almost definitely pitch black but it's not quite there yet. The sky isn't dark enough to need to use the full beam on the car but it's dark enough to need the lights on and it;s dark enough to see the moon. The sky is a deep blue colour. The car was warm, my head full of thoughts, but a comfortable feeling rather than it being too much, and I was listening to a selection of Bon Iver songs and the journey just kind of happened. I got from A to B and it was a nice journey helped along by the most beautiful music.

I spent the majority of the day with my sister, accompanying her to an open day at my University and enjoying lunch together. This open day felt like just another day at Uni for me - I study there and I work there afterall. I've gotten to know the place and some of the people fairly well, but even so, things have changed. After a three year degree, this is currently my fourth year at this University. After my fifth year I'll be a qualified therapist, after my sixth year (if I choose to do it) I'll have my MA, and then my fate is left within the realms of the universe... or in my very own hands. Perhaps a combination of the two. I suspect I might do a PhD at some point in my academic and professional life when the time is right. I found myself (at the open day) surrounded by young people with such great hopes and plans... such rigid ideas of the future, and alongside that, so much external and internal pressure to make those goals happen. Because once we reach that all important goal we'll be happy, right? We can stop there? Not really the reality! Just months ago I achieved a First class honours degree, but it's already faded into insignificance because I'm focussed on the next bigger and better thing.

It was particularly evident today, being around 17/18 year olds applying for University and taking their A Level exams that outside of all that immediate pressure is an additional voice putting pressure on these poor people to make their life count, to be great and wonderful, to be all that they are told they must be. Of course, we all aspire to be great. I think it's a natural part of human nature - to strive towards positive growth. But it feels like it does no harm every once in a while to step back and re-assess things - keep the heart and mind open to change and progress. Life is the process of living, not in reaching the end.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

the rain

I am drawn to begin this post by discussing the weather - which of course is an awfully stiff-upper-lip-British way of beginning a conversation. Not that this is a conversation. Although others might argue that my achievement of over three years of continuous blogging might also resemble three years of successful conversations with the self; musings to oneself (and often quite possibly about oneself).
Regardless, conversation, musings, or simply blogging - whichever terminology you use, I am still drawn to writing about the start of the day, which coincidentally involves the weather. (I am thoroughly British afterall).

After braving the stormy rain this morning for approximately thirty seconds, armed with my polka-dot umbrella and denim jacket, the trousers were already stuck to my legs and my socks soaking wet, so I strategically retraced my footsteps back to my front door and into my house. No, I didn't decide to take the day off University - I have paid close to £100 tuition fees just for today, so no, not a chance of me skipping class just because of the weather gods and their clear attempts to entice me back home and back into bed. So I changed into my gym trousers and wellington boots and re-began my walk across town to University armed with a change of clothes and shoes in my bag. I arrived at Uni soaked in rain still, but at least I was forward thinking and could change my clothes into something a little more appropriate and dry. You know you're in for a great day when you have to battle the elements before the day has even begun.

I love watching the way people react to mornings like this - it's not just a bit of rain, it's a torrential downpour. And more than that, it's a change of plan and routine - it's a variant of our day beyond our control. Being a people-watcher and a person interested in people, I watch how they arrive, their presentation, their acknowledgement, their sense of calmness or rush, and the way that they greet others. Perhaps this is just a lesson never to be fooled or misled by my silence; I do like to take note and to notice things. It's probably the psychologist in me. But this morning I was so very aware of the difference in my own arrival and in the arrival of others and it was bizarre, that a simple thing such as rain would cause such a change in us all.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Saturday happenings

Saturday.. The day of comfy clothes, hot beverages, clean homes, and tidy minds. I slept in today perhaps more than I recall ever sleeping in before in my entire twenty four years of life. No exaggeration - I believe this really might be the case. I will refrain from stating the exact time I awoke from my slumber because it's not an awakening time to be proud of! But I shall certainly take it as a message to exercise my right/need to sleep during the week with a little more awareness and intent.

The majority of today was spent organising and clearing out some of my belongings, and cleaning/tidying/washing... Tidy house, tidy mind. I also decided to create a new vegan delight: Pear and plum loaf. I officially succeeded in playing house-wife, minus the adorning husband and beautiful 2.5 children. I plan on modifying this creation next time to a richer flavoured pear, plum, & pecan loaf, but this isn't too bad to start with. Lucky are those who visit my house this week... I shall be filling them with cake and probably sending them back home with more!

Friday, 18 October 2013

another first day

Today ended with a glass of wine and a very good friend. It's not even Friday night yet but I believe it was more than well deserved.

I had a to-do list which is apparently never ending at the moment; it sort of runs from day to day never quite ending and never quite beginning again. But some of it was completed today and that's enough for now! I also had my first official day as a trainee therapist today as I met with my first client and made the first move on this next journey as a practitioner. 'Firsts' are always somewhat anxiety provoking and really serve to test our ability to act in both calmness and patience, and also to grow a pair of trusty balls!

Today was most definitely a good day. Amongst all my calmness and composure, I actually have quite an unacknowledged presence should I wish to use it. Yesterday a friend and I presented at a training session full of mentors in training, and today I found myself in yet another new role, trying to fill yet another pair of shoes three sizes too big, but actually being OK in the process.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

blurred weekends, modelling jobs, and white wine...

This weekend seems to have gone in a blur of wine, nice food, family, boyfriend, and decision making (aided by a couple of good gym sessions). I'm not sure that decisions are never easy to make but it does mean that things shall change, and change is most definitely good. Change means that the pace of life can keep moving forward. Change means that we are adapting to life rather than struggling to make life adapt to us.

I worked a modelling job on Friday for a great team of creatives with some really nice clothes that I actually enjoyed wearing. I did feel like I'd regressed into taking the role of a human puppet for the day, but it was really quite a welcomed break; to be told what to do, where to stand, where to place my hands/fix my gaze. It was a little frustrating being cold, quite hungry, and lacking caffeine.. but I shan't be fussy. As soon as we finished the shoot, before I'd even got home I stopped off in Leeds, and successfully found a bar where I consumed two glasses of white wine faster than my boyfriend had even finished his beers. If that doesn't say a little something about the contents of the week, I don't know what does!

So following a week of study, placement, work, modelling work, interviews, and decision making, it's safe to say that this coming week shall probably be no different.. it shall be a good one I hope.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The portal of communication

Today was the teaching day of my PGDip. Full 9.30-5 day of lectures, workshops, supervision etc... A full day of a lot of learning of both a theoretical and insightful nature.

Today was also the day that I somehow lost my phone. I lost my phone! OK, I'm not one to be religiously devoted to my daily game of candy crush saga or texting my BFF hourly updates. But this is my trusty iPhone; the tiny little technologically advanced portal which is not only my source of communication with friends and family, but my on-the-go means of communication for both my jobs and my placement (all of which my schedule can and does change daily). Also whilst applying for a third job the phone seems a vitally important part of that communication. 

To cut a long story short, I found the phone in the end thank goodness. It's the metaphorical meaning that is most entertaining... Life is getting more complicated and messy the more I live it. You'd hope I could keep the one thing that keeps it all together within my sight and possession, but not today! Today I somehow lost it all; only for a brief while. Thank goodness for good people.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Long days and early nights

The content of today was a little insane. The process even more so. You know those days where the outcome just isn't as you anticipated it to be. When i woke up fifteen hours ago, this is not how i imagined myself to feel. And just to make the story more incredibly fascinating, I arrived home too late and missed yoga, my room was a mess, I burnt my dinner, and was in bed by 10pm ready to sleep... My room is still a mess.

And yet I do still believe that this week shall be a good week. Despite the unscheduled incidences and messy room, even today has indeed been a good day.

Monday morning

A new week, another Monday, and this week shall be a good week. Where's the hope if we start Monday morning already defeated?

I start this week extremely thankful for the good friends and top family in my life - they are a positive influence. They are positive people. And as I always write - energy is a transmittable force.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The inner child

This afternoon I was very kindly treated to afternoon tea. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
Whilst enjoying the rather generous portions of sandwiches, scones, and cakes/pastries, conversation turned to one concerning the 'inner child'.

It's a phrase often used to describe when a person might display a moment of youth, freedom, silliness, immaturity, or partake in inappropriate humour... and many other examples of course. I was adamant that my inner child is extinct; that it no longer exists because I struggled to recall a moment of true youthful silliness. Too often I fear that I may be too sincere or serious for my own good. Perhaps it comes from my training - I am prone to analysing and observing and being somewhat overly self-critical and reflective; so much so that it tends to detract from my ability to see the lighter side of life. I often discuss balance, but I seem to forget that balance comes in all forms, and this too is a balance.

Of course, I stated quite truthfully that I didn't think I had an inner child - that my inner child might be hidden away somewhere so distant that even I didn't know where she was hidden. My statement was not only based on the self-perception that I typically search for deeper meaning and analysis, which makes my outlook really rather contemplative and insightful. But it was due to my usual disinterest in comedy shows/comedians whom my friends find adoringly hilarious, and my usual aggravation and impatience when others don't meet me in my prioritised 'matters of importance' or they seem to have an entirely different agenda in terms of responsibilities and decisions. OK, now I'm well aware I might be interpreted as a bore! However, I was surprised and grateful when I was reminded of an evening last week when we were walking home from a bar and I was happily reeling off food pun jokes (a long standing comedic conversation Anna and I sometimes partake in!). It reminded me that my inner youth isn't lost, it just sometimes takes a little longer to access it and embrace it.

There's no one or no where that defines what we must do - must we embrace our inner youth or battle with it? I am certain that balance is key, as it is with most things in life. The balance of seriousness vs. freedom/spontaneity. It seems odd, because from freedom comes autonomy and self-determination. Yet in this instance, the origin of freedom doesn't stem from the rational voice of the adult, but from the youthfulness of the spontaneous inner child. So the inner child, when balanced with our adult self, really isn't a terrible thing at all.

Friday, 4 October 2013

When one stumbles across art

Always a pleasure stumbling across work I forgot I did... Here are a couple of paintings courtesy of an incredibly skilled artist from a shoot I did some time last year.