Monday, 24 February 2014

Pictures, shoots, and empty petrol tanks

I have only just sat down (with a cup of tea) to update my blog after the most hectic weekend I have had in a very long time. One day off in an entire month really is not enough (or maybe it is...). To echo the words a good friend sent me this weekend - we really should have a day in between Saturday and Sunday. That would be wonderful. It is Monday evening and I am positively ready for a good day off, but I must not complain - My life is so varied - it is all a choice and I wouldn't change any of it. Not at all. Today, for instance, I have been doing some research 'stuff', work with students, across town for supervision, and back to work with another student. Back to Harrogate via another student's house... and eventually back home. All on virtually an empty tank of petrol since I would have run the risk of being very late if I'd have stopped to fill the tank up. It is quite incredible how our bodies just keep going, no matter how full and overloaded the mind might be.

The weekend has been spent in Leeds tutoring and in Birmingham working on a hair shoot. I now have slightly shorter and slightly deeper red hair, which I am enjoying a lot. I have spent so much time at the University over the past few months that it was so good to be back in the studio, especially with a team of people I love working with. I do, however, have eye bags that leave a lot to be improved... and a pile of work that keeps mounting higher and higher.

I have some wonderful pictures of the past week or so that I have not yet shared..

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hand crafted coffee and behaviourism

It is Saturday morning and I am currently embracing my morning off. No alarm, and the joy of drinking coffee in bed (well, two cups of Betty's cafe blend coffee made with soy milk to be exact). I think I am a very easy person to please. The simple things - driving with a beautiful view and good music being one of those things. Also flying, or being on the train (in peace I might add... an uncrowded form of transport is a necessity). Over the years as my life/work has gone in different directions I also have developed a great appreciation for spending time alone in a small (uncrowded) cafe with a beautifully crafted soy cappuccino, and either a good book, or some time spent writing. Either academic, personal, journal, blog, research. In essence, something of meaning or significance, but not always something that requires intellectual groundwork and justification. It has always been a 'home away from home'. I have never travelled to a city or country where I have been unable to locate one of these said small and welcoming cafes/coffee shops/bars. I have a terrible sense of direction but I have a wonderful eye for spotting these places. A good friend of mine says that I also have a good eye for spotting the 'coffee shop sofas'.. I think I do!

The last time I did this was last summer... So it feels almost like writing in the abstract now, because it has been so very long since this happened but I am certain I shall factor time for this into my life soon - it is about five/six weeks until the Easter break - there will be a significantly larger space in my diary for this.

Since deciding to become a private tutor at the start of this academic year, much of my time is spent preparing lessons and homework and recapping my own knowledge of psychology at a more conceptual and basic level. There is something about knowledge, sharing knowledge, and working with other human beings in a more grounded way that almost naturally implies that learning takes place - for both people involved. I am learning a great deal, even in being the 'teacher' role, I am still learning.

The focus at the moment is on research methods and behaviourism. There is something about behavioural psychology that has its place in informing our current knowledge base and practice, but it feels to me, very much one-dimensional on its own. Teaching it in its purist format does have a way of making me feel that I am preaching something I believe must be taught with more substance and open mindedness. But, nevertheless, placing our knowledge and practice in context, both historically and theoretically is always a useful (and necessary) thing. It is fortunate that my own learning in lectures this week moved on from behaviourism to constructivism, which is a concept that has always appealed to me but I don't know enough about to even think about beginning to define it for myself. What I do like about it though, is that it seems to be more about making meaning through experiential learning in a more unstructured way, and it emphasises language as a means of doing this. Part of why I think talking therapies help so much, and part of why I write so much is because I believe that language helps us construct our meaning. It seems to have roots in both cognitive and social psychology, but it also incorporates a way of thinking that acknowledges autonomy, subjectivity, and personal experience as being key.

Time to stop writing for now, and to gather my life together before leaving. I would usually be tutoring this morning but my student is away, so I only have a brief afternoon teaching research methods in Leeds. I am reading a very insightful book about relationships and ethics at the moment so I intend to use the train journey to my full advantage. Although I have a suspicion that the train journey to Leeds on a Saturday afternoon might not be quite as peaceful as I hope...

unplanned plans

Friday evening - One of those unplanned lovely evenings where you spontaneously decide to meet a good friend and also end up in the pub (at the table next to your tutors)... Not really as awkward as it sounds - not at all. It has actually been a really wonderful end to a week that can only be described as madness.

New tutoring students, research applications, important phone calls, birthdays of good friends, a lot of behavioural psychology - both learning and teaching about the behaviourists, Newton Faulkner evening and subsequent tour bus tour, good friends, a lot of driving and working, late nights, early mornings, sunrises and sunsets, many, many emails, research discussions, client case notes, finished off with my Friday. Student work, my clients, and then a catch up with my own tutor before a good couple of glasses of white wine.

And breathe... I now have 12 hours before I need to leave the house again. I fully intend to use them

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Words and the body

A friend of mine recently shared these words on her Facebook status, and I have subsequently shared them with a couple of other individuals too (although I am yet to find the source of the words!). Without words and language, we would struggle to make meaning.. So it feels important to share words. Particularly studying what I do, and working with individuals where often behaviour is used as a form of communication, it is important to keep in mind that it is not what we do, but what we want to say (and being heard) that matters..

'It is tempting to get sick so that you can be taken care of. Remember that I am here and listening. You don't have to write your pain on your body, you can say it out loud. I will hear you.'

Thursday, 13 February 2014

To settle?

A mid-week post as the days just seem to pass me by recently. If I sit at a computer it is very intentional in that I sit to do some work or respond to emails that require a computer rather than a quick effort on my iPhone.

I have been spending some time in Durham staying with my sister, and spending a lot of time on either the train or in my car to and from various places. Living out of a suitcase has not been ideal, but change is always good in my books. Change prevents stuckness and it allows us to keep an open mind and open heart. There is nothing more stifling and constraining for me than enduring the same routine day in day out - the same people and the same places. The same roads, the same conversations.. There is something about familiarity that of course is homely and safe and habitual, but I hope that my soul has enough curiosity in it to never feed my habitual side so much so that I retreat and never come back. I said to a good friend recently that I don't think I am made to settle. Some people are, but I don't think I will ever simply 'settle'. As with everything, there is a balance, and the balance here is that it is, and always will be useful to keep the feet firmly on the ground, where ever the ground may be.

Back to the week - It is one of those weeks where anything and everything could and has happened. I just wonder what I will wake up to in the morning... There has been shows, late night travelling, early morning alarms, incredibly beautiful sunrises, snow, wine drinking, a lot of work, and some very, very wonderful people.

Friday, 7 February 2014

creatures of habit?

It is almost Friday and I am almost in disbelief that I have made it to two weeks with no day off... Needless to say, six cups of coffee were consumed today. Some old habits really do die hard. There have been some really nice moments of the past few days, one of the nicest being this sunrise on Tuesday morning. Tuesday was a very testing day; one I don't think I will forget easily, but at least it began with something beautiful!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Back to reality...

Back to reality with a heavy thud. Although my reality this week does consist of coming back home to a bathroom each night which is absolutely and categorically non-functional. No lights, bath, shower, toilet.... We are having a new bathroom fitted, but whilst the workmen re-fit the floor or something similar, we do not even have a functioning toilet. I have seriously considered booking into a hotel for tomorrow evening. I am still considering this as a very real possibility. Life seems very unappealing without the simple pleasure (AKA requirement) for a shower...I do plan to pack an overnight bag in the morning. It is an unavoidable situation, so any anger or frustration would be an unproductive use of energy. But nevertheless, I am a highly exhausted and disgruntled inhabitant of my home right now.

Work has been busy today - this is how I have 'thudded' back to reality. I bumped into a tutor who came on the weekend away this weekend as we were both leaving University this evening. We shared a conversation that had an implicit and mutual understanding of exhaustion. But, nevertheless, exhaustion that stems from something good does tend to instill a (somewhat small) sense of energy too... I think tomorrow I shall try a little more to locate my energy rather than the part of me that must have a cup of coffee by my side all day long.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Weekend at Cober Hill

This weekend was spent just north of Scarborough on a University training/residential weekend. There are no words that would/could describe the trip, but it is safe to say that a tired mind, body, and soul is the sign of a good weekend which was filled with learning, hard work, log fires, and plenty of wine. It seems I took to photographing the views...
I spent two hours driving home this evening whilst the sun set right in front of me. This was the most wonderful way to bring me back home.
Reality will re-commence tomorrow morning.... I am certain that coffee will be my trusty companion.