This week was #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek, and at our school the Mental Health Support Team (Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust) have shared the video they’ve produced below:
They use this breathing and grounding exercise with the children and young people to help ease anxious feelings. Their work with pupils across Leicestershire is an invaluable essential part of a joint response to mental health awareness.
5,4,3,2,1 3 big deep belly breaths In through the nose, out through the mouth 5 things we can see 3 things we can touch 2 things we can smell 1 thing we like to taste 3 big deep belly breaths In through the nose, out through the mouth Be Still
I tend to make notes of things that resonate as I read, and below are a few more nuggets from IFL’s book. My musings may be just academic, but for some of us thought play is a ritual…
IFL’s book‘s about being open to joy*; those glimpses of experience that really vibrate, move, grow, sparkle… sometimes extraordinary, but more-often-than-not, quite ordinary seemingly mundane moments.
On my commute to work, pre-dawn almost every morning, in the same spot, at the top of a hill by the lamppost, I exchange a friendly “morning” with an elderly man drinking a can of larger – it’s strangely life affirming – for me at least.
As IFL reflects, ‘Mary Oliver writes, “Attention is the beginning of devotion” the moment that something captures our attention, we cease to become detached from it.’
‘to intensify the moment, we need to amplify the contrast’… ‘when wonder overlaps with awe… our mind-set becomes more fluid and more accepting of difference…’
How can we recognise and celebrate joy more? Perhaps joy is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Celebrating joy might ‘wash away from the soul the dust of everyday living’.
Joy tends to happen in the ‘gap between our cognitive understanding and the sensory reality before us’.
IFL reminds us, ‘Eden Phillpotts once wrote, “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Wonders never cease, as long as we are willing to look for them.’
When we glimpse joy it can surprise us, it ‘intensifies emotion, and acts like a magnifying glass, imbuing small moments with heightened significance.’
Look up at the sky ‘the universal province of dreams’, ‘being in nature liberates our senses’ it ‘evokes a response that is simultaneously joyful and calming’
IFL says joy ‘has a way of showing up when we least expect it’… ‘harmony lies not just in the perfect, but also in the perfectly imperfect’… ‘from the seeds of our own joy, a whole world can be reborn.’
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” Anne Frank
For all the joy that we might find in nature, colour, music, art, and science, the moments that really make life sing are when people interact… I feel that confluence needs to have a foundation of joy if it’s to be truly shareable. An honest quality of purpose is vital to human well-being and growth’
The ideas in Ingrid Fetell Lee’s ‘Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things…’ are about creating habits and habitats ‘that truly support human flourishing’.
A nobel ambition.
*Where IFL says ‘joy’ I think true ‘life’, not that shallow cultural polished plastic giggle, but that real breath filled energy the reminds us we are alive. Or if you’re more cynical, then as Oscar Wilde said “the secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.”
“Colour is energy made visible… A vibrancy that helps us thrive, learn, be productive, and grow, become more alert… more interested. Bright colour stirs us out of complacency… Colours prompt an unconscious change in people’s relationship to their environment: from fight or flight to stay and grow… Bright colour operates like a stimulant, a shot of caffeine for the eyes. It stirs us out of complacency.”
I’ve been reading from ‘Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness’ by Ingrid Fetell Lee
Ingrid talks about the idea of “reversible destiny”; an idea that we can prevent stagnation by recognising and embracing stimulation in our environments on a regular basis. She suggests we “resuscitate the childlike wonder we feel in a world full of novel sensation”
Our world is full of color, texture, and pattern but often we don’t realise it, but we sometimes suffer from a “sensorial hunger”.
Ingrid writes; “…the word “gaudy” has roots in the Latin gaudere, “to rejoice” or “delight” in something, which happens to be the same root that gave us the word “joy.” As Diane Ackerman writes, to live not just the length of our lives, but the width of them as well.”
And so on a recent ride home from work I took a route through Leicester’s city centre rather than through the city park, and discovered these joyous delights!
An extra variable in the cocktail that is my cultural infotainment, I have recently been greatly enjoying Will Smith and National Geographic’s ‘One Strange Rock‘ (Disney+).
In the last episode ‘Home’, astronaut Peggy Whitson talks about seeing our Earth from a different perspective, and a psychological phenomenon referred to as “the overview effect”. Taken out of the familiar macro routine environment we live in daily, astronauts like Peggy get a unique perspective when they look back at our world. Looking back at our home, astronauts are significantly struck by emotion; feelings we could perhaps call… an indescribable hopeful brightness, an energy made visible… a vibrancy that helps us thrive, learn, be productive, and grow: a joyous delight (?), if we choose to recognise it.
Where am I? I just wanted to revisit this little project/exercise I started back in July 2020; a study I’ve called Sign Language below:
It’s very me… though to others might seem like nonsense, to me resonates still – can you hear the reverberations?
Language and our cultural behaviour controls our consumption, what we eat and drink, when we work and create, or relax and holiday, it chooses what and how we love. It takes our wealth and builds monuments to its glory. Our culture is there at birth, death, & every important time between. It consumes all it can, and our culture discards what’s not needed. Our cultural ‘Images’ breed ‘Assumptions’, which in turn create ‘Motivations’… I AM…
As a student of Art and Performance, with a view to creating and ‘discovering more’, I was taught to deconstruct. Deconstruction is useful, it helps us to discover the links between the ‘object’, the ‘subject’, and it’s ‘meanings’. But deconstruction can leave us with piles… piles of stuff that mean little. Stuff without value.
But we need some form of meaning, we need purpose…
I work near the towpath of the River Soar in Leicester City Centre, close to Leicester Castle Gardens, but until now I’d not take the five minute trip south to Castle Gardens and what remains of Leicester Castle.
Unless you look, you never know what’s around the corner!
Curiously, I took a relatively positive look at things recently (17/12/21) on the ‘Friday Fix’ blog post, about music.
Mid-winter is a season for stories, a time when we might listen closer. But there’s a lot of noise, bright lights, glare and mirage…
After the show, after the huge imaginative fantasy, when the angels depart, one has to see things as they really are, and one has to learn to put those imaginings to some practical use…
Breathe in… breathe out… ‘life’ is good… ‘and all shall be well’, ‘and the night can shine like the day…’ ‘All is well, all is well, with my soul…’
To paraphrase John Keats, heard sounds are sweet but those unheard might be sweeter still.
I am reminded by Brian Draper this Advent, that the Latin word for obey is ‘obedire’, literally means ‘listen to’.
What surrounds us outside the safety of popular noise? What is there beyond the concept of ‘the heard’? (or ‘the herd’ even?)
If we venture away from the noise, what might we realise?… Might there be treasures in quietness and riches stored in silence?
What do we listen to? What do we hear?
I digress, as mentioned in above, I shared some thoughts recently on a blog post about music; ‘a song that really moves me’. You can find the ‘Friday Fix’ blog here: Friday Fix.
A ‘popular’ song that reverberates?
I’ve never been able to pinpoint a song that I could share, there are sooooo many! However, I revisited a song that always inexplicably renders my soul.
Specifically Nina Simone’s recording of, Feeling Good – 1965
Nina Simone recorded the song in 1965 and it’s subsequently been covered by Muse, Michael Bublé and many others.
I first ‘really’ heard it played on a record player as a student in Crewe in the 1990s. I will never forget it filling the house – everything stopped!
I think it’s the ‘massive’ background musical composition (it’s simple, but just so BIG!), together with Nina Simone’s performance that is quite phenomenal.
What do we hear outside of the noise?
One way I have found to tune out of the noise is BBC Radio 3 on my morning commute.
Combine music such as Feeling Good with a sunrise, a river, wildlife, a friendly ‘good morning!’ fresh air, cardiovascular exercise, and occasionally you have a hint towards life in all its fullness.
Breeze driftin on by you know how I feel It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…
In years past, I would never have predicted that I might habitually listen to Radio 3! But, I have to admit, over recent years, my morning routine has seen me listening to (fellow Cornishman) Petroc Trelawny’s selections on ‘Breakfast‘ on BBC Radio 3.
During my morning commute, just as the day starts, it occasionally (and surprisingly often) seems possible to glimpse something ‘true’, before the business of the day kicks in, before the popular noise takes over.
River running free… Blossom on the tree…
As I cycle my 45 mins to work, occasionally, endorphins cause the abstract combination of musical compositions accompanying the fresh air, wildlife, seasons and the things and people I meet, to become more than the sum of their parts.
You know how I feel…
I know very little about the history of music, composers or the political or social relevance of specific music creations. I can imagine for the creators, there is a lot of loaded significance behind, underneath and inside many compositions. Perhaps I might dig deeper at some point. But it’s the raw essence of some music that I find wonderfully powerful.
I have heard it suggested that a definition of ‘classical’ music… is that it transcends cultural, as well as generational barriers… music that’s created through sincere devotion, not through selfish desire, but rather by something greater, which exists beyond time, history or culture. Golly gosh! When you hear a musicologist say “it’s a ravishingly beautiful piece of music … and we can’t quite understand why…” that’s the kind of thing that makes music special.
What has struck me over the last few years is the power of music to affect us.
This old world, is a new word, and a bold world… Freedom is mine… (and yours)
What surrounds us outside of the safety of popular noise? If we venture away from the noise, what might we realise? What do we listen to?
Listen… the mountains and the hills before us might break forth into singing, and all the trees might clap their hands!
So much has been learnt and unlearnt that I would not know where to start. Mindsets have changed since 2011 (sadly the cycle infrastructure has not!). You can see posts, from my dalliances with ‘the media’ to Bike Books here: #bike
Back in August 2012 I considered Another way. “poor, fractured, token cycle lanes”
In November 2013 I was asked by the BBC “Did I think cycle infrastructure was a good idea?”
The school Reprographics Department I facilitate supports teaching and learning through the timely provision of a variety of printed resources and graphic design.
High volume colour & mono printing, on A4, A5 and A3 paper and card. Integral folding and stapling of worksheets, booklets, pamphlets etc. Creation and production of labels, stickers, postcards, flyers, certificates, posters.
Teaching and learning time is valuable, teachers and support staff at the frontline of secondary school education are well aware that their own time is also valuable. Our department is here to create and produce requested printed resources, making more preparation and teaching time for staff.
Mindful of good service, a timely response to print requests is just part of the value we provide. As a reprographics service, we aim to turnaround print requests from all staff, within hours. Juggling numerous requests from multiple staff can be exacting, but scheduling work so we meet required deadlines is an essential part of the service provided.
Requests may be for a few dozen worksheets, a few 1000 booklets, through to a varied mix of classroom material; reward cards, certificates, posters, notices, incentives etc. The quality and broad range of items possible is notable. Work may be single-color, full-colour, stitched, folded, hope-punched, laminated, bound… all on a variety of stock materials and finishes.
From scheduled test material and syllabus resources to items designed for more kinesthetic, tactile and visual learning, our daily output is significant and varied.
In an age of digital information,printed visual material is still important in our education system. Printed material can beused in classrooms to encourage students’ learning process and make it easier and interesting. Quality printed graphic material can be a great tool, helping make teaching and the dissemination of knowledge more effective and more successful.