Tag Archives: Counselling

Inside the leaves…not the green ones #Fragments

 

I rather cherish the memories of standing in Mum’s kitchen holding my own books in my hands. Each time, there has been a smile as to having worked hard and crafting something that I am very proud of and ultimately would like to share with others. I am not writing anything at the moment; my pens have temporarily fallen silent and are reflecting on new possible stories.

I am also involved in a project called the Peace Series That link will take you to the Facebook page. There is even an event that will hopefully plant Peace firmly on the map. My contribution is scheduled for release early in 2018, and is currently being polished.

There were plans to write a cookbook! Plans being plans, this is on pause; I will get around to that eventually.

For now, I have three books in circulation that I am genuinely proud to have written and developed. Two, are primarily to do with gardening and cooking; with this year being a poor year on the allotment plot, they are a reminder of good times, of fruitful times.

Then there is ‘Fragments’, which is my first foray in to writing fiction. This does not mean I have abandoned my green plot. Simply that I have decided to add an additional string and broadened my horizons a little more.

Bit of a heads up. This is not a fluffy book with hearts, rainbows and butterflies. It’s not a textbook either!

 

Above are a selection of passages from Fragments, these touch on the six different stories that are interwoven to paint a picture of how loss and bereavement may effect us. The people and their experiences are varied and diverse; I wanted to write stories that could be seen to reflect and represent the world around me and to some extent how I see it.

I like my book; I am however, very biased. It is seeing and hearing that other people have picked it up, read it and invested in it that truly makes me feel less biased.

You can find the ebook here . For paperback, click here.  If you happen to be in the USA, you can even walk into Pipe and Thimble in Lomita, California to buy a copy! The store is the only place on the globe that actually holds any of my books right now. That in itself is  a tad mind blowing.

If you do invest in a copy, of either version, then please share and leave the review. As a non-traditional, self published author, I am a cog in the Indie publishing world. Reviews help that universe expand, allowing books that we wouldn’t ordinarily come across become more visible. This expansion then allows myself and other Indie authors to be stumbled upon with our works being shared.

 

Behind the blue pastel #Fragments

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For now, my pen, all three of them actually-are at rest.

All of the writing projects are in a lull. One writing project is being reviewed at a draft level for release slated as March next year. The others being very much being paused due to a lack of mojo. I am taking a rest, as the daydreams have disappeared for a bit and  have left me to my own devices.

With that, I have been thinking about Fragments and the process of writing it. What I have been reflecting upon, is why I wrote it and the stories that are within the pages. For days, I have been thinking about what I might share about a book that I feel I had to write, wanted to write and hope that people might something out of. Three things, that are no different to how I felt when writing about my allotment and on this blog. Three very important drives when picking up a pen and committing thoughts and feelings to paper.

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‘Fragments’ is not a book full of sunshine, rainbows or butterflies. The theme of the book and that which covers all of the six stories is grief. Grief, bereavement and loss is something, that like taxes is part of our lives.

It happens to us all, but for each of us the journey that occurs is unique.

Grief, bereavement and loss are also veiled in social acceptance; talking about grief, showing how it affects us and then processing it, is all very much on the down low. It is shied away from, thought of as dark, gloomy and best dealt by alone. Grief, bereavement and loss feel spikey; we hold these things at arms length and wrinkle up our noses when faced with them.

‘Fragments’ started it’s life nine months after I experienced the loss of my  maternal grandfather. He was the last grandparent. To this day, I remember the message that my sister sent me, I remember telling my mum-the hardest thing, that I have ever had to do-and I remember leaving work, climbing into George, turning off the music, and heading off towards the A444. I remember Nana still being there and at home, whilst I went looking for saucepans and tea bags in the kitchen. I remember cursing March, as it was such a pain in the backside. There was relief when March ended, I can assure you.

Starting to write in November and much later in the year, I didn’t think about purpose, tone or audience. I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book. All I wanted to do, was write down the day dream that I was experiencing and as quick as I could on lined paper with a green biro. I had written two thirds of the first chapter, when I realised that what I was writing was important. I couldn’t give it up, and I had to go with it. There was no plan, I  had not plotted out arcs or characters. This was seat of the pants writing, and then some.

I found a notebook, a robust one; I wanted to do this properly. This daydream was far too important to ignore and at this point, I thought about planning what shape it would take.

All in all, six interwoven stories appeared on the page. I know, there are only five on the blurb. But hey, find it, open it,  and find the sixth.

There are the Anands, Christopher, Daniel, Michael, Aldo and Matthew within the pages.

The Anands are an Anglo-Indian family who lose a wife and mother. Christopher loses his dog. Daniel loses his husband, Michael and Aldo are parents bereaved. Like me, Matthew experiences the loss of a grandparent.

I have another character in the book. Marcy, a counsellor.

All of these characters, these people somehow reflect the world around me. There were times, that during the writing process they all felt real and very much three-dimensional. Figments of my imagination these characters may have been, but within the pages of Fragments their worlds are some form of reality.

Over the course of nearly two years, the six stories were developed. I must have dragged them on every adventure I went on, used bottles of ink and spent hours poring over the two notebooks that the stories would fill. There were tears, when I felt the stories so strongly and had to sit back with a cuppa to be at arms length. There were smiles when the words flowed. In writing the book, I had put my soul onto the page to go through both pleasure and pain.

When it ended, I felt a loss and not to dissimilar to that experienced by the characters.

Fragments had become a part of me, it contained so much that I thought I had dealt with. It became an act of self care-though, at times when I pushed myself to get it written, this didn’t feel the case. Writing helped me to process what my own feelings and thoughts were and I cannot find the words to convey this more clearly.

When eighty per cent of Fragments was written and Christmas 2016 drawing close, there was another family bereavement.

My pen froze.

December 2016 was painful as Aunty Indra passed away.  Again, I was cursing the month for being so awful.  I couldn’t write a single solitary thing. I don’t think I was supposed to, the universe didn’t want that to happen and at that point, I put books of any sort aside.

It was an interesting book-end. Fragments started with a death, it was finishing with a death.

Time had to pass and grief had to be processed before I could pick up  my pen again. When I did and at the end of January, Fragments was ready to resume its course.

It wasn’t just the writing that was therapeutic. Making the cover was also important to me. Whilst I had the title of the book, nothing felt right when it came to the cover. So much so, I fancied getting creative. In already having a stash for colouring, I knew that I had soft pastels somewhere. I used these to create three different pieces. All blue; blue felt right for this book and I went with it. Playing with sugar paper and soft pastels was rather interesting! What I couldn’t then do, was decide which one would be the cover and the options went to a public vote via social media. I gave no clue as to what the image was for or what the content of book was.  In then end, ‘Fabric of the universe’ won and became the book cover.

Recently, when learning about grief and bereavement during my counselling diploma, Fragments took on another dimension. I saw the book, the themes from a different perspective and as being even more real One hell of a light bulb moment occurred, and writing the book felt even more important.

I opened with saying that my pens are at rest. For now, they are and until the mojo returns, that will remain the case.

Until then, I shall be smelling the roses…..

 

Every pixel is perfect

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“Just think, every sunset is perfect. You don’t sit there, and think that one corner of the sunset could be more red, that one could be more yellow. Each and every part of that sunset is perfect.”

So said a seasoned counsellor who came to speak to my counselling training group earlier in the week.

His words made perfect sense.

Think about what you are, who you are, where you are now. Think about how far you have come; stop beating yourself up and with a flamin’ big stick.

The lead image is sunshine in Dad’s back garden. Beautiful Birmingham blue from left to right, with not a single solitary cloud to be found. Today the weather is amazing, with heat that is basically tropical but with enough pollen to sink a small ship. The latter, is why I have been loitering indoors all day. I have a tendency to sneeze on loop, have streaming eyes and bogey up; it is not a pleasant experience.

To me, that is pretty damned perfect.  There is darkness and there is light. There is a whole spectrum within those pixels.

Over the last nine months, I have been undertaking the first year of a Level Four diploma in therapeutic counselling. There is another year to go, and up to this point, things have been wonderfully interesting. Things are not done yet. There is still a lot to play for.

The last year, has been one hell of a journey. The last year, is in itself a portion of a journey that started in the autumn of 2012.

Journey. That word, is key; in journeying, I have experienced highs, lows, tears, tantrums and episodes where I have thrown my hands in the air whilst wondering what the frick was going on.  There has been change in the last year. I can say and with some confidence, that I am not the same person that I was and five years ago….five years ago.

Flip me.

Five years ago this month, I had just finished a level two course. It would be July 2015 before I finished level three,the A-level equivalent that built on the first instalment and reminded me of how hard A-levels had been the first time around. Then came Level Three, job changes and all sorts; I started to write the gardening books and the plot was my bolt hole, my sanctuary. With a year out,  there was volunteering and using of all the skills that I had gained. I didn’t want what I gained to rust, ebb away having worked really hard.  I always had Level Four on my agenda; me being me, I like to do things in order, when I am generally supposed to and focus my attention. Waiting for level 4 felt painful at the time, but I know now that this was important, it helped me to grow and quite literally with the plot at times!

When it came to starting diploma, there was excitement; I wanted to do this, I had waited what felt like an age and it was really important to me. This was the next phase in my development and my own growth. I knew it would be hard.

Sort of.

I harked back to my university days-it is ten years since I graduated from Aston-and this did hang around in my world. This diploma however, a person centred experiential course, was different. This was not just about my brain. This was about my sense of being, my self, who I am and what I am built from.

This, dear readers, was about me being taken apart and being put together.

Anyone who has trained to be a counsellor, will tell you that the training is hard. It is unlike anything that you have ever done; that this, is a journey.

See, that word again.

That is not the word, that resonates the most and for me.

It is certainly the umbrella term. What gets me the most?

Obliteration.

So far, has done something of a number on me. I have experienced being broken up, battered, bruised and on so many levels. I have felt like a human lego house, with lots of lights being shone on me and smashed to pieces as I pick up lego bricks to start rebuilding.

Oh, and rainbows. The lego house is full of rainbows.  I have found so many different shades to myself and really seen first hand the person centred approach.

When not a smashed up lego house, I have been in the default mode of Knight in dented armour running around with a quiver of roses. In recognising this is my default mode, I have recognised all the dents. I have recognised, that there is armour; some of which is welded on, some of which comes off and is put on as and when.

This first year has been something of a tornado at times. The first term, I was trying to find my feet; there was a significant bereavement that shook the boughs of my figurative trees and really hurt. I was also caught up with fragments, beating myself up with a huge great big imaginary stick, and not really looking after myself. The plot suffered, and my sanctuary felt so far away. It didn’t help, that the winter was in place and the plot was feeling it. In the second term, the middle term I realised why my stress response was and really was a knight standing in the middle of a tornado. I couldn’t connect with the plot, and I felt as though it was so empty and unworked. Term three, the summer term saw buds and blossom.

It has only been in the last two weeks that I have found my zing again.

What I have  also found, is me.

And it’s done yet.

I have experienced how counselling and gardening are both about growth. Both are about seeds, developing, growth and being nurtured.

Carl Rogers spoke about potatoes in the basement; that has been so central to the last year, and I can say that now having not thought about it at the time.

Thinking about that picture at the top, I thinking about where I am now. I am thinking about how far I have travelled this year, over the last five years. That time, is a spectrum of so many things, so many different shades of blue, of dark and of light.  There have been good times, bad times, success and failures. I have been through all sorts, and that makes me who I am.

I might be a knight in dented armour,and holding a shield of rainbows with quiver of roses. But I am me, and I would not be anyone else.

Roses and rainbrows take time. Roses are prickly but pretty, they take time to establish and pay dividends. Rainbows come after a storm.

Both, are about hope.

I like hope.

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Hitting the books as winter falls

As the wind chills, winter descends and advent becomes under way; the time spent on the allotment gets less and less. I might potter down then, and do the odd tidy. But with darkness after school, I spent the short amount of time I do use, on the weekends. That means the evenings after work comprise of box sets and reading books.Whilst I have a small library of books-it used to be bigger, but those books that i hadn’t read in five years were donated to a college-I know have an e-reader. This means mama h doesn’t complain about the space they take up, and I can have hundreds to choose forom.

Last night after counselling class last night, I finally got around to around to finishing off http://www.amazon.co.uk/Counselling-Toads-Psychological-Robert-Board-ebook/dp/B000FA622A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417629626&sr=1-1&keywords=counselling+for+toads I had started this last year, when the level 2 counselling class had spoken about Transactional Analysis. I was somewhat stumped about it, transactional analysis, at the time and was last night when the class covered it again. Serves me right,I should have perhaps read something about it. Anyway, last night, class finished early so I decided to try again, and went back to the beginning. I’m glad I did. I always find it difficult to resume from a stuck point. The book is a quick read, but then i do tend to quick read. Very simple, straight forward, and the mechanics of counselling, from a person centred approach were there. For instance, the contract setting and the theory were very familiar. I found that useful, a way of hanging my hat on something. It didn’t feel alien. Plus transactional analysis was explained really well. Having toad and the rest of the wind in the willows cast was really useful. Though I do dislike Ratty, and a lot.

But some books are just not that easy. I am stuck on ‘P for Peril’ by Sue Grafton. Half way, and perhaps it is just my brain not wanting to negotiate it. I like reading novels in a series. If Shardlake ever ends, I am likely to be heart broken. I started at ‘A for Alibi’ and would like to make it all the way through to the end. I am currently waiting for the e-reader to charge, and I am going to try and make it towards the end of the novel. Still have a couple of phillipa gregory’s ‘Cousin’s war’ series to go. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with that series, actually. Tudor court was much better in comparison. Failed miserably with ‘Wolf Hall/Bring up the bodies’. Not sure how that has won awards or become a huge theatre show.

Have yet to finish all Fleming’s Bond novels. Not too sure, if the non-canon books are going to make it onto my list of reads.

So much read on the e-reader, not a single gardening book though.

#NaBloPoMO: Never stop learning

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When I am not playing on the plot or teaching, I am also a student. This summer I became a trained Listener having completed a Level 2 counselling skills course. At level 2 this was a GCSE equivalent course.

With the start of the autumn term I have started a level 3 counselling studies course. This is A level equivalent and it definitely more challenging. The workload is definitely heavier. There is more theory involved and the skills are certainly more complex. Today I have been looking at the Ethical framework that all members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy have to adhere to. One way to pass the time on the train, doing course work!

This course will not qualify my to be a Counselor, but will set me on the road to being a counsellor in training. I would one day like to marry this up with my love of allotmenteering.

The process is all something of journey and there is nothin so surprising as fellow human beings.