Tag Archives: mental health

Season’s end: A reflective review #gdnbloggers

2017 started with chaos and carnage. My poly tunnel fell victim to unseasonably strong gusts and was rendered kaput. Still hasn’t been fixed.

In real life, I was one third of the way through the first year of a level four counselling diploma, there had been a family bereavement and this combined with a self imposed writing/publishing deadline and increased hours at work.

There were a lot of variables that all combined and made going to the allotment more challenging. This has not felt like a productive year; this has felt like a duff year, with nothing quite coming off as it should.

I did sow seeds, these became seedlings and I split them all with my mum for her plot. It all however felt very cumbersome, as though the universe and I were embroiled in some kind of psychological and physiological tug of war that defied the laws of physics to make time turn to grains of sand.

There simply wasn’t enough time or me to go around. I was focusing on the diploma and it’s process of transformation-still going, now in the second year-writing was and in there someplace, there are projects in the pipeline, some more immediate than others, I have decided not load my writing plate. Then there is the real job, the teaching job that I do three days a week; this ebbs, flows and keeps me going in a straight line.

What I have missed, what my brain and body have needed but not had, is the allotment. And Zumba, but this is another story.

Somewhere in there, is my allotment. My little piece of England, my eden, my demi paradise.

It doesn’t look so pretty, now does it?

If you’d been neglected, unloved and not had your potential actualised, I daresay that is what you might look like.

Over the summer, I did get asked, ‘Punam, what you doing, do you want me strimmer?’

As you might remember, I spent summer doing nothing. I was feeling very spent, as though my figurative lego bricks had been smashed to smithereens and I was trying to put myself back together again. I am still trying to do that!

tngbridge

I am trying to resume course in the Captain’s chair to be in charge of my own figurative starship.

This includes the allotment.

At the moment, it looks awful; completely and utter derelict, it’s not in the best shape. I guess that reflects me, and the experience that I have had over the last nine months.

I haven’t been listening to myself as much as I should have, and this summer was about resting and taking the best care of myself that I could. My actualising tendency had been battered, bruised and broken in some part. The allotment is choking with bindweed, the raised beds need tidying up and the whole allotment needs to be rebuilt from scratch.

A lot like me, I guess.

The allotment is sizeable, 200 sq metres. It’s got its own micro-cosm, does what it wants, prefers to be negotiated with rather than told what it should do; it has a thing about experimenting, trying it’s best and doing what it can do, rather than what it can’t. It would rather have a go, learn it’s lessons and move on to do what makes it happy.

Remind you of anyone?

As the seasons change, and autumn arrives, my thoughts are still about rest, rejuvenation, about taking stock. In the autumn and winter, we have the natural cycle of things bearing fruit to then reaching the natural end. The allotment may not have done much this year, but it is now time for it to rest and recuperate. I have lots of tidying to do, and with foliage dying back, perhaps that will be easier to do.

That 200 sq metres does look intimidating. I do feel an overwhelming urge of ‘how the flip do I tidy you up, where am I meant to start, and do I have enough hours for you?’

I’m not giving it up, that’s for sure. I have no plans to walk about from this allotment plot. What I need to do, reconfigure things. Take one corner at a time, do one job at a time.

There is no rush.

Well, there might be, when the allotment secretary sends me a warning. He’s been pretty nice about it so far, given how there was some productivity.

There won’t be any breakage of the laws of physics; that never helped anyone, not Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek Captains or Buffy and Angel.

We’ll get there.

Hopefully.

 

Eight years on #gdnbloggers

petalcoastercard

Eight years ago, I was coming to the end of my initial teacher training; the PGCE was over and I was looking to the future. I had also started to do an experiment.

During that final summer time, I wasn’t feeling particularly positive. I had no idea whether I would make it through the course, my morale was very low and I wondered whether the vocation that I felt was just a whisper on the wind that I had misunderstood. For some daft reason, I threw aside the applications for NQT posts having been sat in the garden trying to fill them in in the sunshine. I took the bus to the High street, went into Wilko’s and came out with seeds and pots.

I really fancied sowing those seeds, and how difficult could it be to sow a tomato, a chilli and why not throw a runner bean into a pot. See what happens. A few weeks later, I was in a gardening store, and I saw a crate of onion and shallot sets. There were far too many for me, so I sunk some into the garden-my parent’s garden-and gave away the rest to a neighbour.

Watching seedlings come through-the summer of 2009 was freakishly warm-and then having chillies and tomatoes growing lusciously and then cropping, was something of a marvel to behold.

As the summer drew to end, my sweet peppers were damp but productive; something had clicked, changed; I found that I rather enjoyed sowing seeds, watching them grow, and you know, those four courgettes a week did come rather handy in Mum’s kitchen. I thought about expanding the science experiment-that is in essence what it was-and to be fair, Dad was thought there were a lot of plastics pots lining his garden.

I knew that there were allotments in the area, the neighbour who I had palmed off onions too, he told me about them. Off I went to a search engine to investigate.

What he didn’t tell me, and it was only after I called the allotment secretary as listed on the local authority information, that I found that the onion neighbour were the one and the same. I know, daftness. I put my name on the list, I wanted an allotment.

 

 

I had already been documenting my seeds sowing; by writing things down, I used another website. Horticultural Hobbit was born, there was a growing-literally-body of work. I even asked a good friend of mine, to give the name a face, give the name a face. He took one look at me, and came up with the figure holding carrots. The figure that we now know as Petal. I was adamant. that this would be my alter ego, that the allotment in the shadow of the Shire Country park and Sarehole mill would be a good record of my growing adventures.

By November, I was renting half an allotment plot. This was now about allotment adventures.  It took two weeks to clear it, and to get cracking. There was half a plan-sketched out-as to what I wanted to do, what I wanted to achieve. This was going to be anything but easy.

Put quite simply, I didn’t have a clue. What I was doing, how I planned to do it, was a bit of a haze. What I did next was to join an online forum, I had questions needed answers. This was by far one the best things I could have ever done. To have joined a community of like minded people, from whom I could learn,  use as a sounding board and also pass on the benefits of my mistakes.

What followed was growth, development and further scientific enquiry.

Growth. Development and a journey. A journey, that is on going and to this day.

There have been peaks and there have been troughs. That’s a lot of tomatoes, more courgettes that you can shake a stick at. There have been weeds galore-current, state of play, by the way-and storm damage, sometimes not enough time in the life space continuum; everything has ebbed and flowed.

 

 

It is impossible for me sum up in this post every triumph and disaster, every seed sown and harvest made. Plus you can find it all in the archives. All in all, a journey is documented and is shared.

Sowing seeds and then writing about it has had benefits that I could not have possibly for seen. I remain a teacher, although my jobs have varied since that summer of 2009. There have been a few posts, where I have been able to use gardening to support students; at one point, I grew chillies in a classroom. The plan is to continue with the vocation.  I have become a trained listener, started to train as a counsellor, as the impact of gardening on my own mental health has encouraged me to consider how the mental health of others could be supported. In particular, work carried out with veterans, mental health and gardening really struck a cord and led to the development of the Pledge for Warriors.

Then there was the writing outside of the blog. I was able to write guest blogs with the support of Michael Perry and this tipped something of a balance.  I felt that this was really positive step forward and helped to move within the blogging and gardening community. Plus, there was the whole ‘bollywood gardener’ hashtag, I couldn’t tell you how that came about, but I am grateful for Michael coining it and I am keeping it! Plus, I remember swooning and almost keeling over when termed as being gardening royalty…that is a dream that I will continue to keep a hold of as motivation to persevere.

I am still trying to be a part of that community, but what this did was edge me towards writing a book. I looked at the guest blogs that I had written, and had a gut reaction. Two years ago, in something of a haze I sent my youngest sister a text message; I was going to write a gardening book based upon the blog.

“Okay, good luck,” she said. “Do what you want.”

I did.

There was definitely a haze, and I did write that book. I wrote two. Now, they might not be Pulitzers, and you won’t find them on The Times 100 Best seller lists any time soon. But they are my books, and I am very glad to have written them both. They are not perfect, I don’t pretend to be perfect in anyway; I have however, learned from the processes and there is further development, dare I say it, growth. Writing the two gardening books led me to the Indie authors community and has set me onto another, additional pathway. A pathway towards fiction, towards writing in another direction.  I wrote ‘Fragment’s and that couldn’t have been more different to Plant pot tales and so grow eat. This writing journey continues, and there is a release scheduled Spring 2018. As for a return to gardening books, maybe; there are plans.

allrangetwo

Then there was the swag, the merchandise that the figure holding carrots-Petal-was emblazoned upon. Petal, who gave her name to Petal’s Potted Preserve, and was far more than the Orticultural Obbit; far more than just my alter ego. There have been lots of bits and pieces-through trial and error-that have been developed, shared and have actually gone to loving homes. A good sign, I guess, of how much this blog, the process of gardening and growth has changed as there is now also a Petal shop.

Petal is something that I believe in, that I enjoy developing. She is a brand. A brand that is diverse, growing and hoping to get bigger, better and stronger. There are many different facets to Petal, the Orticultural Obbit and her Potted Preserve. To date, I have have uncovered just a few. The plan remains to keep searching, to keep growing and developing.

It truly has been an interesting eight years.

 

Magic Squares and Chillies #gdnbloggers

The chillies have had something of a spurt; with the low light levels and lack of direct heat, they have become leggy. When leggy, seedlings stretch towards a source of heat and light, stretching upwards and being at risk of keeling over. This can be quite disheartening when you really want seedlings to grow.

Of the forty something seeds grown-scotch bonnet yellow, purple haze, cayenne, jalapeno and purple haze-we have approximately 15 seedlings that are some wiry, tall and gangly. I would rather they didn’t keel over. so I have decided to pot them up today. Using multi-purpose compost and some 7cm pots, chillies are being made a little more comfortable.

 

You can also find the video here

For me, this is the first transplanting. There may be another pot change, before they end up in their final pots in a at least three months time-ish. After that, any surviving plants will live-hopefully-in the poly tunnel. As you can imagine, this is something of a lengthy process, and we are only at the very start of the growing season.

Currently. the weather-in Britain, at least-is fairly hit and miss; it is cold outside. I, like many other Britons, scraped frost off the car windscreen this morning. This directly impacts upon all the tiny, dainty seedlings that might have already taken up space upon the window sill. I am keeping my chilli seedling away from the window pane. They will still get light, they-hopefully-will have some protection against the drop in night time temperatures.

With the heated prop empty, I have sown an emergency batch of about a dozen cayennes; it all felt a little thin on the ground. I shall monitor these over the next week to see what happens with them

So, seeds have been sown, they have germinated and grown. I like that feeling of new beginnings, as we look forward to the new growing season. I have written before, that allotmenteering and GYO both impact upon mental health; for me, that is really important. Least of all, because I teach about it, I am a trained listener and currently enrolled on a Diploma for Humanistic Counselling; the plot has a profound effect on me, my wholeness and the way I view the world. It all helps me to obtain mindfulness and improves my mental health.

You may have seen that I rather like colouring. I also knit.

Couldn’t be more different from gardening, could it?

For the last year, a knitting project has been on pause.

blankettwo.jpg

With the chillies adjusting to their new pots, I quite fancy a couple of hours revisiting knit one, purl one.

 

blanketone.JPG

Spicing up #Bluemonday #Gdnbloggers

Apparently it’s blue Monday; the one day of the year that is really quite miserable and not so nice to experience. I guess there will be many for whom, today is awful and there may not be much sunshine to light gloomy clouds. I am currently sat here, working on diploma work as School Work Sunday slides into Monday; but I did find something to take away the tinge of Monday blues.

fourchillies

“Punam, I saw some leaves in your box.”

Those were Mama F’s exact words this morning as I tumbled out of bed. (School work Sunday was really  quite intense, and topped off by the Sherlock Finale, I felt as though I had watched a penalty shoot out this morning. Yes, we do like Sherlock…cute, clever-one hell of  brain-and completely unobtainable. He makes a good book boyfriend!)

Having been told that there were leaves in my box, naturally I had to go find out what the deal was. I have fished them out and set them onto the window in food bags.  I am keeping a close eye on them, so that they don’t keel over. The danger lies in them becoming leggy with a lack of light. I think I have officially ruled out any yellow scotch bonnets appearing, as well as Nigel’s outdoor chilli.

Oh, there was a video! Hold on….

That was uploaded yesterday, onto the youtube channel, hopefully it will develop in the coming year.

Anyway. This blue monday business. If you are feeling blue, then I am sending you sunshine. I am also hoping, that someone might send you a text, make you a cuppa, or send you a smile and hug. You are not alone; even when the darkness feels heavy and as though it will not lift, there is always something. That something is you.

You are never alone.

 

Here.

Gardening and Mental Health #gdnbloggers

That is me, and I am standing on my allotment plot. An allotment plot that I call the sukh-Shaanti Garden. Loosely translated this name means happiness/joy and peace. I deliberately chose that name as that is what I hoped to gain from my allotment. Given how my life can get busy with school, volunteering and study; trying to find sukh shaanti can sometimes be entirely necessary.

It is also reflection upon on how the allotment feeds into my mental health.

Seven year sago, I finished my initial teacher training and was about to be come a newly qualified teacher (even after your PGCE you still have to do another year of in school development). Only, I wasn’t feeling particularly positive about the process; the end of the academic year was nigh, I was feeling rather stressed with no job and not sure as to how I had made it through the course in one piece. One day, after getting fed up of having filled in yet another application form, I threw aside my CV and thought sod it; I want to do something that doesn’t stress me out, is something of a experiment, and might have a positive end result.

What did I do?

I went to Wilko’s, picked up some seeds, compost and some labels.

I decided to sow those seeds-in May, somewhere around a bank holiday-chillies, tomatoes runner beans. These were sat outside-I knew very little then-put back in side, to and fro; there was a lot of researching that happened; before there were a series of pots lining Dad’s garden. I was determined to make a success of this experiment and needed it to get a balance.

The seeds germinated, became plants; these flowered and cropped.

We had chillies! Not to mention tomatoes, runner beans, I forgot to say about courgettes. I had managed to grow things.

Plus, I didn’t feel quite so stressed out. There seemed to be a bit of balance, focus, and also some positivity. I wanted to teach, I would get a job and do what I trained to do; the gardening was useful; very useful.

That was the first time that I realised that gardening was good for you. In the  very least, it gave you hope, focus, something to achieve. There was one big change in my mental health as the summer term ended(finished my PGCE-woo-hoo!), I had a few bits of employment as the winter drew in.  I had also developed more than an interest, I now fancied having an allotment. After all, go big or go home, that was the motivation.

And so the allotment came along-or rather, I found it, and put myself on the waiting list and waited till November. Plot 2A was mine, it was my sukh-shaanti garden. It’s been mine ever since, and  has also grown a little.

It is only now with hindsight, that I can see how having an allotment and growing seeds in dad’s back garden all seemed to make sense. Least of all because what I had sown and grown was used by Mum in the kitchen. The effect of the allotment upon my mental health never ceases to amaze me.

See that second picture of me, with the roses? Well, if grow such beautiful things,you just have to hug them and be proud of them.

There have been times when teaching and studying has rather frazzled me; yet taking a walk down to the plot with my wellingtons on and clutching a cup of tea has helped rub away low mood and anxiety. I do believe in the effect and with that, aimed to share the idea. Last year, I carried out a workshop at the Annual Conference of  the Association of Teachers of Psychology where I presented how gardening and horticulture had a positive physical and psychological effects that could be used within teaching and learning. The workshop started off with delegates colouring garden related images and ended with everyone sowing sunflowers. I was also able to raise seeds for all 200 delegates to have an envelope of sunflowers to carry out some mindfulness/gardening therapy themselves. I was really glad to hear that some colleagues had actually sown sunflowers and were reporting back success.

With Mental Health now becoming more and more present in the public consciousness, this also lends itself to the deeper integration of gardening and horticulture as strategies to support mental health concerns. Charities such as Thrive already offer horticulture based support. Gardening Leave, a charity that is sadly no longer running, used to support Veterans using horticulture.  MIND has also carried out significant work and helped to influence policy making.There is clear evidence of how gardening-just pottering-as well as therapeutic horticulture can have a positive impact upon individuals who are experiencing mental health concerns. In cases where there have been communal allotment plots used by groups, there is increased interaction with client groups reporting reductions in instances of low mood. They have felt valued and part of a community; they have improved social and emotional statuses. The effect of gardening and horticulture has been both positive and therapeutic.

Note that I have deliberately used the word ‘concerns’. Using the word ‘problem’ rather raises my hackles and I feel it only contributes to the continued stigmatisation of Mental Health concerns.

As an allotmenteer, I can safely say that gardening is a good strategy in supporting my own mental health. It was a deliberate choice to also include it when writing the first book; there needs to be a better awareness of both mental health and strategies to help those experiencing concern.

I do however have a few other hats. As a Teacher of Psychology, I am only to aware that the students in my classroom, may be experiencing mental health concerns or supporting someone with mental health concerns. As a trainee counsellor being aware is just as crucial. Mental Health permeates through every day life; with every one and every where.

There are of course many mental health concerns; from mild anxiety, depression to severe psychosis. Gardening and horticulture may not be suitable for all aspects of these concerns, but it can certainly contribute to management of some signs and symptoms. I will continue to reflect upon gardening and mental health; for me personally, it has been valuable beyond words.

Piece of Mind: Mental Health Awareness#MHAW 2016

Yesterday  saw the start of Mental Health week 2016.It is also, funnily enough, National Tomato week.

At first glance, those sentences couldn’t be less connected. It might cause you to question how the humble tomato might link to Mental health.

And if it does. Good.

That question is well worth considering.

I like gardening, I like tending to my allotment; I also happen to have an interest in Mental health. Over the last few years, the two have become somewhat linked.

By trade, I am teacher of Social Sciences; my specialism is Psychology. I have been teaching for a number of years, about the science of the human mind, our brains and behaviour. In doing so, I have be able to reflect beyond the visible and easy to see Physical health. My experience has informed me that whilst the medical model is heavily entrenched in what we can see, there are concerns that exist even though we cannot see physical signs or symptoms.

Not only do I teach, I have become a trained listener, I support survivors of abuse and also have an interest in supporting veterans of conflict. Mental health is a concept that somehow has managed to feed through all of those areas in one shape or form.

Being on the allotment, is something I enjoy. There may well be the odd tantrum when things don’t germinate, or the plot gets waterlogged. These things happen; but the plot also serves to have a rather positive impact upon both my physical and mental health. Physically, I will know about it if I have been digging or dragging my wheelbarrow around. There is a great deal of activity to be done on the plot. Mentally, the plot has a number of functions. In the first instance, there is a sense of mindfulness. Being able to stop, pause, take stock. To think about the here and now. Second, you find yourself thinking of other things rather than marking, planning lessons or trying to work out how you might have changed a lesson. Third, you get to experience mud beneath your finger nails in connecting with the world. Fourth, you realize that sowing seeds and seeing them germinate does rather make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Yet the merest mention of Mental health and the subsequent response is anything but warm and fuzzy. There is still alot of stigma, negative attitudes, and a disparity on a national scale as to the support available to those who experience mental health concerns. In the last eighteen months, I have noticed there have been attempts to shift the perception of mental health. A number of organisations have made strides towards an increased awareness. Even the venerable Stephen Fry tried to remove the use of  the stock ‘head clutcher’ image so very often used to accompany the words mental health.  Mental  health has started to come to the fore in the media, and people are talking about it. People are sharing their experiences, their journeys and making incredible first steps in helping Mental Health be placed firmly in the public consciousness.

Only in the last few days, I have seen the ‘Campaign against Living Miserably’. Prior to that, there was Professor Green’s documentary about how the increasing number of men committing suicide. The mental health of children and adolescents has also become a talking point. There is something definitely in the water.

As a teacher, I am mindful of a number of things. The students that I work with, may well be experiencing mental health concerns; they may know of someone who is experiencing mental health concerns, they may have questions in general about mental health. Fortunately, I am able to listen and signpost if necessary. I am more than willing to offer support. Sadly that is not always the case, and there are unfortunately, communities out there, where Mental health isn’t spoken about. If it is spoken about, it is discussed in hushed tones, behind closed doors and with people surreptitiously looking out for the Joneses and Patel’s lest they hear something. The mere sight, sound and feel of mental health concern elicits a shaking of the head, a tut, and a ‘pull yourself together’, and further makes a difficult situation even more challenging.

I mentioned the fact that it is National tomato week. This is a nod to how over the last few years the activities within therapeutic horticulture (or horticultural therapy depending on where you are) have contributed a great deal to supporting individuals with mental health concerns. The charity MIND was very successful in using activities and being able to measure the level of impact. Thrive is another example of work carried out to positive effect.

For me personally, having an allotment and tending to it, has been a really very positive experience. Beyond the lack of germination, the odd slug attacked cabbage, I firmly believe that my outlook, my mental health has been positively influenced. For example, when you have marked two dozen essays, are seeing stars; seeing the roses that you planted in full blossom is always going to gladden the soul.

So why not smell the roses? Why not, during Mental Health Awareness Week, sow a sunflower, sink some runner beans, try and sow some lupins or maybe you fancy growing your own Dahlias? You never know.

Beyond that; if you are experiencing mental health concerns, then you are not alone. There is support, talk, have a chat.

And if you know of someone who is experiencing mental health concerns. Listen. You’d be surprised just how much that helps.

 

 

Gardening and Mental health…another article

This particular article has been doing the rounds for the last few days on social Media. Whilst it is written by one of the more *interesting* of British Newspapers, it does raise some interesting points. Especially as the gardeners of Britain count down for the arrival of Spring and are able to once more get their green fingers dirty.

In the first instance, I will caveat things by saying don’t be fooled by the sample size mentioned at the end of the article. 112 participants does not make for a generalisable sample. I am also curious about the nature of being ‘stressed out’ as it is termed. There is no comment as to how that has been operationalised and doesn’t mention any form of mental health concerns that may exist in that sample. The research is prefaced by examples and anecdotal evidence involving different situations. I am however wary of the scientific process behind this article and how the article may be interpreted. The perils, I guess, of being a teacher of Psychology with horticultural tendencies. I am likely to consider the research methods used to question the scientific rigour that is being presented.

That said, I do believe that gardening has a positive effect on Mental health and well being. Both on personal level and also on wider level when groups in society feel the positive impact of being involved in green spaces. There was until recently a charity in Scotland-Gardening leave- who used horticultural therapy to support veteran of conflict and did it very successfully from what I have read. Sadly, funding became an issue, and the charity had to close down operations. Then there is Thrive who also use horticulture as therapeutic medium.

gleave
Spring summer 2015

 

It is a shame that gardening and horticultural therapy (also called therapeutic horticulture, yes, I know, the terms are used interchangeably) occurs, but doesn’t get the wider publicity that is deserves in order to get momentum and become wider spread. There have been initiatives, such as the one run by MIND , a few years ago and these were successful. So much so, that the results of influenced public policy. I feel really very strongly about it, having worked in a number of posts where school gardening clubs have helped support learners. Some of which, were vulnerable or have had mental health concerns. It also saddened me that Gardening Leave had to close it’s doors, and my immediate hope what that the veterans that they supported would have appropriate support systems put in place. With the value and implementation of gardening and horticultural therapy being so limited, I consciously wrote about the positive effects in #plantpottales. It is not necessary to have a huge great big allotment to see the benefits, containers in a garden or a kitchen window sill would just as positive and just as useful.

I will continue to talk about the positive effects of gardening on mental health. All being well, someone might actually hear me and listen.

Colouring for grown ups: Psychology with horticultural tendencies

Being a teacher of Psychology with horticultural tendencies, when those two worlds collide, my ears tend to prick up. Last month, I was part of the Annual conference of Teachers of Psychology and delivered a workshop about mental health and the use of horticultural/eco-therapy. The focus was on how teachers might use gardening as a means to improve their mental health. Whatever way you might argue the toss, teaching is by far one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. After six years as an educator of sorts, I can safely say that such a statement is true.

On that Sunday morning, I was very fortunate that a lovely group of delegates attended. I had been pacing up and down for a good few weeks before hand, hoping that they would! And the first thing that we did, was a spot of colouring.

It started out as being something innocuous, I’d come across a colouring book called ‘Glorious Gardens’; a colouring book for adults. I picked  it up, this was going into my workshop. I would even have crayons. The delegates liked it, they rather enjoyed the colouring book and it dovetailed into the theme of the workshop.

What I didn’t realise is that I was jumping onto a bandwagon that was already rolling. I was holding onto the bumper as it went past me.

There was even a BBC news report.

Colouring is a big thing! Whilst we think that this is an activity for children, there are actually no explicit rules that suggest that adults shouldn’t do it. Perhaps we grow into adults and find other more pressing things to occupy our time.

Needless to say, I have jumped on the bandwagon. There is research evidence out there, that suggests a link to mental health, positive psychology and mindfulness. I am, of course, going to be a little biased, being a Psychology teacher. It does make sense to me, and there are cases where older adults with vascular dementias are supported with the use of colouring.

In the report above, a lady name Johanna Basford is mentioned. One of her books is in the gallery above is her, as well the ‘Glorious Gardens’ one.

You might assume that colouring is simple. How many of us have seen children pick up a crayon and colour with their colouring books? Their grip may vary developmentally from spear to pincer as they grow, and their colouring space will be larger for visuo-spatial recognition Makes sense to me, and it’s very difficult for most children to stay within the lines. It’s difficult as an adult too, I assure you. Both of the books are very intricate in places. I also didn’t have the best quality pencils or crayons, and I rather like the idea of felt tips and fine liners. As an adult, there is precision.

In the last week, I have been very fortunate to have made windows to colour. I quite like. I did find it difficult to let go of the rules that we as adults use to guide our lives. We all have schema, social scripts, that allow us to negotiate the world around us. Rules and regulations that govern what we do, how and to an extent, why.

Only in a colouring book, would you therefore have blue flowers and blue leaves. The closest blue plant I have, is a lilac rose, and not remotely blue as we would expect. Even then, I was thinking about the flowers and colours on the plot. Seeing things in a context, so as to make sense is fairly useful.

The process does take a bit of focus and a lack of it at the same time. On one hand, you are trying to colour, stay within the lines. On the other, you can clear your mind. Things that would ordinarily clog up your mind, dissipate away. Something rather useful, given how mental health is becoming more and more visible in the public forum.

I like the colouring, I really do. Try it. You’ll never look at your eyeliner in quite the same way again.

…since not everyone is going to have felt tips in their handbags.

#NABLOPOMO: Psychology Sunflower Challenge @theatp

As you are aware, I have sown sunflowers to see if these impact on the mental health of teachers. At this stage, my sunflowers aren’t doing too badly. I did worry when we had the horrible frost the night before last. They are still there, I had to check today!

Getting taller, they are chomping at the bit. I don’t think it will be long before I have to transplant them onto the plot. I did sow some additional ones about a week ago, and as they are quick growers, three babies were already potted up. I am hoping that the one sat by the window, does revive. It was in danger of snapping and keeling over. Perhaps when it is a bit more sure footed, it will return to it’s class mates.

Update: Psychology Sunflower Challenge 2015

As you are aware I am trying to start a Psychology Sunflower Challenge.

baby sunlflowers
baby sunlflowers

About two dozen seeds were started off in damp jiffy pellets, and made quite rapid progress. In my experience, they do grow very quickly, and you do end up potting them up quite rapidly.

update260315

The seedling babies were growing quite quickly on the window sill, so did need to be potted up. Otherwise they get leggy, bend, and keel over. Cue emergency pot up. As you can see above, they have placed into small pots and are on their first baby leaves with the true leaves just about to sprout. These are greedy, sun loving creatures. So they do need warmth, light, and for now, water. The compost is full of nutrients for the next six weeks. By which time, it will be necessary to harden them off, having possible put them into bigger pots. They will need to be protected if there is a sharp drop in temperature and a frost.

I have sown two varieties here. These are sunburst, which get to about five tall, and giant sunflowers, which are something even taller and with multiple flowers.

Hopefully these will all continue to thrive and survive. Will hopefully sow a few more and encourage more pollinators on the plot.

If you have sown some sunflowers, then please let me know. Would be lovely to see what is happening  ^_^