Celebrating times gone by, as we simultaneously enjoy what is currently happening, is the fine balance that this group is often blessed to find during our discussions and reflections. The current brighter, warmer days have admittedly helped create this balance as we ponder on past summer memories and associations!
I was certainly left feeling uplifted by hearing the sunny memories the group shared. What stood out for me was the mention of adventures in mountains, laughter shared with friends and family, the rituals of regular holidays, cricket games, sunburn stories, ice creams under endless blue skies and simple but delicious picnics. I hope you enjoy these stories too. Please comment below with memories of your own!
Recently, our group has reached out to the wider community and formed new connections across the generations. Part of this has involved a joyful exchange. We shared our blog post on our much-loved toys and games with a class of Year 5 pupils at Chorlton Primary School and then, after reading our memories, the children wrote back to thank us and tell us about their favourite toys and activities. Read on to see what they shared.
Recently, some brighter days inspired the group to meet outdoors at the Tea Hive in Chorlton. It was a real treat and we had a very lovely get together – the first in-person one since lockdown! Many members had not met each other in person before and we laughed in surprise about the fact we had bodies below the shoulders and heads we had got so used to seeing on screen.
We shared tea, coffee and some lovely cake whilst getting to know each other in 3D again. We also spent some time reflecting on our experience of the group and ideas of what to do next. Watch the video below to see the uplifting feedback. Alternatively, read the quotes separately below if that works better for you.
“I enjoy the opportunity to speak and connect with others.”
“As we get older, it can often get treated as important or having worth but this group helps us participants feel valued and purposeful.”
“Listening to people as we do, shows that ordinary people have fascinating lives, even when they might think they don’t! This also then reminds me to value myself too; realise that I have had an interesting life also.”
“The group is warm, inclusive, friendly, encouraging and HAPPY!”
“You can get as much or as little out of the group as you like. You can use it as an opportunity to simply tell and hear stories or you can write something up inspired by the storytelling.”
“We are in unprecedented times. The best way to break the cycle of uncertainty and worry is by connecting, creating community and sharing with others is good for everyone involved.”
“The group is a chance to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise. It is a diverse group, very intergenerational and we have great, often surprising, conversations. “
“I like having an incentive to write on a regular basis and I also enjoy the sharing of memories on a topic, how they are sometimes similar and sometimes so very different.”
“This is good place to improve writing and storytelling skills and also a good place to talk and manage mental health conditions like anxiety.”
“You could just come and listen first or read the story book to get a feel for the group. Or jump straight in a share some memories with us all during a session!”
When I heard this topic suggested by Anne and Alberto, I was intrigued and also not sure how I might go about presenting it to the group. Where to start? Storytelling has come to mean such a lot of things!
My first thoughts had me reflecting on the heritage of oral storytelling, particularly the variety of traditional stories we grow up with. I also started thinking about people I know who are great at the skill of telling a spoken story. Then my mind jumped to how all modern entertainment, including films, games, t.v. and adverts all use storytelling to deliver a message or way of seeing the world. Finally, I found myself pondering the many ways that psychologically, spiritually and culturally, we tell ourselves stories all the time, about who we are, where we come from and what the meaning of this often confusing thing called life is.
I had no clue how to weave these thoughts and more into a brief intro. Instead I chose to start the session with the beginning of a poem called The Storyteller by Mike Jones. I followed this with a couple of simple questions, trusting that the group would perform its usual magic and inspire each other and me into deeper reflections which we could then connect through. The following blog is a testament to the group’s magic which I was right to trust, what great storytellers they all are and how yes, I am truly grateful to know them.
Listening to the group this week as they recalled their tales of childhood toys and games, I was struck by how important and impactful play really is. Amongst other things, it has brought us joy, connection, freedom, learning, imagination and many precious memories.
I heard of stories of objects that are long lost, but still wistfully longed for, games where play became a serious business, the creation of quirky characters and whole inner worlds as well as daring deeds of daftness/ bravery (depending on how you look at it).
With every snippet of story shared, I found myself going back into my own past and reliving happy, exhilarating moments of learning and play. I hope you have the same experience as you read this and can take some time to add some of your recollections in the comments below.
This week’s winter and Christmas themed session, led by Lucy, revealed so many similarities between different people’s experience, despite any variations in geography or date of birth.
Other people’s recollections helped me recall many things I had entirely forgotten about. Most of them were food related! Christmas “treats” I didn’t enjoy but didn’t want to miss out on, like Turkish delight. The special hostess trolley that was wheeled out heavily laden with a Christmas tea in front of festive TV specials at my Nanna and Grandad’s house. I also was reminded of some more recent winter holidays involving lots of snow, and in the breakout room during the meeting, had a lovely laugh with my friend Sue. We giggled about how, one winter 10 years ago, our tiny little cars managed to somehow get us to work up two separate, very icy hills. We both remembered the surrealism of the moment, seeing much larger, newer cars abandoned roadside due to their ABS literally putting the breaks on their trip! Both of us ended up being sent home again once we got there, but it was worth it for the memories.
There are some rich and scrumptious pieces of writing in here for you to savour, suggested accompaniment – cup of tea (or even something mulled!). We hope you enjoy reading this lovely blog and it helps you remember times you have enjoyed and remember. Let us know in the comments what memories came up for you!
The prompt I gave to the group this week meant the sayings of loved ones emerged as a strong theme. After the session was over, this got me reflecting on my own family which led to a great chat with my mum and stepdad about memories of phrases that they remember their parents saying. (The best ones contained swearing but I won’t share those today). Here are some other great ones that they came up with.
This group of people is a very kind one. The natural inclination of us all is to support, listen to and get to know each other. We have created friendly, enjoyable times together from this and a kinship has been born out our shared experiences. When I was reflecting on this recently, kindness seemed an apt next topic.
My personal experience has been that when people are kind, it can act as a mirror or sometimes magnifying glass to what is truly wonderful in life, ourselves and each other. Kindness can reconnect us to what’s important and it can also restore our hope and energy. In the session I shared the opening of a poem by Edgar Alan Guest who summarises this beautifully.
“One never knows How far a word of kindness goes; One never sees How far a smile of friendship flees. Down, through the years, The deed forgotten reappears.”
Kindness is a state of being as well as an action, so to encourage people to connect with the emotions they feel in relation to kindness, I led a guided meditation that included positive wishes for the self and others. I then offered an opportunity to silently visualise and reminisce about kind actions that have been directed towards them during lockdown as well as in the past. People went on to share, in pairs and then the group, moments of helpfulness, compassion, generosity and thoughtfulness that have stayed with them.
It was a lovely session to be part of and I hope you experience some of the glow of warm kinship that exchanging these values and memories brought us. I also hope that you are reminded of acts and moments of kindness that have shaped and influenced you throughout your life. Perhaps you would even like to share a memory of your own using the “Leave a Reply” feature at the end of this post? We would certainly like to read it.
I am fascinated with this topic and spent the whole session grinning as I got to hear about people’s daily and weekly habits, routines and rituals. I find the way we live our day to day lives riveting, especially during a time where our “normal” routines have been altered so much by external factors. To me, discussing the patterns we follow can help us understand our own influences, values, way of thinking and lifestyle as well as give a glimpse of what it is really like to live in another’s shoes.
Through the session, lots of themes emerged as well as overlapping habits, people reporting “We have so much in common”. Maybe you too, the reader will find cheer and comradery in learning about how people spend their days and it will allow you to reflect on the meaning behind your own ‘ordinary’ choices.
On May 23rd, we paused from our usual storytelling and conversation format to check in with each other, find out what everyone was enjoying and wanting more of from our online group. It was a lovely meeting, where we celebrated what we had achieved together and collaborated to create ideas for the future, both in terms of themes and ways of reaching others who might benefit.
Here is some feedback gathered from the participants during this session which I have extracted from the video recording of our Zoom conversation. We would love to read about what you think of our project so far. Read to the end to find out how you can share your thoughts.