Coincidences and Consequences

We had a choice of two themes for our meeting on 14th August, either “coincidences – truth can be stranger than fiction” or “unexpected happenings with good results”.    These led to a fascinating discussion of the strange experiences we’d all had in our lives.   Maybe the longer we live the more likely we are to gather such amazing stories.  Maybe like the dreams we don’t remember, there are many more coincidences we simply don’t notice.   Maybe it would be an even stranger world if coincidences or the unpredictable never happened.  It would certainly be a duller one! 

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Memorable books, film and art

In our minds’ eyes, Jolene asked us to picture ourselves in a place where we’d felt moved or inspired by a book, a film or a work of art.  It’s no surprise that afterwards we buzzed with things to say to each other on Zoom, on a topic which followed on so well from our previous meeting about great storytellers we had known. We all enjoyed recalling powerful emotional, visual and auditory responses to the creative works of others, and sharing our reactions to those books, films and paintings with each other.   Your comments are welcome too, after reading the reflections some of us have written after such a rewarding session.

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Spring and Easter

We had such a joyful time sharing our thoughts and memories about spring at our Zoom meeting on Easter Saturday morning.  We hope you enjoy seeing our photographs and reading our writing inspired by the session. If so, we’d love to read comments and reflections from you too.

I love the spring, the feelings and the memories it brings.  My partner and I have shared some wonderful early holidays in Crete, Cyprus and Spain: walking in places we’d find too hot later in the year, along coasts and on hillsides, seeing orchards of apple and almond trees in blossom and cyclamen growing wild. 

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About us

Jolene asked us to picture someone from our past, asking us about our lives since we last saw them, a long time ago.  What would we say to them?  In the break out rooms, she asked us to share our responses, and also to discuss what drew us to the Stories of our Lives group.  What do we gain from being part of it?  What do, or can, we give to others?  What do we want to say about ourselves in the “About us” section of our blog site?

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Silver linings

Was I deceived or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?


John Milton, Comus, 1634

Gently, Jolene posed a series of questions for us to consider privately, in silence, before we split into smaller groups to discuss our responses.

 “How are you being challenged or stretched by your current circumstances?  What moments of hope and joy do they nevertheless contain?  What silver linings can you see?  What about any past circumstances that you have been through? What silver linings were there? How can you bring self-compassion and kindness to your current experience of the challenges we collectively, and you individually, are facing?”

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Getting around

Joe led us in a second great session on journeys and transport, this time concentrating on the ways in which we regularly got around, whether on foot, by bike, train or in the cars we owned.  There was so much to talk about!   We shared stories of travelling to school, holiday outings, regular commutes to and from work, some within Manchester and some far away.  As well as vividly re-living those frequent journeys, the people we were with, or were on our way to, featured strongly in our fond memories.   

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Memorable journeys

Our topic of journeys was such a hit that we could have chatted all day!  We decided that we would meet again to carry on the conversation, so this blog post is the first of two on the same theme.  In this one, our stories centre around journeys that especially stand out in our memories, including those in which we felt exhilaration when travelling that way for the first time, or under our own steam. 

Come on our journeys with us, hear our laughter as we recall those adventures and thrills, and listen to our reflections on the past, and regrets about what might have been.  If our stories trigger memories of your own, we’d love to hear them too.  

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Autumn

Most of us said “leaves” when Lucy asked us to say one word we associated with Autumn.  We talked of their vibrant colours on crisp yet sunny autumn days, the feel of them underfoot, watching them fall and their distinctive Autumn smell.   Despite some wistfulness at leaving Summer behind, we shared memories of poetry, new starts at school, college or university, walks in parks, bonfires, days out, holidays and excitement at the start of the football season.  

Our recent experiences of Autumn included the joy of seeing a much-loved toddler pick up a leaf from the pavement and gaze at it in wonder, and the happy sound of children twittering like birds as they returned to school, after such a long time. 

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Reading

“Close your eyes, listen to this recording of the sound of rain on a window.  Imagine yourself, warm and dry inside a library.  What libraries do you remember being in?  Where would you like to be now?  Imagine that in this library, on the shelves, are all the books, magazines and DVDs that you’ve read during your life.  What has reading meant to you at different stages in your life?  You might want to go to a shelf and pick a book you remember enjoying.  Where were you?  What was happening at that time?” 

What a powerful opener Jolene gave to us, leading to us having so much to say to each other!  Just as the people reading in a library may, in their minds, be travelling in many different directions, those of us on the Zoom call had a variety of experiences to relate, and much to think about afterwards as we wrote up our individual pieces for this week’s post.

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Entertainment

Our spirits were so lifted, after we’d discussed entertainment, past and present, in the Zoom break-out rooms.  Nury, originally from Iran, explained how much he appreciates British humour, especially the old situation comedies he’s been watching on TV, such as Porridge and Only Fools and Horses.  It was lovely to hear his chuckles.   Thank goodness for television, social media and online arts, helping us now through the challenges of social isolation: a sentiment we all shared!

Family and friends featured strongly in our memories from our younger days, with or without television, playing games both outdoors and in.   Read on for our recollections of those simpler, more carefree times.  

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