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Significant buildings

Jolene asked us to relax, close our eyes and picture a building which held a special meaning for us. “Step inside“, she said, “how does it feel? what can you see? how does it smell? what memories come back to you?” Such a variety of thoughts and emotions were stirred by this exercise! Listen to a recording of some of our responses.

Read on to discover the poetry and prose inspired by our online and in-person meetings.

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Trying New Things

Our first session this month involved a discussion about when we have experienced novel endeavours, whether on purpose or by necessity.  It was a beautiful, funny and connecting chat and you can listen to some of it here.

Our second meeting, in Chorlton Library this time, was led by a fantastic guest facilitator Steve Beal, who got us trying practical activities designed to boost creative thinking. He used a range of thinking prompts, objects and writing exercises to get us exploring new ways of seeing things. Read on to see the reflections that emerged from the sessions.

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Events that have shaped us

Both sessions this month were particularly enjoyable, as someone leading the session seeing the group and the relationships within it grow, but also as a participant, hearing other’s relatable, moving stories, and getting to share my own.  In the online session, there was a small group of us. Gathering in a cosy cluster lent itself to a wonderfully open, supportive and joyful conversation about the situations, people and moments which have shaped us.  One participant said that it felt “safe” and “like an extended family” to be in this group, connecting the way we do.  

In the other in-person session we did later that month on the same theme, there were lots more participants but just as much trust.  For me, the golden thread that united us during both sessions was that everyone has learned and grown from the often challenging things they have been through, which reminded me of this quote I shared with the group.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Read on to accompany the writers on their journeys of change, as shaped by key events in their lives.

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Community

Community, what it means and when it helps us to thrive, is a source of fascination for me. So, during the past two sessions, I asked the in-person and then online gathering the same question, “What does community mean to you and when have you felt a sense of it in your lives?” 

Here are some voice clips I recorded during a meeting, followed by some written pieces we came up with on the topic.  We would love to read your thoughts too in the comments below.

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Working with Withington Library

Library shelves with a colourful array of books in the sunshine
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On the 22nd of April, 4 members of the Stories of Our Lives group and I led a session at Withington Library for their regular over 50s club.  It was really lovely to widen our reach to more people, connect with them and hear their memories.  This blog post is a record of what was shared, both for them and for you, the reader, to get a better idea of the shape of our sessions.  

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Creativity

I picture creativity as a constant companion we all have, one who can always be relied on, even though how they appear is sometimes not as we expect or want them to be. 

An example of this is worry.  Sometimes I have found myself catastrophising over terrible things that might befall me or my loved ones, and the detail has been so vivid that I have had a physical reaction; heart racing, clenched stomach, tension in the shoulders and given enough time, tiredness.  As much as I don’t enjoy these side effects, I acknowledge and welcome the creativity that caused them as a loyal friend.  It is doing exactly what my brain requested it to, painting pictures in my head, so well that I believed them for a minute.  I also embrace this form of creativity because it has a conjoined twin who, guided by intention, brings me the ability to visualise positive possibilities for myself and others. When I combine this form of imagination with the energy of hope, I can turn what I have pictured into moments that bring intentions to life.  

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Friendship

There is no measure for such things, For this all Nature slows and sings.

from Friendship by Elizabeth Jennings  (1926-2001)

So much is written and sung about romantic love, but love between friends often isn’t celebrated or acknowledged in the same way.   In this blog post, listen to some of our conversations, read our stories and reflections on the theme, and share the joy we found in talking about the varied roles that friendship has played in our lives.  

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Memorable Winter Walks

This session took place on the 18th of December at Chorlton Library where we were joined by special guests from The Migrant Destitution Fund.  We shared some mince pies and brews as we got to know each other, then swapped memories of times spent walking in the wintertime. In this post, you can hear recordings of some of what was said during the session, read the reflections written after it, as well as see some contributions from some members of the Stories of our lives group who were not able to attend on the day.  This blog contains a wide scope of tales from the poignant, inspiring, funny, personal and evocation that will likely get you thinking and remembering your own recollections of strolls in the cold.  I recommend you get comfortable and cosy with a warm drink before you start to get the maximum benefit!

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Christmas Memories

This festive-themed post includes writing from an online session where I encouraged everyone to think about Christmases past then bring back some details to share with the group.  We communicated in laughter, relaxed chat and moments of contemplation, and all felt a little bit more festive afterwards. Merry Christmas to you from all of us at The Stories Of Our Lives group!

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