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?Continue reading “About us”
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?”Continue reading “Silver linings”
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!Continue reading “Winter”
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.Continue reading “Getting around”
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.Continue reading “Memorable journeys”
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.Continue reading “Sayings and phrases”
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.Continue reading “Autumn”
“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.Continue reading “Reading”
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.Continue reading “Kindness”
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.Continue reading “Entertainment”