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.

Continue reading “Significant buildings”

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.

Continue reading “Events that have shaped us”

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.

Continue reading “Community”

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.  

Continue reading “Creativity”

Special Times Part One 

At the request of the group, today’s topic for our online meeting was “Red Letter” days and holidays.  Reflecting on special moments that were physically warmer or emotionally bright for us, turned out to be the perfect choice to lift all our spirits during this transition into darker nights and chillier mornings.  

I started by reading the beginning of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 

"The holiest of all holidays are those
kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
the secret anniversaries of the heart."

and then guided the group to think about the moments that have most stood out for them and why. 

The conversation afterwards was incredibly rich and moving, with lots of laughter and memories shared. As always, it was so lovely to notice how others’ memories had a contagious effect on mine like yawning or laughter do!

Continue reading “Special Times Part One “

Clothes and fashion

Treasured memories came tumbling out of the wardrobes Jolene invited us to picture in our minds.  We shared stories of clothes worn on special occasions, in our school days, of clothes made for us with love, as rebellious teenagers, and more.  Some of us met online, some face to face a fortnight later, but we all enjoyed the rich theme (or should I say seam!) of the clothes we wore in the past and the lives we lived then. 

Here are a few of the stories and photographs some of us chose to write up afterwards. Coincidentally, the stories all have warm memories of our mothers stitched into them.

Continue reading “Clothes and fashion”

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! 

Continue reading “Coincidences and Consequences”

An Intergenerational Music Exchange

Photographs of the event by Rachel Bywater

On Monday 19th July, under the bright sky of an extraordinarily warm day, a group of excited people gathered at the West Didsbury and Chorlton Football Club.  We weren’t there to watch a match, though in its own way, it was a game of two sides.  One side was a collection of young people from Chorlton High School and the other local people who ranged in age.  Instead of football, we played music.  The results of the match were fantastic for both teams.  Read on to find out more!

Continue reading “An Intergenerational Music Exchange”

Summer Memories

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! 

Continue reading “Summer Memories”

Great Storytellers We Have Known

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.

Continue reading “Great Storytellers We Have Known”