The variety of wildflowers that I admire on my meanderings never ceases to amaze me.
and eventually the bee does come 😉
The variety of wildflowers that I admire on my meanderings never ceases to amaze me.
and eventually the bee does come 😉
May is Mental Health Awareness month and this week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK.
The focus of this year’s campaign is body image.
I personally feel this is a very emotive topic and one to be approached with caution and a healthy dose of respect.
Body image isn’t just about who’s too fat or too thin. It covers a huge range of things that can cause people to be self-conscious about themselves. Body image issues can relate to height, to hair colour, to freckles, to wearing glasses, to having scars, to …. to absolutely anything about physical appearance. The list is almost endless.
Sadly, the media puts so much pressure on people, both male and female, particularly young people, to look “perfect.”
No one is perfect but we are all unique. However, if you are experiencing a period of anxiety it was very easy for that to manifest itself in fears about your image. You can swiftly become overly self-conscious about the smallest of things.
My own personal brush with this topic could easily be argued as being more than a little vain. I accept that. I’ve shared my own tale in the past of reaching a point in my life, about seven years ago now, that triggered a few physical signs of stress/anxiety so I won’t repeat myself.
I also appreciate in relation to some of the more serious aspects of the mental health connections to body image issues that my tale is trivial.
However, at the time, it was a huge issue for me. A huge issue I kept silent about for a very long time.
I’ll back track a bit here if you’ll allow me the indulgence. I’ve written before about being bullied as a child. Again, I’m not about to repeat that tale either. When that started all of those long years ago, one of the things that adversely impacted my self-esteem was my haircut and my horrendous blue NHS 1970’s specs! I grew the awful “pudding bowl” haircut out, developing a lifelong fear of hairdressers along the way. As a teenager, I was able to hide behind my long hair, using it as a shield to protect me. (The NHS specs were eventually replaced with a more modern pair when I was sixteen but not before I’d damaged my sight by not wearing them in school. The glasses were eventually replaced by a contact lens – yes, one.)
Since then, my hair has always been long. I’ve never been fortunate enough to be blessed with thick or wavy hair. It’s always been silky fine and poker straight.
When my stress levels went through the roof a few years ago, one of the physical signs associated with the anaemia that I experienced was hair loss. Gradually, over a period of a few months, I lost between a half and a third of the volume of my hair. I was fortunate in a sense that it thinned rather than fell out in clumps leaving bald patches. The hair loss was the main factor that led to me going to the doctor to get checked out.
The anaemia was resolved with a lengthy course of iron pills but the hair’s condition remained. I became incredibly self-conscious about it. It was ridiculous! Here I was in my mid-40’s stressing about my hair. Worrying myself silly about what folk were thinking.
In all honesty, I was and still am scared of going bald. I accept that it’s a trivial point in the grand scheme of things but for quite some time I became extremely self-conscious about it.
I stopped tying my long hair back – my ponytail looked like a long skinny rat’s tail to my biased eyes. If I tied it up, as I had done for years, my bun looked like a crumb! There was so little volume to my waist length hair that 4 kirby grips/bobby pins held it all securely in place.
I researched shampoos and vitamin supplements to encourage hair growth. After a period of time, and a lot of expense, I gave up on the fancy shampoos but, to this day, still take the supplements.
About four years ago, I noticed one particularly thin/bare patch emerging. My blood ran cold. Fear and panic swept in. The area at the front of my hair, where my parting and fringe met looked to be separating like the Red Sea. In reality, yes, it was thin, very thin, but what other people saw wasn’t what I saw in the mirror every morning. I saw bare scalp! My fragile self-esteem began to plummet.
Once I calmed myself down, I realised that there was an easy-ish solution. The fringe had to go! I had to grow it back out and add the hair volume of my fringe back into the rest. This was something I hadn’t done since I was thirteen years old! It took over two years but finally the fringe was gone- the thin/balding patch was hidden/disguised/gone.
Gradually the fear of going bald subsided… for now.
The self-esteem repaired itself again.
New hair, mainly grey strands, began to grow in. Going grey doesn’t phase me in the slightest but that in itself can be another body image trigger for people. I view these strands of grey as strands of glitter and I’ll expose them proudly. Each new grey one represents new hair, more volume and boosts the self-esteem a little.
Friends and colleagues laugh when I say that I don’t mind gradually going grey. I’m not, in general, vain about my appearance. (At least I don’t think I am!) I acknowledge that at times I can be very self-conscious almost to the point of paranoia.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it can be the little things that trigger body image concerns that can quickly escalate into more serious issues as well as the big things.
However, even if to you, a person’s fears and concerns seem trivial, don’t belittle them. These can be huge fears to them. Show a little empathy and understanding. Encourage them to be proud of who they are as they are. Encourage their self-belief and self-love.
A little supportive understanding goes a very long way.
For more information on MHAW please check out the link below:
No matter how often you admire the same view, it never looks the same twice……
I walk past this view several times a week. I’ve walked past this view several times a week for years…..it never grows old, it never stays the same. Sometimes constant change is good…
Recently I received an invitation to a book launch.
Despite having self-published my book babies and contributed to several poetry anthologies in the past, I’d never actually been to a book launch.
Let me back track slightly here though….
Several months ago, I received an email at work looking for people to submit poems to a local charity to be compiled into a book that would be sold to raise funds.
I duly trawled through my two poetry notebooks (I don’t write that many poems), selected two that I felt fitted the bill and sent them off then I heard nothing for months……
Out of the blue a few weeks ago, an email arrived to say that both poems had been chosen to be included in the book.
Cue invitation to the book launch!
So, who are Mind Mosaic?
Mind Mosaic Counselling and Therapy are a local charity funded mental health organisation offering individual counselling and therapy sessions to adults, teenagers and children. They run group sessions and also offer training. Mind Mosaic have been in existence since 2012 and have grown steadily over the years….and they continue to grow.
Girl Child agreed to be my chaperone for the evening, neither of us too sure what format the event was going to take.
As the invitation says, the book launch was held in the function suite at the local arts centre, The Beacon Arts Centre.
For two hours we were treated to an evening of poetry and music to launch the book, Inspirational Poetry.
The book comprises of 42 poems by 23 different “poets”, local people who have been brave enough to make themselves vulnerable by sharing their heartfelt words. The theme of the book is mental health awareness and the poems cover a diverse range of aspects of this. Each poem is accompanied by a photograph,
As the editor of the book, Johnny Woods, commented, it’s two books in one. It’s a photography book with poems and a poetry anthology with photos.
Personally, I felt the first hour of the launch was a little intense as the poems that were read from the book centred around bereavement, loss and depression. Local musicians, Yvonne and David Lyon, lightened the mood with a short set of folk influenced music though. Fabulous!
After a brief interlude for tea and coffee, proceedings took on a more uplifting vibe. Yvonne and David returned to the stage to perform another short set. (Yvonne – loved the song about the little angel. Could visualise it in my mind’s eye.)
Three further speakers recited some of the more uplifting and motivational poems from the book.
And then, with a vote of thanks, it was all over.
So, what did I contribute to the book?
A Teenager’s Bleak Despair
I stare into a bleak world of despair
Easy to be drawn into its depths.
Voices echo inside my head.
Their cries fill the void.
My mum hates me,
Wishes I’d never been born.
My grandparents loathe me,
I’m letting them down.
My peers despise me,
I’m not from this town.
A mirror appears from the dark.
My haunted face stares back.
A light shines from behind
Clear and golden and bright.
Still the darkness draws me in.
Hidden From Prying Eyes
Deep inside me
Hidden from prying eyes
The public me
Paints on the smile
And glides through the working day.
The mummy me
Offers cuddles and hugs
Showering my children in unconditional love.
The friend me
Is calm and loyal
Always there to support and assist
The real me
Nervous and scared
Frightened she’s found by prying eyes.
Mental health awareness is a subject close to my own heart and I am proud to be associated with this book.
If you want to show your support for Mind Mosaic and this fantastic anthology, copies of the book can be purchased for £10 a copy by contacting them at email@example.com or calling the office on 01475 892208 (option1)
And remember, folks, it’s ok not to be ok.
Also, check out Yvonne Lyon at www.yvonnelyonmusic.com
I’ve been asked on numerous occasions where I find my story ideas and what inspires my blog posts. I always answer that it’s a little bit of everything- song lyrics, a place I’ve visited, an event, a name, etc….
Well, this week’s blog is inspired by the glass of wine I enjoyed with dinner on Sunday. Well, the label on the bottle to be more precise. (No, I didn’t drink the whole bottle before you ask!)
For weeks while I’ve been doing the weekly supermarket shop a particular bottle of Australian Chardonnay has been catching my eye. However, at full price, it was a little over my preferred budget. This week it was on special. Still a little over my price but I thought “What the hell!” and picked up two bottles. (I’m a bit weird that way as I’ll always buy bottles of wine in pairs.)
What had attracted my attention? The label on the front of the bottle and the name 19 Crimes.
Over dinner on Sunday, initially conversation wasn’t really holding my attention (sorry, guys) and I turned the wine bottle, that was sitting in front of me on the table, around to read the label on the reverse.
Intriguing…..what were the 19 Crimes?
This sparked an entirely different dinner conversation after a little emergency “Googling.”
So, were there really 19 Crimes that led to convicts being transported to Australia?
Yes! And between 1768 and 1868 thousands were in fact transported to Australian.
The 19 Crimes were:
Once dinner was over and a second glass of wine had been poured, I sat down at my desk to do a little more digging into this subject.
Don’t panic! You’re not about to get a lengthy history lesson…… only a short one.
The first eleven convict ships set sail from England in 1787. They arrived at Botany Bay on 20 January 1788 where the first European community on the continent was established….and so Sydney, NSW was born.
Over the next forty some years several other penal colonies were established as more convicts arrived. The most famous of these was Port Arthur in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1803.
Penal transportation peaked in the 1830’s. However opposition to this practice grew throughout the 1840’s. Transportation to Van Diemen’s Land ended in 1853 when the last convict ship, the St Vincent, arrived from England.
Small numbers continued to be transported to a colony in Western Australia but on 10 January 1868 the last convict ship, The Hougoumont, docked. (pictured above)
In total 806 ships had transported approximately 164 000 convicts to the continent over a period of eighty years. Around 24 000 of these were women, some of whom had deliberately committed petty crimes in order to be transported to join their husbands. Records show that 70% of those transported were from England and Wales, 24% from Ireland, 5% from Scotland and the remaining 1% a mix of convicts from the British colonies in India, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
Some of those transported went to lead successful new lives in Australia. Some notable convicts were:
James Blackburn, famous for his contribution to Australian architecture and civil engineering
Daniel Connor who was sentenced to seven years transportation for sheep stealing went on to become one of the largest landowners in central Perth by the 1890’s.
Francis Greenway became a famous Australian architect.
Laurence Hynes Halloran founded the Sydney Grammar School.
Henry Savery is noted as being Australia’s first novelist and author of Quintus Servinton
One female convict stands out. Mary Wade was the youngest convict transported to Australia aged only 11 years old. She went on to have 21 children and at the time of her death had over 300 living descendants!
Twenty one children!!!!
That thought calls for another glass of wine! 😉
some images sourced via Google – credits to the owners