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  • Mental Health First Aid

    One reason this blog has been so very quiet of late as that I have been very busy with training courses, including two days of Mental Health First Aid.

    It was a great course, though could have done with being twice the length to allow us to really dig into any of the topics.

    Based on Australian material it uses the acronym ALGEE...

    • Ask about suicide (in Australian version this one is 'assess for risk of suicide or harm')
    • Listen non-judgmentally
    • Give reassurance and information
    • Encourage appropriate profressional help
    • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

    I cannot claim suddenly to be equipped to support anyone or everyone I may encounter, but at least I have some ideas what not to say or do, which I guess is helpful in and of itself.

  • The Salt Path

    A massive 'thank you' to the smallVOICE podcast for directing me to this book, which I absolutely loved.

    At one level, it is the story of a couple walking an extremely long coastal path, and it has all the 'insider' humour that walkers of long distance footpaths understand and share.  At times I laughed out loud - not much makes me do that.

    At another level it is a story about homelessness, and the skilful inclusion of statistical data along the way is challenging and thought provoking.

    At yet another level it is about home, and how that may be found not in place or bricks and mortar, but in relationships.

    At still another it is about the kindness, and the cruelty, of strangers, about people in all our muddled, messed up humanity.

    And then at its heart is a couple coming to terms with traumatic and life-changing events, including a life-limiting degenerative illness.

    All of it told with a lightness of touch, some skilful and engaging imagery, vulnerable honesty and compelling story-telling.

    Way back, nine years ago, I used the metaphor of a long distance footpath to describe and interpret my experience of being treated for cancer.  In a good and helpful way, the book took me back to that metaphor and reminded me just how far along that road/path/journey I have travelled and how that has informed/transformed my own understanding and living.

    If you like audio books, and if you like the actress Anne Reid, then I heartily commend that.  If you prefer a good old fashioned paper book, then it's available at any good book store.

    If you only read one book this year, then I recommend this one!

  • Surprisingly Simple...

    My new phone arrived as scheduled on Monday.  Setting it up was a breeze - just followed the instructions to copnnect to Microsoft Outlook and suck in my contacts and calendar.  The SIM transfer was slightly more of a nuisance (had I realised I could just have pressed out the nano SIM from the micro SIM of my previous phone but never mind).

    So here I am, shiny knew super smart phone up and running, Apps installed for 'Pray As You Go' and other more mundane things like taxi, trains and mobile hotspots.

    Overall, not much 'feels' different, though my reflexes still sometimes make the 'swipes' and 'taps' I've been doing for the past three and a half years (I previously under estimated how long I had the Windows phone).

    I think it makes a half decent parable for life - when changes have to be made, it's easy to be anxious, but when it comes to the bit, usually they are less dramatic, and less traumatic, than expected.  As my Mum used to say, 'it's a funny thing you can't get used to'

    Next job will probably to get a half decent Bible App... That, and start taking photos of the kitties - I currently don't have any photos on my new phone.

  • The Kingdom by R S Thomas

    I heard this poem read on Radio 4 Morning Worship today... it's worth a share.


    It’s a long way off but inside it

    There are quite different things going on:

    Festivals at which the poor man

    Is king and the consumptive is

    Healed; mirrors in which the blind look

    At themselves and love looks at them

    Back; andindustry is for mending

    The bent bones and the minds fractured

    By life. It’s a long way off, but to get

    There takes no time and admission

    Is free, if you purge yourself

    Of desire, and present yourself with

    Your need only and the simple offering

    Of your faith, green as a leaf.

  • New Phone - Golly!

    Today I finally ordered a new mobile phone to replace my much loved, but now increasingly wobbly, Windows Lumia smartphone.  After three years (all but) of loyal service, my phone is ready to retire, and, as there is no direct replacement, I've taken quite a lot of time to think through what might be a suitable choice.  It's not easy - so many competing factors to consider - which manufacturer, which platform and so on. So in the end, as the cost of an all-in contract with a refurbished phone was only pennies cheaper than a new one, I opted for the new one.  A 'last year's model' (or maybe the year before) but should have a good three years in it.

    It's the first time in two decades I've entered a credit agreement, which feels a bit odd... mostly in a good way that I feel confident enough to enter it, and, after all, it is interest free.

    I have transferred all the photos from my phone to my laptop, backed up all my contacts and done everything I can to ensure hassle free transfer.  So... all being well... on Monday I will have a shiny new phone all ready to go onwards.  Golly!

    (For anyone interested it's an i-phone 7 plus)