Saturday, 26 January 2013

Another Genius Poem

My dear friend E is working harder than ever on recovery in an ED unit in Essex. Instead of slapping paint and throwing glitter everywhere in Art therapy - she is cuddled over a piece of paper, pen in hand and wrote this this week. I am seriously impressed - and she very kindly said I could share it with you. 

I much upon my apple
Upon my apple I much
And every morsel that I eat
Every morsel that I crunch
Is giving me a ticket
To that life that I aspire
Is taking me nearer
To the freedom I desire
I sip upon my latte

Upon my latte I sip
And every mug I drink
I slurp up every drip
Knowing it will take me
To a world where I am free
To a world where thoughts of food
Are not controlling me

I've never felt so worried
I've never felt so scared
I've never worked so hard,
But then I never really cared.
I know I really want this
The rewards will be so great;
So I eat up every morsel
Before it's not too late.....

She said "Poetry writing is under-rated as therapy. It feels so good. When others are producing masterpieces in the art room, I'm bent over a notepad."

Diets are Sad - Pret a Manger

THANK YOU Pret a Manger for reminding us all as we start a New Year that:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Miranda Hart in Tatler

In one of the most recent issues of Tatler magazine - Miranda Hart posed for some fabulous photographs. I love this video of her behind the scenes:

An Apple Gathering

I have had a seriously fun afternoon. 

If you were standing at Kings Cross St. Pancras railway station in London at 1 pm today - somewhere near Pret a Manger - you will have heard squeals of delight as five young women met for the first time. It seemed like we had been best friends for years. 

In actual fact, we had only communicated via 140 character length tweets, a few emails and text messages in the last few weeks and months. And today was the day we all met for the first time. I think those sitting around us were a little bit intrigued by conversation. We talked non stop for at least three hours.

As Meg has written beautifully in her blog - its not just Anorexia that bought us all together. Its recovery. It was an honour to meet them all and I hope we will all remain good friends and keep in touch. I particularly enjoyed meeting the wonderful Emma Woolf (great niece of Virginia Woolf). I really admire all her work. 

The "Apple" part of all this refers to Emma's amazing book "An Apple a Day".

Thinky wrote this beautiful poem and bought a copy for each of us. I think its incredibly well written:

Written by Thinky for my fellow apples, 
Emma, Sara, Miranda & Meg xx 

An Ode to the Apples 

Five seedlings are gathered, a odd bunch some might say, 
What brings them together? An Apple A day! 
Their natural beauty, and radiant skin, 
Hides knocks they have taken, and bruising within. 
A decision they made, to flourish and thrive, 
For an apple cares not of its weight, shape or size. 
The Apples all have names, I would care to give a mention, 
But fear making them rhyme, would cause lyrical tension. 
They know who are, and needless to say, 
Health and life, requires more than an apple a day. 
The promise of nature, brings dreams to fruition, 
Key ingredients first needed, are Self-love and nutrition. 
These five apples I know, were born to be friends, 
Their friendship a weapon, bringing ED's to an end! 

Here is a picture of us all together - 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Congratulations Ruby Wax!

Last night Ruby Wax shared her very exciting news over Twitter 

***cue drum roll***

She has gained her Masters degree from Oxford University in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. This is such a huge achievement - not least because doing a Masters in anything is a huge challenge but doing it at one of the best universities in the world studying the functions and workings of the brain...well I dont know how anyone could do that - and Ruby has!

Also - just because Ruby is a celebrity, it doesn't make the degree any easier - in fact its probably harder - there are no shortcuts, no fast track, nobody to do the work for you, provide the answers, type the essays. Just sheer hard work and intelligence.

"Two fingers are up to all my childhood teachers who reported I was sub-normal"

Massive hurrah and congratulations from me and no doubt every other Triber...

She has learnt from one of the top professors in the world linked to Mindfulness. I have actually had the honour of meeting Professor Mark Williams. 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Lance Armstrong admits to Oprah...

I remember when I was about 12 years of age, we had an assembly at school about an amazing man. A man who had defeated all the odds. Gone way beyond what anyone would imagine possible. This man was Lance Armstrong. This is someone who, when hearing "his story" just made you think: what a hero.

The tables have turned and I now feel completely the opposite. Don't we all?

The news has unfolded that Lance Armstrong has admitted to using banned substances in all seven of his Tour de France victories.... my question to Oprah is "How did you do that?" - she seems to have this magic touch that got him to spill the beans. I am seriously impressed with how well prepared she was before even going into that interview. I guess she would have to do that for all the people that she meets.

Wow Oprah. Seriously impressed.
Lance - you are utterly disgraceful, appalling and no other words will convey my shock and disappointment.

Are you a Twit?

Just over a year ago, when I started this blog, one of my first posts was on Facebook and Twitter. Here is an update:

When Twitter first appeared on the scene, I didn't understand it and I didn't even want to try and learn what it was and how it works. I had an account but it lay dormant with no activity at all for quite some time. It didn't take long to learn what trends and hashtags meant and before I knew it, I had fallen for it, in quite a bit way.

I am now a Twit. Tweeter. Twitterer. However you want to call it, I now love tweeting. In the same way that I love writing my blog.

I've considered setting up "Twitter Addicts Anonymous" because I don't think its just me that loves it. Having said that, I do love it but I don't think I am addicted i.e. I think I could manage without it. I have observed many people who tweet much more than me. Much more.

I Googled "Twitter Addiction" and this quiz came up - apparently I am 41% addicted. If Twitter Addiction actually existed, here is what recovery might involve, following the same format as Alcoholics Anonymous:

12 Steps to Recovery from Twitter Addiction
(based on AA)

1. We admitted we were powerless over Twitter - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to TWITTERHOLICS, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

We've all become obsessed with checking who has unfollowed us (there is a website which tells you - I admit I have used it) -  as if it really matters that the caravan retailer that followed you two months ago  has given up reading your despair over the shock results from the X Factor or  complaints that a university lecture has dragged on for longer than necessary... - how did they find me and why did they press follow in the first place?!

On another Twitter note, this week OneMoreMum wrote a piece about Twitter and Triggers and I share many of the same thoughts as her. I don't enjoy scrolling through my newsfeed reading endless tweets from people who I follow begging celebrities for a RT (retweet) or follow. 

As OneMoreMum wrote, I am glad it exists. I have come across some phenomenal people through Twitter (some of whom I am meeting for the first time on Sunday). In terms of mental illness, I share the same concerns as OMM and I am not able to express this any better than her....

"I worry about whether it is always a safe place for those trying to stay recovered, whether it would be a betrayal to say Actually, I’m ok now. I don’t have anorexia any more. I eat normally. But I am still a really fascinating person – there are a thousand other things about be that define me far more than the mental illness I once had. I don’t know."

Here are some fun and super duper people that I follow on Twitter:
(There are lots and I can't name you all...)


There are so many amazing advantages to using Social Media but it must be used in a responsible way - without letting it it take over our lives or replacing human to human/face to face contact... I admit that I hope my Twitter Follower Count continues to rise over the next few weeks and months. But I am not going to get upset if it doesn't and I am not going to go out of my way to "make" it happen... I will tweet responsibly and relevantly... (is relevantly even a word?)

What do you think about all this? Do you understand Twitter? Do you use it? Have you got anything to add to what I have said here? Let me know if so (via a Tweet...?!)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Raising Girls

Somebody who I hold in seriously high regard and who runs a top Independent Girls School has recently written this blog post about raising girls...

In recent weeks the press has been full of articles about the different pressures that girls find themselves under in today's world. I have no doubt that life for young women is both very different and more complicated to when I first started teaching over thirty years ago. This does lead to times when they may feel overwhelmed by what is happening to them and  bemused and bewildered as to how they fit in to their family, peer group or school. Some young women seem to sail through the teenage years, however choppy the waters become, but others falter. What causes this disparity? We all have a unique make up and as a consequence, each of us reacts differently. Some girls are fortunate to have strong emotional resilience and a real sense of self worth which carries them through the challenging times. However, my experience suggests that most fall short of this by different degrees.

The challenge for teachers and staff working  with young people is to see them as  individuals and to work with them to help build their self esteem. There is no magic wand and no single method. The key thing for them all is to find their niche, to feel valued and accepted. They need to get involved in activities, and be challenged in a way which allows them to a develop a sense of self. Far from being wrapped in cotton wool, they need to climb mountains, canoe, speak in public and put themselves outside the comfort zone and feel the sense of achievement that develops when they succeed. This is what education must do for girls.

I couldn't agree more.

Prisoners and the Elderly

What do you think? Spread the word if you agree.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Time To Change - advert

I really like the new Time to Change advert on talking about Mental Illness. 

"I'd say, get the kettle on..." And let's start having this much needed conversation.

Monday, 14 January 2013

What do teenagers REALLY need to learn?

New and FANTASTIC blog post from:

We spent a week in a top independent school overseas just before Christmas training teenagers, staff and parents.  The teenagers had to roll up their sleeves and learn about themselves - their personality, what upsets (stresses) them, understand how they behave when upset/depressed, how they deal with typical downs, eg coping with anxiety, how to communicate/get on well with friends/adults, deal with fallouts, accept difference and take responsibility for their actions/choices as they become more independent.

The staff had a training session on managing teenage emotional ups and downs and understanding behaviour patterns in order to maximise their effectiveness through fine tuning the way they communicate with and respond to students and their issues.

We also spoke to the parents about teenage development, highlighting the positive influence parents can have during this very vulnerable period.  How could parents effectively tackle rebelliousness, disrespect, lethargy, moodiness, poor communication, depression?  What are these behaviours telling us?  Monitoring screen usage, alcohol, sex, smoking? To punish or not to punish.....?   All important issues which require parental reflection, understanding, decisions & planning.

We were asked for our input on the school's ethos and policy towards discipline in order that their approach, long-term, manages and improves teenage behaviour in an effective and positive way.
We could not help lamenting on how rare it would be to find many top fee paying UK schools prepared to contemplate let alone prioritise this sort of hands on training experience for their school community.   We wondered why?

Is it because the British have a natural tendency to brush their problems under the carpet, soldiering on with a stiff upper lip "we're FINE" attitude?  
Is it because our culture considers acknowledging difficulties, the emotional stuff or facing ones adversaries a risky business, potentially exposing us as weak, or worse, failures?

Or is it that schools are too pre-occupied by the drive to achieve better results - higher academic achievement & better university entrance statistics, and this requires them to focus their attention on a wider curriculum of additional support, learning & educational experiences to promote these ends?

A focus on the softer skills, a child’s personal development side, may therefore feel less immediately rewarding to schools because it is not measurable, it takes time, it requires evolutionary change, and is not mission critical.  Therefore the majority of independent schools offer little more than a cursory nod to social, emotional and moral learning, despite a typical school's vision, ethos or mission statement acknowledging the need for their students to "grow with emotional maturity, social awareness and respect for individuality and difference". 

And yet a UNICEF report in 2007 rated British children the POOREST, in terms of their wellbeing, in the developed world.  For any parent that is a shocking statistic.  The government swung into action at that time, addressing social reform with their Every Child Matters paper, focusing schools on pupil social & emotional learning via the SEAL programme and prioritizing PSHE (personal social health).

However parents should be asking their child’s school what their school is actually DOING with PSHE at the same time as finding out how their child is doing academically.    Time spent understanding and building the skills to manage problems, setbacks or decisions help a child to achieve their goals and if this can be done whilst the teenage brain is growing and developing this means that these strategies become learned behaviours and eventually habits for the future.  None of us want to wait until things HAVE gone wrong for our children once they are older, when they might end up with ending up beset with anxiety, depression or worse.  Early prevention is better and a lot easier to tackle than cure. The James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund has some frightening statistics from the WHO:  

·      Depression affects around 121 million people worldwide.
·      An estimated 7-14% of adolescents self-harm at some point
·      20-45% say they have experienced suicidal thoughts
·      Suicide is three times more common in males than females.
·      An average 1 million people a year die by suicide
·      for every suicide, there are 20 more attempts.

Few Heads of schools could dispute, from an intellectual standpoint, that developing students “softer skills” makes sense.   But how do they ACTUALLY implement the practical application of these skills in their schools?  How are staff ACTUALLY ensuring that their pupils leave their school armed with life skills like being resilient, intrinsically motivated, emotionally contained, an independent thinker, problem solver, confident on all levels, able to show empathy, and able to cope with anxiety/depression? Schools offer lectures on eg. the dangers of drugs, alcohol, cults or inadequate contraception but do lectures of this kind represent an adequate and effective PSHE programme?

We both know, with our own teenagers, that these x factor qualities do not arrive with good luck or like magic out of a hat.  However they can be nurtured during adolescence by a whole school culture (and home life) where there is an awareness and understanding of the emotional development of each child alongside nurturing the practical skills, which should underpin every aspect of their education and school (and home) experience. 

Prep schools will get feedback on how well prepared their students were for their next stage and how well they managed the transition. However, Public schools are not accountable for their pupils once they have left and few schools have a system in place to know where their pupils end up or whether they were successful or not.   But we see too many young people who have worked their socks off at school, achieved some very high grades, only to come unstuck because they don’t have the wherewithal to manage life after the safe confines of school.

Never have young people needed the tools to withstand the challenges, choices, disappointments & obstacles they are liable to face in the “real” world more than in the present climate. 

Excuse the French but....

Someone sent this to me today via Twitter (@mirandasmurmurs)

I just love it. Especially on a chocolate cake...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Best wedding speech ever - Tom Fletcher

Tom Fletcher (lead singer of McFly) got married last year and made one of the most moving, creative and simply wonderful wedding speeches ever.... He only recently made it available online.

Listen carefully because he has very cleverly reworded some of the original McFly lyrics and kept the original tunes. Its just amazing. Obviously....


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Happy New Year

If I knew how to make and upload a video like the one below, I would make you one. But I can't (although I am sure its very easy) so instead here is Ruby Wax wishing you a Happy New Year..