Monday, 15 July 2013

Past my sell by date

From Penny Moon, Chief Executive of

Opportunities to become an ambitious international business woman are tumbling about my head. Unfortunately they exist now not only in a world ruled by a language that escapes me but represent a new experience I am reluctant to undertake. I had been looking forward to finally achieving my adolescence, a time of irresponsibility, kicking over the traces and throwing caution to the winds. Sex, drugs and rock and roll seem to have passed me by in the 60’s and now in my 60’s I was hoping to steal a moment, only a moment please, but I suspect it is not to be.

More to the point I have no interest in learning this language of computers, twitter, facebook, who is that interested in me quite frankly? I would much prefer to learn Italian with its gentle rolling expressive notes.

‘Mama Mia, Spaghetti Bolognese, arrivederci…’ the Lord knows I am nearly there already and what is more I got my Latin ‘O’ level and can still quote from The Iliad ‘Pyrrhus rushed in with all the vigour of his father; neither the guards nor the gates themselves could withstand him…’ After all is said and done I am a language teacher, yes French actually believe it or not, ‘bonjour, ca va’ the accent rolls of my tongue, the superficial fluency screamed at my knees by my small and bitter teacher, whilst the vocabulary has disappeared into some cosmic cloud no doubt where all communication dissolves now into one big wordless grin.

This is what I would like to think anyway. It is amongst my many theories that are patently untrue like if I go out in the rain, will I shrink?

On the other hand - truth be told - I am enjoying LinkedIn and meeting other professionals, discussing therapy, yoga, philosophy. Not many people have an interest in these matters and we can ‘therapeutically’ nerd away at the use of metaphors, the history of Mindfulness and meaning of Chi.

What you might ask has this to do with social media, the language of communication in this day and age, useful and not useful all at once, can get you into trouble with the lack of subtle nuances, the softening of a phrase with a twinkling eye…yes all that non verbal communication...80% is unavailable in the short hand of tweets and texts which can whip up emotions in a moment, promise the earth with its set phrases and shorthand leaving the door agape for horrifying possibilities of misunderstanding.

My extraordinary variety of accounts in all these areas, doubled or trebled accidentally with an endless array of passwords makes me sob into my computer.

And don’t get me started on my phone. It took me a year to stop calling it a blueberry. Only realised as younger folks looked politely away to avoid my ignorance, ‘done it again Pen...shape up now’ is my ancient chant to myself. The phone at present, which I can finally receive emails on, has taken to calling people (and no, not just my last call before you raise your eyebrows) without me asking (no that is a metaphor, never managed the voice thing) switching itself on and off, sometimes into SOS during conversations and it is probably right.

I look forward to running a retreat, teaching yoga and meditation, wandering on lonely (yes lonely) beaches with the wind whipping my hair and cackling now and again. Yet I suspect the next social media course will drip into my brain and I will be a whizzerooni soon (anyone up for a bet on that?). Sooper International business woman here I come and off to John Lewis for a pin stripe suit, better get out in the rain again as they probably don’t make them my size!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Ofsted fashion challenge

Special measures, poor, satisfactory, good and outstanding; a quality assurance venture - from Selena Weaver Fashion House The Luna Collection.

There was a quiet sense of anticipation waiting for the Governor to introduce his own collection recommended by Ofsted to get an upstanding result for all schools. The hush in the crowded hall was intense as the audience waited for the ‘Gove’s entrance. A sense of excitement as this adored and admired example of flair and style , indeed a veritable dandy of finery and taste kept his audience waiting just the right amount of time before bursting onto the walkway. The drum rolled and the audience rose as one as The Gove strode, to his signature sound of ‘Rule Brittania’, like a behemoth, cloak billowing in the draft of his own not inconsiderable wind, cap at a rakish angle across his fine features and famous profile that defined him as a leader and hero amongst men, yes indeed men and I meant men.

Who me?
Women fainted at the mere sight of him and couldn’t wait as he turned at the end of the walkway and postured. Demonstrating a towering example of manhood, he fixed them with a beady eye to inspire terror in the strongest of feminists... not to mention the secret hope that it would be they who were chosen for detention, a chance in a million to spend extra time with him, possibly alone, to gaze in adoration at their secret hero. He switched his cane as he looked around the room, daring anyone to so much as murmur, then, turning on his heel with a smart crack of the whip, he marched with his signature walk back, turned his head briefly to catch any disrespectful sign of lack of focus and concentration, seductively allowing his the gown to slip off his shoulder revealing ,yes the stone washed worn look he so embraced, leather elbows patches on grey tweed. The added touch of chalk dust (dustus chalkamus) lavishly sprinkled (available at all branches of supermarkets and service stations nationally) on his gown rose in clouds of nostalgic delight to cover the audience with an authentic taste of real education.

We knew almost as if by magic that copies of this outfit would be available at all superstores by the following day but who could wear it like the man, our first man upstanding none other than ‘The Gove’. All canes also available sold under the ‘it never did me any harm’ brand of behaviour management resources.

As he returned to the podiun he cracked the cane down and said “good morning”. The whole room responded ‘good morning sir’ and sat down on their chairs. There were inspectors in the room checking everyone was sitting up straight and no-one could speak or go to the toilet at all on such occasions. Of course everyone was expected to go to the toilet before they come in and check reminder flash cards were in the foyer. There is of course always one, “you boy over there...yes you. I mean you, never mind looking round behind you as if you didn’t know who I am talking to” one of the pile of board dusters on the podium like a teetering castle went flying with an astonishing accuracy to the unfortunate man in the middle. Immediately 2 burly inspectors pulled him from his seat by his ear and accompanied him out of the building whilst protesting his innocence.

The Gove stood and respectfully, nay even humbly removed his cap with a flourish and with head bowed and a deep sense of humility he started his speech

Floreat governa. At last it has begun. A new dawning, a move to uni form our teachers, the children must and so must we , to lead by example,in order to be authentic in the provision of a National Uniform for teachers. There maybe a ‘local’ flourish with eco friendly and organic options but it will be available in all colours and sizes from all leading supermarkets who will be permitted to brand across the front in a tasteful design.They will be assisting my own personal charity at Eton with 50% of the income of course.

Finally we begin our show with optional styles of cloaks, trimmed with fox fur from our specialist hunts which by the way offer apprenticeships for our unfortunate NEETS in the countryside arts. They are shown by example how to vandalise the countryside and trespass onto the property of the poor serfs gardens in search of the pleasure and sport of observing others torture and kill the helpless. We do need these young persons to serve us so this is a good place to start.

Clapping and sounds of ’wicked,man’ were heard on the audience and with a sly smile The Gove felt he had to be seen to silence these words of approbation. A man of charisma and charm, an exploiter of opportunity and a glorious englishman indeed in the best of traditions.

An image appeared on the screen of johny foreigner types clad in leaves around a fire telling stories with a written comment ‘the first teachers.’

“Who did that?” screamed The Gove spittle flying from his furiously distorted lips and showering the fortunate few on the front row with his sacred body fluids. Immediately the image was withdrawn and replaced with the image of an academy with wooden desks and a primary teacher leading a flock of little ones across the yard.

She immediately appeared on the walkway her long skirt swishing at her ankles, beautiful buttoned up boots with a low heel for suitablity of walking in the winter weather. The skirt in a brown worsted material hung at her ankles for the sake of modesty. The pretty khaki coloured shirt was frilled (first class only otherwise no frills version) and buttoned up at the neck with a nice brooch with our motto floreat governa in a lovely times new roman font, no detail was spared.

Polite clapping was heard as she walked humbly, head bowed in awe to the end of the walkway and back.

“Retro bro” was the whisper around the room. The men following all had the tweed jacket and brogues of different shade and hue but it was the cap and gown that was to be the highlight of the show as all swept down together following their adored master and clapping in a genteel fashion as The Gove took his bow to an upstanding and outstanding audience. The encores went on for 10 minutes at least.

Then suddenly a terrible cackling was heard and a shadowy figure in black appeared with a pointed hat and a cat on her shoulder. A shout went up “A special vote of thanks for The Gove from women all over the world we have chosen a magical representation of the French Revolution for the finale.” The curtain went back to reveal a backdrop of the Bastille.The Gove, not wishing to appear as a bad sport, was led back to the waiting guillotine. Next to this apparently shiny object was a basket and women waiting, knitting needles at the ready for the next seasons line in knitwear.(or would that be knithair, or nit hair?)

“Rest your head here, it is very comfortble and has an apprentice here from your famous vocational courses, the 9 week apprenticeship. I would like to invite all ex members of Eton college 6th form and indeed not to exclude those ‘poor’ people who have similar intentions and ways to take part in this little tableau we have put on for your delectation”.

The room darkened and with a mighty crash of thunder and for good measure a bolt of lightening the guillotine dropped and the cheery smile of the Gove was seen for the last time. Fortunately the curtains were closed before the audience realised the embarrassing mistake, using authentic examples may not always be the best idea.

The cackle became manic and the last to be seen of the shadowy figure was her silouette as she disappeared on her broomstick.

Teacher styles back to basics.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Say no to 'diet ' drinks

Interesting links being looked at for Gulf War Syndrome and other 'mysterious' illnesses. It has been suggested that when 'diet' canned drinks are left in excessive heat the sweetener converts rapidly into formaldehyde and does not revert on cooling... think about it!
  • Aspartame is the most dangerous food additive on the market today, accounting for over 75 percent of adverse reactions reported to the FDA, including seizures and death
  • Even though aspartame is touted as natural it has a synthetic methyl group on one of the amino acids that rapidly breaks down to methanol (wood alcohol). The sweetness associated with aspartame is largely the result of methyl alcohol bonded to the amino acid phenylalanine
  • Methyl alcohol is metabolized differently in the human body compared to other animals, and is FAR more toxic in humans which is why studies have trouble nailing down the hazards related to aspartame, because most rely on animal not human studies
  • Methyl alcohol, after it is taken up by the body as a “Trojan Horse” into susceptible tissues like the
    brain, converts rapidly into formaldehyde,. This causes severe damage to proteins and DNA that can contribute to many serious and chronic diseases, such as cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables contain minute amounts of methanol, but there’s a natural mechanism that makes it harmless. Pectin firmly binds to methanol, allowing it to simply pass through your body and be excreted, because the human body does not have the enzymes to break that bond

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Interested in Well Being in Schools, at Home and in the Workplace?

If you are a teacher, trainer, a social care leader or HR professional wanting to make a difference, then here’s an opportunity definitely worth looking into.

A Quiet Place Ltd. is a well established company in the fields of educational therapeutics, personal development for all and well-being in the workplace. It has a national reputation for its evidence-based, high quality service, offering effective programmes for both prevention and intervention adaptable for all ages and abilities. Deliverable in all settings – the great news is that A Quiet Place is seeking partners across the UK to enter into a franchise scheme help deliver its benefits to new clients.

If you are interested in finding out more and seeing how you or your team could join this important and growing field see here for the prospectus.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

National Training Day - Reflections from the Moon

Our National Staff Training day runs twice a year. We always look forward to meeting with everyone and sharing best practice. Most recently we had some new friends who might be interested in the franchising aspects, so an unusual mix. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day despite the lack of sandwiches. Usually they make trays too many and must have decided, as we left a lot previously, this time not to make enough! They gave us chocolate muffins instead as a healthy option. I had already brought a birthday cake for Karen but she took it home. Karen had come down from Children First in Scotland and was sick poor lass, not fun to have to travel when you feel rough however at least her organisation had paid for her and this maybe a first step in the Noo.
Joan showed new paperwork we have done for non-protocol children. It is so important to focus on outcomes and include the children in their own therapeutic process, it is not a cold thing the way we have done it and Joan is excellent.Then I asked David to share Wild Divine, Dual Drive and Mind Wave as some haven't seen the new bio-feedback programmes only HeartMath. It certainly stirred an interest.I focussed on 'Best you can be' and working with adults so we had fun with body sculpting, anchoring whole body through posture and wilfull movement. I did a relaxation - finding your own temple and cleaning and refreshing and finished off anchoring. Nice to get back to some simple techniques. Karen Scotland said she has used it successfully already.
It will be the last time at the Masonic building as we have booked training rooms in new premises in future - bright and easy. The other training may take place in schools perhaps, we shall see. I want to run some psychotherapy training to get out the Domestic Violence sessions and it is too complex for our Facilitators looking at specifics when they aren't trained properly with qualification background.I will get myself organised on that eventually....

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Down from the Ivory Tower: a treatise on the dissolution of concretised belief systems

One might ask, ‘what is psychotherapy?’ or ‘what is the point of psychotherapy?’ or ‘what are the outcomes of psychotherapy?’ As a traditional psychotherapist I might answer, we don't have ‘points’ or ‘outcomes’… probably!  I might simply follow my training model and work within its general fixed historical rules as opposed to looking at the unique context of particular individual’s specific situation.

Let’s consider a piece of satire – let’s call our pretend paper ‘Research for real people’ – to help explain why!

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, but not too far away, at the topmost top of a Tower made of the most beautiful and ancient Ivory,(on the back of many elephants before we knew better) there lived a very, very, very clever Professor in a room right at the top.

So clever was he, in fact, with so much clever stuff filling his brain that the words in his head had begun to grow like hair which he had to plait, because the words were sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo very, verry looooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng.

The Professor’s strange hair could not even grow out of the windows of the Tower as they had been filled in, with only one tiny hole left to look out of – left so he could focus very hard on the poor people way down below. But at least his strange hair kept the walls insulated from the light and sounds below and protected him from the heat of summer and the cold winds in winter. In fact sp protected was he in his own little world he didn’t even notice the changes in the seasons! He felt very warm and safe, knowing how his every word and indeed, though they were not only very long there were also very many of themcould protect him not only from the cold but almost anything at all!

He also used a bendy telescope, designed by his teacher before him, and indeed the one or two before that - or at any rate, a very long time ago, before people moved to towns and when they lived in the country in harmony with the seasons and weather and the turning of the moon. He could use the telescope, he told himself, to follow those poor people down below and watch them - for there was nothing he liked more than to work out what they were doing and why he supposed they were doing it! This tiny little window helped him to concentrate on one person at a time directly below. And as he was such a clever chap, he had another three windows too, one in each corner of his Tower – for, needless to say, it wasn't round but squareso he could follow the person all around the castle keep.

His servant, the faithful Acuk, brought food twice a day (though he didn't always remember to eat it) and took away his various treatises, very clever ones of course that no-one else could really understand as the words had become sooooo verrrry loooonnnngggg as to the whys and wherefores of his learned observations on the people down below. These treatises were published in learned publications that his peers read and argued and fought about; for indeed, each thought they had the answers to the world’s questions which they too had written in their own ivory towers. These treatises in their turn enabled the governors to control the poor people down below by labelling them and putting them into boxes so they could be treated accordingly. And everyone knew that that was what a treatise meant.

One day the clever man heard a muffled sound from below and felt a funny sensation on his head as if the words were pulling on his scalp. 'Ow' he said; 'Whatever could that be?' But soon it stopped and he continued his watching and writing, for that was all he knew.

Now much time had passed and he eventually noticed the land below had grown a forest in some parts and the river had changed is path - and that as a result, it was really quite hard to see the person he was studying so intently as well as before. But still, he continued to write and still the world (those in power at least) below were entranced by his clever messages and his theories as trained by his teacher and his teacher and even his teacher before that. For he knew he was right and that his entire world and all his life were given meaning via his righteous utterances on the poor people below.

Then one evening when the moon was full and bright, the pulling sensation happened again but this time it would not go away. He decided to go to look through the window, for he expected all the poor people below should and indeed really ought to be in their beds. But he saw nothing in the darkness through his bendy telescope. Then suddenly there was shuffling and a muttering as if someone was fighting their way through his plaited hair. Then to his shock, he felt a sharp tap on his shoulder. Frantically and vaguely (if you can do both togetherand of course as a professor, he could), he looked around but could see nothing through the swathes of plaited words. Then, through the darkness, came a very squeaky voice.

'Excuse me Professor, for that is who I heard you were. I have come to talk to you and tell you about myself and my family. We live in the little village Grassysward, way down below.’

The Professor peered through the hair and finally saw a very small person peering back at him.

'There is no village down below', said the Professor. ‘I have been watching for many eons and I know this to be so as my teacher and his before him and even the one before him told me and they know best.’

'Oh but there is! And we all live in it. It is just round the corner, you can't see it through those peepholes, but it is there. Do you also not know about about the factory at the other side which is polluting our water and making our old folks lose their minds? Or the sweet shop, so big now and so full of goodies that many of our children are going mad with the ‘sweetie sickness’. There is no room to play and run and many of us are sad.’

‘What?!’ said the Professor, ‘are you talking about, you very silly very small phenomenological person, there are no such things. You cannot tell me anything, as I have much longer and cleverer words than you and all those other poor people. I am here to help you, for I know all there is to know about you from my years of observations and the knowledge and teachings of my teacher and his before him and even one before that, The Great Fedure, who has never had anything to do with these invisible villages and factories. How dare you question me!!'

Now the Professor had surprised himself with his anger at allowing himself to become upset by one of the poor people down below. So quickly he gathered his decorum, which he kept of course in his back pocket and looking down from his great height suggested that the poor person left how he had come, from one of the word plaits which had wiggled out through a crack in the Ivory Tower and allowed the poor person to climb up and dare to invade his sacred place of learning.

'Before I go,' said the poor person, tugging his forelock (a key identification of poor persons). ‘We know that your research is important to help make generalised rules for us poor folk to live a good and dutiful life. For which, much thanks! But when these rules and labels apply to an individual they cannot be true, for we aren't in a bottle in a laboratory, no-one can possibly know all the multitude of effects on one person those aspects that make that individual unique, mysterious and wonderful. This must be the case and you don't acknowledge that nobody can possibly be completely objective with regard to the observed, the human being. Think of the new science of physics. Stop pretending that you can be completely objective and accept that all research with regards to human beings is going to be, at best, flawed.'

'How very dare you. What do you know of such things when I have never heard of them?' said the Professor. 'You are making it all up. I am in power and you must follow me and my words.'

'Sir Professor, please listen to me. Why don't you include us and ask us and our friends and family what we want, then? Why do you stare at us through windows and then say we are not good enough to even offer us your treatment. How do you think that makes us feel? When you do give treatment we want it to work, we don't want to be in therapy for years, we want to live our lives and to be happy enough. Is that too much to ask? Why don't you take into account the pollution and the unnatural diet and the fact that we don't exercise and our society makes us too busy to spend time with those we love? Why do you have to give us drugs so that the chemical factory which is polluting our brains can get richer and richer?

‘You are so deeply protected in your word-hair that you can't even look round the corners and see how we relate to each other. There's so much in the world and we are not rats in a maze but humans and you really should be a-mazed-at… how extraordinary we are. Humans are not all the bad things that you are always looking at and putting us in your forensic boxes. I am going to put you in one of your boxes - as someone who can only concentrate on one thing. You don't like that do you, well neither do I nor my friends. Don't you dare try and put us in your box until you have walked a mile or two in our boots!'

At this, he handed some rather worn-out boots, more holes than leather, to the shocked Professor.

'Get down now from this Tower and have the decency to ask us what we want from your illustrious help, instead of putting your teacher from the past and his teacher before him who told you what was right on a pedestal. I am sure they helped people in the past, but when people remember what great teachers have said, the life has gone out of it. The idea ceases to live and breathe anymore; it has become a structure, fossilised even in time and space, with every person following either watering down the initial idea until it becomes so frozen and fixed that it batters people to death or so watered down it is just a wishy washy nasty-tasting mess of meaninglessness!

‘Our dear Abbess in the monastery sits and listens to us every day in the village green, rain or shine, winter or summer. She knows about the plants and helps us at birth and death and through all the stages of our lives. She has asked me to come and would love to talk with you about how to help us live, not be kept as victims and 'interesting' phenomena to observe. How would you like that?'

At the mention of the Abbess, the Professor remembered his childhood and sitting round the fire listening to tales of the abbess, before he had become so very, very clever. He was then all of a sudden a little afraid, for he knew what everyone knew that when you peer into the Abbess then she will surely peer back into you…

So endeth this sorry tale. The next exciting episode is up to you!

At A Quiet Place, we are tuned to the individual, their particular needs, wants and circumstance. We also look to nature and value the simple and universal concerns of good food, clean and healthy environment, physical exercise and human relationships. We are aware of excellent theories like bonding being crucial to developing relationships and families need to work together but we don’t make people feel even worse than they do already. In order to achieve change we have our ACE theory

  • Awareness-they need to be aware of the specific behaviour
  • Choices-they need to know there are other choices and have support in trying them out 
  •  Energy to make those changes-stress chemistry often means inertia, people can be so exhausted they find their only choice is to do nothing-they need process and support to finding that energy. Otherwise feeling blamed equals anger which turned inwards is depression-no energy there at all and a waste of time for those who profess to help.

That’s as much ‘theory’ as we go in for – and why our holistic psychotherapy is attractive and inclusive to those who choose to enjoy it! 

Monday, 21 May 2012

10 dogmas debunked

Interesting talk from Rupert Sheldrake on The Science Delusion, freeing the Spirit of Enquiry. He claims 10 dogmas of the scientific creed and I was applying it very much to the ethos and values of A Quiet Place based on 'first do no harm' and second does it work?

The ten are:

  1.   The universe is mechanical, everything is a machine and brains are like computers. This is a useful metaphor but loses the wonder and richness of humans

  2.   All matter is unconscious, human consciousness is an illusion created by electrical/chemical activity in the brain. Can't remotely find this useful, inner life of humans and who knows what animals and plants remains a mystery but is demonstrated everywhere

3.   The total amount of energy and matter is always the same (except the Big Bang of course!) - that is a theory and as we move on in time other theories come out from our new knowledge base, organic development surely must be reflected in everything..'as below'

4.   Laws of nature are fixed, a constant. Who says?

5.   There is no purpose to nature, no goal or direction, everything has evolved by accident. How can anyone still believe that when we see so many connections, spiralling coincidences, numbers and sacred geometry all around?

6.   All biological inheritance is carried in the DNA. That has been disproved since the discovery of the genome didn't let us into every secret of mankind...hands up in amazement!

7.   Minds are inside our brains and everything is inside your head. Maybe our interpretation is in our head but we don't really know that we are purely an invention of our own figments!

8.   Memories are stored in the brain as material traces, absolutely unproven and they have tried hard to find memory banks..they are wiped out at death. One of the latest theories I heard was that memory is stored in the water within our body and that is estimated between 70-85% of our makeup depending on the scientist you listen to. Sounds good to me! Think of heart transplants and memories transferring in the blood, why is it anathema in some belief systems not to have other people's blood?

9.   Unexplained phenomena are all illusory or trickery. There is so much anecdotal information as well as scientific if any sceptics want to really look

10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works. Tell that to different cultures and people who have used complimentary medicine successfully. Even the medics are now beginning to use placebo effect, remembering that they are supposed to be 'healing' practitioners, and indeed I know some very good ones but... interestingly enough the net is helping open minds rather than be purely influenced by big pharmaceutical companies and find days out to hear the latest pill without connecting it to the side effects on the rest of the body

So open minds, a little humility and basic common sense should be the rule knowing the only real constant is change and new information comes on through time, I just mention that there still is a flat earth society, probably according to some, a CIA conspiracy that the earth is round!

Anyway good for Rupert for challenging these laws even when it is uncomfortable, my teacher, years ago said, ‘if you hold your hands out for truth some b..... will knock nails into them'.