Posted by: Postordinandy | January 5, 2017

20one17: defiant hope

(originally posted on my other site: 10eleven12)

 

2016, for many, has been a dark year.

From the ever-expanding list of artists, musicians, actors and others who created beautiful things who have left us, to the seismic turmoil of Brexit and Trump, via the ongoing and multiple humanitarian crises and acts of war and terror that scatter the globe.

One of my friends asked people to share good things that have happened in 2016, which was a great start, but I wanted an opportunity for people to share their defiant hope as they go forward into 2017. Who or what gives you hope, for yourself, your family, the planet, the future – because of, or despite the ongoing socio-political turmoil we see every day around us.

20one17‘ will be the 5th in a series of date-specific projects where contributions are gathered via social media and email.

Contributions are due by 5pm (GMT) on Friday 20th of January 2017 – the time Donald Trump is due to take the Oath of Allegiance and become the 45th President of the USA*.

If you have not taken part in a previous version, or just want a reminder, the other projects can be found here:

onefour15

11twelve13

12twelve12

10eleven12(pics) 10eleven12(words, etc)

11eleven11

The concept is hopefully simple to both understand and engage with: on the specific day in question, do something creative and contribute it! Entry is free, and you are welcome to submit more than one item if you wish.

Don’t believe you are not creative – as you will see from past projects, contributions range from carefully constructed poems, composed music, and pictures taken from a mobile phone. The beauty is in the contribution, and how each individual item submitted interrelates with the others.

There are same basic rules:

  • Take a photo, paint a picture, write a poem or short story… do something
  • Items must be completed on the day (Weds 1st April 2015,local time)
  • Items must be emailed or posted onto one of the relevant sites within a week to be included (so by midnight of Weds 8th April 2015 UK time)
  • More than one item can be submitted by any individual.
  • There is an additional, optional ‘theme’: Defiant hope
    • Items submitted need not be linked to this,
    • There is no extra kudos for any that do.
    • Any link that does appear can be as tenuous as you dare…

There is also a FAQ page here

Watch this space, and get ready to play your part!

 

(* 20one17 is not making a political point about President-elect Trump, but we have chosen this time as it represents a moment in modern history that many will fear, and others will have great hope in

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Posted by: Postordinandy | December 10, 2016

#LightTheWay

2016, for many, has been a dark year. From the ever-expanding list of artists, musicians, actors and others who created beautiful things who have left us, to the seismic turmoil of Brexit and Trump, via the ongoing and multiple humanitarian crises and acts of war and terror that scatter the globe.

It. Has. Been. Tough.

This year, Christian Aid are looking to harness the power of Social Media for good, and aim to spread a little love, hope and light to cast out some of the shadows at least.

The premise is simple enough: share a picture of Christmas lights on social media, including #LightTheWay and ideally tagging Christian Aid in your posts on Facebook and Twitter

Here’s my picture (which I will re-share at the weekend if I remember), taken by Claire Cartwright as part of 12twelve12 project I curated back in 2012(!)

lights - claire c.png

Posted by: Postordinandy | December 8, 2016

#LightTheWay – 9th to 11th Dec

2016, for many, has been a dark year. From the ever-expanding list of artists, musicians, actors and others who created beautiful things who have left us, to the seismic turmoil of Brexit and Trump, via the ongoing and multiple humanitarian crises and acts of war and terror that scatter the globe.

It. Has. Been. Tough.

This year, Christian Aid are looking to harness the power of Social Media for good, and aim to spread a little love, hope and light to cast out some of the shadows at least.

The premise is simple enough: share a picture of Christmas lights on social media, including #LightTheWay and ideally tagging in Christian Aid your posts on Facebook and Twitter

A day ahead, here’s my picture (which I will re-share at the weekend if I remember), taken by Claire Cartwright as part of 12twelve12 project I curated back in 2012(!)

lights - claire c.png

Posted by: Postordinandy | November 7, 2016

A poem for the world, at the dawn of the US election

I am Them, and they are us.

Driven into retreat by fear and distrust,

I scamper towards the nearest thing to light I see,

Not pausing to reflect on the source,

Nor causing to see my own bias.

.

I am Them, and they are us.

Trying to see the best in the other,

Failing to see the worst in myself,

I filter through alternate views,

And conclude that only I know best.

.

I am Them, and they are us.

Post-Brexit triumphant Leaver, wounded Remainer,

Post-Trump, Pre-Clinton,

War-Zoned out and switched off to the pain of others,

Anesthetising my own with caricature and causality.

.

I am Them, and they are us.

Created together, by God or by chance,

Infinitely more in common with my chosen enemy,

Than we have arbitrarily opted to define as different.

I am Them, and they are us.

(image source)
Posted by: Postordinandy | October 10, 2016

2 poems for #worldmentalhealthday

Today I silently screamed around the supermarket

.

I silently screamed around the supermarket:

Wrestling with doubt as I tried to decide which brand of beans to purchase,

The dread tsunami of terror ever rising in my chest.

Not butterflies these – but great armoured beasts –

Trampling with ugly booted hatred on the fragile confidence I fake,

Until the shell of me wandered on automatic pilot into the frozen food aisle,

Picking up Petits Pois even as scattered chunks of my soul remained in “Canned Vegetables and Pasta“.

And then the tiredness – the brain-deadness, body-wastedness, emotionally-drainedness of it all,

The voices, rabid in their persistence,

you are a life-sucker, a burden to those you love, a freak to everyone else“.

And so I wear my peace as a shattered mask,

Hoping that the mantra of “I’m fine” will metamorphose into something solid and true.

And sometimes it does.

And sometimes it won’t.

And sometimes it remains caught between reality and falsehood,

And my tired mental bones rise once more from the bed,

And a bark back at the Dog until he cowers behind the sofa,

Or I throw him a big enough stick that he loses interest in my psyche:

For an hour, a day, a week or more.

Perhaps never to return, perhaps silently present.

And I stumble into the self-service lane,

Swipe my goods, present my card,

And wander back into the world, both dead and alive.

All of me present, and

Most of me well.

.

They Walk Among You

They walk among you:

Silently wrestling inner demons as they order their cappuccino,

Buffeted by internal tsunami of anxiety, exhaustion or nausea,

Scarred by their own hand, scared of their own mind,

Nervously keeping an eye on those keeping an eye on them,

Sleeping too much,

Resigned to the idea of sleep being an unreachable utopia,

Unable to look into an undistorted mirror,

Tormented by inner demons who whisper about their worthlessness.

 .

They walk among you:

With the aid of medicinal cast and crutch,

With strength unmeasurable,

With shame and resignation,

With pride and resolve.

Determined to keep the Black Dog on a leash,

To continue to love others even when they struggle to love self,

To take the next step, and the next,

No matter how hard the effort and minuscule the gain.

 .

We walk among you:

Nine out of ten prisoners,

One in five under 15 year olds,

Two in five of those in retirement accommodation,

More women than men, mostly.

 .

You walk among them:

Those who appear untouched by mental fragility,

Who may be wearing a multitude of masks,

Hiding their own doubt, struggle and fears.

 .

We walk amongst ourselves:

We remain ‘other’,

Only if we determine to clothe ourselves in denial,

And fail to extend the hands of friendship, trust and love.

.

Links and that:

For more info on the day, and the issues around it, please see here

As ever, I recommend the two videos below as fantastic initial resources for you if you a) suffer from depression and/or b) love or care for someone who does – [It’s well worth getting the books the videos are based on too!]

I’d also like to add Matt Haig‘s excellent “Reasons To Stay Alive

Posted by: Postordinandy | September 9, 2016

Selling yourself without selling out

Job hunting is a pain – hours spent wading through various websites; clicking link after link to get the information you require; all-too-often finding that you fall just short of requirements of experience or qualification; answering the same basic questions over and over again (but never quite in the same format as perviously, so impossible to cut and past easily; trying to find a way of saying “I’m worth a punt on this” without sounding too cocky or needy; sending CVs into the vacuum of e-space; waiting for an apparent eternity for notice of successful or otherwise application…

And that’s before you get to any job interview.

I’ve been unemployed for a day now, but have been job hunting for 3 months without success…. it doesn’t help that I am, as a friend once put it: “highly qualified within a stupidly narrow field”

I have never been great at selling myself – my instinct is to acknowledge that there are others who could do whatever it is I am being asked about better than I. Indeed, much of my career has been spent finding and nurturing skills in others so that they can become better than I.

Humility is a tricky thing to embrace. We all know people who seem to lack it completely, just as we all know those who can’t seem to see how brilliantly they shine. But true humility includes an acknowledgement of where and how one is gifted, alongside the willingness to wear such skill lightly and to admit areas of weakness.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I have come to the conclusion that it is not just “high-achievers” who suffer from this. Many people whom I know to be perfectly competent and able in their chosen career, if not lauded by all around them, have confessed to me that they suffer from this in some way too.

We all, I think, to some degree are waiting to be ‘called out’ by someone who considers us less than we (or others) claim us to be.

And this, for many of us, is one of the big barriers when we have important things looming in our lives – be it job hunting or otherwise. We need to find the confidence in ourselves to be able to sell ourselves, but we will often have a small voice whispering in our ear “really?! You think they are going to buy that!?

Posted by: Postordinandy | July 8, 2016

The world is weeping…

The world is weeping.

She watches mute as her children tear each other apart.

.

Black men afraid to be stopped by police,

41 shots no longer unusual

Police afraid to be in public, ‘lest sniper fire burns them.

Countries turn their back on allies,

And step into the unprepared unknowable.

Bombs, and bullets, and bricks, and barriers fly,

Kids in the street are blown to pieces while playing football,

Doctors lose their lives as they fight to save others,

.

Suspicion of the other drives greater distance than geography,

Casual racism pushes hope to the margins,

And fear, claws sharpened, points at ‘them’ and whispers:

they have come for your jobs, your children, your lives…

.

We each have 206 bones in our frail bodies,

The minute data held in our 23 pairs of chromosomes is all that differs,

Skin colour is just pigment,

Height and weight and strength and talent should not divide.

.

Culture is the water we swim in,

And we praise and protect our little slow-flowing streams,

Never realising they are connected to beautiful oceans.

.

Our lives are dots on the great map of history,

Brief moments of captured time,

That flicker on and off as if fairy lights,

Leaving faint echoes for a while, perhaps,

But not as significant as we might imagine or hope.

.

The time has come for us to raise up our arms,

Not in aggression or anger,

Not even in protest,

No, the time has come to raise our hands in action,

And in peace.

To actively resist fear and hatred,

To restore the possibility of hope and togetherness.

.

“If you believe in Peace,

Time to go to work.

Can’t be waving your head no more.

Go to work.”

It’s a little known fact,

that,

if you hold a poppy to your ear,

you can hear the echoes of shells exploding.

 .

The collected experience of muddy and tired men,

Screams and dull thuds as bodies fall,

Crumpled onto French fields.

 .

And we, a full Century later now,

honour the memories of those who fought for freedom,

men who – but a few short months before

had wanted nothing more than food on plate,

and roof over head.

 .

We stand with our ankles in the same mud of conflict,

ducking the shells of political argument,

and the bullets of fear of the other.

 .

The poppies grow in Flanders field,

the land around the Somme bears deep scars still,

and the buried cry out,

begging us to listen and learn,

that those who want freedom will pay a steep price,

the reward costly but valuable beyond measure.

 .

It’s a little known fact,

that,

if you hold a poppy to your ear,

you can hear the echoes of shells exploding.

 

somme

(picture from Telegraph story on the 100th anniversary of the Somme)
Posted by: Postordinandy | November 11, 2015

Remembering The Fallen

When I attended the recent Remembrance Day service in Walthamstow, I was reminded a post I wrote 4 years ago, about how Remembrance Day and Poppy wearing (or not) is fraught for me.
I think “4 year ago me” and myself remain in agreement [summary – it’s tricky, people get quite cross about it, and war remains stupid].

I spoke to my girls on the way to the service – I’ll be honest, I was only really attending as each of them had been asked to attend as part of their membership of Rainbows/Brownies/ Guides. My almost-6 year old didn’t really have a clue what the day was about, my 7 year old knew it was something about war and dead, my 10 year old and I had a nice discussion about the fact that it’s complicated. The march from a local park to the Town hall made me a little uncomfortable, but not as much as I was expecting. One friend noted my ‘brave non-conformism’ in that I was not wearing a poppy myself (although each of my girls were proudly donning one on their nice clean uniforms). I didn’t want to say that it was simply that I had only managed to find stick-on poppies this year, and that mine had fallen off. To be fair, I don’t wear Red poppies if I can help it – for some of the reasons noted here – and was too nervous (and dis-organised, again) to wear a white poppy at such an event (despite what some think, I am not into confrontation for the sake of it, and have been made to feel very uncomfortable about wearing the white poppy in certain circles, as has a certain Mr Corbyn it seems).

The service was long – especially for the many children present. Too much talking, a couple of hymns. The priest did a good job (in my opinion) of navigating the route between ‘we remember’ and ‘peace is better than war’. There was representation from 3 faiths and from the Humanist Association. I particularly appreciated the way the priest softly stated a couple of times something along the lines of “respect and honour the memory of all who have fallen as a result of conflict” which may have been a gentle rebuttal to any tempted to focus unhealthily on a “Glorious Dead” angle of things.

I still struggle with it all.

Walking home, the girls and I chatted again about the service. “Did you understand what was going on?” I asked. The replies were muted and mixed – a little focussed on how long it was. My 7 year old summed it up like this: “I think that war is a bad thing, people seemed sad that other people had died, and I think that’s a shame“. I think she’s said it better than I could.

 

Here’s a poem called 1914-2014 I wrote when we started thinking about the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1:

In Flanders field

The poppies weep in frozen disbelief:

Heavy tears hanging their petals to the ground,

Like old beggars under sacks, perhaps?

 

For the dead they remember increase in number by the hour:

No longer filmed in sepia tones,

Captured images from torn and faded photographs,

But resplendent in violent hues of shrapnel red.

 

We few, we happy few majority,

Who can mute the echoing cries of anguish with the casual flick of a switch,

Dull our minds to the disposable departed –

Their images replaced by dancing kittens.

 

The casualties of war, those for whom the Bell Tolls,

Are not – we insist – kindred souls: we see no empathy with

Those who, but for a twist of geographic and ethnic fate

Would have been our neighbours, our family, our colleagues and friends.

 

If I should die, think only this of me:

That my life is worth no more, no less,

Than that of the torn corpses on news channels and magazine copy.

As Edwin intoned: what is it good for?

 

I leave with words constructed far better than I could manage… There is much prolonged scholarly debate about the central thrust of Owen’s poem [it may not be as anti-war as people often think it is, but is fairly clear on the dangers and costs of whipping up militarism in younger people… it is also, apparently, one of David Cameron’s favourites, according to the Daily Fail(!)]

I’ve always liked it – a combination of an enthusiastic (and slightly batty) English teacher, and a fondness for The Damned

Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen:
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.
—Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori*.
.
[credited to the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”]
Posted by: Postordinandy | October 10, 2015

A poem for World Mental Health Day (Oct 10th)

Today I silently screamed around the supermarket:

Wrestling with doubt as I tried to decide which brand of beans to purchase,

The dread tsunami of terror ever rising in my chest.

Not butterflies these – but great armoured beasts –

Trampling with ugly booted hatred on the fragile confidence I fake,

Until the shell of me wandered on automatic pilot into the frozen food aisle,

Picking up Petits Pois even as scattered chunks of my soul remained in “Canned Vegetables and Pasta”.

And then the tiredness – the brain-dead, body-wasted, emotionally-drainedness of it all,

The voices, rabid in their persistence,

“you are a life-sucker, a burden to those you love, a freak to everyone else”.

And so I wear my peace as a shattered mask,

Hoping that the mantra of “I’m fine” will metamorphose into something solid and true.

And sometimes it does.

And sometimes it won’t.

And sometimes it remains caught between reality and falsehood,

And my tired mental bones rise once more from the bed,

And a bark back at the Dog until he cowers behind the sofa,

Or I throw him a big enough stick that he loses interest in my psyche:

For an hour, a day, a week or more.

Perhaps never to return, perhaps silently present.

And I stumble into the self-service lane,

Swipe my goods, present my card,

And wander back into the world, both dead and alive.

All of me present, and

Most of me well.

.

Links and that:

For more info on the day, and the issues around it, please see here

As ever, I recommend the two videos below as fantastic initial resources for you if you a) suffer from depression and/or b) love or care for someone who does – [It’s well worth getting the books the videos are based on too!]

I’d also like to add Matt Haig‘s excellent “Reasons To Stay Alive

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