Music and Song: the magical de-stressors.

 

Music and singing have always been my go-to anti-stress therapy. From an early age I was afraid of the dark and of being alone in my bedroom. So I used to sing myself to sleep every night. My repertoire consisted of songs I learned at school, at Sunday School and from the radio. The Seekers were major stars in my world and A World of Our Own was a frequent choice. The Beatles too, especially She Loves You Yea, Yea, Yea. Honestly, music and singing have never failed to comfort and lift me through many years of both a happy and a challenging life.

It was, then, no surprise to discover the power of music in helping patients feel better in all of the mental health contexts where I have trained, worked and researched. My first placement as a student nurse was in a care of the elderly ward in Purdysburn Hospital, Belfast and a well-known local performer arrived once a week to play the piano and sing. It was joyful to help those old ladies gather around the day room and to hear them sing along to old favourites from their era. Often they would continue singing for the rest of the evening, even after the entertainer had taken her leave.

Scholarly reports also attest to the power of music for mental health, especially in a community setting and a selection of their papers and findings can be discovered in a chapter of my book on Creativity and Social Support in Mental Health: Service Users’ Perspectives [Palgrave 2014]. 

For now, here’s another favourite from the one and only Abba. Thank You for the Music 🙂 

 

Round Ireland with an iPhone: Belfast#2

Hello again from Belfast Botanical Gardens. Several weeks of mid-summer heat, a rare enough treat in these climes, along with intermittent heavy rain, have brought about a magnificent swathe of blooms of all colours and variations. Most striking is the wild flower patch with deep blue cornflowers and lazy daisies. I’m doing the best I can to squeeze in a morning walk around Botanic at least once each week and catching a coffee with Fintan or a daughter into the bargain. While I tend to enjoy each season for it’s unique beauties, for now summer’s where it’s at. Happy Summertime folks!

Clutterville Central:My Domestic Space Dilemma

image of vintage dresser cluttered with china, odds and ends.

Since starting my new part-time job at IKEA I am enjoying a resurgence of energy and activity. I love the work, the creative atmosphere and our lovely team. I’m also studying Marketing at Belfast Met and setting up a small enterprise to combine life and health coaching with business support for sole traders and SMEs.

So, as you may guess, the home front is suffering. In complete contrast to the beautiful environment I work in and help to maintain, my own domestic daily routines have gone haywire and mindful domesticity has temporarily taken its leave.

The laundry gets done but rarely put away. Food shopping happens and meals are made, even though the fridge and cupboards are now pretty disorganised.

I’m sliding too on all the little extras: DIY and decor projects hang suspended in no-man’s-land; de-cluttering on a routine basis is now a pipe dream; windows need shining and bedrooms need sprucing but I simply cannot find the time to start and finish a project on the same day, week or even month. In short, the house is a mess.

On top of that there’s been a hiatus on the writing, blogging, crafting, walking and regular exercise fronts. They are now haphazard chance happenings. In short,

>> I need help! <<

What to do? Everyone is willing to chip in, in spite of the multiple demands on time and energy they too face daily. The challenge is to create an organising and cleaning system and keep it going – a tall order indeed, since we all work and study.

My current muse is tidying guru Marie Kondo, ‘whose method of lovingly connecting with belongings that spark joy and bidding a fond but firm farewell to the rest, is popular in Japan and is now catching on elsewhere.’ [The Guardian, Life and Style Supplement, 27th Nov. 2014].

I bought the book last year, started the ‘Kon Marie’ system and it was all going well until I got caught up in job applications and lost the tidying plot somewhere along the way.

So do I engage some outside help for a big spring clean (or to be more precise a big ‘pre-Christmas’ clean) and for routine monthly or weekly maintenance? This seems sensible and I believe would be money well spent. We could then all share the basic daily tasks and keep our own stuff regulated while outside help takes care of big cleaning. Big questions, though. Is it affordable? Is it justifiable?

>> What to do? Would it work? <<

Your experiences and suggestions would be most welcome!

Thanks and Toodle-oo

‘til next time.

 

Farewell Maestro #DavidBowie

Album Cover, Hunky Dory, contains song Changes

David Bowie on Hunky Dory album cover

Saddened by the passing of my all time favourite artist David Bowie, I’ve been looking back over my old posts and collections, celebrating his work and asking myself ‘What did David Bowie and his work mean to me?’

A series of images, tunes and words spring to mind. Here are just a few of them.
Youthful yet ageless, renowned yet humble, epitome of fearlessness, imagination, glam rock, the seventies, the eighties, colour, metallic, snazz and pizzazz, style, freedom, inventiveness, creativity, oxygen, emotion, sophistication, underground, challenge, way out, pure artistry. A while back I expressed my love of Bowie’s portrayal of the central character in the film ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’. To complete my hymn to our departed hero I have included that post as an appendix to this one. With thoughts and meditations towards his grieving family, I add

>>Rest in Peace Maestro and Thank You for the Music<<

 

 

Here’s an earlier blog post:

Falling Into Life: David Bowie as Archetypal Energy

Famous for his shapeshifting and experimental, entrancing songs, David Bowie’s role in the film The Man Who Fell To Earth is rarely noted nowadays. For me this is one of his finest pieces of work, alongside the song Changes from the 1971 Hunky Dory album. As a rare example of a movie that closely mirrors the book, Walter Tevis’s novel of the same name published in 1963 tells the story of a Martian who comes to earth to find a way to save his planet, his species and his own family. Bowie captures perfectly the loneliness and at times despair of the alien as he tries to make himself understood by the people he becomes involved with on earth. There is always an archetypal quality to Bowie’s work and in this role, he seems to me to mirror the Jungian process of  individuation, that always requires some kind of descent into the unknown and often alien realms of the  unconscious.

Other symbols of a pending descent into the inner world include dreams of stairways down to a cave or basement, or sliding into a lake or ocean. The classic example is Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, whose descent down the rabbit hole and encounters with numerous archetypal characters represent the way in which humans can grow through encounters with the unconscious (see Clifton Snider’s article at http://www.csulb.edu/~csnider/Lewis.Carroll.html ).

Ancient myths also reflect this theme, like Orpheus in the underworld and Persephone’s cyclical return. But the ultimate goal of descent is to touch base in some way before returning to the world a more expanded and integrated person, like the hero returning with the elixir of life or as Jung expounded, the alchemist finding the lapis lazuli.

While not everyone’s cup of tea, The Man Who Fell To Earth gives me a sense of the ultimate creativity of the hero’s journey and takes the sting out of uncertainty and change, for though the hero may not achieve his or her initial plans, they often find connections and meaning in the new world, so that ultimately it is the journey, not the destination that matters.

What does David Bowie mean to you?

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