Something Other

A distant memory has been unearthed. As thoughts often do – tugging on a few more to join their masquerade ball. These series of writings are in support of another.

A form of racial attack in the form of exclusion is often not documented, fear of further reprisal or silencing disbelief – can stall efforts seeking justice. I will aim to draw out both the strangeness of experiences like these, and also the self questioning that arises in the pieces that are to follow.

Mockingbird
Dr Dwight Turner’s Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy, summarise in a myriad of ways what it means for Black, Asian and members from Global South communities to live in former colonisers countries. Dr Turner pays attention to what his experience was to be trained in counselling and psychotherapy. Mockingbird does well to observe: Feminism, what members from the LGTBQi+ communities continue to contribute to the lexicon of intersectionality, the poor and working class, as well as embodied experiences of the disabled, a community since 2011 I count myself among. Assimilation into community and acceptance is granted partially at significant personal cost. A loss of identity, culture, sense of community, language, a knowing of oneself is summarily deposited outside the exclusionary zone of becoming a therapist and adjusting to living amongst…

Past It
Dr Turner also shares his disquiet of being a lecturer and accosted by a student. You may have seen images of #thisiswhatapsychotherapistlookslike after an encounter where he met *affrontery. My fantasy is of a White woman stating “But you don’t look like a psychotherapist, you look more like a bouncer!” The caring profession is littered with redundant opinionated professionals with outdated views that belong in centuries past.

Altered
The first remembering of difference that has floated up for me, is a primary school excursion. I cannot remember if it was a class trip, or a venture to reward an achievement for friends of mine and I. We had gone to see a play at a theatre in London. As children, we may have found some thrill being away from school, but may have found the play of little interest. The play was either a nativity or a pantomime. A cultural experience I had little knowledge of, or interest in. After watching for 20 minutes we (my friends and I) found fun elsewhere. What I vaguely remember is being told off. Reprimanded for throwing wet balls of tissue paper at ceilings and at friends. Playground behaviour at a reputable establishment. A teacher growing redder and angrier at each of us, saying words that were meant to hurt and shame. They did! I can remember leaving the bathroom, head bowed, with a heavy heart. Something of significance had transpired, an element of innocence removed or dented.

Mushy
I also remember some of the boys being resolute that they were going to tell their parents. Which they did. I can remember 2 parents attending a meeting with the school a week later. Not mine. I carried my shame without disclosing. Fear of further punishment and their disbelief stopped me. What fails to be recalled are the exact events, the teachers words, what nativity play we saw, what theatre and what reason I had of not being aware enough of the hurt she had caused my friends and supposedly – me. Something other may have been said, decrying of our inner city, poor, council estate dwelling, or lack of appreciating a cultured artistic performance. Her anger, disappointment and confused rage – causing us all to register with shock that the teacher only saw our demise. We, supposedly trapped eternally to live our lives on the housing estate. A heady and unworthy blow, delivered for simply not enjoying a play. We, making a wet paper towel mess of a theatre bathroom and being held as criminally deviant as a result. She may have used strong and shaming words. Adding further to her sense of the wrongdoing and branding us *whip-handedly. Instituting my first experience of the ‘them and us’ polemic idea.

Culture
The idea of who was acculturating whom is what I am now left fathoming. Perceived difference does little to engender a feeling of shared interest, warmth, curiosity or journeying to discovery. We witness as citizens on our planet, an increase of ideas towards separation, division and increased animosity against the other. Displacing a growing state of anxiety. Answers lie in what Dr Kelly suggest below…

Resources
The below link is to the excellent podcast by Ibram X Kendi who interviews the university professor Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley about misguided notions of superiority and capital interest. The link to the writing above is the perception of which ideas of betterment are seen as valid and overvalued and what ideas are vanquished as valueless.
Ibram X Kendi Be Anti Racist podcast Capitalism

Image
Blue Orange photo by davisuko on Unsplash

True Roots

Today’s blog is littered with links. The conversation about how Anti Black Racism affects me needed to be sighted amongst a wealth of material. Hopefully the writing has helped bring new thoughts and *awareni to the top of your mind.

On Wednesday 28th of April, Kimberly Cato of True Roots Counselling Services hosted her 4th True Roots conversations about being Black in Canada. For me, it was about being a citizen of the world now that I live in Canada. I drew references from my experiences of being a UK resident of over 40 years. The True Roots conversations each month centre on a specific topic related to being an African Canadian, African Caribbean and an African American living in North America. Guests have Zoomed in from African nations and the conversation feels like a truly Diasporic experience. The topic on the 28th was on Racism’s Impact? As a panelist, I also wanted to put my thoughts to ‘paper’ to share what these effects are in their fullness. I am not one for taking space when other guests have as much to share. So here on this blog I can get my thoughts together in a reasonably focused way.

Racism is an ongoing system of trauma

What is Anti Black Racism to me?
Anti Black racism is to me the video footage of Rodney King’s brutal attack by 4 police officers and the upsrisings this caused. It’s visceral nature and experience was an early experience of vicarious trauma for me. I was in Peterborough England. Rodney King I felt was me. His attack I felt could happen to me at any moment. I was 17 at the time.

Anti Black racism is to me the innumerable amount of Black women and Black men permanently negatively affected by racist ideas, policies, practices and structures that affect Black people’s lives.

Anti-Black Racism is the experiences of the Windrush generation of migrant workers arriving in Britain and not being allowed to buy or rent homes by White landlords.

Anti-Black Racism is the unwritten double standard and gall of the British nation to not welcome their rearguard support with more than disdain and mistrust amazes me. Those who arrived, invited by Britain to help rebuild the UK after the 2nd world war were criminalised before entry to the UK. Part of the commonwealth community but provided visitors status only. My parents came to Britain a few years after the Windrush as economic migrant workers and were maligned as inferior to British natives along with other Black and Brown people journeying from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

Anti Black Racism is Red-lining in the US, that observes racial, social and educational segregation and separation of racialized groups (a politically endorsed and semi legal enforced apartheid), Blacks (African American) Browns (Latin X, Indigenous, Asian) and poor Whites kept away from the middle and upper class upwardly mobile and wealthy Whites.

Anti-Black Racism is the central cause for the civil rights movement in the US and is similar to UK representations of seeking justice, brought to light by the small axe films by Steve McQueen.

Anti-Black Racism is the Steven Lawrence murder and Mark Duggan killing and subsequent police cover ups. The sentiments that fuelled the UK uprisings after Mark’s death in 2011.

Anti-Black racism is to me, Black and Brown people’s murders at the hands of law enforcement across the globe. Anti-Black Racism was partially involved in the world’s response to George Floyd’s murder. The will of the people being heard as if waking up, out of a dream, after 100 years of being fed government sponsored lies (about Black and Brown people).

Anti-Black Racism is finally seeing things as they are for the many who are living outside of the comforts of privilege.

Anti-Black Racism is the simple statement that Black Lives Matter and the upset this movement and statement causes some White people.

Anti-Black Racism is a remotely conscious belief that Black life – does not matter. I am left with the idea that even after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the many more famous and still being uncovered lives lost on account of being Black, that a Black life is valued as lesser than a White one. How many White male mass shooters are shot and killed by law enforcement after a heinous attack on a school, or at a place of worship? How were the marauders of the Capitol Building in January managed? Were these marauders to be Black, LatinX or Muslim what would the response from law enforcement have been?

Lift as we climb

How does it manifest itself in either your personal or professional life? 
⁃ Anti-Black Racism manifests as insidious jokes classed as micro aggressions but are anything but small. Micro Aggressions are like hidden time bombs, or radio-controlled missiles with delayed or variable incendiary devices. Generally, when the bomb or missile detonates there be no witnesses save a single casualty – the unwitting and unwilling recipient.

⁃ Anti-Black Racism looks like – work colleagues who are friendly one moment and then can utterly silence forget and *invisibilise you the next. Coming to quick awareness when another in their social class, or racial group enters or strikes up a malignant conversation, drowning out what you were saying. Talking to other (usually White colleagues) as if you aren’t there, or that you wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly understand what the topic being discussed is. Even when you do and show that you understand or are interested in sharing your ideas, the sense of disbelief, the mocking sneer and invitation for you to further disembowel for the group’s amusement is often the beguiling response.

⁃ Anti-Black Racism is being outed as ‘other’ when you are doing one’s best just to do well or simply get by with little – no attention. Definitely not negative attention.

⁃ Anti-Black Racism is the idea and misrepresentation of yourself as only your race. Culture, gender, sexuality, religion, class, nationality, physical and mental capacity be damned. The narrow view – not identified as a complex intersectional human being. Other groups exist in the world constantly within a multi-directional/intersectional lens.

Quickly Vanishing

Do you see it’s impact in your sphere of influence, if so what does it look like?
⁃ Yes I do. I had a great conversation with my friend, a Ghanaian Indian woman recently. We both formerly worked for Oxleas NHS Foundation trust and formed the Diversity space together alongside two other Black male colleagues. My friend recently was awarded a promotion to her role after only 6 months as a lead social worker based in Kent, and is now the Team Manager and Service Lead. The role expands and increases the number of staff that are directly influenced by her and has also increased her budget. She had worked at Oxleas tirelessly for 2 years and saw a number of junior colleagues (White), advance in their careers many times before her.

⁃ A Black male Canadian friend, a counsellor and educator working in Peel educational district shared his experiences of ‘micro aggressions’ he had experienced earlier in April 2021. He shared that recently he was classed as being a bully, for standing his ground and for speaking his mind to a White woman.

Dr Clare Warner working at McMasters University as the Senior Advisor, Equity, Inclusion and Anti Racism Student Affair’s lead is working determinedly to begin supporting McMasters Sports Dept to begin tackling Anti-Black racism. The conversations we have throughout the day are about culture change and systemic racism that predates her role within the institution. Clare shares with me her experiences of building alliances with a number of Black student groups and Black faculty at McMasters, to work towards change within the university’s anti Black racism agenda. Conversations at our home are lively.

Flavoured Support

What strategies do you use to address Anti-Black Racism in your life?
Meditation is a good source of making time to de-bug from the daily negotiation of the experience.

I read, I write, I comment on other’s feeds looking at and addressing Anti-Black Racism, I show support to initiatives by donating time and resources. I support groups like Kwanda that are doing amazing work internationally with the African Diaspora. BAATN.org.uk is another organisation I wholly endorse and support.

Talking/hearing with family and friends about these difficult ‘world put to order concepts’ are fulfilling, rewarding and encouraging. New ideas surface to age old problems and I find these conversations a wellspring of energy.

I listen to a number of podcasts that feature Black/Brown people including The Stoop, Code Switch, Ear Hustle, What’s Ray Saying, School Colours, Resistance, Nice White Parents, Forbidden Fruit and el hilo. Each show feeds me useful information and help to galvanise my efforts to continue the struggle. All of the shows listed above, raise points for reflection and change on the topic of Anti-Black Racism. 

Ibrahm X Kendi’s book ‘How to be an Anti-Racist’ was useful to frame the dynamic of recognising the time we are living amongst as is Dr Dwight Turner’s book ‘Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy.’ Reading Aiko Bathea’s Open Letter to Corporate America and her interview with Brené Brown were hugely insightful about the steps we could all take to improve.

Forming Black lead group spaces that challenge the epoch of time we are living in – like Oxleas Diversity Space in England from October 2019 – October 2020. Forming and running a Black Men’s Therapy Group in South London in November 2019 and running this until June 2020 was a great experience for me and my collaborator Sheila Samuels. We witnessed Black men come together grow, learn, challenge and open doorways to healing.

Linking with Black critical thought leaders and change makers such as Dr Clare Warner, Evelyn Myrie, Terri Bedminster, Kimberly Cato, Kimberley Evans, Dr Dwight Turner, Rohan Thompson, Rotimi Akinsete, Yannick Yalipende and Wayne Reid is a huge spiritual, psychological, physical and emotional resource for me personally.

The article ‘Whiteness on the Couch’ by Natasha Stovall was a watershed for me. Here a White woman examines what it is to support other White people who don’t recognise their privilege is a useful resource to read. 

Ultimately it is about recognising that I have a small part to play within a larger whole. My role is to actively work on bending the arc of history’s events towards justice – for…

Resources
Aiko Bathea’s Open Letter
Brené Brown and Aiko Bethea

Images
Cover photo by Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash
1st photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
2nd photo by yang miao on Unsplash
3rd photo by Benjamin Blättler on Unsplash
4th photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

Perfect Storm: Never

Never
I had thought that my last post on the experience of CoViD19 would be my final one. That post looked at the fatigued experience of when will the Lockdown end and things return to something that’s near normal? But something as cruel and life affecting has appeared on the horizon and I am drawn to look at this too. This post is serialised.

Resource
Kehinde Andrews 20 positive ways to bring about lasting change

Image
Cover photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

Perfect Storm: Intro

The events of the past few weeks coincide with events over the past few months. They appear to have met and produced a swell of human reaction and protest that would have been hard to imagine last year or even 20 years ago. The following few posts will discuss these ideas further.

Resources

Brené Brown discusses with Ibrahim X. Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist

Intro to Deeping/Deepening It: Substance, Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence 1

A good friend asked me to write something for young people. She WhatsApp’ed – ‘Hi Michael, some words which last year I was playing around with, in regards to much but, our young. Is there something you might be able to say with them? Substance, Resilience, Resistance and Persistence.’

Er…
The first words that came to me was I don’t think I have ever been commissioned to write for a specific group of people on a blog before. Come to think about it some more, there was the lecture series at Greenwich University. I developed and delivered 6 lectures for their under grad psychology and counselling students in 2018. But a blog I have not specifically been asked to write before. So here goes…

A working week
This request I feel is something else. I haven’t been prescribed length, style or a content delivery method by my friend. These pieces have been left for me to choose which directions I go.

What I can say about what will happen is, I will write a series of roughly 500-600 word *synopsi. These *synopsi will cover each topic over a 5-day period in a quasi-tutorial of my thinking. The intention is to make the information impactful.

A short anonymous questionnaire will be added to the last topic: Insistence and will insist you to complete. There will be a call for a change of perspectives. For long held opinions to be uprooted and chance to experience life differently, perhaps.

George’s
If you are late to the party of ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast’, I would say stop here and listen to the first 3 episodes. Why? Well apart from every episode being absolute line for line brilliance. And they are. George’s podcasts series is a perfect example of the 4 words I have been invited to speak/write about.

Substance:
Throughout the series of podcasts George talks about his experiences growing up and seeing his neighbourhood turn. Throughout each episode George gives an insight to his beginnings and about his family. He speaks about his home, his country of origin, music and becoming the man he is as a result of what he has seen and lived through.

Considering it all. What lies ahead. MichaelForfiehCounselling
Deeping It

Resilience:
At one point in his life George was to become a rapper and turned away from this path to do something (different) more. The knock back gave him a push to travel somewhere other than his friends and contemporaries had. He learned to believe in himself and how amazing his journey has been. *Inspirator.

Resistance:
I played part 16 of George’s podcast to my family, on one of the 1st Lockdown weekends here in London. They didn’t get it. George used the metaphors of the internal workings of his mind to help explain his creative processes. His rhyme and meter were used by differing voices to explain what they were doing in George’s head.

My wife (Dr CW) thought that George was having a schizophrenic episode. Their voices were of the streets. Using patois and London street *slanguage to explain their position within George’s mind. This episode was wild. What George illustrates over and over is how determined he is to see his vision exist and help others to have their realities exist too.

Lastly Persistence:
In one episode of the podcast series George speaks about leaving his area and moving to go to a private school on a full scholarship. He explains that he doesn’t want to go. But his parents and the school he is going to recognise his potential, fully.

George eventually sees the error in his pre-judgement. He becomes an agent in wanting to remain aspiring rather than simply achieving. There are knocks but he makes his journey beyond North London to a Russel Group University. To become…

Renew/Review/Rethink?
My intention for this mini-series of blogs; is for you to find something useful within these words. That the mini series of blogs, titled Deeping It, at least invite you to rethink elements of life and make appropriate plans to suit.

Resources
Have You Heard George’s Podcast  look for episode 1
Tom Bilyeux Impact Theory ep 162
TED Radio Hour Comfort Zone

Images
Cover photo by Jadon Barnes on Unsplash
Inlaid photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash
Substance, Resilience, Resistance, Persistence, Insistence

Ascent: Looking like a long way up.

Sticking With It: Challenge

Writing short little epithets, as seen below, after completing a 10-minute meditation has been a part of my meditation practice for just over a year. After nearly 400 days of continual practice with the Calm app, I am open to continue with the learning and growing. Recognising that I have an inquisitive and restless mind has been testing. Finding a practice that reduces anxiety has been useful for me to develop a better understanding of myself. The practice of 10-15 minute meditation every day also supports maintain my focus at this challenging time of World History.

Wise words
The quote from calm that inspired this post was – ‘Let difficulty transform you. And it will. In my experience, we just need help in learning how not to run away’ by Pema Chodron.

My response
@calm ‘Noticing that challenges are made to be overcome and they are as much ‘How’ as they are ‘When’. Ask for guidance or help when needed #meditation.

To the quick
The example of the short quip above, is an effort to show that I understand the difficulty of not turning in the opposite direction. Away from the source of uncomfortable challenge. Making a fail safe leave plan when things get tough. Like now!

Healers
There is an attempt to take the quote and re-interpret Pema Chodrin’s words. I then offer both the quote and my interpretation as a support. You may have seen the quote/remix on various social media spaces I inhabit. The quote/remixes are also a way to share that, should someone want access to mental health support I know of many who could be of impactful assistance.

Challenge as a bridge

Target 400
After 395 days of consistent daily meditation practice and a solid bombardment of information about the Corona-virus/COVID-19 pandemic. My need for meditation happens to be both an escape and a cure to return the mind to a steady hum. I have found the practice to be a salve.

Reset
The hype, hysteria and hyperbole of the disease and recognisable human responses including denial, panic buying, hoarding, frequent information fly wheel gathering, does little to aid our capacity to find a level state of mindful yet calm awareness. In fact it is often quite the opposite.

How
To overcome a challenge is a request to understand what it is and how it may affect things for you, family, friends and colleagues. See the challenge as a problem to solve. Aim at becoming creative and communicate with others about what the challenge is and see if others have met/experienced a similar difficulty and what they did? Rarely are you the only person to have faced a problem like it. Accepting advice could be an appropriate way to make it to the other side.

When
That can all depend on you. Running away from the challenge usually puts the difficulty off for an undefined length of time. But, it will return. It usually is an universal phenomena. ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today’ was a saying my mum would say to me. Possibly her mum may have said it to her too when she was in her teens.

Train
It would be understandable to remove yourself from a challenge for a short time, build up the necessary skills, strength, understanding and then return and overcome said problem.

Result
The outcome for getting beyond the difficulty is the learning we gain from doing so. Being a life-long learner and a perpetual student of life supports growing past false limitations, possibly put in place by others. Apply understanding and continue honing, growing and improving. I believe growing after facing adversity is one of the best achievements of our lives. Becoming a therapist is a part of that story for me, but so is becoming a father, supervisor, lecturer, writer

Resources
Tom Bilyeu Impact Theory: Agent Smith
Science of Success with Jim Kwik

Images
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

Investment in Therapy pt 3

I have been hinting throughout the previous 2 blogs that there are times when our brains do not support us to live well. There may be a number of reasons for the mind to act in a dubious way towards you. The reasons can include past thinking patterns, current or present living situations, nutrition, lethargy and using the body less often doing light exercise, relationships with others and a host of other experiences can negatively affect the mind.

Out to Get Us
The effects of the mind becoming an agent looking to undermine and derail us are similar to agent Smith in the Matrix. Agent Smith tried to finish Neo unsuccessfully many times. The effects of a mind becoming unwell are well documented.

3 Types
The point I am driving at is, by accessing the support and resources of someone else’s mind, (final flight scenes in the Matrix) can help someone who has entered a negative thinking pattern to realign those thoughts!

Tools in thinking approaches can be used to review what aspects of a person’s experience can be altered, left behind or actively engaged with to create a better now and future. C.B.T. and D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) E.M.D.R (Eye Movement De-sensitisation Reprocessing) are 3 therapeutic approaches that have been shown to have positive outcomes for a wide range of people who present with depression and anxiety and altered thinking patterns who are unable to re-route to have healthy thoughts.

Social for a reason
As social creatures we learn and gain ideas from others all the time. We have existed in a teach and learn from others for millennia. In therapy whilst some of the work is on you to figure things out for yourself, having a professional with you can help jolt the mind to begin thinking new and amazing ideas/thoughts/beliefs.

A coach or mentor will actively challenge you to think bigger or directly upset how you are viewing the world you live in. The aim in therapy/coaching/mentoring is to support you begin expanding and testing new thoughts.

The fear of engaging in support, could be that a person can stay thinking the thoughts they had originally. Remaining – Stuck. With a Flat affect. All around morose.

Exhibit A: It is about You
Then again the visit to the GP. The IAPT appointment happens or you make a last ditch attempt at seeing that therapist friends advised you to see.

You vampire like swoop to the transport to get you there just on time or a few minutes late. Mumbling at reception your request for the appointment with Ms D or Mr S. Your buzzed through and then…

Therapy begins.
Slowly at first.
One session.
An introduction.
The assessment.
You of them.
(Will this work?)
Them of you.
(Not sure, well, maybe?)
A feeling out of them, you, the space.
Do they really listen?
Have they really understood?
You test them.
Can they handle the real reason of why you came?
They sort of pass.
This could work!
The 59 minutes pass and
They politely intuit that
Your time with them is
Over. With a nod,
A slight
Smile, they say “See
You, next week?”
As though unsure of what
They have unleashed.
Not exactly the Cracken,
A distant cousin. The
Bracken? Maybe. As if on
A washing line you
Return and something
Begins to lift…

Slowly…

Exhibit A continued
The investment appears a sound one. The spring has returned. There’s renewed confidence. It looks brighter now. How did that happen? What trickery is this? Some call the experience of feeling renewed and invigorated, therapy. Others healing.

Whatever it might be, it feels good all the way to the bone. If you can cast your mind back to the last time you felt like this? Free. Happy. A willingness to be patient. Filled to the brim with energy. Spontaneous. Taking careful risks. Life before was a feeling of seemingly limitless time. This may have been before. You may have been younger then and that thing, those things hadn’t happened…

Therapy/Healing/Mentoring/Coaching/Consulting can help you to arrive at spaces that can make you want to try again.

We could ask is this a worthy investment…?

Resources
Tim Ferris interviews Brené Brown
Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu Keynote Speech 2016

Images
Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash

Re-imagining Loss part 2

Expansion beyond 5
I wonder if there are stages/experiences that follow Denial, Bartering, Anger, Depression and Acceptance that could be added to the stages of dealing with death.

That may provide a better frame to the slim paradox of grief and loss? Maybe a healthier way to manage the tumultuous feelings that accompany loss?

Yes go through the 5 but what about
Celebration
Rest and
eventually finding Peace?

Allowing space for a quiet putting down of all those years of turmoil, self-questioning, doubt, pain and other uncomfortable emotions and thoughts.

Expulsion
Nine Night as a Caribbean/African tradition of helping to move the deceased on. Nine Night allows mourners time to remember, tell stories, curse, swear, holler, cry, sing, dance, play cards, pour libation and offer to anyone who has ears to listen our best, worst and most treasured memories of the them that has gone on.

Hammer Toss
My favourite story of my mum that has left an indelible imprint on my memory is the story of the hammer. Caribbean’s know of pick up and throw as a rule to instruct and discipline children. Especially the ‘fleet of foot’ child, which I was fortunately. Well. When we meet allow me to share that indelible memory…

Reflect
In celebration we hold up a mirror to them (The deceased). Not only do we see them but we also see the time we had with them and ourselves. It’s a funny thing because these memories contain them and us. By remembering, we invite in a retelling of a time before, with them in it, alive, vibrant. Unforgettable. Until even those memories fade and change over time.

Remember Blockbusters
If anyone knew my friend Jamui Adebiyi you would know of his acting ability and of his harsh criticism of B rate movies. Imagine Blockbusters, the now defunct movie loaning business chain, at Clapham Junction 1999. Myself, Mobolagi and Ade negotiating between us movie choices, this was long before Sainsbury’s rolled in. I ventured that we should watch a said B rate movie and his reaction was classic Ade. He jumped up and down and said that that movie is crap, it’s crap, it’s crap, timing his jumps with each brief statement. I was about to say Ade is…

And now I remember, he died 8 years ago. That memory lives on as does he, in a time framed by a Clapham junction with a Blockbusters in it, in a very different London.

A deep dive reflection

Revel
Celebrate them for the memory they have left us with. In celebrating our time with them, it can allow the sadness to change to something lighter.

Transformation is about an enlightening experience. Allow for it. Make time to celebrate them for all that they were. Who they had been for you. The singular narrative is for those who may have positive affable memories of the person or people that has/have died.

To complicate the narrative, a challenged earlier relationship with the deceased may be harder to muster the mental energy to celebrate who they were. Perhaps, here one can choose to thank them for the lessons learned or let go of the discomforting memories.

Forever…

Tranquil
By arriving at a piece of peace and finally then rest, death can be allowed out too.

Like a bee trapped in a hot glass house.
Once freed – buzzing away back to it’s hive.
The frenzy at seeking an out
Causes the din of Bee head butting
n buzzing to reverberate in ones
Head minutes after the bee let fly.

So too this and death.

Unless released reverently it (death) remains abuzz. Pass through all eight stages for as long as they are needed. Then release and accept/receive the peace willingly.

Restitution
Once a person arrives at the point of Rest the energy used to move through the other 7 stages of grief may have waned. One may want to sleep for a while. There are moments where I flip back to the point of being angry with death, sometimes.

It is possible that the only act left is to simply be still. The need to stop running and avoiding the pain is given chance to subside. There is little left to do. The rest point could represent the end of the grief journey. Fully completing the path as it winds down towards the sea could take months or years. Travel well. Remember to let go. They, You, We deserve it

1 Denial
2 Bargaining
3 Anger
4 Depression
5 Acceptance
6 Celebrate
7 Peace
8 Rest

Resources
Two Guys on your Head Memory-Imagination and Happiness
Philosophy Bites – Death
Griefcast with Meshel Laurie
Unlocking Us Podcast Brené Brown and David Kessler

Images
https://unsplash.com/@whoislimos In despair, but not lost. I try to remind myself, trials may come yet hope lies at dawn Chicago Dawn
https://unsplash.com/@thoughtcatalog/portfolio

The Interview

Having been interviewed a number of times and also being on the panel of people conducting the interviews this piece is to support those who will be looking for new jobs/roles this year.

Adding Value
I am writing this post to support counsellors and other mental health professionals perform well at interview. Perhaps there are many who approach interviews as a chance to show others what they know. How well they would perform in the new role and that they would be a great addition to that team. There is an undying hope of the could be employed. The idea being that the next interview, will open the door to their next big adventure. This I know well as I have been one of the hopefuls.

The Invite
The invite arrives through the mail, these days it is an email and says something along the lines of ‘we would like to invite you to interview for the role of Umbrella Engineer (the role that you applied for). The interview will be held on Umbrella date and time at the Umbrella factory in your local Umbrella city.

I wonder what thoughts arrive with the notice that the company/organisation/charity/entrepreneurship/apprenticeship/voluntary role wants to meet with you?

Excitement, fear? Fear mixed with dread at the prospect of another ordeal that doesn’t get you the job role you applied for? Because. All the answers to all of the questions arrived as soon as you left the building after the interview. Or, The preparation you took your time with didn’t prepare you for the really tough questions. Or, you rushed at the answers and didn’t answer them as fully as was necessary. What if there was another way to think/feel about the invitation?

Alternatively
Simply hold the idea of why you applied for the role. See yourself in the role completing all of the tasks well. Asking the questions from the team and yourself that will allow you to solve some of the challenges of the new role.

The new position affords you change, challenge, reward. It is what you have sought. You meet most of the criteria for the job and feel that the new position could support your career growth and development. It possibly isn’t just about the money or prestige or possibility of something new to do.

The role is about how you see yourself becoming. Envision this down to the clothes you wear, parfum you use, walking taller, holding eye contact with others confidently, speaking with an air of knowledge and how you have applied it to complete tasks in other settings/previous roles. The new role is about how you are seeing your future with you in it and the new company. Breathe

Prep
The interview is a stage of pre-engagement with a job role. Preparing for the interview is a necessary part of the engagement. Read through the job specification again. Read the answers you gave for each of the specifications.

Some if not all of the interview questions will be based on the job role and specification. Most jobs list the essential desirable and additional skills that the job role requires or asks for. Base your questions on the essential criteria and any desirable ones too. Aim to give examples or scenarios that explore/explain your thinking and outcomes of making the decisions you did.

Practice
I practice reading through my personal statement aloud a few times and then take a recording of myself. It is the recording of the personal statement that takes the job specification from an external knowledge sense of knowing and makes it become an internalised piece of knowing. The knowing then can live in me.

It’s like self-hypnotism. I listen to the recording up to 10 times before the interview. I want to know what I wrote as intimately as a song. I listen whilst travelling, falling asleep, washing dishes, doing other pieces of typing work. I want my mind to absorb the personal statement with relative ease.

Questions
The questions you devise are approximations, guesses, hypothetical thoughts about what may be asked at interview. The questions could be similar to

What reasons do you have for applying for this role?
Tell us a little bit about you?
If your friends and colleagues were here what sort of things would they be telling us about you?
When have you failed and what did you learn from the experience?
Can you tell us your experience of working in a team?
What does a successful piece of work look like and what does it look like when it’s complete?
What counselling approach do you use and why?
How do you manage conflict?
If someone you are working with states an intention to self-injure what do you do?

Answers
The answers you give will be pulled from your personal statement. Because you now know your personal statement upside down inside out top to bottom, there is now room to improvise and be flexible with the possible answers that you can offer. This is where you get to be a Jazz musician, a Warren Wolf.

Explanatory
In interviews I have engaged with and struggled I would either waffle on and hope to scatter fill the answers in a disorganised fashion. Cluster Bombing the interview. Not surprisingly I would not get past this stage.

To answer the questions well interpret the reason interviewers are asking them. What reasons do they have for asking the questions they are propositioning you with. What do they want to know about you? Provide the answers with passion and confidence giving examples of when you performed a similar task. (Remember you are not making it up, you are just retelling what has happened. The interviewers were not there.)

This is where you get to show off. When you can share what happened, the reasons that you chose to use the intervention used, the outcome of the intervention what the client/clients found helpful and what insights you gained from engaging in the way that you did. For extra merit adding what would be better if, or what was learned from the experience shows reflexivity.

1, 2, 3+
Gather your initial ideas about the question and what the interviewers are looking for from you.

Make a mental or written note to guide what and how you are going to answer.

Some questions are more like mini paragraphs with up to 4 points in them to be reviewed and answered

It is okay to ask for an interviewer to ask the question again if mid point you may have gone off topic. This shows that you have heard that there are multiple components to the question and that you are conscientiously attempting to provide relevant answers. It also shows confidence in being able to serve yourself well.

Answer the question as best as you can. Take your time here. You want to explain your ideas and give chance for interviewers to note take!

Give examples and then explain what you did, the outcomes and possible changes to be made, learning and areas that highlight team work and collaborative engagement. If there were parts when you lead a piece of work highlight this too, or worked through a particular challenge. This shows resilience and awareness of strengths in relationship with others.

  1. Answer the question by noting what you have done that meets the desired level answer
  2. Re-interpret the question to delve into more personable answers
  3. Say what you did
  4. Give a scenario that speaks to the question
  5. Share outcomes

Shoot and Miss
It’s less point shoot at basket. More see the goal, reflect on choices (Pass, Dribble, Shoot) make an informed action and reflect on the choice during and after.

Solitarily or with manager supervisor or in peer relationships aim to arrive at possible outcomes. The work here is to show not only that you are able to use an internalised supervisor to reflect on the work, and that you are also able to use external supports to assist with thinking about client work. The point here is to show thinking and ability to work with others to develop useful outcomes for clients, yourself and the team you are looking to join. Providing the working out illustrates that you are teachable, open to new learning and that the new company is making a wise choice in offering you employment.

Over to you
Make sure that you have at least 2 questions for them and that you mention that you had more but they were covered in the preamble of their introduction.

Try to keep the questions job role specific, who will I be working with, where, how many are useful as they give insight to the new role and show that you are keen to know about the company.

Good Luck!

Resources

How to Fail: Otegha Uwagba from How To Fail With Elizabeth Day on Apple Podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/how-to-fail-with-elizabeth-day/id1407451189?i=1000422485796

Winter Solstice

Surviving the Winter Solstice and all the celebrations that go along with the shortest/longest day of the year, depending on where in the world you live or what may be happening around you. Winter/Summer is worthy of forethought.

Spare a Thought
Christmas in prison can be a bleak time for those men and women who are behind the wall. It is filled with the memory of happier warmer times. When they were not inside. When they were with loved ones. Where they could relax and be with those who made them feel safe. Prison is often a cold place with the temperature of the cells and with people’s actions and behaviours to others. Officers to prisoners. Prisoners to Officers. Prisoners to Prisoners. Officers to Officers.

Alternative
For other people in prison the Winter Break can be about withdrawing and settling in for the stretch ahead. 2021 could be the year of release, parole or marking that there are another 20 – 25 years left to serve. The countdown continues to a time in the near or a distant future where they will be living beyond the wall. With loved ones and away from a place of perpetual pain and desperation.

Time Away
Last year when I originally wrote this, a person living in prison asked me how I was going to be spending my Winter Break? I had served just under 3 months as a counsellor working in that prison.

I shared that “I won’t be doing that much. Watching TV, seeing a few people, eating too much and attempting to fit too much in that could leave me exhausted” with the effort of cramming.
“Oh?” he said “So just like us in here then!”
We both laughed.

Celebrationsss
The reality of Kwanzaa,
Hanukkah,
Christmas
Prepping for the new year can take its toll.

Restive
In all honesty I’d like to sleep through some of the hype. Avoidance is not possible. Resetting my sights, I could advise try thinking into February. The New Year holds unknown promise. Resolutions can take weeks to take hold and be made into fully effective ways of being. The Gym routine, Running, Swimming, Dieting, Drinking less, Developing good spending habits/saving habits, making religious commitments, holiday plans, committing to a relationship, plotting new learning or job opportunity choices.

I am sure there are more I may have missed (add suggestions in the comments below), that go into planning and reflecting on the year passed and the new one that is to arrive.

More 2 a Year
January the 1st is just a date signifying the start of the next calendar year. There are other significant dates that one could be mindful of. Anniversary’s, School/College terms, Tax Years, Birthday’s, Religious observance dates, St Valentines, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter for us living in the Northern hemisphere. Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring for those living antipodeanly. Dry and Wet seasons for those near to the equator.

Target Setting
Choose a date that marks a meaningful time for you. Set the date for after the change is to be noted. By 1st of March I will be able to play cards, list all of [insert musician’s] catalogue of records in date order, know the test inside out, have written the final chapter of the book I am working on, met with a personal trainer, coach, to get this out of shape mass moving again.

Capturing a new day
Photo by Marc Clinton Labiano on Unsplash

Once the date is met and passed evaluate if the intention is there to continue and set another date a few months ahead once again. Keep checking reviewing altering and going. Achieving a goal is only half the story. It is the change that comes with the shift that reveals another way of being in the world.

Pause
The Winter Solstice existed as a time to slow down or stop. So perhaps like other hibernating creatures we could too. Stop, review what has been a part of your life. Recall and think what has been learned. Review what could be left in last year (2019). Also what could be carried in to the year to follow.

That’s the gold of the alchemical process we are all engaged with. Living well. At the precipice of our potential…

See you on the other side.

CTA
I invite comments below, I remain as always interested in what you think of this blog and any of the others written this year.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of these thoughts – captured.

Resources
7 Days of Celebration
Christmas Re-imagined Code Switch Podcast
Christmas Origins
December Stories The Moth Podcast

Cover photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash