Friday, 9 June 2017

January through May - a mini mega-catch-up!

What on earth is she doing? Read on, in the vain hope of finding out!

OK, DR blogging has been on a cheeky break, let's call it a sabbatical ;-)
In the interest of keeping my equilibrium (believe me, I need all the help I can get), and keeping this blog post at all readable and reasonable in length, here goes with an equally cheeky little whistle stop tour of the year so far.


With the Christmas festivities behind us, and the New Year dawning, for the 2nd (or is that 3rd?!) year in a row we got a bit more serious than usual and indulged in some (fairly) lengthy discussion of this year's shortlist of potential national campaign resolutions. Committee members took one of the options each, and offered up a short presentation of the facts and considerations for our members to ponder. We deliberated and then cast our individual votes... and our overwhelming favourite as a group was the resolution to improve maternal mental health services for women. Then, after a bit of sustenance and a gossip at the shared lunch table, we worked up a tiny bit of a sweat (essential in our stone cold church hall in the Winter!) by shimmying away in a Salsa workshop with Ana Luisa Munoz.


In February, we were joined by the brilliant campaigner and charity worker, Nik Peasgood of HALT, who spoke to us in depth about their work with survivors of domestic abuse. The subject matter was, obviously, fairly harrowing but we don't shy away from the more difficult and troubling issues as a group, and we actually had quite a profound discussion which touched not only on the abuse that some women suffer, but the wider questions about our culture, social conditioning and how abuse happens and is tolerated by some. The general theme of our talking seemed to keep coming back to women's self-esteem and the importance of assertiveness. All in all, a really edifying and valuable opportunity to share our thoughts, experiences and ideas.

Now, to completely shatter that illusion of us all seeming very serious and profound... we followed our shared lunch break with a workshop that was, ahem, a bit of a one-off, shall we say. You see, we had planned some kind of crazy 'weird science' themed workshop (replete with our committee donning lab coats and goggles), in honour of Science Week, but unfortunately the Science guru who was to lead this had to cancel at the last moment, leaving us in something of a quandary. Our President Debbie rode to the rescue, put her teacher's hat on, and devised a simple (oh so simple!) challenge, for us to work on together as teams. Many were totally bemused, to be completely frank, by the instructions to design and make a vehicle from the little packs of materials offered, but we got stuck in, and were ready to race our vehicles against each other within the hour. We were in no danger of winning any innovation awards, I can tell you, with the most beautiful of the 'cars' refusing to budge at all, my group's offering travelling some distance (but using the cheaty tactic of being blown along a length of yarn), and the others managing to move, true, but really failing on the definition of being a vehicle! It was hilarious though. You had to be there! :-)

Waiting for design genius to strike
Ready to race?!
Which one is Keyser Soze?
Weirder and weirder
Words fail me!
Gobsmacking audacity!
Excitement at the finish line


With Spring beginning to make its presence felt, we invited in the very droll ?? from the beautiful little local treasure, York Gate Garden in Adel. ? joined us to share some of the history and beauty of the Garden. He was a brilliant guest who really made us smile, and also really made us want to visit York Gate. The stories of the family who bought the house in the 1950s, and how they developed the garden, were fascinating and bittersweet. ?, Sybil and Robin ? have left a beautiful legacy in the heart of North Leeds. We urge you to visit.

Then continuing the floral theme, Lucy from Blooming Lovely (and her lovely daughter!) joined us to lead us in a workshop, using flowers, greenery and other materials to make beautiful creations, with an emphasis on upcycling and creating something new and beautiful from a bit of 'old rubbish'. Thank you to Lucy and daughter for leading us in a lovely and absorbing bit of green-fingered crafting.


April held the exciting prospect of our 'Victoria Wood Memorial Day' (Feel free to dress up / perform your favourite sketch! Or not! The shy were welcome to just laugh at the memories...) Then seeing as you were already dressed as Mrs Overall, you'd be all set for the voice coaching workshop after, led by, (I'm told) 'a voice coach to the stars'. Oooh!

I was actually swanning in Italy when this happened, so can't really add any more, but I'm sure you'll be happy with these choice photos for a flavour of the day.

The superb Mrs O :-)
Voice coaching strangeness!
What a pair of cuties :-)
Legend :-(


Bringing us, just about, bang up to date, our last meeting in May offered a gentle respite from our sometimes harsh world. Our lovely Emily kindly agreed to tell us all about 'Vesak' or 'Visakah Puja', also known as Buddha Day. Emily's talk introduced the beautiful stories and concepts associated with Buddhism, priming us for our return visit from Steve of the Leeds Mindfulness Group. Steve first visited us around a year ago, and guided us through a mini-meditation exercise as well as talking us through the foundations of mindfulness. This time we waded in in some more depth, trying several different types of mindful meditation as a group. We finished the day feeling restored, a little sleepy, and yes some of us may have drooled and snored a little :-) Thank you so much to Steve for his patience and skill in guiding us. Namaste!

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