Coloring nearly done …

©Angela Porter 2019 -
©Angela Porter 2019 –

I’ve had a quiet morning at home today and have taken the opportunity to have some self-care time, which for me means adding more colour to this design.

I’ve had three emotionally tiring days in a row; EMDR on Monday and anti-stigma talks on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also had two longish trips on Tuesday to Swansea and then Hereford in absolutely horrid weather.

I had a good sleep last night, but I still feel exhausted and I have one more anti-stigma talk to do in Cwmbran this afternoon. All done in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales.

I could just curl up in bed and sleep again now, but the shower is calling me and I need to sort myself out for that trip to Cwmbran.

Some might say I’m doing too much. Possibly. But it’s important stuff talking about mental health in the aim of raising awareness, understanding and reducing the stigma and discrimination that exists around mental illness.

Yes, I may be exhausted afterwards. Yes, I may need self-care time for a day or so. But it’s important to do this. It’s important to me.

If I’d known more about what a healthy mind and healthy emotions are when I was younger maybe, just maybe I could’ve sought out help and it may have been easier to achieve recovery.

Maybe I would’ve been more self-aware and able to make better life choices so I didn’t add to the trauma I already carried within me. Maybe I would’ve been wiser and cared a little more about myself and not given so much of myself.

If I can help people to recognise that their mental or emotional health isn’t as it could be and to find a way to change that without fear of stigma or discrimination then I think it’s worth it.

That’s why I do it. Even when I myself am emotionally drained from it. I know I’ll recover. I know that on my way home today I’m likely to get some nice food to cook this evening, maybe even some Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra, and I would like to settle down and watch some Star Wars.

I also want to get some cotton yarn. I had a book in the post at the weekend that has crochet patterns in it for what the American’s call ‘market bags’ and we in the UK call ‘shopping bags’. Crocheted, netting, pretty, reusable, personalised in terms of colour and embellishments.

I shall look forward to an evening of such self care tonight. A chance to properly stop, breathe and relax.

Golden Fields

Golden Fields –  Abstract Textile Work

Golden Fields 4 Mar 11 © Angela Porter 2011

I finished this little textile piece yesterday evening.  It’s approx. 9cm x 10cm and made from cream hessian painted with acrylic inks and then embellished with matt and metallic embroidery threads, beads and panels made from gold and copper leaf.  The inspiration came from a piece of abstract art I did a little while ago Golden Gloucestershire Hills of Corn.

It’s taken me a week to do, half and hour here and another one there, as school does interfere with my creativity.  I’m quite pleased with it, but prefer to work on felt as the contrast between the beads, threads, fibres and custom made panels/sequins is so much more apparent.  I do need to get some cream felt and see if the inks will work on that just as well …

Mind you, I have loads of these little bits of textile art to mount and frame now … that will really finish them off nicely I think!  As well as make them ready for sale …


Yes, it was the return to school on Monday… huge sigh here.  The week started off with an hour and a half meeting about what to do about the behaviour/attitude in school, with some refusing to acknowledge there is a problem.  Every time the teaching staff, or care staff, or non-teaching staff mention that things are getting worse we get the comments of the last inspection report thrown at us as evidence that it is not bad.  Errm, the inpsection was five years or so ago now, things HAVE changed in that time.

Five years ago relationships between staff and pupils were good, they still are now, in well defined pockets, but there are an increasing number of disruptive pupils in every single class…  We have one of the highest exclusion rates for schools in our county, yet we don’t have a problem.  That’s a contradiction if I ever heard one!

At the end of the meeting there was no change.  Any ideas the teaching staff came up with were dismissed as either un-staffable, unaffordable or needing the consensus of parents to put into place (which begs the question – who is in charge of the school?).

Has anything changed since?  No.  I still get verbally abused, aggressively spoken to, shouted at, defied and questioned ‘why’ when I ask, quite firmly but politely, for a pupil to stop talking, to get on with their work, to stop disturbing others, to take their coat off … I did comment about the defiance as not being the same as The Defiant, a tough little ship featuring in Star Trek Deep Space 9, though it could be useful to have around as a defence.  Mind you a pair of Klingons or Jem’Hadar would work wonders in the class; you’d have no messing with them around.  A couple of Jedi with light sabers may work just as well …

Thank goodness I was told about a light at the end of the tunnel to aim for, maybe, but more of that when it all comes to pass …

Stress and marble-work

Another good point about the week is that I’m finally learning that this attitude is nothing to do with me, particularly, other than I’m a teacher.  Although it seems personal, it’s not really.  My stress levels do go up, I do my best not to lose my temper (though it can be incredibly hard at times) and do my best to calm down asap afterwards, so these are all very much positive steps forwards.

I do seem to be coping better in school, though maybe not as well as I would like.  This gives time in the weekly marble sorting out sessions (also known as counselling) to work on the knotty issues of self-love, self-esteem, self-image and so on…and hopefully unlearning the messages from the past about myself, what other people wanted me to believe about myself … it’s not easy, but it is possible!

Focusing on the positive

Being Star Wars-ed?

Well, now, where to start.  I know, I’m going to Star Wars you!  Here’s a quote from Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

“You’re focusing on the negative, Anakin. Be mindful of your thoughts.” – Obi Wan Kenobi

Over the past week or two, there have been numerous times when I’ve felt I’ve been in a Star Wars movie, being given advice about The Force.  However, the advice given by a dear friend of mine and my counsellor has been about focusing on the positive, good times and things in my life.   The counselling work has been about rebalancing my view of me and my life.  This has involved condensing the negative perceptions of myself and my reactions and thereby reducing their significance and expanding on the positive perceptions with evidence to support it.  The positive evidence, and focusing on the positive is not an easy thing for me to do.  To acknowledge my successes, my achievements, the times I’ve been praised and gained acclaim, these are times that are easily brushed aside.

All the same, I have endeavoured to focus on the positive.  I’ve made a concerted effort to write a list of good events, good feedback, things to be grateful for in my offline journal at the end of every day as I sit in bed before sleep.  I do write about problems, confrontations and so on still so that I can reflect on them, work my way through them, and come to a balanced perspective on them, but I have been doing my best to write down a gratitude list.  And even on the murkiest, darkest, trouble-beset days there are things to be grateful for.

Jedi philosophy, Buddhism, eastern religions … all seem to tie in, don’t they?  I remember seeing the first Star Wars Film – Episode 4, A New Hope.  It was the first time any kind of belief system had struck a chord within me, and though I knew the film was fantasy, the ideas would eventually ignite my own search for my personal brand of spirituality.  And it turns out that things for me aren’t too different from the Force!  Is this worrying?  I think not!

New phone

That time had come around again – the renewal of the mobile phone contract with T-mobile.  This time, I opted for a new phone rather than the £10 per month loyalty discount as the price for my tariff had plummeted considerably.  Essentially, the new bill is £20 a month, compared to £26 with the discount or £36 without the discount!  Brill!  And what phone did I get.  Well, the lovely chaps at T-mobile recommended the Motorola Defy to me, seeing as I have no idea about phones, am not interested in fashion statements and the like.  I wanted something that would be durable, easy to use, and they told me I also would want a phone that would let me use my unlimited internet allowance too.

Well the phone arrived, I was totally bemused for a while, but within a few hours was comfortable with it, and now find it a marvellous thing to have with me!  I certainly won’t get bored when waiting … I must remember to carry my glasses with me as I am getting eye-strain from looking at little letters on a little screen close to me.  Oh the joys of being long-sighted!

My favourite app so far is Google Sky, which was free for me to download and one of the student teachers at school was most disgusted at that as he’d have to pay to get it on his iPhone!  Result I think!  I also downloaded, amongst other things, a nice meditation timer which I’ve yet to use but is likely to prove useful in the future.  I’ve not got music on the phone yet, but there’s no rush for that either.

Having said that, the weather reports have been very useful given all the snow and traffic chaos that has ensued.  And it’s been nice to cwtch up nice and warm in bed and email/message friends rather than get drafty-cool sat at the ‘puter.

So, I march on into a new realm of communication, wondering why it took me so long!

Snow – bleurgh!

I’ve already mentioned the snow.  There’s not been too much of it around South Wales, generally, but enough to cause chaos at times with travelling.  The main roads have mostly stayed pretty clear and I’ve found it perfectly fine to get around, though I’ve not been to the higher reaches of the Valleys.

A bonus has been a couple of days at school with few pupils in.  Small classes, quiet, calm.  It should be like that all the time!  It’s amazing the difference it makes with just 5 or 6 out of each class – the mainstream class sizes then become around 25 to 27.  I’m a lot calmer, the pupils are a lot calmer too.  How on Earth class sizes have been allowed to creep up to such huge sizes.  Some days I feel like I’m engaging more in crowd-control than actually teaching.

New career needed … ideas anyone?

The good thing about smaller classes and the snow is that it reminds me of how teaching can be, how it would benefit the pupils and the teachers.

As I type this blog entry, it is now raining here.  I hope it washes away the snow and ice quick-sharp!

Arty stuff

I’ve not been able to settle to do much art in the last couple of weeks.  I seem to have been either tired or dashing around from place to place.  But that’s ok.  That’s how life is at times.

I have completed another auragraph for a lady, but I won’t post a picture of it until she’s had it and had a chance to show others it, if she wishes.  It is personal for her.  I have another two to do, and I hope to get one done later today.

Music and railways

Some musical events are coming up for me.  Firstly, I’ll be playing my flute with Marcus (of Marcus Music, Newport, South Wales) and his wife, Pauline, at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway on the 19th December.  Christmas carols/songs will be the order of the day.  Pauline asked if I would go and play with them again this year, which was really nice of her to do so.  That’s as long as I can get there given the weather conditions!  I always enjoy playing with Marcus and Pauline – no pressure on me with them at all.

There’s also the school Carol Concert coming up, where I’ll be playing flute in the orchestra and singing alto in the choir.  In years gone by it’s always been a stressful time for me and I often come down with tonsilitis, pharyngitis or some horrible form of ‘flu all brought about by the stress of performing in school, which goes back to my school days as a pupil!  I wish I could find a way to get over this … I really do.

However, it’s always nice to play with other people, and I do wish I could do so more often.  I’ve not found people to do that with … yet.

Things have taken an interesting turn concerning the railway and myself recently.  The creaking door that was still open by just a nano-metre has finally been closed.  To be honest, this is a relief to me.  I can now walk away from there without any guilt and find somewhere else to volunteer my time where I can learn and also teach others things.  One adventure has come to an end, many more await me.  That is perhaps a sign of a more positive me about me!  The only problem is getting me out there to take part in the adventures!

Hello miss…

School has well and truly started with two full teaching days this week.  Best greeting, though, has to be …

“Miss, you look the same,” said he.

“You sound disappointed.  Did you expect me to change into a frog over the summer?” said I.

“No, but I thought you would be a Jedi,” said he.

“Ah, but I am a Jedi Knight, in disguise,” replied I.

Mind you, the things one could do with a light sabre …