Thursday, 6 February 2014

Washington Square

Everything seems to happen in Washington Square, New York.  It is one of my favourite places, especially in the autumn when the trees cascade such beautiful colours.  A thick carpet of leaves that makes it possible to scuff!

Performers from every ethnic group entertained us with stand-up political comedy, classical piano, (I did not see how the grand piano arrived!).   Children of all ages drew pavement pictures with jumbo chalks, and the squirrels nibbled the crumbs and then scampered to the safety of the trees.

Children played in the special children's playground, dog owners gathered to chat in the fenced dog enclosure, while dogs of all shapes and sizes chased each other and played!

I like Washington Square

Monday, 3 February 2014

New York, New York!

I have been really inspired by the work of so many arts therapists and their expertise in working with trauma. Trauma of many varied kinds: victims of torture, genocide, tsunami, family abuse were presented during a 2 day Symposium in New York.

My own presentation focussed on the long term results of early trauma from the early abuse and cruelty inflicted on babies and toddlers in the Eastern European orphanages.  Rowan Tree Trust sponsors special projects with teenagers and young adults who sleep on railway stations and in abandoned cars in Romania.

The principles of Neuro-Dramtic-Play are enjoyed by these disadvantaged groups, with a focus on sensory, rhythmic and dramatic playfulness.  There is a DVD showing detailed work with a group of 'Railway Boys', taking part in an NDP project.

The more of this work I do, the more I realise that it is back to the body for basic principles of working with trauma.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

A Good Year! 2014

Happy New Year Everyone and I hope it will be a very positive and hopeful year.  I am now traversing the second anniversary of dear Peter's death (January 4).  Amidst the floods and winds it is difficult to think that the world will be warm and cheerful!  I have been helped enormously by the recent book by Martin Seligman, 'Flourish' (2011).

Seligman has moved on from his previous book 'Authentic Happiness' and developed the psychology of well-being.  Well-Being includes the following elements of: 
         Positive emotion,
These five elements are each elaborated with important qualities such as hope and courage.  
Hope and courage can see us through many difficulties! 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Invention of Senoi Dream Therapy!

When I did my fieldwork with the Temiars in  the Malaysian rain forest (1973-1974), I was aware of the literature written by Kilton Stewart, including his PhD thesis.  After his brief field-trip, Stewart began to promote an approach to dream control that he maintains he had learnt from the Senoi (the two groups of Senoi are the Semai and the Temiars).  He maintains  that this accounted for their peaceful nature and lack of violence.  These ideas took off in an explosion in the US and have been repeated continuously in almost every book on dreaming and lucid dreaming. right to the present day.  They are even mentioned by Marie von Franz in one of her films.

I lived for over a year with the Temiars with my three children, we were able to converse with them in their own language, and we lived in one of their traditional houses.  We traveled between several other villages on the banks of two main rivers in Kelantan.

And yes, they give great significance to their dreams and are always willing to discuss them, but there is absolutely no evidence that they have a system of dream control and hold 'dream clinics' after breakfast.  However if one of these writers is challenged they will answer, that well the authors are now dead so we cannot ask them or everything was destroyed after WW2 or there must be another group that you did not visit in deep jungle... 

The romanticisation of the Temiars, promoting an idealised life of peace and non-violence, is a very powerful fantasy to let go.

There will be more on this topic in another blog, as there is too much material for such a short piece.  But do check your dream books and see what they promote about the Temiars

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Irresponsible Advertising - pandering to nudge nudge attitudes.

I am getting very weary of complaining about advertisements on TV.  There are some ads that I really like, such as 'You can call me Brian...' on endearing,  likeable and I hope they bring out a little model!

The most recent Marmite ad is really quite pernicious; it mimics a child abuse raid and the accusation is cruelty to a jar of Marmite, as it is taken into care.  As a great life-long lover of Marmite, it leaves me with a dilemma.  This advertisement trivialises the actual circumstance surrounding child abuse, and the opening shots can be mistaken as an actual Social Services intervention.  At the very least it is in extremely bad taste, at worst it is playing into the fantasies of paedophiles .  

The other ad which is really dangerous, is for one of the toilet cleaners - a man calls with a hard hat and overalls to fix something; the woman lets him in the house without asking for his ID.  He fixes whatever it is and then asks to use her loo; thought bubble comes out of her head of whether it is clean enough.  He uses loo and leaves with big seductive smiles all round.

This is just a mirror of how con-men really work!  Turn up in overalls or uniform, get access to your house, use the 'facilities', either rob straight away or make a plan to come back later!

It is very irresponsible advertising and I wonder who is really monitoring these ads and what tests they have to pass? 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Stopping to think.....

The new high speed rail link is now going to cost 80 billion, will take 20 years and will rip up a lot of countryside.  It makes no sense economically, environmentally or ethically.  And there is no guarantee that the costs won't go up again.

Lets think in a whole new way about what might just make people happier, less stressed and healthier.  All the community projects, that in the long ago past brought people together, preserved cultural traditions, contained anti-social behaviour and integrated all ages and abilities have virtually disappeared.  The arts are marginalised, or seen as a luxury, and dismissed as non-essential in schools.

Just one billion (leaving 79 billion for hospitals, community projects, care home overhaul, and schools), would allow us to employ all the actors and artists as community arts workers, or to train them as arts therapists, and encourage new skills for people leaving school with few prospects.  The arts revolution could train all teachers in basic arts and provide space for art studios, drama and dance workshops, comprehensive music resources and performance spaces. 

Foolish dreaming?  Well maybe dreams are worth pondering, and sometimes they might just be realised

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


I have at last moved to where I intended - Stratford-upon-Avon.  I have already lived here twice, for eight years and two years, and before setting off on new journeys.  Perhaps in the olden days I would have been the female equivalent of a journeyman.  But more about nomadic life and touring in another blog.  

Now I am here to stay, in a tiny rented terraced house in the middle of the town.  The theatre and the beautiful river with its old willow trees are six minutes from my doorstep.  The surrounding countryside makes for stimulating walks and nothing much has changed.  Maybe there are some new developments on the outskirts and road systems that do not always make sense, but essentially the core of Stratford is here: its merchants, travellers, inns, markets, river-craft and of course entertainment.

I have learned something about creating environments, and this undersized dwelling and diminutive garden is slowly being changed into a set worthy of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  As the picture shows I am experimenting with drapes, fabrics and garlands.  Please see my Facebook Sue Jennings to see the continuing story of the transformations.  They grow lovelier by the day!