Roses are amazing flowers - or is it just us that think that?! Our ‘Silver Wedding Anniversary’ rose has survived our tender care for over 17 years – we are not enthusiastic gardeners, so we think it says more about the ability of the rose to survive than our ability to tend it! This year, the rose bush has grown, developed new shoots upon which now sit many amazing, soon to bloom, flower buds. As we walked past it the other day, we were struck by how plentiful the flowers were, and so we took a picture of one. It was only when we looked closer at the picture, we noticed the small black creature lurking at the bottom of the petals. We have no idea whether this creature was harmless, perhaps just taking a well-earned rest, or whether it would turn into one of those pests that the famous gardener Monty Don talks about, which will eventually kill the whole plant! Time will tell.
The discussion we had about the rose bush gave us time to reflect on quite a few simple home truths. Firstly, we realise that, despite all that has happened since the Coronavirus struck, our lives have, thankfully, carried on, but that is not true for everyone we know. With our own recent losses, as well as those that have affected us in our working life with Hope Trust, some significant life stories have come to an end. Managing the grief that such a truth brings us is quite tough, but we know from delivering our Bereavement Support Group, that loss, however profound, can be navigated well. Bringing this hope to others who have recently experienced their own sense of loss is why we are already booking in the dates for our Autumn Bereavement Support Group, with the introduction taking place on Saturday 2nd October, at 10.30am.
Secondly, at first glance the flower looked perfect. Predominantly white with just a tinge of pink at the edges, it looks amazing now, but we know that in a few days or so the petals will drop, the beauty fade. This reminded us that we are not getting any younger! Things we could do easily just a few years ago now seem like unwelcome tasks – travelling down the M1 on a busy Monday reminded us of that. Perhaps that’s why, here at Hope Trust, we are always looking for new and improved ways to help older people maintain the kind of life they want to live for as long as possible.
The last observation was around the presence of that little black creature nestling in the petals. Whether it’s harmless, or deadly, we reflected on how it seems there is always something lurking, waiting in the wings to try and (potentially) derail our plans. It’s why organisations such as Hope Trust exist, we are here to help older people when the sun shines and when it doesn’t, when life is going well and when it isn’t, when plans come to fruition and when they don’t.
What is your inner critic saying to you?
Do you have one? We know we both have one, that voice you hear when it whispers, ‘You’re too old to wear that’ or ‘You’ll never be able to achieve that’ or even ‘Why would anyone like you?’ This insidious voice is known as our ‘inner critic.’ The website www.PositivePsychology.com shares this description about our inner critic – ‘Our inner critic can be a cruel and deeply damaging force. Its strength and impact determines our overall mental wellbeing. The destructive voice in our heads is never satisfied and can soil and spoil anything we may achieve, no matter how impressive. It magnifies the negative, spreading discontent and worse in our lives. Fortunately, there are numerous effective strategies for weakening its power.’
Working for Hope Trust we get to see people at the best and worst times of their lives – when all is well and when it is most definitely not. One recurring observation as to how much Hope Trust, and other local organisations can achieve, centres around what people believe about themselves. Confident people, willing to try new things can thrive when opportunity knocks on their door. Less confident people thrive less well if they are more reluctant to have a go. People with very low confidence and self esteem can appear stuck, unable, or even unwilling, to have a go, take a chance – whatever the right phrase is. Reading about this ‘inner critic’ made us wonder whether this might be the reason for those differences? Yet that last phrase ‘Fortunately, there are numerous effective strategies for weakening its power’ gives us hope. The first step is to establish whether, or not, you recognise this whole concept in the first place! If you do, then you can begin to deal with it by not letting it define you. This inner critic is always negative, so suppose it was a friend, would it be the sort of friend you’d like to hang out with? If the answer is no, then perhaps the journey of starting to ignore it can begin.
Life throws many challenges at us; from growing up, school, education, our first job, relationships right through to retirement and older age. The great news for older people in Felixstowe and the surrounding villages is that you have Hope Trust to call on, along with many other organisations, charities, church groups, as well as friends and good neighbours. Perhaps we can help you find a next step, or even the first step in a new chapter of your life, but you may need to tell your inner critic to ‘shut up,’ you may need to be brave and be willing to see for yourself what we, and others, have to offer. Our promise to you? We are here, we are open, the kettle is always just about to be switched on, you will be made welcome, we will listen and who knows, perhaps instead of a grumpy, negative inner critic voice instead you will hear a positive voice that talks of hope, opportunity, fun and friendship – it’s up to you.
Markers, Notes and Reminders
Years ago, a trip to the supermarket would have been done quickly, flying between the shelves, mentally ticking off those items that were required that week. Nowadays, it is less quick and more of a getting almost to the end only to remember we did need butter after all, even though it was at the top of this week’s shopping list. Thankfully the Covid one-way systems have been done away with as that really did cause problems for those ‘I nearly forgot…’ items! Nowadays its often a mobile phone that will chirrup, alerting us to the next task, appointment or ‘must do’ activity, assuming of course you can even hear the alert when it goes off – who else misses a call, alert or other notifications because it’s in the depths of a bag or a deep pocket?
For modern travellers, we delight in road signs, road markings and Sat Nav’s to get us around safely; yet spare a thought for those ancient travellers who would have to ask local people the way and in more remote locations may well have lost their way completely. The Romans knew about the need for road signs and would erect standing stones giving them the distance to Rome - but at least they knew they were on the right path!
For us, we are in the process of determining the correct wording on a very different type of marker – a headstone for a grave - now that really is a challenge. To sum up the lives of both parents in just a few words is proving taxing, but we know it will be appreciated by those who feel that the installation of such a marker will help them remember in the days to come, giving them a reason to visit on special occasions.
Why are we chattering on about all this? Well, as June unfolds, here at Hope Trust we really do hope that it will indeed herald the lifting of Covid restrictions including the need for face masks and social distancing. The joy of shaking the Scrabble boxes and setting the tiles up will be music to our ears! Follow that with the Rummikub and Qwirkle boards and things will really seem like they are ‘getting back to normal.’ Yet there are so many markers left behind to remind us of the torrid time we’ve all gone through. ‘For sale’ boards on houses, an empty chair as someone is no longer well enough to attend, an unfinished project, but there are also other markers – neighbours we now know the names of and say ‘hello’ to because they helped by picking up shopping over these past months, walks/places we’ve discovered locally – here at Hope Trust on one of our April walks we took people to Allenby Park, a small, hidden green oasis! Whether the markers point to good times, or sadder, darker times, they serve as a reminder, the question we must ask as we move forward is this: What new markers do we need to create, find, or identify as we start to move on with our lives and when we look back will we see the progress made from where we were to where we want/need to be? If you think you’re stuck, don’t despair, Hope Trust is just one of many local organisations here to help, all it takes is a phone call and we will all be there to help point you in just the right direction.