Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Twelve Days of Christmas

Welcome to all those who followed the link in our newsletter. We wish you all a stress free Christmas. The Carol Service went well. Nettes did all the organising and leading and I did the PowerPoint and a short gospel message on peace. We also had a little art display on images of Christmas for people over the buffet that followed.

Now Christmas is starting at home. Decorations are going up: Our tree this year is a Jesse Tree, elements of which have been going up throughout advent. We’ve covered our Christmas card holders in brown paper with large versions of this year’s Christmas stamps. And oh yes, we’ve got some beads to hang up soon and we mustn’t forget the flowers.

Over our twelve days of Christmas we’ve got a little present for Callie to open each day, including a book on Saint Nicolas. We’ve got meals planned out for each of the days with responsibilities equally shared between me and Nettes. Our special meal for Christmas Eve will be a Thai Green Veggie Curry. Having just watched ‘What’s in Your Christmas Dinner’ on Channel Four we have great sympathy vegetarian diet although we are not veggie ourselves.

Christmas Peace to you all. Keep in touch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pray for the Hostages

Nothing has been heard of the four hostages held by the Iraqi group the Swords of Righteousness since the deadline for their execution passed on Saturday. The four men Norman Kember, Tom Fox, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were working Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq when they were captured. By all accounts they were working for peace not spying as they are accused of by the Iraqi group. CPT is a group of Quakers, Brethren, Menonite and other Christian groups that supports non-violence and so has always opposed the war.

Tom Fox, anticipating being kidnapped said not to pay ransom for his return. He also said to reject the use of violence in trying to win his freedom and not to speak ill his abductors, but instead to try to understand the motives of their actions. We don’t know if they are still alive or not. But if they had been executed then I would have thought that a video of this would have been released by now. I hope they are trying to find a way to release them without losing face and can think of one quickly.

In the meantime all we can do is pray.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Stress Pills

This present idea made me laugh.

After working so hard at college recently I’m now hit by the preparations for Christmas. I would prefer to avoid all this fuss about Christmas but the problem is if I don't put effort into the planning and organising soon enough then I'll end up with things that I'm not happy with.

I managed to buy books from Amazon today, just in time. It wouldn't have mattered that much because this year we are celebrating twelve days of Christmas. So our daughter will be opening presents over the whole holidays.

I should be able to cope with stress better than some people, as last night I was teaching stress management to one of my evening classes. It's all to do with changing how you look at the world and learning techniques to tackle those things that cause you stress rather than just treating the symptoms.

I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as I get on with all the preparations. So I won't actually need any of these Christmas Stress Pills. Seriously, if you are thinking of buying any presents a really good place to look is

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Busy Week

I did three days at college this week. Three full days starting around 9 or 10 and leaving just after 9 at night. I was pretty whacked for doing much else like housework or fun things with my family. I was going to do some more college work today but I just couldn’t get my head together. I listened to the radio at little. I surfed on the internet a little.

I just came across this quote from Andrew Marr who stepped down as the BBC’s political editor in the summer only to take on lots of other jobs Sunday AM on the telly and Start the Week on radio:

“I don’t think stress is a bad thing. We’re too scared of it. I think urban life is about packing a lot in. I’m very much of the view – perhaps it’s to do with getting older – that you’re not around for very long on this planet, and to feel that you’d had more than enough time half-asleep in the garden is not how I want to go.”

I think I can see where’s he’s coming from. But after my busy week I’m quite glad of a chance to laze around.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I found this sight two or three weeks ago when I was looking for things on Remembrance Day . The link with terrorism is interesting again. I think this site has some really insightful comments on our culture although it is very American. I think it is well worth exploring more.

Adbusters now talking about ‘Buy Nothing Day’ that is a part of the Buy Nothing Christmas campaign. It looks like a campaign to boycott shops on November 25th in protest of the materialism of Christmas. I have a lot of sympathy with this campaign.

It just amazes me that Christmas items were in the shops alongside Halloween stuff. There is so much about Christmas that sickens me. For most of us it’s just a time when we must shop and then ‘enjoy ourselves’ in a way that our culture tells us to.

Materialism. Yuk!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Remember Remember

My wife Nettes and I went to see this play the other night at a local church. We were very impressed by this, the latest production from the Riding Lights Theatre Company. It tells the story of the gunpowder plot from the viewpoint of one of the conspirators. The main story is interspersed with more contemporary scenes of terrorism from both the IRA and Islamic fundamentalism. It didn’t take that long to get used to the minimalist set design and costumes and the fact that some actors played more than one part. I was soon caught up in the story. I found the portrayal of religious persecution particularly powerful. The image of the worshippers leaping up at the slightest sound is one that will stick with me. I also liked the development of the hero’s character – from someone reluctant to talk of his faith through someone who took action to finally someone who was repentant. It is interesting that the fact that the gunpowder plot took place 400 years ago is still recalled in our national celebrations. But the parallels drawn with the war on terrorism and the recent London bombing is even more chilling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Eating Disorders

We in the West consume many times as much as those in the rest of the world. Obesity is rife in our culture. Yet there are other eating disorders that are also peculiar to our culture: anorexia – self starvation - and bulimia – binge eating followed by vomiting. This week I've been preparing some notes on this for college. Here is a taste of the sort of thing we will be discussing:

2-3% of young girls lack peace about their eating. About 90-95% of anorexics and bulimics are female and more than 90% of most severe cases of anorexia start in teenaged years. Bulimia tends to start a little later than anorexia. In the
UK it is thought that about 1% of school girls and female students suffer from anorexia and between 1-2% with bulimia. Cases of eating disorders have increased steadily from 50s until 90s when they levelled out. Bulimia has now overtaken anorexia. But for the troubled anorexic or bulimic there is hope and comfort to those who seek help through psychotherapy. Though psychoanalysis may give some insight to those with eating disorders, greater hope is offered today by cognitive-behaviour therapy which can be used in conjunction with medication.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I've just been painting and colouring with my two year old daughter today. The theme has been one of her favourite creatures... spiders. I found out while we were paiting that she's very good at singing all the words to 'Incy Wincy Spider'.

We were doing handprints and this one was the one that most looked like a spider. They are my hands by the way!

What do you think?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Profound Thought on Attachment

Callie is more attached to her mother than to me. She’ll kick and scream if I try to wash her or put her to bed when Nettes is in the house. But she’s fine when we’re in on our own. I remember at one time when she was really tiny it was the other way round but that didn’t last for long. The times when we first left her on her own are a dim and distant memory now. Like when we first left her at nursery. But she’s got attached to the people there now, so she’s fine about it now.

When we’ve been somewhere that she likes she just doesn’t want to come home. She really wriggles when I put her in her buggy. It makes me wonder to what extent I’m like that too. What am I attached to? What would I have a hard time giving up if I really had to? I was just thinking about the earthquake in Pakistan. What would it be like to lose everything? Could I cope with that or am I just too attached to material things; things that in the end don’t bring true satisfaction?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Intellectually Speaking

As a college lecturer I obviously enjoy things that are mentally stimulating. But looking after my two year old can sometimes be a mind numbing experience: Watching Cbeebies, reading the same story for the third time, not to mention the housework. It’s frustrating not getting the time to read and study more at the moment about psychology, my Christian faith or any other subject for that matter. My natural inclination is towards intellectually engaging my mind but it’s a matter of grabbing the time when it’s available and wondering if I’m being selfish.

Ironically, one of the thrills that I get is seeing my daughter develop intellectually herself and understand what happening. Just the other day she was pretending to show her drawing to her teddy and turning the picture round so he could see it. Before she had held it the wrong way now she could image what he could see rather than just assume he could see what she could. As a psychologist I know that this is overcoming ‘egocentricity’. But it’s just great to see her do this. It is also great to hear her language developing – becoming more complex in its structures. She’s going to be a little intellectual too.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A part time home-dad

Working part time and looking after my toddler is in some ways an ideal situation. In a Mothercare survey 69% of fathers said that they would like to be able to give up work to look after their children. It was a very obvious decision for us; I could do more hours teaching if I wanted to but I wasn’t obliged to. I didn’t involve giving up a job or making a big deal about going part time from a full time contract. For some dads doing this could involve a major change in direction of their career but there was no need for any ‘mid-life crisis’ type decisions for me.

We’ve been thinking about the possibility of her going full time in nursery next year. Though I love spending time with her and I am sure that my time with her is a major fulfilment of my life the thought have having more time to write, prepare teaching and perhaps even develop this blog more is very tempting. I feel that having time to journal my thoughts about psychological formation is something that will not only produce material for others to learn from but also help me grow.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Getting Out More

As I’m at home looking after my toddler half of the week it is important for me to get out of the house more.

The other day we were in all day and she watched a lot television. I’m sure getting out does me good too. I’m the sort of person who can go quite in room full of people and not really say much. Practicing my social skills is something that I need to keep up. I feel I am happy generally. I’m not prone to feeling lonely or forgotten but I think we all need to guard against that area and mix more, especially when you’re looking after a toddler.

It can take an effort to get all the stuff together to get out: changing bag, travel system etc. Over the months it does get less. Now I’m finding toilet training brings its own anxieties. I took my first journey out without her wearing her pull up pants last week. Anyway, this week as well as going out as a family to church I’ve managed to get out a two days in a row to my local Sure Start Centre. As someone who doesn’t naturally go out much perhaps it is important to build getting out more into a weekly routine?

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I am inspired to restart my blog this week. I want it to be a sort of psychological diary for the benefit of my students, my friends or anyone really. Will it be full of bright ideas in the midst of struggles or just some banal waffle? I can’t think of anything to put in it this week. Still it’s the start of a new academic year. There must be something as I get back teaching. Surely?