Monday, 23 December 2013

Are you Chasing Rainbows?: A Christmas blog - memory lane.

Are you Chasing Rainbows?: A Christmas blog - memory lane.: Just one more day to go before Christmas Day.  All being well, my body will be present and celebrating Christmas Day 2013. But my mind? I wo...

A Christmas blog - memory lane.

Just one more day to go before Christmas Day.  All being well, my body will be present and celebrating Christmas Day 2013. But my mind? I wonder where that will be? Where has it already been over the last couple of weeks of preparations?

Two weeks ago the box of Christmas tree decorations was unpacked. Some of those decorations are from the 1950s and my own childhood Christmases. Good memories of older relatives visiting, dislodging the tree when I tried to find our whether the fairy on top was real, chocolate selection boxes, Mickey Mouse lights, making paper chains and watching my first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film. Also memories of being poorly and my mother being exhausted returning home from work on Christmas Eve, laden down with the turkey.

The 1960s - a different house, but similar tree and decorations.  Same elderly relatives, but a change in the family dynamic through divorce and now being a recalcitrant teenager. My mother was still exhausted and the memories are more of all the household tasks that needed to be done (or did they?), rather than of any joy in the proceedings. 1967 and I was on night duty in a Children's Home.  That was good and not that I knew it then, but I met my first husband too. 

1970 and I had been home for a day from hospital with my week old baby. Friends had decorated the flat, but those tree decorations were still at my mother's house, where we continued to spend Christmas Days. 

1975 and with a move to a bigger house, I took over hosting the family Christmas.  My mother downsized and I gained a few of the decorations. I was amazed to find that despite the effort required, preparing the meal didn't have to be as stressful as I had been bought up to believe it was.

The rest of the 1970s and 1980s.  We had good Christmas times. The children have good memories. A house that was only decorated the night before my daughter's birthday on the 18th, to help make it special, despite being so near Christmas. Relatives, nativity plays,  carol concerts, good food, visitors, fun and laughter. Except, sometimes, behind my smile... 

1990s. After the years of tradition, I'm not sure there was one Christmas like another.  Family breakdown, children growing up, moving away and divorce. In 1994, my new husband asked why I was insistent something had to be done a certain way. I replied that it was because it always had been done like that, it was tradition. "And that's a very good reason to change", he replied. But I was clinging to the past wasn't I? A past through rose-coloured glasses.

2013. It's been 18 years since my last 'family Christmas'.  Logistics make them impossible. But if we haven't all got together at Christmas time, we have for autumn birthdays and more recently my mother's 90th birthday in December 2010. But this year, my mother died and my husband was taken ill just before the family gathering and we couldn't attend.

The Christmas tree has gone up and the decorations placed lovingly on the tree. I played CDs of John Rutter carols, allowed some moments to become tearful for the past (the good bits) and tried to remember that I have a choice. I can't choose the first thought, but I can change the second and subsequent. On occasions I have chosen to indulge myself and not bother to change the second thought.  There's nothing like a dose of self-pity for distorting the truth of the situation.

I also remember that, I can change what I do today, I can change what I do tomorrow, but I can't change what I did yesterday.

My favourite quote, which comes at the end of the book is:
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller 

With Happy Christmas wishes to all the readers and see you the other side of the door of December 25th. Have fun.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Recovery from a patient's perspective.

Ten weeks ago, the day was much like today.  A Sunday with bright blue skies, though it was a little warmer, as it was autumn rather than winter.

It was 8.30am and I was getting ready to go out for a celebration lunch with some fellow Soroptimists in West Yorkshire. My husband, Alex (book name), was going to drop me off at the station, but before we had to leave, he was working in the garden.

At 8.40am, Alex came in from the garden complaining of stomach ache. He is generally a fit and healthy man and this was unusual. A sixth sense told me not to go out.

The day progressed, nothing much seemed to change, but something wasn't right. By 6pm, it seemed time to take advice from the HelpLine 111, though we both felt it was a little extreme when they suggested an ambulance.

Four weeks ago I wrote the following blog, summing up my personal thoughts on what happened next:

But what about Alex? How is he? What are his views about what happened?

Most people who experience a major life event will recognise that surreal feeling of going from an ordinary day to one full of the unexpected, whether it is nice or nasty. Other people are going about their 'normal' life and yours has just been changed, maybe forever. Last week, the news was full of the aftermath of a tragic helicopter accident in the centre of Glasgow. Many people's lives changed forever, yet a radio reporter reported that in the nearby streets, the shops were busy with people doing their Christmas shopping.

Alex ended up having major abdominal surgery and the doctors and nurses saved his life. Twenty-four hours later he was in ICU. Alex is so un-medical that he got fed up with the assumption that everyone knows what all the hospital acronyms are. A few days later he still had no idea what staff were talking about when they mentioned ICU. For anyone reading this in the same situation it means Intensive Care Unit.

I knew our lives were about to change and I wasn't confident how someone who disliked anything medical was going to manage.

A specialist nurse visited the ward four days after the operation. She explained in a kind, but firm manner that there were two major contributions to a good recovery. 1. Family support. 2. Attitude

Alex's response was that family support was a given, which it has been. I played the nurse/carer to begin with and then gently withdrew to allow Alex to do more. We have discussed how easy it would have been for him to allow me to mollycoddle him, thus encouraging a dependency. Fortunately, neither his character or mine, would allow that to happen.

I am reminded of being very unwell in the mid 1980s. A friend experienced something similar around the same time. I managed with little help and recovered slowly. This was mainly due to having to get up off the sofa each day to provide the family with a meal, even if that was all I did each day. My friend's mother lived locally and came and 'nursed' her, not allowing her to get off the sofa. My friend remained unwell for a very long time and eventually developed clinical depression. It was sad and bewildering to observe.

2. Attitude Chapter 17

Alex has amazed me. While he's not happy about what's happened and "hasn't got his head around it yet", he decided that he would have change his thinking processes. His goal was recovery and positive thoughts have been prominent. This has not been and is still not easy at times, but Alex says that he now knows the meaning of 'mind over matter'.

Daily goal setting has been crucial. Chapter 13. As too, some  daily exercise. Chapter 1.

But the main contribution to his positive attitude has been having a role model. Two role models in fact.

His father, Bob, had been a healthy and fit man until he was fifty-five. A spinal problem led him to become a paraplegic and a few years later, an oxygen overdose led him to becoming blind. Alex's parent's home was adapted and they lived in it for over another twenty years. Bob did the cooking, gardening and all sorts of household tasks. He very rarely complained and just got on with life, even when it became more difficult when Alex's mother started to experience dementia.

Another relative had become unwell in their early twenties. They developed a chronic condition and let it rule their lives until their early death at sixty-two. Though highly talented in various arts and crafts, they became dependent on benefits and used their illness to get attention in unhealthy ways. There was secondary gain to remaining dependent, which they were unable to overcome. Chapter 17.  

Alex had a choice of role-models. He chose his father as a positive role-model and his relative as a negative one.

We hear and read much on having positive role models, but I write about the effectiveness of having a negative role model in Chapter 12. 

As a couple, Alex and I are only beginners on this new road in life, but we hope that we remain strong enough to manage our 'new normal' and the obstacles that will appear on our travels. It is already helping us focus on what we can do, rather than what we can't

It's amazing how so much that mattered before September 30th, isn't really important. Sometimes, events can provide a tough way to learn life's lessons.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Book reviews and a feeling of vindication

Vindication is quite a powerful word, so I looked it up in a dictionary before using it.

Vindicate - to show or prove to be right, reasonable or justified.

Yes, I feel vindicated. The introduction to the blog in September explains why the reviews below have made me experience that feeling. I also feel humbled.

(As I look out of the window, there is a full arc of a rainbow, with one end in the field opposite the house. True!)

If I don't read another good review or when I receive poor reviews, the kind (genuine) words in print and by phone from old friends and new friends have helped me know that I was right to publish. 

Thank you. Spread the word and if you are being reticent about something that feels right, but fear the criticism...Read Chapter 14 and go for it!


Accessible and for everyone

November 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a really readable and accessible book looking at how and why we behave like children sometimes. One can find people they know in the examples, I have found myself pointedly leaving chapters bookmarked for my 'other half' to read. At first I thought he might be offended, but in fact he read it and we have discussed some of the case studies and ideas. It's a big job, but we are communicating a bit better because of it! Emotional maturity has a ripple effect in so many other areas of your life, relationships, addictive behaviours and being content with your lot, to name but a few - I am suggesting a few more of my friends dip into this book too.


Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
I have titled my review the way that I have because it is a hope that Alison expresses in her summary at the end of the book for those readers who have read the whole book. When I read a self help book I do so in the hope that I might take away one thing from it that I did not know before. This book surpasses that hope with an abundance of priceless nuggets. The only book I can compare it to is Your Path In Life by the peerless late Dr Dylan Morgan. Alison writes with a clarity from the heart and took me on a kaleidoscopic journey; I came out at the other side feeling energised, refreshed and ready to go. This is a book I will read again and again.

A Must Read For All Adults!!18 Nov 2013
Deborah (in the North) Amazon Verified Purchase

This review is from: Are You Chasing Rainbows? (Paperback)
An excellent book that is so easy to read straight through or keep just dipping in when you have a moment to reflect on life! Most of us will recognise our own behaviour patterns and life circumstances. We may want to respond to a challenge in our own lives that we read others have come through? It is a book that will appeal to men and women alike and crosses all social and economic divides. Leaving childhood patterns behind and achieving the adult life we aspire to is easier said than done. This book will help practically to inspire and encourage us. If you want a gift this Christmas that will last a life time; put this title on your list! It could be life-changing even?

Helpful and insightful17 Nov 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Are You Chasing Rainbows? (Paperback)
I read this book as soon as it arrived...very easy to follow unlike some similar books I have tried. I recognised my own failings on occasion and importantly I was able to realise why some of my nearest and dearest behave as they do. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone .

Insightful, relevant and thought-provoking14 Nov 2013
Katie Kelly "blossom" (Belfast, UK) 
I found this book very easy to read, either as a coffee table sort of book you dip in and out of or as one you read cover to cover. It has obviously been written by someone who is passionate about good mental health, has experienced the problem themselves and in a clinical setting and has thought deeply about how to present it to the reader in a manner which neither accuses or alienates. The quotes are thought-provoking, the exercises practical and the illustrations relevant. Great read.

Brilliant11 Nov 2013
Luke (United Kingdom) Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A must read for everyone. Understand other people's moods and your own. A really interesting easy to read book, that doesn't confuse the reader with psychobabble.

Help for All4 Nov 2013

If there really were an end to the rainbow - this book is the pot of gold that would be found at the end of it. It is one of the few books of which it can be said that the target readership is genuinely "Everyone". We are all keen to know what makes others 'tick', and understand why they react to us in the way they do. And knowing that means we can often catch ourselves about to indulge in some childish behaviour, and stop before damage is done to our friends and loved ones. Highly recommended as a practical and useful guide to our emotional reactions.

Excellent17 Oct 2013
J. E. Murray-playfair "Samet" (UK)

This review is from: Are You Chasing Rainbows? (Paperback)

An excellent book, very insightful. It really should be read by everyone. I look forward to more from this author.

From a friend:

The book itself is absolutely bang on: just what the world needs. 
I am not exaggerating, are there plans to translate it into other languages? 
If not why not (she asked bossily!)? It is essential reading for just about 
everyone, the truth and clarity of what you write about will be ringing
bells for many, many people. I recognise all sorts of things and have 
found a lot of your advice so sensible and relevant. I like the format 
of personal experience/examples/illustrations it is frank and human 
without being me!me!me! – a difficult balance to strike.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Karma or just life?

There is irony in the following situation.

Writing a book for consumption by the general public about emotional maturity, containing suggestions on how to manage the challenging events in life and then life deciding to test the author, at the same moment as publication.

It almost feels as if life is saying, "Ha! Not so easy is it? Na, na, na, na, na!

October was not a great month. It should have been. On September 28th, life was okay, with the promise of a busy, but fun October ahead. A first book publication, two book launches with family, friends and colleagues, four birthdays to celebrate, a big family weekend and finishing with a conference to attend.

John Lennon was  right: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

Sunday, September 29th started normally. Then my husband developed a stomach ache. We thought he had a bug. Twelve hours later he had been taken to hospital in an ambulance. Twenty-fours hours later he was having a major operation and the doctors and nurses were saving his life.

October 1st was spent by my husband's bedside on an Intensive Care Unit. I was in shock.

I experienced the emotional arousal of a major life event, in two ways. One as the participant and another as the observer and analyser.  So while I was initially moving and thinking in a state of shock, I was also fascinated by what it was doing to my mind and body and how I was reacting. After the initial shock comes post shock and the consequences.

It's now the beginning of November and I can report the good news that my husband is on the road to recovery, but it's a day by day lifestyle at the moment. There are few plans being made.

So what are my conclusions? Do I retract anything in the book? No, I don't. Does the recent experience confirm some of the contents in the book? It does.

We can only reflect on any given situation if we have a level of self-awareness. A sort of internal CCTV camera. Chapter 19.

In shock we are unable to think rationally, although we often think we are. Chapter 10. 

The support of friends in good times is great, in difficult times it is priceless. Chapter 6.

Though we need to have times of privacy too. Chapter 20.

Using food and alcohol as comforters is normal. Chapter 20

Knowing when to stop is crucial. Introduction. Chapter 12. Chapter 


Knowing how to deal with anger and frustration is helpful. Chapter 4.

Managing thwarted expectations takes effort. Chapter 4. Chapter 13.

The specialist nurse was correct in saying that attitude plays a large part in healing and recovery from major, life-changing surgery.
Chapter 2. Chapter 13. Chapter 17.

Our personal needs changes according to the circumstances. Chapter 1.

Small steps can make big differences. Chapter 13.

The imagination can run riot and be badly misused. Perspective is helpful. Chapter 15.

The book is now at the distributors and should only take a few days to be delivered, despite what the websites are saying at the moment.

The Kindle version can be downloaded immediately.

The audiobook will be available later this month.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Mental Health Day 2013

This is my contribution to World Mental Health Day. Perhaps I should have published the book today?

From Chapter 1

        There is still a stigma attached to the subject of mental health.
        Whatever people may think, the situation is not as bad as it 
        used to be, when the very mention of someone having mental
        health problems – maybe a family member – would have
        been taboo. Nowadays, everyone knows someone who has
        experienced a mental health problem, if not within their own 
        circle of friends and family, then through a celebrity or
        sportsperson publicising their personal problems. 
  1. The term ‘mental health disorders’ covers a wide spectrum, but I wish that the term ‘emotional health problems’ could be recognised and used instead in many cases. Here, I am not including genetic disorders, or people with brain damage: a great many people given a ‘mental health disorders’ label in fact have problems controlling their emotions, and the root to their emotional distress lies in childhood. Unfortunately, many emotional health problems have become medicalised and medicated, with varying degrees of success and sometimes a multitude of associated problems. Here are some examples.

    There is an accepted belief that depression arises from a chemical imbalance in the brain, especially in the levels of a chemical called serotonin. The pharmaceutical cure suggested is chemical and provided by anti-depressants. There is some truth in the chemical imbalance in the brain, but our everyday actions can bring a change in the balance of serotonin, such as laughing, exercise, lovemaking, gardening or listening to music. Correct nutrition has its part to play too, and the role of good quality sleep is crucial.
       Anxiety disorders
       The pharmaceutical solution to anxiety disorders often has
       withdrawal effects that can cause further feelings of anxiety, 
       thus convincing a person that they still have the problem. 
       Simple breathing exercises can bring about immediate
       changes to the nervous system. That the mind and body 
       cannot be calm and anxious at the same time is a fact. An
       excess of caffeine and other stimulants can cause symptoms
       of anxiety too.

       Cognitive-behavioural therapy
       GPs often prescribe cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for
       help with emotional problems. Problems can occur if one is 
       thinking and behaving in an unhelpful manner. CBT can help 
       someone change their thoughts and behaviours to more
       useful and healthy ones. There are a variety of ways to help
       someone achieve this. A warning should be sounded about 
       prolonged therapeutic interventions, which may lead to some
       emotional wounds becoming toxic. Ensuring a person’s
       emotional needs are being met healthily, or met at all, can
       have successful outcomes, as can addressing the misuse of 
       natural abilities, such as the imagination – often in a 
       short space of time. The consequences of not having
       emotional needs met as a child can result in the adult
       searching through their life to find these unmet needs. In
       observing behaviours and using these needs as a compass, I 
       suggest that often, the missing needs of childhood are being 
       looked for decades later. The adult may be observed 
       behaving like ‘a needy child’. That’s because they were – 
       then. In the present day, there are times when that ‘needy 
       child’ can hijack the adult.

       In Yorkshire, teacher and head of department, Felicity
       Davis’s autobiography, Guard a Silver Sixpence, she explains
       that an abusive upbringing led to her emotional needs not 
       being met. She eventually realised that she was sabotaging
       loving, adult relationships by being “too needy”: I became
       dimly aware that I had been a very needy girlfriend indeed,  
       and I had scared him. I had gone round to his house at almost 
       every opportunity because it was so much more wonderful 
       than being in my own home, and I was besotted with him and 
       besotted with the whole business of feeling loved after so long
       feeling so very unloved. It was not surprising that in the end 
       Dave found me far too intense, too needy – emotionally
       greedy would be more accurate – and felt like he needed some 
      air. I was just impossible to be around for any length of time.

      Some questions to consider

      Q: What enables some people who have been given a chronic
      or terminal diagnosis to enjoy a quality of life, while others 
      Q: When do people who say “I have everything I want” 
       experience a lack of fulfilment?
      Q: Why do some lottery winners increase their happiness withpage25image14744page24image15464
      their winnings, while others claim: “The lottery ruined my
      Q: How do some people find the ability to pick themselves up
      after a major knock back, while others do not, or find it 

The answers are in the book:

Are you Chasing Rainbows? - a personal and practical insight to emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children 

Paperback, e-book and audio book published on Monday, October 14th, 2013.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Comments and Responses

1. When I started formulating my ideas in 2006, I ran into a sizable amount of opposition from colleagues. The arguments tended to focus on the suggestion that certain aspects of an adult’s verbal and non-verbal behaviour would sometimes morph into that of a child. While some of my colleagues reported that they did indeed see a variety of immature behaviours in their clients, other colleagues were totally dismissive. 

I was also told that I wasn’t saying anything new. For a time I allowed the dismissive comments to intimidate me and I stopped developing the subject. Adults showing immature behaviour carried on being reported in the media on a regular basis and eventually I got fed up and continued my book.

From The Introduction.

The recognition of childish behaviour in adults has been well documented and researched over many decades. Transactional Analysis’s ‘inner child’ uses these findings, as does Neuro-Linguistic Programming’s ‘timeline’ work. Hypnosis uses ‘the affect bridge’ and regression. The psychologists Oliver James and Dorothy Rowe are among many who have written a number of books about the adult– child dynamic in family situations. An American psychologist, Pauline Wallin, has written a book called Taming Your Inner Brat. Brandon Bays uses ‘The Journey’. There is Michael Bywater’s Big Babies book, the media use of the word ‘kidults’ and so on. A problem of emotional immaturity has been identified and the presence of a child in some form inhabiting an adult’s mind has been acknowledged.
However, I believe that there has been something missing in the understanding of why the child is sometimes present. I do not believe our child is a brat. I suggest that this child is sometimes a very frightened, even traumatised child. Fear is the baseline emotion (Chapter 11) .

2. “There’s nothing wrong with being childish sometimes.”
This is the most common criticism to the book’s full title.
From The Introduction

Childish, or childlike?
“There’s nothing wrong with being childish. It’s fun.” I have heard this many times from people disagreeing with my views, but they tend to be mixing up childish with childlike. The difference between childish and childlike is important and needs to be highlighted from the beginning, as the difference is not always appreciated.
Enjoying childlike moments of joy, fun, wonderment, innocent curiosity and simple pleasures is to be recommended and encouraged until the day we die. We can still behave as an adult and remain in control, and it is not boring. It can be delightful, uplifting, fun and enjoyable for all. I definitely recognise and enjoy childlike moments in my life. Some examples are:
  1. Visiting the seaside. 
  2. Receiving gifts. 
  3. Playing games with children. 
  4. Having harmless fun. 
What certainly is boring and a pain for everyone involved is childish behaviour. An immature child appears to hijack the emotions and takes control of thoughts and actions (‘hijack’ is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence; see Further Reading). The results can be extremely damaging and long-lasting. For example: 
Sulking and tantrums. 
Being disruptive
Addictive behaviour. 
Manipulative behaviour. 
Being violently possessive. 

3. "It seems simplistic."
The book is not an academic text. It is for the layperson and in plain English.
Where has the belief come from that solutions to all emotional health problems have to be complex? 
Who benefits by encouraging lay people to believe that their emotional health problems are complex?
This is a work experience from Chapter 2
Moreover, these talents do not have to be creative ones. In 2011, I was in a branch of a leading supermarket. A floor manager opened a folder of papers in front of me, including a mathematical matrix for meal break entitlements: it looked a well-used piece of paper. I couldn’t help but mention that I had designed it, and told them the story of its inception. “Was it difficult to do?”, someone asked. “No,” I replied, “It just came to me in a meeting.”
I was considered so poor at maths at school that I was not allowed to sit any maths exams. Yet I designed the matrix in 1993, and as of 2011 the store manager told me, “It has not been improved by modern technology”. At the time I was given a £100 bonus for ‘a good idea’, but not before someone from head office had come to the shop to check that the design really was the work of the lowly checkout manger using her own innate talents: something that a department in head office had not been able to do.

4. "Thanks so much for the chapters, M is reading them too - I think its really pertinent reading - throwing up lots of discussions which is good, and eureka moments about a few people we know! " 
Comment from someone who read four chapters, relevant to a problem they had expressed in conversation.

This is exactly what I hope the book will do.

5. “Brilliant,  spot-on...valid” - a journalist reading one chapter about a behaviour, which I thought was relevant to them.
I will ignore the first word, but I was re-assured to read the next two.

6. “It's just hippy claptrap. Pop pathologisation”  From someone who read the Amazon blurb.

I think the words healing and rainbow may have suggested this to the reader.  Their view is as valid as anyone else’s. I hope they read the book and let me know whether they still think the same at the end.

Words have so many meanings and can mean so many things to different people. 

From The Introduction.

Our memory is like playing the card game ‘Snap’. Using the five senses of sound, taste, touch, sight and smell, our brain matches what it is experiencing in the present with memories from the past. If the brain is unable to provide an exact match, then it will find the nearest thing. Hence the use of the word ‘like’. It starts at birth.  A baby will seek out something to suck. If it is not a breast, it will be something ‘like’ a breast. I call this game of brain snap - memory matching.
From Chapter 15
The confused imagination
In playing ‘snap’ with memory-matches, the English language can cause a few problem of incorrect matching.
Sally was living with her son, Ben. I popped in for a cup of coffee and chat. The atmosphere was not good, there was a distinct chill between them. The young man had experienced a couple of years of mental health problems, but was getting better. After some difficult times, Ben had found an outdoor activity that he loved: being part of a local volunteer conservation group. On this particular day the group had been involved in some heavy work on the local moors. He arrived home after a hard day’s work, and saw his mother in the garden picking apples
“Hi Ben,” said Sally, “I’m stuck up this tree.”
“Hi mum,” said Ben, “I’m going to have a bath and go on the computer.”
As Ben told me later, “I thought she meant that she was ‘stuck’ up the tree – in the same way that I might have said, “I’ve been ‘stuck’ on the moors all day.”
Unfortunately, what Sally meant was that she indeed stuck in the apple tree: she could not get down and was beginning to panic. As a result, Sally had difficulty thinking straight as she had become emotionally aroused. She saw Ben go back in the house. Instead of shouting louder and explaining her predicament, she imagined that Ben had chosen to ignore her in his selfish, teenage way. A neighbour saw her, came round and helped her down. Sally was furious and would not listen to Ben’s more than reasonable explanation.

7. “There are already lots of books about this subject.”
Yes, there are. Hundreds. There are also hundreds of books about cooking, parenting, gardening and so on.
It doesn’t stop there being a place for a new perspective, written in a different way. 
When I opened the therapy practice, I was motivated to help all the ‘walking wounded’ in the city. The thought of people’s lives being destroyed by questionable treatments horrified me and still does. I soon realised I couldn’t help the masses. I had to help one person at a time. For my inspiration I used the bible story of the sower and the seed.
For all the people that buy the book, e-book or audio book, there will be those who may never read or listen to it. They may dip in and leave it.
Then there will be those interested and possibly motivated, but unable to put the ideas into practice.
Then there will be the few, perhaps very few, who take the ideas and change something in their life, for the better. They may tell other people.
It is for those people that this book is written.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Why Chasing Rainbows and where's your evidence?

Three weeks to go to publication date. This is both scary and exciting. I'm collecting comments, of all sorts, and will respond to those in another blog.

For this blog I'm doing a 'cut and paste' from the Introduction from 'Are you Chasing Rainbows? A personal and practical insight to emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children.'  

Reading the news over the previous few days, the last paragraph seems especially timely. 

These are my answers to two common questions:

Why ‘chasing rainbows’?

Forty-four-year-old Neil was explaining some behaviour that wasn’t helping a domestic situation. There was something he had said that brought out the following response from me: “You might as well be chasing rainbows!” I explained that he was describing a situation where his goal was in fact an illusion, and he was becoming deluded and emotionally unwell in his attempts to reach it. He understood immediately. “I feel as if I’ve spent my life running backwards and forwards trying to fill a child’s half empty bucket, but it never gets filled.”

What’s my research, and where’s my evidence?

I have two children and four grandchildren. I have experienced some challenging times while growing up, being educated and throughout life – a normal life. I am also a trained nursery nurse with a variety of workplace experiences, including years on maternity units, in private homes, nurseries and playgroups. For most of my professional childcare years I was working with the under-fives.

I spent ten years in retail work and management, and then moved to another part of the country. Agency work as a nursery nurse led to work on an acute unit in a psychiatric hospital. I stayed as a nursing assistant, and after three years decided that there must be a more effective way of helping people and relieving them of their distress.

 I retrained as a psychotherapist, and in 2001 opened a private practice. I worked using a short-term, solution-focused therapy, using a variety of cognitive and behavioural therapeutic interventions. The focus was mainly on the client’s unmet emotional needs and their unused or misused resources (Chapter 1 and 2). I found it a most effective way to help many people experiencing emotional health problems, including depression, stress, addiction, anxiety disorders and trauma.

However, there were some clients where something else appeared to be going on other than just missing adult needs or misusing resources. Using my nursery nursing experience, I realised that I was seeing and hearing about childish behaviour hijacking adult behaviour – repeatedly. Verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes it would appear that the adult morphed into the child in front of me.

Why did they keep repeating such childish behaviour? What was trying to be achieved? The consequences rarely appeared satisfactory, so why did they continue? Did they realise what was going on? I asked my colleagues to look for these signs, and they too reported the same findings, although there has been healthy discussion on exactly what is happening in the mind and body. Even neuroscientists and psychologists don’t have all the answers, as new findings and theories are published frequently.

I have undertaken research using what I have observed, heard and read in the real world and real life. I have also used personal experiences over sixty years. Not a week goes by without a news report or magazine article containing an example of what I have described as ‘chasing rainbows’ behaviour. I have never met anyone who did not recognise exactly what I was talking about – although naturally there have been disagreements about why this is happening.

Family relationships can be fraught with difficulties if the child is not allowed to grow up into an adult. How many times do we hear from adults who are mature in years saying, ‘My parent still treats me like a child?’ I would suggest that we can allow ourselves to be treated like a child by not drawing boundaries of expected behaviour (Chapter 8).

From the feedback I have received when I tell people the subject of the book, it would appear that the workplace can be full of competing ‘mini-mes’. In August 2006, a City bank administrator, Helen Green, won £817,000 because she had been bullied at work – by other women. A group who constantly told her she smelled and blew raspberries at her. This is straight out of the playground. It is not so much juvenile as infantile, with results that can only lead to poorer productivity and increased sickness levels. Barely a month goes by without a political commentator writing that the House of Commons resembles a playground on occasions. The Palace of Westminster is stuffed with people who are intellectually bright – indeed, some are very intelligent – but emotionally mature? That’s another matter.


Friday, 13 September 2013

NEW book. NEW author. DIFFERENT perspective


Alison Russell first shoplifted at the age of nine years old. 

Alison Russell stopped shoplifting at the age of eighteen years old.

Alison knew what had made her stop shoplifting on that day, but always wondered, why then and there?

 Alison trained as a nursery nurse, married, had two children and worked in childcare. In 1985 she started working in a Waitrose supermarket near her home in Buckinghamshire. 

A move to Yorkshire for a second marriage in 1994 saw her return to childcare, which in turn led to working on an acute psychiatric unit. Alison retrained as a psychotherapist and in 2000 opened her own practice in York. 

By 2006, Alison understood about the shoplifting and much else that had happened in her life.  She decided to write a book. It was never completed.

In 2010, Alison and her husband moved home from York to North Yorkshire. She passed the practice on to colleagues and gained her fourth grandchild.

In September 2012, Alison returned home after a glorious time as a Games Maker at London12 Olympics and Paralympics. For once, her diary looked empty. There were no excuses left for not finishing the book.

Which leads to Monday, October 14th 2013 and the publication of:

Are you Chasing Rainbows? A personal and practical insight into emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children

£1 a copy is being donated to ChildLine