4

Christmas crafts

In my post where I considered what might be coming up here on Sue’s Trifles I mentioned some Christmas decorations I had made at craft group.  At the time I wrote that post I couldn’t remember where I had put them.  We keep our Christmas decorations in the loft, but it isn’t easily accessible.  I knew they weren’t there.

When hubby announced that he was going to put something else in the loft, I mentioned that I had some decorations, but had forgotten where I had put them.

Surprisingly he found them for me.  (There is an expression that those who hide can usually find, and I had certainly put them somewhere.)

I decided against having them put with the other decorations.  Partly this was because there are some incomplete ones.  If I take those out of the ice cream tub, it is half empty.  It is now a project to pick up at some time in the future.

Meanwhile I have taken two photos of what I made in an evening.

Decorations and templates

Decorations, templates and parts ready for assembly

Decorations

Decorations

Before I went to craft group, I made two templates – a circle and a triangle (it should be an equilateral triangle to fit exactly in the circle.)  I did it in a hurry by drawing round an egg cup and using a ruler to produce the triangle.

Geometry lessons long ago taught me how to draw a circle using a pair of compasses and how to construct an equilateral triangle.  In this case speed was more important than accuracy.

My tools were a pair of scissors for cutting card, a mini-stapler, a ruler and a pencil.  I also had a supply of Christmas cards I had received and some silver- and gold-coloured gift ribbon.

The pictures show the completed baubles and some partly made.  It was nearly the end of the session, when I realised that I had been making them from four circles.  In the past I have used six.  This gives a more rounded shape.  The benefit of using four is that they have a flat base.  I didn’t need to hang them up for their photocall.

The shapes are drawn on the reverse of the cards, but I try to position them so that there is an interesting image near the centre of the circle.

These are old-fashioned decorations.  Paper burns easily, so they should be kept away from candles and open fires.  They are suitable for children to make.  Glue may be used instead or as well as staples.

Do you receive Christmas cards?  What do you do with them after Christmas?

5

Mental health awareness week

It’s mental health awareness week.

I have no formal expertise in this subject.  However, I have lived long enough to have encountered mental illness and to have formed some opinions about it.

The statistics for people becoming mentally ill indicate that any one of us (or our families and friends) is likely to suffer at some time.

There is still a lot of ignorance about mental illness.  It can affect children, young people, adults of any age and depression is not unusual among elderly people

There are many different forms of mental illness.  Unlike specific physical illnesses, which usually lead to the same symptoms in many sufferers, a named mental illness may appear differently in individuals.

The emphasis this week is on mindfulness.

I’d like to throw in a few more suggestions for recovery from mental illness, which is often stress-related.

Sometimes it can be useful to do something creative, which keeps one’s hands occupied.  Knitting, crochet, art, colouring, rug-making, puzzles of various kinds, embroidery and basket-making are examples.  Not everyone will be helped by the same activity.

Basket-making is rather an iconic form of therapy in this context.  I once heard that people were only discharged from old-fashioned mental hospitals, when they had succeeded in making a basket.  There is an expression used to describe someone, who may be mentally ill: a basket case.  The derivation is obvious.  Basket-making requires a certain amount of patience, dexterity, the ability to follow a pattern and strength.  It is not something that everyone is able to do, however well they may be.

As I understand it, mindfulness involves being in the present moment.  Anxiety and other stress-related conditions may respond to this.

We can only live in the present moment.  It is encouraging that God’s name is “I am”.  Present tense.  Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

Mindfulness seems to be helpful.  What I’d like to say is that prayer and trust in God are even better.

I am not saying that those with faith in God are immune to mental illness.  We are not.  Many suffer at various times from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and long term mental health problems.

Neither am I saying that people with mental health problems are to blame for their condition.

Many people with these problems are also lonely, partly because of the stigma associated with having a mental illness.

There are many blogs and other articles online about mental illness.  Some are attached to “official” websites such as the one I linked above and Time to change.

Some are by individuals experiencing problems in their lives, which they are brave enough to share with others for mutual support.

In my view some of the stigma arises out of fear of the unknown.  The media highlight cases where a tragedy has arisen due to the mental instability of an individual.  There are many forms of mental illness, which do not result in these sorts of tragedies.  It could be argued that with more understanding and acceptance, more people might be helped and suicides, murders and other tragedies prevented.

There are courses in first aid and in resuscitation, for example.  Perhaps it is time that the public should be educated about the causes, symptoms and treatment of mental illness.  The health service seems to be stretched to its limit.  Of course it is important to know when to seek professional help, but with better understanding and support from family and friends, escalation of a mental health problem to critical might be avoided.

I am publishing this post towards the end of Mental Health Awareness week.  At the beginning of the week I found this site, where Christianity and mindfulness are connected.  I also found this post about writing,which gives useful insights.  This one is a blogger’s personal account of dealing with a diagnosis.

Have you found mindfulness helpful?  What do you think about the early signs of mental health issues?

9

What’s next on Sue’s Trifles?

The A to Z challenge has come to an end, as I mentioned in my last post but one.  Then we had the A to Z reflections linky.  So what now for Sue’s Trifles?

I have been doing some crochet and another craft project, which gave me a reason to go to the craft group.  Do you know anyone else, who has made Christmas decorations in April?

The only reason I did, was that I couldn’t find my scrapbook.  It is an amateurish project.  When I discovered that the person sitting next to me is very accomplished at scrapbooking, I was glad that I hadn’t found mine.  Come to think of it, it is still missing!

Crocheted blanket

Completed blanket

Crochet squares and corner of blanket

Patriotic colours and detail of corner

My new blog, Sue’s words and pictures, has settled down to 3 posts a week.  I anticipated a weekly post, but then discovered the Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post and a new A to Z Challenge with posts on Fridays.

Life has been rather intense.  An unexpected event in our local community means that in a few months time a number of individuals and families will be moving away.  There is always a trickle of people coming and going, but this looks more like a flood.  The Church also looks towards an unexpected interregnum.  It is important to see this as a challenge and opportunity rather than to look at it as merely a disappointment and to become disheartened.  People whose special friends have gone will need extra care, especially the youngsters.  Having moved fairly long distances a few times I feel an empathy with those about to leave and new arrivals.

After practising for weeks for a service of choral Matins, I succumbed to a virus and was unable to take part.  The words and tunes ran around in my head for days after the event I had missed.  That seemed to increase the disappointment.  After the culmination of rehearsals at a “performance” I am happy to have the occasional ear-worm, which reminds me of a joyful event.  Without having taken part, I was not really encouraged by these songs as I should have been.

On the writing front, I have added a new recording on SoundCloud.  I have also been writing a few more poems, but they may not be finished yet.  And I have done my assignment for the writing group, which meets every two months.  It was not one, for which I had immediate inspiration.  In the past I have written something in the first week after the meeting.  This time I left it for a month and had to remind myself of the topic!

I haven’t been reading books recently, partly because of all the A to Z blogs demanding attention.  No book reviews are waiting in the wings.

So what is coming up in Sue’s Trifles? Next week is mental health awareness week.  (OK, it seems to be the whole of May across the pond.)  I intend to write a post about that.  Sometimes the promised tasty writing surprises of her tagline are a surprise to Sue!