Our December meeting was a Dementia Friends session. We learned a little more about what it’s like to live with dementia, how we can make a difference and help to create a dementia friendly community.
The November meeting was our annual group meeting with other local WI groups and we had visitors from N1, Stow Roses, Stone Rangers, East End and Stoke Newington. We learned how to lindy hop, calypso and dance to Bombay Dreams with top choreographer and west end performer Jreena Green.
Jreena also works with the Green Candle Dance company who believe that everyone has the right to practice, learn, watch and appreciate dance, regardless of age or ability. Their classes at Oxford House, Tower Hamlets include Dance and Dementia, Older Men Moving and Green Candle Senior Dance Classes. See their website for details.
On Thursday 6th October Alex Nunn, from Action for Happiness, led us on an inspiring and interactive exploration of what really matters for a happy and meaningful life. The evening was filled with personal insights and as usual the women of De Beauvoir opened their hearts to trying to make a difference.
GIVING – do things for others
RELATING – connect with people
EXERCISING – Take care of your body
AWARENESS – Live life mindfully
TRYING OUT – Keep learning new things
DIRECTION – Have goals to look forward to
RESILIENCE – Find ways to bounce back
EMOTIONS – Look for waht’s good
ACCEPTANCE – Be comfortable with who you are
MEANING – Be part of something
If you didn’t make it to last Thursdays meeting you missed out on the delicious smells of lavender, frankincense, nutmeg, and immortelle. Jane Williams gave us an expansive talk about aromatherapy which started with the history of the art of using scent extracted from plants and spices and ended with members giving themselves a personally scented hand massage. We smelled fresh leaves gathered from Jane’s garden, compared varieties of lavender oils (always keep lavender oil handy for kitchen burns) and discovered how to use essential oils safely. We also learned about how Jane helps cancer patients at University College Hospital where aromatherapy is something that helps relaxation and relieves some of the cruel side effects of cancer treatment.
For those of you who want to buy some oils Jane recommends Neal’s Yard and her own favourite Oshadi.
Thursday also saw the circulation of a host of sign-up sheets for the summers big fund-raising events. The first is this coming Saturday when we are running a cake stall at A Royal Knees-up party in Rosemary Gardens to celebrate the Queen‘s birthday. There will be an afternoon of fun for families including a dog show. We are still looking for cakes so email if you can bake, the WI will refund costs.
The knees-up is followed by another cake stall at Party in the Park on 9th July – again we are looking for bakers and helpers on the stall. Lastly (but this is the big one) – we have agreed to co-produce the Flower and Produce show in September alongside the de Beauvoir Gardeners. The show will be a great opportunity to raise our profile in the area as well as fundraise. We are looking for volunteers from members and their families to help make this community day better than ever.
Our May meeting was our annual AGM and we were celebrating our 2nd birthday. For those of you who couldn’t make it Amanda was unanimously re-elected as our President and the new committee who will support her consists of Julie (treasurer), Angela (secretary), Jacqui, Victoria, Sara and new members Debbie, Lesley and Naomi. Having just stepped down from the main committee myself along with Lisa, Jacquie and Pamela, I appreciate just how much these wonderful girls do to make it all happen – thank you.
There were a few reports on the year which included news of a very healthy bank balance and a list of some of the marvellous things we got up to in our second year. Great speakers, interesting trips, fund raising stalls, knitting, sewing, jam making and most of all lots of new friendships which are at the heart of everything we do. The year ahead is packed with even more than last year so roll up your sleeves girls and get stuck in – the more you do the more fun you have!
We did a lot of business on the night but we’d also been given some lovely colouring books by Pheonix Yard Books and so we coloured pictures as we listened to Sara explain this year’s resolutions. The resolution discussion was always going to be heated and while we all supported a campaign against food waste and agreed dementia needed more resources we also felt that the wording of both resolutions was just not thought through.
Remember to support our sewing session making bunting on Sunday 22nd May – bring fabric, friends and neighbours (full details here).
The WI is ran their first session of the community cafe today and from all accounts it was a great success. Our members have been incredibly generous with their time for this worthwhile community event and they appear in most weeks in the rota.
See you soon, Avril x
Unique, funny and charming are all words that describe the Irish-born local poet and novelist Martina Evans who read from her collected works at April’s meeting. Ahead of the launch of her new collection, Burnfort, Las Vegas, Martina treated us to excerpts of prose and poems both old and brand new. Originally from County Cork Martina kept us enthralled by drawing us into her personal and imaginative world. She was initially shy about reading to us, but as we hung on her every word and we were spellbound by poems such as Frank O’Hara and Oysters her confidence grew. Mixing up the ordinary with the extraordinary (Donny the cat featured heavily as did references to local London history and Shakespeare) she told us how she learnt her craft and now teaches at Birkbeck College.
As a child she always had her head in a book and told us that she started out on her creative writing career (first novels and then her true love poetry) because she, “loves telling stories and I love fairy tales too.” She finished the evening with a Q&A and we learnt that… She writes best… “Early in the morning, the earlier the better”. Nothing is wasted. She’s a natural poet because… “I like intensity. When I started writing I had done the Artist’s Way (a guide to unblocking your creativity) and it changed my life. It was absolutely transformational.” The saying may be that everyone has a novel in them… “But, I think that everyone has poetry in them.” Her next book is… “All about teenagers.”
Marina has kindly sent some links to some of her work and readings:
Here is the link to new prose poem Now We Can Talk Openly About Men on RTE RADIO which was published in The Stinging Fly magazine, it starts after a couple of minutes:
I also promised to send this essay I wrote for the Royal Literary Fund.
And an essay on the prose poem.