Some flexible resilience is something we could all do with right now. Being able to recognise our habits and make conscious choices from a place of quietness is a skill. Anxiety almost seems a default for so many of us, we need to find our inner smile, that place of quiet. The Alexander Technique is sometimes described as a martial art, a practical philosophy to help us to make good choices. Here’s Alexander practitioner and teacher Nick Chapman talking to Judith Kleinman about her book,Finding Quiet Strength and how she came up with the title. He has great praise for the tactile nature of the book and the beautiful design by Chris J Bailey.
Judith Kleinman is running a residential retreat at the lovely Hawkwood: Centre for Future Thinking 20–22 January. What a great gift for someone or a treat to look forward to in one of the darker months of the year. This course will explore how to develop a practice that creates flexible resilience, strength and ease in everyday life. It will help to find ways to let go of old habits that might have led to discomfort or pain and explore new intentions with a quiet, powerful, purpose and poise. There will be movement practices based on the ancient wisdoms of Yoga and Tai Chi as well as everyday movement and breath work.
The course will develop the ideas from Judith’s new book, Finding Quiet Strength and will create a unique experience of learning that balances visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning and flexible resilience. This approach will integrate and emphasise the interconnection of the mind, body and emotions. We will work on how to connect to ourselves, and our choices through constructive integrated thinking.
The deeply personal stories in When Words are Not Enough are moving and restorative. They tell tales of grief and memory written by those that have survived. The upcoming mini online festival organised by the folk behind The Good Grief Fest is based around these ideas of grief + memory. Authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds will be featuring online 6.30 Friday 28 October when they will be in conversation with Dr Lesel Dawson, Associate Professor in Literature and Culture at the University of Bristol, specialising in grief, Renaissance literature and the history of the emotions. She’s leading a research project on Creative Grieving that explores how art and the imagination can enable the bereaved to express and process their loss.
Jane will also be joining Julia Samuel and Nadja Ensink-Teich on Sat Oct 29th at 11am to talk about continuing bonds, grief and memory.
“What we understand now is that although the person we love has died, the relationship with them very much continues, and so the love with that person never dies…and we love them in absence rather than presence.”
Much like the Victorians, we now understand that relationships endure – and even evolve – beyond death. The theory of continuing bonds explores our ongoing relationships with loved ones who have died and how the strength of these relationships can impact our experience of grief and memory. In this panel session we will hear from people who have integrated their lost loved ones into the lives of the living, and how these continuing bonds have provided comfort and continuity during times of pain and upheaval. Register free for any of these events at https://goodgrieffest.com/whats-on/ and you can buy books from the event here. This is a short film about the book.
When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, by Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds
Juno is one of our favourite magazines that supports a natural approach to family life. Assistant editor, Alice Ellerby, reflects on the need to tune into your breath and gives Finding Quiet Strength a lovely review on the way.
“In this book Kleinman offers a practical philosophy that helps us approach life with a sense of calm and confidence that comes from being centred, in balance and grounded. The aim here isn’t to solve or avoid life’s challenges – they are inevitable – but to give us the capacity to navigate these challenges without intense feelings of stress and anxiety. If we are calm, we can think clearly; if we can think clearly, we can make conscious decisions and avoid acting in fight, flight or freeze mode. The practice draws on the discoveries of F.M. Alexander, and is also influenced by ancient traditions of chi kung, tai chi and yoga. I know from my own yoga practice how beneficial breath, movement and stillness can be for mental equilibrium. When stressed, it’s easy to think you have no time for lying on the floorand tuning into your breath; but then I find that’s exactly what is needed to recalibrate. The book is full of physical exercises and body positions to try to help you find this balance, and is beautifully illustrated with ink line drawings. Kleinman is spot on in her description of the book as ‘a gentle start to building some skills of self-regulation and embodied resilience'”. Alice Ellerby, Juno
Finding Quiet Strength is a beautiful ethically made cloth-bound hardback that would make a thoughtful gift. We all need a little prompting to help us to tune into our breath. Printed in the UK on FSC paper. Order through Hawthorn Press.
We’re not often comfortable talking about death and grief, so we’re delighted that ‘When Words are Not Enough’ is part of Stroud Book Festival that this year includes luminaries such as Ali Smith and Ian McEwan. Authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds will be talking about their experience of bereavement and how they responded to it with foreword writer, Dr Kathryn Mannix, bestselling author of ‘Listen’ and ‘With the End in Mind’. When Words are Not Enough will be launching as part of the Good Grief Festival, with an online event 28 Oct, 6.30pm. The Good Grief Festival is a virtual festival of love and loss. On October 28 and 29 Oct, their first mini-festival will take place on the theme of Grief + Memory.
The book includes the stories of thirteen other bereaved people and how their creativity helped them to survive. We’ve had such lovely reviews about the book, so don’t just take our word for it.
‘The word I keep coming back to with this book is beautiful, not a word I would usually associate with grief. But this book is rich in detail and compassion, it is authoritative and kind. Through their immense loss and pain Jane and Jimmy have done an extraordinary thing and redefined grief as love turned inside out. They make grief less scary. I have not read a better book on grief.’ Annalisa Barbieri, The Guardian
‘When Words are Not Enough offers that rarest of bereavement resources – a visual and verbal feast and a sustained look into the heart of grief that both acknowledges the raw anguish of tragic loss and invites the reader to share a fascinating and varied gathering of responses to it. I recommend it highly to all those who mourn, and all those who strive to accompany them through the experience.’Prof Robert Neimeyer, Director, Portland Institute for Loss and Transition
Pick up a copy of the book and get it signed, for yourself or as a gift for someone you may be supporting. Book tickets for 5 Nov 2022, 3.30 Lansdown Hall, from the Sub Rooms or through the link below.
The artist Celia Pym lives explores damage and repair in textiles. Working with garments that belong to individuals as well as items in museum archives, she is exposed to stories of damage, from moth holes to accidents with fire.
On Mending: Stories of damage and repair is a collection of ten stories of damaged garments – plus a rug and two backpacks, that Pym has mended in the last 15 years. These stories describe the ways in which clothes and cloth become holed, why a damaged sweater or backpack can be emotionally affecting and how mending a garment can unstick a stuck feeling.
‘Mending work builds on what is left behind. It’s not replacing, or remaking, or cutting apart and putting back together, instead it is slow work that makes things better. It conjures an unhurried recovery or change. In textiles, the act of mending wear-and-tear, thinning cloth or accidental damage builds on what already exists, anchoring threads and yarn into the robust healthy fabric and filling in the holes or reinforcing the areas that are weak.’
‘Darning is small acts of care,’ she says, ‘and paying close attention.’
On Mending is published this November and available to preorder on our website now. Sign up to our newsletter for details of events and giveaways (we won’t bombard you, nor sell your details ☺️).
The contents page, On Mending: Stories of damage and repair
Everyone grieves for someone at some point in their lives. But how do we deal with the silence that often surrounds grief? How do we find ways to express painful feelings when words are not enough? In this deeply personal and beautiful reflection on grief Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds draw on their own experience of loss, and how the death of their son Josh has led to a creative response that is more than word bound. It also tells the story of thirteen other bereaved people who have found a creative response to their grief.
The nature of grief Here’s author Jane Harris talking with Dr Elaine Kasket, author of All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of Your Personal Data, in a lovely down-to-earth way, about the nature of grief and how you don’t think you’ll be able to cope, but usually you don’t have a choice, so you have to get on with it.
Jane and Jimmy’s new book, When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, explores the myriad creative ways that the bereaved find to express their loss. With a foreword by Dr Kathryn Mannix and contributions from thirteen other bereaved people. There have been some generous endorsements for the book too, so don’t just take my word for it. Published 5 Oct 22.
‘In the absence of any collective rituals or words with which to express their loss, this wonderful and very personal book offers those who find themselves in an agonising wilderness of grief, a kind of creative map to find a way out of the isolation.’ Juliet Stevenson
‘When Words are Not Enough shows us that searing loss isn’t necessarily the end, but a possible beginning.’ Greg Wise
‘Such an inspiring book – full of moving stories of people who have found active ways to respond to their grief, from photography through to (my favourite) cold-water swimming. Jane and Jimmy’s ten ‘lessons learned’ about the loss of their child wisely reject any idea of ‘moving on’ or ‘closure’. Indeed, this beautifully designed creation is itself an example of what the book is all about. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
‘This is a book about sorrow, yet it is brimming with hope. This is a book about loss, but it overflows with love and generosity.’ Dr Kathryn Mannix
The launch of the latest title from Prof. Judith Kleinman was at independent bookshop Ink84 in Islington. Attended by more people than we were expecting, we completely sold out of books! There were lots of musicians at the launch, including pop star Ella Eyre. The book has been endorsed by lots of fans, including Nick Hornby and Arabella Weir.
I learned a lot from working with Judith Kleinman. She was able to locate in me a stillness and equilibrium I didn’t know I had, and that has stood me in good stead for all the vicissitudes of work and domestic life.
Finding Quiet Strength (FQS) is a practical philosophy that connects to both ancient wisdom and modern neuroscience. Judith Kleinman’s work enables a calm, confident, and coordinated approach to life, helping us to be centred, grounded and develop a sense of poise and equilibrium. At some point, most of us need help with the challenges of life. FQS is a practice of being present in a way that develops our emotional intelligence and embodied awareness enabling us to navigate the many ups and downs of being human. The work helps us to develop a deep and gentle self-acceptance. Through this self-acceptance, FQS helps us work on an embodied resilience and become more aware of what we can let go of and change.
Book Brunch also featured the launch on their website. Finding Quiet Strength: Emotional Intelligence, Embodied Awareness is available now.
I love Judith’s work. The drawings, words and thoughts are just lovely – their message is as calming as it is bursting with positive ideas. Easy to dip into yet rewarding to read, there are some great tools for life in this book.
Toothpaste tubes are made with up to seven layers of different plastics, plus aluminium and even where they can be recycled the process consumes high amounts of energy. Toothpaste is now available in glass jars that are more easily recycled or, even better, reused, but making your own is simple and you don’t need a degree in medicine. Talk to your dentist to find out what is and isn’t good for your teeth and the best approach for children who might benefit from a fluoride toothpaste every now and then. This is a refreshing and at the same time gentle toothpaste.
Small Steps to Less Waste, a collaborative project with local residents, teachers and staff from Gloucester University and Action on Plastic. The latter is a charity set up by the author that is the recipient of any royalties from the book.
You will need:
6 tbsp kaolin mineral clay
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (food grade)
5 tbsp vegetable glycerine
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops sweet orange essential oil
Mix the ingredients in a bowl, adding the glycerine last so you can achieve a consistency that you like. Stir well and keep in a small glass jar for up to a month.
Makes about 100ml, the same amount as an average tube of toothpaste. You can buy kaolin clay from zero-waste shops. If you are sharing your jar of paste, use a small spoon or spatula for each portion.
It seems obvious to that the climate emergency needs immediate, large scale action that will affect our way of life, one way or the other. Among some people there can be a sense of despondency that it is all the fault of big business and the scale of what we do doesn’t make a difference. The idea behind the Small Steps book is that if we all act together we can create real change and win back our sense of agency and experience the power we have as consumers and how we choose to consume. This in turn will pressure those bigger players to get their act together too.
‘While it is true that the challenges of our time require systems change and large scale actions, they also demand that we all do what we can in our own lives and our communities. Stroud has long been a kind of hothouse for new ideas, led by people with the courage of their convictions and support of those around them. This practical and inspiring book draws together the stories of ordinary people who decided to “be the change”, and who will be your guides into a more sustainable way of living. The main takeaway from this book? That all of these changes, rather than diminishing us, actually make our lives fuller, richer, better connected and more purposeful. Wave farewell to plastic and discover a world of ingenuity and creativity!’
Rob Hopkins: founder of the Transition movement and author of ‘From What Is to What If’.
Claudi Williams, author of Small Steps to Less Waste tells us what her inspiration was behind the book, why she wrote it and what her favourite sections are. The royalties for this book all go to Action on Plastic, the group that she set up locally in Stroud, that now has a Gloucestershire-wide remit.
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