- Monday: The Nordic Walking Group
- This is a relatively new group that has come from the larger NVS (Newcomers and Visiting Scholars) group. Headed up by our fearless leader Barbara who hails from Germany (hence, the group's name). The purpose of the group is to gather and go for long treks through Cambridge and the surrounding area, and to move at a fast clip to get some exercise while we walk and gab. This week from start to finish the walk was about five miles, but since Amber and I walked from our homes to the starting point at Magdalene Bridge it was about 7.4 miles in total. The walk is a lovely one if you ever want to take a stroll when you visit Cambridge. Start at Magdalene college and keep along the river until you reach Stourbridge Commons, follow the trail through the greens until you reach the train bridge. After the walk we stopped in at Patisserie Valerie for tea and scones/cake. I had a cream filled doughnut. Yeah I did.
- Tuesday: Coffee Talk & Hospice Volunteering
- I finally made it to the NVS coffee morning at University Centre, my first of the new term. It was nice to see so many acquaintances and friends that I've made these past 5 months. The NVS group is a lovely way to make connections when you arrive in Cambridge, and as a continued support as you build your life in this transient town. This week's talk (there is a visiting lecturer each week) was about Isaac Newton. I have to admit, from where I sat in the room the speaker was really difficult to hear and I found myself daydreaming and making notes to myself about other things I needed to do during the week. Bad student, bad listener!
- After the talk I made my way down to the SE corner of town for my volunteer hours at Hospice. I really, really, really enjoy volunteering at the Day Therapy unit in this facility. We are currently hosting a group of elementary students (9-10 y/o) who visit the Day Therapy patients and work together while making individual pieces of art. The children and patients are encouraged to dialogue about anything at all, but topics that frequently come up are: illness, family, life in a hospice setting, and favorite things. It's very sweet to facilitate interactions between these young children and the patients. I look forward to going each week. I can't share any photos of the process at hospice, but I will share with you the lovely work of artist Mimi Matelot. Check out more of her clay work on her blog by clicking on the photo below.
|Photo Credit: Artwork By Mimi Matelot: Blog- Winter Sinking Strokes|
- Wednesday: Art Therapy Presentation to Therapeutic Play at Addenbrooke's Hospital
- After many months I'm finally cleared to volunteer at Addenbrooke's hospital. On Wednesday the head of the Therapeutic Play Department invited me to present to her staff about what I did in my previous job at Oakland, and to lead the group in a simple Art Therapy directive. The presentation went well and the staff participated eagerly and with enthusiasm. In two weeks I'll begin a rotation through the pediatric wards offering group and individual art therapy to patients and their families. It's a little bit like starting over with what I did all those years ago in Oakland, but it's flattering and humbling to be trusted by this staff to pilot an Art Therapy program in their wards.
- Thursday: Craft Group & Complimentary Cancer Care Centre
- Usually I attend a Knitting/Crochet group on Thursdays, but this week I joined the Alternative Craft Group at the Master's Lodge at Corpus Christi College. This week's project was bread making and we watched and learned how to make a sweet dough that you can then turn into a heart shaped loaf of bread (à la Valentines Day). The recipe was based on this recipe for heart shaped coffee cake. I don't know how long I'll leave these photos up on Dropbox, but if you want to see a few more pictures of the process you can see them here.
- Later that afternoon I headed to my job at the complimentary cancer care centre. This is another place I just love going to. The staff and the clients are all so warm, welcoming and polite. I feel useful there in more ways than one, and I so enjoy speaking with the clientele. It's a place where I feel honored and privileged to share my skills and experience with a special population of people. I've started a new Art Therapy project at the centre and it's already starting to take off. Many visitors to the centre know how to knit or crochet so I designed a pattern for a community blanket that we will build by making one square at a time. If someone doesn't know how to knit/crochet I teach them, or they can learn in their own time using an instruction packet I put together. Given the opportunity to engage with their hands, people visibly relax into their chairs, and frequently begin to engage in conversation with other people. The art serves as a conversation piece between two strangers and stories begin to emerge from their past or present, bringing people together in what can sometimes be an isolating situation or circumstance. I'm hopeful that the final piece will be a beautiful visual representation of what the centre's mission is at it's core. A safe place that "empowers people to live with, through, and beyond cancer."
|Landscaping Outside The Centre|
- Friday: Job Interview & Peer Supervision(-ish)
- There are many great organisations in Cambridge which advocate for children and their families to get the psycho-social support they need to help cope with the struggles of every day life. Schools here (like in the US) have limited budgets for mental health services so too often teachers have to handle issues for which a child should be receiving counseling or therapy. One such organisation (which I'll leave un-named until I know a bit more) places clinical teams in schools day a week to offer free counseling and therapy to children who are in need of support. On Friday I was invited to interview for a clinical placement with the organisation and on Monday I will find out whether or not I'm hired (fingers crossed!) The interview was only a half-hour long but it was easily the most intense interview I've had in a long time as a therapist. Luckily, while walking to the interview I went over everything I thought they might ask me about (my theoretical orientation, my experience with mandatory reporting, practice of self-care, importance of confidentiality, etc., etc.). I hope I get the placement, but if I don't, thank goodness that organisation is out there doing the good work they're doing.
- That afternoon I met with a friend who is getting her degree in Integrative Arts Psychotherapies at Stickybeaks Cafe. We discussed the field of Art Therapy and the changing picture of the service within the NHS. While Art Therapy is more recognized here as a professional field the jobs are just as hard to come by as they are in the US. Registration as an Art Therapist is also easier to achieve, but supervision still costs quite a lot so if you don't have work, it's hard to pay for the supervision you're required to have. Often I feel like a dog chasing her tail . . . looking for work, to get paid, to pay for supervision, to get the hours, to get registered (in the US), to get a job, to get paid, to get the supervision, to get the job . . . Ugh. Make me dizzy.
- That link to a gif in the above paragraph is particularly intended for Sarah L. and Maddox. I think you can see why . . .
|The British Museum*|
|Inside The British Museum: Great Court*|
|Euphorium Bakery, Islington*|
- All photos with * were taken from the organisations website.
- Saturday: London & Sunday: Dinner and a Movie
- A friend of mine from San Francisco was visiting London this week so I went into the city yesterday and we spent the day together. We met at the British Library where we saw a few beautiful pieces on display (The Magna Carta, Jane Austin's Diary, Music by Mozart). Afterwards we walked to the British Museum, which was more like what I imagine Walmart is like on Black Friday than I would have liked. We had a nice lunch in the museum cafe, but once we got up into the galleries we lasted about a half-hour before we both had had enough of the ridiculous crowds and hightailed it out of there. We spent the rest of the afternoon at a lovely little cafe called Euphorium Bakery in Islington and talked over tea, bake-well and lemon tarts. It was really lovely to see a familiar face and to spend a day just walking, and talking. Thanks SF for taking the time out of your vacation to spend the day with me!
- Today (Sunday) Devin and I are going to dinner at the Red Bull Pub and then to see the Movie Lincoln at Cineworld (doesn't the name of the theatre just sound magical? Heh heh.) The weather today is perfect for staying inside, eating leftover homemade Civil War Macaroni & Cheese casserole with kale and staying in your pyjamas until the last possible second.
- Devin has been incredibly busy with work, going to the lab every single day since we got back from vacation except for one. He's also been spending time with friends/coworkers after work and has visited a few pubs: The St.Radegund, The Panton Arms (which we've been to many times but just mentioning again), and one that he didn't actually go inside cause it was too crowded due to recently opening, The Cambridge Brew House. We hope to go here soon to check it out.
|Civil War Mac & Cheese. Don't ask. I don't know. It's just the title.|
All in all, a totally great week. While we're starting to really feel like this is our home, we still miss our friends and family and the life we had back in the East Bay. Thanks to everyone for your emails, your Skype time and for cheering us on from afar. We miss you and hope to see you all soon!