Compassion and holding snakes lightly.

"Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use." Gandhi

If I say I am currently wrestling with the urge to open a packet of Percy pigs I was foolish enough to buy, my regular readers (ha!) will know all is not on an even keel. It's better than last week though, having survived a full on -and if I'm honest-emotional week.

On one day alone I went from carer of frail member of the family to chairing a key meeting in the afternoon with a considerable drive in between. That morning also included taking her to see the GP who was kind and competent but the star for me was the receptionist. She had gone out of her way to be kind and respectful in the face of frailty, with a strong dash of practical competence. I thank goodness for her...not just for my family but the many families she helps.

I was reminded of that when I attended the conference on person centred care the next day. Some key questions were posed like how do make make compassion reliable? And also important messages that person centred care is not just about choice, it's about control .Its about the how of care, not just the what. Food for thought indeed when you are living through this on so many levels. But as the day reminded me and many others, this isn't just about healthcare. It's about social care of course but more than that it's about the world we inhabit and the milk of human kindness.

In the week when Age UK has encouraged us to look out for our frail and elderly, who are so vulnerable in the winter, I have witnessed huge care and compassion from friends and neighbours. And seen the absolute difference that has made.

In addition an article in the Huffington post described research from the US that showed the difference a close support network made to breast cancer survival.  The take home message was  " if you know someone with breast cancer, show her as much as possible that you're there for her and will put in the time and effort to help. If the Kaiser Permanente study is right, it could make an even bigger difference than you thought possible."

Now I don't imagine this is only true in breast cancer but equally so in many conditions. In Scotland we are rightly focussed on achieving health and social care integration but let's not forget that the glue in that integration will be the third sector in its many hues, it will be communities,  it will friends, neighbours, families. And the smart money is on the communities and organisations that recognise ,empower, trust and value all those dimensions.

As I have mulled over these thoughts this week I came upon the article by Professor Phil Hanlon in the Scotsman called "Change one day at a time". It's challenging and far sighted and resonated with so much of my own thinking just now.

Reading this helped me value again the time spent developing Mindfulness. This weeks story was an allegorical tale which spoke of handling snakes - dealing with the difficult things by- holding them lightly, not denying them or ignoring them or battling with them, just holding them lightly. Like the snake in the story.
So in a week when I have not so much held the snake lightly , but have strangled it (oops!) instead I have been very glad of my own:

 Reasons to cheerful: Christmas is emerging and the lights in Covent Garden this week were so cheering when I visited with a friend. the fire has been on and Cara is loving it as you can see. She is now getting off the lead and seeing her run like the wind ( but still come back to us...phew!) is wonderful and exhilarating. She has to wear a coat in the cold which challenges my husbands sense of manly dog walking at times. But the final straw was when he noticed she was untypically composed walking along recently because she had picked up a babies dummy and was trotting along with it in her mouth...........street cred lost completely! You must admit its a hilarious image....keep smiling and hold those snakes lightly:-)


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