Imagination Road

A leafy green lane bends and twists along the coastline. Sun weaves through branches to dapple the ground. Then gently the woodland fades and you can see into the fields and out to the evermoving sea. Round a corner a cottage appears, small and crooked, flowers intertwined with windows.  The building is older than time and has stories to tell if you stop and ask. Take a seat on the bench, half in the shadow of the drooping willow, half in the heat of the day. Take your pick, curl your feet under you and listen to the tales.  Once your mind is sated, unfurl from your resting spot and revisit the road. Let it guide you past the wonderous, past the awe inspiring and let it linger over the everyday.

What does Imagination Road look like to you?

Women, violence and HIV

This is very much off-topic but is an area I feel quite strongly about.

Today I read the UN AIDS report Unite with women, unite against violence and HIV and wanted to share the highlights because I imagine that most people won’t be reading the report.  That said, I think you should read the report – it’s not very long and it’s well written.  If not, the following will take maybe a minute or two of your time.  Read it and become aware that there is an issue even if you don’t do anything else.

The five key points from the report are:

1. Violence against women is a human rights violation. So you’re thinking, well yes, of course it is but did you know that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in three women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. This figure ranges from 27% in the WHO European Region to 46% in the African Region.  Just because we live in a world of number numbness, that’s one in three women.
2. Women who experience violence are more likely to acquire HIV.  For example, women who are in an abusive relationship are less likely to negotiate condom use.  Transmission as a result of rape is a very direct way in which violence can lead to acquiring HIV.  Because experiencing violence isn’t enough… So those one in three women who experience violence are more likely to acquire HIV.  This isn’t just people in far off countries that we think of but don’t relate to.  This happens all over the world.
3. Women living with HIV are more likely to be subjected to violence.  This includes forced sterilizations and abortions.  So one in three women experience violence, they are then more at risk of getting HIV, then if they get HIV, they are more likely to experience violence.
4. Women most vulnerable to HIV are also most vulnerable to violence.  For example, people working in sex industries or experiencing substance misuse are more at risk of violence and also more at risk of HIV.
5. Violence undermines the HIV response by creating a barrier to accessing services. I came across a story of a woman who wasn’t always able to take her medication at the required time because her partner frequently locked her in a room.   Controlling behaviour from those around women can prevent them from accessing services.  Another example is fear of violence as a result of disclosing their status.  Going back to that one woman out of three – she may have experienced violence which lead to HIV which lead to more violence and now she’s struggling to access services to help her.

(Stats etc also came from ‘16 Ideas for addressing violence against women in the context of the HIV epidemic‘.)

#YouCanSeeIt

#YouCanSeeIt came across my twitter feed this weekend.  Inspired by this post, it’s about the visible signs of invisible illness.  I was in Brussels for a weekend away when I saw the hashtag.  Being away and exploring a new place was great but I was feeling particularly annoyed with one of my invisible illnesses.

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or Hypermobility Syndrome is a genetic condition which affects the make up of collagen which unfortunately in turn, makes up a lot of the human body.  The main way I am affected is chronic joint and muscle pain including joint dislocations and subluxations as well as fatigue.  And by fatigue I don’t mean being a little bit tired but being exhausted most of the time and never having a refreshing nights sleep.  Being so mentally and physically tired that you can no longer speak and the idea that you might want to swing your legs onto the bed for comfort is out of reach.

You can see it…

You can see it when I bite my lip

Persevering with every step

You can see it when I stop to gather strength

At the foot of the stairs

You can see it when my eyes zone out

And it’s like I’m not there

You can see it when my hands

Clutch at my ribs, holding myself together

You can see it when I slump to the floor

Unable to stand any longer

Happiness

Random blog browsing I came across a post titled ‘Escape to happiness island’ which got me thinking – what does happiness look like/sound like/feel like/taste like/smell like to you?

Sunbeams on skin

Empty, endless skies

Stretch into azure;

A spectrum of blues

Refreshing, zings spark on taste buds

With the slightly salty taste of relaxation

Water laps on dangled feet

Lazy birdsong drifts into sea-song

Leaning into contentment

Muscles unfurl in the warmth

And the mind fills with the sound of peace

As worries are pulled out to sea

 

An ABC of memories

An ABC of memories

Abseiling, aged eleven

Breaking up for summer holidays

Climbing Pen-y-Ghent

Dancing in a show for the millennium

Expectantly waiting for A Level results (in vain, long story)

Furniture shopping

Getting caught in a storm, barefoot

Holding hands by the Coliseum in Rome

Invigilating an exam

Journeys to Glasgow, repeated for a year

Kitkats and irn bru in china mugs

Learning sign language by night

Making jenga towers with young people

Nestled up on a sofa with a dvd

Overcast days in the Lake District

People and Planet Regional Representative for Yorkshire

Quacking from the park, disturbing sleep

Rolling down the hill in the playground

Scrabble, wine and cake

Tulips on our kitchen table

Unicorn riding on the beach (in dreams perhaps?)

Volunteering with Brownies, aged fourteen

Writing poetry in the shadow of Chester Cathedral

Xylophones in primary school music lessons, played badly

Youth club canal boat trip (and falling in the water)

Zesty homemade lemonade in the sun by York walls

Faceless

Faceless

 

You’ll know me by the legs

Twisted around and around

Each other

Vines strangling and choking

 

You’ll know me by the penetrating

Cold of my skin, the shivering

Marble statue

Posed in front of you

 

You’ll know me by the child’s wrists

Fragile, weakened by trauma

Outlined by silvery scars

And the ghosts of my past

 

You’ll know me by the inked

Memories; a camera, a daisy

Sketched on in an attempt

To reclaim the body I rent

 

You’ll know me by the solitary

Silver stud in my left ear

Nestled alongside a natural pinprick:

How my mother identified newborn me

 

You’ll know me by the book

Clutched to chest, the camera

Round my neck and the paw

Placed in my left hand

 

You’ll know me, even when faceless.

One of the prompts from the girl in a hat that I mentioned yesterday was ‘Ways they’d find you in a faceless line-up’ which was a really interesting idea.  I did try writing a list but I think I’m so unaware of myself, there’s such a distinction between mind and body that I really struggled.

List poetry: Jobs I’ve had

There’s a great post by the girl in the hat over at The Daily Post about poetry from lists including a number of prompts.  I’ve added them all to my list of ideas to return to but here’s a completely unedited list of jobs I’ve had:

Jobs I’ve had

Menial farm work for a father I love

But love wasn’t enough

Piecemeal wages required

 

3am start at the newsagents

Inserting supplements into weekend papers

Who knew that was a job

 

Graduated to serving in the same establishment

Sleazy customers and £1 of penny sweets

Each individually counted

 

Two summers in customer services

In a college, old man wanted to learn pottery

Could he make a frog rather than a nude?

 

Three weeks stuffing envelopes

So good they kept me the summer

Filing and photocopying

 

Three months in a medical school

Followed by two sessions

Pretending to be a patient

 

A couple of days temping

In an office without capacity

To assign me tasks

 

Nine months in an office

Filled with playground politics

And added alcohol

 

Thrown in the deep end

Personal Assistant to the Head of Department

Once you learn the language, it’s easy to swim

 

Final destination, same office

Same team yet numerous masks

Trialled over four years