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Age by Kate Simpson

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Thank you to Open Age member Kate Simpson for sharing her wonderful, lively piece of writing about ageing…

How do you count age? Is it by years, memories or months. I personally measure it by moments.

These can be happy, sad, angry, vengeful, laughable or just plain mad. If I were to choose I would measure my life in mad moments.

Mad conjures up so many things that have happened in my life. From being in an asylum to laughing myself almost to death. It also encompasses my youth when craziness was almost a necessity, clubbing wearing unsuitable clothes, listening to unsuitable music and reading unsuitable literature ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ for example.

Moments cannot be measured by time. We have brief moments, long moments, and wishful moments.

As I grow older my wishful moments become a bucket list of what I can and want to do in the here and now. I fully intend to grow old disgracefully. In the meantime of course I feel I’m still 21

To hell with my aches and pains. My wheelchair and the host of medical equipment in my home. I’ve had moments when my electric hoist has been fun to swing on (the carers horror adding to my glee!)

My wheelchair used as a racer (with the help of my friends). I’ve been to Ibiza, USA and fully intend to travel more.

I shall listen to unsuitable music, wear unsuitable clothes, and read what I want to. I can act like a child, a teenager or adult. I don’t care and will be deaf to the frowns and murmurings of others.

My own deafness is incredibly useful. Without my hearing aids I sleep peacefully at night. If I get bored of conversation out they come.

I have already crossed two things off my Bucket List. Swimming with Dolphins and meeting Mickey Mouse. I also met Pooh Bear and Tigger and thoroughly enjoyed it with childish glee. Some friends could not understand this second item on my list.

No 3? I have several ideas but at my age I have plenty of time. Don’t I?

Age is therefore to each and own. Never judge a book by its cover. Underneath we may be surprised. The child may have the wisdom of an adult. The teenager may be ‘right not wrong’ and behind the wrinkles a lifetime of laughter. I find it sad when people resort to the surgeons knife to restore or maintain their beauty. They live behind a literal mask imprisoned a slave to vanity.

I have had the privilege of being at the bedside of many in their dying moments. I have watched as their pain becomes peace. And how then their face loses its lines and natural beauty is restored.

They say ‘Age is a Many Splendid Thing’ and in my measured moments I smile and agree.

© Kate Simpson

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23 Essential Writing Quotes from Ernest Hemingway

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Got the dreaded writer’s block again? Worry not! Get over to The Write Practice and read these 23 essential writing quotes from Hemingway  they should help get your creative juices flowing back through your pen….

Proofreading & Editing Tips for Writers

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We have discovered some brilliant tips at Writing Forward for proofreading and editing your writing. From asking a friend or family member to help you… do-it-yourself… or hiring a professional – Click on the link below to read these 21 helpful tips!

“The human mind is a funny thing; it likes to play tricks on us…”

Here are the first 3:

  1. Proofread and edit every single piece of writing before it is seen by another set of eyes. No exceptions. Even if you hire a professional editor or proofreader, check your work first.
  2. Understand the difference between proofreading and editing. Edit first by making revisions to the content and language. Then proofread to check for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  3. Use the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word when you edit. This feature saves your edits. You can then approve or reject those edits.

Collage & Storytelling

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As part of London Creativity & Wellbeing Week 2015 here at Open Age we organised a number of exciting events and workshops including an exhibition with performances at Paddington Arts inspired by fairy tales, storytelling, folklore and all things magical!

These wonderful collages were made by members of Open Age Create Expectations art class led by myself Hester Jones at Olive House – a Housing and Care 21 sheltered housing – in Fulham perched on the River Thames. The collages were also exhibited at our Paddington Arts Once Upon a Time showcase in June with lots of brilliant feedback from visitors!

The accompanying stories were made collaboratively in a group storytelling workshop at Olive House. Many of the members in this group are living with dementia.

In our weekly class Create Expecations we certainly experiment with lots of different mediums, inspired by many different artists and writers. We have dabbled in Pop Art, Impressionism, Poor Art, papier mâché, decoupage, candle making, poetry by William Blake, photography, and storytelling.. the list is endless! We hope you enjoy these collages and stories as much as our members enjoyed making them!

“I’m Watching You”

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There was a big eagle in Grandma’s flat, a singing bird, a hawk. “If I was a blackbird” was her favorite song. There was a picture of flowers on the wall with a lampshade dangling down. She was just watching her lunch – the little mouse. Suddenly the big bird decided she didn’t want lunch and instead had a whisky on mice!

“Mary Had A Little Lamb”

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Once upon a time I was expecting a baby and her name was baby Sheila. She was a professional dressmaker and she made suits, and they were well-made. She also made evening wear for ladies. She knitted jumpers from the sheep’s wool too. She made lovely coats and lovely shoes to match.

“A lady called Joan”

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There was a lady called Joan. She was in her living room admiring her collection of nick-nacks. She was out of the bathroom, suddenly, a lion came and broke all the crockery.

“Don’t worry love, I’m not after you, I’m not hungry.”

“Motherly Love”

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Once upon a time there was a panda holding a baby in bed (the only two people to vote for the liberal democrats in the general election in Scotland)

“Hush baby, mummy’s coming now to feed you… some bamboo!”

“The Nanny Goat”

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There was a nanny goat. The nanny goat lived in a field where he used to play chasing the birds and butterflies around in the fields. There was a polar bear and a brown bear. The Queen of Hearts lived in the red hat and the King of Spades lived in the black hat. One day the brown bear decided to go for a walk in the forest, he saw a great big sheep with horns. Then came a lion and butt the sheep with his great big horns. Then, the sheep had a baby! A young lamb.

“Down Under”

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Once upon a time when I was in Australia in the outback I was pleased to see animals hopping about. The meerkats, the kangaroos, and lovely birds, parakeets, wallabies, snakes as well. The meerkats were walking on the sand.

“Oh what a beautiful doll!” “Oh what handsome creatures the way they walk, the way they talk, the way they are all looking at the sea. They were all running about chasing the butterflies and the sheep and all the native animals.

With special thanks to Haynesh Johannes the activity coordinator at Olive House for all her kind support.

The report Creative Homes by the Baring Foundation demonstrates how the arts can contribute to the quality of life of people in residential care. Open Age is delighted to be a member of Age Action Alliance Creative Working Group:

“A vibrant group of representatives from national to grassroots organisations across a wide range of arts activities with interests in active to the most frail and vulnerable people. These different perspectives allow for new innovative ideas to emerge.

We could be a “hot-house” for new ideas and ways of working to make creative arts mainstream for all. This work could bring positive benefits to older people at whatever stage in their life-course; for policy and decision-makers; organisations providing care services and arts opportunities; as well as families, carers and arts practitioners. The impact could affect neighbourhoods and have regional and national implications.”

Creative Writing Competition Resource

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At Book Trust you can find an excellent resource for Creative Writing Competitions.

Click Here to see more!

Wattpad – The World’s Largest Community of Readers & Writers

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Would you like to share your writing with the wider world? Would you like to read other people’s stories? Then check out Wattpad – it’s a wonderful website and social community where you can upload your writings to share with others, read others’ work, exchange ideas, inspire and be inspired, give and receive constructive feedback, and much much more!

Storytelling Redefined

Befrienders by Francis (Tut) Florent

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Today I had the great pleasure of meeting a true gentleman called Francis (Tut) Florent, who is 90 years old, and lives in the City of Westminster. I discovered that he has a treasure-trove of stories and prose that he has written over the years, including highly imaginative adventure stories which he wrote for his grandchildren, and some beautifully written poems. He told me that most of his inspiration came from his beloved late wife Anne who also used to write poetry.

Francis will be sharing some of his work on WordWise and welcomes any feedback. Thank you Francis for showing us your work with Open Age and WordWise and of course the wider world! I’m certain that your writings will delight many younger (and older!) readers – plus those age groups in between…

Here is a poem that Francis wrote very recently about ‘Befrienders’

Befriender Group it humbles me to know,

Of people who wish to give their time and love

To the lonely and less fortunate in our society

So worth while to see a smile when your befriender

comes to tea

To know the gossip may be also fun for your friend

Lots of love to befrienders everywhere

© Francis (Tut) Florent

Machines – Creative Writing Exercise

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The creative writing exercise theme this week is Machines

Start by looking around whichever room you are in. How many machines do you see? Life is full of machinery we rely on – the answer phone that runs out of recording space, the printer that chews up our important document when we are in a rush.

Some technology, like a toaster or the boiler, is so familiar and domestic we barely see it. Some machines – in factories say, or ones used for travelling, or war – are massive or mysterious, a source of awe or fear.

Machinery can confound us – how do I get the battery restarted under the bonnet of my car? It can delight us, like a bicycle bringing us access to the countryside.

Perhaps when you think about machines you think of fictional, imagined technology – a machine powered by daydreams, or a time travel device like Doctor Who’s Tardis.

Or perhaps you think from a historical perspective – the development of clocks, the very first telephone, the advent of computers.

Perhaps there’s a useful machine that in most circumstances you personally can’t live without – a pacemaker, a hearing aid, a wheelchair.

Whatever machine inspires you, start by describing it, and see where that takes you. See past the machine to the experiences it connects you with, the hidden story of its making, or the emotions it leaves you feeling.

This creative writing was taught by Mike Loveday today during our Creative Writing Telephone Group for the housebound

The Writer’s Journey: from Inspiration to Publication

Thanks to Cornelia J. Glynn – Open Age member and writer – who has recommended The Writer’s Journey: from Inspiration to Publication a book and the work of Julia McCutchen – an author, conscious writing coach, intuitive mentor, and the founder & creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW).

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“A former publisher of books on spiritual and personal development, Julia teaches conscious creativity, conscious writing and a holistic approach to writing for publication which combines the inner journey of creative self-discovery with the practical steps required for writing and publishing books, articles and all forms of written communication.”

It looks like a very inspiring book and Julia’s websites are certainly worth checking out for inspiration around ‘conscious creativity and writing’: http://www.juliamccutchen.com/

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