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Wellness Matters 25.02.2022

Connected Communities


Well I don't know about anyone else but I was getting heartily fed up with the recent stormy winds. I can contend with heavy rain coming straight down, having been brought up on the west coast of Scotland and quite enjoy wearing my waterproofs, arriving home with rain dripping off my coat, and then getting cosy as I dry off.


An east coast drying wind is to be relished so that I can hang my laundry on the line,

but I do not like an incessant wind battering against my roof, spewing sand and dust that adhere to my windows, and causing me to feel discombobulated, frenetic and unsettled.


I am grateful that today the sun is shining, the wind is calm and I am content.


After my wobbles last week, I am rested, energised and motivated. This morning I walked before breakfast, because it is light enough to do so. The beach was quiet, but I recognised a few hardy dog walkers who always walk at an earlier time - it was like meeting old friends as we greeted each other with a wave.


One was a woman I hadn’t seen for a long time, but whose name, I’m sure, had come up in conversation in respect of the North Berwick Coastal Community Connections. I gingerly approached, asked her name, had it confirmed, and so with a new focus, instead of dogs, we chatted amiably for a few moments.


This has been the pattern over the past few days: familiar faces in the community, either through work with young people or dog walking, will now feature regularly in my new part-time role as Compassionate Neighbour Coordinator.


On Wednesday a friendly, fluffy white cock-a-poo type dog started playing with Jilly. Its owner was walking at a good pace, and we struck up a conversation.

After a few minutes talking about dogs and the beautiful stretch of beach in front of us, the conversation went like this:


‘Charli,’ I said.

‘Yes, I’m Charlie?’ He replied slightly confused.

‘My name,’ I said, ‘it’s Charli.’

‘Haha, so is mine. Hi Charli.’

‘Hi Charlie.’

We fell into step together and the dogs continued to play. Being curious I asked if he was working from home, which was confirmed and I responded similarly, with a brief summary of my business.

He mentioned that his wife also works with young people, counselling to support wellbeing, and suggested that perhaps we might get on.


Note to self: take business cards with me!


My world has expanded because I am standing still. I do not need to travel far to have engaging, interesting and stimulating conversations. I only have to smile and be prepared to break my stride, to ask, be curious and, of course, accepting.


This brought to mind a conversation I had with my sister, Emma a few months before she died. We were sitting outside her caravan beside Loch Frisa, on the Isle of Mull drinking pink prosecco, when she remarked how amazing it was that weeds and plants will reclaim their space regardless of what we throw down. She was pointing to dandelions which had grown through a tiny crack in the tarmac.

I'm slightly ashamed to admit that initially I considered this focus on minutiae to be inconsequential, but her world had become so small due to her illness, she was able to focus on her immediate environment.

It was one of the biggest lessons I have learned: that connecting to our environment can help us feel grounded and safe. Emma recognised this because she took what she needed: space, time and hope.

Connecting to my environment and community in a way I could not have imagined 3 years ago, has opened my eyes to what really matters: human connection, localised support and an inspiring environment. I will continue to stay curious and listen carefully to those in need.


If you are looking to get out of a rut, look closer to home: the answer could be on your doorstep, through volunteering or knocking on a neighbour’ s door.


Have a great week.


Photo: returning home from Binning Wood at sunset. RIP CM.


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