Urban Haiku

Who will emerge next,
Smiling into handheld light,
Escalators speed.

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Digital Native Emigrating

Dear beautiful people, you may already know, I have decided to leave the realm of Facebook. There are some solid reasons aside from the boring ones (Monopoly/Productivity/Friendship depth/Privacy/Mood) and for me particularly going into a doctorate I’d like the lifestyle I found during one month off this year (which seemed in actual fact more connected, creative and spontaneous!) Please lets try to remember each others birthdays If I don’t have your number or email I will try to get it over the next week.

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Time with Cats

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Autism and Mindfulness

Here is a photo of a Mandala project I helped to facilitate. The Mandala was made with young people on the Autism Spectrum as a way to practice Mindfulness and Social skills . We now have consent to place on Public display so I am delighted and proud to be able to post a photo of it.

I feel that some people on the Autism Spectrum are already using the faculty of Mindfulness as a way to cope with the stress of living in a non-Autism world.

On the one hand we know there is a relationship between mental health and stress, and therefore we know that people on the Spectrum are at greater risk of developing mental health difficulties such as depression, OCD type behaviours and Phobias, because Society is not yet meeting their needs. We also know that Mindfulness has been proven (and long known) to reduce stress, or more specifically increase our ability to notice stress and allow thoughts and feelings which may create stress, to pass by like clouds in the sky.

On the other hand, we know that people on the Spectrum can often have an amazing ability to put their attention into a special interest such as a toy, a map, an object… with greatly focused attention and abandon. In the diagnostic category this comes under Repetitive, restricted patterns of behaviour. Also they may have sensory processing differences, such as the ability to integrate their senses in a deeper way. This often means sensory rooms, or quiet rooms, allow people on the Spectrum to regulate what they need to put their attention in. For instance, a lava lamp in a sensory room, or their breathing in a quiet room.

This Mandala was made by a group who were able to practice Mindfulness in a way which also required practicing social skills: sharing personal space, kindness, passing colours to one another, team work, and negotiation. Whatsmore, Mindfulness is in itself an important Social skill allowing us to give another person our full attention, to their verbal and non verbal communication, interaction including our bodies within physical space and adhering to our own responses and assumptions.

 

Mindfulness and Autism

Pinterest Board: Mr Taurus Creations

I’m putting together a little portfolio of some of my creations. I am having a spring clean of the overall blog too. Out with the old and in with the new. I have come to terms with the fact that I will have less time to blog on my 3 year doctorate course. However more than ever I feel it is important to keep connected to my creative and reflective side.

BLACK VANILLA – Poem for a friend

Vanilla is not ordinary.
Scents of fleeting memories,
Lingering sweet taste of something familiar.
A fair flower wilting into black,
With powerful extract.
From Orchid to vial,
There is beauty in delicacy and more in complexity,
As in breakfast blueberry pancakes,
Brief encounters to fuel the day ahead,
And form pumpkin spiced friendships,
To complement compassionate notes,
Like juniper, mint and lime,
The fabulous flavours of black vanilla,
Highly valued for their qualities,
Needed to spice life for a longtime after,
Long-after we ask why.

Killing Two Birds With One Cornerstone

At the heart of any writers life is number one, a place in which to get a good cup of coffee; and number two, a second.

I was delighted to help to do the cupping for a new café where I live, (just a Stones throw away!) the Royal Arsenal. The cupping day was exactly the right mix of people in the area. We tasted 13 different espresso meticulously. In the end Union Coffee came out miles above the rest as a versatile espresso which was rich in this chocolate-covered-plumb aroma, heavy body, fairly acidic and very sweet with an amazing cherry after-taste. It was a double-blind cupping event, so even the Barista didn’t know which beans he was grinding. Although there were amazingly interesting coffees such as light and floral ones, we decided that this blend was an any-time-of-day kind of espresso which was good with milk and sugar if needed.

It’s great to see a community come together in helping such an important Cornerstone of modern life to flourish. In the Royal Arsenal there is such an un-London neighbourhood feel that I think having a place to catch up, wind down, get out, and to re-connect is so welcome.The building has a perfect corner location… ideal for pre-work hits, and post-work fixes. The staff pull a good espresso consistently and are authentically personable. There is also nice music, free Wifi and air conditioning.

I find it difficult to critique such a beautiful professional venue, having worked in some of the quirkiest Art-Cafes such as Nexus in Manchester whos underground culture of artists, musicians made something unique and magical. I guess this develops over time. Also as a writer and coffee lover, I see cafes meeting these two needs first and foremost! So I am biased. In the future I would perhaps like to see some local artwork of some kind because it has bountiful light from the open ceiling for it. Also I like my coffee the Italian way – with a small shot of water, so some orange or minty water in jugs (which seem to be all the rage) placed near the amazing array of jams and cheese-and-buscuit style produce, might get people closer to the shelves. Also Piccolo latte cups*… and maybe one day even actual Cortados. (*different sized espresso-to-milk ratio drinks, with their own sized cups. “Piccolo” is Italian for small and is a Ristretto, or short espresso, topped with milk and “cortado” is from the Spanish cortar, to cut and is an espresso with a cut of milk – they’re about 1:1 ratio and the milk is added after the ristretto/espresso. It’s practically how the french do machiaato, or une noisette or if it is 1:3 Portugal, is the Galão)  Also I would love if there was a way to be able to get a single glass of wine without food. These would be my suggestions.

Little details which will naturally fail or fly as the business develops may eventually kill two birds with one Cornerstone. I am not a business man so there might financial trepidations in using a suggestion box, but with my Psychologists hat on, I think because the community are such a Crucible of modern professionals they could be realistic and useful. With the use of social media the cafe is already utilising customer feedback suggestions and ideas which is fantastic. It kind of reminds me of knocking to see if next door can lend any sugar. The customers here are this very special kind of customer – Neighbours.

For me, this is what makes Cornerstones different.

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