Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Retrospective in Brand New Surroundings

After a very relaxed couple of days, it was brilliant to see the sun melting the most persistent patches of snow around the city.  I was immediately impressed by the Stedelijk's recently revised facade housing a new wing, which has is fondly known as the bathtub.

The Stedelijk has, I understand, been transformed having been forced to close in 2004, due to poor maintenance and the lack of modern facilities, which meant that it did not meet today's exacting standards and was itself in need of a rebirth. 

Amsterdam residents and culture hungry visitors alike were presumably thrilled when Benthem Crouwel architects who were awarded the tender (which cost Amsterdam city council a sobering €127m)  have completed the renovation and construction contract implementing their daring design and doubling the previous gallery space.  The The new Stedelijk boats an awesome 8000 m2 of exhibition surface area.

Just 4 months since it reopened, I was excited to walk through the impressive glass entrance for the first time.  The  highlights of the collection are on display in the old building (in a series of changing presentations).  The new wing now hosts predominantly experimental, compelling exhibitions and film and video art.

I don't pretend to understand art.  I enjoy the experience of absorbing it.  I know what I like, and what I don't.  I feel my way around gallery spaces, and exhibitions, allowing my senses to become involved and alive to what it is that I perceive.

The vast collection of Mike Kelley's work that consumes the new building, challenged both my cognitive and affective experience.  There was a lot to take in.  There was a lot I didn't get...  The noises being projected into the spaces scattered with strange combinations of unlikely 'found' objects baffled and disturbed me.  My antennae were on edge.  I wondered whether I perceived the artist's own discomfort. 

Kelley's work inspires the imagination.  But it's not always a pleasant scene that is tirelessly provoked.  He prods and pokes through every media, and even then persists further to conjure up a reaction.  I like to drift through an exhibition, keeping up with only my mood.  This was not a collection through which it was possible to drift.  I felt alert from the opening scene where bold messages took us aback, and prepared for what was to follow.
   

There is much that harks back to a tough upbringing.  His works pay homage to the working-class Catholic Detroit suburbs and his apparently lifelong rebellion against all they represent.  Reading between the lines (not that there were any), one might infer that he violently threw off the expectations he was exposed to in youth, and art became the medium through which he articulated his disdain. 

I was of course intrigued by his refusal to conform to the gender stereotypes one can assume were pretty rigidly upheld in middle America.  Proudly, Kelley never did learn to conform.  The windowless galleries make an ideal environment in which to be confronted by the products of his busy career.

"Art was a profession I chose specifically in order to be a failure."
Mike Kelley, interview by Artillery magazine

I was saddened rather than surprised to discover that depression ultimately took Kelley who killed himself last year, and did not get to see this assembly of his work so full of contradictions and challenge.  This retrospective is nothing if not comprehensive, but I was left feeling confused.  Perhaps there was in fact too much to see, to witness, to bear, and to make sense of.  


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Therapy. And then what...?

It was a brilliant question.  So brilliant in fact that I can't think why it hasn't occurred to me before.  When contracting with a client, particularly one who has not previously been 'in treatment', I might do well to offer a little health warning.  Therapy can bring stuff up.  Good therapy will bring stuff up.  What comes up is not always comfortable.  Sticking with the process is key.  Here are a few suggestions in relation to self-care between sessions.

I guess there is something in here about taking time, to digest what may at first feel somewhat indigestible.  Just as one might take time to relax after a rich meal, the products of a lively, challenging or emotional appointment, deserve some space - to facilitate a settling process.
We might think of a very abrupt transition back into the world beyond the therapeutic space as something similar to the symptoms of indigestion, or acid reflux - an uncomfortable and perceptible sign that something feels rushed, or too condensed.

Obviously, there are times where it is necessary to move straight into the next activity but it might be worth giving some further thought and consideration to the scheduling of commitments immediately after therapy appointments and, where possible, factoring in some 'down time' to shift gears, emotionally and psychologically.

It needn't be a whole lot of time, and how it is spent may maximise its effectiveness.  Some people find de-briefing helpful.  This might take the form of a conversation with a partner or close friend over a coffee - or perhaps a more personal space to inwardly reflect on ideas, themes and feelings that emerged during the session you have just left.  

Jotting things down, almost as though documenting a stream of consciousness, can be very helpful - serving a dual purpose, of processing what may be raw, unfamiliar or unexpected thoughts and feelings whilst also documenting significant content from the recent session, whilst it is still fresh in your mind, heart and soul.  

Putting words to feelings in this way can be enormously comforting, and might also enhance subsequent relational communication both inside and outside of the therapy room.  

If time is of the essence, as it so often is, then sitting quietly, somewhere you won't be disturbed, and taking a few mindful breaths, to gather your experience and reacquaint with the moment, can prove refreshing and rejuvenating, creating a valuable space in which to pick up some psychological and emotional armour that may need to be replaced after a therapy session, in order to return to life on life's terms.  

"The principle aim of therapy is not to transport one to an impossible state of happiness, 
but to help (the client) acquire steadfastness and patience in the face of suffering."   
C. G. Jung

KeepCalm2




Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Life of Pi (2012)

And so my cinema inspired ramblings continue.  January has indeed been a feast for my eyes.  But this film touched me somewhere beyond the aesthetic, and visual.  I guess it might fall into the realm of the transpersonal, a word that makes occasional appearances in my vocabulary but splashes around without much style.  For me the transpersonal domain might well be equated with the spiritual life.  And spirituality feels, to me, to be the journey of a lifetime.

I am comforted by the idea that we are, each of us, spiritual beings having a human experience.  And, somehow, for me, this movie spoke to this very directly.  I so appreciated the implicit suggestion that hovered in the subtext, that belief in whatever or whoever is capable of preventing the extinction of hope.  Hope having been highlighted as the ultimate power, and life force.

I guess approaching the film's plot from a different perspective, it tells the story of a young man's experience of an horrific trauma that resulted in what might be described as a psychotic experience.  We see his near death experience, and can maybe postulate that some of what follows is hallucination, the understandable consequence of prolonged hunger and the complete absence of human contact.  The scenes might represent the vivid imaginings of the traumatised mind playing tricks to avoid the alternative of shut down, demonstrating the tremendous resilience of the human spirit, psyche and physiology.


I wonder too about the symbolism of Richard Parker, the fantastically life-like Bengal tiger.  What is it that we see the protagonist, Piscine Molitor 'Pi' Patel work hard to tame?  An aspect of himself, perhaps?  It is all of course well beyond the imagination of the naive Canadian with whom he later crosses paths who lacks any real frame of reference for the rich anecdotes of the older, wiser and now even more deeply self-reflective Pi.

Seemingly blunt, the line, "if it happened, why does it have to mean anything?" seems spot on, in the circumstances.  Of course, we are left to make up our own minds about what did really happen after the boat on which Pi, accompanied by his family and floating menagerie, got caught in a treacherous storm in the middle of the Pacific.  The film is a testament to the crucial importance and critical value of narratives to human survival.  

We all have the power to write the endings to our own stories.  We can choose to make sense of them along the way, or get into the deceptively simple business of having experiences that feel meaningful to us.  


Sunday, 20 January 2013

January Resolve

2013 is now well under way.  The new year feels distinctly less new, and there are not too many working days left of January.  So, how are those resolutions panning out..?

I've always thought of January as somewhat of a clearing space - and tend to spend much of the fresh new year tidying away the old one.  I guess that comes, in part, with the territory of self employment, and the deadlines associated with the tax year.  But there's more besides.  


I am in the habit of tying up loose ends at this time of year.  My annual reflections flow into the new year, as I bridge between one calendar and the next.  I allow this process which might previously have been curtailed by academic terms or other externally imposed deadlines, and enjoy living through it, with an openness and a curiosity that the freshness of spring seems to bring with it.

January feels to have been a productive month.  Much has happened.  The old year has been thought about, before being 'filed', and I feel connected to the excitement of the months that lie ahead.  My diary has an inviting emptiness of it as plans are beginning to take shape, and things are unfolding gently, and in their own time.  

Spring cleaning feels appealing, and I began to take this from the psychological and into the practical in earnest last weekend.  I have been quite literally 'cleaning house'; embarking on a steady process of de-junking, and un-cluttering my physical space.  I have been enjoying the process and an enhanced sense of spaciousness.  Spaciousness for the sake of spaciousness feels very precious.




       

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Impossible (2012)

...is not a film for the faint hearted.  Some of it makes for nearly-impossible viewing.  That said, I think it will likely score pretty highly for filmography of motion pictures I see this year (yes, I know, it's only January).  I could not bear to think too much about the special effects, or the mechanics of making a film such as this - it was far better to sit back, and go with the flow.  This led to my feeling totally blown away, and utterly absorbed by the movie.

As devastating and terrifying as the scenes were, there was something greater than the total wipeout of the paradise we saw in the opening shots, something deeper, and profoundly reassuring.  On leaving the cinema, I was connected to a sense that I had been reminded of the very best of human nature and resilience in the face of the worst and most dangerous of nature's atrocities.  

The film might have been called The Unimaginable.  But it wasn't.  The tsunami arose from the depths beneath the beautiful and inviting blue destroying the seemingly serene within moments.  The film depicts carnage of the kind I can usually only bear to watch short clips of on the news.  Somehow, however, the direction and production brilliantly escort us on a rollercoaster like journey, through the eyes of an adolescent (brilliantly played by Tom Holland) who had come on holiday with his parents (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts) and two younger brothers.  



Pure raw emotions are stripped of any artifice, as we watch how a mother and son find themselves stranded in a hostile and alien environment.  Against a background of gasps from the horrified audience, a boy becomes a man, growing up in an instant, and by necessity.  He is preservation and survival instinct personified.  

It is as though we have left the safety of the cinema, and been transported to be there, right there.  We are rooting for a family we feel we've come to know so intimately in such brutal circumstances.  We come to know the precise dimensions of the very thin line between life and death; between the holiday of a lifetime in paradise and every parent's worst nightmare. 

The picture is a superb observation of familial bonds - that between a man and his wife, between a mother and her three sons, and between the three brothers, and their father.  The world of the family, in which time seems to stand still as they are unbelievably reunited.

The happy ending is a long time coming and somewhat incongruous - but undoubtedly a superb advert for Zurich insurance.       


"Nothing is stronger than the human spirit..."

Monday, 14 January 2013

"Freaks welcome here"

Training alongside fellow therapists who are, like me, passionate about their work with gender and sexual diversity clients always feels like a homecoming.  It's warm, and yet refreshing.  I value and relish every opportunity I get to think with others about gayness and queer folk with a view to serving their needs inside the consulting room.  It stems partly from the priority I place on ethical practice.  But it goes beyond this, too.  

As a therapist, I take very seriously my own blindspots.  Education doubtless counts for something, but knowledge is not nearly as powerful as wisdom, and I am eternally grateful to all that I have learnt through the embodied teaching of those who have trained me at different times and in different settings.  As someone else put it so neatly; insight is but the popcorn, preceding the main attraction of relationality in the therapy room...

Let's talk about sex...

And what a way to 'do' training.  Jumping straight in at the deep end.  Watching explicit material projected onto a wall in a room of  relative strangers at 4 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon.  With the lights on!  It was deliberately provocative.  We were investigating any 'squicks' (moments at which it became uncomfortable, or 'icky' to watch).  We entered unusual territory, and set about exploding myths and misconceptions whilst stumbling across our biases, prejudices or plain simple ignorance.  We deconstructed narratives.  We had the opportunity to get intimate.  With ourselves and how we think about gender, sexuality, and relationships, personally and professionally.  

Who, where, when and how.  Nothing was to be left to the imagination.  It was a good reminder that assumptions are where it gets really messy.  Whilst metaphor certainly has its place in my practice, there are times at which it is essential to get back to basics and call a spade a spade (although while there is often plenty of digging to be done, it's probably quite rare for either myself or a client to be referring to garden tools).  We got busy wading through the sticky stuff, and thinking about where we can get stuck in therapy, with individuals, or couples, or...  wait for it...  trios.  

The more the merrier?

Yes.  Call it a party.  The etiquette and ethics certainly get interesting when there are more than two partners.  Who to ask, and when should they come?  Food for thought is always the hallmark of a worthwhile training.

And, amidst the study was much humour.  After all, what is normal, anyway?  

And then a night out at the circus to see professional freaks.  Looking at the contortionists as they bent in ways I had no idea the human skeleton was intended to, I marvelled at the differences between those on the stage, and those of us captivated by their performance.  The awesome talent only metres away from our seats.  Yet miles away from the experience we have of our own bodies.  The stunningly beautifully choreographed acts once again defied the boundaries of what we might imagine to be physically, or psychologically, possible.  




I have no reluctance in my admission that I have become something of a Cirque fanatic.  Seeing them perform live for the fifth time, this time at the Royal Albert Hall, was a real treat.  The spectacle they create remains breathtaking, but somehow repeated exposure means that there is now space to value and appreciate the artistry on a different level.  I connected with such a powerful sense of joy, and of wonder both during and after each act.  For me, the circus brought to life something I'd been reflecting on all weekend - the value of difference and complementarity.      



      



    

  

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The personal touch

Personal training suits me well.  I get there, I warm up, I work out.  It's a fast moving workout that I don't even have to think about.  I simply follow the instructions, and give it my best shot.  Repeating a circuit of exercises put together with my precise needs and strengths in mind, gives me a chance to put my energy where it counts the most.  I don't even have to think about the weight I'm lifting.  It really is a weight off my shoulders.  Then there's the motivation when I most need it, and the encouragement where my own resistance surfaces in the face of the resistance.  There's no competition, yet there's everything to prove: to myself.  It's the best incentive I have encountered yet.


Therapy, done properly, is quite analogous.  The contract between a client and their therapist is remarkably similar.  There is a collaboration with a mutual aim, and within that several defined goals.  We work together to travel there.  We each have a separate role, and there are likely to be challenges along the way.  Remaining in those respective roles is crucial to the outcome.  As a therapist, there is work for me to do.  But this will be worth(far)less unless the client also 'shows up'.  Just like my temporary trainer Chris Challenger, I can't do my work without my client.    


Pick it up!




Wednesday, 9 January 2013

'Special' Relationships


The Enzian is a fabulous cinema.  I liked it the moment I saw it's welcoming weatherboard exterior, and dressing room style lights above the box office window.  And I hadn't even seen the seating arrangements.  4 floors of seating.  Recliners and 'Loveseats' at the very front, and then raked decks with comfy chairs around little tables, with menus on them!  An alternative theater indeed...  Go to the movies and get food to be enjoyed alongside the feature presentation sitting a a table with your friends.  Sometimes it's the simple ideas that really are the best.

We arrived in good time to enjoy the trailers for forthcoming movies.  All 3 appealed, and have made it onto my would-like-to-see list.  We'll see...  The list is generally more extensive than the opportunities for cinema going, but my cinema membership helps.

It felt apt, to be sitting with a dear friend 'the other side of the ocean' watching a film about the so-called, very special relationship and its origins, that has played such a significant part in shaping Anglo-American relations ever since George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother visited The President and First Lady, the inimitable Roosevelts at Hyde Park.

Nothing to do with the Hyde Park I know and love, that is situated behind Apsley House, or No. 1 London. Hyde Park was where FDR's beloved estate Springwood was, in the Hudson Valley of New York.  And here the motion picture is set.  Here was the President's preferred office.  Here was where he was at home.  And here is where he carried out a series of (overlapping) affairs.

I wonder whether FDR might have been an undiagnosed sex addict.  Whilst possibly almost blasphemous of me to suggest it, particularly given my shallow knowledge of his life, it is not, I think, impossible.  The film highlighted his libido, and the way in which things were arranged, precisely to enable him to act out with whom and when he pleased.  During the captivating picture, we get to know a little about him, and his muses who keep him amused, and distracted from the inevitable stresses that come with the territory for the incumbent of this particular job - the Presidency.  And when they're not around, it seems that smoking and drinking helped ease his nerves (not forgetting the copious aspirin).  The dysfunctional maternal relationship bearing all the hallmarks of enmeshment did not escape my attention, either.  

He is less than discrete.  Though the woman through whose eyes we get to meet Franklin does not, for some time, realise that her position is not unique.  His actions have devastating and far reaching consequences.  Yet he persists.  It seems that the President can indeed have his cake, and eat it (not to mention several hot dogs).  

But then, we all choose to see only that we wish to.  


"We think they see all our flaws, 
but that's not what they are looking to find when they look to us." 
Franklin D. Roosevelt to His Majesty King George VI, when the King of England has revealed his vulnerability and insecurity around his accession to the throne, and his stutter.  
  

Monday, 7 January 2013

Treasures and Memories

The emotional impact of sorting through the personal belongings of someone you've loved after they've died is not to be underestimated.  The abundance of memory and association spurred by a trigger can be a rollercoaster-like journey.  A few small things, representative of a lifetime.  Dead, and empty of meaning without those precious memories.  

"Memory of a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, 
the things you never want to lose."  
The Wonder Years

We are all so much more than our possessions.  This is never so true as when confronted by this unenviable situation.  Yet those tangible objects that belonged the person we loved and who is now gone can be so valuable in helping us to retain a connection to our memories.  Gone, but not forgotten.  

Disasters that wipe away these objects can feel as catastrophic as the loss of someone whose smile we knew, and whose voice we heard so often.  Having a third party intervene and interfere can feel just as intrusive, and somehow even more unjust.  They will never know or truly understand what this or that meant - they weren't there, and they didn't feel.  Our memories are like certificates of authenticity, and cannot be so easily erased.  Perhaps it is these that are the real keepsakes.

"Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume."  
Jean de Bouffleurs   


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Beneath every cloud...

I loved Silver Linings Playbook.  It took me by surprise.  We spontaneously drove to the movie theater (note deliberate Americanization) and snuck in to a crowded auditorium a few minutes after the titles.

There were several things that I liked about this movie about which there was something a little different.  It had a somewhat unusual story line, as we find the main character attempting to rehabilitate himself having graduated from a mental institution.  

He is trying his best, and looking on the bright side.  He has swallowed some positive psychology, and it's serving him well.  It isn't rubbing off so easily on those around him.  Cue his parents, the comical duo composed of his adorable mother (Jacki Weaver), and laugh out loud funny father (Robert deNiro) who has himself at some time run into a bit of trouble with the law.

The camera brings us right into the family home, and up close and personal with the dynamics that unfold before our eyes, just as they should.  There's screaming, and shouting.  There's the occasional fight.  There's madness and mayhem.  There's gambling, and a family wide obsession with the Eagles 'football' team.  There's codependency and care taking.  It's just an ordinary family.  And there are many, many laughs along the way.

And then Pat (Bradley Cooper) meets the gorgeous and mixed up Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).  It's a match made in heaven.  Sort of.  But like any relationship worth its weight, there are a few ups and downs.  

It's Pat's therapist (Anupam Kher) that has a starring role from where I'm standing.  He comes up with the sizzling suggestion that what his client needs most is 'a strategy', giving no clues as to what that might comprise.  Pat figures it out, with Tiffany's help, and arrives at a game plan involving a perfect combination of regular exercise and reading for relaxation, taking his prescribed medication and attending therapy, alongside  a solid support network from his family and friends.  

It's progress not perfection that he seeks, and both he and Tiffany get their just deserve having quite literally put in the footwork.  A friend in need really is a friend indeed.    


"Let me tell ya.  You gotta pay attention to signs.  When lie reaches out with a moment lie this, it's a sin if you don't reach back...  I'm telling you."



Saturday, 5 January 2013

Getting smart

I have a smartphone.  I think most people do.  The question therefore is not whether our phones are smart, but whether we are.  I have phone-off days and weekends.  I may have even longer whilst on a Retreat.  When I'm on holiday, my phone is usually the last thing I want to look at.  I regularly leave my phone at home.  I like to think about my relationship with my phone from an attachment perspective, and strive to maintain a healthy attachment to it.  


This week has been a good reminder of where my phone fits into my life.  I took a deep breath, fastened my seat belt, and switched off the data roaming facility.  Phones are useful.  That much is beyond doubt.  They offer security and peace of mind.  But they also present a challenge.  Connecting people (Nokia's strapline) does not necessarily equate with life being good (LG).  Getting closer (another Nokia pledge) comes with drawbacks.

We of the digital age face enormous and sometimes overwhelming pressure to be 'in touch'.  In the era of social media, we are networking faster than ever - in real time.  We are conversing with everyone and no one.  Instantly.  The waiting is over.  Instant messenger have been replaced by FaceTime.  

I value and appreciate technology.  Really I do.  I have the utmost respect for the advances being made to make life easier.  But easy communication is not the same as quality communication.  Call me old fashioned, but I still see a place in having a conversation face to face.  No, really face to face - like sitting opposite one another, able to see, hear, feel and smell the person in front of you.  

Therapy can involve far more than the spoken word.  And this is where mediums such as the phone, email, and even Skype cannot, I think, provide the same forum for the therapeutic encounter as the therapy room.  They have much to offer.  But not yet everything.      



Are you or someone you know addicted...?

Do you check your phone within an hour of waking up?
Do you check your phone within an hour of going to sleep?
Do you check your phone at times without any reason?
Do you check your phone over thirty times a day?
Do you have to check your phone the moment you receive a text or email?
Do you check and/or use your phone during face to face interactions?
Do you feel the urgent to text, call, or social network whilst driving?
If you were asked to give up your phone for a week, could you?


Characteristics observable in smartphone addiction...

Constant preoccupation with one's phone to the extent that the phone takes priority over other relationships and/or interests.
Spending an increasing amount of time on the phone; more than required for routine calls, important messages and email.
Inability to restrict mobile phone usage in spite of knowing harmful effects such as phone bills that exceed budget / desire to buy expensive upgrades.
Jiterriness, restlessness or anxiety and severe craving when not able to use the phone and great relief and pleasure when this becomes possible again.
Sleeping with the phone nearby, and repeatedly waking up to check for messages / status updates etc.



Thursday, 3 January 2013

Other worldly

Orlando and its surrounding neighbourhoods have much to offer beyond Disneyworld.  I don't tend to go too long without a workout of some kind.  Today was no exception.  Chris put us through our paces.  He always does.  I have worked out with Chris on previous sojourns in Florida.  It's brilliant.  I have yet to find a London based Chris, but this year, I'm more motivated than ever to do so.  The combination of a super bright smile, and a thorough work out seamlessly tailored to individual goals is the ultimate package when it comes to exercising effectively.  Which we did.  Short, and sharp.  Hitting all the right spots. 


We're due to return tomorrow and could, if anything, have spent some more time stretching after our program which blasted upper and lower body, not forgetting the all important core.  It may be even more of a challenge with Mr. Challenger tomorrow.

I like nothing more than exploring the vicinity of wherever I find myself.  Getting my bearings, and nosing around comes naturally.  It couldn't be easier with a car, and a sophisticated Sat Nav whose abilities stretch to finding individual stores, when searched by name.  So a few hours passed easily enough.  I am always happy when browsing a book shop.  Particularly a branch of Barnes & Noble.

This evening's entertainment was something unexpected.  Cirque du Soleil's Worlds Away film is a must-see for any fan of the inimitable performance troupe.  Playing in 3D, this is a real treat.  It captures the essence of Cirque quite beautifully, intertwining acts from the seven shows that played in Vegas in 2011. 




The storyline is a simple one.  Girl sees guy she likes the look of.  And then looses him.  In the midst of a circus.  She searches all over for him.  Looking high and low.  Girl finds guy.  There's something of an extraordinary grand finale when they are reunited. 

It's an absolutely brilliant way of bringing the magic of Cirque to a wider audience.  Even having been privileged to see Cirque twice in London, and also in Orlando and Hong Kong, the film still took my breath away.  I can hardly wait to see Kooza.       


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Feeling moved whilst on the move

Even having made the journey many times, and several times in recent years, for some reason the flight time between London and Orlando surprises me every time the Pilot announces it.  I'm not built to sit still for nine and a half hours.  Especially not in a central seat, inbetween two passengers both slightly larger than the BMI recommends.

It is a long journey.  Not long when compared to the West coast.  Or Asia.  But when I flew to Hong Kong I had a two legged journey, stopping in Doha where I could at least stretch my legs, even if the terminal which was distinctly mid reconstruction did not prove terribly exciting. 
It seemed even longer as we had turbulence to contend with.  The flight path across the Atlantic, and then down to Florida is notorious for jet streams.  And we seemed to hit several.  The bumpy bits were good preparation for those making it across the pond to meet Mickey for the first time, perhaps.  I was grateful for the in-flight entertainment, once the crew had re-booted the system which was plagued with problems whilst we remained on the ground, necessitating a hands-on safety demonstration, and which took off with us, meaning we could not access the TV, movies, or radio for some 45 minutes on leaving LGW.

As London slept in the early hours of New Year's Day, I was on board a 777 headed for the sunshine state.  (The weather on arrival in Orlando did not disappoint, with the temperature outside the airport in the late afternoon still in the mid 70s, described by an acclimatised local as sunny 'without being hot'.)
Hope Springs drew my attention for more than one reason.  I adore Meryl Streep.  And I have a passion for working with couples.  So, a film about a couple in their fifties whose marriage feels empty now the kids have left home, who decide to give intensive couple therapy a go, appealed from the off.  It didn't disappoint, and highlighted my experience of working with more than one client in the room - the reward is in the challenge. 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of those films that came and went without me making it to the screen on time.  I see the trailer, make a mental note and then miss it when it comes out on General Release, only to kick myself when I notice the poster on the underground a week or two later.  Emma Watson is a superb actress, and was well cast to play Sam in this delightful coming of age film which was beautiful to watch and intensely moving.
What really stood out was the poignant line, "we accept the love we think we deserve".  These few words encapsulate something I know today to be a painful truth that very often brings people into therapy.  It is a deceptively simple sounding conundrum that can take a lot of hard work and courage to fathom.   

The next came in the reminder that whilst we don't have control over where we came from, we can take charge of where we go next...  "I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."

I love watching movies with lines that stand out like that...  Particularly when it's truly a case of nowhere to go, nothing to do - airplane flights are great opportunities for simply sitting and being.