Kia ora e te whānau
Its been week of extremes in Taranaki. Ranging from beautiful, unseasonably warm days with our majestic maunga in full view, to torrential, unstoppable rain and flooding. The streams we have on stie are mostly gentle trickles around the site. Yet last week they turned into raging rivers, levels rising alarmingly and flooding the delighted ducks in their area. We can see still the marks in the banks of how high the streams rose, the acculmulation of debris brought in by the extra water and grass flattened around the edges. The water only stayed very high for a few hours and then settled down but the effects can still be seen. Sometimes life is like that for us. Something happens that overwhelms us with its intensity, the intiail event can be relatively short-lived but often the consequences linger and stay with us for a long time afterwards. How do we cope with the crisis and then the after effects?
At our daily reflection-time on that downpour day, we ventured where angels sometimes fear to tread. We talked about our tears. Bloke-tears; pent-up tears; tears we brush aside; the tears that won't seem to surface when needed; where tears have been 'disallowed' or 'against the rules', or 'a sign of weakness' in childhood, or in a particular relationship. Where tears are a 'trigger' from our past. The spectacular rainfall of that day was powerfully symbolic of what was being carried, not just by those present for the refleciton, but much more widely, by our community's grief and loss. I wonder where all that tear-related negativity comes from, in our social or cultural wiring; I see that it was something I trotted out when I was younger, because that was what I had been taught and modelled (the cry-baby stuff). I guess it's something to do with the stiff upper lip or to do with a mistaken view that expressing emotion is somehow embarrassing or awkward - like we would do better to pretend to be androids or something. Yet it's generally ok to laugh - and that’s just another physical expression of a feeling deep within. Crying can activate the body in a healthy way. Studies of the various kinds of tears have found that emotional tears contain higher levels of stress hormones than do reflex tears (the ones that form when you get something in your eye).
We often talk, at the Retreat, of keeping your tanks topped up. That means remembering to do some of that stuff that energises you, whether it is spending time with loved ones, friends, going for a walk, doing gardening, watching a good movie, enjoying a good coffee outdoors - whatever it is. It is important to keep on top of the good stuff, so that we have reserves to deal with life's curved balls. Our Life Coaching encourages this especially and Coach-Liz works with people to help them identify the good stuff as well as offering techniques to deal with the negative (or 'red zone') stuff. A new way of seeing our own situation can make all the difference. Our Outreach Support Workers also offer support, with a compassionate, caring, one-on-one peer-support approach. Haivng someone who is on your team and there to offer a listening ear can make all the difference. We also offer a buddied up, secure, online journaling system, where many write regularly as an outlet. This journaling or blogging is done alongside your buddy who is there to encourage you as well as reflect when, just maybe, you are being too harsh on yourself! Regular journaling can be truly healing - especially when we find it difficult to speak the words. It offers an outlet for thoughts that may be churning or racing; getting them down on 'paper' can be a true relief and a release. Over time, we begin to spot our own patterns and notice tricky defaults before they become a problem once again! It takes that bit of discipline to journal regularly (how many of us have started a new diary... done those first couple of entries, then happened upon the book a few months later....!). Interested in giving it a go? Drop us a reply to this email to learn more.
sulk. He doesn't worry about what might happen, he never has a problem sleeping!
A cellphone provider ran an advertising campaign a few years ago called Be More Dog, which seems to sum it up qiute well. Sometimes our worries stop us enjoying a good moment, refocussing our attention on the good things we have, giving them more attention, can help balance out all that we are going through. The Retreat's ethos is summed up in 'Space to Breathe'. But that's a way of life, rather than a specific place. This newsletter comes with encouragement to make that space, snatch moments of it if necessary in our busy lives; to counter all the busyness.
Thank you for being part of the conversation, and for taking the time to read our newsletter - we always, always value your responses, and simply being 'all in this together' :)
EO, Taranaki Retreat
Liz, our Life Coach often finds that when people start the journey of reconnecting back to themselves and finding the things that really bring them joy, it is people's creative side that has long been surpressed/pushed down/pushed under the bed/stuffed in a cupboard or forgotten about altogether...
Often, Liz finds that this can be poetry, how people used to love to write and let the words flow, how it used to be healing/inspiring or bring hope.
So now Liz is on a mission to get a poetry book published with a collection of people's works, be it poetry or prose, as a fundraiser for the Retreat.
Are you keen to be part of this project? Would you like to see your work in print? Have you been looking for a way to support the Retreat, but not sure how? Maybe this is it!
Keen to know more? Please email Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kotahihanga - Recovery Together: We Got This
Kia ora e te whānau,
We are so thankful to be able to be fully operational for our Residential Guests - it has been a looooong haul operating through our Community Outreach without the Safe Sanctuary of the Retreat to be alongside people in need of that extra Space to Breathe.
We acknowledge the tough challenges of these unprecedented times - and this last week has seen a huge influx of people reaching out for support. We are just so thankful that people are indeed reaching out.
We have heard that 'unprecedented' word so much recently. Yet, on a personal level, so much of what we have to deal with is unprecedented for us. Life is full of changes as we grow up, as our family changes, relationships evolve, jobs, children, housing - the list of situations we have to face, that we have never faced before, is huge. And that is why the Retreat exists; the pearl formed from the grit of suffering. We firmly believe that we all need support at some point in our lives, no matter our background.
There is no shame in asking for help; our whole team have faced their own challenges, and know that life throws us curve balls that sometimes are too big to catch on their own. Sometimes the supporters need to be supported and sometimes the supported can become the supporters. The very existence of the Retreat, which was built through huge gifts of time as well as money by this community shows without a doubt that we are all in this together and to survive we need to look out for each other.
Meanwhile.... We have SUCH exciting news to share with you! Watch this space - we'll be in touch next week with more. For now:
You'll be much in our thoughts over the long weekend. Very very much hoping that there will be some good times in store for you over the break.
Jamie, and all at Taranaki Retreat
PS: Click here to read last week's newsletter, and to flick through further resources in our blog.
Kotahihanga - It ain't easy, reaching out
Kia ora, e te Whānau,
Always been the strong one?
Find it massively awkward to ask for support?
Are you caring for others? Sometimes it feels like a juggling act!
Sometimes the hardest thing going can be putting up your hand for that little bit of support. We know that feeling of not wanting to be a burden on others; yet deep-down we know reaching out to someone who we trust or someone we have a connection with........... can help. It goes back to that old saying, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. The moment we reach out to someone who we confide in, it allows us to process what is happening for us. It can feel hard to ask for help when we’re always the ones that needs to be strong for others, but connecting and sharing our stuff with someone who is open to listening, can make a a world of difference. We feel lighter, have space to heal, forgive others AND ourselves.
Kotahitanga- unity, connectedness, collective action and collaborative recovery
Aroha - that well-used vital word - translates as showing love and appreciation to someone. It is an action word; how do you show love and support to someone you care about? Sometimes going the extra mile to call someone, instead of texing or using social media to communicate, can show loved ones that you have put in the effort to maintain that relationship. Acts of kindness are gold. Never underestimate the power of ‘showing up, or being there' for somebody. Often we don’t realise that our loved ones are just waiting for that opportunity to share and connect. If you haven’t heard from them for a while, check in, make an effort, show up, make the time for that cup of tea.
And don't forget about you. Self care is just as important as feeding your cats, or your children. It never helps to deny your wairua the nourishment that it needs to endure the long haul. So remember, 'Do more of the things that light your soul up’.
The purpose of community is the uphold the philosophy of ‘no one gets left behind’. A whakatauki or proverb that we may have heard time to time, ‘e Waka eke noa’ a canoe which we are all in with no exception’ or 'Naku to rou rou nou Te rou rou, ka ora ai te iwi e' - with your basket and my basket, the people will be well. These whakatauki highlight the importance of collective action, community and connectedness.
The Retreat is made up of a beautiful whānau of volunteers and staff; we are a wonderfully eclectic mix - each one bringing our lived-experience with us. Our objective is to match the need shared to the right support person from that mix; so that, when you do reach out, there is a good connection waiting for you. Sometimes, people find the easiest way is to reach out, as if their inquiry were for someone else... telling the story, and speaking hypothetically. We welcome that approach too.
Why not click this link right now, and start the process of halving that problem?
With much aroha from us lot, on behalf of the well-over 100 people who make up our team.
When people come to stay as Guests at the Retreat, we talk about taking time out to breathe – this means eating well, sleeping well, keeping our bodies moving, being mindful, and connecting with others. Sound like stating the obvious? I guess that's because they are the critical building blocks that we ALL need to come back to, especially during times of increased stress. So, this week we want to go back to basics, to relook at how we can support our own well-being and increase resiliency everyday.
Here are some of the ways you can support yourself, and also some things we have found inspiring over the last few weeks!
We have been missing our shared kai with our Retreat Guests, and our weekly lodge baking with volunteer baking-guru Jude. Some peopel have enjoyed having more time to cook – there are so many resources online but we love the BBC Good Food site where you can search via ingredient, specialist food type, and they have great options for singles to large whānau and people on tight budgets!
For some of us, the last few weeks have meant a total change in routine, or perhaps a lack of routine all together! If this is you, try the following tips for a good nights sleep:
Research shows a strong correlation between physical activity and well being. There are so many options for exercise it can be totally overwhelming. Some of our favorites are back to basics like gardening, walking, stretching, dancing (like no ones watching), and playing with the kids or pets outside. Here’s a little inspiration!
How we all need this. Call us for a chat during office hours. We are here to provide support and can talk you through the options. If you prefer to write then we have supported online blogging. If you experience prolonged anxiety or are unsure if what's happening for you is more than what's to be expected, reach out and we can chat this through and provide information and education about responses to stress and trauma.
We are also knowledgeable about other organisations within our community that could provide specialist support, sometimes finding the right information for you can be tricky or feel too hard.
For many of us a fantastic to way to be ‘in the moment’ is to head out into nature, and, at last, we are free to take that beautiful hike while the weather is still good.
Music and the arts are also wonderful ways to take a breath from day to day stresses, take some time out from everything to do what you enjoy, listen to music, get creative, a dose of positive activity can leave you feeling stronger inside.
For a wee mindful pause right now, check out this beautiful performance.
We got this whånau. One day at a time.
Jamie, and all at Taranaki Retreat
There's a inevitable frustration that comes with the not-knowing, and that's having an impact - sometimes in subtle ways - and, for some of us, in running low on patience.
Those of us who are planners need order where there's that lack of clarity - or even a stressful feeling of chaos and overload. With that in mind - having a go at "if this, then that" - as a scribbled flowchart can be helpful to mind, if it is racing.
The Retreat is here as part of a tapestry of a Community doing 'Recovery Together" - Kotahitanga. Last week we shared some of the contents of kete for support through Grief and Loss. This week our focus is on Tough Times. Economics. As most of us have experienced, financial problems can impact every area of our lives, and easily spiral out of control. Some of us face the terrors of that spiral right here, right now. We want to support you and yours through this.... We have excellent friendships with Budget Services and Grant-Making Bodies - we can help you when you're just not sure where to turn.
In our Kete for Tough-Times, we also offer:
1. Support from our Awesome Coach
What does the next chapter look like? Know something needs to change but not sure what? Time spent with our Life Coach can give a fresh perspective on where you are at, a reminder of what is important, some understanding of what might have got in the way in the past, and what may be some new avenues to pursue next.
2. A Business Brainstorm
A session with a business coach may help bring some clarity on what your options are or some ideas as as to how the business can be tweaked in these changing times. Maybe you are thinking of going self-employed or starting something and want to have a chat with someone as to whether this is viable or what some next steps might be.
3. Outreach Support Visits/Advocacy
Regular, informal catch ups face to face with a support worker to chat and be listened to. It’s a regular get together to discuss what’s been happening for you and to download what’s on your mind. This can be done in a place you are comfortable and feel safe, such as a visit to Taranaki Retreat or somewhere else like a cafe, the park or a beach.
4. Support Checkins
For some people, meeting face to face can be challenging. We understand that everyone is different and has their own way of doing things or perhaps you live out of the area but still need to chat? Whatever method you prefer to use to communicate is no problem for us. We can catch up regularly with you via email, phone, text or Skype to name a few.
5. Health and Wellbeing sessions
Self care is an essential part of our wellbeing, and even more so when things are tough. Sadly it is often the thing that goes out the window first. These sessions come in many forms, and can be a great starting place to ensure that we are filling up our tanks first. When we have our tanks full we have much more capacity to deal with what we are facing at the time, whether this be finding a job, dealing with staff, communicating with WINZ, starting a new venture.
We know these are tough times for many but if you are in position to offer some help, please consider supporting us. You can make a donation easily from our website or if you like to know exactly where your money will be used you can choose to Shout someone a stay, or a therapeutic session or a meal - have a look here for the options available. We appreciate every donation made towards our work, it all adds up to make a difference. Together, we can BE the change we want to see. And if you have a great fundraising idea (right now we need to think about alternative and out-of-the-box ways to fundraise) then we would love to hear from you!
No reira, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katou.
Jamie Allen, Executive Officer and a guy who wishes he had the hair left to shave...
Always having been "the strong one" or the person giving the care, now finding oneself being in need of a shoulder to lean on
Having to grieve alone (for any kind of loss). Knowing that soul-pain, and trying to get through it in isolation.We’re here for you, simple as that - kotahitanga - recovery together.
For this week's letter, I wanted to share with you a little from our Grief Support Kete, and have picked five of our resources to tell you a little about.
Does the image in this post look or feel familiar?
Some of these resources from our Kete could be what's needed right now:
1. Grief and Loss Workshop
If you, or a member of your whānau have endured a major loss - such as bereavement; loss of employment; loss of health / a recent diagnosis; divorce / separation / relationship breakdown... This support will bring new hope.
2. Remember My Loved-One
This is for you, if you have been through a bereavement, and would find a memorial occasion for them to be helpful. When we are grieving a loss, it helps to have ‘somewhere to go’. A place to remember them. Sometimes, that’s not always possible.
For some, at the time of the loss, tangi/funeral may not have been a healing experience. Revisiting that, and making new memories can be helpful. Together, we will plan a brief, uncluttered time of memorial for your loved one, to take place at the Retreat. There also is the opportunity to prepare and paint a memorial rock, bearing their name, and place it in the Retreat’s Garden of Remembrance.
3. Support from Our AWESOME Coach
Sometimes this is a one-off; sometimes the beginning of a more in-depth healing support journey. The mahi begins with a focus on what motivates you and what is holding you back. A great tool to untangle your thoughts and feelings around where you are at/where you want to be and offers you guidelines on how to work towards your goals.
4. Buddied Blogging
Ideal for when there's a physical distance between the Retreat and you - or when sitting down with someone to talk feels like 'too hard basket' - or if writing is your ‘thing’. We offer a secure online shared blogging platform. There, people privately blog on a regular basis; and one of our Care Team sits alongside you as a buddy in your blogging, sharing the journey; and responding with encouragement and reflection. It can really help to process stuff - and is sometimes a great scene-setter for further support.
5. Grief Journaling
If you have experienced a bereavement in which the circumstances were tragic, and you are hurting from that loss - this programme could be for you. In five one-on-one or whānau sessions, your story will be heard and honoured; recognising the magnitude of your loss, the mix of painful emotions experienced, and providing tools and empowerment to recovery.
Any of these sound like a fit for you? Or is there someone it might be helpful to share this email with? Anyone can reach out to the Retreat via Facebook, calling 06 215 0993 or texting our team on 0204 189 1236.
Our Grief Support Team
Our grief support is primarily peer-orientated - in other words, those who deliver these supports have, themselves, walked that terrible walk; are highly familiar with its meandering path, and have found the ways for their heart and soul to heal. If that's you, and you would like to work alongside others on that journey - please get in touch. Our Team are trained, loved and supported in their mahi, and constantly "make the difference". Thank you!
Finally, it goes without saying, but saying it anyway
...no bull, these are pretty tricky times for any charity to survive through. I guess many of us are reflecting on where our giving can really make a difference. Please support our mahi if you possibly can. Thank you, so very much.
No reira, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katou.
Executive Officer and a guy who is alongside you in all this.
There is much that we want to say - but we will keep this as concise as possible - always welcoming your contact and knowing that there is a need for us to be singing the same songs of hope and recovery as a wide and diverse whānau who are all committed to suicide prevention.
What have we been up to?
So much has shifted, and yet so much stays the same. The Retreat has continued operating during the nation's lockdown, as an Essential Service, but in different and inventive ways - with a constant aim of responding to need, whether Covid 19 related or not. We are very mindful that for some people, more change and deep isolation is just too much. Adapting, which we can be adept at - does take energy and focus. If we have trauma in our story, these new challenges can be horrendous. Accordingly, we have ramped up our one to one support for whānau in the community; delivering care packages, packed not just with staples, but aroha. Keeping in regular contact with people is vital. Sometimes sharing the load to an understanding ear can help ease some of the weight of those burdens.
Often, as a team with many good connections we can offer advocacy with accessing support (making those difficult phone calls - being the squeaky wheel etc); and our role can also be to provide resources specific to a situation. Something we are all re-learning in these very different times, is the importance of connection. We are lucky to have so many options available to do this, thanks to the Internet; something we will take away from our time during lockdown. But nothing beats human, physical presence alongside each other. We all need human connection, whatever form that takes; we need others in our lives. The enforced paused mode has higlighted for many what can be let go of (busyness?) and what stands out as vital.
We are looking forward to Level Two when our ways of supporting people will be so much easier - and have careful processes in place to make sure we do so safely.
Not too much to report of course, all our planned working bees and other ongoing site-works have had to be put on hold. We know how lucky we are to have such beautiful setting - everything on the site, except maybe the odd gorse bush, has been lovingly placed and gifted by a huge team of supporters, volunteers, staff and Guests. It is amazing to think that six years ago it was just a paddock! So many caring people have contributed to make the Retreat what it is. It is the compassion of our local peple writ large. Our Chapel (pictured above) is often a place of solace for those who are hurting, facing directly onot the gorgeous view of our ever-changing but ever-present mountain; it is a wonderful metaphor for hope. Sometimes we cannot see the mountain or any trace of it, but we know it is there and that the clouds will lift eventually. It does feel like we are gong in the right direction with the emergence from Level 4. We send our aroha to you and your bubble; please don't hesitate to reach out if you would like support, the challenges of the past few weeks are making their presence felt in a whole range of unexpected ways. The clouds will lift, we know this, and we have plenty of hope to share.
Whānau - whatever your situation - we want to hear about it.
Our strategy is a proactive response in the face of heightened national suicide risk due to Covid 19, and an exponential rise in those reaching out for support. Our kaupapa is to provide a unique presence and service for Aotearoa New Zealand. The reality is that we need support in times of distress and when hope is out of sight, and there are many cases where a person is returning to an isolated/solo-living situation following a close call, and continues to be at such risk and in terrible deep inner pain. Taranaki Retreat's service is open-ended and provides the space and support to recover and gain the hope that is the oxygen to continue living.
The Retreat was envisioned and created through the lived experience of whānau who know, from heart-breaking first-hand experience, that those needs for support at the right time were not sufficiently available, and more was desperately needed. They had attempted to seek help, but to no avail. More than any other set of circumstances, the emergence from Covid 19 is causing distress to many who have never before needed to reach out for support; who may feel shame in needing to do so (shame that we stand against; kotahitanga is how we are made to be!). We are passionate to provide proactive, focused, non-judgemental reaching out, rather than expecting the need to be self-identified. Please help us achieve this. Get involved; and please support us in any way you can, financially - our usual round of awesome fundraising events have been utterly scotched, and, as yet, we don't fully know the hows; but together, we will find the ways to do it anyway!
More to come, but at the beginning, we undertook to keep this brief!
No reira, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katou
Jamie Allen, Executive Officer and a guy who is alongside you in all this.