Marian @ Krysan


Planting Golden Seeds in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, and Durham



"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.”

— Leo Buscaglia


Photograph (c) Sunderland Echo, 2008


'Positively Me'

Living Positively in Later Life 


  • 1 October 2015
  • Dear Friends
  • Older People's Day 2015

(1)  The Durham Happiness Challenge

A year ago today, I was part of a small team who organised and participated in the very first Durham Happiness Challenge and (possibly) the very first Older People's Day in the North East.  I (at least) remember it well.  In part, this is due to my somewhat unnerving practice of keeping a public journal (a blog) of important events in my life, this before they disappear forever into the mists of time.  

As they surely will.  

I would recommend journalling (public or private) to anyone of any age, but this is to be the subject for another blog - not this one!  Suffice to say, writing things down reminds me of how overwhelming it is to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt in this digital age.

But, my friends, to get us back to the task in hand here is a little (a very little!) of what I wrote on 1 October 2014 about the star-studded Durham Happiness Challenge 2014.  It's just enough to refresh your memory and perhaps make you smile, too - even turn your life around!  Who knows .. ?  

A Day of Smiles.  

"From start to finish, this was a day of smiles. Everything and everybody as sweet as a nut.  Nothing a bother.  We even started on time and finished on time - with morning coffee, a delicious buffet lunch, and afternoon tea all happening exactly as planned.  Thanks for this go to Time to Change (funding), Sainsbury's (food), Angela Slater and a small team of TTC champions (organisation). 

  • Everything impeccable.
  • Everything commendable.
  • Everything appreciated. 

"But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  After morning coffee and biscuits, and at exactly 10.30 am, Angela gathered everyone together and outlined the aims of the event, one being to provide us with an opportunity to listen to other people's experiences of leading and influencing change in their own lives, in their families lives and in the lives of their communities."

The event was also about raising awareness of issues around older people's mental health.  You can read all about it right here: 


(2)  Through the mists of time

There was no Happiness Challenge for the older people of Durham this year.   A pity, but par for the course in a world where austerity bites hardest at the extremes.  So ...

... in an effort to keep things in perspective, I'm travelling back through the mists of time to a kinder, softer, gentler age.  2005.  This was when a new member joined the Patients' Circle at an NHS hospital in Sunderland and we out-patients welcomed into our midst a stranger called 'Joe'.  

As luck would have it, Joe turned out to be a positive role model for others:

  • A Great storyteller!  
  • A Great philosopher!  
  • A Great human being! 

Significantly, Joe had in 2005 reached the age of 79 years and we were able to report to all and sundry (through Reality News) that he still retained the endearing twinkle in his eye that signals 'eternal youth'. Like someone else whose life has touched us all, Joe brought with him a precious gift.  In Joe's case, the gift was a moving little poem entitled Day Break.  

Day Break.

  • Just be aware of your existence
  • Be aware of each passing day
  • Be aware of the rising sun
  • Be aware of the hours passing
  • When the day is done.
  • Be aware of the fleeting minute
  • And the seasons as they unfold
  • Of the stories that have been written
  • And the stories yet untold
  • All blending into a pattern
  • In which you play your part
  • With each word you've ever spoken
  • With each beating of your heart.
  • So use them well and wisely
  • As you pass along your way
  • For as sure as there's a God in Heaven
  • You'll see yourself some day!

Makes you think, doesn't it?  

(3)  A visionary NHS 

I have lost touch with Joe, but - wherever he is - I am pretty sure he still has that twinkle in his eye! And why ever not?  The Patients' Circle at the old Cherry Knowle Hospital has to be an example of peer support at is earliest and its best.  Trust me on this.  I was there.  Left my heart.

A precedent.

Friends (such as Joe) made me laugh again.  We all recovered - to a greater or lesser degree - from the over-whelming anguish of severe mental distress. This was a life-time achievement for each of us and also for a visionary National Health Service management team who set a precedent for the future of care.  

Work that is real.

All people want is work that is real. Indeed, to be of use is all most of us want from life and this whatever our age and circumstance. Bravo, my NHS friends. You provided a safe haven. You gave us the dignity of real work.  

And, we thrived.

Dignity in mental health.

Joe's poem gets to the essence of the man.  We can glean that here is someone who had lived many, many years and was more than happy to pass on to others the wisdom accrued in his long - sometimes difficult - life.  Joe wasn't complaining. Even in the worst of times, he was simply trying to understand and make sense of his journey with as much dignity as he could muster. And that's true grit. 

Living positively in later life.

On 5 November 2015, I will be again 'exploring what matters' in a conversational talk around Living Positively in Later Life, this in a lovely little Methodist Church in Cullercoats, Tyne and Wear.  If you live in the vicinity (or even if you don't), you can reserve a place by following this link to 'Sarah' at SIMHNE's official website:


Alongside the invitation, you will find a map.  See you there?

(4)  Where the world finds strength

Joe's best friend (and mine) at the Patients' Circle was 'George'.  George too was a man of good character and good humour. His gift to the common good was this poem.  Here, a few words of advice are proferred to those readers who are lonely, have a troubled mind, or are - in any way - in need of comfort from another human being:

Don't You Quit.

  • When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
  • When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
  • When the funds are low and the debts are high,
  • And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
  • When care is pressing you down a bit,
  • Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
  • Life is queer with its twists and turns,
  • As every one of us sometimes learns,
  • And many a failure turns about,
  • When he might have won had he stuck it out;
  • Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
  • You may succeed with another blow.
  • Success is failure turned inside out –
  • The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
  • And you never can tell how close you are,
  • It may be near when it seems so far,
  • So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
  • It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

The above speaks of resilience.

Character strengths.

With an international as well as a local audience in mind, I ask you to kindly be aware that we are rapidly moving to a strengths-based view of life and learning and this around the entire globe.  Here's why: a Mission Statement from the leaders in the field:

"We believe individuals that know their unique character strengths contribute more to a healthy, thriving society.  It is our mission to fill the world with greater virtue - more wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.  We offer the free VIA Survey so that every individual can learn what makes them unique and special and ultimately lead more honest, authentic lives.  Join us in our quest to strengthen the world by strengthening each individual."  VIA Mission Statement.


 (5)  A cotton rat for breakfast.

The above fluttered in from across the pond ... and so did this ... an email from the aptly named Ageing Adventurer whose travels and travails I have followed for a number of years.  I introduce you now to author Emily Kimball whose latest book is called A Cotton Rat for Breakfast, a title I find appealing in a disturbing kind of way.  Different - like Emily (and me ... and you).

Fall 2015

Greetings Make It Happen newsletter subscribers. It has been a long time since I've been in touch because I've been working on my second book. I am happy to report that I recently completed A Cotton Rat for Breakfast: Adventures in Midlife and Beyond, my memoir that covers my life transitions between the ages of 45 and 84.

The Press Release announcing the books sums up the contents nicely:


Adventurer Emily Kimball's new memoir is an inspiring account of her fascinating life, focused on the transitions she undertook over the last four decades, from ages 45 through 84.

The entertaining and insightful memoir traces Emily's transitions from when she resigned a well-paying but unsatisfying job, arranged for her children to live with their father for a year, and headed off on her own to train and search for a new career in environmental education. Along the way she faced many challenges--hiking alone to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, paddling a canoe for over 200 miles on Florida's Suwannee River, and attending a 10-day survival trip in Utah with only a knife, a toothbrush, an extra pair of socks, and the clothes she wore.

In pursuing a job hunt across the country, Emily interviewed with 60 environmental agencies. Traveling in search of work on a very limited budget, she camped out and cooked meals, enduring anxiety about her future and that of her children. After arriving home empty handed, she worked 10 part-time jobs over 12 months before securing a permanent job in her new field.

Other transitions covered in A COTTON RAT FOR BREAKFAST: ADVENTURES IN MIDLIFE AND BEYOND include Emily's early attempts at becoming a professional speaker and a writer-often amusing--and her bike tour across America and her Appalachian Trail hike in retirement.

This collection of stories is a must-read for anyone who has ever pondered stepping out of their comfort zone. It is a source of inspiration for people in midlife and beyond, helping them to take risks, explore new directions, and move ahead after failures.



Thank you for joining me, Marian @ Krysan

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Reflection 276


Where Things Come From

We put limits on God because we don't realize what He has already done, what His mere Being entails. His mere Being entails the impossible, and after that everything is comparatively straightforward and easy, if I may speak that way. It puts in perspective our headaches and concerns, it really puts them in perspective. It helps one - I am talking about a rather low practical level now - it really helps one to put up with things as they are, alas, when one sees where they come from. Hooray! (Douglas Harding. 1976 Interview.)

Warm Regards

Richard Lang





Josef Locke singing, I'll Walk Beside You


  • I'll walk beside you through the passing years,
  • Through days of sunshine, joy and tears ...





10/10/15 = World Mental Health Day 2015  






651 hits @ 2015-11-06

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