Seeking out soulful

I learned three things about myself on the tram this morning.

I am naturally curious about life and that I’m actually getting more curious as I get older. This, combined with a natural tendancy I have to second guess everything about me, and to question the whole basis of my existence on a regular basis, means that I will keep growing and evolving throughout my life. Yep. No rest for me …

I read a marvellous article commenting on the new Meryl Streep film, Suffragette, and came across a wonderful woman – a champion of women’s rights – called … wait for it … Sojourner Truth. Can you think of a more fabulous name?

Naturally I Googled her. Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

Whilst I like nothing better than a bit of fluff reading on my commute, (and before bed, and at key times during the day when I actually should be doing something), my brain does like to be stimulated, challenged and sometimes even confounded by analysis, opinion and facts from people who know more than I do on a number of subjects. This morning it was feminism and the interaction between race, class and gender …

I hate having to put my runners on at tram stops and will forego a morning stroll through the Treasury Gardens if it means I have to do so. Ah, self-awareness, it’s a wonderful thing.

Meandering in one’s brain is a wonderful way to spend time away from one’s desk, as is seeking out one’s own favourite haunts … what I would call “soulful places” where one feels at home.

Wonderfully, I’ve managed to find a place that combines soulful with the idea of growth – where the coffee is fine, deep bodied and vaguely liquorice-scented, the brownies are velvety and chocolatey. This place gives vulnerable young people the opportunity to grow, develop new skills and get that elusive thing – self-confidence – that enables each of us to forge our own way through life.

I’ve been going there for months, and I’ve see the effect that consistent, gentle training can have on people who start out on things like operating the till with a kind of lovely, honest diffidence, to complete mastery over a matter of months. (Wish I could operate a till … or even count!)

So, if you’re ever at the top end of Little Lonsdale, you may find the Ways and Means to get there for yourself.

Until next time.
Maria XX

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