Friday, July 11, 2008

Update: Leuven, Barcelona, EFT-1 & Norwich

Entry for 10 July 2008:

On the train back from the Norwich PCE 2008 conference.

What an intense past several weeks it has been! In fact, it’s really been a full month since I last had the time to look up and really reflect on what it happening. (That was on the train coming back from the last ERG meeting in London.) Since then, it seems I have been constantly on the run:

First, to Belgium to present a case study from the Social Anxiety Project at the Flemish Person-Centred/Experiential Association in Leuven.

I came home for a day, and then Diane, Kenneth and I were off to Barcelona for the annual international conference of the Society for Psychotherapy Research. This began with me receiving the Lifetime Distinguished Research Career Award. I posted a press release-type statement on this on the blog at the time, along with the poem I wrote for the occasion. As the poem indicates, this was huge for me, and gave me a real sense of satisfaction. Fortunately, we’re only allowed to do one first-authored presentation at SPR, and the two sessions I was discussant for were on the same day as my HSCED presentation, so the rest of the conference was fairly light. This meant that I was able to get in some sight-seeing with Diane and Kenneth on the Friday, when we took the train down the coast to the ancient Roman city of Tarraca, now known as Tarragona, where we spent the day visiting the ruins of the colloseum, circus (chariot race track) and Forum; the slow pace of life in Tarragona was a relief after the bustle of Barcelona. The next day my Australian colleague Margot Schofield, and I also visited the Gaudi’s fantastical, visionary cathedral, Familia Sagrada. I found his art nouveau, organic style to be a more exuberant expression of the sentiments behind Glasgow’s Charles Rennie McIntosh’s building and design work, but on a much grander, more fantastical scale.

The week after SPR was spent doing admin, seeing my research clients, and saying goodbye to my colleague Tracey. In the midst of this, my 15-year-old nephew Luke arrived for a visit. To provide him and Kenneth a Neolithic Experience, we took the two of them to Cairnpapple Hill, south of Linlithgow, overlooking much a central Scotland. There we tried to decipher 3000 years of ritual space (post holes for great wooden posts) and burials. The latter consisted of cairns on top of cairns, finally ending with a set of early Christian graves strategically placed to break the ritual circle. We clambered over the site, climbing down into the large cairn/dome reconstructed on top of several earlier burial cairns. The guide docent told us about the various visitors to the site, including druids and seekers of ley lines. The taxi driver had told us there was a stone circle nearby, but when we asked the guide, she pointed it out to us on the next hill, disdainfully noting that it had had been put up as a prank by the farmer’s sons.

Then the EFT-1 training was upon us. Jeanne Watson arrived with her partner Derek, and we worked flat out through Thursday, revising the materials and generally trying to stay one step ahead of the course. Thursday night we went down to the Star Folk Club to hear my favorite Canadian folksinger, James Keelaghan, give a lovely show, complete with Hillcrest Mine, a song that I once spent 5 years trying to track down after I heard it on the radio on a Canadian folk music program. For our Saturday Adventure, we took the ferry to Great Cumbrae, which we walked most of the way around while being rained on and blown to bits. This gave Luke an authentic Scottish Experience (he is probably grateful for his return to the baking heat of California). A high point was a stop we made at the Cathedral of the Islands, the smallest cathedral in the UK, a cute, miniature church (originally built as a chapel), with all the usual cathedral-type things (e.g., Lady Chapel), but on a smaller scale. We dropped by the tea room, and eventually persuaded the church warden to give us a bit of tour, so that I could determine its appropriateness for retreats and training weekends.

After that, I was off again, this time to Norwich for the 2008 PCE (Person-Centred Experiential therapy) conference, a very busy, intense time, which I’ll write about separately.

The cumulative effect off all this is one of exhaustion. I can hardly wait to get back to Glasgow and fall into my bed tonight. I was so eager to get away, that I caught an earlier train from Norwich and am now wending my way circuitously through central England via Peterborough (where I got off the train and immediately reboarded after checking the train schedules), Grantham, mostly distinguished by the large number of intercity trains that speed through at a great rate of speed on their way to and from London. After raining all week, the day started out in Norwich this morning in a glorious mix of cloud and sun and a cool breeze; now of course it is increasingly clouding over as we head north toward Scotland. I will have two more changes of train: In York and Edinburgh, before I reach Glasgow, but I am very relieved just to be on my way home, and am looking forward to a couple of days off from rushing around giving and preparing talks.

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