Ode to Ali

This month’s Bristol Wellbeing College blog is dedicated to our creator and Fairy Blogmother, Ali.

Ali started the blog back in 2018 and has since used these pages to cover everything from stress to sleep via lockdown, art, scent and summertime.

The blog has been her baby, but as her attention is required by an actual human baby for a while, she has entrusted it to me.

I’m Chrissy, a former music journalist, concert promoter, writer and graphic designer who, following a bipolar diagnosis and Pretty Rough Time, Actually™ joined the Wellbeing College to learn how to rediscover my creativity and love for life despite my new limitations.

I first met Ali when I was persuaded to join Poem Brut, a course she took the lead on alongside poet and visual artist Paul Hawkins (more from Paul below).

Poem Brut taught me how to express myself without thinking, leaning into my instincts and trusting that what I had to say was worth hearing. The healing, encouraging group vibe very much made the course, and Ali and Paul were the facilitators of this.

Ali, who once compared me to a very poised, absolutely furious cat during a writing exercise, has the kind of personality that makes you feel not only welcome, but needed. No human (or cat) left behind, she laughs at herself when you’re feeling vulnerable, and holds a safe space for anyone that needs it.

She is also the queen of making sure that everyone gets their say! So here we have a selection of words, poems and images (although no interpretive dance for some reason?) from some of the other people that Ali has helped, worked and learned with.

Vicky

“Ali. What can I say?  She helped me by welcoming me and accepting me as I was when I was at rock bottom. Her friendliness, reliability and acceptance enabled me to open up and it was the first place I was able to come back online. 

“Outside the sessions, Ali was someone I could turn to and ask for guidance.  She helped me pick myself up and become involved in ways that have been life changing for me.”

Val

“Ali, I would like to say you have a wonderful enabling spirit and from the moment I first communicated with you to the last – quite recently – you have always gone the extra mile, easing the path of enquiry and fully acknowledging any concerns as well as finding creative solutions to any problem.

“You listened to, and respected every one of us, enabling a bond of trust and inclusivity to develop so that everyone felt safe to share their story in whatever way felt appropriate. I can’t remember which images you liked in particular so here’s a couple that I hope will suffice.”

Chelsea

“Ali is always the soft, soothing energy you need.

Never too busy for you, even though you know she is always very busy.

She’s that warm, comforting light you feel when you meditate or drink that hot cup of tea on a cold day.

Bringing life into the world is such a joy and I know that Ali will be a wonderful mother. We are all so happy for her and she deserves only the best.

Sending positive vibes and blessing to the new little bairn getting ready to meet the world!”

Paul

Erika

“Ali, you’re cooler than Debbie!”

Luke

“I have volunteered in Ali’s workshops over the last year and found her a very conscientious and supportive individual (as are all tutors). Ali cultivates creativity in clients and myself.

“For me personally, I have grown in confidence in creative activities, and do this now for fun, which is also what her clients experience.”  

The Team

 A collection of individual thoughts and gratitude combined into one almost Borg-like statement by the lovely Delyth

The calm beneath the swell of waves and the still voice amidst amplification,

Rooted and free, passionate, and chilled,

Innovative in using creativity to aid wellbeing and bring joy in abundance.

(Courtesy of the creativity, and warmth you have generated in your Bristol Wellbeing College colleagues)

Thank you Ali, at once for being the steadying hand, and the resourceful, vibrant spark in our team. You welcome learners and staff alike with your consistent kindness, unlimited curiosity, and wonder at life.

When asking the team to team to reflect on their Ali-shaped thoughts, your ability to inspire adventure, and courage while being grounded and consistent was echoed from all quarters. You are sorely missed, and we all wish you so much joy in your next chapter.

Whilst myself and the BWC blog are starting to get a feel for each other now (circling each other, sniffing etc), we welcome support from learners, staff and other contributors to remain interesting and fun to read.

Get in touch with any ideas, comments, images or interpretive dances (please) if you’d like to be involved in our ongoing development!

Next month the blog will offer a discussion on the Wellbeing College’s latest course – Personality (dis)Order, and perspectives on the move back to classroom learning after so long online.

Have a great month.

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