Welcome to my blog

First blog post photo

Here’s a place to play with and pursue ideas, theories, philosophies, stories, and all things academic and creative, about wonder, awe, and the world around you. Please join me for what I hope will be a wide-ranging and fascinating dialogue. You are most welcome here.

The main focus of wonder and awe in my current life as a PhD student is within the context of clinical care.  Wonder and awe are words I have chosen for my own thesis work, but they are deeply tied to other words and meanings like:  amazing, astonishing, epiphanic, life-altering, loving, magical, marvellous, meaningful, mystical, mysterious, oceanic, profound, religious, spiritual, transfiguring, transformational, transmuting. The working title of my thesis is The ethics of wonder in community mental health care (please read more in the “about” section) and I’ll have much more to say about this in posts to come. But in addition to my academic work, this blog will document my life and process as a student living in this tiny little medieval town called Durham, in the North East of England, far from my home and native land of Vancouver, British Columbia.

As a Canadian, a 60 year old woman, a feminist therapist, a traveler, a writer/poet, and full-time PhD student at Durham University, it would be fair to say that wonder plays a central role in my life. Not just as an academic exercise, but as the ground of being I’ve pursued throughout my life. Chasing wonder is the name of this blog and represents the most precious legacy left me by my mother, Muriel Irene, who knew much about wonder; how to find it, create it, recognize and appreciate it. “Listen”, she would say, smiling,  enthralled, while the Canada geese flew overhead and their rough song announced itself dimly through the kitchen windows on an October day. “Taste this! Smell this! Feel this! Look at this! “Try this!” she said, again and again across the months and years of her long life, always with the huskiness of recognition in her voice that translated her wonder, or awe, for something priceless that had to be shared. My mother instilled in me a drive for this “true thing” wherein the epiphanic dwells, where transformation invites or overwhelms, where peerless beauty may be found, and where connection happens again and again, in all its impossible freshness, as if for the first time.  It seems to me that there is no such thing as “loneliness” in the thrall of wonder, no matter how pedestrian its source; a stranger’s smile, a mouthful of warm bread, a chickadee eating crumbs from my hand. Of course, there are many more profound ways into wonder; prayer and meditation, music, art, dance, poetry, architecture, nature…sex. The list is almost endless. Whatever we call it, it seems that this thing called “love” is at its core. But that’s for another day.

I’d be very pleased to hear from people with similar and overlapping interests. If you’re working, writing or studying in the fields of medical humanities, medical ethics, spirituality/theology and mental health, psychiatry, psychology, counselling, clinical practice, mental illness, and community mental health care you are most welcome here. Individuals seeking to challenge, change, and reform ideas about what constitutes mental illness and ethical care are particularly welcome. Among other things, this blog aims to examine and critique the current state and industry of “mental health care”, so mental health activists of all stripes are very welcome here.

I look forward to sharing other bits and pieces of my sometimes astonishing, sometimes mundane daily life here in Durham, but most importantly, to hearing from you.

Thanks for dropping by!

Catherine

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