Elaine: Red Wine Drinking Wrangler - Toward Community

Elaine: Red Wine Drinking Wrangler


So what am I wrangling?

When I was 16rs old I remember being sure – I knew what I wanted from life and what I wanted to be. I might not have known where I wanted to be but there was no uncertainty over where I knew I did not want to be. Now I am 48yrs old – surely a wise woman? Someone who has seen a bit of the world – `been round the block’ so to speak. Sorry to all those waiting worldly wisdom, but hand on heart, as I grow longer in years I grow further from my inner truth. I question – I constantly wrangle with myself.

I wrangle – I wrangle over whether I am doing the right thing. I wrangle over whether I am bringing up my children properly; whether I should have paid into a pension; whether I should have got a mortgage; travelled more; tried to make it as an artist; moved to the country; raised chickens; started a café; that I’m now middle class as I went to college and got a degree, rather than working class; that I sold out; that I abandoned my roots … I feel my age – but having read William’s words I realised there is a wrangling going on across the ages, in many locations and it has nothing to do with who we are, where we are or what we have or haven’t experienced. It’s our internal dialogue – that wrangling some of us have – our never ending questioning – looking for our own meaningfulness.

Coming to terms with your inner voice is not so much a battle as a wrangle. Finding your place is an ongoing project. Finding the words to describe it all is a wrangle too. The next trending idea for an alternative lifestyle comes along and I often leap on it with relieved enthusiasm to find out it’s not quite `that’ which I mean. Living a `mindful’ life has caught my mind (so to speak). Sounds like what I am wrangling with – a way to come to terms with things, acceptance, thoughtfulness, slowing down and noticing small things, being at one with nature, being more in control of my life. Is this perhaps a practical solution? Then on closer inspection the wrangling starts. If it’s about noticing things for yourself, an experiential activity, then why so many website with “how to become mindful?” The ABC of how to do it; The Dummies Guide; a conference you can attend; a video you can watch; a flow chart – not sure that fits with the ethos. Do I really need to eat more slowly, watch less TV, and meditate daily? The wrangling continues.

My only saving grace seems to be that of my community – other wranglers out there. I am beginning to feel we may be able to help each other more. Community is all around us. We need each other to survive; we are drawn to each other. My community is made up of travelling wranglers – some have come over long distances (like me good friend Fathima from Sri Lanka); some have come through major health scares (as did Annette from Aberdeen); some have been through torrid relationships (like Christine from Barnsley); some are new in this land (like Zhenya from Bulgaria); some live next door (like Kat or Menyee from Manchester). But we have found strength in our community – the one we have created by a smile, by a chance meeting, by being brave and saying yes to that initial invitation to be more involved with one another. A bottle of red wine shared over the kitchen table by fellow wranglers could be my salvation. If you are ever this way, remember I find it hard to say “no” (I’ve wrangled with that one for years!) and I have come to terms with saying “yes” which can lead to a much fuller life and sense of community, more dust in the house, but more red wine drinking, so maybe bring two bottles with you.

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Elaine Eland

Elaine Eland is a development worker at the St. John's Community Centre in Manchester, UK. She develops activities for families and children within St. John's Centre and events and activities that use St. John's Church, in order to encourage wider community use of the space for activities other than worship.

6 thoughts on “Elaine: Red Wine Drinking Wrangler

  • 26th June 2015 at 11:56 pm

    fabulous pxx

  • 29th June 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Nice article, thanks for sharing your thoughts! What you’re describing is the challenges of living a conscious life in which you reflect on your choices, and value that reflection even though that can bring its own difficulties. The conclusion to simply keep on living is the same the world over, regardless of what we have done in the past…keep on living, dreaming, drinking wine and loving the life that we have. Every second, really, is a chance to celebrate that. Bon voyage!

    • 3rd July 2015 at 8:58 am

      Thank you Mark, it’s sometimes all it takes to keep going to hear that you haven’t got it completely wrong, especially on dark days.

  • 2nd July 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks Elaine. I appreciate your words. Although I’m constantly wrangling with the reasons for my wrangling, I believe it has something to do with the external pressure from society that tells us to win, succeed, do things the standard way so we can keep the economy going in a very particular way and our inner world telling us to do what we’re passionate about. However we aren’t given so much support to figure out the latter… Although I regularly forget it, I feel that doing things that fulfill us, is living how we should, whatever the outcome. Out of interest, how does your job utilise your best skills, get you excited and fulfill your ethical values?

    • 3rd July 2015 at 9:13 am

      I somtimes forget what my driving force is or was on how I got to be doing this job. I do love my job and most of the time feel lucky that I can get away with directing my own work. The danger of this is that I never seem to have a long term strategy – or so I feel. This means that although I can live for the “now” and plan for about 6 months in advance I never seem to have the motivation to see through a longer term project that in reality would make long term differences to community rather than just celebrate community in the moment. I get excited by bouncing off other people. I get excited by my own ideas and if other people give me the permission to go ahead – by offering funding or organisational backing, then this carries me forward. I get excited by other people’s ideas and visions and like to carry them forward and usually enhance them with my own input (well I like to think I enhance them!). I often feel like I fell into this job, as I trained as an artist orignially not as a community worker. I fell into youth and community work in the need to make money to pay for an art course at college, having to work part time round college times – it paid £5p/h rather than the £3.70 at Pizza Hut!!! But I forgot that I did have a moment in my life – a pretty low period of my life – when I had finished college and ended up on a ET scheme (government training scheme in the 80’s) as I couldn’t find work. I had exhausted work placements with my unacceptabel behaviour and ended up at the end of the line at an adult education centre – for those with no qualifications; leaving prison; with mental health problems; women returners; those seen not to be contributing `properly’ to society. In this environment I met some young school leavers – 16yrs old and we became close friends – I realised that they taught me a lot – that being in that centre i saw how education and being a comomunity together imporved their lot (and mine). Maybe that is why I have subconciously ended up here in a communtiy centre – working with the community. I get excited by other people doing well, enjoying themselves when they have not, trying new experiences, `getting on’ in life. Wow where did all that come from? Thank you David – it obviously helps me wrangle my thoughts into some sort of order when I write it down – I didn’t know that would happen! On to work for the day and an update for this blog at the weekend! Elaine x

      • 3rd July 2015 at 9:32 am

        Beautiful words! I often find myself in a similar position – the one providing the platform for others to do good things. We need enablers, facilitators and motivators to create the conditions for creative expression and co-operation. Given that you are clearly a very creative person, I imagine you have an awareness of the conditions necessary for creativity and are in the position to help others realise their visions. Thank you for being that person.


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