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The White Paper - fund-holding by another name?

I don't know about you, but what with austerity economics and a coalition government I am feeling distinctly anxious. Talking to my practice colleagues out there in primary care land the future looks just as uncertain as in higher education.

Is the new White Paper just fund-holding by another name and the return of 1990s competition and posturing or is it something more?

I know that Lynn Young and Marilyn Eveleigh are going to write pieces on the White Paper for the next issue of NiP and I'll leave that to the experts, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to explore how we might deal with these anxious times and maybe find time for ourselves to reflect and learn from the turmoil around us.

I am not starting from a the high moral ground here and suggesting that I am far removed from this angst - far from it; but I see writing this Soapbox as an ideal opportunity to take a few minutes out.

I hear myself recommending to all around me that writing is good for you and that taking time to do it is therapeutic, but I am not always that good at doing it myself. However, sitting writing this reminds me that each time I do take time to sit and write, even for a short while, a wave of calm washes over me.  

Try it - sit at a sheet of paper and start writing the first words that come into your head - don't censor yourself - just keep writing lists. Do this for a couple of minutes and then start exploring relationships between the words you have written. Draw patterns or link them with arrows. Now how do you feel? Chances are you feel a bit calmer and you might feel less frantic - practice this on a couple of occasions each day and soon you have a "writing habit" - bet you didn't think you would. It is a great way to take "time out" but still be present and alert to all around you.

I am always surprised by effectiveness of the simple approaches and have to remind myself to take comfort in the experience. Every time I try and sit down and write a scholarly text as befits my position in higher education I find myself unable to take any step forward.

We all have stumbling blocks in our lives and sometimes we need a bulldozer to get them out of the way and other times it might seem that gentle chipping might be the best approach. Whatever the approach might be we need time to take a step back and review what is happening.

I don't know how many times I have to tell myself that confronting things head on and making a lot of fuss hardly ever works for me. I teach reflective practice (if it can be taught) and I talk about it a lot. What I need is to pay attention and recognise how much I am learning by actually doing reflective practice - stop being quite so tough on myself, value what I can do instead of comparing myself unfavourably with others around me.

I am sure there is lesson on life there - aren't you?