In 2014 the college created Serene Spaces – areas of the college designed to help students and visitors take a deep breath and relax. The project is a collaboration between the Student Support team, the college Chaplain and our students. If you happen to visit one of these spaces, you will see a QR code by a bench. This can be scanned by a smart phone or tablet which brings you to these pages where you can discover the inspiration behind the choice of venue. This could be quotes or sayings that our students find valuable.
You are braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
And smarter than you think
A.A.Milne (Winnie the Pooh)
These words inspire me because if you are feeling down it makes you realise how much you under-estimate yourself. If you remember this quote and stick by it, the limits of what you can do are endless!
Look ahead, look around you, you are sheltered here, behind you is a bank with plants, either side of you bushes and trees, in front of you framing the lake more bushes and trees. It can seem quite murky maybe; maybe it can be a shelter from bad weather, or a place of shade on a hot day. Whatever you feel, this bench and the others around the college are a place of shelter for you to come to and find shelter. But also a place to find perspective. Look ahead of you – you see the lake framed by plants, there may be a swan or duck swimming by. Let what you see speak to you.
Maybe depending on how you feel, the lake has the sun shining on it or it is brighter space compared to the murky place you are in. The sun, a candle, the torch on your phone, all can bring relief, hope, and guidance. The dark or the murky can bring you down, but when there is light, there is always hope, there is always a solution.
Maybe, what is ahead of you is scary, and you prefer being sheltered from what is ahead. That is ok, it is perfectly normal to be worried or afraid of what is out there, it is ok to be worried about the what ifs. It is what you do with them that matters, do you let the fear guide you and keep from taking risks, or do you come out from the shelter and walk forward in the sun? Failure or fear in whatever form it takes is hard to deal with. If you have failed, what have you learned from the failure and what can you do about not repeating the same mistake? If it is fear, then find help, you will not be alone, there are people who can help and will understand, come out of the dark into the light.
Don’t worry about failures, worry about chances you miss when you don’t even try.
Congratulations, you have found possibly the hardest bench to find. We call this area the secret garden. The reason? It just feels like it is the sort of place you can come to in secret, the sort of place you want to come to when you don’t want anyone else to find you.
We all have secrets or problems or worries, some are big, and some are small. This is a place where we can come to admit our secrets, problems and worries to ourselves – to be honest with ourselves, not to hide from them, but admit them.
If you have a secret, a problem or a worry, how do you deal with it? Do you keep it close to your chest? If you do make sure it does not make you ill, any one of those things can cause stress and anxiety. Do you want to talk to someone about it? A problem/secret shared does help.
A secret, a problem or a worry can make you feel like a caged animal, and sitting here on a cold stone bench enclosed by the Leylandii bushes, looking up slightly to see the trees, can make the feeling worse. You can feel that you are enclosed by it. But look up, higher than the bushes, higher than the trees, see the sky, look for the birds, look at the freedom they have. Listen for the wind in the trees, it goes where it wants, it is free. Don’t let worries, fears or secrets constrict you. Leave them here in the secret garden, decide to face or deal with them, talk to someone, and be free to be the person you are meant to be.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
Who are you not to be great?
I think a quote from Mandela would be fitting for the college as he promoted education as the most powerful tool we have.
He was one of the most inspirational people that will ever live in our lifetime and I think the college should mark his death and celebrate his struggle for equality.
This college is open to everyone and has a very diverse range of students and Mandela’s message of equality and tolerance is as important here as in South Africa.
The quote reminds me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to and encouraged me to start my course at Kingston Maurward. Everyone can do great things, no matter your age, race, ability or social situation, I think this quote will remind students of that.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
Look at what is around you. Look ahead of you. Can you compare what you see around you to how you feel? How does this space make you feel?
You are surrounded by trees, you have a view in front of you, stop and notice what is above and to the side.
Depending on the season, the trees will be shedding their leaves, or be bare as its winter; they may be the showing signs of new life in the spring or be covered in leaves in the summer. Remember, like the seasons you see around you things change, things happen and things move on. Look around, try to notice the small things, struggling to break through. Listen, what can you hear?
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
A few feet away is the busyness of the minibus park, it is possible you will hear noise, voices raised, laughing, shouting, talking, minibus engines idling. You may feel isolated from that. You may need some space from that. Sit still and look ahead, try to block the distractions of the noise away. Look at the view. Sometimes our problems can seem like that noise, niggling, always there in the background, but we need at times to stop letting our problems niggle at us, we need to raise our eyes to the hills, to look at the bigger picture. Look at the view. What do you dream about? What is your bigger picture? What do you need to do to realise your dream. Look at the trees in the field just to your left, they have carried on growing despite what goes on around them. What do you need to do?
Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
Joshua J. Marine
In 2014, believe it or not the area near your feet was under water. It was a huge area of water that appeared and then disappeared. A flood is news, but once the water has gone, it is no longer interesting – the water has left devastation, a huge tidy up is required, patience is needed, and things can seem to go extremely slowly in getting back to normal. In life things happen which we don’t expect, it takes time to adjust, it takes time to get back to normal. Things may never get back to how they were or may do so extremely slowly. Look around you, you are sitting on a bench in a space, behind you is the accommodation blocks, to your left is the LRC, people may be walking by you on the path ahead, tractors or cars going past on the road. No one is stopping to look at the flood that happened here, they are moving on. Accepting that something has happened, that life has changed is not easy, but it is part of life, how are you coping with it? See how life is carrying on around you. Think about the quote, if you struggling with coping with change, seek help.
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
If it has been raining recently, it is possible that as you sit here, the water is flowing under the bridge at a good rate, if it has been dry, then the water will not be as fast. But rain or shine, the water flows away. If you can, listen for the noise the water makes as it flows. Listen for the wind in the trees above you. Let your senses come alive as you look about you. Too often we don’t allow ourselves to sit and enjoy what is around us. Let this scene talk to you. If it helps, think of the water, cleansing you, or floating your problems away; the wind, cooling or strong, refreshing; the trees tall and strong, coming from nothing more than a small seed. What speaks to you here? What makes you walk away from here feeling better about yourself or a situation?