Dianne Parsons has worked alongside her husband Rob for over 30 years with Care for the Family. In her new book and journal, 'You, Me and Coffee', she explores topics like self esteem, loneliness and her experience with postnatal depression and ME.
Jonathan: So this book isn't just a book, is it? It's a journal and it contains stories, quotes and as you've been quoted as saying odd bits from your family scrapbook. What were you trying to set out to do with your book You, Me and Coffee?
Dianne: I wrote some snippets and little stories many years ago and recently I thought to myself I'm coming up for a very big birthday this year, not one I'm looking forward to facing I hasten to add, but I thought it's time I got these little things into a book. So I dug them out and we looked through them and decided we would do this little book of all these stories.
The publishers were amazing; they came up with the idea of making it a journal as well as a book, which I think was a remarkable insight. It's an easy read: you can pick it up; you can put it down. On other pages you can write things down that you've perhaps stored for years that needed to come out.
So that's what I hope, that people will pick it up, find something that they can find in themselves or find some help in there, and also have a laugh and maybe a tear or two. That was the idea of the book for me.
Jonathan: In today's Internet age these are like blogs in a book, aren't they, life blogs particularly in your kind of family journey? In the journal bit, is that where people got something out of a certain blog and they can then build upon that and write what it means for them?
Dianne: That's right. There's a section where there are lots of little stories then there's a blogging section where the publishers have written questions that might be helpful for you to answer on what you've just read. So, that was the idea.
Jonathan: And it's well put together, the quality of it, the colours, the images that you've chosen, the paper. It's a nice quality book; it's the kind of thing you'd want to give as a gift.
Dianne: Absolutely. Something struck me, only a small thing, they even rounded the edges of the book so it's not square and it looks really good. I love the colours they've chosen. I chose the title. I think they've done a magnificent job.
Jonathan: We live in an age of social media and 'likes' seems to be an indicator of friendship nowadays. In the introduction to your book you say that your husband refers to the many conversations you've had with strangers that have turned into them visiting you or conversations in your lounge. What do you think is the importance of face-to-face relationship and taking the time to talk and hear people?
Dianne: Personally I think for me it's incredibly valid.
For instance I was in church some time ago, a lady sat next to me and she said I haven't been for a while and I said it's lovely to see you. She started to get teary and I said do you want to talk and she said no and I said that's fine. Then she immediately turned to me and told me her stepson had died. It was a tragic death and I was going on holiday that week and I said to her look, I'm going away on holiday, would you like to come for a coffee before I go because I really would like to sit down and talk to you.
And so began a long friendship. She came and we sat and we cried together; she talked, I listened and we've been seeing each other for about four years now and have become very close friends.
The art of listening is so valid. In many instances, to say look, I understand, I've been through situations similar to what you're going through and it's good to just sit and talk. Face to face is so much more valuable than perhaps on a telephone or on twitter or whatever one uses these days. That's what I love about being with people.
Jonathan: With things like Facebook and so on, we call people our 'friends' just because they are another name on our list. What does friendship mean to you?