The Art of ‘Not Thinking’….

It’s when the ocean is at its most choppy, and the waves are hurtling to the shore, that it deposits the most beautiful shells at our feet…

During lockdown, with all the stresses and strains involved, walking in the countryside has been a salvation for many of us. Walking up hill and down dale, I have found helpful spaces in which to walk, and think, and sometimes, not to think!

Not thinking can be hard! Where do we start with ‘not thinking’ when all the days thoughts swirl round and round in our heads, and the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ won’t be stilled? There is certainly a skill to learn, to apply to ‘not thinking.’

Left to one’s own devices, it can be easy to listen to those churning thoughts that bob up to the surface in an unwelcome fashion……

So I wanted to concentrate on ways of ‘not thinking’ – or perhaps thinking in a different way. Taking time to focus on the small but important things in life. Then I thought about the fact that thinking can be good even when there is turbulence. We may like calm seas, but actually, it’s when the ocean is at its most choppy and the waves are hurtling to the shore that it deposits the most beautiful shells at our feet. As long as we can look at problems from within a deep and calm mind we can find the strength to cope with what life throws at us.

I must have been so busy trying to think about the art of ‘not thinking’ that sadly I hadn’t noticed that most of long blog I had written above hadn’t been saved! I was pleased with it too. I felt I had some real gems to share with you. I put my head in my hands. I used some bad language! Then I thought – perhaps there is a reason for that, and I tried to calm down.

So, dear reader, this isn’t the whole blog I had written for you today. I had written about how we can always feel better after a walk outside. And how we can feel better if we talk things over with a kind friend. But I have written a poem for you that I hope might help get my point across. For those days when our thoughts get the better of us, I hope my words help a little bit!

When Nature Smiles

'Oh, my!' She said,
My mind is just a jumble
Of broken thoughts,
And morbid fears that I will stumble.
What if I can't find a way
To calm my heart
And stop my world 
From falling apart?'
'Come and walk'
Beckoned the sun,
'And just talk'
Said the wise one;
'Tell your woes to the trees
And they will float
Away on the breeze.'
And so she did just that,
And nature smiled
As she sat
Curled up like a child.
'Oh, my soul is free!' She said,
'Today is a new day'
And she waved to the sun
And went on her way.

L.M.H.

Nearly Going Somewhere…

Can you imagine yourself looking out to sea?

I guess we are all missing our holidays at the moment. We still aren’t sure when we can book to go travel to sunnier climes. Perhaps it won’t be too long. Who knows?

I remember years ago reading an article called ‘The Art of Nearly Going Somewhere ‘ and it really resonated with me. The writer described how he liked looking at travel brochures and imagining himself setting off on exotic travels. He enjoyed picturing himself having many different adventures and experiences. He would spend lots of time thinking and planning. He felt the sand between his toes, he bought the tee-shirt and drank the Sangria. He was lost in blissful daydream for a while. But then he looked around him, took in his familiar surroundings. His home. And he realised, he liked home best. He was happy with his lot. The art of ‘nearly going somewhere’ was enough to keep him happy.

Sometimes, I think the planning and imagining of an event is as much fun as actually taking part. We can sit at home and just imagine the good bits, without experiencing the airport delays, the sunburn, the mosquitoes …..Ok, I know, you’d still like a real holiday! But here’s a poem about ‘nearly going somewhere’, just for a bit of fun. And you never know, just by imagining something wonderful, it may become reality!

Wishing you a very blessed and happy Easter.

Nearly Going Somewhere


I looked at sunny skies
And oceans blue,
Ancient relics
With a golden hue,
Cobbled streets 
Where we could roam
And enjoy a scene 
So far from home.
I saw places where we could stop 
And watch the sun set
On a fun-filled day
We wouldn’t forget. 
I could smell the blossom
From the flowering trees,
Feel the warmth
Of the gentle breeze.
I could imagine the markets 
With exotic wares,
See water parks,
Bazaars and fairs.
There was time to take a breath,
And focus weary eyes
On new horizons
With the hint of surprise.
Oh, how I enjoyed leafing through
The glossy catalogue
As I sat alongside you,
Dreaming of a different view.
Then we made coffee
And put the catalogue away,
Feeling more than happy
We had seen the world in a day.

L.M.H.

A Sympathetic Voice

Have you been bombarded with the news this week?

So far, this week seems to have been one of highly publicised televised interviews and sensational headlines, followed by opinionated spats and disagreements on various news programmes. It can be hard to change focus and to stay grounded, for unless one sits at the bottom of the garden in a teeppee listening to the sounds of nature (actually I would love a teepee!) one cannot avoid the news altogether. I wouldn’t want to wade in with comments about ‘that interview’ for I cannot begin to know the reasons for other people’s trials and tribulations. What has occurred to me though, is how complicated life becomes, when the need to be right, or follow protocol, or make people obey the rules, gets in the way of everyday life.

Perhaps we should all take a step back and think about the simple acts of kindness that sometimes get lost along the way – perhaps because of busyness or stress or life’s pressures. I recently attended an outpatient appointment at my local hospital, and to say I was treated with briskness is an understatement. In a procedure lasting just over half an hour I was spoken to only once or twice, and that was just to give me instructions. Just a few kind words and a short explanation of what was going on would have made such a difference and really improved my experience. I wasn’t treated badly, but I was treated with indifference. I do understand the NHS is under great stress. I used to be a nurse myself, and I know what a great job a lot of hospital staff do, but that day, kindness and interaction was lacking. Just a couple of minutes chat and a smile was all that was needed. Would that have held up the day too much?

I give the above example not to criticise but to illustrate how it is the small things in life that help us keep going and feel better. Life is short, and we need to be feel cared for and we need to treat people, and be treated, generously.

Recently, I have lost three friends from various walks of life. I have walked around with sadness and grief on my shoulders. Memories of the past have woken me in the night and I have tossed and turned, and pictured myself as a teenager once more, laughing with a friend who has now said goodbye. I have realised that all that matters is how we love, and that we will be remembered for the good things we have done, the friendships we have formed and the way we still managed to carry on and be ourselves even when facing adversity.

If only we could all cut through the wasted time that comes about from looking in the wrong direction or from dwelling on hurts that we could just let go, then we could make the most of the precious time we have.

Huge misunderstandings could be put right and hurts could be healed if those who had the power, reached out and said, ‘What can we do to make things better?’



A Sympathetic Voice

Lately it has come to mind
It is most important to be kind,
To take a moment, and make a choice
And comfort with a sympathetic voice.

In this complex world we keep afloat,
Care for ourselves without rocking the boat,
Weigh up the politics, try and do what is right,
Find something we believe in and follow the light.

But too many times, on a solitary track
Have we passed on by, and not looked back
Not knowing the difference we could have made
To the person standing alone and afraid?

And after frantic years of business deals,
With arrogant managers kicking their heels,
Would anyone look back and say
'I'm glad I acted mean today?'


L.M.H 


Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3

When we love and treat each other with the utmost care and attention, the little things that bother us seem far less overwhelming. And perhaps we should listen twice as much as we talk.

Where Did Yesterday Go?

Do you ever think about the passing of time? We all mutter those phrases about time passing – ask ourselves ‘where did those days, those years go?’ Time passes in strange ways I think. Especially now, when a lot of us have been enforced to spend our time in different ways than we are used to. It’s as though days morph into one another. Time is moving slowly, yet paradoxically, flying by. There is that strange phenomenon too, about clock watching making time stand still -perhaps when you are waiting patiently for an event and the hands on the clock don’t seem to move, and the times you are waiting for the kettle to boil and a minute seems like an hour. Or when you are waiting to hear an answer to an important question. And think about the times you lay awake at night wrestling with a problem that has taken on momentous proportions in the darkness; sleep will not come and it seems like the morning will never arrive.

I was looking for some essays and blogs about time and how we view it. Interestingly enough, there are many blogs about time management out there. Many suggestions for making your life better, strategies for maximising productivity and taking control. Suggestions for finding ways of being more efficient. Okay, it may be helpful to organise our time and keep a watch on how we spend the hours in our day, but that isn’t really what I was thinking about here. When we enter the Golden Gates, do you think there will be someone standing by with a report card, ready to tick the box marked ‘efficiency’? Or the one marked ‘excellent strategist’? These are probably useful attributes but not what really what make us tick (okay, dreadful pun).

Right now, is the clock that reliable anyway? Perhaps it wears two faces; ‘objective time’ – the time of timetables and calendars, and ‘lived’ time – time where we live and love and feel and act. It seems to me that the familiarity of the days is re-setting our clocks somehow. We don’t have so much use for objective time at the moment, even though we normally seemed to be ruled by it, but we are noticing our lived time more than normal. We notice the difference more; the change in the way our days are passing, and perhaps feel a strangeness and a discomfort. But actually, the calendar now is not too relevant, except in certain circumstances where we still need to keep to essential appointments. Of course, we all need to refer to our diary’s at times, but perhaps we will come to realise that timetables and charts and routines are external inventions thrust upon us, some of which we realise we can live without. We might even say that the pandemic has given us an insight into the fundamental nature of time.

 Yesterday 

 I must have got up yesterday 
 And the day before that,
 Had the morning cup of tea
 And the usual chat.
 I must have looked at the sunrise
 Checked the skies for rain,
 Avoided listening to the news;
 The same old sad refrain.
 I must have cleaned
 And cooked and swept
 And dusted the corners
 Where the umbrellas were kept.
 And I must have rumbled
 Through my mind
 A thousand thoughts 
 That were left behind
 From the day before
 And the day before that;
 A veritable swirl
 Of this and that.
 And I must have gone to bed once more
 As the day turned into night,
 And realised another day had gone
 As I turned off the light.
 And as I lay upon my side
 A lonely tear
 I tried to hide,
 Along with the growing fear
 That I can’t turn back the tide.
 But, then I must have noticed
 The moon was full and round,
 And Its silver face was smiling,
 Sending moonbeams to the ground.
 He didn’t question if he should shine
 Or worry about the passing time,
 Or ships that pass us in the night
 Or whether 
 What he did was right.
 And so I must have settled down to sleep
 As the Universe took charge,
 And I dreamed of all the days I’d keep
 Filled to the brim with stars.

L.M.H 
 

 

A Tapestry of Love for Valentine’s Day…

Celebrations seem different these days….

Today I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. I wish you love and roses and heart shaped boxes. I am aware, though, especially at the moment, it can be a hard day to get through. Sometimes it appears that the whole world seems to evolve around couples; perhaps you have lost someone or are alone because of quarantine restrictions. Or you may be missing family members. I know I am! Whatever the reason, if you are alone, or missing loved ones, I hope that you can find some comfort today.

Tapestry of Love 
 

 

 Today we may think of roses
 Tied with utmost care
 Or a heart shaped box
 With treasure waiting there
 To fill a day so different - 
 Yet still somehow it’s here,
 And it’s a good a plan as any
 To celebrate this year.
 

 But what happens when the night falls
 And we are haunted by the feeling
 That normal is out of sight
 And other souls are reeling
 When there is no more light? 
 When there is always someone missing someone,
 And only a collage made of memories
 To remind us of the sun. 
 

 Imagine the tapestry of love
 Endless yet light
 Woven with gold
 Shimmering bright,
 Covering all those in the darkest corners
 And narrowest places,
 Like a blanket of peace
 For all those it embraces.
 

 
 Wear the tapestry of love
 It is ‘one size fits all’ -
 It will give you comfort
 If darkness were to fall. 
 And you will believe, and find 
 Kindness is shining through,
 Because others will
 Be wearing it too.
 

 

 (C) Lyn Halvorsen 
 

 

 

 

The Homeless Man

‘And homeless near a thousand homes I stood, And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.’
William Wordsworth

Today is so cold. The wind is howling and the grey skies are bleak. But I can stay indoors and keep warm. I can stay in bed if I want to, with my duvet bunched around me like a warm and comforting cloud. I can cook, and I can make delicious warming drinks. I am worried, like many of us, about these challenging times, and the pandemic that is stubbornly refusing to go away. But I can spend my time worrying in a safe place. I can lock my doors. I have a small, but peaceful corner in this turbulent world.

I think about the man I met one day and who had the deepest sadness in his eyes. He was in a place that any of us could be in, given a downturn in circumstances. I wonder if he ever found a haven of his own. I hope he is warm and that he has been shown kindness. I hope he may have been able to reconnect with a life that obviously had meant so much to him long ago.

The Man on the Corner

There's a man who lives in a doorway
Just across the street
He sits upon a pile of rags,
His dog just by his feet

It's like he is invisible 
To those who rush on by,
And even those who say 'hello'
Can't look him in the eye.

One day, I see him in the park,
His aimless gait is slow,
He pulls his coat around him
As the cold wind starts to blow.

'Hello Luv,' he says to me,
'I'm afraid it's getting dark,
You may not want to linger here
It can be dangerous in this park.'

But I sit with him upon the bench,
And we look upon the plaque 
Dedicated to someone's long lost love
Who was never coming back.

And we talk about the weather 
How it was cold for the time of year,
As if it was quite normal
For him to live out here.

'I had a life once,' he turns and says
With a glimmer in his eyes,
And I imagine him in different times,
As he stands to say goodbye.

(C) Lyn Halvorsen

Understanding this Life….

I sat and wrote a new poem this week. It seemed to come almost like a message from a dream. It flowed from my pen. I usually write about all things peaceful and try not to dwell on negativity, yet I don’t feel I can shuffle these thoughts away into a corner without airing them.

We are living through turbulent times. This we know. But the clocks tick on whilst we are searching for healing and a gentle, benign hand to soothe us. And even when the peaceful, kind ones among us search for the right answers, the undercurrent of negative forces can pull us under or in the wrong direction.

But the quiet listener will understand.

Today it is Holocaust Memorial Day, and tonight I will light a candle and let it shine from my window. I listened to a lady of 97 being interviewed this week. She is a Holocaust survivor and suffered greatly during the Second World War. She has recently recovered from COVID-19. She advised everyone to keep going and never to give up. She was the epitome of hopefulness and courage.

‘I Believe in the sun even when its not shining. And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when He is silent.’

The above was scratched on the wall of a cellar in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

I know that as human beings we will never agree about everything and nor should we. But if we can learn to join together in the ways that matter and that work toward the common good, we will be facing the sun.

Understanding 

How can we ever understand life,
The unsteady see-saw
Between bliss and strife?
This beautiful, fragile world 
That is full of unrest,
And slips from the keeping
Of those with only love to invest,
And now lies open to greed and weeping.
How can we feel the benefit
Of reckless power that rushes
In the name of help,
Yet turns its back on all it crushes?
Is there a place out there
Where we have a right to choose-
To take what is fair 
And know what to refuse?
Where fresh eyes see
What is really there,
As light falls on truth
And lays it bare.
In the room where others listen only to reply,
The quiet listener understands,
And learns how to fly
With knowledge in his hands.

(C) L.M.H.
 
 
 
 

Physical Distancing vs Social Distancing….

Staying together whilst apart…

We hear so much about social distancing – how it is imperative that we stay at least six-feet away from people to avoid catching or passing on the corona virus. We have been duly wearing our masks, washing our hands, staying indoors unless it is essential to venture out, and following all the guidelines, and we know that for now, this is how life has to be.

But is the term ‘social distancing’ giving us the wrong message? After all, feeling socially distanced from family and friends is hard for us all. We may need to be physically distanced at the moment, and we can grasp the necessity behind the rules – but we need to be socially connected.

When we are physically distanced we cannot gather together but we can still stay connected in other ways. Virtual connection is imperative for our mental health. It is easy to feel ‘stir crazy ‘ and find anxious feelings taking hold when feeling socially distanced. We can still be sociable, just in a different way. Nothing can replace a real hug, nothing can replace holding a loved one’s hand, and nothing can replace kissing someone better, but ‘feeling’ someone is there, in the airwaves, in the ether, or smiling on a screen can help.

One thing that is hard, especially with social media, is to be discerning. With time on our hands, we can find ourselves endlessly scrolling through posts or comments on various sites or groups and reading more than is good for us. There is a lot of good and well-meaning information out there but sometimes we can read ‘stuff’ that is upsetting or just plain mean. So while social media is an invaluable tool for keeping in touch with loved ones, friends and the wider world, we need to be mindful of how it makes us feel and even what we pass on to others. I guess if we just connect with those we love, those we care about and those we admire, we should reap the positive gains that are there.

This January seems a particularly hard one. I think a lot of us feel weighed down with worry and fear. Even those of us who are normally positive are finding the days merging into one another, and that motivation has taken a dive. As always, it is focusing on the smaller things that can help get us through. We need to cut through the drama which is invading our homes each night via our television screens, the relentless reporting of miserable situations. Of course we need to be informed but we can only take so much. A few nights without the television news works wonders and helps us to get a better nights sleep.

And maybe it’s time to dream! Just because we can’t go anywhere right now, doesn’t mean we can’t visit places or people in our dreams. This time won’t last forever and good times will come again, but for now we can indulge a little bit in a fantasy world. I seem to be imagining living part of the time in a Shepherd’s Hut, set in a field of daisies, and complete with the softest feather mattress, coloured china and a wood burning stove. It’s my favourite ‘go to ‘place at the moment. I also remember dreaming once that I had visited my elder son who lives an ocean away – the dream was so real; I hugged him and touched his curly hair, told him how I missed him. Who is to say I hadn’t been there with him, for a while at least.

Dreams are something no amount of physical distancing can ever take away.

Hold on To Love.

We have heard so many news bulletins. We feel the need to listen, and we hope for a glimmer of good news. The good news, at Christmas, is that we can try to put normal thoughts and worries on hold, even if for just one day. We can wrap ourselves in feelings of warmth and enjoy the intangible atmosphere that is Christmas, and which surrounds us all, every year, whatever our circumstances and wherever we are. Who can fail to feel a certain magic when looking at the starry skies on Christmas Eve? And somewhere, out there, under those same skies, our loved ones are looking out and hoping for the same things that we are. The one thing the virus can’t stop us doing is loving, even if we are apart. Love sends good vibrations across the fields, the miles, the skies, the oceans. Love has no borders. In fact, it never leaves us. It sits in our memories and stirs us when we need it. It appears in our dreams and runs through our veins. It made us. Like Christmas, love is never cancelled!

So many of us may not be able to physically sit around a table with our loved ones this year, but our hearts will be together.

Whilst we notice the sadness around us and hold space for all that is broken, and in the quiet corners of our minds, we tremble at the thoughts of an unknown future, let us picture a time where all the four corners of our precious world have been swept clean and we rejoice in new beginnings.

Merry Christmas

Let the Wind Blow

Blow, blow winter wind
Grey clouds pass on by,
Christmas will be here once more
In the blinking of an eye.

Blow, blow winter wind
Until all our thoughts are clear,
Help us find our way again,
And let kind hearts draw near.

Blow, blow winter wind
Til all the sky is bright 
And Santa flies across the moon
For every child’s delight.

Blow, blow winter wind,
Chase away the sadness and the pain,
Sweep every corner of the world
And make it whole again.