What Is Normal? A poem for today…

How are you adjusting to the ‘new normal’?

 

 

We used to talk about the weather

And should we take a coat?

It can always rain here

Even if the chances are remote.

 

We used to make plans

To meet in steamy cafes,

And huddle together in busy places,

To pass time in a multitude of ways.

 

And what of the theatres –

With the nightly applause

For the actors, with their names in lights,

Bowing for their artistic cause?

 

And we waited all year

For the holidays, for fun,

And the long-awaited chance

To turn our faces to the sun.

 

We held hands, and each other,

Never knowing we could be denied

The chance to come together,

By a fierce and changing tide.

 

For the whole world held its breath

As we awoke to a different day,

And fear lodged in our homes

And edged the normal away.

 

Yet written in the dusty catalogues of time

Were reminders that would last,

So that history would beg us listen

To the warnings from the past.

 

Normal is just complacency of sorts –

A comfortable, unchallenging way to go,

But who could even blame us

For going with the flow?

 

Now life is forever altered,

And we step up to the mark,

And boldly gather up ourselves

To chase away the dark.

 

(C) Lyn Halvorsen

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checking The Apples and Time Passing During Coronavirus Lockdown ….

How do we feel about the passing of time?

 

I was looking at an apple tree in our garden which we planted about eighteen months ago. The first year after planting it didn’t blossom and we were worried that it would never be pollenated. This year, however, we were pleased to see buds forming in early spring. As I wandered into the garden last night for some air, I looked at the rosy apples on the little tree – shiny, healthy and covered with raindrops, and I realised that the span of time from the early buds, to the now almost mature apple harvest, was the same as that of the start of lockdown to now – a time when we are seeing the loosening of lockdown and the re-opening of hospitality services. Apart from thinking about the quiet confidence and constancy of Mother Nature, it made me think about time.

Does time pass differently during times of great change or worry? If we think of the first day of quarantine, does it seem like yesterday, or a lifetime ago? I have heard many people say that during the coronavirus crisis they have noticed time passing more strangely than normal. Some complain of days dragging on and on, yet others feel the past months have passed eerily quickly. In can feel in our minds that time ‘warps’ very easily. Perhaps this is to do with our worlds shrinking and being kept between our four walls. We have stayed at home for the majority of the day, with the highlight of the day being a walk or a visit to the supermarket. We haven’t been performing many memorable activities, necessarily, although that is beginning to change now. We have missed travelling, missed going out for dinner, and days have blended into one, with weekdays feeling the same as weekends.

Perhaps, because we haven’t made so many new memories or been on holidays, we perceive time has passed swiftly.

Key workers who haven’t had the opportunity or luxury to stay at home and isolate may look at time entirely differently. It may seem as though the period of time lasted longer than normal. Many people have been busier than ever, whether working on the front lines or at home balancing a full work schedule while trying to home school their children.

When we eventually emerge from this time of immense challenge and isolation, perhaps some of the more mundane routines we have had to follow will turn out to hold more memories than we think.  We have been challenged to spend time alone or with others in our household and have been given a chance to learn how to cope with boredom and isolation. We have learnt how to set goals, however small, taken time to read, or engage in other quarantine-friendly activities in very tough times. Perhaps we have found the time to engage in those important conversations we have put off for too long. Perhaps we have found time to look inside ourselves and even look at life through fresh eyes. Perhaps we have taken the time to really think about others and rediscover compassion that sometimes can take a back seat during busy lives, no matter how well-meaning we are.

We don’t always realise how much time has passed, until we look back. And we are going to look back on so much. Heartbreak and fear have walked hand in hand with just trying to ‘get by’. We have seen fear take over and people lash out, and we have seen staggeringly good deeds carried out by those who have put themselves on the line. We have seen human nature pushed to its limits. We have all been hurting – everyone of us, for others and ourselves. Thank goodness for the small things.

I am grateful for my apples

 

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The Place We Call Home….

Time to show your home some love….

 

Most of us have been living in a lockdown situation now for about three months. We have got used to every inch, every nook and cranny, every quiet corner of the place we call home! Perhaps we have got to the stage where we may be taking it for granted, and yet in another way, nervous to take those new, tentative steps out again and reconnect with the world. Some of us are starting to venture out now, but more than ever before, we have needed the safety and the anchor of home, and the roofs that cover the place where we truly have the space to be ourselves. Sometimes I, and perhaps many of us, have a fantasy which involves roaming free and letting go of all the restrictions handed out to us that hold us back. But no matter (in normal times) where we may travel, it doesn’t take much – a familiar smell, the sound of a distant lawnmower, or a warm light shining through a chink in the curtains of an unknown house, to fell us with a surge of homesickness.

The structures of our homes are more than just bricks and mortar, for within our walls are the people we love and care about, and where we share our hospitality with those we hold dear. It is interesting that the bond we share when we have lived in the same home with family members never leaves us. My beautiful sister was only five when I left home as a teenager, yet the times of being together under one roof has bonded us in a circle of love that can never be broken. Of course the family ties bind us, but the familiarity of homes we have shared stays forever too. It is the feeling of connectedness to others that home symbolises.

  ‘Home is where hearts are sure of each other; a place where you know your way in the darkness.’

I think of those people who do not have a home, now more than ever. For those who are homeless through no deliberate choice, I cannot imagine what living through these times without the comfort of home must be like. Somehow, there must better ways of supporting those who would love to have a more permanent place to call home.

This is the time to express gratitude for home. Our homes have probably taken a bit of a battering lately but they don’t complain! Perhaps we should give them a bit of TLC! A good spring clean may be on the agenda, some new leafy green plants to freshen the air and a change around of the furniture. It all helps us to see our refuge with fresh eyes and give us a sense of achievement and a sense of progress. And as I get out my warm blanket, folded to sit on for my yoga practice, and light a candle, I can feel a sense of appreciation that I am home, and comfortable, and that warms my soul.

Home is the nicest word there is.’ – Laura Ingalls Wilder

‘If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.’ – Malala Yousafzai

‘A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.’ – George A. Moore.

The place we call home needs to keep peace within its boundaries, welcome within its walls, shelter for its friends, and a cake in the larder.

So when you feel unsettled, remember that home is where you and your loved ones are – it is not dependent on fancy fixtures and fittings, palaces and mansions, but on you and the people you love, and in the cosy place where you gather together.

Welcome Home ❤️

 

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Can’t Say No to Tomorrow

 

For those of us thinking about the next step out of lockdown …..

Time has settled round us –
Yet drifted like a stream
That slowly meanders,
And passes us unseen.

A day is a year, a year is a day
When life is put on hold,
Too many separations and longings,
Too many stories left untold.

But don’t forget to greet the sun,
For it will always rise
Like a beacon, for us waking
To these uncertain skies.

So the blackbird sings louder,
As if with a message in his song –
We cannot stop the summer
Tho’ the winter has been long.

Yes it’s going to be a new day,
But the memories we will keep
Of a time that brought a new way,
To live, and love, and weep.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

The fields looking extra green this year…..

 

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Finding our Way Again…First Steps Out

From a distance that seems safe, I wave ‘hello’ to a neighbour. ‘How are you?’ we ask each other. We both say ‘fine’. These days, ‘fine’ is what we want to hear. Small, daily interactions are not meaningless these days. We have all been stuck behind closed doors and isolated during lockdown, with upsetting and frightening news seemingly assailing us hourly. Heartbreaking scenes have played out before our eyes via the media. So when we hear ‘fine’ we relax a bit and feel thankful because we care. We care because life has become so fragile all of a sudden. And when we hear someone isn’t fine, we feel concerned for them, and also for the risk it poses generally.

Strangely, when things are easing a little, and we can get out and about a bit more, I have found the enormity of things hitting me again. Seeing the garden centre looking, well -different. It seems strange and unintentionally neglected, with its slightly straggly plants, and rather unkempt appearance, so different from normal years, and feels slightly eerie with fewer people who have to keep their distance. People look wary and nervous, not wishing to step in the wrong place, or do the wrong thing (mostly).

It may take us all a while to adapt again; to do things we once did without a second thought. Lockdown has given us a certain security, a knowing that being in our own homes brings safety and freedom. It is familiar and comfortable. When we know that our loved ones are in lockdown too, we feel relief because we know where they are.

But now we are starting to take the very first small steps towards a less restrictive way of living. Deprivation has hurt us. Uncertainty and scarcity, fear and , in some cases, separation, have taken their toll, but perhaps soon we can tap into some of the precious parts of life we knew.

Who knows what will happen over the coming weeks? There are so many who long to heal, so many who grieve and so many who long for life to be as it was before.

We think of cancelled holidays, cancelled weddings, jobs lost and so much more. Many people’s lives have been broken. Who knows how long it will be for lives to heal, physically, mentally and financially?

All I can say for some comfort, is that this has been a time to listen to every bird singing its heart out in the beautiful spring sunshine, a time to examine every bud on the rosebush, every sunbeam and every shadow. A time to cook up imaginative meals, read books we may not have read. I have experienced lovely acts of kindness, such as a friend sending little gifts and notes in the post. We have learned some things we may not have learned. Learned to say how much we miss each other. Learned to say ‘I love you’ more often.

Hopefully, we are  now edging to a post-pandemic situation and a time when we feel more ‘normal’ again. Can we stay as we are in some ways I wonder, even though we move forward? Can we remain flexible, keep the ‘gung ho’ spirit even when we are anxious, and remain resourceful? Let’s hope so.

I hope you are ‘fine’!

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A Walk in a Different Springtime.

Lifting Our Mood in Challenging Times …reposting a blog from last spring , with a few changes …..

Now more than ever, the benefits of getting out into the countryside are immense. The  allotted hour in the green fields manages to lift the spirits for a while at least. Pathways are lined with burgeoning cow parsley and the gentle scent of lilac and hawthorn fills the air as nature carries on regardless. No need here for a ticking clock to hasten the plants and trees to blossom  – they know when the conditions are right.

It’s always a comfort to see the same trees along the way standing stoically strong; their trunks immovable and their roots firmly planted alongside the fields where we often walk deep in thought. I am particularly fond of a tree I have yet to identify (possibly beech, though the leaves appear to be heart shaped) which I pass on my newly favourite walk, (having moved here eighteen months ago, its taken a while to find a regular walk I really enjoy and have settled on), the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves sounds just like a fall of gentle rain, and high on the trunk is a hole where you can imagine a friendly, wise old owl holding court. How many footsteps must have passed by this ancient tree over hundreds of years and how many more still will? I can sense a benevolent charm in its being and almost see a kindly expression in the depths of its bark. And then I can look up and see its lofty branches reaching for the light. It knows what to do, my tree, it doesn’t need a set of rules or list of suggested requirements for better tree development.

I am a bit of a scaredy cat – I have even written a book about a scaredy cat. I am a person who has to cling on tight to the things I hold dear in times of strain and here is where I find nature has a way of literally grounding me. We may not know why things are happening the way they are, and we may have many questions in our minds left unanswered, but we can, at least for a while, soak up the healing powers of nature. I can’t recall a time the countryside has ever looked more beautiful, or the birdsong more prolific, but maybe the spring has a way of renewing our outlook and refreshing our surroundings so that every time we revisit it is like the first time.

In some ways, it feels as though we can breathe in new life from the abundance around us and renew our hope for the future, and that has never been more important than now.

So when we are being a scaredy cat – and that’s probably quite a lot of us at the moment I don’t doubt, it is good to look at all the signs around us and take the reassurance that everything turns and moves and goes full circle. When I was out striding about, I could almost hear Pamona the wood nymph, who was reputed to be the goddess of fruitful abundance, talking to me with all her ancient and modern wisdom. I certainly felt she was making me welcome – her light laugh mingling with the surrounding sounds.

I think she was saying “I do love this time of year best, although I shouldn’t have favourites; it is dear to me because it is all about life – and the promise of good things to come later. And remember, dear one, no winter lasts forever.”

And that is what I feel we need to remember – good things will come.

And even if we are walking alone at the present time, remember that love knows no distance; when you think of those you love, and those who love you, it is almost as though they are there beside you.

 

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A Poem for Lockdown

 

 

Who knew that there would be a time

Of an early white spring in all its prime;

When sunbeams fell on empty fields

And silence cloaked the distant hills.

Where, in a shady woodland, spiked with green

A carpet of bluebells would bloom unseen.

Where time, so often snatched away

Would slow to the rhythm of a different day?

I watched the bold and fearless crow

Go black and shiny, to and fro,

Its rakish presence curiously noted

Although yesterday it flew unnoticed.

Toppling change sweeps ‘normal’ away;

Only necessary work now, and no outdoor play.

Selfless heroes put themselves on the line

Yet they have lives, like yours and mine.

So what happens to trinkets no longer desired,

And priceless pictures in galleries, once so admired?

Some things can stay behind closed doors

Until feet echo again on busy floors,

But empty arms have no-one to hold

And isolation takes its toll.

Now windows bright with rainbows are the new big thing;

They gladden our hearts with the hope that they bring,

And lockdown reveals to worried eyes

The blessed arch of infinite skies.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rattling the Pots – (time for some distraction)

I think it’s time to take our mind of all the desperately worrying and upsetting news, even if just for a moment or two. I am suspending my normal blog writing for the moment and posting some of my poetry instead.  I think we all have media fatigue – and whilst there is a need to be updated and follow guidelines, we need a break! Dare I say, even some of the copious postings about lockdown activities are getting a bit tedious!

Last evening when we stood outside our door clapping and rattling the saucepan lids it was wonderfully inspiring and showed human nature at its best; it was heartwarming and helps us all feel connected.

Just for while though, let me lead you through a golden meadow, full of flowers, and light (and some different pots!).

 

Rattling the Pots 

If I had a gypsy caravan 

I’d paint it blue and white,

And set it in a meadow

Full of flowers and light.

I’d stand where the old traveller stood

Within the patterned door,

Lay my hand upon the polished wood,

Rattle the pots once more.

I’d climb upon the cosy bed,

Lay on the covers of lace,

And imagine the sound of the creaking wheels

As they rolled from place to place.

And I would dream of a forgotten time

Where there would be paths still free to roam,

With undiscovered hills to climb,

And wherever I stopped was home.

(c) Lyn Halvorsen 

 

 

Let us look forward to the time when we can roam free again…..

 

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Love in the Time of The Coronavirus…

 

‘To know you are loved or have been loved is more than uplifting, it is at the core of everything.’

Life for all of us has been put on hold except for all but the most necessary of tasks and the most basic needs. Time seems to be suspended and yet the days pass quickly; the world is unusually quiet but the morning light still shines through the window and throws shafts of sunlight across the floor every morning. Perhaps we appreciate it more today than we did a few weeks ago.

Going through the motions of a different daily life, we are coming to know more about love and kindness than ever before. When we are in a ‘normal’ state; on an even keel and just following routine, we don’t always stop to notice the small but profound things that are ever present yet not on our radar during the bustle of everyday life. But in a state of great, and sometimes frightening change, normal and trivial irritations lie unnoticed;  worries about work deadlines, so important last month, stay in the ‘in-tray’ because we can’t do much about them even if we want to, and the cloak of regularity falls from our shoulders. We are having to view our lives with a much different perspective.  We do have time now to notice the small but important things, after all these are the things that are essential now.

Most of us are lucky enough to have friends and family that love us; maybe we have taken that fact a little for grated at times; sometimes complacency can come with familiarity, but perhaps when we are sad, worried or in pain, even if we are not always vocalising what we feel or are going through, our vulnerability opens us up to others and their natural and inbuilt ability to reach out, even across the airwaves. And if we do open up, more often than not, we are treated with a compassion we needed just at the right time, and we can also show the same in return.

There cannot be many times in our day that are not touched by love in one form or another; it may not always be obvious but it is there. It is waiting in the wings – an unceasing energy and in limitless supply. Even when doing a mundane job like housework, chances are you will have the radio on in the background and before long you will be humming along to a love song. At the moment, happy memories evoked by music serve us well.

When we love deeply there are no boundaries. The heart finds a way to love no matter what the circumstances and the heart knows that love reaches us even when we are in isolation. We need courage today, and when we send love out we are rewarded a thousandfold. Love can be gentle when it needs to be; it can be held in a reassuring smile on FaceTime or in a virtual hug. It can be there in a row of emojis sent to our children in a text. And when we think in a loving rather than fearful way, the good vibration is felt across the miles, the fields, the oceans and beyond, just like the gentle flapping of a butterfly’s wings can be sensed across continents ( The ‘butterfly effect’ is an idea more commonly used in chaos theory. It shows that a small change can make much bigger changes happen; that one small incident can have a big impact). Love is borderless.

Love crosses realms. In fact, it never leaves us; it sits in our memories, it stirs us when we least expect it and again, when we need it. It appears in our dreams and runs through our veins. It is part of us.

 

‘Only from the heart can you touch the sky’.       Rumi 

 

We need to dig deep at the moment and find those inner resources that will get us through. Our moods may dip from time to time, but when we remember what we have – who we have, and who we love and have loved, we can find our way through.

 

  ‘One thought I carry in my heart

For all the times we are apart

Is that the moon that I look up and see

Shines above both you and me.’

 

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Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

A different kind of Sunday –

I don’t usually write a blog on a Sunday. Apparently, the best time to post a blog is about 7pm on a Tuesday. But now? Now is different. It doesn’t seem to matter what day it is when you are on lockdown! Maybe more people will spend time reading during the day now and if my words are interesting or thought provoking that is pleasing. However, the main reason I am writing now is that it really helps to get my thoughts down. It is not about finding clarity as that is quite hard at the moment, it is more about being creative and finding comfort. There is something very soothing about writing down whatever is in my head.

So what am I thinking today and what do I want to write about? Just some random thoughts I guess:

I was laying in bed this morning with no particular agenda mapped out. I thought about how the world has changed so quickly; in some ways it feels as though the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. From under all of our feet in fact, for we are all in this together, literally in all four corners of the world. The only thing is, we can’t be together physically. A lot of us can’t be with our families and loved ones. We can’t go out and hug someone who needs it, can’t do many of the everyday things we have always taken for granted. And that is hard, especially as there is no way of knowing yet when things will return to normal. And for some, it’s far, far worse.

I was thinking about the uncertainty. The lack of being able to plan. Yet there are rules we are being told we must adhere to. Most things are now out of our hands. Even shopping.

One thing I have always tried to remember in life is never to assume anything because life has a funny way of turning everything on its head.

History shows us that monumental and unfathomable changes happen, but we are never ready. Then again, perhaps we cannot ever be truly ready for unthinkable and unimaginable occurrences. For most of us, it is our natural way to strive and look forward and be ready for the next day, with all its plans and routines. We have an inbuilt optimism, together with expectation and a deep assurance that things are in place and will happen. We don’t often question if things will change.

But they do and they have.

Now we have had to listen to unwelcome and often sad news daily; it has taken a while for us to come to terms with the enormity of what is going on, but now we are beginning to realise we have to look to ourselves; to find resilience and new ways of adapting, like our long gone ancestors did in times of greats disturbances. We can, and have to set new and important tasks, and reset our compasses, so that we can navigate our ways through unchartered territory.

We can create new routines, new working spaces, let go of expectations and bake. We can walk in quiet, empty spaces. We can really enjoy our homes. Enjoy silence.

We can use some of our spare time doing a little reminiscing. Sift through some of our keepsakes. Remind ourselves of good times spent and good times still to come.

Nothing good is ever lost.

I remember my little grandson putting his hand on the window of the car a few weeks ago when he was leaving to go home. I put my hand on the other side. We were reaching out to each other in a loving way even though we weren’t physically touching.

We are all linked together, even when we are apart.

Be safe and love each other.

 

 

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