In Memory – For My Dad ……

 

You will always be there,
Just as you were;
Standing strongly
Laughing at something I said,
Which pleased me.
And you’ll be there when
The tide rushes in and
Pulls at my feet in the sand.
And when I hear
The sound of the brass band
Playing the tunes that made
Your lip quiver
I will remember your loving heart.
You’ll be there when I serve
The Sunday roast
With all the essential trimmings,
And when the grandchildren
Skip around the kitchen
In the way that made you smile.
You’ll be beside me when I
Drive around those country lanes
In a way that made you suck in your breath
As your hand reached for the door handle.
Most of all, you’ll be forever behind me
Seriously watching over me,
Urging caution but bolstering me
With the humour that was
Always just below the surface
Even when the day
Drew to a close.

(C) Lyn Halvorsen 4E7C6338-8402-44E5-9A1E-BAF3982E6F4F

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Anxiety.

 

Are you having a tough week? I know several people I have spoken to this week seem to be suffering in one way or another. Maybe it’s time to switch off the news, chill out a bit and try to focus on getting rid of the old ‘worry monster’.

Everyone worries but does that make it okay? It seems like worry and anxiety have been woven into the fabric of our society and has become a recognised problem to many. It appears in many forms – parents worry about their children – many of us worry about our health and well-being – our work and even just the routine of daily life. We worry about so many things we cannot control.

But control is an illusion, and the amount of things outside of our control is overwhelming. You can’t control the other drivers out there so you worry every time you drive along the road. You can’t control your child’s actions so you worry about them every Friday night. You can’t control the economy so you worry every time the next hint of redundancies comes floating through the office or, if you are self-employed, when your source of reliable work inexplicably dries up.

Anxiety creeps in when we don’t get what we want or something happens to us and we ask: ‘Why me?’ When injustice is done to us (and it’s done far too often), anxiety can settle on us like an oppressive blanket, choking out any joy and happiness.

But because we can’t control a lot of the things we worry about maybe we should turn the way we look at these things around – admit we can’t control this or that so worry is just a waste of time and more importantly, energy. There is nothing more tiring than worry and anxiety – trust me on that one! It’s a vicious circle too – you worry endlessly- you get tired which then makes you more prone to worrying more!

Although worry and anxiety may surround us we can get over these feelings.

So here is my cheat list for fooling the ‘worry monster’ into thinking you are oblivious to his dark ways:

1. Learn to live with it but don’t give in. Allow a certain amount of time a day to think about what is bothering you and know you have a choice to do something about it. Acknowledge that you are a worrier from time to time – you are just being human. If you have a partner tell them you are feeling anxious but are working through it. Try not to shut people out as they may feel they are somehow at fault.

2. As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, do something straight away. Prepare a healthy breakfast, look after your appearance, get on with the chores if you are at home, or try and go out of the door with a spring in your step even when you don’t feel like it. Dwelling on things doesn’t help and just by being active you will feel better. Take action by doing something. Don’t forget how good exercise is too for changing your mood. It doesn’t have to be over strenuous – just walking in the fresh air will be beneficial.

3. Find someone who needs you. It’s amazing how helping someone else can make both them and you feel better. (Be sure not to spend too much time commiserating with each other over all your joint woes though!)

4. Talk to someone. I have mentioned this so many times and I can’t say it enough – unload your worries occasionally to someone you trust – it really does help.

5. At the end of the day, write down the things you have been grateful for. Really think about all the little things that made your day go a bit better. It really is the small things that count – those small acts of kindness that come from unexpected places. And write down all the names of those you love and care about and finish with a smiley. 🙂 You will all benefit.

6. The opposite of fear is faith. Find some faith. Believe in something and devote some time to mindfulness. Believe things will get better – sometimes that is all you need, but never underestimate the power of prayer or visualisation. Think about it – people have cured themselves from severe illness with visualisation so it must work with anxiety too. You don’t have to be devout or religious to gain help from the Bible – so much wisdom has been passed down to us that is really worth keeping close by.

Just think about these words written so long ago…..

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body, more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?……..Therefore do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Matthew 6:25 – 34

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Proverbs 12:25

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Keep Quiet or the Nurse is in Trouble…

The importance of keeping things tidy….

A bit of light relief this week.

I trained as a nurse in the seventies. I had long dreamed of fancy uniforms, handsome doctors and wiping fevered brows. I encountered all of these in various degrees but soon came to realise that there was a lot of hard work and long hours involved. The three years of training were often hard and many times I was tempted to give up. Had my school careers officer been right when he felt the best thing for me was to work at the local shirt factory back in my home town? Spurred on by the thought of an alternative life running up cuffs, collars and shirt tails, I kept going and I look back on my nursing career mostly with great affection. I can still remember some of my patients to this day, and the sadness and humour encountered along the way. I find too, that I have a pool of experience to work from which has helped me hugely with my writing career. Compassion and kindness, to me, are the foremost requirements for a good nurse, along with a calm exterior, but this calm exterior can crumble on the odd occasion….

I had been a student nurse for about six months and was gradually getting used to the unsociable hours, the baffling orders barked from the end of the ward and the mysterious terminology. A rigid routine emerged and seemed to supersede any eventuality. Ward work had to go on – always, and no matter what lurked behing the patient’s curtains. Soon I couldn’t imagine doing anything else but working within the hospital walls. Time off was limited and a social life was virtually non existent. But what made up for all the strict protocol was the patients themselves. People from all walks of life – rich or poor, young or old, famous or unknown, in various circumstances, all together under one roof, all on a level playing field if you like, and all experiencing the challenges that illness brings.

It is a fact of human nature that when we are up against it we show our courage – courage we didn’t know we had, and sometimes in the darkest of situations we find some humour….

One ward I worked on was run like clockwork by an absolutely terrifying Ward Sister who had everyone, even the most senior doctors, quaking in their boots. She was tall, thin as a rake, had tightly permed hair and steel rimmed spectacles. I could not imagine her wearing anything but her pristine uniform and nor could I imagine her ever partaking in anything that required a modicum of fun. She only spoke to juniors like me when barking orders, the rest of the time we were required to flatten ourselves against the wall and be as inconspicuous as possible when she swept past us with her usual  imperious look in place.  She could convey her displeasure with the merest lift of an eyebrow as she viewed the overall tidiness of her ward  – any stray newspaper or wrapper on a locker would be pounced on and woe betide the nurse who was remiss. One couldn’t doubt her dedication or the way her ward was run, however, and although the patients were totally in awe of her she was regarded with the utmost respect. Patient care was second to none and often she was still on her ward checking all was well long after her shift had ended.

One week we had a particularly rambunctious group of men on the ward – it was a men’s orthopaedic ward so usually they weren’t actually ill but perhaps recovering from operations or fractures. They usually got on well together and were often swapping lewd stories or jokes and the ambulant ones were often to be found playing cards in the day room. We had trouble keeping them under control at times but they soon learned to quieten down when Sister was around. We loved spending time chatting to these patients when we had the chance as they brought some normality to the ward and provided some light relief to the somewhat stifling atmosphere. One particular guy who I will call Jimmy had been on the ward for several weeks and became a great ally. He’d help with the tea trolley in the mornings and was allowed certain privileges. He also was good at helping the new patients settle in and he could be relied upon to keep an eye out for Sister and letting us know if she was on the warpath.

Tuesday morning at 11 am was always the Consultation’s ward round  – this was particularly stressful if you were on duty as just being in the vicinity was nerve racking. You just prayed you weren’t asked a question you didn’t know the answer to or sent to look for something you couldn’t find and were made to look embarrassed in front of the whole team. On the exact stroke of 11 Sister would unlock the trolley bearing the patients notes and stand poised and ready for the off. The consultant would sweep in followed by a group of hapless looking medical students struggling to keep up. The group would slowly make the way round the ward, going from bed to bed – the Consultant firing questions both at the nervous patients in the beds and the quivering students who tended to be rendered speachless when asked even the simplest question about a patient’s condition. Sister, as usual was calm and collected and kept all running smoothly.

On particular Tuesday I was standing in my usual flattened position against the wall watching the round take place when I noticed to my horror that somehow a new patient unaware of ward protocol had unpacked some sandwiches he had brought in from home and had laid out a veritable picnic on his bed, complete with a napkin. He was also nonchalantly reading the newspaper whilst enjoying his sandwich at the same time. From my position by the wall I edged slowly down the Ward so as not to attract attention until I caught Jimmy’s eye. No words were needed. There was just a shocked look in Jimmy’s eyes followed by a slight twitch and slight loss of colour in his face. I can still see in my mind’s eye what happened next. In his boldly stripped standard issue hospital dressing gown, Jimmy somehow managed to move stealthy up the ward until he disappeared under the end bed. Slowly sliding along underneath, bed by bed, and keeping his stiff leg somehow angled to a safe position he kept going until he was level with Freddy, the new patient. A stripey arm appeared on the bed, feeling around for the sandwiches, and slowly both the napkin and the sandwiches disappeared from view. Freddy, realising his tasty snack was missing, peered out from behind his paper. Jimmy’s head appeared over the side of the bed.

    “Fold your paper up mate and forget about your sandwiches quick as you like” whispered Jimmy from the corner of his mouth. “Stay where you are and say nothing!” With that, he ducked down again and slithered back down the ward. Luckily, the ward round was particularly slow on the day and the team had been seemingly unaware of the unusual actions of some of the patients! Freddy stayed like a statue for the rest of the ward round, even struggling to answer the Consultant when he asked him how he was.

The Consultant finished his round and went to have his customary cup of tea in Sister’s office and the lowly students ambled off, relieved it was over. I went to check on Jimmy, worried that his escapade may have set his recovery back a bit, but he was full of laughter.

The day carried on at its usual busy pace and all seemed in order. Sister came over to me at the end of the shift to dismiss me.

   “You may go now Nurse. Make sure you dispose of those sandwiches on the way out”.

Maybe she was human after all.

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What a Springtime Walk Can Teach us.

This week I am thinking about the rhythm of life …

I am always talking about the benefits of getting out into the countryside; the green fields and the chirpy birdsong usually manage to lift the spirits for a while at least. It’s always a comfort somehow to see the same old trees in the woods standing stoically strong; their trunks immovable and their roots firmly planted alongside the path where we often walk deep in thought. How many footsteps must have passed their way over perhaps hundreds of years and how many more still will? I can look at the trunk of my favourite tree in wonder. 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 one of those people who sometimes have to cling on tight to the things I hold dear in times of strain and here is where I find nature has many ways of literally grounding me. We may not find the soultion to all our problems but we sure can get them more into perspective after a walk in our favourite part of the countryside.

Last week we took a break from Dove Lane and spent a long weekend in Devon. I can’t recall a time the countryside has ever looked more beautiful 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.

Walking through an apple orchard it was as though we could breathe life from the abundance around us and win hope from all the promise; we could listen to the music of the birds and see the beauty of the surrounding colours. A million petals seemed to gleam and red buds sparkled, the bees were busy in each open flower preparing for the vital matter of honey. Beneath our feet there was spread a carpet woven of many greens, of sunlight, and spring flowers. The last of the bluebells lowered their heads where the ferns were uncurling beside them. Trunks of old apple trees leaned at random angles; all shapes and blotched with the lichen that Mother Nature inscribed on ancient barks. Against a curtain of apple blossom we could see a blackbird flitting about – who alone of the birds can put imagination into song like him?

Some of the later trees still held their buds tightly clenched, as though half a hundred Springs had taught them to fear the oncoming of summer, yet Mother Nature gently commands, and soon every reluctant bud will open to fulfill its destiny.

So when we are being a scaredy cat – when we have those days when we can’t cunjour up much effort to stride forward – it is good to look at all the signs around us and take the reassurance that everything turns and moves and goes full circle. I could almost imagine 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 us 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.

 

   ‘The Earth laughs in flowers’.    

               Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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Anton the Brave Viking and the Scaredy Cat is a children’s book based on some members of our family. Great to read to your kids or to yourself when you need cheering up a bit!

It is available from http://www.blurb.co.uk or email me and I’ll have a copy winging its way to you in no time!

Finding Courage When You Need It

So many times we are encouraged to be fearless and bold.

 

Courage is the foundation of freedom.

Thucydides (460BC-395BC) wrote: ‘The secret to happiness is freedom…And the secret to freedom is courage.’

Today for various reasons I have been thinking about courage. Letting go, not blaming others, and taking responsibility for your own life takes courage, but until you find that courage you will find it difficult to enter the calm and happy place in your heart where you can just ‘be’.

So many times we are encouraged to be fearless and bold. To follow our desired path. Many life coaches and authors focus on the need to be fearless and authentic and that’s wonderful advice. We all appreciate that friendly push to find the strength to be authentic; be fearless and inspired. But what if the fear soon returns? Then we hear our inner critic return again which fills us with the old doubts. The thing to remember here is that no one is truly fearless, but the people we admire – the ones who seem brave and do amazing courageous things, are the ones who have learned to move through their fear. And so bravery is in feeling fearful but doing what you want or need to anyway.

We all have ‘free space’ in our minds, a place which we can choose to go into and be calm, but it takes a while to train ourselves to use that space and not just resort to old familiar feelings when we are stressed or worried. In that calm space we can make our own conscious decisions without reacting to negative situations coming from outside. We can be in charge. This involves not making snap decisions and assumptions i.e. ‘that person was very rude to me in the queue, there’s no excuse: he’s not nice.’ The person may be nice normally but may have had a bad day or bad news. When you are in the free space, you cut people some slack, or at least do not let their behaviour get to you.

For a long period of our lives we may have handed over the responsibility of our lives to others; we may have created a certain belief about ourselves and the world in a way which was not benefiting us. Perhaps we didn’t believe we were free; free to live in love, abundance, and good health. Because of this, it takes courage to re-introduce yourself to the world and to let go of all the old energy blocks and take back the power for yourself. It can be overwhelming to adjust and to take back the power that you once gave away. That is why we say –‘it takes courage to be, it takes courage to do, and it takes courage to have’.

Courage ‘to do’ is relatively easy to understand; we may be afraid to contemplate bungee jumping, or public speaking for example; these are things we can be frightened about but we can picture doing them without having to change our lifestyle. However, if we want to change and be different do we really need courage then? The answer is yes, because unless you are really ‘being it’ you cannot live it. A lot of people dream about having or doing different things but they look from the outside; often we are looking at a façade rather than looking at what is real. It can take a long time to decide to change – to cast away all the old thoughts and ideas we have clung on to for so long.

Who are you really? What is your essence and your purpose? Do you dare to say you are unique? Not only is your fingerprint different from any other, so are you! You are extraordinary. There is only one you. Remember also, that trying to be someone else or putting on a different persona will not help you long term.

So do you really have the courage to be yourself? Only then will you be able to feel really free – be free to decide what you want to do, to be or to have. This sounds simple, but is it?

Admit Your Scared

It’s important to admit it to yourself when you are stuck in fear. Too often though, this process allows you to let the fears become worse. By admitting you’re fearful you will be asking yourself what being scared means to you and you will start filling in the blanks with the answers that don’t help, such as: ‘I’m scared I can’t handle this.’ Whatever your story is – it is just that – a story. It can be changed. Aim to stop adding to your negative storyline and get rid of any over dramatic feelings. Remember that being fearful just means you’re human.

Once you have admitted you are fearful it doesn’t mean necessarily that you just need to move past the fear without a backward glance. It may be nature’s way of making you check something out. Take time to get your thoughts clear. If the fear is groundless then you can tell yourself all is well. If you have a genuine worry then find the time and strength to run your worries past the right person that can help you. (That takes courage too, I know, but once you put into words whatever is bothering you, you are on the road to healing).

Recognise you aren’t alone.

You are in great company. Everyone, even your greatest role models have had to cope with fear at one time or another. So don’t put yourself down. Recognise you are part of a tribe of people who have, through time, taken a risk and moved beyond perceived safety to something more rewarding. To join the tribe of the brave, don’t focus on what you feel, focus on what you can do about your situation. Once you have ruled out any danger you can take fear as a good sign, a marker that you are alive and engaged. You are completely present in the moment. You are out of your comfort zone but in a funny way, you can actually take comfort from that!

Keep the free space in your heart.

The word courage is related to the French word ‘coeur’ which means heart. When you experience those anxiety filled moments remember to connect with your heart – your core. This is the place where all your emotions flow from – love, warmth and wisdom, and where you get to the heart of the matter.

                        ‘Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.’       August Wilson 

Forgiveness takes courage.

I’d like to think a little bit about forgiveness too and how showing forgiveness is the pathway to freedom. Showing forgiveness is not easy for any of us to contemplate and real forgiveness takes a lot of courage. But again, when you are coming from that free space in your heart you find a new way of moving forward. Think about a situation in your life – perhaps when you have felt you didn’t deserve the upset that came your way – then think about letting go of old hurts and resentments – the churning of old turmoils and the bubbling feeling of being hard done by that lies not far from the surface – let them go – let them really go. Wish the situations you encountered love. Show forgiveness and tell yourself you have no further need for resentful feelings in your life and feel yourself grow.

I urge you to think about your life, to go through the issues that need your forgiveness. Take the time to ask yourself if you are really ready to be the person you want to BE, to be ready to DO what you want to do and are really ready to HAVE what you want to have. It takes courage to be ready to receive. But if you are prepared go deeper with your thinking you will understand that with courage you will have the necessary requirements to BE.

So we are all individuals, each with our own way of accepting and facing our fears. Most of us are by no means always masters of control but if we think about going into our clear space – let go of our fears and aim to be courageous and bold, we will feel much more alive and vibrant and our new found inner strength will shine through.

Are you willing to allow yourself to be more courageous? You may just find you are more bold and courageous than you knew. In fact, I think you already are.

‘Though an ordinary woman,
Nothing about me is plain;
Like a single fingerprint traced in dust,
No other is the same.’
© Lyn Halvorsen

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Why Do We Keep Up Appearances? Be Yourself and Feel Better…

Do you ever feel a bit like Eeyore?

Do you ever feel as though you are the only one in your circle or tribe that has dark times? Times when you struggle to put one foot in front of the other; you feel bad and you don’t even know why sometimes, or you are feeling low and worries and anxious feelings creep in? These are often the times when you look around you and see everyone’s else supposedly getting on with life – skipping around looking like they don’t have a care in the world. You may look upon them with feelings tinged with envy because they appear to have everything sorted out. But do they really?

During my counselling years, one of the most striking features about some clients I worked with was how terrifically well they appeared to be coping. Smart appearance; good fitness regime; holding down a career and running a home: it could have been easy to imagine such people didn’t have a care in the world. And maybe that’s what their family and friends thought too. And yet when the person began to open up during their sessions I would often find that behind the smart facade was someone suffering deeply, and feeling alone in their distress. Often, they were the sort of people who didn’t want to burden their families  – maybe other issues were going on which they didn’t want to add to, or maybe they just didn’t want to appear vulnerable. The trouble with keeping up appearances though, is that stress can gradually build over time and feelings of isolation can keep growing.

One of my mantras in life is ‘never assume anything’, and this actually stands me in good stead in many ways. I’ve learned over the years that virtually everyone we meet in life has had moments when they feel like escaping from the world; getting under the duvet for twenty four hours or setting off down the road like Dick Whittington, carrying nothing more than a few belongings tied in knotted handkerchief on the end of a stick and with just a faithful cat for company.

Most of us are lucky to have good friends and yet how many times do we really open up and tell them how we really feel. If you are like me, the normal stock reply you give to most questions about how you are doing is ‘I’m good thanks’. None of us want to be a burden with our woes and none of us want to appear negative or grumpy. And of course, being positive and upbeat is a really good way to be and plays a part in lifting our spirits and can help change our outlook. But there are times when we can really benefit from being honest and getting something out in the open; and we can also find that we gain much more insight into another person’s feelings and behaviour. To show a friend or loved one that we trust them with our feelings is showing them how much we value them too. We don’t want to be glad to hear other people have been through bad times but it does help us when we hear someone’s personal story – to hear how they overcame their fears or adversity and found light at the end of the tunnel – and even transformation – for what can be more encouraging than that? And if we recount our worries and someone says “ It’s okay, I’ve been there – here’s my thoughts which might help” – it can feel literally like a trouble shared is a trouble halved as the saying goes.

This ‘opening up’ to people takes time. I find it much easier to give than to receive in all areas of my life. I love sharing gifts and know too, the importance of giving out kindness and being generous in all ways, not just financially. Sometimes, even when we seek help professionally (which I would advise if you really can’t seem to cope) and we are paying for counselling services – we may still struggle to look right and still try and maintain a good front because it is so ingrained in us to do so. Why is it hard to ask for kindness, advice or attention? We need to remember that there are good and loving people out there who would love to help given the chance.

Another point to remember is this: you may feel totally fed up with your story; your particular angst and worry. You may think no one will be interested in hearing it, or you may fear they will think you are daft. If you have been overtly anxious you will be tired –  (trust me, anxiety is the most tiring emotion in the world), but to the person you talk to, this is a new story; one to be viewed with fresh eyes, from a new angle and a new perspective. I doub’t very much if there is a person who wouldn’t want to reach out to you and be kind, to take on the privilege of helping you feel better. And if you do come across someone who isn’t on your wave length, don’t take it personally. They may be suffering too and not in the right place to help. For now, they are not ‘your’ person but I promise you, your person is out there.

Think about Eeyore. He was grumpy and he was miserable but his friends knew he had a good and loving heart.

    ‘One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. What is amazing is that they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they never leave him behind or ask him to change, THEY JUST SHOW HIM LOVE.’

I hope you are in a good place, but if you are not, reach out to someone today, even in a small way. Open your heart a little. Let in a little beam of light as you lift the corner of the duvet. And remember –  Dick Whittington may have been in dire straights when he walked off into the distance but he eventually found good fortune and became the Mayor of London! You may not wish to be Mayor (or you may but that’s another story!) but you CAN change things.

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Bluebells and Turtle Doves….

Spring is at its prime and the hedgerows and the fields are at their most vibrant. The blackbirds are busily feeding their chicks and nature seems at its most active. After a long, cold winter how could one not be inspired? Suddenly the world around us is coming to life and as I drove around the country lanes today I was tempted to stop to look at the bluebells carpeting the woodlands. Sometimes, at times like these I am prompted by the lines of a favourite song or the words from a favourite guru. There is so much to be grateful for and so many heartfelt words that make my own heart sing. So today, I’d like to share with you some of my own words; some are taken from the inspiration of others, so maybe they are not totally mine, and yet, they are. All things come from little threads we pick up and blend into our own tapestry of life.

The bluebells made such a pool that the earth had become like water, and all the trees and bushes seemed to have grown out of the water.’

Do you sometimes make up your mind how things are going to go, worry about reactions of others or how they are going to respond to you?

Some days surprise you; people surprise you: sometimes in ways that you hadn’t expected and in ways that can spur you on. Remind yourself never to assume anything. All is well.’

Do you spend too much time worrying? Cast your cares aside, even if just for a moment. Start again tomorrow.

Put your thoughts to sleep; let them not cast a shadow over the moon. Drown them in a sea of love.’

Do you sometimes feel confused and wonder what life is all about for a moment, and then you catch the notes of a familiar well loved song playing on the radio or read some old notes you wrote long ago and all of a sudden, things fall into place again? You remember what is important to you. You feel like things are okay.

Look for signs from the Universe; open a favourite book at a random page and see what’s written there. Look out for your friendly robin; pick up a stray coin. Look at the abundance all around you.’

Make it your mission to spread love and kindness.

Reach out and say hello; reassure one another when times are fraught; be kind. Look for sunbeams shining through the clouds.’

It is easy to forget to look around when we are busy. But remember to stop and look at the small things. Really in life, it is the small things that are important.

Remember too, when you are out and about – look up! It surprising what you miss when you focus on the ground – look at the pretty windows, the unusual architecture, the doves perched on their window ledges. See the sunlight filter through the tall trees in the morning and the stars twinkling in the inky blue sky at night.’

Walk in the sunshine. And if it rains tomorrow the fragrant flowers at your feet will be ever more beautiful.

Bluebells