Finding Things to Enjoy Right Now…(and what not to).

How do we embrace the Autumn?

We may be finding ourselves sliding into worry again (if it ever really left) – for the world is insane, unfathomable, and the news almost offensively-familiar. Some people are back in lockdown and others wonder if and when it will be re-instated. We wait for the doors to shut and try not to think about all the repercussions once more. And this time we will not have the luxury of the long daylight hours, and the beautiful warm weather we enjoyed in the spring. We cannot help but think it will be a phase of quiet dullness with no novelty this time round – we have slightly tired of the ‘well this is making us appreciate reading/ catching up on box set viewing / home cooking’ etc. phrases. Second time round we really don’t want to think about the tiresome problem of finding somewhere that stocks plenty of loo rolls and has a good supply of marmite. We don’t want to plan our wardrobe so that we can look good from the waist up when taking a zoom call. We want to dress up properly and go out! We want to be able to choose a new winter coat and some snazzy boots that we might even be able to show off! For me, even the online yoga has palled a bit, as has the indoor walking. All these things have had their place, and indeed, still help keep us sane, but when we knew the restaurants were open again it didn’t take us long to drop the ‘woo woo’ stuff and leap off out. We don’t want half-hearted any more, we don’t want sorry attempts at being normal, yet at the moment that is what we have to accept.

But we are nothing if not resilient. We may fold our arms for a moment or two and grimace at the thought of what could lie ahead, but then our hard-core, steely reserve kicks in and we make the best of things. Again. That is what we do and what we are good at. And deep down, most of us do enjoy the small things.

So here are a few things that help me find some comfort now that a different kind of Autumn beckons …

The moon – Dust off those binoculars and get ready for the eleventh full moon of 2020. October’s moon was dubbed the Hunter’s Moon because preparations for winter began around this time. The next full moon doesn’t grace our skies until October 31st, but each night I have been moon gazing; the position of the now waning crescent moon is low in the sky and has taken on an extraordinary golden colour. One can only look and marvel at this loyal companion.

The colours – Oh the beautiful colours and traditions of autumn. From walks among the crunchy fallen leaves, to harvest festivals with the wonderful, abundant fruits and vegetables, the golden colours envelop us. The pumpkins in particular, grace our window ledges, stacked in all their golden glory, waiting to delight us with their spooky glow at Halloween. In October, the sun sinks low in the sky, the light mellows and takes on a rich amber hue so loved by photographers. Perhaps it is because my birthday falls in October but it is one of my favourite times of the year. The cosiness is there without the bone chilling cold of deep winter. And one can have an enormous bowl of porridge for breakfast with a drizzle of cream knowing it will bolster you up for the day….

Then there is the wildlife to beguile us. The pheasants, scampering and squawking through the ploughed fields and the geese who seem to fly over our rooftops most nights in their amazing v – shaped formation. The last few nights I have been lulled to sleep by owls hooting. Sometimes it sounds like just one, other times perhaps two, hooting back and forth in their night-time conversations . Looking in my bird book, I learn that great horned owls begin setting up territories in October. Apparently, they mate for life but begin their courtship about now. Perhaps I am lucky enough to have a pair of great horned owls living nearby! Some say the sound of an owl hooting foretells something untoward but I like to think it is something rather more romantic.

Hello Comfort.

Autumn lovers wave goodbye to those pesky tee shirts that show the worst bits of your arms and the skimpy sandals the cover your feet in blisters. We can welcome fleeces, UGGs and an abundance or warm, soft clothing. We can drink hot chocolate and eat home-made apple pie whilst wrapped up in a cozy throw on the sofa. Or how about some hot apple cider? If you have never had mulled cider before why not give it a try? Just pour a bottle of your favourite apple cider into a pan, with 3 cloves, I cinnamon stick and a sliced orange. Gently heat for ten minutes so that it infuses, cool slightly, then pour into glasses. Tastes delicious and so reminiscent of the days when we could meander round Christmas markets.

I guess we all want a bit of decadence in our lives; to relive the joy of dancing, and have a bit of a knees up from time to time. We can’t have that just now but we can dream of good times that will come again. Perhaps until then we can adopt a sort of sanguine resignation to the latest restrictions, look after ourselves and our mental health, and toast ourselves with a glass of cider.

Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness – facing a different Autumn…

Revisiting childhood memories and embracing the seasons of life….

Last Sunday morning I lay in bed listening to the morning service on the radio. It was celebrating the Harvest Festival. I heard a recording of a choir singing ‘We plough the Fields and Scatter’, and the years rolled back. I remember as a young child standing in Egloshayle church in Wadebridge, Cornwall, singing the same hymn and listening to my Father’s deep and harmonious voice singing along beside me. I remember that feeling of being in complete awe of my Dad – and the feeling of being in the presence of something far bigger than me. From the corners of the softly lit church came a feeling of unworldliness and reverence which was palpable even to me as a small child. The brass gleamed, and the soft light from the windows fell on the altar steps, where banks of fruits and vegetables were stacked. Every window ledge too, was covered with bounty so freely given. The air was full of the earthy smell of fresh produce and the sweetness of hay. Everything felt just as it should be.

There is something very comforting about familiarity – the festivals which come every year with the changing of the seasons, the pumpkins appearing in the shops and even the way we might complain about the first splashes of Christmas advertising; the way we sigh as we close the curtains a little earlier each evening, just as our mother’s did before us. Perhaps we need the comfort of this more than ever now. By focusing on the familiar , embracing the changing seasons and following the well-loved traditions, even on a smaller scale than we are used to, we can bask in some normality and forget about the Coronavirus for a while.

This year has been hard for us all in so many ways. And still we feel uncertainty lurking around every corner. We still have challenges to come. Yet in March, I remember us going for our daily walk during lockdown. It was so important to get outside and clear our minds. Walking the quiet, usually traffic- choked streets we could breathe the fresh, sweet air and embrace the silence around us. We could hear the birdsong – we could cling to the glimmer of new beginnings. Even as the traffic increases again, my attention is now sharpened to the complexity, diversity and sheer abundance of creation in this unruly, chaotic time.

No matter how we, on this planet, try and mess up the environment with our over consumerism, our over use and waste of resources , nature remains on our side. Nature is forgiving and we need to hold on to that , especially now. Walking out this morning, we picked a handful of blackberries from the hedgerow and collected some fallen apples to cook up for supper. Such a small example of how nature provides and shows us abundance and gives us simple delights and reasons to be grateful.

We all have different ways of coping and also not coping with the world – of dealing with worries and facing uncertain futures. I have had some days where worries about issues in my own world have chipped away at the strong exterior I try to present to the world and those I love and the defences crumble. But I have faith that those I love will understand. We all comfort each other at times like these.

So these are the days when memories evoked from past times – the robust singing of a well-loved hymn or the earthy scent of the harvest gathered in, remind us of our roots, of a permanency and the order of things. They remind us that the seasons will still come and go – and that the world keeps on turning. The familiar can anchor us when we need it, as can following the small daily routines – as I have said so many times, it is the small things that are really the big things.

Times may be so different now to those days long ago when I stood as a little girl next to my dad in church. Technology surrounds us, the media bombards us the television beams into our home 24/7. There is hardly anything we can’t look up, order or comment on in one way or another. So much has changed and many things have moved forward in beneficial ways. Attitudes have changed and become more liberal. Diversity is embraced although there is still a long way to go. But I can still look back and remember the inherently good feeling of the memory and the reassurance of my dad’s hand on my shoulder. These things make us who we are and are never lost.

A few weeks ago I was wandering through a churchyard in a pretty village in Dorset. In the silent surroundings I stopped and looked at a headstone that caught my eye – the inscription was this:

Let the winter come and go – all shall be well again I know’

Something to encourage us all I think….

The Wonky House Mouse

Look forward to taking a bit of ‘time-out’ and enjoying some light reading!

This is a little different to my normal blog!

If you are like me and like to escape from all the problems going on in the world from time to time, you may enjoy my latest venture. During lockdown, I spent a bit of time putting together some simple rhymes about some cheeky but friendly mice…then, before long I had added some fun illustrations and the ‘Wonky House Mouse Tales’ book came to life! My lovely publisher Richard, at Polarity Publishing, has supported me in getting my mouse tales into print and you can read more about the book at Amazon on the link below.

Of course, I would love to get these mischievous mice up in the Amazon best seller ratings, so I would love you to take a look! The book is suitable for all children of any age, but hopefully fun for adults to read too!

TIME TO BE NICE TO MICE…..

The link to the book is here: https://amzn.to/3gcRNUp

Thanks so much for taking a look and if my book cheers you up I couldn’t ask for more!

Lyn

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.

 

4471008D-41A5-4358-B50B-5E93221DCA38

 

Encouragement for Today…

Maintaining normality….

Some encouragement and suggestions for today…

You may have already read this piece but I felt I wanted to add it here:

     ‘And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.’

                                                                    Attributed to Kitty O’Meara

 The above words are wise, thought provoking and beautiful.

But how do we steady ourselves today? The news is factual but dramatic. Of course we need to be informed but it is hard not to feel unsettled and anxious, even frightened.

At the moment we have to listen to the advice we are given and try and keep calm.

Here are a few things helping me feel calmer:

I have been watching the rooks building their nest for a while now. High in the trees and way above the rooftops, they are going about their business. Whatever the weather they come and go on a regular basis – dipping into our garden to help themselves to the bread on our lawn and flying backwards and forwards with twigs in their beaks to bolster up the nest. No matter what is happening on the ground onwards they go…

A selection of houseplants are arranged on my kitchen windowsill and whenever I look at the perky green leaves and tendrils I feel better. There is a softness in the natural colour. Above hangs a crystal which catches the sun and throws a rainbow of colours round the room and spreads healing energy.

Photographs are arranged on the shelf and I look at pictures of my wonderful sons, their beautiful wives and all nine of our adored grandchildren. I can imagine my hands on theirs. My arms around their shoulders. I can send them love, and love knows no boundaries.

As I write this I am listening to some music recommended by my daughter-in-law in America. She plays this to our youngest granddaughter every night. The music is peaceful, spiritual, harmonious . It helps to think that even when we are all apart, we can still share beautiful things.*

My husband is in the garden. I can hear him turning the soil with the fork, preparing the garden for the next season. The smell of newly mown grass is drifting in through the door. Tending the land is good for the soul and connects us to the earth.

I have been cooking. Chopping, blending, seasoning and then filling and shaping Cornish pasties just like my mother and grandmother before me. Home cooked food nourishes the soul as well as the body.

I have cleaned and tidied the house. There is something comforting in making our surroundings as pleasant as possible, especially if we have to stay in for while!

Looking for the silver lining helps – we may be frustrated because we cannot do a lot of the things we normally do without a second thought, but we are being given the gift of time. Time to have conversations with loved ones, time to reach out to neighbours who are grateful for our help, time to catch up on chores we have been putting off. Time to remember who and what is really dear to us. Time to put trivia aside and concentrate on what really matters. This is the time we wouldn’t have had if we were rushing around meeting deadlines.

I end by saying let’s encourage each other. Let us not isolate ourselves emotionally even if we have to physically. Find ways to relax. Stress does more damage than anything. Love and kindness matters. Let’s get through this scary time together.

 

*Hidden in My heart (A Lullaby Journey Through Scripture)

5665473B-6B28-43B3-9A29-3B7CAA98E89B

Is ‘Sweating the Small Stuff’ Really a Problem?

‘Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things’.

I was thinking about how we go through our days, months and years; how we cope with life and the pressures we bear at times. We try to be diligent and concern ourselves with the rights and wrongs going on the world; what will happen about Brexit – how will the actions of President Trump impact upon us – what about global warming – the economy – the NHS – slipping standards in behaviour – the gloomy news we listen to everyday? I could keep adding to this never ending list…..

Throughout the day or week, your routine is most likely set and the little things happening during that time are the ones that are making a difference.

Last Sunday, I was invited to a service of  remembrance at the local church. This was held in the early evening – and although it was Remembrance Sunday this was an additional service held for all those who had lost someone close to them in the last year. It was a way of honouring the memory of a loved one recently departed, and a chance to give thanks for their life: ‘A gentle service to remember loved ones no longer with us.’

The service was very moving and conducted by the ministers with love and grace. It gave everyone time. Time to reflect and think about those we loved and lost, in a calm and peaceful environment. Towards the end of the service we were invited up to the altar to add a flower to the cross laid at the front, together with a lighted candle. As we returned to our seats and the lights were dimmed we sat quietly in contemplation for a while, before saying goodbye and going out into the dark night.

The service was beautiful for so many reason. As I had watched everyone walking up to lay a flower for their loved ones, I realised again, that all we really want in this life is to love and be loved. Just as the flowers thrive with the warmth of the sun and the gentle rain, so we thrive when we are loved. We may feel bereft when we lose someone very dear to us, but we can reflect on all the love we shared with that person and be glad. Love is at times, responsible for causing us heartbreak and pain as well as great joy, but without it we are lost. And when we show love and receive love we don‘t really need to worry about the bigger picture – the big wide world; it is the small things in life that matter.

I watch cookery programmes often; with each new series of Masterchef or The Great British Bake-Off I get drawn back into the show and get to ‘know’ the latest contestants and their particular way of doing things. I watch as they sometimes dissolve into tears when a soufflé sinks or a casserole burns  and it is easy to get into a cynical way of thinking and judging, and then I wonder why? It’s good to get passionate about cake! It may not change the world but a good slice of cake can make someone’s day!

We are all striving to be the best we can be – to make something of ourselves and our lives and there is nothing wrong with that. If we feel bound to make a difference to the world then we should go for it! Where would we be without explorers and pioneers in every field; those who work relentlessly and discover new drugs and new ways of healing? There are so many people struggling tirelessly to help people and to care for those who need it most. They are often the people too, who still find time to stop and enjoy the small things in life.

So when we focus on the small things, the little things that concern us, I don’t think it is a bad thing. Of course, we don’t want to get stressed particularly, about blocked drains (me at the moment) or being cut up on the motorway or any of the daily annoyances that beset us all from time to time. But stopping to study the new shoots on the trees or listen to the birds can only ever do us good.  Throughout the day or week, your routine is most likely set and the little things happening during the time are the ones that are making a difference.

It’s worth noting that the good feeling we get from taking some freshly baked bread from the oven or watching a child jump and play, is far more heartening than studying a politician arguing in a debate on the news, no matter how important the topic!

The good small things for me:  

Waking up and feeling good – making porridge the Cornish way.

Good hair days! A cup of tea in my favourite angel mug. My sister’s dog, Willow Writing a poem I am happy with. Going to the beach. Cooking a chocolate cake. Listening to Clifford T. Ward – listen to ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’it’s beautiful. Laughing with friends. Messages from my sons. ❤️❤️ Christmas movies. Looking at photos of my mum and dad. Listening to my husband singing along to ‘Sounds of the sixties.’ 🎼 Reading to my grandchildren 📖   Life is made up of moments. Collect them and keep them in your heart.    

The magic of starting to focus on these little, but important things, is that you will gradually change from focusing on what is missing in your life, to what is there. And when we feel grateful for what we have, we gradually add to our happiness levels, bit by bit.

      IMG_0071 What small things make you happy? I would love to hear from you.  

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