Why We Should All Walk the Brightest Path…

We should all be able to feel safe this Christmas, in all four corners of the world..

This morning we took an early morning walk. The sun had just come up but there was a chill in the air making us hope we have a cold, crisp Christmas .

As we wound our way round the village and walked back up the hill toward the woods behind Dove Lane, the path beneath our feet sparkled in the winter sun. Looking more closely, I could see there were hundreds of glass chips embedded in the tarmac. I had never noticed this before; maybe it was the direction of the sun or the time of day, but the effect was magical. The path glittered like something out of a fairy tale and I half expected to be transported to a different land – maybe if I had wished hard enough I may have seen one of Santa’s elves peaking out from behind one of the trees! I thought about the beauty that surrounds us whoever we are and whatever our circumstances; rich or poor, we are all entitled to walk along a glittery pathway.

We are all created as equals. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. I certainly do. I think most of us, at some time in our lives, have looked up at someone we see as more famous, wealthy or seemingly more accomplished than ourselves and felt a little overshadowed. It is a habit that is hard to shake off. But we all have our skills, our own uniqueness that no-one can take away. We can all have a chance to shine and take a walk along a special path. There are so many unsung heroes we may pass along the way; those who carry on in the most dire circumstances, and still raise a smile.

This time of year, as I rush around crossing things off my long Christmas ‘to do’ list I often stop in my tracks and remember to be grateful. There are so many people without a roof over their heads, both in our country and in foreign lands. So many innocent children caught up in wars that have absolutely nothing to do with them apart from raging in the lands they happen to be born in. How can this be? The contrast between different lives is sometimes overwhelming.

One day, I hope there will be a world where every child, indeed every human being, has a home where they feel safe and secure at Christmas and all through the year – a place where they can stop and look out through the window at the moon and stars, and feel at peace.

I sat drinking a hot chocolate with a friend today and we talked about life; how things sometime surprise us and turn out differently than expected. How sometimes it’s hard to take the rough with the smooth. How busy life can be at times. But would we really want to walk in anyone else’s shoes, however important they are?

I love this Malagasy proverb –

‘ A canoe does not know who is King, when it turns over, everyone gets wet.’

I hope you can walk the glittery Christmas path today.

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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.  

Eating Well (and Not a Very Big Cabbage!)

Perhaps we all need a gentle reminder to look after ourselves….

 

We are well into October. The Autmn weather has treated us kindly with lingering warm balmy days easing into winter with magical mist and wonderful colour; it will soon be time time to look forward to cosy evenings, warm coats, chunky scarves and the odd hearty casserole or two. On the flip side, this is the time we are urged to think about things like flu jabs too and bolstering our immune systems for the winter…..

We are bombarded with information about keeping healthy these days. There are countless articles and programs available to seemingly guide us through the pros and cons about what we should be eating, how much exercise we should take and the sort of lifestyle we should be leading.

You may notice the word ‘should’ cropped up three times in the previous paragraph. Hmm..I need to address that. I was listening recently to a recording by the late and much missed Louise Hay, the motivational author and founder of Hay House. The subject was ‘Self Healing’ and with her gentle words of wisdom she suggested we ban the word ‘should’ from our vocabulary. Immediately we tell ourselves we ‘should’ do something, we change our thought pattern and feel restricted; we lose the natural flow of our thoughts. Maybe we can change the way we look at things, even just for a while. Change the word ‘should’ to ‘could’. We could be gentle with ourselves and nourish ourselves; both our bodies and our minds. We could make our own choices. We have unlimited choices if we look around.

Do we feel healthy?

Here is a guide I like to go by. A barometer for good health. You will notice that with good health it is easier to become a more grounded person too:

Absence of fatigue. Good appetite. Sleeping well and awaking refreshed. Good memory. Good clear thinking. Being the person you would like to be – honest, with good humour, kind, grateful and loving.

I wonder how many of us have the good health the above paragraph describes? I would like to think most of us but I certainly cannot tick all the boxes all of the time. Can you?

There are so many factors that are important for our health and well being. We all have a centre of wisdom deep inside us and if we make positive changes we can attract good spiritual and physical health. Our bodies are actually a mirror of our thoughts and beliefs. We hear the expression ‘we are what we eat’ very often, and I believe it to be true, but I think ‘we are what we think’ as well. Our subconscious mind accepts what we tell it as true, so with the unlimited choices about what we think, it is important to train ourselves to be positive and release any negative thought patterns. It is incredible to think that right now, what we think today, this minute, can create our future.

Letting go.

Most of us carry burdens or negative thoughts around with us of some sort or another. Maybe we feel we aren’t good enough, clever enough or even carry some guilt. We try to please. We want to be liked. We want to excel at what we do. Maybe we feel fear. I know life is hard to figure out. It always has been and always will be. But letting go of things we can’t change will help us face the future and improve our health. I am a born worrier and yet I know that worry never changes anything, and most things resolve in the long run. If we harbour regrets and guilt, we are dwelling on things from the past we cannot change.

The power of meditation.

It took me a long time to learn the benefit of meditation. I found it difficult to switch off, to let my mind go blank. I tried many guided meditations with audio books and the like. I knew it must work otherwise why would all the great gurus live their lives by it? The dictionary describes meditation thus: contemplation, thought, musing, pondering, consideration, study, brooding, cogitation, reverie, etc. I realised I do this a lot of the time anyway! I just needed to do it in a calm and quiet atmosphere, and moderate my breathing. Once I realised there was no mystery behind it, it became a lot easier and part of a regular routine. I now know that if my mind gets bombarded with random thoughts I can quietly let them go. A ten minute pause in a busy day to clear the mind is as valuable as a long rest curled up on the sofa. I usually put on some peaceful music and maybe light a candle or a joss stick (well, I was around in the sixties).

Eating well and ‘not a very big cabbage!’

Where do we start with diet? Here we do have an enormous amount of choice. How lucky we are in the Western world to be able to choose our diet. So many foods are at our disposal. We can have all manner of foods deposited on our doorsteps at the click of a button. We have bulging cookery books on our shelves full of ideas and suggestions of what to cook for almost every kind of diet we will ever need. Yet still we find ourselves getting confused.

I like to cook and eat healthy, mainly vegetarian food with natural ingredients; whole grains, good fats, fruit and vegetables. I try and avoid sugar wherever possible but I find it hard to resist homemade cake. I guess the odd treat is acceptable! Eating nutritious food provides energy and good eating is about feeling good. I know that it is more of a challenge to eat well with food intolerance or allergies, but thankfully there is a range of gluten free and diary free food available in the shops now. Here at home we have been consuming much more of a plant based diet and are easing off diary produce. The range of nut milks available is growing all the time. I look forward to my cereal with almond milk every morning!

I know that we don’t all have a large budget and buying the best ingredients can be costly. A friend of ours recently commented about the exorbitant price of a cabbage, and to use his words, ‘not even a very big cabbage!’ It is hard for young families and I admire all the young parents who do their best to feed their families well. We need our youngsters to enjoy good nutrition – they are our future.

Exercise and fresh air

I’m not great at exercise. I need to exercise more. I do love to walk however, and there is nothing better than getting out in the fresh air with the headphones on whatever the weather. Life soon gains perspective again. Half an hour a day has been proven to make a big difference to overall health. Of course, the more exercise you can fit in, the better!

Essential Oils

At home it is lovely to use essential oils. Like all holistic therapies, aromatherapy seeks to strengthen the body’s own innate self-healing ability , aiming to restore balance, both physically and psychologically. It strives to correct any imbalances in the body which may have occurred through poor diet or negative thoughts.The use of essential oils can help to speed healing and well being.

Aromatherapy is a big subject and more than I can go into here, but if you haven’t used oils at home before, a good way to start is with a burner or diffuser. A simple burner operates with a tea-light and is quite inexpensive. Good oils to start with are lavender, geranium and ylang ylang. Essential oils need to be used with care so follow the instructions on the bottle. Fill the bowl of the burner with water and add a few drops of two or three oils and light the candle. Your room will soon smell amazing and you will feel uplifted. I have a diffuser which is a step up from a burner but not essential. I love mine as it changes colour and produces a gentle puff of steam. You can find a good range on Amazon.

My aim today is to give myself and anyone who would be glad of it and little nudge; to help us reflect on our lives, to ask ourselves whether we give ourselves enough time for the really important things in life, like nurturing and care. Don’t feel self indulgent if you feel the need to rest. It’s important to take time out, no matter how busy your life is.

We are energy beings first and foremost. But stress causes energy blockages in the physical body, causing stress and disease. Do not underestimate the power of positive thinking. This will counteract negative energies, make waves of love, compassion and understanding, and it heals.

If you are trying to cope with ill health at the moment I wish you well.

‘Whatever is good for your soul. Do that.’

Good health and blessings to you.

diffuser

When Things Change ….

Hello again! I’ve been out of communicado for a few weeks due to a house move. It’s been a busy time with lots to do and great excitement as we enter a new phase of our lives. My blog will always be ‘Notes From Dove Lane’ though: this title is dear to my heart and was taken from my book ‘Tea at Raphael’s which was inspired by a favourite lane in Somerset.

No matter how we are pleased with life’s new twists and turns, anxiety can still creep up on us and make us feel unsettled or jittery; its as if the old ‘worry monster’ likes to gain our attention and remind us of those old scenarios that cause us to fret. But it is good to remind ourselves that change helps us move forward and embrace new beginnings, and by engaging in new routines and trying out new surroundings we can move forward, even though we may move tentatively at first.

Today I am sitting in a delightful cafe in my new village – it’s a book shop that serves coffee and snacks – definitely my sort of place! The walls are lined with books from top to bottom and the array of coffee and cakes available is fabulous. I may be here often, (especially as I have no broadband yet!)

Please excuse my short blog this week – there is much to do at home and many deliveries and callers to attend to! One thing I must say though is that the weather has been glorious, and as we look out over the open fields beyond our house and watch the red kites swooping and hear their familiar whistle welcoming us, I am filled with gratitude.

Before I go, I have some exciting news! Last weekend, the Janey Loves Platinum Award Ceremony took place – and I am very pleased to say that my book ‘Best Foot Forward’ received a ‘highly commended’ award. It is always wonderful to know that someone has enjoyed your work!

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See you soon and blessings to you.

 

When the Heat is ON…..

The temperature reached over 30 Celsius at Dove Lane today. Most of us like warm, sunny weather but extreme heat can leave us feeling languid and out of sorts especially if we have to work or carry out necessary duties or appointments. Have you noticed people displaying erratic behaviour when out and about? Drivers have been cutting corners, pulling out in front of others and parking at odd angles. And that’s just me.

Today, I am lucky enough not to be working. I feel great sympathy for people struggling to work on hot trains, buses and worst of all, having to take the tube. (Don’t forget to carry a bottle of water with you at all times.)

The heat has definitely affected my brain and this week my blog is purposefully flippant and, well, a bit random. I have abandoned all sensibilities and compiled a list of THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING ANYTHING BECAUSE IT’S TOO HOT!

Here we go…..

1. Leave the blinds down and stagger to the bathroom to take a cool bath. If hair is long tie up without delay to avoid feeling like you have a rug on head. Wear loose clothing and don’t worry about looking slack. You are staying IN.

2. Eat light breakfast and don’t make the mistake I did and make porridge (unless you wish to induce sweating).

3. Move to sofa with large glass of water and a good book.

C8427696-E46D-44E8-8246-D02FCB14AFFFMarian Keyes is one of my favourite authors and this book makes a great summer read. Humorous and touching in equal measures.

4. Make an iced coffee and watch ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ or similar.

5. If feeling the need to stretch the legs wander around garden and possibly fill the watering can to water plants.

6. Return to sofa, drink more water and put feet up. Again.

7. If hungry consider making a salad which will be refreshing and nourishing.

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Tomato salad with herb dressing. 

Chop some ripe tomatoes and season with sea salt. Leave to rest for a few minutes then whip up a simple dressing with two parts extra virgin olive oil to one part white wine vinegar, small teaspoon french mustard and a pinch of sugar and spoon over. Add some herbs from your window sill if you have them. If feeling up to it/ hungry, make an omelette to go with it.

8. If feeling guilty about lack of activity, think about checking emails and catch up on any messages/texts.

9. Make a pot of tea and raid the kid’s biscuit tin.

10. Watch ‘The Chase’ and test any brain power.

11. If any of the family arrive home, make no apology for having had lazy day but offer sympathy, cold drinks and cold compresses for  delirious foreheads.

12. Make light supper.

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Pan fried salmon on a bed of mashed potato with spring onions and broccoli spears

Lightly sauté some salmon fillets in a little coconut oil. Place on a bed of creamy mash and add some lightly cooked broccoli. Garnish with some chopped spring onion if liked.

You may like to have a glass of crisp white wine with the above……

13. Tidy up after supper and relax/chat/ watch more television…..possibly finale of ‘Our Girl’.

14. Think about retiring early…lay down in darkened room and maybe pray for rain……

 

The above post is obviously a bit tongue in cheek – for my anxiety prone followers, I appreciate any change in conditions can be taxing so take it easy and be gentle on yourself. Talk to a friend if you find yourself feeling low and always remember: this too will pass.

 

 

 

 

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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