The Same Old Sun Up In The Sky

On my journey home  last night I looked at the winter sun hanging in the sky like a big red balloon. I thought about my eldest grandson who lives in America. I remembered telling him that whenever he missed us he could look up at the sun; the same sun that we looked at even though we were thousands of miles apart. It’s a comforting thought to know we share the same sky.

In times of loneliness or sadness I think we miss our loved ones more than ever. We only need to hear the few notes from a favourite shared song or pass a place we visited on happy days to slip into feelings of wistfulness.

But wherever we are in life there is always someone missing someone. The more we love the more our hearts can suffer when we are apart. But how lucky we are to love and to be loved.

Across the sea, a part of me

Stays in a house I know so well,

I left a footprint and a kiss

And a tear that softly fell.

And I visit often in my dreams

And swear I was really there,

Found my own way back, it seems

Across the sky we share.

A thousand miles can’t separate

Or loosen binds that tie,

And I can summon up your face

In the blinking of an eye.

(C) Lyn Halvorsen

                                   A favourite poem about my grandchildren:

My grandchildren came to the house today

And we took the time to stop and play.

Beloved little pair, playing with toys;

A sitting room filled with happy noise.

Special little people who like to dress

Like Superman, and a sparkly Princess.

We had a picnic laid on a cloth of silk

With gingerbread men and chocolate milk.

Left upon the bathroom mat

I see a twinkling sticker, a frog and a cat.

And in my handbag, what do I see?

A shiny lemon, dropped there for me.

(c) Lyn Halvorsen

Blessings to you….especially if you are missing someone today.

A Little Bit of Hygge…

I’ve read quite a bit about ‘hygge’ lately. I’m not sure exactly how you pronounce the word…or even spell it , but I think it’s pronounced  ‘hue-gah’. However, to quote my favourite philosopher Winnie-the -Pooh,  when asked how to spell a certain emotion, ‘You don’t spell it, you feel it.’

Spelling and pronouncing hygge is probably the easy part. Explaining what it is is perhaps a bit more tricky! I think the easiest way to explain it is by suggesting you think about all the cosy, ‘feel good’ things in life – the small but important things we crave, especially this time of year. I have heard it described as ‘cosiness of the soul’ ‘soothing times’ or ‘hot chocolate by candlelight.’ Whatever it is, I like it!

The word ‘hygge’ originates in Norway, and means ‘well-being’.

To elaborate a bit, hygge is a sense of coming together with loved ones, revelling in simple pleasures and sharing comfort food in front of the fire. Hygge isn’t about buying stuff, whatever the retailers want us to think. You don’t need to spend money to create a sense of hygge. Wrapping up in a warm, snuggly jumper and going for a walk can be hygge, as can catching up with a friend over coffee. It’s about feelings, not possessions. It’s about being kind to yourself and others.

You could:

Curl up in PJ’s and a warm blanket and read a book

Light a scented candle

Stop trying to multi-task – turn off the phone and focus on the moment

Bake some gooey brownies

Send a loved one a letter

Soak in a bath with some scented oils

Explore the outdoors

Walk someone’s dog, (or yours!)

Turn on some fairy lights in the fading afternoon light….

We don’t need an excuse for hygge either, and we can even use it at work. Create a little space on your desk for a candle, for a photo or a plant that is pleasing to the eye, or invest in a Himalayan salt lamp (if the boss allows obviously!).

There is a lot of hygge in Denmark, said to be one of the happiest countries in the world. I guess they have their problems and issues like every other country, but they seem to have a positive outlook, and even have a Happiness Research Institute. It is worth noting that Danish people are the ones who meet up with their families and friends the most often, and feel the most calmest and the most peaceful.

Ok, Ok I know I have gone over the top a bit but I think you get my drift. This time of year, especially on a grey, misty and murky day like today, we all need a bit of hygge. While fashions come and go, hygge is one trend that I think is very much worth indulging in.

Here was my bit of hygge today. If in doubt….bake!

Hygge blessings!

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Onwards and Upwards…yet again..

Greetings from Dove Lane. I hope you have had a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.

It’s that time again when we have the slight lull that follows the festivities of Christmas Day with all the celebrating, eating and family time, before gearing ourselves up for the onslaught of the New Year. It is one of the precious few times of the year when we have several days off in a row (at least in our house), forget which day it is, and where we have time for lay-ins and cooked breakfasts before a leisurely walk or, in our case, more sorting and unpacking in the aftermath of a house move that took place just before Christmas.

I always struggle with this time of year; I don’t like giving up on Christmas. I cling on to the twinkling lights and the decorations for as long as possible. I inwardly cringe when I hear people saying they can’t wait to ‘get back to normal’or that they have already taken their decorations down the day after Boxing Day. I don’t get it. It’s dark. WE need lights. WE need to keep the fun going as long as possible!

The seasons seem to be getting shorter and shorter with the space between them constantly shifting and moving on before we have had chance to enjoy the present. At our local garden centre, Santa had moved in in October and was back in the North Pole before we knew it. (The grotto was fantastic though!) All that remains in the Christmas store now are a few sad and bedraggled decorations selling at knock down prices, whilst the summer barbecue equipment is coming back in through the door, along with the garden furniture and the patio heaters. I have never been able to work out who would buy these things in the still dark days of winter, but obviously some people do. Don’t get me wrong, I know we can’t cling on to Christmas for too long, but surely we can wait a few more weeks before calling time on everything festive.

I am sure now I will never be the Queen of England. I would put money on it. I’m not even remotely in line to the throne, although I must say, I can do quite a good royal wave, but if I WERE ever to be Queen, or Prime Minister (now there’s a thought) the first thing I would do would be to create a public holiday at the end of January. I have always thought that would be a very good idea. It wouldn’t be nearly so bad clearing up after Christmas if we knew there was another holiday on the horizon. Like a ‘Goodbye to Winter, Spring is on the horizon’ sort of holiday.

I don’t want to see chocolate creme eggs in the shop yet, and although I am a romantic, I’m not yet ready to see Valentine’s cards either.

I have always found New Year’s Eve a bit daunting. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions and I don’t particularly like all the emotions involved. Maybe like is not the correct word. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with friends and I’m not a party pooper but I do think looking back down over one year and wondering what the next will bring does stir up all sorts of emotions. I guess I like to treat every day the same, for each day is new and special whatever the time of the year.

You have probably deduced that I don’t bother with starting a new diet or a new project on January 1st. I will just try and stick to the healthy diet I have always tried to follow, not always successfully, but then we all fail from time to time. I will try and keep up my daily walks and do the odd bit of meditation, but I won’t be setting any rules that will be broken a few weeks down the line. Most of all I will try to be happy and make the best of things.

Happiness is a choice. Kindness is a choice – the best choice. And I hold the hope that I can make the rest of my life a good part of my life.

I would love to hear how you view the start to the New Year!

               To Christmas    

 Christmas comes but once a year,

That’s not enough for me,

When it’s gone I shed a tear,

It’s gone too soon you see.

Don’t grumble about the Christmas rush

Enjoy the magic instead,

Stoke up the fire and pour the wine,

Put the stocking by the bed.

Enjoy the delicious gourmet treats

Forget about the diet,

Walk along the snowy streets

When all the world is quiet.

Don’t put the decorations away too soon

The Angel needs and airing,

She sits too long in a dusty box

And her feathers need repairing.

Then fill the house with scented flowers

When the year is done,

Look forward to the daylight hours

And plan to have some fun.

I wish you a Very Happy New Year however you celebrate, and whether you make resolutions or not, good luck !

NAMASTE

My Wish for You This Christmas

I’m writing a short blog this week; we have just moved into a new house in Dove Lane and as yet only have access to my blog via my iPhone which is great but leaves me squinting badly if I write anything too long! Apologies..I hope to be up and running again soon.

Before I send you a Christmas poem I’d just like to make an observation. We all know Christmas is a very special time of year, whatever our beliefs, but this week everywhere I’ve been I’ve noticed the night sky seems a deeper and more velvety blue, the Christmas trees in the windows are glowing more brightly and the Christmas Carols  comfort us with the old familiar tunes from years past. It’s as though the world around us just knows…knows that this is more than just a date in the calendar that rolls around every year. This is  the time of the year when the profound story of long ago reaches out to us even without or in spite of, all the usual trappings of a commercial Christmas. It is there. Everywhere. A profound calling for the Peace which we pray for, both today and for every day of the year.

Christmas blessings!

I wish you:

Clear starry nights and frosty days,

Shop  assistants helpful in all sorts of ways,

Cosy gloves and furry boots,

A Christmas tree with healthy roots.

Plates of mince pies and glasses of sherry,

All passed around to make you merry.

And bunches of mistletoe so no one misses

Copious amounts of Yuletide kisses.

A heavenly choir singing all in tune

Santa flying by in the light of the moon.

A family together on Christmas Eve

And little children who still believe.

Everyone lending a helping hand

To those in need throughout the land.

No one sitting unloved or alone

Everyone finding their way back home,

And whether you travel from near or far,

Peace and love wherever you are.

(C) Lyn Halvorsen

 

 

 

 

The Lamb who never forgot…

Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least fifty individual sheep and they can remember humans for years…

Sheep have best friends..

Sheep and shepherds are mentioned 247 times in the bible.

A lamb identifies her mother by her bleat.

Here is a story about a very special lamb.

It was a bitterly cold night and the frost was hard on the ground which sparkled in the setting sun. The sky was streaked with shades of blue and pink; the beautiful sunset making up for the bone-chilling cold. Across the fields a shepherd could see his flock of sheep huddling together to keep warm. It was time to give them some more food and water; then they would cope well with the cold weather; their warm woolly coats well able to keep out the the damp and the chill. As he looked again, something  in the corner of the field caught his eye. He saw a small sheep. A lamb really; standing in the far corner of the field all alone, looking out across the fields. The shepherd strode across the field, his crook in his hand, steadying him on the frozen ground. He approached the lamb and the lamb looked up at him. His eyes were nearly black in his little white face and his coat felt thick and springy under the shepherds gnarled hand as it reached out to stroke him.

‘Come on little fellow,’ said the shepherd picking him up and tucking him under his arm, ‘I don’t want you getting lost.’ He set him down with the other sheep farther across the field and went to sit with the other shepherds for some companionship.

The shepherds built a fire and sat looking after their sheep, ready for a long, cold night. The fire crackled and smoked as the sky darkened and their heads nodded drowsily. Pulling his  colourful robe around him, the first shepherd stared out into the darkness. He looked around as though he was searching for something, and he kept close to the fire. Tonight felt different, he thought to himself. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was definitely different. He had never felt nervous in the fields before; he knew every corner of these hills; almost every blade of grass and every twist in the surrounding path, but tonight he was uneasy, he felt unsettled. He cast his eye across the field and the lamb he had picked up earlier was standing up and looking alert; it was as though he was waiting for something as yet unexplained.

Times were hard in the land. There was much unrest in the surrounding towns and cities and often the sound of gunfire would echo around the hills. Even now, late into the night, the shepherd could hear the rumble of explosions in the distance. He wondered why there were always people fighting in the world. He feared for all the families forced to flee their homes and leave all the remnants of their lives behind them. Would they find a place of safety?

The shepherd remembered the last time he had travelled into the nearest town to buy some sheep to add to his flock. He had felt unsafe and hadn’t stayed long. He had just had enough time to load some sheep on to his trailer, pay the farmer and leave, before he heard shots being fired and people screaming. As he drove out of town he saw the fear on the faces of the farmer and his wife as they watched him leave. In the comparative safety of his hut in the hills, he thought about them often. He remembered the haunting face of a young woman who was heavily pregnant. The shepherd wished he could go back to help the family get to safety, but he feared for the life of his own family too. He stared into the darkness deep in thought. Silently, the little lamb crept over and settled down beside him. Drawing comfort from this, the shepherd smiled and dozed for a while.

In the early hours of the morning, the shepherd awoke with a start. The sky was unusually bright and there was a single star glowing brightly. He put his hand down to touch the lamb but it was gone. Getting up, the shepherd looked around in the dazzling light. For a moment, he thought he saw a figure pointing towards a nearby barn. He wasn’t sure if he believed in angels, but the figure smiled at him and told him not to be afraid.

The shepherd was greeted by an unusual sight. The star was shining brightly over the barn, and inside he saw the farmer he remembered from the town. His wife was laying on a pile of hay and cuddling a baby. Right beside her was the lamb. It was laying very close to the baby, warming it with his woolly coat. For the rest of the day and many days to come, the lamb never left the baby’s side. The family had few belongings; just the clothes they had arrived in, but for the moment they were safe.

Word seemed to get around that there was a family in need and help seemed to arrive from many unlikely places, bearing gifts for the little baby. Some men even arrived on camels; they had been studying the stars and had been waiting for good news.

When the shepherd spoke to the farmer he asked him how they had found their way up to the hills. ‘We had no choice but to run for our lives’ said the farmer, ‘we did not know where to go, but as I looked up in the direction of the hills I heard the lamb bleating loudly; it seemed to be waiting for us, to show us the way. I think it was the lamb I had reluctantly sold to you when you came into town. I had had no choice, as I needed the money.’

Soon, peacekeeping forces arrived and the family were airlifted to safety. The shepherd hoped that they would be able to start a new life. Who knew, the baby could grow up to do great things.

The shepherd had renewed hope for a peaceful future. He went back to tending his flock and wherever he went, the lamb was at his side.

Blessings to you.

Back to the Forgotten Way of Life..

It was a beautiful day here at Dove Lane yesterday. A perfect winter’s day with clear blue sky and not a breath of wind. The freezing air brought a crispness to the leaves bejeweled with frost that crunched under my feet,and as a big golden sun just topped the fir trees, it was the sort of day that reminded me a  magical Christmas could be just around the corner.

Thinking about Christmas drawing closer, I was prompted to wrap up warmly and head off to the shopping centre to start some Christmas shopping. ‘Himself’ had gone fishing with his oldest friend who was over from Canada and was therefore well occupied, so I was ready to devote some hours to serious shopping.

Driving along with the radio on I listened to the news and to a report on the situation in war torn Syria, I listened to the  very sobering news of people in Aleppo walking over the rubble of damaged buildings, while carrying their belongings. Around twenty thousand have fled their homes just over the past 72 hours. Many more thousands left before. Some people live in shelters, some in mosques, schools or tents, while others find refuge in damaged buildings. The majority of those who flee are families, many with infants and young children. How can they cope in flimsy shelters; their situations made worse for all as winter takes hold and temperatures drop?

I feel ashamed to think I have been a bit stressed over an imminent house move; bickering has broken out with some of the people in our housing chain who want to get on with things. This move is a chosen one with excitement and promise for the future. It has not been forced upon us in dire circumstances. Whatever happens, the situation is not dangerous or life threatening.

But for some, the implications of fleeing home are immense. It’s not just a matter of picking up a few things and leaving. There is a huge knock-on effect. Apart from leaving the familiarity of home, when sometimes it is all they have ever known, all their security, their haven, is gone. All they have left is a few belongings. I can only pray these innocent people, caught in the ugly crossfire of war, can be guaranteed a safe passage, and access to food and water, and medical care if they need it.

I saw a picture of children as young as six playing together amongst the destruction in Aleppo, with beaming smiles on their faces as they looked at the camera. Children are our future, the future of the world, and whatever their race and wherever they come from, they need a safe place to live; to learn and grow, and most of all, play without fear.

By the time I had parked in the busy town car park, I was in much more of a thoughtful mood. I listened to the cheerful Christmas music blaring out in every shop and looked at the shops loaded with luxury goods of all descriptions and wondered about all the commercialism, and how it is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the festive season. Do we lose sight of what is really important when we rush around trying to tick everything off our shopping list? The paradox is this: we get stressed at Christmas because we want to please everyone, and yet we would probably please them more if we reverted to the more simple ways of doing things.  I still did my shopping; of course I want my loved ones to have a good Christmas, but I was more mindful of treading lightly with my thoughts, being considerate, and realising that everything gets done in time.

It is always easy to look back with rose-tinted spectacles. To look back at a time when life was simpler, and there was no online shopping, no permanent bombardment of advertisements tempting us to buy things we don’t really need, and we didn’t spend a fortune on gourmet foods with exotic names,( because we hadn’t heard of them and didn’t know we needed them).

But maybe sometimes it is good to stop and think about what we really need to be happy. And to think about those people who are just trying to survive.

You can donate to help a child in Syria at http://www.savethechildren.org or call 0800 8148 148

Every amount, no matter how small, will make a difference.

I’ve just been listening to people talking about having arguments at Christmas; how to keep the relatives happy and how can they make time for themselves. Every year it happens and yet the year rolls around and we forget about last years trials and tribulations and start the whole process again. Maybe this year things could be different!

In these frantic weeks before Christmas I wish you peace and love and the power to make a difference in whatever small and positive way you can.

Blessing to you.

Flags of Peace

I wish that I had special powers

And could turn everything around

So we could change the way we look at things,

And keep our feet upon the ground.

To ask the floating clouds above,

To spill the gentle rain,

To water the dry and barren land

And make it green again.

And could I harness the force of the wind,

Calm the raging sea,

Reign over nature’s wayward mind,

And let it quietly be?

For every child in every land,

There would be food enough to eat,

Arms stretched out to hold them tight,

And shelter from the heat.

And the warmest blanket

In the coldest night;

Comfort from a stranger;

And a candle burning bright.

And what if I could ask the world,

To find the path to peace,

With every country’s ‘flag unfurled

As all the wars have ceased?

But if I cannot change the world,

I can bend when the storm appears,

Do great things in smaller ways,

To dry another’s tears.

For I alone cannot decide

The way the world should be,

And I cannot begin to know

What there is still to see.

                            (C) Lyn Halvorsen

 

 

An Angel by the Table..

Do you ever have a day when you want to be with good friends and share a welcome cup of hot chocolate?

On this quiet November day, I started thinking again about a cafe dear to my heart. A few years ago, I published my first novel ‘Tea at Raphael’s.’

Here is a short resume:

Hello. My name is Mary Kindly.

Many years ago I was guided by new friends to open a café in the town of Starbridge, in the West Country. Situated in Dove Lane, a pretty, narrow street not more than twelve feet wide, the café was called Raphael’s and became a meeting place not just for those needing food and drink, though there was more than enough delicious food on offer, but for anyone seeking friendship and comfort.

With the help and divine intervention of my friends Gabriel and Raphael all things were possible at Raphael’s café. I soon learned not to fret about running a business that was entirely new to me for I found help and guidance at every turn. From the beautiful cook, Grace, who always left a trail of vanilla behind her, to the kind and helpful Michael and Ariel, we were a group like no other.

As the sun set each night, I would retire to my attic bedroom above the café and look out across the rooftops. Often I would see Gabriel’s figure looking out from his own window a few streets away and could sense rather than see, the serenity in his being.

As time passed, many people from all walks of life passed through the doors of Raphael’s. I like to think we played a part in the healing and rebuilding of some of the lives of the customers; sometimes the most difficult of days were helped by the simplest of actions: a free sandwich placed without fuss in front of someone we knew had fallen on hard times; an introduction to a new friend for someone looking lonely or a chance to help in the kitchen for someone in need of work.

Sometimes we would go out to help people in the community who were struggling and we met many new friends this way.

Time and time again we found that ‘Raphael’s seemed to provide a haven just when someone needed it.

Before long I realised that my friends Raphael and Gabriel and their band of helpers couldn’t stay with me forever; once they knew Raphael’s café was in safe hands they had to be on their way and carry on their work wherever they were needed. But as the cold, chill winds of winter blew down Dove Lane I felt bereft as my friends prepared to leave.

‘I suppose you can’t tell me where you are going?’ I asked Gabriel.

‘I can’t Mary, but I promise you, you will never be alone. I love you and my love will always be with you. Always have faith and believe in all that is good in the world.’

The day they left, the doves that were perched on the ledge outside my window looked down at me unperturbed.

As I looked up, I saw a large white feather float down and settle by my feet.

I hope you find a peaceful haven today.

‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for in doing so some have entertained Angels unawares.’       Hebrews 13:2

Blessings to you.

local-author-with-picture

My book ‘Tea at Raphael’s is available at Amazon.co.uk