When Looking Back is Good – Helping You Through Anxious Times…

Nothing good is ever lost….

 

How many times when we are feeling down or anxious do we look to the past? Perhaps we look for something or someone to blame for our lives not being perfect. When we talk to counsellors or have therapy we are encouraged to look to the past and dig out old and sometimes forgotten hurts or betrayals from the deep and darkest corners of our minds. Often this may be completely necessary,  for some are unlucky enough to have suffered terrible or haunting traumas that they cannot begin to move on from until these have been brought into the light and examined so the person can then, hopefully, start the process of healing and move forward.

Sometimes, though, looking into the past can reveal happy, long forgotten times. This has been made plain to me this week. I have been going through old photographs that I found in an old suitcase underneath my Dad’s bed when sadly having to sort out his things.  Last night I took a huge trip down memory lane and realised the past has many fragments of stories to tell us if we are lucky to be able to be left a bundle of forgotten keepsakes as I have been.

As our parents age it is easy to forget they were young once; starting out and meeting life head on. They had a life with their own parents and aunts, uncles and friends, a career and a love life. They had expectations and plans.

I looked at pictures of my dad dressed in his naval uniform and saw the eagerness and enjoyment of life portrayed in his physical (and bearded!) appearance! Standing on the ship’s deck with his arms around the shoulders of his compatriots, fit and healthy and tanned by the sun,  I saw that just as the waves around him propelled the boat forward so was he being propelled into his new life.

My parents met just after the war in 1949 so were still enduring rationing and austerity when they met, but I think they were full of hope for the future. I looked at pictures of them at a time which must have been early in their relationship and I could see the happiness in their eyes. In their wedding photographs they are surrounded by their smiling families, all celebrating a wonderful and happy day.

No matter how close we are or were to our parents, we often may wish we had asked them more about past days and realise we have missed the opportunity to learn about our family history. But sometimes, if we are able to delve a bit, the signs of the past are there for us. We may never know the full story of how we came to be and even who or what we are fully made up of, but maybe none of us ever really know our full history. We are the sum of many parts and in a way that is the mystery of life.

         ‘From the hidden depths of your kindly eyes, I see a glance I’ve known from years gone by. When you stop a moment and pause just there, There’s an age-old smile I see you wear.’

I knew I always had a love of the beach and the Cornish way of life, and that Cornish blood runs through my veins, but quite how much I hadn’t realised until looking at countless photographs of my parents and me on Polzeath beach. And I can understand now why I am always drawn to the same corner of the beach  when I return there, for we were always ensconced by the same rock pools, picnic box at the ready, judging by the pictures. Grandparents were there often, and aunts, uncles and cousins.

 

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My dad preferred us NOT to play on the running board….(I’m in the middle in the stylish romper suit!)

 

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Apologies for the blurry picture – like me, it’s a little elderly!

I think a good thing for us to remember, is that most of us start out in life full of good intentions and full of hope for a happy and fulfilling life. That must be what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents did too. We are in modern times now we say. But they said exactly the same in their time too. People don’t really change. Times may change, but I still think whatever era we are born into we start out wanting the same things, which are, to be happy and to be loved. Wherever life takes any of us we can only do our best – we can try not to focus on regrets, keep as healthy as we can, both physically and mentally, and be compassionate and forgiving.

        ‘When you are born, your work is placed in your heart’.    – Khalil Gibran

I look at the old pictures of lives laid before me, some now over, in this world anyway, and I am thankful that they gave a life to me. Maybe they didn’t feel they got everything right, maybe they felt they made mistakes, but they showed me how to enjoy a sunset and how to ride the waves.

If you are going through a hard time right now and feel uneasy, maybe about your past, I hope you can find a new way of looking back sometimes and remind yourself that there were good things. And even if you have had a troubled past, this too can make you strong going forward once you have learned to leave that behind you. And you may have forgotten good times, but I wouldn’t mind betting there are some good memories  somewhere you can shine a light on. As I have said before, nothing good is ever lost.

 

This week I am pleased to announce my handbook ‘Best Foot Forward – Moving On From Anxiety’ is now available to buy. If you would like a copy it is available at http://www.fast-print.net in the bookshop, and will be available on Amazon by Monday 5th March. Alternatively, if you would like me to send you a copy please contact me at lmhalvo@aol.com . I would love to have your feedback!

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 Best Foot Forward – Moving on From Anxiety –  is a handbook written with warmth, compassion and humour for anyone suffering with anxiety and the stresses of everyday life. A combination of helpful observations taken from the author’s blogs, interspersed with a little bit of advice and some uplifting quotes, Lyn’s book looks at some age-old problems that can affect us all and then encourages us to take the spotlight off them and move forward.’

 

The Mediocre Life and Keeping Anxiety at Bay….

What could be better than having time out sometimes?

I read an article recently where the subject was about settling for a mediocre life. At first, I thought ‘hmm, this is going to be negative,’ but as I read on I realised what the person was trying to say. Sometimes in this tumultuous and changing world we just want to settle for a quiet life. We don’t want to strive and put ourselves out there and scrabble around on the ever rotating ‘hamster wheel’. We may not want to rush around trying to improve our minds even though we seem to be instructed to do this on a regular basis. Sometimes we may yearn NOT to have to strive to meet targets, not to keep up with the latest fashion or the latest upgrade in technology. Maybe we even want to escape the ‘health police’.

If we are prone to anxious feelings, feeling we have to adhere to all sorts of ‘performance rules’ may not do us a lot of good. When we are trying to get by and working at being positive we don’t really want the extra burden of guilt – the sort of guilt that comes from somehow feeling we are not doing all we can to help our well-being.

There seems to be a lot of judgement about, whether it be fiercely or kindly meant it can still unsettle us. I once listened to a medical person talking about diabetes. His theory was that diabetes 2 was largely brought on by neglect and leading a sedentary life, and that it should be renamed ‘the non-walkers complaint’, or something similar. In other words, he seemed to be saying most people brought this ‘complaint’ on themselves by following an unhealthy lifestyle. He may be right in certain circumstances, but I feel this is a dangerous sort of judgement to pass on a person who may have reached a distressing state of health by all sorts of circumstances. Who knows what leads any of us to a state of ‘dis-ease’? Do we start banishing patients from the hospital waiting room if they don’t meet certain criteria or if they have put on a few stones in weight? Most of us like to eat a healthy diet when we can, and take some excercise, but do we need to become so engrossed in studying the latest health craze that we forget to enjoy our food? The media bombards us with information about what we should and shouldn’t eat, what vitamins/shakes/woo-woo berries we should consume, the mantras we should chant and the mindfulness we should embrace. Most of the time I find it interesting but sometimes I want to run away crying ‘show me the chocolate cake’!

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Some days I long for calm. More and more I think about peace and ‘going with the flow’. I imagine a new sort of shop that plays gentle soothing music as I buy my groceries or my new jeans, instead of playing mindless, loud music that grates on the nerves. I think about walking in the woods instead of driving on the M25. I think about putting my feet up instead of going to sit in a draughty hall where I am shown how to contort my body and put my leg behind my right ear. Ok, not quite behind my ear but you know what I mean.

There seems to be too much going on around us for us to spend time worrying about how we should be living our lives; whether we should conform, expect our children/grandchildren to excel in every walk of life, live in the most stylish house, travel the world; whether we should be swinging from the chandeliers every night, (great if you have the energy!) and generally leading an exemplary life.

It’s interesting too, to notice that one can be too religious for some, and not spiritual enough for others. I find this crops up quite often in my life. I have come to the conclusion that everyone forms their own opinion of me and will stick to it whatever I do. So I just have to be myself. And do my best. Besides, sometimes I feel very spiritual, other times I want to question every belief I hold dear. But mostly I get by. I want to change my mind sometimes too. I want to be able to be objective, see all points of view. Not always easy but worth aiming for.

I used to be a nurse, and I count myself lucky that I was one once. I learned that everyone in life has a story, a past, but not always a future. It is easy to forget this in our busy world. And it is sometimes easier to forget than think of it. I am grateful that most of our carers and medical staff that treat us look at us as a person needing love and care and on the whole do not judge us, for how would that help?

When we weigh up everything, and come to the conclusion that searching for the quieter life sometimes, following the calm and slower path sometimes, and taking time out sometimes, leads us to appear mediocre, then I am all for it. Besides, we will have more time to spend loving our family, and what could be better than that?

      ‘Sometimes it’s in the quiet that we hear the loudest things’.

                                                Anonymous 

Blessing to you.

The Shadow of the ‘Worry Monster’.

Sometimes, a little light is all you need…

When I started my blog a few years ago now, it was intended to be quite generalised. It was about pursuing the gentler path in life and concentrating on kindness and compassion, and I guess, the twists and turns we all experience in everyday life.  These topics are still close to my heart and I will write about them from time to time; life throws up all sorts of weird and wonderful things at us and there will always be new subjects to ponder on! Sometimes we need a bit of humour too to send us on our way!

One thing I have noticed, though, is the feedback that comes from my comments on anxiety. It seems, unfortunately, that many of us suffer from anxious times and there is a real need for ongoing support and backup for those battling with anxiety. Because of this I want to concentrate mainly on this topic for the foreseeable future.

If I can reach out to any of you who need support then I feel my words are doing their job. It’s amazing to think that with all the help at our disposal, we still need good, down to earth support. And it is ongoing. Anxious feeling may come and go. We are not suddenly cured from having unsettling feelings no matter how good the counsellors or the gurus we turn to. Sometimes, other occurrences in our lives just tip the balance between feeling ok to feeling unstable and miserable. Then, we can get despondent too and ask ourselves how we are going to cope with the latest situation that has cropped up. The lurking ‘worry monster’ is difficult to shake off. He doesn’t have much else to do but hover in the background. I feel sorry for him really – he doesn’t really have a life. You do! Once you meet him head on he will shrivel, trust me.

What we have to remember is this: ‘Sometimes, just a little bit of light is all you need’. We can take strength from so many places if we reach out and look for it. Be open. Be open to people – it makes a difference to how they treat you. Be honest. Say you aren’t feeling your best. Don’t give masses of detail. I find you don’t need to. Sometimes, less is more. Just tell who you are dealing with at the time that you aren’t having the best of days. You would be amazed how people can push aside their own ‘stuff’ and give you their kind attention. Most people are genuine and will do all they can to help you, but you have to give them a chance. Find your inner voice somehow. Be brave and help will come to you in spades.

I do appreciate that everyone has different issues going on. I have had a bereavement this week and it has taken all my power just to keep going. But I do keep going somehow. Going through the motions of everyday life helps. I say this countless times, but it does really help. However bad you feel (unless you are physically incapacitated) keep to the simple routines and try and get some things done, however small. It will help and give you a feeling of achievement when you can tick off a few things on your ‘to do’ list.

Funnily enough though, I will add this here: don’t worry too much about standards. This is something I struggle with. I have always felt appearances are important. Makeup on, hair done, house tidy, fridge full of food etc. But, here’s the thing. You can give in a bit! Let a few things go – it’s not the end of the world if you are not looking pristine! Friends may even quite like to see you not quite at your best, it shows you are human. I’m not talking totally let yourself go, but just cut yourself a bit of slack. Sop worrying what people think! They are busy with their own lives; they may love you but they still have their own stuff going on and they are not sitting there thinking you have gone to pot. (Unless you really have, in which case if they are a good friend they are on their way round right now!)

So this week I ask you to focus on this. You are loved. Honestly you are. You may be feeling bad but someone cares, really cares about you, even if you don’t feel it to be true. Get out a piece of paper. Doodle a bit. Make a pretty border. Leaves, bows, swirls, whatever. In the centre of the paper, write this is your best handwriting : ‘You are loved’. Use some coloured pencils if you have them. Be fancy. Then put your picture in a prominent place and look at if often. I promise you, it will help.

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So, this week. Leave the ‘worry monster’out in the cold. Do not feed him no matter how much he badgers you! Whatever is going on, if you feel bad, talk to someone who cares. Or look up online help sites if you need to. Or see your doctor if you are worried about anything. Ask and it will be given.

     ‘When the north wind blows, And your world is grey, My friendly heart hears all you say. Call my name, In your darkest night, I’ll find a way to bring you light. And if your world Is tumbling down, I’ll wrap you in a cosy gown. I’ll feed you soup , And bring you wine, For your life is a part of mine’. 

                                       (C) Lyn Halvorsen

What Can our Past Tell Us?

My blog is reflective this week, but as I write I am thinking about the importance of enjoying the smaller things in life, for they are often the most important….

The past is somewhere we can walk with our memories. Never with our footsteps..

Mimi Novic

This week has been rather strange and unsettling.

I have spent a lot of time over the last ten days sitting at my Father’s bedside as he has struggled with ill health. For most of us, this sort of situation fills us with all sorts of emotions and fears. To see a loved one suffering, especially someone who has been your parent, the one you have looked up to and who, previously was the one to look after you, is hard. Being in a hospital environment for any length of time soon reminds us that life is very tenuous and can change in the blink of an eye. Emerging from a particularly long visit it is hard to readjust to the outside world and it is strange seeing people going about their everyday lives.

It is interesting that last weekend I had a message out of the blue from an old school friend who wanted to contact on Facebook – a new group had been set up for those of us who had attended the school in Somerset back in the late 60’s. Once we had connected we started catching up on news, and messages were going to and fro for an hour or so. This set up a chain of events and more and more old friends joined in with new messages. As with any of these situations, there was news of how well some people had done, how some had drifted away and some had sadly died. Photos were posted and comments made about how well we had aged , (or not, as the case may be!) It was all interesting stuff and good to reconnect with people you hadn’t thought about for years, but it is very strange when one feels the years roll back and you revert back to being a teenager for a while in your mind. This for me, set me thinking about life and the passing of time. How can it be that so many years have passed and so much has happened along the way? How has it happened almost in the blinking of an eye?

             ‘Alice: How long is forever?

             White Rabbit : Sometimes, just one second.’

It is quite fitting in a way that these thoughts and memories from my past have occurred in the same week as my Father’s illness. It is almost as though the Universe is suggesting I look back a bit and perhaps take some comfort from earlier times. But does our personal history determine what happens in our lives now I wonder? I guess we are the writers of our own stories and the directors of our own lives. If we live in the past too much we are replaying the same old scenarios in our minds when we need to move forward from the energy of past events and into the now. Whatever our history, whatever mistakes or failure we have experienced, we are different people now but the good memories hopefully stay forever.

My blog is short and reflective this week – but as I write I am thinking about the importance of enjoying the smaller things in life, for they are often the most important – small everyday kindnesses, catching up with family and telling them you love them, not worrying about trivia and also not worrying about the big, worldwide situations you can’t change, no matter how much you want to.

I’d like to think about continuity too. I can take comfort from the contacts from the past because those long lost friends were responsible for making me the person I am now, even if in a small way. And, most importantly, when I look at my Father’s frail hands as he clasps mine, I feel the connection to my childhood days, and the times he lifted me with those same hands, high into the air to jump the waves on Polzeath beach.

  ‘But somewhere, running through your veins, The fragment of past life remains, And in future children, one day you’ll see, That somewhere, there’s a trace of me.’

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A Thousand Pleases…

Kindness Matters. Always.

This is my mantra.

No matter who we are, whatever gifts life has or has not bestowed on us, we all benefit from kindness. Words of kindness can help our fears and anxieties disappear, like ice melting in the warmth of the sun.

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Lately it has come to mind – It is most important to be kind. To take a moment, make a choice, Comfort with a loving voice.’

Perhaps I can offer a few examples of kindness I have encountered.

One day last year I was sitting outside a cafe enjoying some coffee and Some welcome winter sunshine. All was quiet until a group of young men walked towards the cafe. They appeared to be in boisterous spirits, shouting and laughing. Swaggering along dressed in their hoodies, they gave off an air of arrogant confidence. They ordered drinks and sat down at a nearby table. They were loud. To be honest I felt slightly uncomfortable next to them and a little annoyed that my space had been invaded. I began to make assumptions about where they were from and wondered why they were out and about. Why weren’t they at work or college? But my thoughts were interrupted when an elderly lady walking across the road tripped and fell, scattering all her shopping in the street. Before I had chance to move, the young men next to me all stood up and dashed over to help. I followed over too, to see if there was anything I could do. Very gently one of them checked the lady over to see if she was badly hurt, and as a group they wondered whether an ambulance was needed.

It was decided that the lady was just shaken up. Getting slowly to her feet she insisted she was okay but was agitated about her groceries and handbag. No problem they said, and gathered up all her things, reassuring her everything was there. I took her over to the cafe and sat her down whilst one of the young men went inside to order her some tea.

We all sat outside the cafe together, our chairs pulled round one table in a companionable circle. Soon the lady was smiling and feeling better .

She looked up at one of the lads. “Why, I know you! You are Jenny’s son from the next block of flats to me! I haven’t seen you for a long time! It’s young David isn’t it?”

‘Young’ David smiled and looked embarrassed. “Yes that’s me.”

“Well I’m blessed,” said the lady, who’s name was Molly. “How you’ve grown! I’m so pleased to see you.”

We all chatted for a while and then David offered to walk Molly home. Off they went arm in arm, the others following behind. David promised to tell his Mother he had spent time with Molly and suggested Molly came round to visit sometime. Molly smiled such a sweet smile as she waved goodbye to me. An upsetting fall had had a happy ending.

I went inside and ordered another coffee. I thought about the boys and their kindness to an old lady. I realised one thing. It was not my business to question how anyone passes the time of day. And it was the last time I ever made assumptions.

In this complex world we keep afloat, Care for ourselves without rocking the boat. Weigh up the politics, Try and do what is right, Find something we believe in and follow the light.’

I remember having to start a new school when I was thirteen as my family had moved house. I was crippled with shyness and it was a very distressing time in my life. I joined the school at a time when everyone had been there a while and had settled into new friendships. They all had their allocated seats and knew the routine. Break-time was miserable. I lurked around in the changing rooms as I didn’t have friends to hang out with. Sometimes after my father had dropped me off at the school gates I would watch him drive off and then I would turn around and walk the three miles home again. My parents were worried about me but at a loss about what to do.

I knew somehow I had to get used to going to school. Gradually some of the other girls started to include me in their circle and the days started to improve. It would take a while until I felt that I belonged but the person who really helped me was my English teacher. Mr. Walker was a kind and thoughtful gentleman who took an interest in me. He made me welcome and took time to concentrate on my work. He taught us good values and good manners by example. He gave me good marks for my essays! He instilled in me a lifelong love of writing. He remembered my name, even when we met by chance years later. Mr. Walker had a class full of pupils but he took the time to be kind to a young, timid girl. He must be long gone now, but I have never forgotten him.

   ‘Too many times on a solitary track Have we passed on by, and not looked back Not knowing the difference we could have made, To the person standing alone and afraid?’

Kindness often comes at times when we least expect it. A random stranger smiling and opening a door for us. A passer by giving us change for the parking ticket machine, or, as happened to me recently, a waitress who was so kind to me after a rough day she brought tears to my eyes.

No matter who we are and whatever our circumstances, we all have times we feel alone. We struggle to understand what is going on around us, both in our own small world and the big wide world too. Most of us have times when we feel lonely in a crowd; days when we wonder literally what this world is all about.

On Monday my elderly father was rushed to hospital with a sudden infection – he had gone to bed perfectly okay the previous night and the onset was sudden. When called, the paramedics were very professional and efficient and realised he needed to be hospitalised and so we were soon waiting in the emergency room of the local hospital. The immediate care was good and the staff did their best. It was very, very busy though and the staff had their hands full. The unit was overflowing and there was stress. In the midst of it all I heard a lone voice asking for help – ‘please help’ and again, ‘please help! A thousand pleases!’. It made me think that when we are at our lowest the basic need in all of us is to be shown some kindness. And the person was helped. And shown compassion. I’m so thankful there are people who do their best in tough conditions and who are not just motivated by earning money or by fame, but who are just there to make a difference to someone’s well-being and who are doing their job the best way they can.

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‘After frantic years of business deals, With arrogant managers clicking their heels, Would anyone look back and say: “I’m glad I acted mean that day?”’

One last word.

Some days I can get out of the bed the wrong side and feel grumpy. We all can. These are the times when it may be harder to summon up a smile or be polite. After several cold calls interrupting me on the telephone I can feel exasperated. Or maybe it has taken what seems like hours to be served at the checkout. Or perhaps I have been stuck in a long queue of traffic. These are the times I take a deep breath. These are the times I remember life is good. These are the times I tell myself I have today. I am lucky to have today. I am lucky to be able to walk around freely. I am lucky to have a phone I can take a call on no matter how irritating. I am lucky to have some change in my purse. Therefore I will try and cope with my day and whatever it brings. And I hope I will be kind.

What are your thoughts on the healthcare system? In the Uk we seem to be at crisis point although the present government disagrees. As a former nurse and someone who has worked for many years in the NHS system and believes in it wholeheartedly, I hope to see change and more resources before we lose it forever.

Does the Universe Have us Covered?

Is there a force bigger than us that we can hold on to when life seems to be a struggle?

I‘ve been talking to someone close to me who suffers from anxiety and trying to talk them through it. When someone is seeing the world around them as a bleak place it is very hard to come up with something that will make them feel better. I find myself offering techniques and advice that I know from experience can help, but at the same time I sometimes question the suggestions I offer, even though I am praying that the smallest bit of advice could just be enough to provide a ray of hope or bring a spark of  light in a dark time. Of course,  anxious feelings arise for all sorts of reasons; there may be health worries, both real and imagined, relationship problems, problems relating to the past, work related problems and many more, and each cause may need to be addressed in a different way. Sometimes just a loving hug and a chat with a friend may be enough to help the clouds to disperse and the anxious feelings to lift, but at times when a person is in the severe grip of anxiety then professional help may be needed. Whatever the situation and whatever help we seek or try to give, is there a force bigger than us that can we can hold on to when life seems to be a struggle?

Does the Universe really have us covered?

I think it does. I really hope it does. Why are we here otherwise? We may hear a lot of bad things and we are bombarded with bad news constantly; we know bad things happen to good people, but we also hear amazing stories on a daily basis  – tales of amazing feats of bravery, courage, bravery and kindness. We hear about people who never give up; who find hidden strength from somewhere. We marvel at new life, when a baby takes its first breathe;  we despair when we lose someone dear to us and we wonder how we can ever recover, yet somehow we know that this is all part of the pattern of life.

I think of myself as a spiritual person with a Christian background. I was brought up to go to church regularly and read the bible;  I like the background that has given me even if I don’t attend church now on a regular basis. I like to believe there is a power that is bigger than us, that is all encompassing and is loving, and I find that even though I often have doubts, faith is what gets me through. Faith in a world that is inherently good and a life force that cannot always be explained and is beyond understanding. What compels eels to cross the Atlantic from the Saragossa Sea to spawn in the Irish rivers of their origin, or birds to cross whole continents, following a favoured route that no one could explain, to land atop the same trees every year? In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives we forget that miracles happen around us every day; we lose our powers of observation and fail to see the wonderful and awesome occurrences happening in nature on  daily basis.

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So what should we do to reconnect with the Universe when we feel we have been set adrift? If we can hold on to that faith we have deep down, whatever the sort of faith we have or follow, we can feel grounded in times of crisis. A spiritual practice I have found to be good is a ‘loving kindness meditation’. Just set some time aside, shut your eyes and generate feelings of compassion by repeating phrases such as ‘may you be happy, healthy and free of pain.’ Direct this to yourself at first then gradually increas your circle to include you family, your friends, the country and then finally, the whole planet. You can alter the words to find something that you feel comfortable with. Do this on a daily basis and at times when you feel stressed or anxious. Make time for this even when you are busy and notice the difference it makes to your day.

Thinking again about my loved one. I wish I could do more to make her feel better and I wish I could take all her worries, wrap them in a cloth bag , throw them out to sea, wish them love and wave them goodbye for good. Indeed, I will picture that very thing happening. In the meantime, I will actively help in every way I can until she can move forward with regained positivity. Even then I will be by her side – figuratively if not physically. And I will have faith that the Universe does have us covered.

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 I lay upon the ground today, Looked up to the sky,

Concentrated on the clouds, As they drifted slowly by. 

Connecting with the Earth beneath, As it wore a peaceful face,

I felt the whole world turning, In this quiet and tranquil place.

And could I see a reason, Shine through the clouded sky

For all the actions unexplained, The many questions why?

I saw beauty and perfection here, Sweet birdsong filled the air,

So I must trust life’s answers, Lie in wait, somewhere.

(C)    Lyn Halvorsen

What Do You Do on Sad Days?

I should know by now how to deal with the days the ‘misery monster’ pays a visit…

‘Come on girl, there is much to be happy about’! This I tell myself so often, as do my trusted gurus, my loved ones, my friends. BUT, there are those blue days that creep up on me; the times when the lurking ‘misery’ monster creeps out from the shadows and wraps its shapeless form around me until it turns into a cloak I can’t shake off.

     ‘When the monster crept in from the shadows, I just couldn’t push it away, Filling my head with its chatter, It stayed until night turned to day. I felt I should dismiss it, with one impatient stroke, But its presence lingered with me, Like a dark and heavy cloak.’

I write often about how to deal with anxiety and indeed, I have written a handbook about anxiety and how to move forward from it.* I should know by now how to deal with the days when the ‘misery monster’ pays a visit, and yes there are coping mechanisms that work very well. In these times of what can only be described as ‘technology and information overload’ though, I think many of us have days when we feel bombarded with too much of everything, both good and bad, and those are the days when things can get out of perspective.

         ‘ Through weary eyes I viewed the clouds – As they shed their watery tears, Blotting out the cheerful sun, As it dimmed then disappeared .’

My Facebook feed gives me a constant stream of inspiring and uplifting quotes and feel-good stories. Most of them I like or even love, and occasionally I will read something heart-stoppingly good. I wouldn’t change much of it, and most of the feeds I have chosen to follow, but sometimes I wonder if, certainly I, take them a bit for granted and have forgotten how to read with fresh eyes. And maybe it’s the same with other things we know are good for us but we don’t give our attention to as much as we could. I’m always talking about the positive effects of being outdoors and enjoying the world around us, and yet yesterday I took a long walk in my favourite woods and realised when I got home that I hadn’t taken in my beautiful surroundings at all. I hadn’t admired the early blossom on the cherry tree on the corner or the emerging primrose peeking out from the grassy winter pathway like an early evening star.

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I know too, that I should eat well. I know the importance of a healthy and well-balanced diet, and getting the right amount of sleep and excercise. I take my vitamins and drink the water. But it’s easier to give in to the chocolate bar calling to me from the cupboard on ‘sad’ days. Hmm….I must switch on my Hymalayan Salt lamp.  The warm glow really is uplifting.

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So what DO we do on sad days? Do we stay in our pyjamas and spend a day on the sofa covered in a soft, warm duvet with a good book or some box sets, or do we try and get on with things? A day on the sofa may be welcome occasionally and there’s nothing wrong with it, ( in fact I like the sound of it actually!) but I guess it’s about waking up to what is around us and really seeing what is there. We can develop the philosopher in us by reading, learning, reflecting and analysing but that’s not the whole picture. I thought yesterday about the term ‘warrior’ which seems to be used a lot at the moment. To be a warrior one needs to be brave, fearless, and be tuned in to surviving at all costs. A warrior bends in the wind but doesn’t break and a warrior doesn’t go against his better judgement. A warrior looks after his tribe; something important to most of us. If we don’t try to embrace our inner warrior we can become victims, blaming our past or our upbringing for what is making us unhappy or restless, instead of facing the world and taking responsibility for ourselves and our past. Don’t get me wrong. It is not always easy to be a warrior. It certainly doesn’t come easily to me. But on sad days especially, I am going to remember I have a warrior in me who can throw off that ‘misery monster’s cloak’. That warrior is going to stand up and be counted and see obstacles as opportunities.

       ‘Imagine a month of Sundays, Each one dull and grey, Suddenly brightened by sunlight, That illuminated the day. And the sound of children’s laughter, That arrived like a gift, That caused my heavy heart to stir, And make my spirits lift.’

 I am a cheerful person really. Actually quite humorous. I like doing fun things, I can tell jokes and I can double up with laughter at times. I am a deep thinking person but humour is important to me and I don’t like to think I take myself too seriously 😑  So, dear reader, I apologise for any gloominess, but at the same time, if you are gloomy too, don’t forget to go out and look for the early signs of spring, which is just around the corner. And hang in there, especially if times are tough.

       ‘And imagine the sight of a rainbow, Shimmering after the rain, Like a painting stretched across the sky, Bringing colour to the world again.

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The most stunning rainbow I have seen recently – a little blurry, but still…..

What do you do on ‘sad days’? I would love to hear from you and your ways of coping with the ‘misery monster’ days.

Blessings to you.

* My book ‘Best Foot Forward – Moving on From Anxiety’ will be available soon on Amazon or email me at  – loveyourstory8@aol.com

‘The Monster in the Shadows’ poem  (C) Lyn Halvorsen

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