Why Do We Need Approval?

Is it really necessary to follow up every time?

 

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For the last few weeks we have been settling into our new home. Maybe it is because we have needed to connect with a lot of new services and make several purchases but it has brought this more into the spotlight: the need for appraisal and the need for approval.

So many times when ordering new products on the phone, querying accounts or being served in shops, we go through the lengthy process of getting our point across, buying  goods etc, only to be asked at the end to answer questionnaires when we get home/end a call, and often we are asked to give a glowing report. If this isn’t given then you are made to feel someone’s career may suffer. This brings us yet another thing to think about along with remembering loyalty cards, the constant need to get online to check and send new emails and the ever increasing pressure of using more and more technology. Of course, if we are served well and happy with our treatment then most of the time we are happy to comply. If it means that overall customer service improves then there is a positive side to giving feedback but I do wonder if it is encouraging an atmosphere of possible insincerity and even vindictive response on occasions by disgruntled consumers. We have been served so well recently –  there has been nothing to complain about, only praise to give and I am the first to want to thank someone for doing a good job, but surely a good ‘thank you’ at the time is enough? What if we get distracted when we get home and forget to give feedback? Spontaneity is being lost and often it’s the people on the shop floor who suffer.

As is often the case in life, eagerness to improve can often result in over zealous actions and new problems, prompting us to yearn for a return to how things ‘used to be’. Yes, of course we need change but sometimes it needs to be reigned in. A gradual change is often better than a radical overhaul. In our often turbulent world, is it any wonder that we find ourselves anxious and worried about the future? It seems that what was acceptable yesterday is completely unacceptable today and there is little time to adjust.

From the moment we start out in life, we feel the need to be given praise. We are encouraged to work hard and to seek rewards. If we aim high we can gain the elusive gold star. If we follow the rules we will satisfy the authorities. If we reach higher targets we can gain financial reward. We just need to comply. Sometimes that has to be done of course; we need to live in a safe and law abiding way, but do we really need those seemingly trivial yet time consuming  extra demands on our time that seem to have crept up on us?

In relationships we like praise. We are human and there is nothing wrong with basking in a bit of praise now and again. Emotionally, we fly high when those close to us show how much they love us; equally, we can feel worthless if we are not shown the love we seek.  When we are in a good relationship that thrives on mutual love and understanding then everything falls into place and we don’t feel the need to be constantly seeking approval. This applies to all sorts of relationships; parental, sexual, friendships etc.

With all relationships, when love and praise are given unconditionally then our confidence grows. The need for approval and praise lessens and we become less needy and life doesn’t revolve around other people’s comments or opinions. We can be strong and face the world knowing we are worthy. Unconditional love has nothing to do with doing something because you have to, it just comes naturally.

Okay, we probably can’t always show unconditional love in the workplace or when we are asked to pass comment on those who serve us but we can hope that a bit of spontaneous warmth and genuine appreciation will go a long way.

Ps…please don’t get me started on accepting ‘cookies’ left, right and centre! Internet browsing has entered a whole new world!

 

 

 

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.

 

Managing the Stress of Moving House…

Remember that home is wherever you and your loved ones gather….

 

Some say that moving house is one of life’s major stresses. Anyone who’s undertaken a house move will agree it’s one of the most challenging events we experience, both physically and emotionally. A lot of us find it stressful because it involves change and represents a transition in life – and with it comes unfamiliarity. Most of us, me included, like familiarity, routine and order, but when we are moving house, for a while at least, we have none of those. Depending on your age and your stage in life, you might be in a new area, having to find new schools for your children, take on a new commute to work and find a new doctor. Often too, when you move into a new house, it’s the simple things you miss, like knowing exactly where the light switch is in the dark, and where your personal mementos are stored.

Although moving can be exciting and you can embrace the thoughts of new beginnings, it is good to think about the mental impact moving will have on you. If you can clear your schedule a little way in advance and take some time off for preparation, this will help the actual moving day feel less overwhelming and give you a bit more control of your situation. If you provide ample time to pack and find removal firms, this will greatly remove stress. Clearing out clutter well before you move will help you let go and prepare for the future. Make sure too, if you can, to get your family members and good friends to lend a helping hand. This will lessen the burden on you and also give you a chance to spend time together before moving.

It is a good idea to have a few rituals before moving; maybe have a small leaving party, take a few walks around your favourite routes and allow time for special memories – this can help the transition from your old home to your new one.

This is a busy time and it is easy to neglect your diet. Being well-rested and having good nutrition is vital to good health and helps to keep stress levels down.

My own route to where I live now has been a long and sometimes winding road, and there are more moves ahead. For someone who’s home and surroundings are one of the most important things in life, moving several times over the last few years has been unsettling and at times traumatic. Several times I have had to pack and unpack my treasured and various possessions, some of which have become more battered and forlorn which each and every move. But with my footsteps echoing in a bare and empty room, when I start unwrapping a well-loved piece of china or some favourite photographs, or even a cosy blanket, the look and feel of those familiar things never fail to bring immediate comfort. As my home has scaled down in size progressively with each and every move, my belongings have had to be pared down accordingly, but some precious things remain, like the beautiful wooden chest decorated with painted birds that our elder son gave us some years ago, and a small chalkboard, carefully varnished over to preserve the cheerful pictures our younger son drew for me when he was little.

It is good to remember that we are only custodians of any house we live in. It’s as though the character of the house leaves with our possessions, and as we take that last look around, the feeling of familiarity is gone and all that remains is the echo of the voices of the inhabitants who once lived there, and the feeling that all the familiarity of home is gone. The house already feels as though it preparing for its new owners. Yet, if you ever have reason to drive down the same path again it would feel quite normal to step inside and feel you have never been away. One thing I have learned is that life has twists and turns and we end up in unexpected places. But once we make our mark on a new house, wherever it is, it turns into home. Home is where hearts are sure of each other; a place where you know your way in the dark.

As we enjoy the summer with all its outdoor pleasures, the cosiness and warmth of home is still important; we take comfort in a shady spot under a tree in the garden, closing the shutters or the blinds at the end of the day as the sun sets or sharing a simple supper around the kitchen table. And for that we all need that special place: a place to rest, recharge our batteries and sometimes retreat from the outside world for a while. Whether we are a large family or just one person, our home reveals in all its artefacts (those precious keepsakes, and the everyday and ordinary and extraordinary things that surround us), the story of us, and of who we are. We may think that style and inventiveness, as well as hard work and money, are what is needed to transform a house or an apartment, and it’s true, those things help create the space we yearn for. But what really matters is that we creat a place of security, a place of love and warmth, where children and grandchildren can grow and turn to, especially when the outside world seems to be creating stresses and strains.

The place we call home needs to keep peace within its boundaries, welcome within its walls, shelter for its friends, and a cake in the larder.

So when you feel unsettled, have to move house or change your surroundings for whatever reason, remember that home is where you and your loved ones are – it is not dependent on fancy fixtures and fittings, palaces and mansions, but on you and the people you love, and in the cosy place where you gather together.

And a single small cottage,
A nest like a dove’s,
The only dwelling on earth that she loves’.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

 

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The House We Left Behind

The removal van is on its way, I hear it rattling up the lane,
The time is fast approaching for us to be moving on again.
Before I’m even ready, the men are standing in the hall
Examining the packing cases stacked up by the wall.
And as all of our possessions disappear from view
The old house turns its back on us and waits for someone new.

                                          (C) Lyn Halvorsen

What REALLY matters to us?

This week has been full of mixed emotions for me. There have been stresses and strains, worries, ups and downs, highs and lows and most importantly, good times. Times catching up with good friends, happy phone calls from family members, important birthdays, and pleasant interactions with kindly strangers.

Sitting watching the early evening news a few days ago I started reflecting on some of the headlines and felt immense sadness when thinking of some of the terrible things decent ordinary people were going through or had had inflicted on them, sometimes with devastating results for themselves and their families. Many times I have written about the pain we feel as we watch the news and have to deal with often unfathomable occurrences and unspeakably dreadful actions, the results of which are beamed into our living rooms.  Then there are times we sit dumfounded as we witness the latest political debacle and the seemingly unfair systems that seem to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

And yet still we find ourselves sweating the small stuff when we go about our daily lives.

We may meditate, read every self help book we can, listen to all the podcasts about positivity we can get our hands on to help us cope with an ever tumultuous world. We may chant, commune with nature, speak to our angels and watch our diet. All these things help at times and give us nuggets of information and inspiration that many times prove to be invaluable. Trust me, I believe. I believe in trying every sensible (and sometimes not so sensible) path to acceptance and understanding. That path that shows us there is a reason for everything and an explanation for everything even when we cannot see it and rail against it. But there are days when it is really hard to stay focused and remind ourselves of all the ways of coping we have learned. These are the days when I guess we just need to go back to basics and remind ourselves of all the things in our lives that are important and reaffirm them.

I remind myself that the people I love and admire for their strength and the way they cope with life did not get that way because their lives always worked out. They got that way because stuff went wrong and they handled it. They handled it in many different ways and at different times, and they got through. I look up to them for sure.

We need to keep our lives in order. Of course we do. Most of us need to work and earn money to support our families. We need to cook, clean and keep our house tidy(ish) We need to keep ourselves in shape and look reasonable. We need to offer support to those that need it and need us. But I for one, need to tell myself in stressful times that the everyday petty trials and tribulations just don’t matter and will be mainly forgotten by next week. Even what we perceive to be major problems will fade to insignificance over the years.

I’m aware of getting older and my thinking is changing with the years. I see it more clearly when people around me are struggling. I can visualise possible outcomes and weigh up situations in a more balanced way than when I did when I was younger. This is both good and bad. On the one hand it is sensible to be prepared and to be empathetic but at the same time the buoyancy of youth is gone: the feeling of being invincible.  But life follows patterns, we change and learn as we go. Some of us learn more quickly  than others. Some young people have a wise head on young shoulders. Some older people never really grow up. This is all part of life’s rich pattern.

The question to ask ourselves, whoever we are, is what really matters to us, what makes us happy, what keeps us sane? Once we remember who we are and remember to reach out to those we love, and once we enjoy the simple things in life while we can, we will at least find it easier to reconnect to what is good.

But if I cannot change the world, I can bend when the storm appears; Do great things in smaller ways, Dry another’s tears.’

When the notes are wrong make them your best tune ….

August is here and walking out from Dove Lane this morning I could sense a wistfulness in the air – a glimpse of change. The air is still very warm and the grass is still scorched from the long, hot days but the blackberries are ripe in the hedges and there are some dry leaves crunching beneath my feet. Could it be be that Autumn waits in the wings and cooler air may eventually whisper through the trees? We still have warm days to enjoy and balmy evenings to enhance that summer holiday feeling but perhaps we sense the gradual shortening of the days.

For some of us, any change, even a change in the seasons can encourage feelings of unrest if we are prone to anxious feelings. Sometimes it isn’t always easy to walk forward and embrace the next stage of our lives. Perhaps we feel events are looming we would rather not think about or we find it hard to be positive and look at the bigger picture. Maybe we are worried about past mistakes or imagined difficulties. Maybe we feel fearful because we hear and read so much in the media that unsettles us. Most of us have days where we feel everything seems to be against us, or perhaps we can’t seem to focus or get things right. Just like a composer writing a song – sometimes the notes just come out wrong.

Often there can be times when we feel out of tune with our surroundings.  Maybe we are not in the right frame of mind to listen to or appreciate what we are seeing or hearing.  I guess life is a bit like that – we can be swamped with worries or negative emotions at times, or even just the chaos of a busy day, so that all the good sights and sounds around us are smothered or blurred around the edges. But if we manage to take some time out  – perhaps go and have a walk in the woods or just take ten minutes out of a busy day to have some quiet time – then we can often find we can enjoy the very things we previously felt out of kilter with.

In unhappy or muddled times, remember the clouds will pass. And the sooner you welcome the sun the sooner it appears. I find that remembering what I am grateful for helps me get through jittery times. I have learned through past experiences what supportive friends I have and also, how self reliant I can be when I have to. Also, I remind myself how limited our time on this planet truly is (I don’t mean that in a gloom and doom way but I use it to remind me that every second counts).

We are all connected and even if you feel you are struggling, remind yourself there is someone somewhere going through the same thing as you, and they are getting through it just like you will. You can dwell on what isn’t going your way or you can focus on what you have within your power to change.

If you think about what would happen if you just allowed yourself to live in the moment and not think about your current situation, how might that feel? Sometimes life is not about dreams coming true but what we learn when we take our path through life. There are times when we need to let go of our expectations and actually just concentrate on what is happening today. And remember, those past experiences or perceived missed opportunities we dwell on have actually made us stronger and given us our character.

So lets think again about a composer writing a song and this time the composer is you;  even if your notes seem to sound wrong , they are your notes and you can turn them into the best song of all. Your song.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Trusting In The Universe and Releasing Anxiety …

What better way is there to lift your anxiety than to trust in the universe?

I keep a small perpetual calendar of daily religious sayings in my kitchen. I had given it to my dad for Christmas not long before he sadly died. He had enjoyed reading the short daily scriptures so I have taken over from him – pondering the profound and thought provoking words each morning. Yesterday I read this:

    So spacious is Christ, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies.

Colossians 1 : 19 – 20

Whether we are religious or not I think the above passage from Colossians is wonderful and can give us a different way of thinking about the ‘bigger picture’.  We all know anxiety well. Life comes with trials and heartache and anxiety rises when opportunities fall through and when we are at a loss to find comfort in bad situations. We all have days when an unexpected bill comes through the post or when we turn on the news to witness another heartbreaking story of injustice or tragedy. It is easy to be almost paralysed by realities that unfold in front of us.

When anxiety strikes we can easily resort to thinking inwardly at the expense of the wider view and no one can blame us for that. Anxiety can often blind us to reality.

Trusting the Universe 

Trusting in the universe can be difficult at times of trouble;  however, more often that not, no matter how overwhelming things can be, if we can truly learn to let go, we can then trust that things will eventually work out. We have all been hurt, experienced loss and had difficult times and yet that isn’t because we cannot trust the universe. When you think about it, all good things have to end sometime but when we reach those endings that is the time when new beginnings start. New doors are opened and maybe new love and new successes.

When you learn to trust the universe it becomes easier to accept the things that would once have knocked us back and maybe had us sinking into depression. We can see light at the end of the tunnel. We can learn to let go of the past, knowing this does not serve us now. We can stop saying ‘what if?’ Also, instead of seeing life as past, present and future – never standing still, we can realise that we can just ‘be’ without any explanations. We can live the lives we were born to live.

There Is a Bigger Picture

When we begin to see there is a bigger picture, that the universe has us covered, we have more time for each other and for love and kindness. Our hearts are softened. The universe will give us what we need, not what we think we want. How many times have we looked back at old disappointments and realised that what we had yearned for but did not get, would not have served us well?

When we trust in the universe we connect with our brothers and sisters all around the world and we put out good vibes. People draw near to us because they sense our goodness and lack of negativity.

There is no crowding in the universe, there is room for all. There is no ticking clock that urges us to complete our loving actions or service to others before sunrise  – time is just an illusion so we do not need to rush headlong into each day.

Thinking As A Child

Do you remember how when you were a child every day held promise? There was excitement, the feeling of good things ahead , but mainly you did things just because they made you happy. When you connect with the universe you can reconnect with that feeling and enjoy the things you love the most.

When We Do Less We Become More.

This is an interesting thought isn’t it? It’s like most things – when you step back and take an objective view often you can see things more clearly. Trusting in the universe means realising that we don’t always have to be busy. If we are doing nothing we aren’t being lazy we are taking breaks when we need to and then being productive when we feel it is right.

Banishing Anxiety

What better way is there to lift your anxiety than to trust  in the universe? Instead of losing yourself in worry and depression, if you can trust that things will work out and feel in your heart that good things are coming, this can be a big step forward and you may feel as though a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

Many times people have used this line from the lyrics of Leonard Cohen but it never loses its impact to me:

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’

Remeber this, especially on anxious days: none of us are perfect  – nothing is ever truly broken. Like the philosophy behind the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, which repairs smashed pottery by using beautiful seems of gold with a 500 year old technique which  not only restores functionality to broken pots, but gives a useful lesson in life, we can mend and be more beautiful than we ever were before.

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