Diet, rest and relaxation..thinking about the simple things we forget (or don’t have time for).

 As the month of October comes around again bringing misty days and wonderful colour to ease us in to winter, it is time to look forward to cosy evenings, warm coats, chunky scarves and the odd hearty casserole or two.

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

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

 Do we feel healthy?

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

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

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

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

Letting go.

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

The power of meditation.

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

Eating well and ‘not a very big cabbage!’

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

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

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

Exercise and fresh air

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

Essential Oils

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

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

Diffuser.jpg

My aim today is to give us a little prompt. To help us reflect on our lives, to ask ourselves whether we give ourselves enough time for the really important things in life, like nurturing and care. Don’t feel self indulgent if you feel the need to rest. It’s important to take time out, no matter how busy your life is.

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

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

Good health and blessings to you.

Which diet do we choose?

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I have been thinking and reading a lot about diet this week, having had a bout of, to put it politely, ‘tummy trouble’, probably due to over indulgence or maybe a little stress.

 Over the years I have tried to embrace a good, healthy, and balanced diet. Certainly, we tried to raise our kids on a wholefood diet as much as possible, without being too strict. Sometimes I fear we may have strayed slightly into the ‘muesli brigade’…thinking we were on the healthy track but not always getting the balance right, albeit having the best of intentions.

As a family, we became interested in ‘health foods’ before it was fashionable; often regarded as ‘cranky’ we put up with the various jibes about smocks and sandals with monotonous regularity. There was much less choice in the mainstream supermarkets compared to today, but at the same time the foods available were fresher and less processed so we still gained overall. We grew our own vegetables and our sons would have probably answered to the name of Popeye they consumed so much home grown spinach. We lived in a Somerset village in the first years of our marriage and were lucky to be able to buy fresh free range eggs and locally produced cheese. We really taught ourselves about nutrition. Even though I had trained as a nurse, the food I witnessed the poor hospital patients being given set me no example of how to eat a healthy diet. In fact I wondered how the patients managed to get well!

Having a husband who is both a dentist and a bit of a health guru I know a fair bit about diet. In some ways, that’s where the trouble starts. Just when I think I am on the right track now, along comes the latest  research  to poke me in the ribs and say: ‘Sorry we got that bit wrong, perhaps you can eat that delicious butter after all’. We study all the latest facts and figures and names of chemicals and vitamins that I’ve never heard of. Every week there is a new super-food or health product we think we should try. You should see our kitchen store-cupboards. Although best not try and open them as you may start up an avalanche.

Then there are all the personal choices of whether to eat meat/diary/grains etc. There are so many valid medical viewpoints and ethical and moral  dilemmas too.

Also, here is my major dilemma. What happens if you love cooking and grew up in a conventional household, like I did in Cornwall? Here lashings of butter, cream, milk, meat and wheat were all consumed with more than gay abandon, and still are in many households. Look at most of the cookery programmes. Most use all the ‘conventional ingredients’ like sugar and diary products. And there is no doubt, sugar is bad. Very bad. I’m not going to quote statistics here but we see evidence all around us (increasing numbers of diabetics etc) that this is so. So perhaps we need to change and adapt the way we cook and follow recipes.

Sadly, my  firm belief is that a diet that may have been good for and tolerated health wise by the population forty or so years ago is not one that suits us now. Intense farming and mass production of food, pesticides, and genetically modified food, has changed the dynamics of our foods so dramatically that we cannot eat in the same way as even our parents did. Food intolerance was hardly spoken of years ago. Apart from severe allergies, sensitivities were far less common. That must tell us something. We may buy the same raw materials but how they are produced and their nutritional values have changed.

I still love to bake. I still love cake and I don’t think I could ever give it up altogether What could be better that sitting down with a mug of tea and a slice of cake on a miserable day? But I guess I will concentrate on the healthy varieties as much as possible and have the chocolate brownie once in a very special blue moon.

I’d love to hear your opinion on healthy diets and what works for you.

Health and blessings to you.

Night Duty

I trained as a nurse in the seventies. I had long dreamed of fancy uniforms , handsome doctors, and me delicately mopping fevered brows. I encountered all of these in varying degrees but soon came to realise that there was a lot of hard work and long hours involved. The three years of training were often hard and many times I was tempted to give up. But I kept going and I look back on my nursing years mostly with affection. I can still remember some of my patients to this day, and the sadness and humour encountered along the way.

I will never, ever, forget being sent to the mortuary in the dead of night by a fierce night sister, who insisted I must investigate a noise. As I stepped inside with trembling legs and a madly thumping heart, a cat shrieked and leapt out of the still, cold gloom. I returned to the ward with my hair on end and was unable to speak for an hour.

‘Night Duty’ is based on a true story. I was on my first spell of night duty and left in charge of the ward while the senior nurse went for her dinner break. An emergency arose and panic set in when  a seriously ill patient was admitted. I ran around searching for back up when Night Sister appeared and admonished me for my unprofessional conduct. Tears threatened but somehow calm was restored and I made it through the night. I think the patient did too.

I sympathise greatly with the doctors and nurses who are now feeling they are being given a rough deal by the government. We must appreciate them and every hard, dedicated working hour they put in. I am tempted to say it was harder in my day. But I won’t.

                                                 Night Duty

Please don’t run nurse
And please turn off the light,
Your patient may be getting worse
But it’s the middle of the night.

Call the doctor to attend
The latest emergency case
Then go and lay the trolley up,
And sterilize the place.

Make sure all the patients
Are safely in their beds,
I’ll be coming round to check
That they have had their meds.

And be sure to know every name
And diagnosis too
Of every patient in your care,
Or I’ll be reporting you.

Write up the notes before morning,
Make the porridge and the tea,
Get everybody washed and fed
The report back to me.

Go home and get some sleep
You’ve six more nights ahead,
So get used to working extra hard,
While your friends are home in bed.

© Lyn Halvorsen

Blessings to you.

I Wish I Had Known You Then.

I read a quote recently about strong women. It said something like ‘Be the person now that you would have liked by your side when you were a child’. Wow. Isn’t that something? It stopped me in my tracks. I have been thinking about it ever since.

Do you remember times when, no matter how loving your upbringing, you felt as though no one understood you? Maybe, like me, you were crushed by shyness and wanted to disappear into a hole when someone spoke to you? Or you didn’t feel you had anything clever to say. Or you weren’t ‘with it’? How many times in life have we all encountered difficult situations when a smile or an encouraging world could have made all the difference? Even when perhaps our actions may have been foolish, think how much it would have helped if someone had said, ‘Okay, you messed up, but learn from it and move on. I know you are a good person.’

Encouragement is so important. So is understanding and empathy. I see that now, and I yearned for it when I was younger; at school, and later, as a student nurse. And kindness. Kindness is the most important quality in life, I think. A simple act of kindness makes life so much more bearable when times are rough. I know we all have to learn to stand on our own two feet. But how much stronger we feel with someone fights our corner.

Life is a learning process. Indeed I am still learning every day; I think I may have been a slow learner. Sometimes I think I may just be getting there and then something happens to take me, temporarily, back to square one. Of course, I am completely grown up now, really quite senior in fact! But there can still be times when I feel like the shy girl in the corner; its a habit that can stay with you through life if you aren’t careful. But I carry on regardless, safe in the knowledge that I am doing my best. One thing is for sure, most of us have small trembles from time to time, whatever our age, but we get by with a little help from our friends.

I am working , still, on being the person I would like to have had at my side all those years ago.

I Wish I’d Known You

 

I wish I’d known you then

 When I couldn’t find my voice

When I had no way of knowing

That there could be a choice.

And I wish I’d known you then

When the spotlight fell on me;

A nervous child who didn’t know

Who she could one day be.

I wish I’d know you when

   I wasn’t part of the crowd,

You would have been the one

To call my name out loud.

I wish I’d known you would have

Seen my point of view,

And told me it would be okay

And I’d grow up to be you.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

Blessings to you.

The book of life has many boxes…

Over the last six years my life has seen many changes. There have been a huge amount of good things but some struggles too. If anyone had predicted some years ago that I would be living where I am today I don’t think I would have believed them. However, real life has a way of interfering with those plans one is busy making. And maybe the universe sends us on to a different path for a reason.

We lived in a beautiful cottage in the countryside with roses around the door, and ‘the chocolate box’ appeal. We loved it and lived there for ten happy years. I am not going to talk about the reasons why we had to go, but quite suddenly, we realised we had to downsize. Quite dramatically. A major task was ahead, both physically and emotionally. When I say we had a lot of stuff, I mean we had a LOT of stuff.

We became ‘nomads’ for a while, as an acquaintance remarked, unintentionally hurting my feelings – I’m a person to whom a place to call home is very important. Like rabbits caught in the headlights we had panicked and moved too quickly several times to temporary places. Each time we did this we lugged around the mountains of ‘stuff’ we were clinging on to, as though hanging on to it would somehow retain our former life.

All through this time of transition we kept up appearances and outwardly life was the same. But for some time we were unsettled. Unsettled and at times worried for our future. We were lucky and had the love of family and some very dear friends who propped us up in more ways than one.

After some time we found our lovely apartment here in Dove Lane. I like to think it is small but beautifully formed! At first, it still felt very temporary and I didn’t feel I really belonged here; its taken a while but now I know that it is home, with all the security it gives me and us. I have started to make memories here; my grandchildren spend lots of time here and happily play and bake and have sleepovers. We’ve had some Christmas’s here now and look forward to the next one. The woods that form the back drop behind us are stunningly beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing them at their best as Autumn approaches and the leafy colours make the gradual change from green through to golden brown.

I could write an informative book about downsizing as I have learnt the hard way! My poor husband will not appreciate me saying this but I fear a hernia beckons for him as a result of all the lifting of furniture and boxes! I have learnt that paying a fortune on lock up storage is money wasted – if you don’t need the stuff now or don’t have room for it, chances are you never will. Even if you do move again and have more space it will probably cost less to buy new furniture rather than pay exorbitant amounts to store what you have kept. I also realise that we only use our favourite utensils and kitchen equipment and can manage with far less space than we think we need. We have given huge amounts of our surplus furniture and clothes to charity and I’m so glad of that. Glad that our things we can’t use can be of value to someone who needs them.

There are some things I can never part with though. This is where my special boxes have their place. It’s amazing how stacks of pretty boxes can look so attractive and also provide the most valuable storage. I have matching boxes in my bedroom for toiletries. I have boxes holding my sewing things. I have boxes holding my craft work. Tidied neatly they  all decorate the home and can be moved easily. They come in all shapes and sizes and are reasonably priced if you shop around. I change the box holding my stationary on my table according to the season and sometimes add to my collection if I see a new one I like.

I have keepsakes and photographs that will be with me wherever I am. I have cards and drawings that my sons made for me or gave me over the years and they are kept in  a very special box, together with their baby wristbands and locks of hair. I have some of my late mum’s possessions and her tapestry handbag. I now have a box of my eight grandchildren’s keepsakes too.

I almost feel I could now chart the eras of my life by opening the various boxes, for in a way they each tell a story and reveal a lot about me.

Of course, we come into this life with nothing and we leave with nothing. This is something I think we all forget from time to time. My favourite guru Dr. Wayne Dyer often used to relate the story of how he had cut the pockets out of one of his suits. Whenever he wore it he was reminded that when he left this world behind he wouldn’t need a suit with any pockets.

 I wrote the following poem not long after we had moved. I can see the positive side now as I read the final line. Moving on has benefits.

                                                     The House We Left Behind

The removal van is coming, I hear it rattling up the lane.
The time is fast approaching for us to be moving on again.
Before I am even ready, two 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.

© Lyn halvorsen

Do you have to downsize, or are you thinking about it? I would love to hear your comments.Don’t forget…The book of life has many boxes. Don’t be scared if you have to open a new one. You never know what you might find.

Blessings to you.

 

the-house-we-left-behind

A Walk in the Park…

Yesterday we spent the day in Oxford attending Peace in the Park – The Festival of Spirit. This was held in the beautiful grounds of the Global Retreat Centre at Nuneham Park; a remarkably peaceful place.

The Retreat Centre is run by the Brahma Kumaris who work around the UK in local communities teaching Raja Yoga as a way to experience peace of mind and a positive approach to life.

Brahma Kumaris is also a worldwide spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal. It was founded in 1937 in India and is now spread over 110 countries on all continents. Their commitment is to helping individuals transform their perspective of the world from material to spiritual.

From the moment we drove through the gates we seemed to shed our ‘everyday skin.’ Kindness seemed to envelop us from all sides; every member of the parking team waved and smiled and welcomed us in. The people checking our tickets were helpful and calm and always ready to answer questions. We were given a programme and a map (it’s a big park)

The aim of the weekend was to bring together people from all corners of the UK to experience the dream of peace for our world. The event was free, and every single volunteer and performer offered their time out of love, meaning the event was open to everyone, no matter what their income. At the Retreat Centre, they rely totally on donations to keep the magnificent historical building, and its grounds open.

There was a wide list of events we could choose to attend in various large tents dotted around the grounds. The atmosphere was very relaxed and one could dip in and out of any class at will. Many people just laid on the grass and subconsciously soaked up the sounds, the music and the peaceful words. Some chose to attend guided meditation in the ‘Imagine Pavilion’, others liked the ‘Emergency Optimist’ (brilliant – a few minutes with helpful ideas resulting in a new way forward, or at the very least, helping you find some powers you didn’t know you had). There were sessions called ‘Answers to Life, the Universe and Everything,’ with various guest speakers. We attended one with Mike George, a favourite speaker of ours and we were inspired by his take on dealing with life and coping strategies. It is always encouraging when you encounter someone who is in such a good place; has been through many stresses in their earlier life but has come shining through. ( And can be lighthearted too)

There were too many classes of interest to mention here, but there truly did seem to be something for everyone, including fun and creative classes for children.  There was ‘Tea Under the Trees’ providing free tea and coffee for all, and there were food tents selling wholesome vegetarian food. As we walked around, we visited the chapel, where there were musical events taking place, and stood and looked at the amazing angel sculptures dotted among the trees.

After a day full of inspiring events and musical interludes, the event was brought to a close with a ‘Meditation for the World’ on the main stage, with beautiful music an inspiring words, and was followed by the Peacemaker Concert with Lucinda Drayton,  Marcus Cliffe and friends. Lucinda’s voice is truly that of an angel; indeed she finished with the song ‘A Hundred Thousand Angels’ which has become a classic all around the world.

As we walked back through the newly cropped fields with the warm sun on our backs we didn’t really want to leave. We had chatted to friendly strangers, hugged people we didn’t know, had meditated, listened to an outpouring of wisdom and been poleaxed at times with emotion. We were tired. We wanted to stay in the bubble of peace and gentility, in a place where everyone seemed good. And kind. And cared. Really cared. And accepted us for who we were without needing to know where we had come from, or what we did for a living. We wanted to stay in a world where everyone was free to love, and live and let live.

Of course, when I woke up this morning I was home in the real world with its usual stresses and strains, worries and yes, sometimes fears. And I know that life will never be perfect and peaceful all the time – (though maybe it could be if we all prayed hard enough!) But part of me is still back in the park, and I hope I can remember for a long time some of those words of wisdom.

       ‘Consider for a moment this special day….think it…feel it…experience it…know it…enjoy it….’

Blessings to you …...

Peace in park

Was it fifty years or yesterday?

We have just returned home from five days in Devon. We seemed to pack a lot into those five days; travelling, walking and revisiting old haunts. The days were very full, both with a variety of winds and weathers, varying accommodation and, for me, very mixed emotions.

My parents moved to Devon when I was eight years old and we lived there until I was fourteen, so these were possibly the years that had a strong influence on my adult life; my formative years. It was in the early sixties, the era where the country saw a dramatic change. The first teenage generation to be free of conscription emerged in Britain, and young people were given a voice and a certain amount of freedom. I don’t think that freedom had quite filtered down to me though; I was shy, and had been an only child until I was thirteen when my lovely sister was born. But boy! I did the like music of the era. I have just been looking at the top 100 most popular hits of 1963. They include The Beatles with ‘She Loves You’ and ‘From Me To You,’ ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ Gerry and The Pacemakers, ‘Summer Holiday.’ Cliff Richard, and ‘In Dreams’ Roy Orbison. Also on there are Billy Fury, Elvis, The Shadows, I could go on and on ……Who could ever regret being a ‘baby boomer’ with that pedigree of music in the background? Later in the sixties came ‘flower power’ and I remember wafting around Torquay harbour with bare feet wearing a dress with a psychedelic print and feeling like a ‘flower child,’ and a little bit hippie. ( If I am honest, I have always had mild hippie leanings ever since).

Himself was very patient and drove me round all the places I remembered from those long lost days. I found our old house and stood outside the drive and looked up to my old bedroom window. I was pleased to see the house looked loved and well cared for. At the bottom of the road, I stared at the field where I used to go sledging after school on my dad’s old wooden surf board, in the long frozen winter of 1962. How could this now be a mild slope? In my mind it was a tremendously steep hill that I whizzed down with my eyes closed in exhilarating terror.

I tried to remember the directions to my old school; I was sure I knew how to find it but called in at the local shop to check the directions. I was a bit upset to see this was housed in what was formerly the village hall where I had both attended Girl Guides and ballet classes. Gone was the old wooden floor and the pretty sash windows. Only the old pitched roof remained the same. It was now a rather hideously fronted mini supermarket. The guy inside was friendly and gave me directions. He talked about the area and suggested it had gone downhill which was sad to hear.

The way to school soon became familiar to me and before long I was standing outside the railings looking at the playground. It had hardly changed and I could almost hear the clang of the school bell calling us in to class. I remembered my stern teacher; ramrod straight, dressed in severe grey with hair in a tight bun, admonishing me for letting my brain ‘go to rust, Lynda!’ Later, though, she must have seen something in me, for she made me a prefect. I guess she was strict, but fair.

We drove around a bit and inevitably some parts of the place I knew so well had changed beyond recognition. The sweet little cafe on the slope up from the harbour and which my mother loved was long gone, and replaced by a betting shop. The small nursing home where my sister was born was now a private residence and the town had a more than shabby appearance.

Does our mind play tricks on us? Do we sometimes remember things differently than they really were? I once heard someone say we should never go back. Maybe I won’t again. But I wondered about my mother. I wondered what she was thinking on the days when she sat in the little cafe by the harbour. She was in her late thirties then. Full of life, full of plans. Really not knowing that before long our family would move and make a new life somewhere else. And then somewhere else again. I looked back and felt a huge wistfulness.

And what is it about time? Why is it that we can sit on a bench looking out to sea and look at the horizon and feel that we last sat there yesterday, when in reality it was fifty years ago? Where do all the thoughts and dreams from all those years ago really, really go? I know someone wise would say treasure every day. And I know that.We all say it so often. It rolls off the tongue every time we hear a bit of bad news. But time still passes, with the good times and the bad. There is more than just going back. There is remembering and taking time to remember. Time to think about what and who has gone before. Time to think about what made us who we are. And then time to step forward.

Alice:   How long is forever?

White Rabbit:   Just one second.

                  Lewis Carroll   Alice In Wonderland

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.

                                                                           Nathaniel Hawthorn

Blessings to you ….