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.’

 

Dealing with Anxiety, Post Christmas Blues and Embracing a New Year…

 

0CABF23E-5C2A-4B60-8706-3730EA147E8DHello and Happy New Year. Thanks for sticking with me!

Every year I enjoy the build up to Christmas – more so this year because our elder son and his family where over from America for ten days in early December for a visit. To say we were excited was an understatement. We hadn’t seen the children (five came – they have a big family!) for two years and I hadn’t had chance to meet and hug our newest little granddaughter.

 

We had so much planned, starting with a visit to a pantomime which was quite a revelation to the American children! Being a large family they rented a property which was set in a very magical town nearby which was beautifully lit up for Christmas. Our English grandchildren enjoyed being with their cousins they have so little chance to see, and it was heartwarming to see our two sons and daughter-in-laws together too. So we all had fun together; we had quality time with each of the children and we made time for hugs, for chatting and for making memories. We took them to our favourite haunts and looked at old familiar places through the eyes of our grandchildren and saw new things. We were amused at the way they loved going into English pubs, buying cupcakes and eating beans on toast! Everyday we would get into the car and go and see them for at least part of the day. But as always happens, time passed very quickly and before long I was steeling myself for the inevitable heart wrenching goodbyes which never get any easier no matter how many times one goes through the process.

So we put on a brave face and waved them off. The consolation of such times is the knowledge that they are happy, loving children who are so interested in the world around them and have so much to occupy their minds.

With Christmas still ahead, we headed off to Cornwall to a holiday home kindly let to us by a family friend. We were perched up on the cliff overlooking the bay I had visited so much as a child. We went armed with a mini Christmas tree and enough food to last well into the new year! There was plenty of time to take early morning walks along the (blustery) beach and visit nearby family. On Christmas Eve we attended the church I was baptised in as small child and where my grandparents were regular attenders, having lived in the Cornish town all their lives. In the candlelit church I could almost feel their presence and with it the comfort of old traditions. Do our loved ones who have gone before us look down and watch over us? I like to think they do. As we stepped out in the early hours of Christmas Day the light shone through the church windows just as it had all through the years before, somehow giving a feeling of continuity and at the same time, rekindling old memories.

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Christmas passed in a flurry of bracing walks across the cliffs, visits to friends and family  and plenty of eating and drinking. All too soon we were packing the car up again and heading home.

So that takes us to New Year’s Eve. This time although for a lot of people it brings the promise of new beginnings, for me, It is hard to let go of Christmas. It seems to me, Chritsmas is the one time of the year when everything is different – almost like normal living is suspended in time and we can forget about the normal worries and problems that can bother us the rest of the year. It may entail more work if we are entertaining, but we have an excuse to grab a glass of wine, eat an extra piece of cake, shelve the bills until another day. We may complain when we have to spend time with acquaintances  we perhaps wouldn’t see other times of the year, but we do it, and that is because we care. It is about togetherness and being sociable, and following age old traditions that deep down are important to us.

One thing that saddens me is hearing people say Christmas is over for another year by the time Boxing Day arrives! So much planning and pleasure surely cannot disappear so quickly! If you are someone who suffers from post Christmas blues, I can assure you, you are not alone! If you have are prone to anxiety, perhaps you managed too keep anxious thoughts at bay with the distractions of Christmas only to find those unwanted thoughts returning in the new year? Being surrounded by jolly people making plans for the next year can sometimes be a bit overwhelming; all the talk of detox diets and new exercise regimes are certainly positive, but rather than rush headlong into the new year here are some suggestions for easing yourself kindly into 2018:

Don’t rush to take all those decorations down you put up so lovingly a few weeks ago; how about leaving a few fairy lights up so there is still a bit of festive feel to the house? When the decorations are all down, fill the house with as many early daffodils as you can afford. They really will lift your heart.

It is not necessary to make a long list of plans and new year’s resolutions, in fact, they are usually broken by the end of January, instead use the first few weeks of January to make time for some gentle meditation and uplifting reading.

Enjoy getting outdoors; walking and looking for the first snowdrops or listening to the birds is more uplifting than huffing and puffing at the gym.

Eat wholesome and nutritious food but don’t deprive yourself too much. Think comfort food. Enjoy plenty of freshly brewed tea or even a mug of hot chocolate on a cold afternoon.

Maybe think about starting a journal and writing down your thoughts. It’s amazing how therapeutic putting your thoughts on paper can be. You don’t need to shoe it to anyone – unless you want to of course – you may turn out to be a budding writer!

I once decided to wrap a few small presents for my children to come home to after their first day back at school after the holidays, just fun things that brightened their day. Do that for someone you care about, perhaps after the first day back at work. If someone needs cheering up it really works!

Finally, remember, Christmas isn’t the only time for a bit of magic and I have to tell myself this. Angels, too, are for life, not just for Christmas!

Blessings to you and I wish you the happiest of days.

64th Springtime….

I had to write about the passing of time today. I have returned from the town where I was born in Cornwall, after spending a long weekend there at a family reunion. I spent quite a lot of time in the house that belonged to my grandparents and where my Aunt and Uncle now live. I stood in front of the same window where I stood over sixty years ago wearing a bridesmaids dress and clutching a posy of wild flowers; a shy child then, uncomfortably striking a pose for the camera. I walked around the garden where I have walked so many times long ago, safe in the care of my grandparents. I looked at the old granite trough where chubby goldfish still swim, and the little avenue of apple trees I used to run through. I had a curiously strange, yet comforting feeling that my long departed grandparents were somehow there with me.

Nostalgia continued as we gathered with my father and various relatives to celebrate his cousin’s 90th birthday. Aunts, godparents and old friends each had a story to tell me, and a memory of the past to share. As we stood in the garden in the lovely Spring sunshine we looked at old photographs of the family and marvelled at the likenesses of our own children to their little known ancestors. We talked about those long gone as though they had only just stepped out of the room. It made me think that those we love and who loved us remain a part of our lives and in some ways have made us who we are.

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                                                  Poppies in my Grandparent’s garden.

Next day, at the beach, I meandered across the sand as I have done so many times in the past. I thought about the time I was punished at school by a bossy headmistress, when I handed in a note from my grandmother asking for permission for me to leave early one day. The headmistress knew that we were keen to get to the sea-side before tea-time! I guess she feared my leaving a little early would have had a detrimental effect on my education. I’m not really sure it would have made a big difference and who can doubt the benefit of a dose of fresh sea air? Deep in thought, I still got caught out by the stream that runs the length of the sand to the sea and offers no bridge to cross from one side of the sand to the other. Ah well, the shoes had to come off. There was nothing for it but to wade across to get to the crystal clear rock pools.

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Returning home to Dove Lane it was time to settle back in to routine. And yet, as always, family was uppermost in my mind. Our two sons were able to spend time together yesterday, an occasion that doesn’t happen as often as they like, as the eldest one lives in America, and the younger one was visiting him from England. They ‘Facetimed’ me and I watched their nine, (yes, they have nine children between them!) children playing together for the first time. There is something beyond heartwarming seeing your grandchildren naturally bonding together.

I am getting older now. I will soon have completed 64 Springtimes. Maybe I hanker  occasionally for my youth, for the odd bit of fame even, but I desire no money except insofar as I should like to be able to have enough to spend on my children and grandchildren… Can I still be helpful? I hope I can be in a useful, personal and direct way. I hope I have acquired some wisdom; I know one thing – I am well equipped to love.

I remember staring at my grandmother’s hands, they were a bit wrinkly and covered with veins and some brown splotches; they looked rather old to me, but it didn’t matter, they were there to hold on to me. That doesn’t seem long ago, yet now, here I am with my grandmother’s hands.

Blessings.