How DoYou Define Love?

This week I said goodbye…..

A short blog today….

This week I said goodbye to my beloved father.  I loved him dearly and miss him very much.

I have been lucky to have been embraced by my wonderful family and friends and the love between us all has been incredible.

 We try and cope with life’s sadnesses as best we can, and when times are really bleak we can be truly touched by acts of kindness from ordinary, yet extraordinary people.

From the young guy in the coffee shop who, on learning of my trouble, rushed over with a piece of cake and a kind word and told me to call in anytime I felt like I needed a chat, to the elderly and infirm neighbours of my dad’s who struggled out to pay their respects; to the guys next door who I have only just got to know and who embraced me with a loving hug when I was standing in the road in tears; and to the countless people on the end of the phone lines who didn’t know me, but did their best when I was trying to sort out paperwork, and to the lady who served my dad at the post office counter every week and who referred to him as a perfect and kindly gentleman, my spirits have been truly lifted.

For anyone else going through a bereavement, my thoughts are with you.

A very good friend sent me this message:

Maybe we feel we lose, but this is only in our perception. Nothing gets lost, it just changes form. I am with you’.

 

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As the sun goes down in one part of the world, it rises in another.

 

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.

My Wish for You at Christmas….

 

 

I Wish You….

 

CLEAR starry nights and crisp frosty days,

Shop assistants helpful in all sorts of ways,

Some cosy gloves and furry boots

A Christmas tree with healthy roots.

Plates of mince pies and glasses of sherry

All passed round to make you feel merry.

Roaring fires and twinkling lights

Christmas stockings full of delights

Bunches of mistletoe so nobody misses

Copious amounts of Yuletide kisses.

A heavenly choir singing all in tune,

A glimpse of Santa in the light of the moon.

A family together on Christmas Eve;

Little children who still believe.

Plenty of food on the Christmas table

Guests who help when they are able.

Plenty of presents everyone likes

Perfume and socks and shiny new bikes.

The gift of love throughout the land

To those who need a helping hand.

And whether you travel from near or far

May there be peace and love wherever you are.

L.M.H.

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What Sort of Snowflake Are You?

Having had a heavy snowfall at Dove Lane this week I got to thinking about snow, and the beauty and individuality of every single snowflake.

In ice crystals, water molecules line up and form a six-sided shape called a hexagon. This is why all snowflakes are six sided …Even though two snowflakes may form in the same cloud, their different journeys to the ground will affect their shape and size, giving each snowflake its own unique identity.’             Taken from Wonderopolis.org

Scientists estimate that the chances of two snowflakes being exactly alike are about 1 in 1 million trillion (that’s a 1 followed by 18 zeros). Meteorologists think that there are 1 trillion , trillion, trillion trillion different types of snowflakes. Imagine that!

But here’s the thing: we can liken ourselves to snowflakes. Ok we are not pretty little icy snowflakes but we are just as unique. If you examine two human fingerprints  – again no two are the same. How is that possible in a world of billions of people? It is awe inspiring to think that we are all completely individual.

I love the above phrase from Wonderopolis when it talks about the snowflakes being formed in the same clouds but ending up diffently because of their journey to the ground.  Everyone of us has a journey too and we all live through countless different experiences and ups and downs, loves, losses, failures and winning situations. Each experience we encounter shapes us to some degree and makes us the people we are. An individual like no other.

What does being individual mean?

Being an individual takes work and dedication yet if only we would stop and think about it we would remember just how individual we really are. Being individual doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand out in a crowd but being a true individual means having the courage of your convictions and not being afraid to veer off the beaten path. Do you find yourself caring about what others think about you? It may be time to put aside those worries. If you obsess over what other people think about you then you will never to be able to please yourself; remember, it is impossible to please everyone.

Gossip may hurt us. We all have times when we get hurt, but if you hear something said about you that you don’t like, remind yourself that it is likely to have come from an insecure person who is coming from a place of weakness. Everyone gets knocked  – even film stars or famous singers you may admire. No one is immune.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

As obvious as it sounds, being an individual means just being you. Not needing to present a front to people. If you show the quirky side of your personality to people they will warm to you. You have no need to present a perfect facade to the world. People are attracted to seomeone who is a bit different. And most people are understanding. Try opening up and being honest when you are in an anxious situation; admit to someone when you are out of your comfort zone and many times you will be met with sympathy. Often too, people will admit to feeling the same in similar situations. Of course, there are times when it may make sense to conform a little – you would probably present yourself diffently to your boss at work than you would to someone at a drinks party. But still, apart from avoiding topics that may be sensitive, it’s good to be yourself and show yourself to be the interesting person you are.

At the same time do not force yourself to be different. Wear what suits you but don’t feel you have to wear ‘way out’ clothes if that’s not your style. Be comfortable with your style. We all know that feeling when you go out wearing something you are not happy with – you can feel out of place all day. You cannot make something right if it doesn’t suit you. If getting a tattoo or changing your hair isn’t for you it doesn’t matter. Being individual comes from inside.

I was brought up to be modest and not to boast about my achievements. Of course, no one is drawn to someone who is too ‘full of themselves’ but at the same time, if you have accomplished something you are proud of, don’t be afraid to mention it. Your skills are part of the person you are.

Build up your confidence.

It took me years to become a confident person.  An upbringing where it was important to  ‘know our place’ and look up to those deemed to be better than us took years to shrug off. Even now I sometimes find I feel inferior in certain situations. Then I remind myself what a ridiculous and counter productive feeling that is. I have just as much right to be here and voice my opinion as the next person. A great help in building confidence comes from spending time with the right kind of people. Those who make you feel good about yourself. Also, remembering to use confident body language really helps. Standing upright and looking people in the eye and engaging with them really puts you forward in the best way.

Being comfortable in your own skin.

People who are true individuals just aren’t bothered about what people think about them; they just go through life being happy and comfortable. And if you look comfortable and happy with what you are doing, you are well on your way to gaining the respect you deserve.

So, just like the beautiful snowflake, know that there is literally no one else like you in the whole wide world. Think about this. You don’t have to work at trying to be different, you already are different! No one else has had the same upbringing as you, has the same looks, has had all the same experiences as you or has entirely the same values. No one else sees the world exactly as you do. You can be proud of that fact!

As the New Year approaches, you may be thinking of things in your life you want to change and enhance your individuality (if you don’t, and are happy as you are by the way , that’s great). Perhaps it is the time to think about exploring your creative side or accepting new challenges, or maybe spending time with people you admire. Surrounding yourself with independant thinkers is a great way to start looking at life differently and finding inspiration.

Being authentic

This is something I have had to work on. To be an individual you have to be authentic. You have to say what you feel is right and not what others want you to say. People can spot something phony a mile off. Being authentic becomes easier the more you try to achieve it. It makes you feel so much better about yourself and the path you are trying to follow in life when you say what you really mean and you stand up for what is really important to you.

Be positive whenever you can. Your individual cells will respond far better to good thoughts and feelings from inside you than to rubbish thoughts and bad news from outside of you. We are all bombarded with ‘stuff’ from the media, both good and bad 24/7. Learn to know when to turn off. Turn off and turn away. Yes there are times when we need to be informed but there are also times when we need to say to ourselves that the world can turn without us worrying about it for a day.

So with Christmas fast approaching, many things to think about, and with celebrations, Christmas services, Santa and his reindeer all vying for our attention, remember to be like that beautiful, individual snowflake when it makes its own particular journey to the ground – remember to land up in just the place you want to be. Be your own individual self.

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