For the last few days the sun has been shining after what seems like weeks of grey skies ... suddenly there seems to be plenty to smile about... But if you need a boost, please read on... Thank you for showing me life can be good. With you, I know the world is full of people who care And seek what is still beautiful and right. Thank you for choosing softness in a hard world And keeping your heart open instead of building walls. I am grateful to you for your kindness When the darkness falls And for taking time to point out the stars. The world is a better place When WE are in a better place, And harmony comes from your gentle words That are spoken with grace. Thank you for not being perfect But for doing your best And not making judgements. Thank you for shining through difficult times And wearing your Sunday best on grim days. Thank you for showing up today - Sometimes you need to hear that And that's really all I wanted to say.
Do you have days when you find it hard to cope with the changing world? Sometimes it feels that everything has been turned upside down and we wonder if life will ever be the same again. So many people out there are trying to do their best for us but there seems to be doubt too, doubt that is creeping in from the corners and filling us with uncertainty about the future. Every era brings new challenges, we only have to look back through history to see that, but how we deal with them now, in this age of constantly changing technology, is a complex issue.
Should we accept change? I suppose we need to accept what we cannot change, but we need to be curious too. Asking questions and listening rather than making assumptions will help us explore fresh perspectives.
We can all feel emotional during times of change, indeed we can feel unhappy and negative. We need to remember to be kind to ourselves and look after our energy levels.
When things become overwhelming, I find a good way of coping is to divide life into smaller steps when possible. Concentrate on how well you’ve done so far rather than constantly trying to look at the bigger picture. A good way to settle your mind is to make a little plan (I’m not normally big on making plans or lists but here I make an exception !) Prioritise what you feel you need to do and then start by taking a small step at a time.
‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.’ Victor Frankl
Having said that, still, I find what helps me the most is having faith. Faith in the overall goodness of people. Faith in Mother Nature and faith in the knowledge that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other when things are bleak always helps.
Change Change is here, we know it And others pronounce it in harsh tones That filter through every crack To chill our very bones. Hold on, we say to the big wide world As we fear the changing view, We haven't had long enough To dance along with you. But the world just turns by way of reply And can't apply the brake Surely, we should know by now To give more than we take. Oh, hold on world! It is time For us who love you to be strong; To gather your shattered pieces And put them back where they belong. L.M.H
Softly Green The mist fell over the hills Until there was no distance To think about, The big wide world was made smaller And became more manageable Until there was nothing scary to be seen And then the rain fell And washed it clean; Nature emptying its pockets To colour it softly green. L.M.H
I have a little book of daily inspirational quotations I keep by my bed. I had got out of the habit of reading it for a while but picked it up again this week. It is said we read things when we need to – that we are reminded about something at the right moment and I like to believe that. Is there an angel sitting on my shoulder pointing me in the right direction? I like to think that too. The short quote I read this morning reminded me that contentment is the most important feeling we can have. I don’t have the book in front of me now but the advice it offered stayed with me. It made me realise that when we are content we are gentle with the world, and that upset and anxiety rolls away from us like raindrops slipping off shiny leaves.
How many people do we know who appear to be content with their life? It’s not easy for any of us to go through life beaming contentedly at everyone we meet whilst skipping through fields full of daisies is it? Life has a habit of getting in the way of contentment. The daily grind, the scary news and events in general, all contrive to rattle us and upset our equilibrium. I did start today with a new mindset though, and reminded myself that striving for tomorrow is not what today is all about. Today is about being appreciative and realising that every day is special and won’t come again.
I am going out into the garden to help my husband plant a new hedge and then sit down in a deckchair with a cup of tea and feel content. At least for a while!
I will I will sit in the apple orchard And feel the warmth of the sun, I will watch the dancing butterflies And the children as they run. I will see the kaleidoscope of colours Unfolding all around And feel the memory of a hundred summers Fall like feathers to the ground. I will hold nothing more than dreams And love and love and love, For this is all we have it seems But then all we need IS love. I will let the day run its course And mark the time only by shadows That will lengthen, until at last Only peace follows. I will forget to ask for answers To how and why and when, And know that though the darkness falls The world will turn again. L.M.H
The world turns and with every turn there is more to consider, more to weigh up, more to cope with. Some days we may feel small and inconsequential and who can blame us?
Can we really make a difference? Can we make our own personal mark on this world with all its complexities? Yes, we can, because we can act on our dreams, and we can follow the path that knows kindness, that shows tolerance and fairness.
When we feel worried about the world and can’t see an end to all the unrest and disease that frightens us, it is good to take a step back and look at our beautiful world from afar. There isn’t an instant solution to what is happening at the moment and we know that, but looking from a distance helps put things in perspective. Imagine looking down at the world from a space-ship. What would we see? Only rugged land and great expanses of water. No big barriers and no big banners or labels. No big names written across the landscape. As we approach land and hover above the towns and cities we would see a blur of people going about their everyday business. We wouldn’t see one looking more important than the other. We would just have an aerial view of humanity. Looking from above, we wouldn’t judge anyone or be judged. How could we be?But we might realise that we are all equal in the eyes of the Universe.
Back down on Earth with our feet on the ground, we will feel the push and pull of everyday ups and downs, but it’s good to remember the ‘big picture’, and remember that big or small, we all have our hopes and dreams ….
Look to the sky now and again…
We are all made of stars they say….
So far, this week seems to have been one of highly publicised televised interviews and sensational headlines, followed by opinionated spats and disagreements on various news programmes. It can be hard to change focus and to stay grounded, for unless one sits at the bottom of the garden in a teeppee listening to the sounds of nature (actually I would love a teepee!) one cannot avoid the news altogether. I wouldn’t want to wade in with comments about ‘that interview’ for I cannot begin to know the reasons for other people’s trials and tribulations. What has occurred to me though, is how complicated life becomes, when the need to be right, or follow protocol, or make people obey the rules, gets in the way of everyday life.
Perhaps we should all take a step back and think about the simple acts of kindness that sometimes get lost along the way – perhaps because of busyness or stress or life’s pressures. I recently attended an outpatient appointment at my local hospital, and to say I was treated with briskness is an understatement. In a procedure lasting just over half an hour I was spoken to only once or twice, and that was just to give me instructions. Just a few kind words and a short explanation of what was going on would have made such a difference and really improved my experience. I wasn’t treated badly, but I was treated with indifference. I do understand the NHS is under great stress. I used to be a nurse myself, and I know what a great job a lot of hospital staff do, but that day, kindness and interaction was lacking. Just a couple of minutes chat and a smile was all that was needed. Would that have held up the day too much?
I give the above example not to criticise but to illustrate how it is the small things in life that help us keep going and feel better. Life is short, and we need to be feel cared for and we need to treat people, and be treated, generously.
Recently, I have lost three friends from various walks of life. I have walked around with sadness and grief on my shoulders. Memories of the past have woken me in the night and I have tossed and turned, and pictured myself as a teenager once more, laughing with a friend who has now said goodbye. I have realised that all that matters is how we love, and that we will be remembered for the good things we have done, the friendships we have formed and the way we still managed to carry on and be ourselves even when facing adversity.
If only we could all cut through the wasted time that comes about from looking in the wrong direction or from dwelling on hurts that we could just let go, then we could make the most of the precious time we have.
Huge misunderstandings could be put right and hurts could be healed if those who had the power, reached out and said, ‘What can we do to make things better?’
A Sympathetic Voice Lately it has come to mind It is most important to be kind, To take a moment, and make a choice And comfort with a sympathetic voice. In this complex world we keep afloat, Care for ourselves without rocking the boat, Weigh up the politics, try and do what is right, Find something we believe in and follow the light. But too many times, on a solitary track Have we passed on by, and not looked back Not knowing the difference we could have made To the person standing alone and afraid? And after frantic years of business deals, With arrogant managers kicking their heels, Would anyone look back and say 'I'm glad I acted mean today?' L.M.H
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3
When we love and treat each other with the utmost care and attention, the little things that bother us seem far less overwhelming. And perhaps we should listen twice as much as we talk.
Today I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. I wish you love and roses and heart shaped boxes. I am aware, though, especially at the moment, it can be a hard day to get through. Sometimes it appears that the whole world seems to evolve around couples; perhaps you have lost someone or are alone because of quarantine restrictions. Or you may be missing family members. I know I am! Whatever the reason, if you are alone, or missing loved ones, I hope that you can find some comfort today.
Tapestry of Love Today we may think of roses Tied with utmost care Or a heart shaped box With treasure waiting there To fill a day so different - Yet still somehow it’s here, And it’s a good a plan as any To celebrate this year. But what happens when the night falls And we are haunted by the feeling That normal is out of sight And other souls are reeling When there is no more light? When there is always someone missing someone, And only a collage made of memories To remind us of the sun. Imagine the tapestry of love Endless yet light Woven with gold Shimmering bright, Covering all those in the darkest corners And narrowest places, Like a blanket of peace For all those it embraces. Wear the tapestry of love It is ‘one size fits all’ - It will give you comfort If darkness were to fall. And you will believe, and find Kindness is shining through, Because others will Be wearing it too. (C) Lyn Halvorsen
Today is so cold. The wind is howling and the grey skies are bleak. But I can stay indoors and keep warm. I can stay in bed if I want to, with my duvet bunched around me like a warm and comforting cloud. I can cook, and I can make delicious warming drinks. I am worried, like many of us, about these challenging times, and the pandemic that is stubbornly refusing to go away. But I can spend my time worrying in a safe place. I can lock my doors. I have a small, but peaceful corner in this turbulent world.
I think about the man I met one day and who had the deepest sadness in his eyes. He was in a place that any of us could be in, given a downturn in circumstances. I wonder if he ever found a haven of his own. I hope he is warm and that he has been shown kindness. I hope he may have been able to reconnect with a life that obviously had meant so much to him long ago.
The Man on the Corner There's a man who lives in a doorway Just across the street He sits upon a pile of rags, His dog just by his feet It's like he is invisible To those who rush on by, And even those who say 'hello' Can't look him in the eye. One day, I see him in the park, His aimless gait is slow, He pulls his coat around him As the cold wind starts to blow. 'Hello Luv,' he says to me, 'I'm afraid it's getting dark, You may not want to linger here It can be dangerous in this park.' But I sit with him upon the bench, And we look upon the plaque Dedicated to someone's long lost love Who was never coming back. And we talk about the weather How it was cold for the time of year, As if it was quite normal For him to live out here. 'I had a life once,' he turns and says With a glimmer in his eyes, And I imagine him in different times, As he stands to say goodbye. (C) Lyn Halvorsen
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’.
As the sun goes down in one part of the world, it rises in another.
Kindness Matters. Always.
This is my mantra.
No matter who we are, whatever gifts life has or has not bestowed on us, we all benefit from kindness. Words of kindness can help our fears and anxieties disappear, like ice melting in the warmth of the sun.
‘Lately it has come to mind – It is most important to be kind. To take a moment, make a choice, Comfort with a loving voice.’
Perhaps I can offer a few examples of kindness I have encountered.
One day last year I was sitting outside a cafe enjoying some coffee and Some welcome winter sunshine. All was quiet until a group of young men walked towards the cafe. They appeared to be in boisterous spirits, shouting and laughing. Swaggering along dressed in their hoodies, they gave off an air of arrogant confidence. They ordered drinks and sat down at a nearby table. They were loud. To be honest I felt slightly uncomfortable next to them and a little annoyed that my space had been invaded. I began to make assumptions about where they were from and wondered why they were out and about. Why weren’t they at work or college? But my thoughts were interrupted when an elderly lady walking across the road tripped and fell, scattering all her shopping in the street. Before I had chance to move, the young men next to me all stood up and dashed over to help. I followed over too, to see if there was anything I could do. Very gently one of them checked the lady over to see if she was badly hurt, and as a group they wondered whether an ambulance was needed.
It was decided that the lady was just shaken up. Getting slowly to her feet she insisted she was okay but was agitated about her groceries and handbag. No problem they said, and gathered up all her things, reassuring her everything was there. I took her over to the cafe and sat her down whilst one of the young men went inside to order her some tea.
We all sat outside the cafe together, our chairs pulled round one table in a companionable circle. Soon the lady was smiling and feeling better .
She looked up at one of the lads. “Why, I know you! You are Jenny’s son from the next block of flats to me! I haven’t seen you for a long time! It’s young David isn’t it?”
‘Young’ David smiled and looked embarrassed. “Yes that’s me.”
“Well I’m blessed,” said the lady, who’s name was Molly. “How you’ve grown! I’m so pleased to see you.”
We all chatted for a while and then David offered to walk Molly home. Off they went arm in arm, the others following behind. David promised to tell his Mother he had spent time with Molly and suggested Molly came round to visit sometime. Molly smiled such a sweet smile as she waved goodbye to me. An upsetting fall had had a happy ending.
I went inside and ordered another coffee. I thought about the boys and their kindness to an old lady. I realised one thing. It was not my business to question how anyone passes the time of day. And it was the last time I ever made assumptions.
‘In this complex world we keep afloat, Care for ourselves without rocking the boat. Weigh up the politics, Try and do what is right, Find something we believe in and follow the light.’
I remember having to start a new school when I was thirteen as my family had moved house. I was crippled with shyness and it was a very distressing time in my life. I joined the school at a time when everyone had been there a while and had settled into new friendships. They all had their allocated seats and knew the routine. Break-time was miserable. I lurked around in the changing rooms as I didn’t have friends to hang out with. Sometimes after my father had dropped me off at the school gates I would watch him drive off and then I would turn around and walk the three miles home again. My parents were worried about me but at a loss about what to do.
I knew somehow I had to get used to going to school. Gradually some of the other girls started to include me in their circle and the days started to improve. It would take a while until I felt that I belonged but the person who really helped me was my English teacher. Mr. Walker was a kind and thoughtful gentleman who took an interest in me. He made me welcome and took time to concentrate on my work. He taught us good values and good manners by example. He gave me good marks for my essays! He instilled in me a lifelong love of writing. He remembered my name, even when we met by chance years later. Mr. Walker had a class full of pupils but he took the time to be kind to a young, timid girl. He must be long gone now, but I have never forgotten him.
‘Too many times on a solitary track Have we passed on by, and not looked back Not knowing the difference we could have made, To the person standing alone and afraid?’
Kindness often comes at times when we least expect it. A random stranger smiling and opening a door for us. A passer by giving us change for the parking ticket machine, or, as happened to me recently, a waitress who was so kind to me after a rough day she brought tears to my eyes.
No matter who we are and whatever our circumstances, we all have times we feel alone. We struggle to understand what is going on around us, both in our own small world and the big wide world too. Most of us have times when we feel lonely in a crowd; days when we wonder literally what this world is all about.
On Monday my elderly father was rushed to hospital with a sudden infection – he had gone to bed perfectly okay the previous night and the onset was sudden. When called, the paramedics were very professional and efficient and realised he needed to be hospitalised and so we were soon waiting in the emergency room of the local hospital. The immediate care was good and the staff did their best. It was very, very busy though and the staff had their hands full. The unit was overflowing and there was stress. In the midst of it all I heard a lone voice asking for help – ‘please help’ and again, ‘please help! A thousand pleases!’. It made me think that when we are at our lowest the basic need in all of us is to be shown some kindness. And the person was helped. And shown compassion. I’m so thankful there are people who do their best in tough conditions and who are not just motivated by earning money or by fame, but who are just there to make a difference to someone’s well-being and who are doing their job the best way they can.
‘After frantic years of business deals, With arrogant managers clicking their heels, Would anyone look back and say: “I’m glad I acted mean that day?”’
One last word.
Some days I can get out of the bed the wrong side and feel grumpy. We all can. These are the times when it may be harder to summon up a smile or be polite. After several cold calls interrupting me on the telephone I can feel exasperated. Or maybe it has taken what seems like hours to be served at the checkout. Or perhaps I have been stuck in a long queue of traffic. These are the times I take a deep breath. These are the times I remember life is good. These are the times I tell myself I have today. I am lucky to have today. I am lucky to be able to walk around freely. I am lucky to have a phone I can take a call on no matter how irritating. I am lucky to have some change in my purse. Therefore I will try and cope with my day and whatever it brings. And I hope I will be kind.
What are your thoughts on the healthcare system? In the Uk we seem to be at crisis point although the present government disagrees. As a former nurse and someone who has worked for many years in the NHS system and believes in it wholeheartedly, I hope to see change and more resources before we lose it forever.
I‘ve been talking to someone close to me who suffers from anxiety and trying to talk them through it. When someone is seeing the world around them as a bleak place it is very hard to come up with something that will make them feel better. I find myself offering techniques and advice that I know from experience can help, but at the same time I sometimes question the suggestions I offer, even though I am praying that the smallest bit of advice could just be enough to provide a ray of hope or bring a spark of light in a dark time. Of course, anxious feelings arise for all sorts of reasons; there may be health worries, both real and imagined, relationship problems, problems relating to the past, work related problems and many more, and each cause may need to be addressed in a different way. Sometimes just a loving hug and a chat with a friend may be enough to help the clouds to disperse and the anxious feelings to lift, but at times when a person is in the severe grip of anxiety then professional help may be needed. Whatever the situation and whatever help we seek or try to give, is there a force bigger than us that can we can hold on to when life seems to be a struggle?
Does the Universe really have us covered?
I think it does. I really hope it does. Why are we here otherwise? We may hear a lot of bad things and we are bombarded with bad news constantly; we know bad things happen to good people, but we also hear amazing stories on a daily basis – tales of amazing feats of bravery, courage, bravery and kindness. We hear about people who never give up; who find hidden strength from somewhere. We marvel at new life, when a baby takes its first breathe; we despair when we lose someone dear to us and we wonder how we can ever recover, yet somehow we know that this is all part of the pattern of life.
I think of myself as a spiritual person with a Christian background. I was brought up to go to church regularly and read the bible; I like the background that has given me even if I don’t attend church now on a regular basis. I like to believe there is a power that is bigger than us, that is all encompassing and is loving, and I find that even though I often have doubts, faith is what gets me through. Faith in a world that is inherently good and a life force that cannot always be explained and is beyond understanding. What compels eels to cross the Atlantic from the Saragossa Sea to spawn in the Irish rivers of their origin, or birds to cross whole continents, following a favoured route that no one could explain, to land atop the same trees every year? In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives we forget that miracles happen around us every day; we lose our powers of observation and fail to see the wonderful and awesome occurrences happening in nature on daily basis.
So what should we do to reconnect with the Universe when we feel we have been set adrift? If we can hold on to that faith we have deep down, whatever the sort of faith we have or follow, we can feel grounded in times of crisis. A spiritual practice I have found to be good is a ‘loving kindness meditation’. Just set some time aside, shut your eyes and generate feelings of compassion by repeating phrases such as ‘may you be happy, healthy and free of pain.’ Direct this to yourself at first then gradually increas your circle to include you family, your friends, the country and then finally, the whole planet. You can alter the words to find something that you feel comfortable with. Do this on a daily basis and at times when you feel stressed or anxious. Make time for this even when you are busy and notice the difference it makes to your day.
Thinking again about my loved one. I wish I could do more to make her feel better and I wish I could take all her worries, wrap them in a cloth bag , throw them out to sea, wish them love and wave them goodbye for good. Indeed, I will picture that very thing happening. In the meantime, I will actively help in every way I can until she can move forward with regained positivity. Even then I will be by her side – figuratively if not physically. And I will have faith that the Universe does have us covered.
I lay upon the ground today, Looked up to the sky,
Concentrated on the clouds, As they drifted slowly by.
Connecting with the Earth beneath, As it wore a peaceful face,
I felt the whole world turning, In this quiet and tranquil place.
And could I see a reason, Shine through the clouded sky
For all the actions unexplained, The many questions why?
I saw beauty and perfection here, Sweet birdsong filled the air,
So I must trust life’s answers, Lie in wait, somewhere.
(C) Lyn Halvorsen