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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trusting In The Universe and Releasing Anxiety …

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

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

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

Colossians 1 : 19 – 20

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

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

Trusting the Universe 

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

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

There Is a Bigger Picture

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

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

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

Thinking As A Child

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

When We Do Less We Become More.

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

Banishing Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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The Garden Fairies and Dreamy Fields….

Do you believe in the magic of fairies?

 

This week it has been very warm at Dove Lane and probably where you are too!

When anxiety strikes, as it can with many of us, any extreme, even of temperature,  can make us feel jittery at times. Getting outside is always good for us but on very hot days it is good to take sensible precautions – don’t forget to drink plenty of water and wear a hat if going out in the midday sun! Pick some lovely shady areas if you can; there is nothing like a peaceful, quiet walk in a shady, sun dappled wood on a hot day.

My week has all been about nature.  We have a friendly black bird who wakes me every morning about 4 am with his cheerful song, and who can fail to be uplifted by such a beautiful sound? And the heatwave has brought other delights – leaving our son’s house the other night after babysitting, the night was still, nothing stirred, and the sweet night air was heavy with that earthy scent you only ever experience on a heady midsummer night.

We went to visit the confetti fields in Worcestershire this week and saw a fabulous display of delphiniums and cornflowers – rows and rows of dreamy flowers in every colour as far as the eye could see. Walking through the dry and dusty field felt very grounding and I really enjoyed the calming atmosphere and the peaceful scene was a haven for bees and butterflies. People travel far and wide to see these fields; it seems that whatever is going on around us, the need to be at one with nature is forever with us.

 

And so I have added one of my poems again this week. This time of year always seems to be cloaked in a little bit of magic for me – when I look out at night I can imagine fairies so what better than to read a little about what they do…..

I hope you enjoy a little bit of escapism …. Love, Flowers and Fairies 🧚‍♀️

 

The Garden Fairies

When the night draws ever closer
And the stars twinkle in the sky,
When the man in the moon is smiling;
Here the garden fairies fly.

With dresses made of rose petals
Fine gossamer for their wings,
They land upon the dewy grass
To dance in fairy rings.

They sprinkle magic fairy dust,
They dart amidst the flowers
And tend to all the garden plants
Throughout the night time hours.

In the morning all is well,
The fairies’ work is done;
Sweet peas and daisies, in colourful rows,
Turn their faces to the sun.

©Lyn Halvorsen

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Summer Love ….

I’ve been enjoying the sunshine at Dove Lane and felt compelled to leaf through my own personal poetry book – I hope you may have found a moment to take a peaceful walk in the glorious countryside. Whatever you’ve been doing, enjoy my take on the summer atmosphere……

 

Summer

Suddenly the summer sun
Shines on a day I cannot miss,
Like the Prince who wakes his Princess
With a long awaited kiss.
The leafy trees swell and fill the lanes,
Their branches dipping low
To sweep a secret pathway
On the dusty ground below.
The fledglings fly their feathered nests
And flap their new found wings,
And I marvel at the changing scene
That each new season brings.
And all the fields are emerald green
Shot through with flecks of gold;
And though in winter, flowers slept unseen
Their petals now unfold.
Life is brimming all around
As if making another start
Nature never stopping
To question the mood of its heart.

© Lyn Halvorsen

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Good Thoughts – Good Actions = Good Results…

How do we feel when we receive negative comments?

I was reading a Facebook post today from someone that I have followed for a while. I enjoy the delightful mix of posts from her page and blog which include quirky mixes of shabby chic interior design,  and pretty pictures of a bygone age. I like anything which involves a bit of escapism and give an insight into someone else’s dream so it was sad to read recently that she had received some negative posts totally out of the blue. This got me thinking about how we spend our valuable leisure time and why sometimes some people find the need to comment negatively and sometimes even rudely on another persons endeavours. Innocent , well-meaning posts about all manner of subjects seem to find a way of provoking some untoward remarks from strangers who need to vent their anger somewhere. Constructive criticism is one thing but unpleasant and unfounded comments leave me perplexed.

I guess those of us who put ourselves out there and write about various subjects will have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth but that said, how much more uplifted do we all feel when we receive a comment from someone who has enjoyed reading our musings or found some of our advice to be helpful? We write for all sorts of reasons; some of us find it a release for anxiety, a chance to put our thoughts into words and reach out to others, to be creative and to send out some sort of message to the world.  The written word is, and always will be a valuable and immensely informative, often moving way of connecting us to the past, to feelings and emotions felt since time began; and words laid down now will be a comfort those who will go after us.

So maybe if we could all concentrate on what is good  – leave encouraging comments and keep negative thoughts to our selves, how much better social media would be!

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.  There is a description in one of my favourite books ‘In Tune with the Infinite’ by Ralph Waldo Infinite, about a man who owned a beautiful lotus pond. It was in a natural basin on his farm, supplied with water from a reservoir in the foothills some distance away:

‘ A gate regulated the flow of water from the main reservoir to the pond. It was a spot of transcendent beauty. There, through the days of perfect summer weather, the lotus flowers lay full blown on the surface of the clear, transparent water. June roses and other wild flowers were continually blooming upon its banks. The birds came here to drink and bathe, and from early to late one could hear the melody of their song. The bees were continually buzzing and at work in this garden of wild flowers. A beautiful grove in which many kinds of wild berries and many varieties of ferns grew stretched at the back of the pond as far as the eye could see. The good man who owned the grounds put up a sign to welcome all people to the lotus pond so good were his intentions. Here, were often merry groups of children playing and those who were weary could rest. Men and women seemed to be lifted of their heavy burdens. Many called the place ‘The Garden of God’. The man called it his ‘soul garden’. He would often sit and enjoy the fragrant flowers and sit on a bench in the moonlight. He was a man with a simple outlook but in this place, all his successful dreams and plans came to light. Everything in the vicinity seemed to breathe a spirit of love and kindness, comfort and good cheer. Even the cattle and sheep in the fields flourished. The gate of the pond was always open giving them pure mountain water to drink. For so long this wonderful place flourished until sadly, the man had to go away for a year. A new man was put in charge; one who had not much time for anything other than practicalities. He turned off the water flow and made the area private and invited no visitors. A great change came over everything; the flowers in the pond wilted; birds no longer came to drink and sing and the flowers no longer bloomed. The bees no longer hummed and as the stream dried up so the cattle no longer got their supply of water so they perished. By shutting the gate to the pond, thus preventing the flow of water from the reservoir in the hills, which was the source of life, the appearance of and around the beautiful lotus pond was entirely changed.’

Do we not see a parallel here? When we are connected to the source of good things, to the infinite, then all good things flow, and we live in harmony with the universe. We are connected to beauty and all things that are pure and health-giving. When this is taken from us or we disconnect from what is good, then we can fail to flourish, just like the lotus pond.

So on the days when we are feeling less than optimistic its good to remind ourselves to stay focused, to remember that good actions and good deeds bring the best results, and that when our hearts are open to others we live and let live. We remember that everyone has their own thoughts and opinions and we respect their right to go their own way.

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Anxiety.

 

Are you having a tough week? I know several people I have spoken to this week seem to be suffering in one way or another. Maybe it’s time to switch off the news, chill out a bit and try to focus on getting rid of the old ‘worry monster’.

Everyone worries but does that make it okay? It seems like worry and anxiety have been woven into the fabric of our society and has become a recognised problem to many. It appears in many forms – parents worry about their children – many of us worry about our health and well-being – our work and even just the routine of daily life. We worry about so many things we cannot control.

But control is an illusion, and the amount of things outside of our control is overwhelming. You can’t control the other drivers out there so you worry every time you drive along the road. You can’t control your child’s actions so you worry about them every Friday night. You can’t control the economy so you worry every time the next hint of redundancies comes floating through the office or, if you are self-employed, when your source of reliable work inexplicably dries up.

Anxiety creeps in when we don’t get what we want or something happens to us and we ask: ‘Why me?’ When injustice is done to us (and it’s done far too often), anxiety can settle on us like an oppressive blanket, choking out any joy and happiness.

But because we can’t control a lot of the things we worry about maybe we should turn the way we look at these things around – admit we can’t control this or that so worry is just a waste of time and more importantly, energy. There is nothing more tiring than worry and anxiety – trust me on that one! It’s a vicious circle too – you worry endlessly- you get tired which then makes you more prone to worrying more!

Although worry and anxiety may surround us we can get over these feelings.

So here is my cheat list for fooling the ‘worry monster’ into thinking you are oblivious to his dark ways:

1. Learn to live with it but don’t give in. Allow a certain amount of time a day to think about what is bothering you and know you have a choice to do something about it. Acknowledge that you are a worrier from time to time – you are just being human. If you have a partner tell them you are feeling anxious but are working through it. Try not to shut people out as they may feel they are somehow at fault.

2. As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, do something straight away. Prepare a healthy breakfast, look after your appearance, get on with the chores if you are at home, or try and go out of the door with a spring in your step even when you don’t feel like it. Dwelling on things doesn’t help and just by being active you will feel better. Take action by doing something. Don’t forget how good exercise is too for changing your mood. It doesn’t have to be over strenuous – just walking in the fresh air will be beneficial.

3. Find someone who needs you. It’s amazing how helping someone else can make both them and you feel better. (Be sure not to spend too much time commiserating with each other over all your joint woes though!)

4. Talk to someone. I have mentioned this so many times and I can’t say it enough – unload your worries occasionally to someone you trust – it really does help.

5. At the end of the day, write down the things you have been grateful for. Really think about all the little things that made your day go a bit better. It really is the small things that count – those small acts of kindness that come from unexpected places. And write down all the names of those you love and care about and finish with a smiley. 🙂 You will all benefit.

6. The opposite of fear is faith. Find some faith. Believe in something and devote some time to mindfulness. Believe things will get better – sometimes that is all you need, but never underestimate the power of prayer or visualisation. Think about it – people have cured themselves from severe illness with visualisation so it must work with anxiety too. You don’t have to be devout or religious to gain help from the Bible – so much wisdom has been passed down to us that is really worth keeping close by.

Just think about these words written so long ago…..

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body, more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?……..Therefore do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Matthew 6:25 – 34

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Proverbs 12:25

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What a Springtime Walk Can Teach us.

This week I am thinking about the rhythm of life …

I am always talking about the benefits of getting out into the countryside; the green fields and the chirpy birdsong usually manage to lift the spirits for a while at least. It’s always a comfort somehow to see the same old trees in the woods standing stoically strong; their trunks immovable and their roots firmly planted alongside the path where we often walk deep in thought. How many footsteps must have passed their way over perhaps hundreds of years and how many more still will? I can look at the trunk of my favourite tree in wonder. I can sense a benevolent charm in its being and almost see a kindly expression in the depths of its bark. And then I can look up and see its lofty branches reaching for the light. It knows what to do, my tree, it doesn’t need a set of rules or list of suggested requirements for better tree development.

I am a bit of a scaredy cat – I have even written a book about a scaredy cat. I am one of those people who sometimes have to cling on tight to the things I hold dear in times of strain and here is where I find nature has many ways of literally grounding me. We may not find the soultion to all our problems but we sure can get them more into perspective after a walk in our favourite part of the countryside.

Last week we took a break from Dove Lane and spent a long weekend in Devon. I can’t recall a time the countryside has ever looked more beautiful but maybe the spring has a way of renewing our outlook and refreshing our surroundings so that every time we revisit it is like the first time.

Walking through an apple orchard it was as though we could breathe life from the abundance around us and win hope from all the promise; we could listen to the music of the birds and see the beauty of the surrounding colours. A million petals seemed to gleam and red buds sparkled, the bees were busy in each open flower preparing for the vital matter of honey. Beneath our feet there was spread a carpet woven of many greens, of sunlight, and spring flowers. The last of the bluebells lowered their heads where the ferns were uncurling beside them. Trunks of old apple trees leaned at random angles; all shapes and blotched with the lichen that Mother Nature inscribed on ancient barks. Against a curtain of apple blossom we could see a blackbird flitting about – who alone of the birds can put imagination into song like him?

Some of the later trees still held their buds tightly clenched, as though half a hundred Springs had taught them to fear the oncoming of summer, yet Mother Nature gently commands, and soon every reluctant bud will open to fulfill its destiny.

So when we are being a scaredy cat – when we have those days when we can’t cunjour up much effort to stride forward – it is good to look at all the signs around us and take the reassurance that everything turns and moves and goes full circle. I could almost imagine Pamona the wood nymph who was reputed to be the goddess of fruitful abundance talking to me with all her ancient and modern wisdom. I certainly felt she was making us welcome  – her light laugh mingling  with the surrounding sounds. I think she was saying “I do love this time of year best, although I shouldn’t have favourites; it is dear to me because it is all about life – and the promise of good things to come later. And remember, dear one, no winter lasts forever.”

And that is what I feel we need to remember – good things will come.

 

   ‘The Earth laughs in flowers’.    

               Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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Anton the Brave Viking and the Scaredy Cat is a children’s book based on some members of our family. Great to read to your kids or to yourself when you need cheering up a bit!

It is available from http://www.blurb.co.uk or email me and I’ll have a copy winging its way to you in no time!