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Encouragement For Today

Days of dull spirits…

I am aware that sometimes my blogs could be a bit more cheerful! I tend to be deep thinker and can let my mind run away with me at times. I have always made it my policy to write about positive viewpoints but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally visit dark places. I wrote a blog at New Year about diet and food and added some poetry about my granny’s kitchen and words about my grandad’s delicious but simple bread and butter tea-time snack. It has been by far my most popular blog and made me realise that it’s often the simple things that lift our hearts. I have even started to wonder whether I should start writing a food blog as all things food-related brings us together in ways few other subjects do! Think of all the food programmes on television and how popular they are. Food seems to spark all sorts of emotions. I have seen people in bits when a cake doesn’t turn out well or a soufflé doesn’t rise, but also seen them jump for joy when a special dish turns out well. Food programmes may seem trivial in times of unrest but that is not the case because feeding people brings out the best in us. It helps us come together and it lifts the soul when we sit around a table together, eat together and try and put the world to rights.

What else lifts the soul on grey days? This week we took a walk through the bluebell wood near us. It wasn’t just the beauty of the stunning blue flowers dipping their heads as we walked along that filled our hearts with happiness, it was the peace that came from walking in a quiet corner of the world. We listened to the birdsong and watched a deer shyly walk past and disappear deep into the forest. We inhaled the subtle fragrance of the flowers. Nothing had changed in our world yet everything had shifted to a good place, at least for a while. When we lose ourselves in nature we can let ourselves relax, we can allow our imagination to take us to different realms – perhaps the White Rabbit frolics nearby!

For a while, we can leave our burdens on the forest floor…….

When the day is heavy with noise and the news I don’t want to hear comes bouncing into the room, I will remember the quiet of the forest…

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Who Inspires Me?

I was recently asked to write a short piece about inspiration and who inspires me.

I started thinking about who I wanted to write about and found myself struggling to single out just one person. There are so many people both in the present day and those who have gone before us that have inspired us through selfless acts, scientific development, religion, philosophy and politics. There are giants who walk tall in our history books and have left us with lasting legacies and we in the world will always look up to them. On the very top of my list would be the names of Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, all three of them arguably the most important names of our time.

But that would be only the start of my list, which could indeed be very long, because, thankfully the world is full of very good people, though it’s easy to forget that at times. Especially now.

What always amazes me is that the greatest teachers we know focus or have focused, on lifting the hearts of those around them rather than extolling their own virtues. When an interviewer attempts to paint the Dalai Lama as something grand, a soul with a mighty preordained purpose, his response is typically, ‘I’m a monk, a simple monk.’ That made me think about all the people out there who quietly go about their business, whilst spreading some good feeling or intention to the world. The people who touch the hearts of others in small but significant ways.

And so I put my thoughts into this poem…

Who Inspires Me?


The person who smiled
When I was troubled
And kindly looked my way,
The selfless mother 
Who, though tired and afraid,
Held her children tightly today.
The angel at the food bank
Who couldn’t sleep,
Knowing others were hungry -
She came with love
And bread for them to eat.
The doctor who cared
And knew every person 
Waiting to be seen
Deserved love and attention.
The brave person who stood up to say
‘I’m different, but please look my way.’
The special one who said:
‘I know there are challenges we must all face
But it’s going to be okay,
I love you,
All will be well today.’


Lmh


I hope you will feel inspired by someone today - even better, maybe you will inspire someone, perhaps without even knowing it. How wonderful is the gift of a warm smile.

Namaste 





Here, no less beauty I am shown, than Cardinals or Kings…
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A New Year’s Thoughts on diet….

My palate is jaded. I have had enough of Christmas fare, delicious though it is. As usual for this time of year, we are bombarded with instructions for healthy eating and ways of cleansing our systems. This is all well and good, but how long do healthy diets last? I think getting back to sensible eating is the key, without being too radical.

I like watching cookery programmes. It is very entertaining to watch professional chefs painstakingly preparing delicious delicacies on our screens (try saying that when you’ve had a few glasses of Prosecco) ! There is always a new and elaborate dish or recipe to try, and a new exotic vegetable that will soon sell out in the supermarket, once the word is out that no discerning foodie’s kitchen should be without it.

How do we manage to get a meal on the table without the use of a water baths I wonder? Can we find space in the kitchen for hayboxes, ice-cream churns and sorbet makers? Do we have a supply of pine oil or basil oil? Can we confit an egg? Do we have time to go foraging?

What can be more enjoyable than sitting at a well-laid table being served fancy food, but sometimes, do we not yearn for simple fare?

At lunch time today, we had a simple dish of tomato soup and some bread and butter. I started thinking back to the simple foods of my childhood, and the warm and happy kitchens.

A Devonshire Kitchen.

As a little girl, I often sat at my grandfather’s table and watched him as he prepared his version of afternoon tea. A large white loaf, fresh from the baker, was upended and buttered with rich, yellow, freshly churned Devonshire butter. Then, with the sharpest knife kept solely for this purpose, he sliced the bread so thinly that it looked like lace, when delicately laid on a china plate. Served with tea from a silver pot, this was a delicacy like no other. It needed no accompaniment. No matter how much I have tried over the years, I have never been able to replicate the dish in quite the same way.

Cornish Kitchen

I remember granny's kitchen 
The cushioned window seat,
A pantry with its vat of cream,
The Aga's cosy heat.

Sitting down to breakfast
Was always a delight,
With bowls of creamy porridge 
That had simmered overnight.

Pasties were for lunchtime,
Crimped and golden brown,
With chunks of homemade bread
And tea to wash it down.

At tea-time there were Cornish splits
And fragrant saffron cakes,
Bowls of jam and clotted cream
And fancy china plates.

On Sunday, there was Grandpa
Who took his rightful place,
And seated round the table
We bowed our heads for Grace.

Now I look back in time
And in an old book I see
A recipe, written in my granny's hand
That once she cooked for me.

Lmh

Maybe it is time to embrace simple fare for a while!

Happy New Year.



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Carrying the Light

How do you feel on the days between Christmas and New Year? Do you mourn the passing of Christmas or are you glad to get back to normality if there is such a thing now?

Walking this morning, I noticed some blow-up Santas laying forlornly in neighbourhood gardens, deflated and folded in on themselves. ‘Poor things’, I thought, and tried not to feel deflated myself.

Well-meaning articles suggest we embrace the quiet period between Christmas and New year, take walks in nature, pamper ourselves and catch up on our favourite books. We should also catch up on our sleep and get back into a regular routine. Yes. Done that. All good advice.

However, I am still not ready to give up on Christmas just yet.

I remind myself that the twinkly lights are still shining. After all, Christmas is not over – it continues for twelve days. The lights are there to remind us of the presence of God, or a higher being in our world. Light illuminates us and bathes us in good feeling, and reveals our surroundings. As the daylight fades in the sky in the afternoon, the lights soften the landscape around us.

Whilst I may take a few decorations down before long, I am going to focus on the light. I will leave a lantern in the window and light it at tea-time. Perhaps we will have hot crumpets and butter to cheer us up. I will welcome January but I will try and keep the feeling of Christmas in my heart all the year round. After all, every day should be special.

Be the light!

Happy New Year!

Ocean of Light

The day was cold and grey,
The wind blew hard 
And held the friendly blackbird
In scant regard.
The ground was white with frost
And frozen hearts
Cried for what was lost
And torn apart.
But under our feet
Summer flowers were only sleeping
And across the fields
The sky welcomed the night
And filled it with stars,
Bringing an ocean of light.


Lmh

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Looking For Mrs. Messenger….

Do you feel as though you are sometimes swimming against the tide, metaphorically speaking? Does the world feel a bit weird right now?

Of course, we have the ongoing challenge of living through a pandemic and news and changing rules on this will be with us for goodness knows how long. But I think it’s more than that that affects us.

There are many suffering the hardships of homelessness and poor housing. Some children go to bed hungry, and it seems like there are apologies dished out and excuses made but hardly any action taken. People are dying whilst waiting too long for an ambulance and this should never happen. Services are over-stretched, decent people are working their butts off, the hospitals are overwhelmed.

Poverty and shortages are commonplace, yet it seems like the government are acting like inexperienced magicians pulling coins from their sleeves and then making them disappear again.

A bolder person than me would stand up to all the bluster, all the unfairness and lack of generosity that infringes on some parts of society and would set about highlighting the needs of us all. They would seek out the positives and change the way we look at things. Not only that, they would realise that mistakes can be made but it doesn’t mean they cannot be rectified. There are so many people with good hearts out there. We know it and our world knows it. We just need to find the right way to make things better.

Swimming against the tide might feel unsettling but sometimes we need to do that rather than go with the flow along with everyone else.

Mrs. Messenger



Mrs. Messenger came
And asked everyone
In the busy ‘shouty’ places
To examine their hearts
And to put smiles on their faces
And lead by example;
To tell the truth
And work for the common good.
To rebuild the crumbling houses
And distribute the food
So that no child was hungry.
And before long
We started to listen
To the one who led with gentle ease,
And kindness fell around us 
Like the soft November leaves.

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Twisting in the Wind

I’ve had another birthday. For the first time, I have been thinking a lot about becoming a senior person. Really quite senior! It’s almost as though, at the stroke of midnight on my birthday, my glass slipper came off and was replaced by a fluffy one, built for comfort, cosiness and practicality! I’m not sure what Prince Charming would think of that!

Time whispers around my ears and I find myself thinking it’s time to be sensible and pace myself when I’m out walking and to drink more water and take more vitamins. Perhaps we should start looking at bungalows too! Then I look at all the people in the public eye who are still out there ‘strutting their stuff’ even though they are well past retirement age and realise that whatever age we are, all we really need is a good and positive mindset. I think of my dad too, who was still working at the age of 89 and who never gave up on trying to improve his health and was always happy to meet new people and strike up an interesting conversation.

It’s quite easy to spend a lot of time reminiscing, at least, I find it so. At times, looking back down the years is rather like looking through a kaleidoscope, seeing a jumble of places and faces, of memories, of good times and sad times, and everything in between. The brightest colours shine through and these are the memories we hold on to.

One thing I realise, is that we can spend our whole lives trying to find the meaning of it, only to get to our later years and find that simplicity is the way. All the striving and all the hurly-burly of life can only take us so far, whilst loving and just ‘being’ takes us exactly where we need to be.

I've seen a lot of years
As I've moved from place to place
And you can see the storms I've weathered 
In the lines upon my face.
For every step I have travelled
There has been much to understand -
How life can be unravelled
By an unseen sleight of hand.
But even the sweetest flower 
Sometimes twists in the wind,
But then it spreads its precious seeds
So new life can begin.
With every turning tide
Comes a new and mighty wave,
And I remember there is always time
To stand up and be brave.

L.M.H
Photo by Fiona Art on Pexels.com
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In A New Light…

A while back I noticed a mother and her little girl walking in the park. Actually, the mother was walking, and the little girl was bouncing. She had a pair of sunglasses on, they were pink and glittery. As she bounced along, she kept taking the glasses off and on. She was laughing to herself and I heard her mother ask her why. ‘The world looks different when I look through my pink glasses,’ she said. ‘It’s fun.’  

That was just a small moment in time – I had stepped out for some air in the middle of a busy day, but it was a good lesson for me and one which has stuck with me. The little girl was right and in a simple and fun way had shown me that when you look at things differently, they change.

Maybe it’s why we put our heads in our hands sometimes during stress; if we peek out through the space between our fingers, we don’t have to view the whole picture in front of us – just a few slithers of light that we can cope with.

Sometimes it takes getting farther away from something to see it for what it really is too. How many times do we get bogged down with work and sit grimly in front of a screen trying to figure something out that is taxing us? We feel compelled to keep going because we must be able to get this right! But inspiration and answers don’t come. Yet often if we walk away, have a cup of tea and return half an hour later with renewed energy we can make much better headway. 

It’s an old cliché but it is true that sometimes ‘a change is as good as a rest’; when troubles or anxieties mount up a change of scene can help us re-focus.

At times, we need to have the courage to go our own way – realise we are unique. Seeing what everyone else is seeing is one thing. Seeing things differently from others is something else and seeing things differently from others can produce new ideas and new results. If you look at something from a new angle you may come up with a brilliant idea no one else has thought of. It takes time to see things from a different perspective, but it’s worth taking a step back. We also need to see ourselves in a different light at times. It is easy to be hard on ourselves and beat ourselves up when we make a perceived mistake. Give yourself good feedback today and see yourself in a positive light. Remind yourself you are doing your best. And perhaps have a go with the rose-tinted specs.

   ‘We can’t change anything until we get some fresh ideas, until we begin to see things differently’.

                                                    Jame Hillman 



I was afraid of the shadows
Casting shapes upon the wall,
Dark and forbidding
They looked ten feet tall.
I crept silently toward them
They made me feel so small,
Yet when I went to touch them
There was nothing there at all.

L.M.H 



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Busy Doing Nothing

It is funny how a day starts off one way and then heads in a completely different direction. I had a list of plans for today that for one reason or another didn’t work out, starting with a planned trip out for breakfast which didn’t materialise as my favourite cafe turned out to be closed on a Tuesday. This was followed by a rather fruitless shopping trip and a dispirited walk around the town resulting in getting in the car and driving home again.

There were many things I could have done when I returned home but then I stopped and looked out into the garden. It was such a beautiful day – a wonderful bonus of an early autumn day, filled with sunshine and the perfect temperature.

‘Right’ said my husband, ‘shall we get out the deckchairs?’ I didn’t need asking twice. We took out a pile of books and sat in the gorgeous warm sunshine, reading in companionable silence. I finished a lovely book which I have had been dipping in and out of for a while – In My Mind’s Eye – A Thought Diary by Jan Morris. It is good, witty and wise and I would thoroughly recommend it. Then I also re-read some favourite passages I have saved in my notebooks over the years and it felt good to reconnect with the pieces I have felt to be so important in the past. It is easy to forget the things that have once moved us.

It still amazes me when I read quotes that have been passed down through the centuries, and I realise that they are as wise and relevant today as they ever were.

I love this Malagasy proverb – ‘A canoe does not know who is King, when it turns over, everyone gets wet.’ A wonderful reminder that we are all created equal.

I sat with my bare feet resting on the warm grass and knew I was meant to stop today and let the world go on without me for a while.


Follow the path 
If you wish
But don't forget
It's okay to change direction
And spend some time
On quiet reflection.
The wind can change 
In a heartbeat
And time can be stolen away
So why not stop awhile
And say hello to today.






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Life Can Still Be Good

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. 

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The Small Things are The Best Things…

There are so many times in life when we get caught up in life’s merry-go-round and who can blame us? Each day brings us new options to consider, sometimes new challenges, sometimes good news and sadly, sometimes things we would rather not hear or be faced with. Then there are the ordinary days – the mundane days, when we forget to ‘live in the present’ as they say, and get side-tracked, perhaps have a moan about the rubbish bins not being emptied or grumble about the weather being too hot, too cold, too wet etc… Often, we start the day with good intentions, but then life gets in the way. Even on good days, we can forget what’s really important.

Whatever challenges we face, big or small, we can’t be expected to deal with everything perfectly well all the time. We can wobble. Who doesn’t ? Even the most highly respected gurus (it is interesting that in Sanskrit, guru means ‘dispeller of darkness’) can have the odd day when they question what is going on in the world.

The world is going through so much change, we are all going through change. How can we remain optimistic? I think it is by shifting our focus from time to time, even in dire or worrying situations, and looking for the small things, the little things that keep us going. I like to think there are tiny particles of hope floating in the air, ready to encircle us in times of need!

The Small Things are the Best Things

The small things are the best things,
Like the comfort your smile brings,
And the dancing in silly ways
That chases away the dingy days.
The hedges in the lane
Are covered with flowers
That grow for free,
A willing gift for you and me.
The small things fill life's empty spaces,
Kindness is revealed in unexpected places
And in your words softly spoken,
That ease the heart so nearly broken.
Sometimes the world wears a muddled face
And everything feels out of place
But there are moments when it feels okay
And the moon smiles down at the end of the day,
And like the imagined flash of an Angel's wing
A small thing will mean everything.

L.M.H.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com