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Last days of December….

Some thoughts as the year draws to a close.

Remember to love.

Love sends good vibrations across the fields, the miles, the skies, and the oceans. Love has no borders. It never leaves us. It sits in our memories and stirs us when we need it. It appears in our dreams and runs through our veins. It made us. Like Christmas, love is never cancelled!

Be grateful for our world.

Most of us notice the sadness around us and hold space for all that is broken, and in the quiet corners of our minds, we may tremble at the thoughts of an unknown future, but let us picture a time where all the four corners of our precious world have been swept clean and we rejoice in new beginnings. 

Have faith.

I like to believe there is a power that is bigger than us, that is all-encompassing and loving, and I find that even though I 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 may overlook the miracles that occur and the awesome occurrences happening in nature on a daily basis.

The small things are the big things.

Kind smiles and softly spoken words can help when the world wears a muddled face. Small acts of consideration are like gifts that fill life’s empty spaces. A patch of blue sky after the rain, a cup of coffee shared with a friend. Someone telling you things will be okay, that they have your back. These are the things that matter. Oh! And when I sit at my desk, writing comes much easier to me when I play my personal Spotify list, full of peaceful music.

Small big things with my Grandchild

Today we saw a blackbird
Collecting feathers for her nest,
And beautiful white butterflies
Looking quite their best
And an aeroplane flew overhead
As you waved and rode your bike
Ten times around the flower bed - 
These are the days I like.

Be aware but be happy.

I think of my late dad who often came out with some classic observations. One day we were out on one of our little jaunts, perhaps off to the garden centre, and he sat as usual with one hand clutching his seatbelt and sucking in his breath …(I don’t think I am a particularly reckless driver, but still…) ‘You wouldn’t want to venture out on a journey these days without wing mirrors’ he said profoundly. I chuckled inwardly but I still hear those words and I love the hidden wisdom  – keep an eye on your surroundings whilst progressing.

Dust yourself off

For those times you feel things went wrong or life went a bit pear-shaped. Keep going. This time of year, we may feel we have over-indulged too, but we can always start again with the diet/yoga class/calming winter walks. There are no rules!

Daily choices are better than grandiose resolutions

I don’t feel New Year’s resolutions work. Not for me anyway. I gave up making them long ago. I take it a day at a time and try my best to make good choices with whatever life presents to me daily. And if I have faltered, any day I choose to start again is fine.

Shine a light.

I never like taking the Christmas decorations down! I love the twinkling lights on the tree and the familiar and well-loved pieces that come out every year. The Christmas season comes to a close too soon, and soon all the angels, fairies, elves and stars go back into their box for another year, poor things. I’ve learnt to cope with post-Christmas blues over the years by placing a new lamp in the window – a sort of compensatory light to keep the spirits up. It gives me a new routine to embrace and lights the still-dark winter evenings.

So, there is my short and eclectic mix of thoughts as we move forward towards 2023. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I wish you the best year possible. If you are facing tough times I hope you find comfort, peace and healing. 

Thank you for sticking with me!

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Hot Chocolate with Mrs. Claus

I love Christmas. I love decorating the tree, festooning the house with fairy lights and baking all those delicious extras from scratch that I don’t tend to do the rest of the year. I love the magical feeling that somehow permeates the year, the wistful feeling that brings up all sorts of memories from years gone by, and the precious time with family. There is change from ‘the everyday,’ the chance to watch Christmas films and an excuse to drink a hot toddy or two!

This year does seem a little different though. There are many challenges that we and our brothers and sisters all around the world have to face. Many of us are lucky – we have food on our table, we are warm and cared for. BUT there is struggle. None of us escapes challenges entirely.

I have been thinking about Santa Claus – he will be very busy now but I wondered if Mrs Claus would give me a bit of her time. Perhaps sit with me and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. So I dialled the Santa hotline and the Chief Elf put me straight through! I was in luck. Mrs Claus would be delighted to meet me. Soon I was on a direct flight to meet Mrs Claus at the North Pole.

Santa’s workshop was nestled between fir trees seemingly at the most magical edge of the world and the lights were on in every window. There in the doorway stood a smiling Mrs Claus.

Here is how our conversation went:

Me: ‘Hello Mrs Claus, it is wonderful to meet you. Thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to see me.’ (Me looking very overawed here. Well it was the North Pole!)

Mrs C : ‘Hello dear, I always make time for those who need me. Let’s sit by the fire and have some refreshment.’ (Mrs C is incredibly sprightly and looks like everyone’s favourite Granny. She puts a tray with two mugs of hot chocolate and some gingerbread men on the side table. I like it here.)

Me: ‘Thank you. I love Christmas and the sense of wonderment, especially for the children. I love all the traditions and the magic. Santa, you and all his helpers do an amazing job every single year. How do you manage it?’ (I hear some tinkling bells and the elves singing as they work next door.)

Mrs C: ‘Well dear, we are very lucky because we go away after Christmas to recharge our batteries and get some sunshine. Whilst we are are away we check all our messages and ‘thank you’ notes. The elves stay home and look after things. They spring clean, check supplies, replenish the stores and make lists of all the new inventions and toys that will be required for the next year. They are very energetic and like to be ahead of the game. Everyone needs some restorative time and Santa uses the time to eat some plain food after consuming all those mince pies on his journey. He never likes to leave anything the children have kindly put out for him.’

Me: ‘I am pleased to hear that.’ (Looking pensive)

Mrs C: ‘I sense something is worrying you dear, can you tell me what it is?’

Me: ‘Well you see, the thing is, this year has been very hard for a lot of people at home. There are hardships all around, some people have lost their homes and are displaced, some cannot afford to keep their homes heated, some people are hungry, some people are trying to reach a haven… I could got on…’ (Mrs C nods sympathetically)

Mrs C: ‘I know this dear. We might live at the North Pole, but Santa and I keep a very sharp watch on all that is happening around the world. We feel very sad when we know people are suffering. ‘

Me: ‘Do you have any suggestions, Mrs Claus, on how we can help?

Mrs C: Well dear, we should all give what we can to help others. Every donation to food banks and homeless charities will make a difference. However, Santa and I cannot interfere with the running of the world, and we cannot explain why bad things happen to good people, but I can tell you this – if we all do our best to be kind and considerate, care for one another and reach out to anyone in need of a friend, the Universe will benefit. It will benefit big time. So think good thoughts dear. Love will find a way.’

We sat together for a while and then it was time to say goodbye.

Me: ‘Thank you Mrs Claus. Take care of yourself and Santa.’

Mrs C: ‘Goodbye dear, and remember – always believe!’

(Mrs Claus gives me a hug. She says hugs are very important.)

The Chief Elf magically appears and takes me to the airport on one of the spare sleighs. The stars are twinkling in the deep blue velvet sky and I look back to see Santa and Mrs Claus waving from the window. All will be well.

One kind word can WARM three months OF WINTER

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Long ago and Far Away

I found a box of old photo slides recently – the ones that one used to pop into a projector and view on a screen. Perhaps you have to be of a certain age to remember them! My father took hundreds of these slides over the years, and I can still remember the fun evenings we had looking at the many pictures we had accumulated, and eating supper from trays on our laps. We had our own mini cinema! Family weddings, Christmases, birthdays, and various stages of my sister’s and my growing – up years were all chronicled in my dad’s handwriting on the big box of slides.

As often happens, time moves on and the slides were left in the loft as new and more modern cameras provided us with more up-to-date methods of taking and storing pictures. Recently though, I came across the box again and spent several hours looking through the pictures on a view-finder I bought online. The slides had become very jumbled over the years and the selection was very random and hopped from year to year. My interest was piqued and soon I found an App that enabled me to edit my slides and see the pictures more clearly. My past opened up before me and days long forgotten came back into view.

For a while, I felt quite sad. I thought about time passing. I mourned days and people long gone. I wished I could remember all the sunny days of my childhood. I wish I knew where some of the friends were that I had lost touch with. I wished I had said ‘thank you’ more and noticed all the kind actions of my grandparents and older friends who called and were kind. But of course, we can’t remember everything that has gone before us. However, I can see myself standing under a sunny sky as a small girl. I can see our gardener standing with my mother and me, resting his hand on my shoulder. I remember him now as a kind and lovely man and his name with Mr Leaves….a wonderful name for a gardener! Some days and loved ones may be long gone, but even if we don’t know it, good memories and sunny, ordinary but nevertheless special days, stay with us and remain tucked away somewhere in our souls. These days are the ones that nudge us from time to time from our memory banks, the ones that give us feelings of deja vu and the ones that creep up announced and fill us with nostalgia.

Nothing good is ever lost.

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Time to Breathe

October is here again, wearing its golden colours and giving us a gentle reminder that winter is just around the corner. It is a beautiful month, however much we miss the long summer days. Last night I smelled the woodsmoke outside and looked at the moon boldly shining on us, regardless of what is happening in our troubled lands. I came in and lit a candle, pulled the curtains across and settled early. Nature knows just what compensations to lay at our door.

For a moment, switch off the news, find a quiet corner and just breathe….

There is a time to take a breath,
To pause and be quiet
And avoid the scramble to the finish line.
Sometimes, being first
Is less important
Than enjoying the view.
Try, as you know you can,
To remember where your heart is
And where the small things live.
If you stay true to yourself
Time will be kind
And you will find your way
To where you belong
And there will be diamonds at your feet.

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Thank You Your Majesty

I wrote this simple poem at the time of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and thought I would share it again today. We will miss her.

Our faithful Queen,
The places you've been,
The hands you have shaken
The people you've seen!
Never a foot wrong
Nor a hair out of place
The best version of royal
We bow to your grace.
Thank you for wearing 
Your crown with style,
It must have been heavy
Once in a while.
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You’ve Got a Friend….

I’ve written a simple poem about friendship this week…

Sometimes, do you find yourself retreating from the world? Do you feel your problems are either insurmountable or too silly to mention? Maybe you want someone to understand what’s going on with you without having to talk too much.

That is the time when good friends step up. I love the fact that good friends come in all colours, shapes and sizes, all ages and from all parts of the universe! They may have been around for a long time or you may have made a new one yesterday. They have a certain quality that is just ‘there’. You gel and you fit. Friends love you because you are you. They know you. They have your back and they are happy for you when things are going well. Equally, you are there for them. Always.

Occasionally if a friend you love is distracted – understand:

‘If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.’ Winnie – the – Pooh

A true friendship is easy. There are so many things in this world that demand stress and force heartache; this makes having a loving friend a necessity in this crazy life.

‘After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends.’ Eeyore

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Poems to sooth the soul on a hot day….

I hope you can find a quiet and shady spot today...as I write, the temperature is reading 34 degrees ...hotter than we are used to in England! As they say, 'this too will pass' and will probably become a distant memory before too long! In the meantime, my writing desk is piled with work for another, cooler day, so I leave you with a handful of poems. 

May you find shady, quiet nooks in which to read and contemplate.



I Will

I will sit in the apple orchard
And feel the warmth of the sun,
I will watch the dancing butterflies
And watch the children 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 falling shadows
And feel the peace
Only the wise man knows.

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.

Lmh
Be Hopeful

I had a conversation with the night
As I had time to spare,
I asked it what the world looked like
From the midnight sky up there.
The moon peeped through the window 
All silvery and light
And told me from where he was
Earth was a magical sight.
I told him there where divisions
That spread throughout the land
And there was sadness and unrest
That was hard to understand.
He said once his shift was finished
He'd hand over to the sun,
Then talk to his superiors
To see what could be done.
And as I waited below
'Be hopeful', he said with a smile,
'Tuck love under your pillow
And rest there for a while.'

Lmh
Sweet Peas

A tangle of petals
Lilac, pink and white
Bunched together
In haphazard delight.
A handful of summer
Is the gift that I bring,
Soft scent to stir the memory 
Tied up with string.

Lmh
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Summer – Old and New..

Suddenly the summer sun shines on a day I cannot miss – like the Prince waking his Princess with a long-awaited kiss!

I’ve seen a fair few summers now, but Mother Nature has a way of heralding the seasons so that we view them with fresh eyes or at least appreciate them anew. Mornings now are bright, so bright we feel excited to get up. At 4.30 the other morning I had to rise and grab my camera to take pictures of the beautiful sunrise because each sunrise is unique and this one was spectacular.

As the poet Rumi says:

‘The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you – Don’t go back to sleep! You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep! People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep!

Perhaps Rumi is telling us here that right from morning time, we can break out of our habitual tendencies and become present. We don’t need to fall back into the same old routines. (Something I need to remind myself!). What does it mean when Rumi tells us to ask for what we really want? It can be interpreted in many ways but for me the ‘you’ asking is the one who wants to create a story of a fairer world and a unification of culture. The long summer hours help us fit more into our days and perhaps we have more time to ask for what we really want. Rumi reminds us how moments of awareness and choice are very subtle. We touch the ability to change, to go ‘back and forth across the doorsill’ – the doorsill is there and is open. We may ask what the ‘doorsill’ is? I interpret it as the way through to enlightenment. It is not just about changing ourselves necessarily, it is about hoping for a peaceful world. Awareness helps us work through new challenges and moral dilemmas.

A new summer can throw new light on what is around us. Or in front of us and our brothers and sisters. My heart goes out to those who face a summer being sent to a foreign land because we supposedly don’t have the resources to care for them here, and also to those whose country is torn apart through conflict.

I don’t however, feel the doorsill is just about moving forward, it is also about looking back too. Being aware of where we are from and acknowledging our past. Reaching out and feeling the love of days long gone. Summer days can be particularly evocative. The smell of newly mown grass, the fragrance of the first bunch of sweet peas or the blowsy bunch of roses will all catapult me back to childhood days. The summers seemed to last forever, and there was time for picnics and tree-climbing, swimming in the local brook and collecting tadpoles. I remember the loving arms of my parents and grandparents, the security of family.

How lucky I am to be able to stop and revisit the places I have grown up in. How will it be for those who are displaced to find their way to some peace this summer? For those who will only look back with sadness and feelings of loss.

I hope there will be a chance for those who wish for life to be just as it was, to find their way home.

‘Don’t go back to sleep’. Of course we will metaphorically. It’s human nature to forget there can be a wonderful, calm simplicity in this life and close our eyes to it; to forget how much love and care there is in this world when we look for it. But when we do awaken, life becomes a blessing.

Sometimes it takes a reminder like this to put us into a place of awareness where we can cross the doorsill, see hope and make change.

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Take Your Time – and Pray

They say we are directed to where we need to be if our hearts are open. In the last few weeks, I have picked up several different books – novels, autobiographies and a book of essays and musings on the divine. Although they were looking at life from completely different angles, they seemed to have a familiar thread running through them, one that linked deeper thinking with simplicity. Yes, that sounds like a paradox, but I think enlightenment does come from a place of calm and contemplation in these times of intense social media and news bombardment.

It is easy for frustration to settle in our very being as we feel weighed down by events, both personal and in the wider world. Times are challenging. Yet times have always been challenging if we look back in history and will be in the future. What will help us along the way, along our journey through this life? What helped those before us and those that will come after us?

I have read somewhere that if you feel disturbed by something the wisest thing to do is to pray. For many of us, this may be something we have forgotten how to do, or perhaps we wonder how to pray and to who do we send our prayers? Again, simplicity is the key. A quiet place for some time out is all we need. If we calmly gather our thoughts and requests together, our feelings of love for others, our hopes for peace and love to prevail and send them to an all-loving being we can find the light. We don’t need to look for explanations because we cannot know the future. We can spread love though, and send out blessings for those who need them, and we will feel it return to us. And the prayers will know where to go. To God, to the Universe, Mother Earth – whoever waits and looks over you and knows your heart.

Prayer Changes Things

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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…