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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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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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Insomnia and The Worry Monster

I have often tried meditating. I know all the gurus extol its virtues. So does my husband…(he’s quite a guru in his way). I am sure it’s a good thing to do. I will keep trying.

‘Quiet the mind and the soul will speak’.

Buddhists suggest that when one is meditating and random and unwelcome thoughts come into your mind uninvited, it is useful to look at these thoughts and name them. You might say: ‘Oh, here comes insecurity again’ or ‘here comes the money thing again’ – by naming the pesky worries you may be able to distance yourself from these visitors.

For me, the intrusive thoughts all belong to the visitor named ‘THE WORRY MONSTER’. I can be lying cosily in my warm, snug bed, feeling happy and content, in fact, feeling very lucky indeed, when the ‘WORRY MONSTER’ creeps up and casts his nasty spell. He then goes on full attack, troubling my psyche with a barrage of unwelcome worries, pointing me in the direction of self-destruction.

The darkest hour is just before dawn.

I think the ‘WORRY MONSTER’ carries his own alarm clock because he always knows the best time to strike. When his alarm goes off, he dashes over to my side and does what he can to rattle me. He also seems to carry a list of things for me to worry about which he gets out regularly. This he reads meanly in my ear and urges me to:

Worry about the future,

Worry about every mistake I’ve ever made, no matter how great or small,

Go over all the embarrassing moments from my past,

Worry about disasters that could befall me or my loved ones.

He drones on with an ever-increasing list, often accompanied by a very annoying and repetitive tune that adds to my discomfort.

How can I sleep? I sigh and toss and turn.

I don’t like this monster at all, he causes trouble and upsets me, but then a thought occurs to me. I realise that he can be dealt with because HE ISN’T REAL! Just like all the ugly monsters in our childrens’ story books, he is just a figment of my imagination. And that’s a revelation. I can close the page. My imagination might have been stimulated but that doesn’t mean the scary things he urges me to worry about are going to happen in real life.

It is time to try meditation again. Concentrate on my breathing and think only good thoughts, be grateful for what I have and look forward not back.

Life brings worries of course. None of us know what is around the corner, but the time to deal with problems is when they happen and not before.

The ‘WORRY MONSTER’ has left the building.

'It is dark' she said
To the wise man.
'I really feel afraid,
Everywhere I turn
The rules confound me;
What's more to learn?'
'Nothing,' said he.
'Just be sure to hang on tight,
For the stars are brightest
In the darkest night.'

Lmh.

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The Grass Isn’t Always Greener….

Do you sometimes lose focus and wonder about where or when you will be happy next? Life is beginning to move on again and we may find ourselves getting restless. Both my grandmothers married very young and lived in the same places their whole lives. They didn’t have careers and never went far for holidays. I don’t know if either of them ever dreamed of moving to another town or seeing the world, they may well have done, but they always seemed content to me. They were homemakers, and for me as a young girl, I loved the warm and loving welcome they always gave me on my regular visits.

My grandmothers certainly weren’t bombarded with technology and I don’t even remember them having a television when I was small. (Devon granny did get one eventually so that she could watch a royal wedding!). Of course, modern technology brings many advantages and gives us lots of opportunities and a wealth of choices, but does too much choice always serve us well?

Sometimes with so much choice, we can suffer from ‘the grass is always greener syndrome’. We think someone is having a better time elsewhere, or we find ourselves wondering about the ‘next big thing’.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming big of course! Sometimes a new path takes us in the right direction, but what about those days where we forget to be happy because we are fretting about where life is going? These are the days when it’s good to bring ourselves back to the present, look at what we already have and enjoy the moments that are happening right now.

My poem illustrates the fact that it is easy to overlook what is in front of us. The field of diamonds that is figuratively laid at our feet.

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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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Hold On To Your Dreams…

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….