When Life is Different….

Think about the small things which are often the most important

Life has been very different this week.

My husband has had some surgery this week. He’s doing fine but seeing the person you love so much going through any sort of trauma is worrying and the whole balance of life changes.

I have been reminded that the small, everyday things in life are often the most important and they are usually the things you miss the most when life is altered. It is a paradox really. Small things are often of the biggest importance. Walking near the hospital I envied people out doing normal things; choosing Christmas presents or just having a pizza. We should soon be back to normal at Dove Lane, but I am so mindful of those, who for whatever reason, are unable to enjoy the small everyday parts of life that we take for granted.

So today I asked myself this question: how many times do I need to be pummelled and prodded by the Universe before I realise that I have a God given chance to use make the most of every day?

Does age bring us wisdom? I’m really not sure. I know I am not the same person as I was in my twenties, I think differently and have different opinions, but whether I have life worked out any better, I’m not sure. One thing I do know for sure though, is that life is not about making predictions, it’s not about having the best of everything or being the best at everything. I wish I could remember that more often than I do and get on with being grateful for what I have now. I wrote recently about living in the moment – living in the now, and I have come to the conclusion that this is the only thing we can be sure of. Today.

Because of the time of year and especially because we mark the 100 year anniversary this weekend of the end of the First World War, I was thinking about the families who suffered unbearable losses; so many, many lives cut short, so many decent, honest, ordinary people taken in unbearable circumstances and robbed of a future – robbed of a chance to partake in the ordinary, sometimes humdrum but welcome routine of everyday life. We must use today wisely.

I have written a lot about anxiety in recent blogs, and how we try and deal with anxious times. Most of us get anxious when we fear things that are out of our control – and sadly the unexplained or unexpected can happen in life and somehow we have to cope.

I think the simple questions in life turn out to be the most profound. Maybe in this world, where unrest and tragedy unfolds in the media on a daily basis, we would do well to think about some simple questions. Maybe even write down some answers so we can ‘ground’ ourselves when we feel we are on unsteady ground.

Where are you from? Do you think about your roots; your home town where you were born? Do you remember growing up and spending time with your grandparents? Do you have happy memories? Think about the people who made you and helped you become what you are now; even if the memories aren’t always good ones they have been a part of you and you can learn from them.

Where is home now? Home is the one place where we can totally be ourselves, shrug off the cares of the day and do absolutely what we like. Our home is small but we have a sign in our hall which reads ‘Love Grows Well in Small Houses’ and I look at it everyday and know it to be true.

Right now, at this very moment, you can tell yourself how important it is to enjoy your everyday life – it is the life that is currently flashing unnoticed right before your eyes. It is the time you will look back on before long and wish you had back. Let the future come naturally but live willingly in the moment.

What are you going to do next? Are you doing what you really want to do and going where you really want to go? It takes time, especially if you are the sort of person who always wants to please people, but remember that it is important to do what makes you happy as long as you are not hurting anyone else in the process. Maybe think about taking another turn along the path that is seemingly laid out for you. Who knows what may turn up there.

Each day you grow older but each of those days has the ability to be extra special and only happens once.

With the future comes uncertainty for all of us, but by concentrating on today rather than thinking about tomorrow you will ease up on worrying and focus on reality – that is really all any of us can do if you think about it, no matter who we are.

Spending more time with loved ones is the key to being happy. If you are a parent and even a grandparent, you will know how those precious early years pass so quickly and before long you are watching your children forge ahead on their own. By showing your children love as they grow and by showing them how you love those in your life you will be passing your love on into the future. This is the way we ‘get better’ and the world gets better too.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.’

Henry David Thoreau

 

‘What day is it?

‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet.

’My favourite day,’ said Pooh.

A.A.Milne

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A Short Story for May

This is the time of year my imagination runs wild – I love the way the countryside looks and the circle of trees I pass quite often…..

The Circle of Trees

Mary was looking forward to the day ahead. Through the kitchen window at Honey Banks House she could see grey clouds scudding across the sky, threatening rain, but refused to let this dampen her spirits. She looked out across the garden to the field beyond where the beech trees stood; she could almost hear their leafy umbrellas rustling in the breeze, and felt the pull of the outdoors.

She looked at her watch; there was time to have a quick walk before starting work.  Shrugging on her battered old raincoat and her well worn boots she headed out of the back door. She clicked open the gate at the bottom of the garden and walked into the field beyond. It was a cold day for May, but who could fail to be cheered by the sight of the cow parsley filling the whole field almost as far as the eye could see; a frothy ocean of lacy white flowers, interrupted only by the trampled grassy pathway.

She liked to think the beech trees at the far end held a secret; there were seven of them forming a circle, and she liked to imagine fairies sneaking out at night and dancing under the shelter of their handsome branches. She was getting older but she could still believe in such things couldn’t she? They were purple now, but in the autumn, the leaves turned from purple to a showy copper, giving them a majestic air that somehow eased the way gently into winter.

Mary had read somewhere that if you hugged a tree it would benefit your health. She wasn’t sure if she believed that or not but she was drawn to the trees and always felt comfortable in their presence and liked the feel of their smooth, silvery grey bark. She liked the way their lower branches almost reached the ground, sweeping the woodland floor in her wake.

As she had so many times, Mary wondered about the history of “her trees” as she called them. Had their seeds randomly arrived, haphazardly blown there by the wind? Had they been lovingly planted by an unknown person long ago in the hope of establishing a beautiful vision on the landscape for the likes of her? Who could tell?

Mary looked at her watch and raced back to the house. She looked at her pen and paper set out on the table. She should be writing. She had an article to write and a deadline to meet in her job as a journalist, but somehow she felt restless and couldn’t settle. Inspiration just wasn’t coming. She walked from room to room, straightened cushions and folded laundry. She brewed some coffee and listened to the radio. She rumbled over plans for the weekend and made some phone calls. Then she decided to pull down the loft ladder and climb up with some boxes that needed storing away.

With the loft ladder safely locked in place, she climbed up to the attic space. Mary rarely came up here now, but it was oddly comforting to be up in the dusty space among old mementos.

Under the eaves she had stored some old suitcases years ago.  Opening one, she smiled as she found the old dressing up clothes the children used to love playing with, including an old lurex evening gown which had been, or so Mary had thought at the time,  the height of sophistication in the 70’s. Mary spent some time poking around the various storage chests; there were boxes full of keepsakes and the familiar and well loved Christmas decorations that were faithfully taken downstairs every year. Looking up she noticed a small box she had never noticed before, pushed between the beams.  Pulling at it and enveloped in a cloud of dust, she opened the box.

Inside she found a beautifully bound leather journal. Aware that it had laid there undisturbed for many years she wanted to give the book her undivided attention so she set it to one side for later.

The hours ticked by and Mary tried to concentrate on her work. Outside, the sun was setting and filtered through the trees. She sighed and put down her pen. It was no good, work would have to wait until tomorrow. She went back to the field and sat in the protective shelter of the trees, the branches meeting together over her head like a wondrous leafy roof.  The peaceful feeling here was overwhelming and Mary knew moments like this were never wasted, whatever demands life held. She lay back until her head rested on the grass and looked up as the last remnants of light filtered through the leaves.

Later, after clattering around in the kitchen, preparing supper and sipping a glass of wine, Mary’s thoughts returned to the journal in the attic. She went back up to retrieve it then settled down in her favourite armchair to look at it.

Inside the front cover she read the inscription:

The Journal

of

Lucy Ellen Smith aged 14

Honey Banks House

Devon. 1917.

Mary was astounded at what she had found. Over a hundred years had passed since this young girl had written her journal in this very house. She turned the pages with care. Each page contained accounts of the wildlife in the garden; the plants that were growing and the weather for each day. Some pages had simple but charming pencil sketches of flowers or birds that brought the journal alive.

Mary read the journal to the very last page and then her heart almost stopped. The date was May 9th 1917, a hundred years ago to the very day.

“Today we are going to stay with my grandparents far away from here. We do not know when our Father will return from the war and it is hard for Mother to cope alone. I have been down to the field beyond our garden and sat under the circle of beech trees. The buds have turned to purple leaves. Oh how I will miss seeing them turn to their beautiful shade of burnished copper as the autumn approaches. How will I celebrate Christmas, if at all? I feel homesick already and wonder if I will ever return. But I will think of “my trees” standing firm in a time of adversity, their branches bending but never breaking in the storm. Perhaps one day, someone else will shelter under the very same branches. That thought makes me happy.”

The house was silent, almost lending an air of quiet reverence. Mary closed the journal and looked out of the window and down to the field. The trees stood resolute and firm in the moonlight. She knew what she would write about tomorrow.

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One of the beautiful copper beech trees