Signs of Spring

It is quite noticeable now that the hours of daylight are longer. We have also had some beautiful winter days with clear skies but with cold icy winds. However I do love these kinds of days. My bulbs in their pots are starting to show little shoots above the ground so I am looking forward to seeing these grow and bloom.

My son took me to a nature reserve I have not visited for a few years. There were lots of hazel catkins blowing in the wind so difficult to get a good photo. But from the bird hides there was plenty to see. One of the bird hides is by a feeding station and it was wonderful to see so many birds there. Goldfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches, blue tits, and long tailed tits were numerous. There were also robins and blackbirds but notably there was a wonderfully coloured bullfinch and also a bird I had never seen before a female reed warbler. I found the whole experience extremely uplifting and joyful.

There was also a small island covered with around fifty cormorants. I saw a small egret and lots of other birds whose names I did not know. But the time out in nature was good for my soul. People can underestimate the power of the natural world as they may walk along but never see anything. I am not a ‘birder’ as I look at everything as I go along. I am always on the lookout for fungi, insects, flowers etc as well as anything else that crosses my path like a grass snake last summer.

For me this time of the year, despite the cold, is a wonderful time as nature awakes and enables me a glimpse of the future. I forget about the worries of the current world situation and let myself be surrounded by the joy and colour of nature.

While writing this blog post I am listening to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 a piece of music I find totally inspiring and uplifting. My soul is having a good day!

What would you change?

Recently I have been reading several surveys about what people would change about their lifestyle in order ‘to save the planet’. These were quite interesting and I wondered what my readers would change.

For myself there are some small things I could do but I don’t have a car and I no longer fly to other areas or countries so that limits what I can do in that area. I try to buy organic or fair trade clothes when I can. I try to eat organic food or food that is not imported from other countries. I recycle as much as I can and collect blister packs to give to my son who takes them to Superdrug for recycling. I buy shampoos and soaps that are made from natural ingredients and scent free, I knit and sew some of the things I need and I often ‘undo’ old knitted garments and use the wool to knit something else. I give clothes I no longer wear and other items I no longer use to charity shops and organisations. I like to support wildlife trusts and spend time in nature reserves which is good for my mental health.

So what else can I do? I am sure you will all think of things I can do and things that you could do. I would love to read your thoughts on this so please respond and comment.

Gratitude

As a family history researcher and as an elder, I have a fair amount of knowledge about the past and how lucky we are today. For myself, I remember rationing on food, clothes and anything else that was available even sweets. We made do with a little and my parents learned how to make a small amount go a long way. We did not have a phone or a car and used public transport or walked everywhere. It was nothing new to walk into town which was over a mile away. I walked to school as well until I was about 12 years old and had a cycle. I remember that the air was so dirty that washing was only put out on the line to dry when the wind was blowing away from us. After the Clean Air Act, we now have much cleaner air but this is getting worse again due to the heavy use of cars. The recent publication of the 1921 census brought home to me how lucky I was then as a child. In 1921 there were strikes in the coal mines because the government had given them back to their owners who wanted to pay the miners less money for their work. The area I lived in was full of coal mines, pottery manufacturers, iron and steel works and brick yards. It was a dirty place to live but there was no choice if you wanted to work.

So how is it different today? Generally we have good housing, food and clothes and many families have cars and mobile phones as well as access to the internet. But people still moan about not having this or not having that or the shelves are empty in the supermarket. I was trying to remember the first supermarket I used. I had always shopped locally or at the small co-op as I got everything I needed that way and vegetables and fruit were fresh.

We have had some restrictions over the last few months or so and many have got fed up with this and moan about it all the time. Why not take some time to be grateful for what you do have? Look at what you need versus what you want. I am sure you will find there is a difference. Changes are on the way, some big ones that will make use stop and take stock. If we are going to make our planet safe for us all then we have to change how we live. Start now before we are all forced to change whether we want to or not. Be grateful for what you have and keep it safe.

Another new year!

Happy New Year to all my readers!

I and many others are hoping that this year is better than the last couple of years. But it is up to us to make it better. One thing I have learned is that I must read between the lines and discern what is the truth. The press and media forums distort the truth on a regular basis and if you post anything which they consider to be divisive your post is removed.

So what about this new year? What can we do to make sure it is a good year for us and for others? I feel that we must look around the world in general and see where help is needed. Then we need to look at the reasons why this help is needed. This is where finding out the truth is important. You can listen to your heart which will always give you the truth and you can research, and read what others say before deciding what is the truth.

There is so much to do to make our world better for us all. There is the environment to consider and what we can do to help. I live on a main road and the air pollution and noise pollution is high. You don’t really want to open the window as the air you let in is not good for you. One of the things I have found about public transport is that if you don’t use it you lose it and that benefits nobody. So think about this carefully before you buy a new car and think about what you will do when you can no longer drive and want to get out and about.

Also we can look at the food we eat. Where has it come from for example and how is it grown or bred? The same applies to clothes.

But on a different level, you need to find compassion for others, respect for others especially family and friends even if you disagree about certain things. As our earth as we know it crumbles around us we will need our family and friends even more. We can already see changes in some parts of the world as governments fall apart and our planet wages its own war with fire, earthquakes, huge storms and volcanic eruptions.

Change is certain to happen and some will be huge changes. Be ready for these. People have fought for centuries for things they wanted, like voting and being free to speak their thoughts. Don’t let these disappear now when they are needed more than ever. Think in a critical manner, listen to your heart and make right decisions. Know that we are all one, whatever colour or creed. We are humans, a large tribe of humans.

Whatever you do, remember that love, peace, compassion and respect are all good and should be a big part of our lives. Stay strong and let your light shine. You could be the lighthouse in a storm saving others from death or injury.

Random thoughts for this month so far

There is so much I want to write about so this could read a bit haphazard. I’ll start with the coming Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice is something I really welcome. I don’t do well with dark days and really cloudy days either. If the sun us shining I feel so much better. So in a few days we have the Winter Solstice when the light returns. Although it take s couple of week before you really notice it. For me it is also a time of looking forward to the coming year. I feel hopeful that people will awaken to what is really going on and find their true selves.

My next words are about fear. Politicians and the press are ramping up fear by using very emotive words. So what are people afraid of? Are they afraid of being ill or are they afraid of dying because they are ill? I suppose it depends on what you believe about dying and life after death. From personal experience I know that there is life after death. I also believe in reincarnation so death does not frighten me at all. I look forward to meeting my loved ones who have already passed.

So what about changes in our world? Change is normal but currently we are having many changes following each other rapidly. Staying positive and standing in your own truth is important now. As I wrote last week, let your light shine out brightly. Look after your health too. Listen to what your body tells you. Research alternative ways of dealing with aches and pains. Scientists do not always tell the truth. Money changes truths into untruths. Read alternative views about health and what to use, find what resonates with you. Trust your Higher Self and stay strong turning negativity into positivity. There will be a better world but it will take time for the old one to crumble completely.

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Keeping the light shining

In our current world, there is a lot of darkness, events happening which are not good for us or our planet, for example. If you work with martial arts of healing energies you will most probably know how to surround yourself with light. We all have a spark of light within us and learning to use it is quite easy. Filling yourself with light is easy to do too. If you are a druid you will most likely know how to do this.

Sit quietly or lie down and imagine energy, light energy coming up through your feet from the earth. Let it fill each toe and all of your feet and then imagine the light energy moving up through your legs and into your lower body. As it moves up through your body let the light energy fill your arms as well right down to your fingertips. Then let the light energy rise into your head until you are totally filled with light. Let the light radiate our from your body and shine brightly. You can bring light in from the sky too doing the same and you can use both ways together. There are lots of other ways to bring in the light to your body so do explore this.

People are drawn to the light like moths to a flame so know that you will attract others to you. They may need help or they might want to not help so be careful who you let into your light. Mostly it will be those needing help and/or reassurance that the world is not as it seems. If enough of us shine out brightly then when there is enough of us, that is, more than those in the darkness then our world will change. At the moment we are keeping a lot of the darkness away or changing it into light. Stand out with your light. You could be the lighthouse for someone in great need.

Learning lessons

Over the centuries, many things have changed. However wars and unrest still continue. Pandemics and outbreaks of nasty diseases also come back again and again. All of these things bring lessons for us to learn. One example that sticks in my mind was the cholera epidemic in the 1800s. It was discovered that water was to blame and contaminated wells so a lot changed with the water supply so it became safer. This was one case where a lesson was learned.

I look around me at the lives of people all over the world. There are far too many living in poverty because of war or civil unrest and a lack of basic amenities such as water. Then there are the others who live in large mansions and have everything they need and more but who do not often seem to see what goes on around them.

Over the last couple of years we have learned that washing our hands is good for us. It is easy to do this in our world but what of those in countries where water is scarce? How do they keep their hands and bodies clean? The richer countries also seem to get the best medications while the poorer ones have to do without and consequently become ill and even die.

I have always felt that the current situation is here to give us a lesson. We need to look at how we live. We need to go back to the old ways of washing and cleaning. They worked and kept us safe during the war and other difficult times. We have let ourselves become complacent about germs and diseases and think that anti bacterial wipes are best but these stop us from becoming immune to nasty stuff. As a child we played in the dirt making mud pies. It did not harm us. The children of today do not do this, they are glued to their phones and play stations.

But the situation continues as nobody seems to have learned any lessons. They understand that the world must change but are not prepared to change themselves and the way they live. As the permafrost melts more ancient germs will be released into the atmosphere. Are you ready for these? How is your immune system doing?

War makes people homeless and then we have a refugee crisis. Why are we still going to war? What do we think it will achieve? Do we not care about anyone else? And so it goes on and on and we never seem to learn any lessons and change our ways.

Feeling sadness and some anger

I see our world today and how it is disintegrating slowly but surely. I feel deep sadness and also anger possibly in equal measures. There is so much war and tyranny and then then are the natural events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and extreme weather. No wonder people try to find somewhere else to live.

I know what it is like to be homeless or nearly so and to live in squalid conditions. When I was younger and my two children were only just at school, I lived in a series of one bedroom flats or apartments where the facilities for cooking and washing were very basic. At one point I shared a damp falling apart house where I and my children had a bedroom but shared the small damp living room and kitchen. There was only cold water, no hot water except from a kettle on the gas stove and the toilet was across the yard. I was on a council housing list and it was only when a doctor visited because I was ill that things started to change. I soon found myself with a nice two bedroom house but no furniture apart from a bed and a table. Luckily I was working and able to start to get the things we needed.

Later a few years ago my landlord asked me to leave. Again as I was in a different area and on a council housing list I managed to get a little bungalow with the help of the local councillor.

As I have written before I remember certain events from the Second World War and can easily understand how people must feel when surrounded by falling bombs and explosions. I have great sympathy for those trying to escape also for those living with a tyrannical leader.

But I see the leaders of various countries not wanting to help those fleeing such areas yet often it is those leaders who made the mess to start with. It seems to be a case of not in my backyard as the saying goes and let’s pass the problem on to somewhere else. I also understand that our country is small and has limited space for more houses but the refugee situation is only going to get worse as the climate changes force people from their homes to go and find somewhere else to live and work. Parts of our world are already turning into desert lands while others are becoming too hot to live there so what are we going to do as a world not just as one country? Surely we should all work together to help those in need.

Some forty or more years ago I painted what was for me a very special painting. I gave it the title of Sanctuary. I refused to sell it but one day it was in an exhibition and this woman kept coming to stand in front of it and wanted to buy it. On the last day of the exhibition I asked her why and she told me her story. I gave it to her after that. Her need was greater then mine.

Staying and being true to yourself

A recent report in the news made me think about this blog written some years ago and I decided to reblog it as it is important to me at least. Being true to yourself is something that has cropped up quite a bit in my life. When thinking about this some words kept popping into my head from a poem by John Clare; ‘I am – yet what I am none cares or knows’. These words and the rest of the poem used to be stuck to a board on the wall many years ago. But today the words ‘I am’ mean something different.


I am what I am and hopefully I stay true to this. I know that from my childhood I have always felt different from others and went my own way much to the disgust of my mother. But how
do we stay true to who we really are? In my young days it was easier to do this. The only pressure on you was from your parents and family and your peers. TV was in its early years
and advertising was mainly on hoardings and buses and other transport.


Today we are bombarded with advertising telling us to look like this, eat this, do this and so on. We see children and teenagers wanting what their friends have even if their parents
cannot afford to buy these items. They feel they want to be the same as others. But it is not a crime to feel different. When my children were teenagers I said that there was nothing wrong wanting to be different from the rest of their class mates or wanting to do different things. I remember my daughter wanting to know why I could not wear the same kind of clothes that the other mothers wore and my answer was that I wore the clothes that I liked and not what others wanted me to wear.


As a teacher clothes were important in that I could not wear trousers only skirts or dresses which are definitely not me. However over the years the rules were relaxed and once I was
established as a good teacher I often was allowed to wear trousers as long as they were not jeans. From recent newspapers I see that certain standards of dress are still important but should they be? If you are clean and tidy does what you wear matter? What I wear reflects who I am and what I do and think. For me it is who I am and what I do that is important not what I wear. In my present circumstances I see what others wear and what they feel they should wear now they are retired. Being retired meant that I could wear whatever I wanted without restrictions and that is still what I do. I try to be true to myself and live the way I believe is right for me. I try to stay true to my ideals and who I know I am. If others don’t like it, then tough, that is their problem not mine.


Changes over time

I am old enough to remember the snow of 1947 and how I still walked to school in it. I remember jumping into drifts and the snow coming over the top of my wellies. I remember the snow of 1978/9 as well when I had no heating as everything was frozen. Eventually a friend in the village took me and my two young children in and warmed us all up and cared for us until everything was repaired. I also remember what seemed like long hot summers when as a child I played out all day.

I remember when I was a young child that we had no washing machine or fridge. We did have a gas cooker but water was boiled in a kettle on the hob on the coal fire. We had a meat safe, a wooden case with mesh wire to let in air but not flies and a marble slab in the larder to keep things cool. We also only bought exactly what we needed for the week. No large bags of potatoes with either too many or not enough but loose potatoes which went straight into the shopping bag. It was the same with all the veggies and things like butter and cheese were cut in blocks to the size you wanted before being wrapped in greaseproof paper.

When I was older and had my own family we eventually owned a washing machine and a fridge and later a freezer but this was like 30 years later in the 1970s and 1980s. Sliced bread had also arrived by then and made life easier for many. I still prefer a loaf of bread I can cut myself! Plastic also came along and there were Tupperware parties where you could buy the latest plastic item that you might need. But I still knitted and made some of my own clothes. My early training with my mother saw to that. I still do for that matter.

But now you can buy anything you need, washing machine, dryer, cookers and fridge freezers which generally arrive with a coat of some kind of plastic.Phones and cars are there for all. I can’t remember when I finally had a landline phone but it was not until about 1975 or so. We used the phone box down the road. I have never had a car and never wanted one really.

So to today, cars queue up by the traffic lights and emit fumes which choke you. Everything is covered with plastic much of which is not recyclable. We see mountains of plastics in the sea and rivers. The air we breathe is contaminated and gives us lung disease. The rivers are polluted and our water supply is not as good as it used to be. Too many houses are being built on floodplains and green belt land with no thought for extra doctors, schools and hospitals. Is this what we really want?

The recent climate conference has just ended and many promises have been made. Many people understand that we need to change the way we live but there are many who although they agree are not prepared to change the way they live their lives. My son was trying to park his car where I live but could not get into a space because someone had left a Range rover in the centre blocking all the spaces, with its engine running and the doors open. If we all did one small thing it would help. But I suspect that is not going to happen until it is too late. Our local Co-op is now collecting what are called soft plastics for recycling but how many are going to do that? If one person per household did something like that and reduced their plastic waste, it would make the world a nicer place to live.

Come on people, change your ways so we can all have a better world.