It will soon be the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. After that the days will start to get a bit longer and the dark nights a bit shorter. I am really looking forward to that as I don’t deal with short dark days and long dark nights very well. I need lots of light in order to function.
Many cultures celebrate the return of the light at this time of the year so I like to join them and celebrate too. The return of the light is a very common theme. I wonder how our ancestors felt at this time of the year. Yet although the days will be longer, here in the UK winter is still to come although we have had a frosty snowy week just now. January and February are often the months when we get snow and lots of ice. But we often also get beautiful clear blue skies and lots of sunshine as well.
This last week here has been one of snow, more snow, rain and then ice. There is still some snow lingering on the grass and roads but there is also a lot of ice making it difficult for me to go out and enjoy the local nature reserve. I have missed this but I have enjoyed looking at the photos of those who could get there. The pools were frozen over some days and the ducks and swans went skating.
So I am really looking forward to the return of the light and will be celebrating this as will many others, alone while some will be celebrating in groups. However you celebrate the return of the light I wish you a wonderful day and a good year to come.
There is something special about snow. It is white and pure, dazzling when deep and glistens on the trees and ground. I love the way it rests on the branches and on the shrubs like a layer of icing on a cake. I love to see the animal footprints on it when there are large areas of white snow. You can see where animals and birds have been that you might not actually see at other times.
It also muffles the noise so silence can prevail. Even the traffic noise is quieter. It gives me a feeling of peace as the incessant everyday noise of communal living fades into a quiet sleepy humming noise. It is still quite early in the morning as I write this but later there will be children around in the nearby gardens making snowmen and having snowball fights. There is enough snow in some places for toboggan rides as well. There is also a gusty wind which is blowing the snow from the rooftops.
But if you can’t go out in it then watch it as the snowflakes fall gracefully. Each snow flake is individual. There are many photos of individual snowflakes and you can see how amazing they all are. I am one of those who can’t go out in the snow but I can watch it falling and settling on the trees and the ground and see how beautiful it is knowing that each flake is unique. Nature is wonderful. Enjoy it while you can. Enjoy the stillness too.
My photo was taken yesterday in the garden here. I love the way the tree branches are outlined with snow.
Technology has made us a different people. We text on the phone and do not communicate via our voices any more. I much prefer to talk on the phone or face to face. That way we can communicate our emotions and use our body to communicate our feelings as well. Texts are so impersonal. Those who prefer to text have their reasons as one woman said this morning on the TV, she did not have to know whether the person she was sending a text was ill or not. I found this statement rather sad.
This brings me to the way we communicate and treat our elders. In days gone by and still happening in other cultures, our elders were respected and allowed to use their talents even though they might be very old. The youngest grandchildren talked to their elders and respected them but also loved them and were loved in return. The elders played a part in family life and also community life.
There are many in the older generation who cannot or will not use mobile phones. They like to see their family and talk to them face to face. Here in the UK, at a certain age you retire from working life and then what? If you do not have a hobby or some kind of interest then you can stagnate and fall into depression. But what happens when you find your home too large to look after? So many older people are now in retirement homes which are generally very small and have little space for hobbies. Of course these places are secure and have emergency pull cords so the rest of the family feel that the older members are safe and so do not visit or worry about them so much. But the joy of sharing with family members is no longer there and for me that is an important part of life. Sharing with friends too is good and also important but as older people are we the same as the elders of other cultures? Do we get the respect that we deserve and the treatment by others that we deserve?
Many are happy in their retirement homes and enjoy the activities that go on there but others like me are frustrated by the lack of space to enjoy my hobbies and the lack of encouragement by others who think I am a bit weird! Should we be more aware of how different we, as the elders, all are? We all have something to offer to those younger than us but often this is pushed away. It is so easy and I have seen it done, to push Granny into a retirement bungalow and then forget about her. What has happened to our feelings of family and our love for them?
We had the first snow of the coming winter the other day. I woke up to a covering of white but it soon disappeared although there were flurries of snow during the day. There has been a lot of rain too and everywhere is wet underfoot which makes walking difficult for me where there are lots of wet leaves. Today I walked with a friend to Ford Green Hall a beautiful old mansion. There was a Christmas Craft Fair there today and it was very busy. We walked both ways and enjoyed the damp trees and misty landscape.
Outside my window the trees are almost bare of leaves and I can now see the many different birds sitting on the branches before using the bird feeder. This is giving me an opportunity to take photos of the birds again as I could not see them before because of the leaves. I love to see the trees now when you see their shape better and the way the branches grow out from the trunk. There is something special about them now and when the frosty days and nights are here too. On the nature reserve there are many different birds now as well as those that have been hidden amongst the leaves. There is always something to see and notice when you take a walk however short the walk. I walked back from the hospital the other day and the sky was clear. It is downhill most of the way but quite steep in places but is less than a mile to walk. I stopped and admired the view over lots of houses where there used to be fields but in the distance the moorland beckoned.
The approach to Christmas seems to start earlier every year. As a druid I should not really celebrate this festival but celebrate the Winter Solstice and Yule instead. However I like to celebrate them all but more of that to come in a blog next month. The photo is of Ford Green Hall taken in the rain this morning. I could not avoid the tree as the grass was too wet to walk on.
When you are surrounded by negativity, staying positive is definitely harder. Each day when I go to sleep I count my blessings and am thankful for all that I have in my life. If I stay in my flat all day and sneak out to the pond once in a while then staying positive is fairly easy. It is when I get talking to some of the others in this retirement village that the negativity creeps in. In a community of this size there are always bound to be those who moan continuously and those who are constant complainers. There are a few who are more positive but they are in the minority.
What is it about people that they are always negative? Nothing is right for them and they constantly go on about various events in a very negative manner. They seem stuck in their lives and unable to move beyond the negativity. I have tried to help with this but some are extremely resistant to change. I wonder what has made them like this? Getting old can be frightening especially if you are ill and/or alone but there are still many things in life which can be enjoyed. There is Bingo for those that enjoy it but some still find things to complain about with the bingo sessions. I really feel for these people as they are missing out on so much enjoyment in their lives. Trying to get them outside in nature by the pond is a no-no even though it is less than five minutes walk away.
So what can I do? I need to stay positive so I can help others but the resistance to any kind of change is so strong that it is unlikely to ever happen. I have lived in other communities but have not seen such a huge amount of negativity as I have here. Is this because the place is so large? Or is it just the people who live here? How do I get them to see that there can be more to life than sitting staring into space? Even a walk around the garden would make a difference. I shall keep trying and smile at them more than I already do.
Wake up calls are important and I am not writing about those wake up calls to get you out of bed on the morning. Wake up calls often happen when you become ill or are involved in something traumatic but they can happen at any time. These wake up calls are the ones where you stop and take a look at your current way of living and decide to change it for the better. Many people come to a spiritual path through a wake up call. My own wake up call came when I had an out of body experience while undergoing surgery many years ago. It changed the way I looked at my life and how I did things.
Some wake up calls occur during illness such as cancer which can be life changing in many ways. Some occur during an accident of some kind and these can often be even more life changing. We hear on the news of injuries that are life changing due to accident and terror attacks. So our lives can change in physical ways but often the wake up call is about changing our approach to life and our thoughts about how we live our daily life.
Meditation, mindfulness, crystals and Reiki are a large part of the way I live. Although I spend a lot of time researching family and local history I find that without the other things I have mentioned above, then the research would not be the same either. It never ceases to amaze me how the atmosphere in a room can change through music or the chimes of bells or a singing bowl. These all enhance my life and enable me to live more peacefully and in more harmony with myself and those around me. All these came from my wake up call and my life changed in many ways and continues to change as I meet each challenge on my life’s journey.
Have you had wake up calls? How did they change your way of life? Did your diet change or your perception of things? Did you find a spiritual path to follow? Do you find being in nature helps you?
I will end with a brief note about my short walk the other morning. It was very frosty and as I walked down this path I saw the sun melting the frost and the resulting mist rising into the sky making the surrounding landscape look very mystical. A wonderful experience.
This time of the year, Samhain, is when I honour all my ancestors. I often think of them though when researching my family history. It is not just my actual ancestors but all those relatives too. They are all part of my family tree.
I like to look at how they lived and what they did and wonder how much of what they did is a part of who I am. I can see what I have learned from my parents and grandparents and also what I chose to keep from that and what I chose to let go. Life is easy today compared to when they were younger. There was often not much money around and so little food and no money for pleasure like we have today.
The most poignant things I see in my research are on the 1911 census where there is a question asking how many children were born to the family and how many died. This week I found one family where fifteen children had been born but nine had died. If a child dies today there are lots of people around to help deal with the loss but then there was nothing and to lose nine children was a great loss. How did they cope? As far as I can see they just got on with it and carried on having other children to replace those who had died.
But having done several DNA tests I know I have other ancestors who don’t go on the family tree. They lived 15,000 years ago but they are still in my DNA. Some were hunters and gatherers and that must have been a hard life too. How much of this ability to deal with hard times is in my genes? My life hasn’t been easy but I have coped and I think this is due to what I have inherited from all of my ancestors through out the thousands of years. I honour them all.