Stress and the wonder of nature

It has been a very stressful week for various reasons but which started with last weeks blog which triggered someone else’s agenda and led to acrimonious discussion. But less of that, it is gone now and is in the past. I live in sheltered accommodation, that is, a complex of flats for the elderly with alarm buttons and other safety aspects. We are in the middle of having new heaters installed and then during the same time frame asbestos is being removed from the airing cupboard so new water tanks can be installed and then a new bathroom. This kind of work is going on for several months and can be quite stressful. It is better to be out of the flat when work goes on especially when the asbestos is removed. So let’s hope the weather stays good so we can sit outside and enjoy the bird song and the sunshine.

A trip to a different nature reserve this week led to seeing flowers and dragonflies I had not seen before. I cannot believe I have reached my old age and never seen a bee orchid before. What a beautiful flower it is. There were lots of damselflies as well and it was a good day despite the humidity. My small patch of garden here is doing well too. There are a lot of buds on the plants and they will soon be opening ready for the bees and butterflies. I have also learnt to identify small beetles and other insects some of which are quite fascinating. And they all have some kind of purpose as we do.

One of the things I love about being here is the sight of red kites in the sky. Every day one or two can be seen flying around and soaring high in the sky. So nature helps me with the stress and that is very good.

Shifts in consciousness

This week I feel I have seen a some little shifts in consciousness around me and within me. Shifts in consciousness involve opening up to aspects of our being that we have hidden away. I suspect that really I have just got back to where I was earlier in my life but have deepened what I already know and do.

I have had a busy week meeting friends for the first time in over a year. I have had discussions about healing energies, past lives and other similar themes. I have been out in nature as well and have noticed more of the tiny insects that are out there. I have been chanting in the mornings, something I have not done for a long time. I feel more at peace and even more at one with the natural world than I have before. So is this a shift in consciousness?

I think it is although I am not really seeing things in a different way but in a more deeper way. I have loved to see the different kinds of insects in their environments and learn what they eat and how they live. I feel all of this is important as we learn about the connection between everything that lives including plants and the land itself. Without understanding this connection we cannot change anything and change is important as long as it is the right change.

On another level but still connected I decided to spend a lot of money on good shoes. My feet are deformed and walking is painful but I know of a shoe company that produces the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. If I want to do a lot of walking in woods and around lakes then I need comfortable shoes. I have already noticed the difference. As I walk better and without pain I am able to notice more of what is going on around me. And that is all good.

Emerging from the dark

As current restrictions start to lift, it is time to move forward towards a new way of living. There are many who are frightened of being able to go out, to shop, to walk, to dine out or go to the gym. They have spent a year or more cocooned in their homes, often without any face-to-face contact with others.

Although Zoom, video calls and similar stuff are available to some, they are not available to all, and they are not the same as seeing someone in person. But for many others such things have given them a chance to talk to others and see them from a distance. But the main thing for many is that they have been given a chance to reflect on their lives and the way they live them. Many have decided to live in different ways, to be more careful about what they buy and have also decided that what they want and what they need are two different things. If we only bought what we needed then there would be less waste and landfill. There are many arguments about buying organic clothing or clothing made from recycled fibres as they tend to cost more but they generally last much longer. Buying organic food is also good but again generally costs more. But what is your health worth to you?

So now here we are, emerging from this long period of restrictions on our lives. I know that my life has changed very little although I am much more appreciative about being able to get outdoors with my son as I can’t go with friends yet. I do not drive which does not help so I can also feel for those in similar positions. However I have managed to get out to local areas of nature reserves and country parks and have walked (with my crutch) and sat and enjoyed the peace of the water and the joy of the birdsong and watched the seasons change. Everywhere is now much greener than it was a few weeks ago. To be outside in the open air is so beneficial and to hug a tree is also a most wonderful thing to do.

So as we emerge from this period of dark, let us stride forward, stretch our legs and minds and breathe deeply of the air around us and work towards a better way of life for us all.

Gratitude and blessings

I feel blessed this morning. Although it is cold and frosty, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I watched the squirrels scampering about in the garden and the blackbirds digging for worms. It was such a joyful experience and I feel truly blessed by this.

Despite the restrictions still in place I took a blood test the other day and then broke my already broken tooth in half. I need to now find a dentist but after I got home that day I discovered that the gardener for this place had made me a small garden patch of my own on a corner of an existing lawn. I can see this small patch of garden from my kitchen window and I am quite excited at the thought of what kind of plants to put there. My son will help with this of course as he is busy growing many plants from seed but they will not be ready to plant out for another couple of weeks at least. But another thing to feel blessed for.

My son is also taking me on one day a week to explore the local environment. There is a lot to see around here on the many lakes formed by old gravel pits and also by the river. This week we explored another one of these nature reserves and after a muddy start the walk was very enjoyable. Lots of fungi and the sighting of a great crested grebe on the water. Another thing to be grateful for and feel blessed.

I love jigsaws as I find them calming and meditative in some way. This week I am grateful for the large pile of jigsaws in the residents lounge which I can borrow and then replace. So a week of feeling blessed and many feelings of gratitude.

Weather sayings and more

This week I spent some time thinking about the weather sayings that we use. Things like March winds and April showers,and another one about March roaring in like a lion and going out like a lamb. There are sayings about the sunrise and sunset too. Red sky at night shepherds delight and red sky in the morning shepherds warning. The one I think about most and always look for the signs is Oak before ash means a splash while Ash before Oak means a soak. Another one that comes to mind is rain before 7, fine at 11.

There are many of these sayings and I often wonder how many are true or are they just something passed down through the generations. Like any other statement in the public view I try to observe to find out if it is true. Did the ancient ones watch the sky and see what colour the sunrise was and then plan their day accordingly? Did they follow the movements of the Moon as many do today before planting seeds and also doing other things?

As we see the press of today with their fake news and lies about people and what they do, it is important to look for the truth that is out there. Maybe that is why some of us look back at these sayings as there are many that do not have anything to do with the weather or the moon.Finding the truth is so important and often it is hidden away behind layers of lies and distortions.

I am finding more and more that being out in the natural world helps me to deal with the lies and distortions of the truth. Nature does not lie and gives me hope. I managed another trip out this week to a nearby nature reserve, a different one than the week before. It was good just to be out there , to see the new growth around me and to know that life goes on whatever we throw at it.

Dealing with social distancing and isolation

The first few days of social distancing were hard. I know that the world is going to change and I was very emotional about it all. But now I see that the world is changing. Many people are becoming more helpful and thoughtful towards others although there are those who are only thinking about themselves. But on the whole this is a good thing as people learn to put others first and make sure they are kept healthy and safe.

But what can you do with this time alone keeping a distance from partners and friends?There is so much you can do as well as writing, crafting and reflecting you can deepen your connection with the natural world. You don’t have to be outside to do this even if you live in a high rise flat with no balcony or garden space. Just look through your window at the sky. Notice the clouds, what colour are they, how are they moving, do they form shapes, etc?

I have spent a lot of time looking out through the window at my garden. I have managed to get out there too and do a bit of weeding and tidying up but I have sat and watched the birds, chasing each other and feeding from the feeders and bird table. They give me so much joy. Then on Monday I saw a brimstone butterfly, the first one this year. The small spring flowers are blooming and adding colour to the earth and the shrubs are showing tiny green leaves. Cherry blossom is out too. Nature continues on its way ignoring what the humans are doing and the chaos that abounds. The streets are quiet so you can hear the birds and feel that silence within you and within the earth around you. Stop and listen!

I not only watch the birds and flowers, I talk to them as well. They don’t answer me back but I get that feeling of connection with them. I love to stand by the door and look at the sky and watch the clouds and the birds.

Another thing I do is listen to music and play my piano. I love the music of Einaudi which is simple but in its own way, quite emotional as it moves up and down the scale. I find music speaks to my soul and replenishes it just as the natural world does. There are other composers who take me out of myself and into another world with their music. Find the right ones for you. Music is healing.

I also use tarot and oracle cards. I have been reading them now for over 30 years and read intuitively. Yesterday I asked for two cards, one each from different packs to see what message they gave for the next few days. Diana Cooper’s Dragon oracle cards gave me the Fire and Water dragon with the message – prepare for change and to move forward quickly. Expect the unexpected but have fun!. The Keepers of Light oracle cards by Kyle Gray gave me The Myriam with the message choose to forgive in order to heal. See the light in all and remember that love has no boundaries. I don’t think any further words are needed. Stay safe and positive and make the best of this time. Treat it like a retreat.

A new year

A new calendar year is approaching. As a druid though I have already started my new year at the time of the winter solstice when the light returned. But the calendar new year is also important. This coming year is also the start of a new decade.

2020 is coming. I am very interested in numbers and see 2020 as very important. It is the start of something new that will make people more aware of the way they live and the environment around them. People will I hope start to treat those around them with respect and love, caring for those less fortunate. I hope they will learn that everything is connected and whatever you do, say or think, has an effect somewhere else.

What do I hope for this coming year of 2020? I already feel energised especially since I noticed the shoots of the spring bulbs appearing in their pots and the new buds on the shrubs and trees. They give me hope. The natural world seems to continue on its way whatever we do to it. When forests are cut down it is not long before other plants start to germinate. Life is always there.

Floods and fires continue to cleanse the land clearing away unwanted energies from logging and the wrong ways of farming and other agriculture. Floods and fires also tell us that we are not looking after the land in the right way. But back to my thoughts and plans for this new decade of opportunities. 2020 gives us 365 days of opportunity. What are you going to do? I am going to live each day wisely and continue with my creative work as well as making sure I help others when needed. I shall also be looking after the plants and visitors to my garden. I shall be outside in nature as often as I can helping me to stay healthy both physically and mentally. I shall try to eat in a healthier way being aware of how my food is grown and produced. I shall also look at what I wear and how I furnish my home. Can I change anything here to make it more natural?

So what will you do in 2020? I hope you can spread peace and love around the world as well as hope for us all.

Getting things done

My time out has obviously been good for me. This week I had enough energy to do things that have needed doing for several months. This included a lot of sorting out, recycling, giving away and generally disposing of things no longer needed. It feels good to have done this and I also feel much lighter. There is still more to do and more decisions to make but I am half way there.

I have spent some time reflecting though, taking the time to sit by the large window and watch the activity in the garden. There are plenty of birds around and there are still some butterflies and the occasional dragonfly. There are also lots of bees around as there are still flowers in bloom although we are getting to the end of the summer season as autumn is approaching now.

Another thing I have been doing is making scrapbooks. I buy rather nice blank ones with a brown cover and brown pages inside. Very earthy! I sorted out photos, got them printed and decided which photos to go in which scrapbook. I have made scrapbooks before and they are good as memory books. I like looking back at places I have been and what I did in those places and what I saw. It makes me appreciate how much travelling I have done in the last thirty years even though I only stay in England nowadays.

The scrapbooks are also a way of recording the different butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies I have seen as many are specific to certain areas and are not widespread. For me it is also about recording the beauty of our natural world and allows me to stay grounded and strong while the outside world is crumbling down around us. Whatever happens in the future, I will have records of what it is like now in our natural world. The photo is taken in my garden where the cosmos flowers reign.

My love affair with nature

Although I am still ‘taking time out’ in many respects I felt I wanted to write about this theme. I originally thought of writing a book with the above title but decided that it would be far too unwieldy and very pricey to publish. So I decided to make several scrapbooks instead. There is an art to making good scrapbooks and I have made many in the past. This time round I purchased three A4 size scrapbooks with a brown cover and brown pages inside.

I pondered for some time about how to do this but decided that taking specific places like my garden and various nature reserves for each book was the best way. Then came the task of sorting photos for printing. I have thousands of photos on my computer dating from when I had my first digital camera. I also have three or four boxes of photos from before that time.

What I noticed when going through these thousands of photos is that very few were of people or buildings and most were of landscapes and the beasties that live in the landscape. I have found photos of dragonflies taken in 2015, hiding away in a different folder than where they should be. But it has been a wonderful experience looking at the photos and remembering when they were taken and who I was with at that time.

Choosing which photos for the scrapbook is very hard though. I love all my dragonfly, damselfly and butterfly photos so how can I choose just one of each kind? It is the same with the photos of birds feeding in the garden and the many pictures of flowers. I need more ‘time out’ in order to do this but I felt I would like to let you know how I was using my time out.

Setbacks

It has been one of those months where lots of little things went wrong and set me back on what I was trying to do. I always think that these kind of things come in threes so I must be on my third set of three by now.

I can’t remember now all of these little things but some stick in my mind. While doing a lot of sewing the needle broke on my sewing machine. Luckily I had one to replace it but it took time as it was fiddly to do. Then I chipped a tooth. I don’t have many left at the top so chipping one of these was not a good idea! Then a light bulb went in the kitchen and I had to ask a friend for help as I couldn’t get the old bulb out. That’s three things but there are more. My rose got black spot and had to be dealt with, the storms knocked down a lot of plants and had to be staked so they stood up again and then on Tuesday I got a very bad sting while watering the garden. Poor bee; sat on my arm and I didn’t notice it so bent my arm and squashed it. Of course it stung me and also bit me! The sting is still bothering me as I have a problem with my body dealing with stings and bites. A visit to the pharmacist helped but it is still not getting much better so a visit to the doctor on Monday maybe. On top of all this a parcel has not arrived having been sent back to the sender from the delivery depot as it was damaged!. I wonder what else there is to come along to set me back.

The weather is certainly not helping me get back on track with the garden as it is pouring with rain. It is good for the plants of course but it also makes the weeds grow as well. The area of the sting is still red and itchy and is in a place which makes doing things harder as it is on the inside of my elbow. But life goes on, as it does and I take each day as it comes, doing what I can and resting or reading when I can’t do everything else. But I do miss being outside in nature. I can however watch the birds through my window and that can be quite interesting. Last week a sparrow hawk shot into view and dived into the hedge but came out empty handed but from what my neighbours have said, it did get a pigeon later on. One day I will get a photo when it comes as it is a regular visitor.

So setbacks have happened and maybe there are more to come as our country faces turmoil and changes as does the whole world. I am trying to live each day without anger and worry but that can be hard to do when you get other little setbacks to stop you from moving on. How do you deal with these little setbacks?