Approaching winter

Officially we are now in the winter season. I have noticed how the trees stand proud against the skyline with their bare branches. I see my hedge getting much thinner with large spaces so I can see through into the garden of my neighbour. The birds are still there but keep hopping out to feed on the conveniently placed feeder. I love the days when the sky is clear and the sun is shining. There is something special about the winter sky and the landscape around us.

But winter also has a special meaning for me It is the time when I take stock of what the year has brought me and look at how I have dealt with it. There has been a lot of sadness and grief this year and that has been hard to deal with but getting out occasionally amongst the trees has helped enormously. I have also looked at what I have achieved or not achieved as might be the case with some things. Are there lessons to be learned from this and can I do better next year. I find the winter months with the shorter days gives me more time to contemplate what has gone and what is to come in the future. I can do the stuff that I have put on one side while I have been enjoying the summer times. I can unpack the boxes still left to do since I moved earlier in the year. Maybe I will find the items I have spent hours looking for but still not found!

I also stock up on food just in case I cannot get out. I am old enough to remember the years of heavy snowfall when nothing stirred so make sure I will be OK if anything like a heavy snowfall arrives and stays with us. But most of all I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice, now in less than three weeks time, when the light returns and the hours of daylight start to lengthen. I have lots of new things I want to try next year so I shall start planning them now, making sure I will have everything I need to do these things.

So a time for contemplation, planning and enjoyment is what winter brings to me.

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One thing after another

Why does everything happen at the same time? Or as is happening now, it is one thing after another. Little minor health things and other little things to do with everyday living are building up one after the other. It seems that there is never a gap between each thing that happens and they just follow one another before you have fully recovered from the first one.  And somehow I have to fit in the everyday chores of living, cleaning, washing and cooking, etc. But this is a sign of our chaotic world I suppose. Even the weather is chaotic and not normal for the time of the year.

So how do we cope with this kind of thing? Going with the flow was always something I advocated but now even the flow is turbulent so I am not sure I want to just go with it. What I decided to do in the end was to sit back for a few moments and think of ways of calming or taking my mind off what was going on. Music is good for me and I love to listen to it all day. I have my favourite music as well, some of which can be very inspiring but is not necessarily the right kind of music to calm me down.

Again I like to read but some fiction can be relaxing while other fiction can be just the opposite and have you wondering what is going to happen next in the story. I have started painting again which I do find relaxing and takes my mind off other things too but inspiring music is good for this. I love the soaring music of Rachmaninov but I also love the soul searching music of Shostakovich as well. But neither of these are really calming although they do make me feel better.

Just sitting by the window and looking out on the garden is calming. I can watch the birds and butterflies which are still around and relax for a while. The simplest way to relax or calm down is to do some breathing exercises, taking deep breaths to slow everything down. You only need a couple of minutes and you can feel much calmer then.

I wonder how long this chaos will continue. Everything I read about it states that all will be well in the end and that all the hidden corruption and badness in the world will come to the surface to be healed and then we will learn to be who we are meant to be, compassionate, respectful, loving towards each other and helping each other to live a joyful and peaceful life. I hope I’m still around when this happens!

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Reading and more

I love books and I am an avid reader. I much prefer to read a book than to watch the TV. So what kind of books do I read? I read all kinds of books, everyday feel good fiction for the evenings when I want to relax and more serious non-fiction for other times. I used to have a huge amount  of books but had to ‘cull’ them when I downsized. Now I have more space so I have started buying books again. There is something about the smell of the paper that makes me want to read books.

One of my recent purchases is a book called ‘The Fall’ by Steve Taylor. I have only got through the first part so far but it is a very interesting read, for me at least. The sub title is ‘The insanity of the ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era.’ So far it has provoked a lot of thought. Why did humanity suddenly become ego oriented and get a hunger for material goods?

Ancient tribes had a great connection with nature and the land on which they lived. Some of them still do but the rest of us seem to have lost that connection, that feeling for the land beneath our feet and for all that lives on it. This morning the sunrise was stunningly beautiful and I felt so connected to it and the surrounding trees and land. I know I am not alone in this way of thinking but there are far too many people who have totally lost the connection with nature and are busy trying to destroy it and everything that lives on the earth. Do we really need more motorways and high speed trains? Why is it so important to get a journey to work a few minutes shorter? Why are we in such a hurry? Do we need more airports so we can go abroad? What is wrong with taking a holiday in your own country?

I have been abroad several times and seen some stunning scenery and some ancient ruins where my ancestors lived but I do not need to keep going there or going somewhere hot to lie in the sun or as many do going to the beach and drinking far too much. There is so much around us that is beautiful. Watch the flowers open in the sun, the bees flying around collecting pollen and the other insects with their marvellous colours and diaphanous wings. To sit quietly in a park and listen to the birds singing is wonderful and so healing and refreshing too. Let’s encourage others to do the same.

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What do you see?

The other day I heard someone say that they didn’t generally get out and look at things. But do we not always look at things and not go out especially to do that? Maybe not. My thoughts at the time were about missing so much of what is out there around us. But then again I generally walk everywhere or use a mobility scooter as I do not drive.

So let’s look at what I see when I walk into town. I live on a hill which helps me to see much more of the town below me and the far distance. Generally I first notice the parked cars and people walking to work or school. Then I notice the flowers in the gardens as I pass by. I see that some are blooming now but last time I went past they were only in bud. I see the bees and the butterflies taking advantage of these flowers. In the distance I see the church and other tall buildings and in the far distance I can see the tops of houses and some trees. I cross the road and walk down the hill by the side of the cattle market complex. There are lots of shrubs by the wall of the building which houses the sheep and some of these shrubs have flowers. So there are lots of bees around. There are also many small birds which have most likely nested in the top of the building which has open sides. They chitter chatter as I walk past. There is a lot of traffic with many cars having loud music going on and also many people are walking. I wonder if they see what I see. I hear the sounds of the sheep and the cattle as they are put into pens ready to be sold. Now I am ready to cross another road into the town itself and my walk there has been full of interesting sights and sounds.

So here is another example. One day I was sitting in the town park watching the ducks with their tiny offspring on the pond. The ducklings were busy exploring the plants on the pond and then when they were tired they came out and curled up to sleep at the side in the bushes. There were also moorhens with their youngsters but they seemed to prefer a different part of the pond. The gentle breeze made the branches of the trees move and rustle and birds flitted amongst them. There were ripples on the pond caused by the ducks and moorhens as they swam around. I occasionally caught sight of a few damselflies and butterflies too. Across the other side of the pond a man was sleeping on a bench. While I was there he got up and walked away. I could hear the traffic on the main road but it did not really disturb the peace of the pond.

There are so many people who walk around and do not see what is around them. They never look up or down for that matter and often have a mobile phone by their ear. What a lot they are missing!

What do you see?

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Looking back

We are often told not to look back but to be ‘in the now’ or to look forward to the future. But there are various reasons why we can look back and times when it is good to look back.

I like to look back at my life journey so I can see what I have learned, or not learned as the case may be, so I can  decide what I need to do next. I can reflect on my journey so far. I also like to look back in history to see how countries and people have changed over the centuries.

Looking back at my life can also bring to mind some wonderful memories, some which I have shared with others and some when I have made journeys alone. Yesterday I went out with my son and his partner to a local, wildflower farm. The sun was hot, the sky a clear blue, the flowers colourful and the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies were out in abundance and stunningly beautiful. Tea and cake added to the day and it will be a day to remember when in years to come, I cannot get out to enjoy nature.

In my history/genealogy research, I am of course looking back, but I try to find out what life was like then, what people wore, and how they lived so that I am in a way bringing them alive. It enables me to see how much our world has changed in the last three or four hundred years.

So looking back for me is important. It enables me to make changes in the way I live my life and it also enables me to see how I do things differently than my ancestors. Do you look back and if so do you reflect on what you see? Does it help you to change the way you do things now? Does it help you to find out what is important in your life as it does in mine?

Here is one of the dragonflies from yesterdays memories.

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Helping others

Helping others is something I try to do. It can often be just a hug but hugs can mean a lot and do produce a response in the chemistry of the body making us feel better. I also try to be there for other when they need to talk. Sometimes talking to others about a problem can help you to see the problem more clearly and find a solution.

There are many other ways of helping others of course, most of which I am unable to do, such as offer to give someone a lift in your car to the shop or an event or you could offer to do some shopping for them.

Looking at this from the other side, as it were, I am often in need of help but being an independent type of person I am reluctant to ask for help. So if none is offered I try to manage on my own as best I can. For my trips to the art and craft club I use the volunteer car service (this is not free) and I am very grateful to those volunteer drivers.

There are times when I have to ask for help but I am always reluctant to do so. Is this because I don’t want to be refused? Or is it because I don’t want others to feel they have to help when they don’t really want to?

Asking for help and giving help can be a complicated situation but nowadays we seem to forget that help can be needed by others and are often reluctant to get involved. I have been lucky this week as I was offered a lift with the photography group to visit the bluebell woods. That gave me the opportunity to experience something I could not have done otherwise. The same friend also offered to fetch me a bag of compost for the garden. (If you read this Chris then many thanks again) This kind of help is important not just for me but for others who cannot get out to visit nature. Nature helps us so much enabling us to feel so much better.

I would love to read your thoughts on this topic.

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A good week

The sun has been shining and I am sure that makes us all feel better. I certainly do and getting out in the country park has helped as well. Planned visits to the doctors have also brought me what I needed, an injection in my wrist next week to help me cope with the arthritis which makes writing and doing anything in the home difficult. So all good overall.

Yesterday was spent in the garden with my son, mowing the grass and planting more plants. A walk in the country park followed, me on my scooter though but still very enjoyable.

I have watched the hedge get greener over the last week and it is now almost completely green. The birds are busy chasing each other and building nests. There are butterflies too, small tortoiseshells and some white ones that might just be female orange tips. While cutting the grass a frog jumped out. He had a lucky escape but the area where he was is very marshy and in fact was almost a pond. My son saw a grass snake in the country park and the trees there are in full blossom like the one in my garden.

It is a wonderful time of the year when nature awakes and starts to show us her glory. I feel so blessed to be in this new home and to be able to enjoy it as well. Being in nature is so nurturing and revitalises my soul. I hope you enjoy being in nature as much as I do. Today will be a lazier day but I shall spend time watching the birds and butterflies in the garden and enjoying doing just that. The simple pleasures in life are often the best.

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