Dear 2016..

maria-koutala-1

Dear 2016,

You have been brutal, by far the most difficult, painful, expensive, terrifying, sad and challenging year of my life. You commenced with life-changing, emergency spinal surgery (x2); and culminated with the heart-wrenching demise of my beloved father, cruelly snatched from life, so suddenly and unexpectedly. I have gritted my teeth determinedly, bitten my tongue patiently, and cried several oceans, unreservedly. My body aches daily, my mind worries anxiously, and my heart is repeatedly smashed to smithereens as the waves of grief crash over me. Yet, I am grateful, you have been a year of my life, I have learnt many painful lessons, and I am ready for 2017.

You have been a year of struggles and loss, but loving light has pierced the darkest depths of despair. Every day, as my world fell apart, the sun still rose, and the world kept on turning, even though I had wished it would stop and let me step off, momentarily. I noticed sunlight dancing gracefully in the leaves of a tunnel of trees, as I drove from the hospice, blinded by tears I couldn’t curtail. And once as I crested the brow of a hill, overwhelmed with sorrow, strong shafts of light poured through the clouds, reaching down from the heavens to steady me. When I felt hopeless, rainbows magically appeared to comfort and encourage me, and when I was tired and defeated, sunsets gently soothed and nourished me.

Amongst all the difficulties, angels have emerged to help, support and care for me, friends and family who held me when I fell apart, and picked up the pieces of my life as they lay scattered around me. I have been enveloped by kindness, as I learned to walk after surgery, and again as I learned to walk in a world without my Daddy. Dear friends have shared their understanding that the gaping hole in my life will never be healed, but that I will come to accept its presence, and learn to live by filling it with never-ending love and happy memories. I am eternally grateful for these loving souls that have shared my journey.

My mornings greet me unfailingly with the wet nosy kisses and joyful tail wags, of unconditional love. My dogs have been my best medicine, strongest motivators, and most comforting, loyal companions, through everything. Because of them, I have found the strength to get up and embrace the day, and found myself admiring beautiful dawns, when I thought I wanted to hide in sleep. They have licked away my salty tears, snuggled lovingly into my broken body, and found smiles in my face when I didn’t think there were any. They have silently acknowledged my pain and let me bury my face in their warm furry necks to weep, sought me out for snuggles and cuddles, and accepted the changes they couldn’t understand, patiently. Leo is such a loving boy, and continues to fight valiantly against the life threatening disease you bestowed upon him. Poppy is becoming affectionate and sweet, learning to trust and settle, despite the many moves and upheaval. And Platon remains my rock, protective and patient, unswervingly loyal and devoted, even when earthquakes unnerved him.

2016, you have been horrible, the world has lost some amazingly talented souls, you enabled Brexit, and voted in a disastrously dangerous choice of American president. Many desperate refugees have drowned fleeing war torn countries, terrorists have ripped apart the lives of many and their families, and atrocities continue to be inflicted on innocents as their homes are destroyed by militants. The world is full of hostility and cruelty, it is plagued by anger and swamped in sorrow, but light still shines through the darkness, beauty blooms amidst despair and misery, courage clings on through adversity, hope remains steadfastly, and love is still stronger than anything. Please tell your successor 2017, to bring it on, I am ready!!

Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo credit: The talented, Maria Koutala, Kefalonia. Words by Hayley Darby ©2016}

Joy on a grey day

nurse teaIt’s a cold grey day here, and I’m lying on my day bed with Platon lying against my legs, his chin resting gently on my ankles, as he snoozes between watching the world outside the long French windows. Leo has trampled all over me, and the bed, searching for a comfy spot, but dissatisfied with all his options, has moved to the sofa where he’s curled up alone and uncharacteristically grumbling. He’s usually my sunshine, a super happy chap, full of joyful enthusiasm, and the friendliest, most affectionate dog I could think of; but today he’s having an ‘off’ moment, and comically grumbles in little half barks and almost growls at noises outside. I suspect he’s over tired, sulking and like a toddler fighting sleep, he will soon give in to that sweet dark oblivion, and float to another realm of consciousness. I wonder if he dreams of our favourite little beach in Greece, and swimming out in the clear turquoise waters, which he does so, much further than I dare to. He has a leg injury that gives him a disadvantage on land, but in the sea he’s unstoppable. Finally, his little chest has started to rise and fall rhythmically, and we are a peaceful little trio in our cosy abode. I stifle a yawn as I type, and Platon sighs loudly, as I pull the blankets up a little higher, and he snuggles back into me. I too could fall asleep, I tire easily since my surgeries; especially since I have started my physiotherapy exercises and increased my activity daily.

Yesterday I had a hospital appointment; it was the first time I had been back since my surgery. I still feel somewhat fragile; an awareness of my vulnerability, previously not even glimpsed, as I felt fit and strong, and lead an active lifestyle. Walking in public places makes me anxious, my injury (spinal) is invisible to most, as I can walk unaided and have no casts or bandages. It’s a ridiculous fear of being knocked, although I’m assured my spine is now stable, it still feels odd, and I am acutely aware of the risks associated with my condition, however small they are in reality. I saw the urology nurse, since after my first operation there was a complication with my bladder function requiring a further surgery, and yesterday I got a clean bill of health, a huge relief. My Cauda Equina experience has certainly helped me appreciate how much the little things, really are the big things!

As I waited in the hospital lobby for my lift home, I met Joy, a health care worker that truly lives up to her name. She took a moment to recognise me, (I clearly look very different with freshly washed hair, dressed and standing, to my hospital bed state), but her face soon lit up, as she recited my bed and bay number on the ward. Every morning of my hospital stay, Joy greeted the ward with her sunny smile and sing song voice, serving us breakfast, lunch and supper, remembering how we all take our tea, and our individual food preferences. She was always cheerful, thoughtful and considerate, and she brightened the room with her smile. When she made her rounds, she served us all as if we were her favourite customers in a smart restaurant. Maybe it’s maybe not the tea, but the person serving it thats the best medicine. This small part of our day made me feel more human, it was a time when as we picked our meals from the menu, however basic, that we regained some independence, choosing gave a small sense of control; when the rest of our day was determined by our medical team and hospital routines. Again, I am reminded of the little things that make a difference; and wonder how often we have missed opportunities to give a little that will mean so much to someone else, without us ever realising how much importance it is to them.

Meeting Joy yesterday reminds me how grateful I was for the compassion and kindness of the nurses and health care workers that cared for me during my hospital stay. I cannot imagine what a tough job it is, and have huge respect for all of them. If everyone worked with the same selfless enthusiasm that Joy does, we would all reflect more sunny smiles in our environments. Talking of which, it might be a cold grey day in February here, but it’s not a bad day, we have blossom on the window sill and daffodils on the table, and Leo has woken up, back to his happy smiley self, enthusiastically stretching into a play-bow and wagging his tail, ready for another adventure. I hope that you are seeing a glimmer of the joys of spring, wherever you are too.. unless of course you’re in the Southern hemisphere, in which case, enjoy your Summer, and send it back to us in the Northern hemispheres soon, please!

Blessings & love, Hxx

 

{Photo via Pinterest, sadly uncredited; words by me, Hayley Darby © 2016}

Great things happen, if we let them!

surf smile

Think about the things that made you really happy, I wonder how much was planned, and how often it was something you weren’t expecting or couldn’t have predicted? Some surprises take our breath away, and those are the moments of pure unexpected joy that fill our hearts to bursting with love and smiles. Trust me, it’s the unexpected gifts that life bestows that we will treasure most; for we cannot imagine the beautiful possibilities that wait for us to let them happen ❤ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words Hayley Darby © 2013}

Affirmation

peaceful feet

If I choose to dwell in gratitude that focuses on peace in my heart, harmony in my relationships, health in my body, abundance in my life, and love in my soul; then I won’t let any fear, doubt or anxiety distract me from the business of being happy and thankful for my blessings. ❤

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest. Words ~Hayley Darby (2013)}

2013 Let’s do this!

lets

Happy New Year everyone! It’s a beautiful sunny start to 2013 with blue skies stretching across London in every direction. I woke late after welcoming the year at a very chilled, elegant dinner party thrown by darling LS, laughing our way from one year to the next as we decided 2013 is going to be gorgeous. I stayed in bed for a while, searching my heart for clues as to my wishes and aspirations as I set my intentions and goals for 2013, and decide upon a plan of action. Eventually the sun pushing through the curtains tempted me out of my nest, so I stretched my full length and sent love to those I care about, before bouncing out of bed and downstairs for coffee.

The sun sends shafts of light through the windows, bathing the room in happy positivity as I sit with my coffee and feel truly grateful. 2013 has just begun, a fresh new chapter waiting to be written, one I intend to embrace with optimism and enthusiasm, to appreciate all those moments of ‘now’ that thread together my story. I am so grateful for the people with whom I share my journey, celebrating friendships and appreciating the opportunities we will meet along the way for lots of love and laughter, creating happy memories. I’m looking forward to the adventures that await and pray that I’ll face the challenges with grace and dignity. I hope the year will teach me to become a kinder, gentler, more patient and accepting version of myself; and that this will enable me to empower others to discover their truth and beauty. I’m wishing for peace and love for everyone, so c’mon 2013, let’s do this! ♥ Blessings & love, Hxx

{Artwork sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

2013 Please be awesome : ))

013 awesome

2013 Please be awesome : ))

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that it will be a wonderful year, that it will be filled with love and laughter, that you will chase your dreams and have the courage to dream bigger ones. I hope that you will have much happiness and find moments of joy, and peace amongst the quiet ones; that you will always find hope in your heart, and that from time to time it will burst with gratitude for the life you are living. I wish you the strength to overcome the challenges you will face, and the wisdom to forgive yourself the mistakes we will all doubtless make. I hope that you will dare greatly, love deeply, adventure bravely, kiss sincerely and laugh insanely. I hope it will be a year of kindness and compassion for everyone, because really life is too short and too precious not to make room in our hearts for the stuff that really matters. I do hope that we will all make 2013 awesome for everyone, for all the right reasons! ♥ Blessings & stacks of love from me : )) Hxx

Confidence

Doutzen

Confidence is a stain they can’t wipe off : )) Self confidence is beautiful, it’s the trust, assurance and belief in ones ability; if we don’t have this for ourselves, how can we expect it from others? Confidence is a core strength, not to be confused with arrogance, but to be recognised and allowed to motivate us to reach our potential. Some people appreciate it in others, some are inspired by it, yet some people see it as a mark of their own lacking, some fuel their own inadequacies with resentment of it. Your confidence is a precious gift, not to be squandered on those who would knock it, but to be celebrated and enjoyed, and used to inspire and promote growth in others. True self confidence is not dependent on the opinions of others or external acknowledgement, it has nothing to do with your appearance or qualifications, or popularity or achievements; but rather is a consequence of your integrity and respect of yourself and the life you are living. Shine brightly, and don’t let anyone dull your sparkle, ever! ♥ Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo: model Doutzen Kroes, photographer sadly uncredited}

Warrior

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Life is way too short to spend another day at war with yourself. Forgive your mistakes, accept your human fallibility, and embrace your authentic self. Appreciate your valued qualities rather than focus on your disappointments, we are all works in progress; be kind and patient with yourself, and make peace with you ♥ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited via Pinterest}

Not doubting, just wondering..

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. ~C. S. Lewis

Thank you C.S. for being an open and true man of faith, prepared to share your fears with the rest of us, to help us feel that our struggles are not uncommon. I adore you even more, than I thought was possible! Thank you ♥ Hxx

Good morning cloudy day : ))

Good morning everyone! Today I struggled to wake up, it wasn’t a particularly late night, but the day seemed to come around way too quickly for my body. I remained curled up in my soft white cocoon and drifted in and out of the shallows for a while, committing neither to sleep or wakefulness, hovering on the threshold of consciousness.

I remembered a dream I woke from in the night, a bizarre experience I have no way of explaining to myself. I dreamt I was riding a BMX across a dirt track, pulling stunts and tricks, ‘catching air’, seriously exhilarating, ridiculous fun, and something I have never ever done! I don’t think I’ve even ridden a BMX in reality, let alone been a stunt queen; and it’s not something I aspire to! As I tried to figure out the connection this morning, I could only tie it to a young friend in Greece who was very talented on a BMX, travelling the world to compete. His parents had a half pike built in the back garden, and one summer I used to coach him, endlessly trying to perfect a particular stunt, offering support and encouragement as best I could without any real clue of the technical merits he was seeking. It wasn’t important that I didn’t understand his dream, it was enough that I could just believe in his ability to make it happen.

So this morning, as the sleep filled clouds cleared from my head, I realized it’s not so much the dream we hope for that’s important, but it’s important we have one. Something that induces dedication and commitment, as we believe in the exhilaration we will feel at the prospect of achievement. And that as long as we know how it feels to have a dream, then we can encourage others in pursuit of theirs. As I got up for coffee, finding a grey day beyond the curtains, I realize my dreams feel a bit closer, as long as I remember, the blue skies are there, bright beyond the cloud cover, which is only temporary after all! I hope you have a beautiful day, whatever your weather, and that you can encourage someone to follow his or her heart, yourself being a good place to start! Blessings & love ♥ Hxx

{Photo sadly not credited, via Pinterest}