The writing in between..

country morning

I used to write in the mornings, after waking slowly, languishing in my hypnopompic state, and savouring my emergence into wakefulness. I liked to recount my thoughts and realisations over a latte, reclining on the awesome white sofa, before they got lost in the misty memories of my mind. My days started with the exploration of self-reflective studies, before dashing off to work, where I found time to ponder and write in the moments between. The moments between A and B whilst travelling, often on tube trains that shuttled swiftly underground, from one side of London to the other. The moments between patients, a temporary escape from writing up notes and checking emails. The moments between the things I should be doing, a break in responsibilities and ticking off the endless lists of chores to be done. Now those gaps in my day don’t seem to present themselves, not because I’m busier, but by contrast, because those gaps in between have stretched to accommodate long walks, informal studies, designing, and being blissfully happy.

Now I wake in the mornings with my three dogs pressed into my body, waiting for signs of consciousness to present me with wet noses for kissing, and soft bellies for tickling. Platon usually stretches his full length (he’s not a small dog), whilst Leo jumps up to stand and peer into my face, and Poppy leaps off the bed to sit bolt upright beside me and chatter away (not barking, but that gentle noise dogs make, as if they are trying to verbally communicate). After I’ve paid them all sufficient attention, and acknowledged and returned their affection, I get up to raise the blinds, and creep back into bed to admire the view of rolling countryside, that stretches greenly across the valley, to the church tower a top the distant hill of the horizon. The dogs tend to take turns on the window seat, pushing their noses up again the glass, before settling back on the bed for our morning ritual of treats and cuddles. They are less enamoured by the view than the idea of chasing round the garden to determine its nocturnal visitors, so I buy myself a few moments of snuggles as my mind and body wake up, with some biscuits kept by the bed for this purpose. Then I grab a thick, shawl cardigan, and shove my toes into substantial slippers, as the dogs bound down the stairs ahead of me, to wait patiently for doors to be opened, so they can charge round the beach hedge at any wildlife that tarries unsuspectingly.

As I brew coffee in the bright farmhouse kitchen, I snatch a few moments to check on my social media accounts, and then if it’s not raining, swap slippers for wellington boots, and take my latte out into the garden to watch the dogs and inspect Mother Nature’s artwork. I am new to gardening, but enjoying it immensely, and my newly acquired garden is full of exciting plans and discoveries. Once coffee is done, the dogs are ready for breakfast, so I feed them and have mine in front of emails and admin. This is usually brief as I have three dogs waiting for walks, and I am keen to get out and on with my day. I walk each dog separately, they are all previously abused and abandoned, and each has their separate issues that we are working on. Our walks are opportunities for valuable one to one time, some training, and more importantly counter-conditioning and desensitisation for their individual fears and frustrations.

We recently moved to our new home in the country, a 16th century thatched cottage, on the edge of a delightfully friendly village, in quintessentially English countryside. We have a large garden for the dogs, and lots of wonderful walks, right on our doorstep; through tunnels of trees, or across fields of cows and horses, along pretty hawthorn hedged lanes, and over grassy meadows. I walk for approx 3 hours a day, which is great for my back, following spinal cord surgery (January 2016), and I walk in gratitude for my stunning surroundings, my darling dogs, our happy home, and this peaceful time in my life. I tend to take lots of photos of the changing season, as I notice details here and there that charm me, and of course lots of the dogs! (You can follow me on instagram under PureNourishment, a few people have copied the name, but you will recognise my account by the profile pic 🙂 ) I am also keenly aware of the desire to write again, I have so much to be thankful for, and really want to document this happiness, (which is pure contentment), of this chapter in my journey. I just have to figure out finding the best time to write, in-between those moments of magic, gratitude, abundance, joyfulness, and snuggles with the dogs 😉 Love and blessings to you all, Hxx

 

Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest. Words by me, Hayley Darby © 2017

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}

Dear 2013

HD beach

Dear 2013

You have been a year of my life, and I am grateful for you. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, and there have certainly been times when I wished you were shorter than 365 days, but that was only when I was hurt and upset, struggling with my human-ness and fighting to get ahead of the pain I was feeling; which really wasn’t your fault at all, rather mine for having expectations that could be disappointed and an immense impatience inherent of my personality. However, despite my faults you always stood by me, and managed to surprise me with wonderful, unexpected gifts and joyful memories, a reminder that things are often better than we can imagine, as long as we can let go of our plans and let life take us blissfully and carefree to where we are meant to be.

With you I have wandered along sandy Californian beaches, and sat watching the early surfers with my morning coffee, as dolphins played delightedly. I met blue whales, whose peaceful presence held me in awe and took me to new depths emotionally. You were there when I conquered my fears and braced the waves for surfing lessons, and let the tide carry me, accepting things the way they’re supposed to be. We danced at concerts in the park, and around bonfires on the beach, we sang along (loudly and badly) to the radio, driving PCH with my hair dancing in the breeze. Together we wandered round art galleries and enjoyed good company, and watched sunsets that burst my heart with gratitude for their beauty.

We returned to float in the turquoise blue of favourite Greek seas, and watch sunlight sparkle on the water feeling blessed and carefree. With you I enjoyed peaceful hours at the beach, and submerged into a marine underworld, snorkelling and scuba diving. We hiked through the villages, visiting interesting characters and revisiting memories; and we followed in the footsteps of mythological heroes to climb mountains and worship at ancient temples. We watched storms rage in the sky and toss the world around angrily, then suddenly forgive and restore calm, quickly and quietly. We discovered cracks in hearts that were quietly bleeding, and found forgiveness and love are by far the best remedy.

With you I found myself tempted into unexpected adventures, and let my heart lead without plans or itinerary. I celebrated my first Thanksgiving holiday, danced on bars in Vegas and flew to Mexico for an escapade in Acapulco. We let the night time breeze sweep through dreams to the sonorous sounds of the ocean, feasting on papayas for breakfast and drank pina coladas for supper. I was charmed by customs in Houston (who’d of dreamed!) and skied in Colorado, where I left a smarting hurt on a moonlit road through the mountains, and found some salve in the Garden of The Gods. I shared shrimp with Tiny Tim on Malibu beach, and had a delicious Mexican meal for Christmas dinner instead of traditional turkey, with dear friends in Laguna.

So dear 2013, thank you for being the year that turned an unexpected corner, and after a bump in the road, took flight towards the previously undreamed. You have been a serendipitous year that changed my direction by several degrees. With you I have learned to accept that letting go is often stronger than hanging on, and often an opportunity to discover a new route engraved on the map of my heart, for perhaps a more scenic journey. I appreciate all that you have given me, even those bits that hurt like hell in the beginning, but are shaping me towards the person I am meant to become. I’m excited in anticipation of future adventures, ready for the unwritten chapters waiting to take shape in the year to come. So as I prepare to say goodbye, know that I appreciate you, and tell 2014 I’m ready!! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo & words ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

Jet-lag and in between

photo

Good morning everyone! It seems as if my soul is weighed down with lead as it struggles to swim to consciousness from the deep sleepy depths, and there is a tussle between the choice of languishing in that peaceful dark solitude, and waking to embrace the day with all it’s beautiful potential. I woke earlier this afternoon, jet-lag always seems harder to overcome when travelling in an Eastbound direction. It’s my second day back in London and there is still a moment of confusion on waking amongst the fluffy white cloud of my bed, as to how far into the past I was dreaming and what has actually happened. After a summer in California, it seems a little surreal to wake in the familiar surroundings of ‘home’. The time has passed so quickly, yet it seems so much living has been squeezed in to those 3 months, so that it feels elastic and difficult for my brain to measure; rather like looking at a map, and gauging the journey time, without any indication of speed capacity and limitations.

An elderly man in India once kindly informed me that the mind and the body travel at different speeds, and it’s a truth that I observe acutely after long-haul journeys. The 10+ hour flight from LAX to LHR feels extremely quick in comparison to the thoughts still floating along the Californian coast; little things like the decision to have hemp or soy milk in my latte at ‘The Laguna Coffee company’, as I potter downstairs to greet my Nespresso machine. Actually I feel somewhere in between, as if suspended in the blueness somewhere above the Atlantic ocean, neither here nor there, or caught yet in life’s responsibility. It’s a feeling of surrender, an awareness that I’m not ‘driving the bus’ or perhaps not ‘flying the plane’ that gives me space to observe without engaging completely. My departure from Laguna followed a hectic period of packing and preparing to leave, hurriedly saying goodbyes to the friends I left behind, and stealing moments to treasure in memory; on the beach, favourite cafes, beloved scenes, and places where I dwelt in gratitude (so almost everywhere, really!). My arrival back in London was met by relative calm, my sanctuary of ‘home’ waiting with the peaceful, quiet, clean and tidy embrace I have missed whilst renting, and my local bistro (aka my second kitchen) provided the perfect post-transatlantic poached eggs to enjoy with my dear friend RO and a chance to catch up on stories, as I fought to stay awake and realign my body clock.

Two days later, the suitcases (all 3) remain half unpacked in the living room, and there is an unwillingness to settle in again too quickly. I find myself lingering in this uncommitted space, reticent to make plans or promises, not wanting to clutter up my diary, home or life with ‘stuff’ to do, or have, or be; or to unpack my memories and shove them in the back of a drawer till my next journey. So for now I am enjoying jet-lag, the perfect ally in resisting reality, whilst I make some decisions about what I want that to be. Meanwhile I’m going to enjoy what remains of the afternoon, a sojourn in a scented bath (dear tub I have had an amazing affair with an outdoor shower, but I missed you dreadfully!), then perhaps a journey into Selfridges for supplies (more coffee pods!), and somewhere delicious for a late lunch at dinner-time with my thoughts, and time to reflect on where and what I want life to be.

Hope you have a beautiful day, wherever you are, whatever you do, and that you can find time and space in your busy life to observe that place in between; maybe you will find the peaceful place waiting for you there too! Much love & blessings, Hxx

{Photo: Leaving LA, London bound, the sky in between. Taken by me on Saturday/Sunday. Words also mine ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

Pictures

Me 1974

Happy Monday everyone!! This morning the day greeted London with blue skies and sunshine, that slipped under the blind and pulled me from my reverie. I’m not sure what I was dreaming of, but the feeling of discontent was difficult to shed in wakefulness, and it took some time, and a second cup of coffee to find the motivation required to address the busy ‘to do list’ that’s been waiting all weekend. I sat at my desk, and surveyed the books and papers, searching for inspiration, wondering where the answers to my dilemmas are hiding.

I have a photo in my office, a treasured memento; clients often enquire whether it’s my daughter, or perhaps a niece, but the little girl with her hair brushed in bunches, smiling at the camera, is me circa 1973. It’s one of my earliest memories, taken at playschool (kindergarten) and is a reminder to not let studying/work eclipse play too frequently. Today my younger-self seems to sigh and question why it’s so difficult being a ‘grown up’; making decisions, shouldering responsibility, and I wish for a moment that I could warn her not to embrace it too eagerly, to enjoy the freedom and simplicity a little longer.

I have a lot going on at the moment, and it seems exhausting juggling disappointments and realizations, opportunities and obligations; and I wished for a moment that I could escape it, that choosing which was my favourite picture in the book the photographer had given me, was again the only thing I had to worry about. Then I realized, it is still that easy actually, except the pictures aren’t printed, we have to draw them, not with pencils or crayons, but our choices and actions; and that creating the life we want isn’t about what it’s supposed to look like, but letting our imaginations run wild with the colours available.

Suddenly being the grown up version of the little girl in the photograph isn’t so daunting, life is a much bigger canvas than she could have imagined, and there are seemingly unlimited colourful possibilities. There are still decisions to be made and a myriad of complicated questions, but the answers are where they have always been (in her heart), and she knows where to look for them, when she’s patient enough to remember anyway. I hope you have a beautiful week, and that a snapshot of now will be a motivation in your future : )) Blessings & love

{Photo: Me circa 1973} © 2013

Shadows

dand

Today I met a young man, well younger than I (mid 30’s at a guess), a good-looking guy, with gentle eyes and a smile that lit up like Christmas when he saw me. We chatted briefly about the things people do; the weather, the traffic, and places we knew. His eyes shone brightly, despite the redness around the edges, and his smile was engaging, captivating, infectious. My gaze momentarily fell over his shoulder, where his shadow smiled back in silent acknowledgement, detached from our exchange, yet with a definite presence.

The young man asked questions animatedly, interested and even fascinated by our conversation, which ended too quickly, I’m sad to say. I said I was leaving, and he wanted to know how long I had been staying, I explained I was only visiting, and he twisted the edge of his robe a face full of questions. I looked into those eyes, and felt a flicker of his confusion, before he smiled again and wished me well on my journey. His shadow, much larger than he, stood by and opened the door. I heard him locking it securely behind me, protecting his charge from harming himself, any more than he had done so before.

Life is harsh, and sometimes people don’t cope as well as we would wish, which is why we must be kind all of the time, because we rarely see the suffering under the skin. Sadly their shadows aren’t always there to protect them, and they are only equipped to deal with the physical, whilst the emotional demons fight within. And I drove away in the traffic he could only imagine, out into the world that was too painful and challenging for the man with thin skin, leaving him behind in a safe place that respects his fragility, where shadows are kind and caring. Blessings & love, Hxx

© 2013 ~Hayley Darby

{Photo credit: 2,000 Suspended Dandelions by Regine Ramseier}

Heartbreak

heart break

Hearts break, that’s just what they do. Lungs breathe, livers detoxify, stomachs digest, brains think (from time to time), and hearts break, and ache, and bleed inside, they drive us insane with questions we can’t answer; oh yes, and they pump blood too! I think maybe our hearts break to teach us things that we’re too stubborn to take from the brain, whose teaching is logical, which our hearts aren’t at all. At least I like to think they break for a reason, that the pain we feel isn’t all for nothing, because wouldn’t that be an awful waste? I think my heart first broke to teach me humility, kindness and compassion, that relationships aren’t easy and shouldn’t be taken for granted, and that probably loving myself was a big part of the equation. Well I wish it was just the one, tough, terrible lesson; but it seems I had more to learn, because I somehow kept enrolling in that same class, and managed to flunk it again and again.

I believe our hearts are fragile for a reason, so that we know to handle with great care and respect, those of others that we are given. I suspect that hearts break to teach us resilience; so that we come to understand that once they’ve been busted and hurt and trodden in the dirt, that they will scrape themselves together eventually, dust themselves down, and hopefully be brave enough to risk it all again. Because the amazing thing about hearts is, that no matter how bruised and battle scarred they get, they have an amazing capacity to keep on working, and will love indefinitely if we let them.

I think hearts break to show us that no matter how bad it seems, that love is stronger than the worst we can imagine, and then we can truly appreciate what a wonderful gift we have been given. So please don’t hide your heart away, or protect it too tightly for fear of pain, because hearts are masters of recovery, and each time they show us a different reason for whatever they drag us through. Have a little faith, be brave, because yes, hearts break, but they keep on loving

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Rainy days and opportunities

rain

Good morning everyone! It has been a very busy week, and the opportunity to laze on the sofa and write this today feels like a luxury. It’s a damp, grey, rainy day in London, and as I sit on the sofa with my latte I watch the rain drops race down the window pane, snuggling under the cashmere throw dear ADS gave me. It feels like I’m fighting off a cold, which wouldn’t be surprising, stress depletes the body of immune fighting nutrients, and I’ve been stood in the less than clement weather on several occasions.

At the beginning of the week I gave a presentation on the detrimental effects stress can have on our bodies, sabotaging health, fitness, and waistlines too; since our hormones conduct our appetites and metabolism. I spoke to a larger audience than usual, in fact I’m more familiar with 1:1 consultations, which gave me an opportunity to observe my own stress response, particularly in the preparation. Stress is a largely unavoidable part of modern life, but much of it also depends on our choices, and sometimes it’s a worthy exercise to reflect on those elements. I often see patients who are neglecting their health and happiness as they strive to achieve in areas of work, or sport, or being the best at everything; as their health and happiness suffer tremendously. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and gain a little perspective.

This week I have observed lots of stress, my friend ADS had her laptop stolen on a short flight to Spain from Switzerland, it seems it was lifted from her hand luggage whilst in the overhead locker, something she failed to check before disembarkation, because who would think anyone would be so cheeky? Having endured the expense of a trip to Apple, she then discovered her time-machine back-up is defunct, so two years of her business development appear to be lost, and she’s devastated. My consolation attempts are limited to acknowledging her anger and frustration, as I try to focus on the things she CAN do, and the things she DOES have; whilst she laments her loss. There are some things we simply cannot change, and acceptance of such is a key step to moving forward. For ADS this feels like a bereavement, and she is going through the painful process.

I had another bereaved friend this week, I accompanied dear GH to a funeral as she said good bye to a man that seemed to have filled his short 50 years with an extraordinary amount of life, an action hero with a reputation for being jolly. As I sat and listened to his friends and family deliver his eulogy, it gave me cause to reflect on what I would want my own to be. I wondered about my life currently, and what my present concerns mean in the bigger picture, am I focusing on the things that really matter, or am I stressing about details unnecessarily?

So this morning, I am relishing the opportunity of just watching the rain, as I curl up on the sofa with my latte. I’m taking time out to assess what’s really important, and which aspects truly don’t deserve the energy expenditure I have been spending. And I know that some of life’s stress is unavoidable, but I’m going to try and monitor whether those levels of damage I inflict on my well-being, reflect the gravitas of the issues in the over-all picture. As I write the rain continues to fall, and the grey day beyond the window looks cold and uninviting, but I am grateful for the blessing. I’m privileged because I still have an opportunity to impact the meaning of my life, I have choices and the chance to make changes that may reflect in my eulogy, so I’m working on it! I hope that today you have a chance too, to choose a life with less stress about the little things. I’m off to meet dear LS for coffee and a dance in some puddles : )) Much love & blessings from a work in progress ♥ Hxx

Sleepless nights & perspective

winds

Good morning everyone! Today I woke late after a few hours sleep that occurred between the restless hours of waiting for my brain to shut up and leave me peacefully dreaming. It seems my cerebral activity was busy, ruminating on realizations and possibilities, stuck on a loop of endlessly searching for answers, which just kept disappearing around the corner as I approached them. The problem was, that despite the futility, I couldn’t stop chasing them; and I wandered deeper and deeper into my own psyche, getting more lost at every turn in a maze that’s apparently still growing. I woke this morning, finding myself deposited back on my pillow, rather rumpled and dehydrated, with a kingsize headache. I lay for a while, hoping it was a temporary fixture, but eventually crawled out from under the duvet in search of painkillers, washed down with coffee.

I sat on the sofa, analyzing my sleeplessness. I had worked late on my laptop, trying to figure out slides for a presentation, and guess my brain just got over-stimulated; or maybe when I was over-tired and vulnerable there was more room for uncertain feelings to squeeze in, and upset the equilibrium. Or maybe I’m just nervous about presenting to a large, unknown audience and am fearful in anticipation. Whatever the reason, I woke this morning feeling ridiculous and exhausted, knowing that I needed perspective that was clearly lacking at 3am.

It’s definitely a double latte kinda day, so I sat with my comforting mug and a heap of old photos, you know the kind before digital cameras, arranged neatly in albums that I haven’t looked at in ages. I flicked through images of history I’d captured, glimpses of past holidays, parties, picnics and special occasions. I smiled at the faces I’d shared them with and noticed the gifts of my youth I had taken for granted. I critiqued my younger wardrobe choices; no, pink was never my colour, and I still have that little denim dress, (although I no longer fit into it). I noticed the changes, and the things that remained the same, and knew that despite the upsets, I wouldn’t live it differently.

I perused my past, feeling nostalgic, wondering what I’d worried about then that was no longer important, and realized that I probably won’t be bothered about half the concerns that keep me awake currently that far in the future either. So I gave myself a moment to appreciate the person I was, before I became the person I am, and noticed that I’m doing OK, despite the worrying. The only thing that’s holding me back from growing into the person I want to become, is me, and if I survived the mistakes of the past, I’m pretty sure I can style it out through those in the future too. Stepping out of our comfort zone is the key to growth, and I guess we’re going to have to keep on making mistakes to find opportunities for learning. Today I’m going to focus on making the mistakes of the past worth the mistakes of the future. I’m accepting that I might be a bunch of flaws stitched together with good intentions, with a few scars and reminders, but that I’m going to keep on failing to keep on learning.

Have a gorgeous day everyone, and if you get a moment try and remember what you were worried about in the past, that didn’t make it to your future; and maybe some of your current troubles will be easier to let go of! Live in the moment, make mistakes, forgive yourself, and enjoy being perfectly human : )) Blessings & love, Hxx

PS. Take more photos!
{Above photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}