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}

Swings and simple things

swing sky

It’s a cool cloudy day in London, and I’m sitting at the window table of my favourite bistro, armed with a latte and wondering where the sun has gone. We had a beautiful weekend in London, it was 17 C/63 F yesterday and sunny, so that all of London’s parks and pavement cafes were bustling with carefree happy faces that come out of hiding when the sun graces us in the Northern latitudes. I drove south of the river, contrary to urban myth one does not need a passport for such an expedition, but it is advisable to pack plenty of patience for the heavy traffic and ‘weekend drivers’. The journey of 8 miles from my home to my brother’s can easily take an hour, so it’s also a good opportunity to play some music and sing my heart out in privacy, without inflicting my less than sonorous vocals on the world. Having been away from London for a while, it was a fresh chance to appreciate the city’s majestic beauty, as sun cast elegant shadows on the regency architecture and gleamed off the windows of the modern mirrored structures. The early blossom on the cherry trees shimmered gently in the breeze, and the pavements buzzed with more energy than the collected efforts of the numerous runners that pounded away, plugged into their ipods.

My arrival finally at my brother’s doorstep, was heralded with the cheeky grin of my niece M, who informed me that my Christmas present was still waiting for me to open it.. as she peered expectantly at the bags I was carrying. M is not yet 3 years old, and her sister Z is almost one; so obviously the most important factor of my most recent three-month trip abroad was that I had indeed missed Christmas. She had also been waiting patiently to devour the pretty iced cookies that had been freshly baked for the occasion. So after the important unwrapping with tea and biscuits, my brother and I left his wife in peace and quiet as we took the girls to the common (a rather large park). It’s only a short walk by adult standards, but when your legs are as long as the average three year old, that can be awfully tiring. So we stopped for a makeshift picnic by the bandstand, indulging in some people watching as M found an amateur photographer shooting his girlfriend with his very long lens fascinating; before heading to the playground with heady anticipation.

Both M and Z could spend hours it seems on the swings, in fact most of the children seemed very content to watch the world fly back and forth with demands of ‘higher, higher!’ squealed between giggles to their pushers. I’ll admit I wished there was an empty ‘big girl’s’ swing for me too, to feel the carefree lack of responsibility on a Sunday the sun shone again. Children are smart enough to appreciate the simple things, before they are corrupted with entitlement and expectation, and I wonder when and how we let things get complicated as we advance into adulthood. Maybe there’s a way we can find it again amidst all our grown-up-ness, if we stop worrying about the things we cannot change and focus on appreciating the little things. So as I write this on a Monday, and the clouds part to let the sun shine in, I wonder where the nearest park is, and if I can get there before school finishes ☺

I hope you have a lovely day, and if there’s a moment in between all your busy responsibilities, that you slip momentarily into the carefree child you once were, and let your heart soar skyward again?! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words by Hayley Darby ©2014}

Autumnal acceptance

shoulderr

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke slowly, gradually drifting to the surface of consciousness, carrying contentedness into wakefulness from somewhere sweet in my sleepiness. I lay for a while in the gentle opaque light of another cloudy day, listening to the gentle patter of raindrops on the skylight, and let my thoughts wander towards autumn. Something has changed, and I realise I’m ready to let the last rays of summer slip through my fingers, to embrace the changing season. I suspect that after my trip to Cali, the arrival of cooler days in London felt too abrupt, but after a few sunny days on my Greek island, I feel replete with summery memories to face the cooler, darker days; as if my summer was incomplete without some Greek sun. Βεβαίως, φυσικά!

I stirred slowly, cosy under the heavy blankets, reluctant to expose my warm skin to the cool morning, but the thought of coffee became too tempting to resist; so I dressed quickly in a favourite blue sweater, and soft yoga pants, to keep snug despite the elements. I dashed through the heavy raindrops, noticing how they patterned the pool with their pretty concentric ripples, and jumped in the jeep (kindly lent), to drive up the hill to Liz & Joes for my grande cappuccino. There is a mellow atmosphere in the cafe today, the gentle flow of locals and tourists alike discussing the weather, and the conflicting forecasts. The rain falls steadily and persistently, but the absence of wind makes it feel quite calming, and I’m happily resigned to a day writing in coffee shops, noticing the nostalgia of autumn, and the slower pace it brings.

I ventured down to the port, where the choppy water bounced the few remaining yachts around their moorings. The quay was quiet, the rain bounced in puddles, chairs and tables sat desserted, canopies were drawn down, and waiters stood in doorways, watching the arrival of φθινόπωρο – fthinoporo (autumn) in the harbour. For them the end of the summer means a welcome rest, and for many a return to families and homes on the mainland. Autumn is after all a time for retreat, as nature gently turns within, to work on internal transformation, invisible till the spring. As the trees shed their leaves, maybe it’s also time for us to relinquish expectations, and observe our thoughts and feelings; maybe this is what makes it the season of the soul, a valuable time to pause and contemplate our journey. Wishing you a beautiful October day, whatever your geographic location, and hope that you find beauty whatever season you happen to find yourself in. Blessings & love, Hxx

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

As summer fades to fall

sea scape

I woke early this morning, the wind howling round the villa having found an unsecured shutter to bang rhythmically and intrude my dreams. I lay for a while staring up at the gauzy mosquito net, and noticed my body stretched out across the bed, having kicked off the heavy blanket I had thought was a prudent addition when I retired yesterday. So I snuggled back under the covers, and curled up in the hope of slipping back into dreams, but the errant shutter persisted, calling me to secure it. Dressing quickly in cosy jersey, I braved the elements, and whilst the wind whipped my hair about my shoulders, adjusted the noisy culprit and fished some wayward lounger cushions from the pool, before tidying the furniture and retreating inside for hot tea on the ample sofa.

I checked some emails, and chatted briefly with friends at home on FB, assuring them that sunny photo’s of yesterday were indeed a blessing in October, as we now have rain forecast here for several days. Then noticing the hunger pangs that echoed the empty refrigerator, bundled up in my sailing jacket and made my way up the lane to Liz & Joe’s café/deli for a huge cappuccino and their very generous serving of French toast with mascarpone and preserved figs. The café is a popular meeting post for locals, Greek and ex-pats alike, so that on a grey, drizzly day it was soon busy with lively chatter as the children floated amongst the tables, entertained by everyone. Liz worked tirelessly in the kitchen, whilst Joe waited tables, infusing his own eccentric brand of self-amusing humour into every conversation.

Deciding that today was a work (writing) day, I took my leave to find a quieter spot, abandoning my initial idea to travel to the next port since the fresh rain on the oily roads of a whole summer, can cause precarious driving conditions on the beautiful winding road along the coast. I chose instead to seek refuge in a quiet cocktail bar at the hotel with super-squashy sofas, and delicious homemade cookies, served abundantly with my tea by the staff that know my weakness for them. I hid amongst the books, which have doubtless been well read and left to share, by the seasons guests; and let the emotional Greek soundtrack wash over me, as sonorous heartbreak and melancholy filled the air. Perfect for a rainy day in Paradise, and as my dear friend ADS says, ‘there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing’, and maybe that should include ‘choice of perspective’.

The rain falls gently, as the clouds sit low on the neigbouring islands, and the sky lends an opaque light to the lush green landscape, that no doubt rejoices silently at this change in climate. The seascape is brooding and moody, with the blurred horizon seeping into the sky almost imperceptibly, devoid of the numerous white sails usually apparent. There’s a calm and cosy atmosphere, a feeling of surrender to the changing season, and an acceptance that summer has finally faded into fall, gracefully and beautifully to let us appreciate the soulful season, whose chill in the air helps us seek the warmth within our hearts, if we let it.

I hope that wherever you are, you are finding some gift in the weather conditions too; for life is always more agreeable when we focus on what we can change, and accept those we cannot, and beauty exists anywhere we are prepared to find it. Blessings & love, Hxx

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

Waiting for the storm..

waiting

Today I woke late (again), to find that moody grey clouds, which hung heavily over the port, had replaced the sunny blue skies of yesterday. The almost glassy still waters had morphed into choppy waves that caused the yachts to bob up and down, jostling for a safe mooring; indeed many local boats have been removed from the water completely. We are waiting for a storm, and the storms we get here are quite a spectacle, trust me! They are fierce, dramatic, exciting, beautiful, and oh so humbling; a real reminder of how impuissant our existence is on this planet when nature unleashes her energy to the sound of Zeus’ wrath. Or as my dear friend Hilda says of the thunder, “There goes Zeus moving the furniture around upstairs again!”

I wandered around the quay, finding Kostas in much better shape than yesterday, in fact he informs me that rather than ‘better’ he’s in fine form; quite a spectacular recovery! We sat on the deck watching the storm come in with our cappuccinos and shared traditional pastries from the local bakery. The change in weather means more work for the locals, as umbrellas and canopies are tied down, outdoor seating (which makes up the majority) is stripped of its upholstery, and anything that’s not nailed down is stowed away securely. The bars and cafes are also preparing to be busy, as we all cram in to the limited space when the rain starts, to sit out the storm in relative comfort with company. Meanwhile the visiting flotillas linger in the harbour, rather than risk the white-capped waves that wait beyond the lighthouse, as their crews sit on deck patiently waiting.

I spent the day visiting friends, lunching with the lovely Tselenti family at the big house on the hill, MT having cooked a feast for her mother and 4 brothers, who all tucked in heartily, between shifts managing their two hotels. I called in to see my oldest friend ‘Speridoula’ and my special friend Phoebus at the taverna with the best view across to the neighbouring island. When we met 14 years ago, Speri didn’t speak much English, and I certainly didn’t speak any Greek, but we quickly became firm friends based on some serious feet-stamping laughter and a twinkle in the eyes that made words completely unnecessary. Now we manage quite decent conversations, despite poor grammar and including much gesticulation, which is an amusing and beautiful testament to our friendship. Phoebus is one of the most determined and inspiring souls I know, he suffered a life changing moped accident years ago that left him severely disabled, unable to control his body including his speech and capacity to manage tasks we so often take for granted such as dressing, eating, or bathing unaided. He is such a brave, patient, courageous soul, and I adore him. Today we hugged and laughed, and I felt his strength emanate from his body, he improves each time I see him, slowly but doggedly determined to stand on his own two feet again.

The air is thick and heavy, but it’s still warm despite the breeze that tugs at the awnings and canopies; the dark sky has been threatening rain for hours and I have been holed up in a favourite patisserie with my laptop, in anticipation of the rain that slashes horizontally. Several cups of coffee and pots of tea later, the light is fading and just as I wonder whether the storm will pass by uneventfully, the distant rumble of thunder creeps into the chilled out music currently playing.

I am not a patient creature by nature, which doesn’t always work out best for me, but some things simply cannot be hurried, and life seems to teach that acceptance is key. Aristotle reminds us that ‘patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet’. So as I wonder how soon I will sink my teeth into the soft flesh to release the juiciest pleasure, lightening fills the sky, flashing across the water; followed by much closer, quickly advancing thunder, and a dirty great grin creeps right across my happy face.. oh I DO love a storm!! The clouds have crept in, hanging heavy and low, almost obscuring our neighbouring island. The temperature has distinctly dropped a few degrees, but I am still comfortable in my shorts & vest, after all the less I wear, the less laundry will be necessary. Skin is certainly a fantastic design element of the human body; thermostat controlled and wipe dry, perfectly suited to dancing in the rain, maybe! In all probability we will lose internet connection soon, so I will post this and just let you know I’m barefoot and ready. “Bring it on Zeus, I’m in the mood for dancing, just throw the rain at me!” ☺ Hxx

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

Hope springs..

leggy am1

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke late as dreams of possibilities, that no longer seem tangible, slipped through my fingers like fine sand in a sea breeze. I lay on the pillow, lamenting the loss a little before focusing on the present to find that the reality I am left holding is not such a hard truth to swallow, and I decide to chase it down with a soya latte. The sunlight pushing at the curtains, burst into the room as I drew them, like a playful puppy that bounces around everything a little too enthusiastically. I stood for a while with my forehead against the cool glass of the window pane, and closed my eyes to feel the light on my skin, before smiling up at the baby blue sky that continues endlessly on this beautiful morning.

I made my latte and sat on the sunny end of the sofa, chatting to dear GH on the telephone, making plans for later, and moved my legs to catch the rays that stream through the window. I imagine for a moment that I’m planning a walk along the beach, rather than tea in Richmond; and right on cue, a cloud floats in to relocate my thoughts back to a February day in London. The daffodils on the mantelpiece remain cheerful, and promise that it might not be here yet, but spring is coming, and the clouds move to reveal the sun reassuringly. And I wonder where hope would flourish if we didn’t face disappointment, would spring’s beauty be appreciated without the winter it follows, and could we build new dreams if we didn’t let go of the old ones? ..and then my mind was back to wondering about which beach I would like to wander along..

I hope that the sun shines on your part of the world today too, but if it isn’t, know that it will come back again soon. Blessings & love ❤ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via kikisloane.tumblr}

Good morning : ))

am glam

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, too early, and lay in the twisted sheets hoping sleep would reclaim me, back to the depths of oblivion where nothing matters so it’s easier to see how we are, really. I listened to my breath, trying to quiet my brain, before I realized that it was my heart I was hearing, and sighing sent love to those I care about, before getting up to greet the morning. I wrapped up in a robe and descended the stairs in search of coffee; a hug in a mug to compensate for sleep deprivation, and gratefully inhaled the rich aroma that filled the kitchen. I sat in the half-light with my latte, snuggled on the awesome sofa watching the sun rise, as a golden glow gently crept up the sky. Hints of amber highlighted the wisps of clouds that streaked across the horizon, and smiled beautifully at the dawning day, a warm light cast through the window settling on the bookcase momentarily, before a paler whiter light followed, and an opaque blanket of palest grey settled as a backdrop beyond the rooftops and bare branches of the trees by my home.

I lit some cheerfully fragranced candles and ran a hot bath, laced with reviving oils of grapefruit, juniper and rosemary to soak away the fatigue clinging to my temples. I let my mind wander down familiar paths in my heart, noticing details in the pictures committed to memory, a reminder of how much we unwittingly communicate without words, and smiled at recollection. I had a hearty bowl of porridge for breakfast and busied myself with patient notes in preparation for work, then dressed quickly in a black dress and prepared for clinic. I’m looking forward to seeing colleagues after the Christmas break, and am keen to see my patients’ progress as well as their New Years motivation.

I have an extra treat today too, an old friend visiting from Florida is calling in for afternoon tea, to share news of her new marriage and business, life is full of surprises! I hope that you are looking forward to going back to work too, I feel very privileged that I do what I love for a living, and although it wasn’t easy, and is still a work in progress, the transition from my previous career certainly feels worth it. I guess if you’re not doing something you love then the new year is a good time to change direction, and if you are, be brave it might be difficult, and the path might not be immediately clear, but I believe that if you follow your heart, you won’t regret it ♥ Time for me to rush and get ready, I’m going in early to meet a friend for lunch, and popping by Selfridges to pick up some coffee.. oh the sales are still on? Really!! ; )) Wishing you a wonderful day! Blessings & love, Hxx

Good morning!

Good morning everyone! Today I woke late, still tired after a late night, fighting off the fatigue that tethered me to slumber, as I pushed back the duvet and stretched my legs, pushing my toes into the cool brass of the bedstead. I got up for coffee, wrapping up in a soft robe against the chill in the air, and pushed my hands through ‘messy hair’ as I descended the stairs for the coffee.

It was a fairly grey start to the day here in London, but there was a softness, a beauty in that opaque light that gently caught the dew on the geraniums on the window sill. Those soft delicate petals belying their hardiness, resilient and proud, though their leaves are withering, as the green become mixed with yellow, upon a bed of curled up brown, brittle and fragile. I took my coffee into the lounge, where the pale honey colours are warm and comforting, and sat on the awesome white sofa, to contemplate my feelings.

I’m feeling rather tired, and a headache threatens at my temples and behind my tired eyes, a reminder of some changes I need to make; getting to bed earlier would be a good starting point! I ran a steaming hot bath, laced with oils of bergamot and juniper to lift my energy, and soaked decadently until I realized the day was slipping away. I have rather a lot of paperwork to catch up on, some important patient notes at the top of the list, and an exciting creative project I’m ready to delve into. So I breakfasted on a large bowl of porridge with pear, cinnamon, and a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt, before getting lost for a while in correspondence.

Feeling a little rejuvenated, it seems the sun is too, as it sneaks through the clouds occasionally, inspiring me to venture out in the cool fresh air and breathe in deeply this day that will never come again. So I made a pact, to address the most important paperwork with a second latte, over the road at the café where the baristas always make me smile with their happy banter in a mix of English & Italian. Then I’m going to walk up through the village, to wander on the Heath, observing the seasonal changes amongst the meadows and woodland, count my blessings, and dwell in possibility. I hope that you have a beautiful day too, and find some way to make time to listen to your heart and check where it’s leading you. Some directions aren’t easy to follow, but if we keep paying attention, we’ll find our paths, and the courage to follow them ♥ Blessings & love, Hxx

Good morning & a cup of wisdom

Happy Monday everyone!! : )) This morning I woke slowly drifting into consciousness, still feeling fatigued after a busy weekend and several consecutive late nights, and yet ready to embrace the structure and productivity of the weekday awaiting. I lay in bed noticing the thoughts that struck me; a change in direction and a shift in perspective, and I smiled as I stretched, feeling positive. I sent love to those I care about, before kicking off the duvet and descending the stairs in search of coffee. It’s a rather cloudy here start here in London, the bright, sunny blue skies of yesterday have been swept away for another cool, damp, day in November; but the wind ripples playfully through the leaves in the trees, that are hastily shedding, and it’s not currently raining.

I sat on the sofa with my latte, reflecting on the weekend; a theatre trip with my family, celebratory drinks, a delightful dinner and the pleasure of driving home through the quiet streets in the small hours, a beautiful walk on the Heath with a fellow alumni, catching up on years of our stories, and supper in the favourite bistro, always fun with charming company. So feeling blessed, I don’t mind the fatigue that stubbornly persists, and decide it’s a double latte kinda start to the week, indulging again as I review my list and plan my day. I’m focusing on alternative aspects of some projects I’m working on, and things feel fresh and exciting, as I pursue different avenues with renewed motivation.

I hope that your week starts well, and finds you smiling. Sometimes a simple shift in our view can have such a powerful effect on our attitude, and that’s what makes all the difference! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited.. but I’d love this mug for my morning cup of wisdom! : )) }

Good Morning!

Good morning everyone!! Today I struggled to wake, resentful at being called from the darkness of sleep that wrapped so tightly around me. It was guilt that pulled me from my reverie; the hour was already late, the day quietly slipping away, and paperwork that I didn’t quite get around to yesterday kept drumming impatiently on my conscience. I looked at the time and sighed as I sank back into the plethora of pillows that make my bed such a comforting cocoon. Fatigue crept over me, threatening the return to dreams that seem so real, yet make no sense in reality, as I let the waves of hope wash over me.

I lay for a while, wishing things were simpler, then realised they are; I’m just complicating them with my hopes and fears, and scars and tears. Yet a simpler version of myself, without the history that brought me here, wouldn’t be me at all; and in a way I’m glad for the struggles that shaped me. I am certainly glad I didn’t end up where I once wanted to go (over a decade ago), when life ripped up the path I was on, and threw me off my feet, to land winded and hurt, crying in the dirt for too long, until I realised it was a blessing in disguise. One of my favourite songs ‘You can’t always get what you want’ (but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need) by The Rolling Stones plays in the background of my mind, and I smile wryly.

So I stretched my full length, pushing my toes into the cool brass of the bedstead, and got up for breakfast. It’s another grey day in London, but it’s not too cold, and it’s not raining. I opened the door and stood on the step, breathing in the day that smells earthy and damp; and calls me towards The Heath to walk through the misty woods, amongst familiar trees and memories, as I search for direction and clarity. I sat with my latte on the sofa, watching the clouds in my coffee, wondering will this all matter a year from now, ‘that depends’ says a voice inside, ‘that depends entirely on me’. See, some answers are simple, we are the complications.

I hope that your day is beautiful, and that you realise that wherever you are is in fact where you’re meant to be, and if it’s uncomfortable that you can trust it’s just part of the process. We’re all on a journey, and those difficult phases are where the character building occurs, as we learn what really matters, and find the strength and courage to pursue the right directions. Meanwhile, the direction I’m taking this morning is up the hill, through the village, and on to the Heath for a walk amidst the resilience of trees that have stood for centuries. With blessings & love ❤ Hxx