Summer mornings

yellow hammock

I seemed to arrive in my body from somewhere else, as if sleep had released my soul to explore another realm, and on waking, gently deposited me back into a physical form. I first became aware of the loving weight of Leo, (my terrier cross), his chin resting on my ankles; and the reassuring pressure of Platon (my big dog), leaning into my side. I lay perfectly still, not to disturb them, but they can sense changes in my breathing. Leo must have been coiled like a spring, waiting for his signal to jump up and tickle my face with his whiskers, touching noses, and then stretching in a deep play bow, before settling into a down position as he balances on my supine body for a cuddle. He really is the most affectionate little ray of sunshine, and greets each morning with enthusiastic delight; it’s impossible not to start the day with a smile with his happy presence. Platon is a much cooler customer; he slowly stretches out, pushing against me as he extends to his full length, exposing his tummy for a tickle. He is my rock, reassuring and comforting, protective and vigilant, willful, independent, and stubborn, but loving, calming and fiercely loyal.

I lay for a few heavenly moments, enjoying my morning ‘love in’, watching Leo playfully nuzzle Platon, for a few brief seconds before Poppy (GSD/lurcher cross) bounded in, and bounced enthusiastically but haphazardly, onto the bed, landing on top of all of us! She is the chaos to Platon’s calm, the minx to Leo’s amenable nature, the diva of the pack, and she whips the bed up into a frenzy of playful wrestling and lands exhaustedly beside me on the pillow, panting heavily and eyeing me expectantly. By now I am completely awake, there is no chance of drifting back to dreamland, or floating in the ‘hypnopompic’ lucid dream state, I used to search my mind for clues of subconscious understanding. There is no room for wakeful dreaming, my dogs keep me firmly grounded in the present moment, it’s one of their charms, that we are engaged in the simplest pleasures of the here and now. As I lie with these three dogs that have changed my life, I am so grateful every morning, for my pack, and that they found me. Each dog has their own sad story of abuse and neglect, and yet are so loving and trusting, Poppy still struggles trusting new people, but within our family, she is confident and happy, and a little monkey!.

Eventually, I roll over onto my side, feeling the familiar ache in my back which I am now accustomed to, and I snuggle the dogs, tell them how much I love them. I then raise myself carefully into sitting position as they jump up and off the bed excitedly. Platon or Poppy will ring the goat bell that hangs from the door, if Poppy gets there first, the bell often ends up crashing to the floor as she impatiently demonstrates her desire to get into the garden. She leaps around like a slippery salmon swimming upstream, excited, insistent, and ‘singing’ a high pitched tune of frustration, as if demanding I hurry. I make them all wait, and sit in a row as I slowly open the door, reminding them to “perimenete” (Greek for wait), until I am satisfied, and release them like rockets as they charge out, into the morning sun.

We are currently in Greece, our summer home on a pretty Ionian island, where my days start with coffee on the terrace in my pyjamas and sunglasses, as the dogs sniff around the garden for evidence of our nighttime visitors. I sit noticing how many apricots have fallen from the laden tree, as I nurse a cappuccino and the dogs linger around the table in anticipation of their share of biscuits. It’s our morning ritual, as I dip cantuccini in my coffee, and feed them the Greek version of plain ‘Rich Tea’ in exchange for kisses (nose touches) and other good behaviour (sitting, lying, chins on my knee). As the morning warms up, I check my online media, and the dogs stretch out in the sun, playfully wrestling, gently until Poppy goads the boys into a pack tornado, that whirls around the garden, twisting and bouncing, occasionally yelping, when Leo bounds back to me for protection (he has an injured leg that can’t cope as well with his boisterous siblings), and finally Platon and Poppy will flop into the cool, fragrant earth under the fig tree. These are our summer mornings, and I savour every single moment, listening to the crickets (yet to fall asleep), birds chattering in the trees, and the occasional goat bells tinkling over the hill.

This is my happy place, and I commit these precious, golden moments to memory, stored up for rainy days or difficult times ahead. I feel even more blessed to be here this year, following emergency spinal surgery in January. It was my motivating goal; to be well and fit enough to drive the dogs back again, which I managed with the help of a friend (my surgeon has insisted I no longer undertake the journey alone). I am still recovering, but as I reflect on my progress, I’m proud of my journey, and so grateful to have made it to this place; where I can sit in my hammock swing, watching pairs of butterflies dance around the garden, smell the potted herbs (basil, mint, coriander) that scent the terrace, and watch the dogs lie contentedly under the dappled shadows of the fig, peach, apricot, orange, lemon and apple trees. I hope that wherever you are, you notice the little things too, because trust me, the little things really are the big things! Love & blessings, Hxx

{Photo, sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words ~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}

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}

Autumn morning

love autumn
Good morning everyone!! This morning I was awoken by thunder, ‘Zeus moving the furniture upstairs’ abruptly dragged me from sleep, to leave me lying staring up at the gauzy mosquito net as I found my bearings. The rain clattering at the windows and the wind howling round the villa, bending the cypress trees and shaking the olive trees, giving me a quick indication of the cause of my disturbance. So I lay in the half-light listening to the weather, and my heart beat as it slowed to a regular rate; wondering if sleep would reclaim me, and return me to the dreams from which I had been so rudely interrupted. The chill in the air caressed an exposed shoulder, gracing it with goosebumps before I snuggled back under the covers; heavy blankets weighing assuredly on my body, pressing me into the mattress. I let myself sink slowly from the surface of consciousness, and watched the light fade to find sweet oblivion and the gate to my dreams opened again.

At a much later hour, I awoke again to find the villa still shaking with the wind’s fury, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate how cosy and smug I felt, as I let wakefulness slowly wash over me. I slipped out from under the mosquito net, finding some thick socks to pad downstairs for some green tea, and settled with my laptop, to relax on the ample sofa. I addressed some correspondence and after a skype call noticed that the sun was trying to break through the clouds, so smiling, I dressed quickly and walked up the hill to Liz & Joes’ for coffee. The coolness in the air, heralds new scents along the lane, the honeysuckle and jasmine replaced by a damp earthy smell , complimented by the wood smoke that circles gracefully from a neighbour’s chimney. I met Nikos on the road, who laments the sea is too choppy for fishing, and we discuss his plans for garden maintenance and olive picking. We’re in agreement that autumn asserts a slower-pace, but with a responsibility to prepare for winter, and a reminder to appreciate the clement weather that allows us.

A large cappuccino soon put a smile on my face, as I sat outside to enjoy the sun that plays peek-a-boo amongst the clouds, and weigh down papers that flutter in the breeze, with the salt and pepper pots. The wind has dropped significantly, but the silvery leaves of the olive trees still shimmer as their boughs are swayed, and the vine leaf canopy, creates a dancing shadow on the road. The café is quiet, and I sat peacefully with my thoughts, enjoying not having to be anywhere in particular, or even have a plan. A pause to enjoy autumn, as delicious as my cappuccino, with it’s fluffy lightness, perfectly complimented by a balancing bitterness, and its rich comforting aroma. Just letting mellow autumn swell my heart with nostalgic tendencies and enjoy really being in this moment of transformation. I hope that you let autumn under your skin, and take a moment in your busy life to notice its beauty, and become part of the process. Blessings & love, Hxx

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

My favourite slice of paradise

PN Kef emblisi pic

I awoke late by the Greek clock, early by the British hour, and my waking thought searched for that peaceful presence, that occupies a space in my heart recently encountered. I had been wandering along, feeling remarkably carefree and unsuspecting of the impending intrusion, and am left floating in the uncertain ocean of possibility, a place I have learned to embrace passionately, for after all it is full of infinite beauty, if we choose to see it.

I eventually found my body, having previously only been aware of my internal territory, and noticed the disparate relationship of my physical topography and the typically unyielding mattress of my austere Greek bed. Sounds of the port slipped through the shutters with the slices of light that had spilt across the crumpled sheet, wrapped around my legs, entwined in a memory. Sighing I summoned some strength and managed to inspire millions of motor neurons to move my body, in order to check the fluctuating Internet status of my abode by opening my emails. I read those I wanted, then sank back into my repose to process my findings until coffee called me, when I dressed swiftly in a faithful pair of denim shorts and vest, to bound down the stairs to greet the lively port and all the characters that make this particular slice of paradise so precious to me.

I wandered around the quay greeting friendly faces and answering the familiar questions (What took you so long? Where have you been? How long are you staying?), until I found Kosta in the quiet shade of his bar, whilst the staff served the tables outside as quietly as possible, so as not to aggravate his hangover. His face cracked into the most beautiful smile of recognition before his headache sharply reminded him of his condition. We laughed at life and hugged tightly despite his temporary fragility, catching up over a cappuccino (me) and water (he), sharing traditional pastries from the local bakery. Aggeliki lived up to her angelic moniker and administered her magical massage to the troublesome spot of Kostas neck that feels the tightest, and we lamented the consequences of age combined with the youthful behaviour of his crazy parties. Kosta surrendered to his struggling body and retired to bed, Aggeliki resumed her responsibilities at the bar, and I sat outside figuring there are worse places to contemplate ones indulgence in temptation, as the cheerful sunshine drenched the peaceful port, illuminating it’s beauty as boats gently traversed the glassy water.

After a while I left my seat on the balcony in search of the preciously acute and hilariously dry observations of Minas. He customarily spends the majority of the day at his favourite table, surveying his restaurant. Surrounded by his team of waiters, he called out across the square at my approach, heralding my arrival for anyone within 100m, and nursing his coke zero assured me that his diabetes is behaving lately. We discussed local politics and recounted stories of our shared histories, noting the changes and lamenting absent friends. We watched the life of the square and Minas’ grumbled for my entertainment, enjoying the audience for acknowledgement of his unique and frequently extreme viewpoints. I left Minas with a cheerful smile with a kiss for the orange juice, and walked around the corner to find Angelos in his office.

Angelos is a serious young man with the weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders, and a photo of his father smiling from beyond the grave on his desk. Our comprehension of the passage of time and our confusion over the specific years in which events occurred, served to remind us of the accelerated speed of time that age bestows upon us. Although at least a year younger than I (and a quarter of a century than Minas), he always makes me feel juvenile with my independent adventures in contrast to his empire building vocation. We put the world to rights, and he tells me to keep travelling and bringing home my stories for his enjoyment. I left him with promises to visit his mother soon and sent some love to his wife and children before sauntering back along the quay with an undeniable hunger for my darling, the sea.

As luck would have it, Makis had a similar craving, so when I popped into the shop on my way back to the apartment, he offered me a lift to his favourite beach; allowing me a quick change of clothes as he sat impatiently with the engine running. The car curled expertly into the curves of the road, just a short distance before our descent amongst the fragrant pines towards the turquoise water sitting, waiting, assuredly faithful, for our adoration. Makis changed in the car, and it was my turn to be impatient as I rushed towards the deliciousness. I paused momentarily to drop my bag on the beach and swap my ray bans for Cressi goggles, before hastily stepping into the water, saving my entering breath to exhale below the surface.

The crystal clear water engulfed me, and it felt as if anything other than bliss was cleansed from my soul, instantly revealing the clarity of this privilege. I swam towards the shelf, clearly marked by the line where aquamarine meets turquoise, inhabited by numerous fish that swim unafraid of the human company that dips into their world. I took a moment to float like a starfish in gratitude, to feel the surface tickle my sun kissed skin, feeling supported by the powerful entity in its reassuring calmness. Having spent the summer in California, enchanted by the ocean, my heart has still pined for my true ‘agapi’, the Ionian sea, with it’s gentle caress and beautiful hues of the heavenly blue spectrum. I submerged completely; lost in that peace that resides within and felt my physiology sigh thankfully, as does the heart in the embrace of a previously estranged lover. I noted my slowed pulse and that internal tranquility one finds when gratitude obliterates any other emotion, before breaking the surface to breathe in deeply the joy of living. I swam across the bay, much to the amusements of Greeks who tend to swim straight out into the darker deeper waters, beyond the rocks and around to neighbouring bays, whilst I cause disruption to the traffic system since I wasn’t born by the water and lack their confidence. I soon found my rhythm, breathing deeply for the long strokes my lengthy limbs prefer, and smiled at the un-phased fish, which loitered nonchalantly in my pathway, showing off their magnificent iridescence in the piercing sun beams. I finished my dip, resuming the star-fish floating position for my finale, before joining Makis and his sister on the beach to top up my tan as the sun sat high above the shady olive trees.

Makis returned to the shop, leaving his towel and flippers for his girlfriend Nancy, who appeared for her swim, bravely venturing beyond the visible rocks, before settling on the beach and into the conversation amongst the locals whose children played at the shoreline. I let the language waft over me as I lay under my panama, feeling the heat on my skin and remembering vocabulary and other trips. My thoughts wandered away from the beach and retraced some recent adventures, exploring new territory and chambers of my heart, slipping through the layers of awareness and comprehension, desire and vulnerability. The afternoon drifted by, as the shade inched towards the shoreline, soon eclipsing the beach, cooling my salt dried skin. Yaya, a French friend that runs the diving school, kindly gave me a lift back to the port, and I wandered down the steps smiling as I noticed my shoulders have dropped several inches after my sea-bathing. I encountered Nikos & Themis passing the bar, and admitted that I’d cheated on the Greek sea with the Pacific Ocean, but that my heart was ‘home’ again, laughing as they teased me good naturedly, but promising to join them for the last buffet at The Thai restaurant. It’s the end of the season here, and as tourism cools, businesses close for the winter. For me it’s the best time to visit; the port is returned to the locals, and as they untie themselves from their shops, bars and restaurants, they have time to relax and enjoy it again.

I’m writing in the port, replete after my Thai dinner and catching up with Anna & Pete (who tend to collectively know all the news in the village). I found a sweet spot at Le Passage, beautiful Eleni’s new business venture, which reflects her chic style and sweet nature, as well as her family’s famous restaurant for locals in the village up the hill. As I sip my tea (Jasmine) looking out over the still dark water, it reflects the pretty lights of the port in a perfectly mirrored image. The yachts are lined up and sit obediently waiting for adventures tomorrow, and the impressive private cruisers jostle for pole position for admiration along the quay. Passing friends greet me with hugs of welcome, and acquaintances nod in recognition; they know that this is my favourite slice of heaven on earth, and that I wherever I travel, I will always find a way ‘home’ again. I have had a gorgeous day, and I have more of the same to look forward to again tomorrow : )) Evlogimeni eimai (I’m blessed) !!

I hope that wherever you are, that you have an opportunity to appreciate your environment and spend time with people that enhance your being too. Blessings & filakia (kisses) ❤ Hxx

{Photo of my slice of Paradise 🙂 Words ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

Rainy days and panama hats

panama

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, to another grey, damp day in London. The sky is a pale uniform grey, and the soft opaque light lends a gentle quality to the quietness. It’s not currently raining, but after yesterday’s downpour, the cool air smells peaty and autumnal, and it’s tempting to curl up with my latte and laptop and spend the morning in bed. Yesterday was similar, and the day before, and the one before that, and although the changing season has its own charm, there’s a part of my heart that’s not quite ready to relinquish summer with all it’s carefree fun and joyful beauty, just yet.

Yesterday it rained, all day, relentlessly; starting with that fine rain, the kind that’s heavier than mist but falls slowly, gently, silently, and seems to soaks in thoroughly. I met my beautiful friend CE for coffee, in between her kid’s school runs (her little one has just started and is collected at lunch time). We sat in the big squashy sofa at the back of the café, knees curled up as we chatted about our summer adventures, about how life has a funny way of working out, and our current jewellery making projects and ideas. CE has an Etsy page, and regaled me with some of the sweet and romantic stories her customers write to explain they are purchasing her exquisite designs to celebrate, commemorate, and honour those special life events we wish to remember. She admits that some of the stories break her heart, and that as she works moulding the precious metals, she feels emotionally caught in the circumstances, as if she’s infusing her work with compassion and acknowledgment for each individual piece and it’s wearer. Her work is beautiful, delicate, elegant and exquisite; I especially love her fine droplets work; do have a peep! http://www.etsy.com/shop/chained7?ref=pr_shop_more
In fact she’s offering Pure Nourishment readers a 15% discount on orders placed before the end of October 2013, just mention the code word ‘PURE’ in your order (message to seller). Please do check out her FB page too! https://www.facebook.com/christinaeccojewellery1?fref=ts

CE and I said goodbye as she rushed off to collect her little one, the rain kept pouring, slightly heavier than earlier in the morning, droplets that bounced off the pavement and plopped in puddles, and I wondered whether I really needed to go anywhere in it. My heart pined for carefree summer days, walking out of the house without a thought of a jacket or umbrella, sunglasses perched on my make-up less face, carrying nothing more than my purse (wallet in US terms) and phone, and good intentions. I started to pack away my summer wardrobe, sighing heavily as I lamented the lightness of linens, and softness of cottons, smiling affectionately at the flirty panama hat and comfortable Birkenstocks. Then the phone rang, and everything changed, summer’s reprieve arrived with perfect timing. So I booked a flight and depart on Thursday, to my home from home on my favourite Greek island.. where indeed it also rains, but the light is still incredible and the sea is still warm, and frappes in the port with dear, dear friends are waiting. This weekend I’m packing again, I’ll be including some cosy jumpers and a waterproof jacket just in case, but the chance of the panama and Birkenstocks getting an airing is looking pretty hopeful!! Be careful what you wish for.. it might just be granted, and if you let it, life can surprise you with all sorts of blessings! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are, whatever your weather, it’s all so much better when we’re smiling! Love & happy smiles Hxx

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

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}

Laguna Beach 19th June 2013

cali blush

Hi everyone, I have had a ridiculously relaxing day, late breakfast on the patio, coffee over-looking the ocean, and an afternoon reading on the beach as I worked on my tan (SPF 30 & 50 on the face), before a little jaunt to the super-maket, which is just such a pleasure! I drove South down PCH, the ocean on my right, palm trees above, the windows down, hair dancing wildly to Simple Minds on the radio (oh I do wish I’d been here in the 80’s!) and a dirty great big grin plastered right across my happy face. One of those moments where joy just grabs your heart and gives it a little squeeze as if to say “Oh boy! How did it get this good?!” and gratitude flows through the arteries delivering smiles to every cell in the body.

It has to be said I like driving, and here in Cali it’s much easier than London; wide roads, automatic gears, straight roads for miles, and everyone seems so courteous. I still have to smile at every stop sign over the “after you dear”,
“oh no, really you go first I’m fine”, “no really, It’s a beautiful day, it’s your turn”, “oh well if you insist, that’s so very kind”, “de nada, have a wonderful day,” that seems to be conveyed through facial expressions, smiley eyes, and hand gestures; which are nothing like the hand gestures you would experience in London, trust me! As for waiting for pedestrians to saunter across 6 lanes nonchalantly, or giving them right of way, like anywhere it seems, well seriously, it takes some adjustment! Also when someone isn’t paying attention at the lights, presumably texting or mesmerized by the ocean views; nobody beeps (honks), they all just sit there tapping their thumbs patiently, till the lights change again . In London the cacophony of several horns would delightfully serve to obscure the verbal abuse of choice names to describe the driver!

The fact that this all amuses me, and that I have dropped the usual high revs in low gears as I switch lanes to snake up the Finchley Road mode, adopting the laid back driving position, (left hand stroking the wind as I swoop down Crown Valley Parkway), brings me to the realisation that there has been a remarkable internal transition in the last few weeks, although I do admit I’m still a little heavy on the speed limits! I feel so much calmer, nothing feels urgent, granted I’m not working, but it’s always such a pleasure that I’m never in a hurry to finish my journey; guess that’s how life should be! Still, I do admit I still fiddle with the dial of the radio, not quite content yet to listen to the ‘spa music’ station dear EF cruises round to; I still like to sing along and even have a little boogie to anything from the 80’s channel, rock, breakbeat, RnB, and some old skool hip hop if I can find it.

Despite the cultural differences, driving has always been a pleasure for me, something about being behind the wheel in charge of one’s own destiny; that scene in the film of your life when you’re the heroine in the story, whatever chapter you happen to be stuck in. As I drove back home this evening, heading north on PCH with the smell of beach bonfires wafting across the carriageway, Tom Petty free falling on the radio, and the sun slowly slipped gracefully into the sea; the sky blushed pink, as I sighed a little grateful realisation, that this chapter is definitely a happy one for me!

I hope that wherever in the world you are, at whatever point in your life, whatever chapter you happen to find yourself in; that there is something that warms your heart, and when the sun sets, that you feel blessed too. Much love ❤ Hxx

Laguna Beach 18th June 2013

Laguna me 1

Hello everyone!! I’m sitting in my Laguna kitchen, watching the breeze dance with the shadows of the leaves on my patio, as the fragrant flowers blush in the afternoon sun. I am relaxed, content, happy, extremely grateful that I’m here, and privileged that this SoCal paradise is my home for the summer. It doesn’t seem possible that two weeks since my arrival have flown by already, yet at the same time it feels as if my London life is a distant memory, as it appears I have stepped back into the rhythms of life here almost seamlessly. I have shed a ton of worry and responsibility along with the jet-lag, and life feels lighter, brighter, and bursting with hopeful possibility.

I have enjoyed catching up with friends here, and re-acquainting myself with the laid back vibe this beach town absolutely hums with; and I have enjoyed meeting ‘me’ again. That’s the me that walks on the beach with a heart full of gratitude, that feels the resistance slip away in downward dog, that breathes in deeply the air perfumed with jasmine and gardenia, and sips my soy latte slowly savouring my environment. It’s the me that doesn’t have a head full of lists to tick off, emails to answer, people to contact, and chores to address; rather it’s the me that has room for acute observation, happy amusement and spontaneous decisions that make my heart happy and my soul sing. Life is easier here for lots of reasons, but most importantly of all, I feel as if I am perfectly positioned in this place, time, and sentiment, for whatever is meant to be, and it’s a wonderful feeling!

The past two weeks have been spent being gentle with myself, letting go of the ‘shoulds & coulds’ and accepting the way it is as I live in the moment. I have focused on sleeping well, eating well, and exercising gently; I have indulged in massage and manicure, reading, and making my home a sanctuary. I have purchased several scented candles (plus room sprays and diffusers), soft feather cushions, sumptuous body oils and creams, potted plants and bunches of peonies. I have joined a yoga studio, explored new beaches, reloaded my kindle, hiked in the canyon, discovered nutritious & delicious eateries, and watched the waves (and the surfers) each morning with coffee. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve settled in nicely!

There have also been some beautiful gifts here, it seems just waiting for me to come and claim them. My first day I met a British hairdresser, (as a curly girl stocking up on ‘Be Curly’ (Aveda) is a priority to tame the tresses), and we got talking (as you do!). He asked what I would be doing here in Laguna, and when I mentioned writing he immediately suggested I met his client that publishes books on health and nutrition. As it turns out, the publisher (relocated from New Jersey) has an impressive listing and I feel extremely privileged for the introduction. Then there’s the talent manager I briefly met last summer that I had coffee with this morning (SHE called ME!) and the exciting and energizing discussion we had about building the Pure Nourishment Brand. Suddenly I am aware that I have shed any prior tiredness and fatigue, and have caught the optimistic enthusiasm that infuses my SoCal experience, life is full of potential, I am surrounded by beauty, and I am bursting with gratitude for this opportunity : ))

Funny, I was going to give myself the whole of June as pure vacation, but suddenly I am itching to write that book proposal! Maybe I need another walk on the beach to consider the structure? ; )) I DO hope that you find time this summer to get reacquainted with the ‘you’ that you enjoy best too, the one that makes time to appreciate your needs, is gentle and kind with yourself, and finds serendipities waiting Blessings & love, Hxx

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