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}

Blue skies & scars

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Good morning everyone! Today I woke early as the sun crept round the blind, sneaking in to the room to call me from dreams that blend reality with possibility and a generous hint of the ridiculously absurd. I landed on the pillow with a crumpled smile, and found my thoughts leaping into the day ahead, listing the tasks I hope to achieve and the time I anticipate they will take, searching for the opportunity for a walk on the heath, before sighing and getting up for coffee.

It’s a beautiful morning in London; the spring sunshine spills through the kitchen window, warming the herbs that reside on the sill, releasing a fresh fragrance to be inhaled deeply with eyes closed in appreciation. The light on my shoulders is deliciously warm, and encourages me to sit on the countertop and steal the rays from the bowl of lemons and assorted cooking utensils, as they curl round my legs and creep up my décolleté. I sipped my latte and smiled at the sky; an endless blue stretching into the distance above the rooftops, with only a single vapour trail, like a small scar to mar its perfection.

I glanced at the scar on my knee, a fairly neat white line that holds a story, and wonder about the scars on my heart, everybody’s heart, how would they look if we could see them? I suspect I would pick at the edges of the latest wounds, impatient for healing but unable to ignore the regret and disappointment wrapped up in their memory. I’m resisting the temptation, most of the time, but admit that occasional moments find my mind in the ‘if-only’ territory. I wonder how long will it take that particular hurt to fade into a smooth white line, and become ‘just another story’, something that happened to the girl I used to be?

And I smile at the blue sky, because however long it takes, I already know that that particular scar will always be the start of the next adventure, the one that whispered ‘follow your dreams, you’re the author of your story’. So the crazy idea that morphed into possible plans has now become more probable than mere potential, and I have a blessed opportunity. I also have a contract to sign, and a ticket to buy, another white scar to trail across the sky. Meanwhile that list still persists, and the clock is ticking, but it’s OK, because I’ll make time for a walk on the heath anyway, after all, chances become more precious when they’re numbered don’t they?!.

Have a gorgeous day everyone, and remember your scars are souvenirs of your journey, but you’re still the author of your story. Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via fatallyflawedpalate.tumblr, words: Hayley Darby © 2013}

Focus on your journey.

Don’t compare your life to others’, you have no idea what their journey is about!

NB: That includes not comparing your physical presence too, we are all beautiful in our own wonderful way, irrelevant of body size/shape; just to curtail any critical comments in that dept! Focus on where YOU’re going & stop concerning yourself with what you think of other people and their choices! Comparison is the thief of joy, enjoy your beautiful journey and appreciate how amazing it really is. ♥ Hxx

The road ahead..

As I prepare for bed, I find myself contemplating the twists and turns of the road travelled in the journey of my life. There have been moments of great joy, beautiful scenery and sunshine, yet there have been seemingly endless dark stretches where the fuel of hope was harder to find. The amazing thing is, the road continued despite my fears and apprehension, although it was dark, I managed to stay on track, and gradually the light came back, like the dawn of a new day. It’s amazing how different twists reveal by turn more beauty, love, happiness with patches of difficulty, and heartbreak. In the same way the light of our moods change, as we navigate our route through unchartered territory. I guess what this metaphor is trying to say is that we must enjoy the sunshine and the wonderful scenery, and fill our hearts with the memories of love and happiness to draw on for hope when it gets dark and we feel like we’re losing our way; because at any moment a change in direction can bring us back into beautiful terrain. However dark it gets, the sun will always rise again, and in the meantime it might help to turn on the radio, and try to sing along, for courage until we emerge from the darkness again. Good night, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, words by Hayley Darby 20.July.2011}