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}

Happy Valentine’s day!

val

Happy Valentine’s day!!

I hope that wherever in the world you are, whether you are married, dating or single, that today on the most romantic day of the year that you feel loved.

I wish for you the purest, unconditional love, one that appreciates you for exactly who you are, not your appearance, your intelligence, your success or achievements, or even some fantasy of what you could, should, would be. I hope you are loved for the essence of who you are, and that it’s a clear love that sees your faults and failings, and knows that these are a part of you as vital as your strengths and achievements, so loves them too.

I hope you feel an encouraging love, one that truly believes in you, and your dreams too; especially when you have trouble believing in yourself. A love that celebrates your unique gifts, and encourages you to appreciate them, that understands the intent that drives you, values your view of the world and dreams your dreams with you.

I hope you feel a supportive love, one that truly listens, not just with their ears but with their heart also, so that they comprehend your feeling rather than just the words you choose. A love that’s there by your side through the good and the bad; to hold your hand in the darkness and whisper words of comfort when you need them, and to revel in your success and bask in the light when you shine brightly.

I hope that you feel a forgiving love, one that sees your heart is human, and all the struggles it goes through, and appreciating your imperfections forgives the mistakes you make and urges you to forgive yourself too. Forgiveness frees us from all that isn’t love, and when we learn to truly forgive, we learn love.

I hope that you feel a kind love, one that cares for you and considers your needs generously. A love that will go out of its way to demonstrate how valued you are, with gestures grand and small, and to give without any expectation, just a hope you will feel loved. I hope that you will feel a love so kind that you want to express it in all that you do, and that love will inspire kindness in others too.

I hope that you feel a love that is as free as the breeze, that caresses you gently, yet never pushes or demands of you. A love that accepts you exactly as you are, and doesn’t try to change you, or trap you, or own you; but that delights in your flight, in your pursuit of life and the knowledge that your love guides you.

I hope that you feel a fun-filled love; one that will tickle your heart with giggles and helps you see the magic anew. A love that explores your imagination and takes you on adventures of discovery, finding miracles in the dusty corners of the ordinary, and treasures sequestered in the mundane. I hope that your love laughs heartily and embraces your experiences with joyful anticipation.

I hope that you will feel a trusted love, an acceptance that the love you feel is true, that you will not feel fearful of loss or protective against pain, because love does not die, and there is no need to question the integrity of genuine love. I hope that you will love yourself to know that you deserve this too.

I hope that you will feel loved, I hope that you will love bravely too, that you will not hide behind walls of pride, conceit, fear, or any other emotion that might try to protect you from the vulnerability of truly loving another. I hope that you will find the courage to open your heart, despite the risk of all that it may encounter, and trust that you have enough love to survive anything that the world can throw at you. Because love is what we’re here for, and love is what we are, and the answer is always love, so love is what we must do!!

I hope you feel love everyday, everywhere you go, and in everything you do, and if you’re wondering where to start, I’m sending love from me to you! Happy Valentines day, with love Hxx

September letter

beach type

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, around 6am, and snuggled into the covers in search of sleep again; happy just knowing I had the privilege of such an option. I drifted for a while as my mind considered attaching itself to the thoughts it observed floating by, but in the end the draw of the deep was too great to overcome and I succumbed to the dreamy depths, to dwell in that secure state where the answers are all obvious and nothing is a problem. I woke later in the morning feeling calm and refreshed, and decidedly carefree, as if any potential obstacles on the horizon will work themselves out, or I will overcome them and gain some new learning. So I lay for a while in gratitude for the peaceful feeling, until thoughts of coffee distracted me and I got up to greet the day beyond the blind.

It’s a cool autumnal day here in London, there’s a dampness in the air, but blue sky patches appear sporadically amongst the clouds, and it’s not raining (which is a relief after the relentless downpour yesterday). I pottered round the house for a while with my latte, still reorganizing my home after a protracted absence, and chatted with the dustmen (refuse collectors) who welcomed me back from my trip with tales of their summers and experiences in America. They are such a friendly team, always so cheerful and it’s nice to know that they’ve been keeping an eye on my property for me. I addressed some laundry, answered some emails, and made a list of all the important things that need doing today.

The top priority is my annual letter to Billy. Billy is a dear friend from my favourite Greek island, yesterday was his birthday, and every year I write him a letter, pouring out all the things I wish for him and all the important stuff I wish I had known at his age (he’s just turned 18 years). Billy is a beautiful soul, he’s a thoughtful guy wrapped in fun with a cheeky grin and lovely manners, and I adore him. It’s a letter of love really; just an out-pouring from my heart, that takes me on a journey as I write it, through my own learning curves, regrets and understanding, and is full of hope to inspire courage and compassion in this young man that is so dear to me. Of course I don’t have all the answers, and much of our learning must come from personal experience, but I write so that he knows that I care, that I believe in him, that I wish the best for him, that I will celebrate his success and appreciate his struggles, and that when his heart has been broken and trampled on, I will be here to listen and gently encourage him to pick up the pieces and keep loving. This annual letter writing usually takes place on a favourite Greek beach, when I arrive around the time he has to return to school on the mainland. So today I’m going in search of that space within, where I am full of gratitude for the beauty that surrounds me, and my thoughts can float with the sun on the sea, and a love that’s as deep as the ocean churns up all the words I need.

I hope that you have a beautiful day, and hope that you have received and will send love letters, not necessarily romantic, just a way to reach out and let someone know that they are cherished, and that your heart fills with all the beauty that you have seen, because you want to share it too Blessings & love, Hxx

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

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}

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}

Morning medicine

lue cup

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke slowly, from a series of dreams, invaded by a presence that swanned through my thoughts as nonchalantly as it wanders through the chambers of my heart; feeling I admit, half delighted at the sight, whilst half annoyed that it continues to permeate those layers of protection and sanity we all attempt to surround ourselves with. I lay in the mists that seemed several times about to lift yet descended again with sleepiness, despite the attempts of a cough to waken me, as I spluttered from the depths intermittently before drifting off again. I surveyed my internal terrain, noticing the soft spots of vulnerability, pretending to myself that I am perfectly fine, yet truthfully feeling a little less courageous, on a dark wintry morning waiting for spring to return.

The coughing eventually won, waking me to the realization I have a temperature, my body aches, and my head is pounding, illness is always so inconvenient isn’t it!? It seems I have a flu, which curtails my plans for a while, as I’m not one to martyr on and generously inflict my contagion. I believe that when the body communicates it’s struggling, that the best course of action is to listen and spend energy on healing quickly. This hasn’t always been the case, I have previously subscribed to soldiering on, dragging it out as I refused to make my health a priority. The truth is I’m not very good at being ill, in fact I’m absolutely rubbish, I’m not terribly brave and impatiently wish the time away, waiting to get better.

However, I remember a favourite lecturer from uni, a kind soul who told me once that being ill was something we should embrace, a time to stay in bed and read all day without feeling we should be doing something more constructive. He taught me that nothing is really so important it can’t wait for us to get better, and it’s an opportunity to gain perspective and assess our priorities. So I’m remembering his words of wisdom today, and taking time out rest, sleep, and be kind to my body; not minding the grey skies beyond the windows as it’s cosy inside, and refusing to feel guilty for all the things I ‘should’ be doing. I hope that you’re not sick today too, but if you do happen to be feeling under the weather, please be patient with yourself, as your body is busy repairing. ❤ Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via pinterest}

2013 Let’s do this!

lets

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

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

{Artwork sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

2013 Please be awesome : ))

013 awesome

2013 Please be awesome : ))

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

Goodbye 2012

2012

Dear 2012,

You have been a year of my life, thank you. We have had fun, learnt a lot, made it through some difficulties, made some happy memories; and I am grateful. Admittedly there were times when I felt frustrated, impatient, disappointed and upset with you, as I struggled with the lessons I faced; yet on reflection I see that the choices I made in the circumstances you delivered were my responsibility, and have given me opportunities for growth and understanding. I’m sorry that I didn’t always appreciate the challenges you presented, and for all the moments when I failed to act in love, when fear and ego overcame me. Thank you for my human-ness to appreciate the beauty of forgiveness.

There were times when I have been over-whelmed by your generosity, surrounded by blessings when you were awesome fun, super-sweet, hilariously funny, incredibly kind and gently comforting; my gratitude is inexpressible in words so I pray my actions will demonstrate. We have discovered beauty in the most unlikely places and you have given me gifts of hope and love that I will cherish long after your departure. Thank you 2012, for shaping me a little closer towards the person I am becoming, and for all the wonderful experiences and the gorgeous people I have shared them with. I really appreciate you for being a chapter in my story, and look forward to 2013 with all the potential and possibility it promises.

Goodbye 2012 and thank you ❤ Blessings & love, Hxx

{Artwork sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}