Grateful heart

beachtoday

This morning I slipped gently into consciousness as delicious slices of sunlight streamed through the gaps in the shutters, extending their invitation to grasp the morning and embrace another beautiful autumnal day. I lay under the sanctuary of the mosquito net for a while, contemplating my blessings as wakefulness crept over me and vignettes of my retreating dream flickered across my mind in farewell. I had slept soundly, and woke smiling, from some place in the depths, where the knowledge that everything is exactly as it is meant to be had retained a hold on my memory, restoring my equilibrium after a little ‘niggle’ had wormed its way under my skin yesterday. You know sometimes that feeling that something is amiss, but you can’t quite identify the reason, or even put your finger exactly on the concern, just a little bothersome ‘niggle’ you can’t quite ignore. Well whatever mine was, it had vanished this morning, as if something stole into my dreams to reassure me, and I woke confident that whatever needed to be resolved, in the halls of my heart, had been.

I swept back the net, feeling quite regal after waking under the swathed canopy, and found the sunny pool on the tiled floor to bathe my toes in as I got up to stretch and open the doors to the balcony. I stood outside for a few moments, appreciating the warm sunlight on my shoulders, and the peaceful quiet of this little Greek village in my favourite corner of paradise. A few goat bells tinkled in the distance, the birds chattered in the nearby trees, and I heard my heart sing gratefully as I looked over the olive groves to the sea. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity and this place to escape to, to be alone as much as I need to be; to take time to listen to my heart, and ask it questions that only arrived once I gave it space to answer them. Although in many ways I’m none the wiser of the direction I’m heading, I feel more comfortable with the uncertainty. I’m practicing living in the moment, trying not to expect too much from the future, and allowing life to surprise me; which of course it does anyway, it’s just nicer to be open to it rather than resist the curve balls because I’m sticking too rigidly to where I think I should be. Letting go and going with the flow isn’t always easy though is it? I know that I have previously let stubbornness and stupidity masquerade as dedication and determination, and hopefulness cloud by judgment when I wanted things so badly

However, here where life is simple, it’s somehow easier to observe ones emotions rather than dwell in them; life has a gentler pace and it’s easier to see the wood from the trees. I am, in fact, literally surrounded by trees, twisted, wizened olive trees with their shady, silvery leaves that shimmer in the breeze, and tall, noble cypress trees, standing proudly with stretched shadows in the afternoon sun. The boughs of citrus trees hang heavy with colourful oranges and lemons, and bright red pomegranates along the roadside shine brightly against the clear blue skies of autumn. The countryside is beautiful, peppered with crumbling stone walls, adorned with honeysuckle and jasmine along twisting lanes, lined with long summer grasses that bask in the glow of sunlight. My ten minute walk to the village for coffee in the morning is as equally enticing as my fluffy cappuccino, and the walk to the next village to buy provisions is as rewarding with coastal views and elongated shadows as the ripe red tomatoes, and creamy Greek yoghurt.

Of course the jewel for me is the sea, spectacular clear water that stretches from aquamarine, through turquoise to teal, and eventually the darkest navy. Swimming one meets all sorts of pretty fish, whom are unabashed and unafraid of visiting humans to their world below the surface, where interesting patterns and rock formations can be seen clearly on the sea-bed at considerable depths. It’s the most peaceful place I know, and as I swim rhythmically my heart-beat slows to appreciate it. I cannot resist floating like a starfish in the setting sun, as the water sparkles like stars swimming around me, letting the salty buoyancy support my body as I surrender blissfully. I dream of this when I’m not here to enjoy it.

This paradise is filled with life’s simplest pleasures, and here I don’t crave all those things that seem so important in London, I’m satisfied with a few possessions (OK, admittedly my laptop is one of them!) and I guess I’m content with less because I feel so appreciative of what’s here naturally. I enjoy the simplest meals of boiled eggs and toast, feta or tuna salads and even cheese and tomato sandwiches, which somehow here taste absolutely divine; and my days pass by quietly reading, writing, walking and swimming. Here I feel so full of gratitude for my surrounding beauty, that it seems to eclipse the need to have, or indeed be, anything more. This is the gift of gratitude, and I find it here so easily, but the wonderful thing is, wherever we are, there is always a supply of it, because it’s carried in the hallways of the heart. Blessings & love ❤ Hxx

{Photo taken by me, the last to leave the beach.. again!! Words, also by me ~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}

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}

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}

Press pause

mermaid am

Good morning everyone! Today I woke late, slowly struggling to shed the layers of sleep that clung like wet seaweed as I slipped back from the surface several times, before eventually breaking into consciousness. I lay for a while as the final vestiges of fatigue drained away, and found myself washed up on the shore of a peaceful day with the gentle rustle of the breeze through the leaves outside my window. I drew the blind, to find a cloudy sky with big holes for the blueness to pour through, and feeling an autumnal ‘nip in the air’, wrapped up in my robe in search of coffee.

I climbed back into bed with my latte, and noticed my thoughts drifting towards some projects on the horizon, feeling a little nostalgic for my mornings watching the ocean, as I sat on the beach steps with my coffee, admiring the surfers and adoring the dolphins playing amongst them. Meanwhile some online messages interrupted my thought process, and some discussion about business direction inspired some creative thinking and enthusiasm, so that I was soon wide awake and firing those inquisitive neurons again.

I have several areas I want to explore; yet there is hesitancy, an undecided direction, and reluctance to commit just yet to tying up my energy. And as I write I realise it’s because at this moment in time I am enjoying the stillness, the feeling of being exactly where I am meant to be in this instant, and that my life will continue to unfold accordingly, as I dwell in possibility.

Previous to my trip to California I was feeling frustrated and disappointed as I tried to swim upstream, and fought hard to make something work in an environment that actively sabotaged my efforts. It’s no surprise that since my departure several newly appointed nutritionists/dieticians have met the same resistance and left the company already. My carefree Californian summer gave me space to recover from my dismay, reconsider my goals, and ultimately the realization that I could ‘dream much bigger’ darling. Trust me, ‘big’ in this context is an understatement!

Sometimes the most constructive thing we can do; is to do nothing, to wait and see what will be revealed. When we take time out to listen to our hearts, and hear the melody of our souls singing, we are more open to finding the answers that really matter, to seeing our dreams and feeling them draw us, rather than searching for solutions that will allay our fears, albeit temporarily. My three months in California have given me a beautiful fresh perspective, not to mention a relaxed happy vibe with which to enjoy it, and for now I’m just loving each step as it unfolds in front of me.

I wonder if there is something you are struggling with that would benefit from taking a step back too? OK, maybe not three months, but perhaps 3 days, or 3 hours, or even 3 minutes will help you accomplish more by truly looking at the situation, rather than ploughing ahead determinedly without checking your direction. I hope that whatever you do, that you can take some time to quiet your mind and listen to your heart, and then have the courage to follow it. You never know, it might just send you to California, and if it does, I’ll meet you on the beach, watching the dolphins amongst the surfers, because I’m pretty sure my heart is sending me back there soon! Blessings & love, Hxx

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

Waking thoughts

coffee steps

Good morning everyone!! Regular readers will know that when in London I usually write in the mornings, and savour those sweet moments as I wake, observing my inner territories as I slip from sleep into consciousness. This is something I have missed in Laguna, where peaceful dreams are abruptly terminated on a daily basis (by a rather inconsiderate neighbour), so that my priority is dressing quickly and fleeing to the beach for coffee in search of a better temperament than the one I wake with. There I find some solace in the waves that smooth the jagged edges, and by the time my latte is done, I am smiling at the day ahead as I watch the surfers gracefully tickle the ocean. I am filled with wonder at the power and magnitude of this incredible entity, and sitting at its edge I notice how small and insignificant we seem, and arrogant to suppose we could control the world we inhabit.

However, despite my mornings at the beach, I do miss that space between dreams and consciousness, those moments of bliss where I sense that everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and I can somehow make perfect sense of the chaos that is reality. I miss the slow realization of my soul inhabiting my body, as I notice my placement of the pillow and the waking thoughts that wash over me. I yearn to hear the whispers of my heart that speak so clearly when I’m not listening to logic or the multitude of concerns and responsibilities that seep in so quickly once the brain stirs into action. I crave that awareness of who I am beyond the person in the life I’m living, but as a force of nature and a spiritual being, without form or boundaries, limits or ambition. And yet I’m acutely aware, that when I’m not here I will miss the ocean, and it will fill my dreams with it’s overwhelming power and mystery, and I will wish I was on the steps at the beach, sipping my coffee : )) Blessings & love Hxx

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

Raindrops

hand in rain

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!! Today I woke early, and lay on my back, listening to the rain as it danced on the roof and slid down the windows, bounced off the cobblestones and splashed in the puddles. I remembered a time, in a tropical rainstorm on the other side of the world, when I stood in the downpour and let it soak me, as it washed away the frustration and disappointment I had been feeling. Often it feels as if our emotions are layered, as if we have to shed several skins to reveal those we’re afraid of, the things that truly upset our equilibrium, as we cling to the excuses of those we’re prepared to acknowledge. So I lay in the darkness, and peeled off some layers that I have been ignoring, turning over and observing indignant anger, fierce frustration, deep disappointment, sorrowful regret, and finally finding the acceptance I was seeking. Acceptance, when we discover it is rarely sparkling and shiny; rather it’s beauty lies in the absence of adornments that obscure its purity. So I wrapped myself up in it, noticing the calm comfort and peaceful presence, and fell back to sleep again.

When I awoke at a more reasonable hour, the rain had stopped and the birds were chirping, I stretched my full length and arched my back, before wrapping up in cosy a robe, in search of coffee. It’s a dull, damp day in London, the skies are dark, and the wind sways the trees as it sighs down the chimney. I sat on the awesome sofa, cradling my latte and let my thoughts wander through some projects I’m planning. Somewhere along an unfamiliar path, I felt free of expectation and even the need for understanding, the possibilities are endless, and the prospects exciting. Sometimes we need to let go of the things that weigh us down, so we can move freely into our future; forgiveness is the key, it’s not always easy, but I believe it’s worth the effort. Have a beautiful day everyone ❤ blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Happy Valentines Day xx

love birds

Happy Valentines day!! I’m wishing you lots of love, not necessarily the cards and flowers kind of love, but the love that you feel because someone believes in you, somebody supports your dreams and cares about the things that you do. I hope you have the love that has seen you at your worst, but keeps on loving you; and that the love that sees your best and bursts with pride for you. I hope that someone cares about the little things, and notices when you’re not 100%, and is there with support instead of criticism, and really listens to your problems, giving empathy and hugs rather than advice and solutions. I hope that you are loved so that you feel the strength of someone beside you, and the courage that facing things together can give you. I hope that your smile is someone’s favourite view and that your laughter is their favourite sound too. I hope someone makes you sparkle, even on the days it’s especially hard to do, but that someone knows the way to your heart even when you’re obscuring the view. I hope that you are loved for who you are; that somebody can see beyond your appearance and achievements to appreciate the soul that resides within. I hope that you are loved for your kindness, compassion and understanding, for your courage, integrity and generosity, rather than the way you look, the job you do, or the car you drive; I hope people can see beyond your achievements to appreciate the personal qualities that helped you reach them. I hope that you have a love that gives you a reason to smile every single day, and makes something in your heart sing. I hope that you love enough to let that love in too.. Happy Valentines day ♥ With love & kisses, Hxx

{Artwork sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Releasing realisations

lay

Good morning everyone! Today I woke early feeling calm and sure of myself, noticing the absence of anxiety, despite the fact that the presentation I am nervous about delivering next week has been churning through my brain at every opportunity. I checked the time, before falling back into my pillows and wondering what had induced this feeling, and lack of worry. Then it dawned on me, I have made a decision, and I’m confident it’s the right one; somewhere in my dreams my subconscious had found some unavoidable answers, and I no longer clung to the questions. I stretched and let go of some ties that have bound me, shedding unnecessary aspirations, as I realized with a smile what no longer serves me. I sat with my latte on the awesome sofa, grateful for the clarity and the decisive direction now laying ahead of me.

It’s a grey, damp day in London, but as I walked over the road in search of an almond croissant to celebrate my lazy Sunday morning, you could probably glimpse the spring in my step if you were watching. I pulled apart the flaky pastry to reveal the sticky almond paste, as sugar dusting made a mess all over me. I savoured the croissant, and the morning, and knowing in my heart that I had made the right decision. It’s a beautiful day, and I have an exciting adventure in front of me; but meanwhile, I really must practice that scary presentation! I hope you have a beautiful day, whatever you’re doing, and that you don’t worry too much over unanswered questions. Things have a funny way of revealing themselves when they’re meant to, just trust your heart, and make sure you’re listening! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Hope-filled mornings

leggy am

Good morning everyone! Today I woke early, too early really, but once awake found I couldn’t fall back to sleep, despite fatigue and the best of intentions. So after wishing for a while, I got up to watch the sunrise, wrapping up in the cosy sweater strewn across the banister as I made my way downstairs for coffee. The sparkling frost on the slate roof opposite looks like icing sugar, a dusting of which was sprinkled along the balustrade and in the nearby trees. I sat by the window, watching the dark sky seep through shades of grey as morning arrived, gently. There is something magical about the early hours, especially when it’s quiet and it seems we’re alone to witness the wonder, as the rest of the world remains sleeping. Which of course is never true, but a beautiful notion to contemplate at that hour when almost anything seems possible. I think that the feeling of solitude at the start of the day is an opportunity to enjoy the stillness and listen to one’s heart. This is when we find ourselves as we truly are, in the moments before we set our intentions for the day ahead and get lost in the ‘doing’ not ‘being’ of living. As the morning rolled in, the sun slipped through the clouds, bathing my view in a gentle glow that created elegant shadows, and smelt of hope. Or maybe that’s just what I heard in my heart ♥

Wishing you all a beautiful day, however it starts, and that somewhere between the feelings you experience, that hope resides within them. Blessings & love, Hxx