Back again..

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Photo via Pinterest

It’s a quiet wintry afternoon; I watch the sky bleed as the sun starts to set, with hues of orange and pink flaring beyond the silhouetted stark, bare, tree branches. A few geese ruffle their feathers and squawk half heartedly, and Platon, who’s snuggled against me, raises his head to check whether or not he needs to bark at them; and deciding not to, lowers his chin to rest on my leg again. He searches my face, as his expressive eyebrows bop about inquisitively; and I ruffle his voluptuous jowls, before stroking his velvety ears reassuringly. He sighs and we settle back into companionable silence; apart from the muttering geese, at the end of the garden.

We moved here a week ago, to a tastefully converted barn, on a working farm. It’s a temporary home, a stop gap in-between selling a property in London, our summer home in Greece, and an unknown future. It’s a haven for recuperation, a little time out from the normal stresses of life following an emergency surgery and a shock to the system. It’s my treat to myself as I digest and process a life-changing experience, and a peaceful place to heal and rehabilitate.

At the start of the year, after struggling with niggling back issues, I unexpectedly underwent emergency spinal surgery. I had a herniated disc that was impinging on the nerve root for the whole lower body, called ‘Cauda Equina” as it resembles a horse’s tail. If you google ‘cauda equina syndrome’, you’ll see how dangerous and scary it is; all I knew was that the risks of my condition were immense (loss of lower body feeling & function), and that I had been naively ‘soldiering on’, (since my GP hadn’t been too alarmed at what I now know are classic ‘red flag’ symptoms), walking my dogs and lifting heavy cases. I am incredibly lucky that I didn’t do more damage. Eventually, I was fortunate that a well-informed osteopath sent me straight to A&E (Emergency room), and I was soon signing consent forms that acknowledged terrifying risks, before swiftly being whisked to theatre for intricate neurosurgery. It should be noted, that I have always had a fear of hospitals, and have been terrified of General anaesthesia, but the emotional roller coaster I rode in this instance elevated me to a surreal state, a strange mixture of denial and resignation, that fear was neatly sidelined to a manageable degree. An experience almost as if watching myself in this situation, disbelieving it was really happening, a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from; yet coupled with an acceptance that nothing I could do could change the course I was hurtling along. I guess at some point, I mentally handed over responsibility for my future mobility to my medical team and God, the Universe, a higher power; whatever you want to call it, the name is irrelevant, in times like this you find ‘something/someone’ to have internal conversations with.

I am incredibly blessed, my surgeons were skilled and my nurses compassionate, and after several successful operations I am able to walk unaided. I have some numbness and a little nerve damage, but these are small, manageable issues compared to the potential difficulties I could otherwise face. I have found an online community, a support group of CES patients, and am aware of how fortunate I am to be one of the lucky ones. I’m also aware of how brave so many people are, quietly battling such a debilitating, and often invisible condition, that spinal injuries present. I’ve come through the initial trauma, feeling extremely grateful, yet also suffered anxiety associated with the fragility and vulnerability. I think that previously being relatively fit and fiercely independent, I have found the contrasting lack of mobility and reliance on others, particularly frightening, and understanding the risks, worry that every twinge could be dreadfully damaging. However, I am having physiotherapy, and each day is a step forward, and I’m gaining strength and confidence with each one.

My best medicine has been my darling dogs, their caring cuddles and unwavering affection have been comforting and heart-warming. It’s very difficult to feel sorry for yourself when you feel such love and loyalty. They are also very motivating, I can’t wait to walk them, or even be able to drive them to the paddock to watch them run. I have however been very fortunate to have some wonderful help looking after them, and am very grateful for everyone who has taken care of them. It’s in times of crisis we really find out who our friends are, and I have been very blessed with lots of love and support too.

As I write, I hear footsteps on the gravel outside, and Platon’s ears prick up in anticipation, as KG, my friend and current carer, returns from a walk with Leo (my other dog). Once he is sure, Platon launches himself off my daybed, and stands expectantly at the door, his tail wagging forcefully, like a metronome; until he can contain himself no longer and jumps up, bracing himself with his paws on the door as he peeks out the window. This means that the peace
I needed to write is about to cease, since my boys, thrilled to be reunited after a whole heart-breaking hour, will play exuberantly and require my attention.

I just wanted to pop in here, and let you know what’s been happening, by way of introduction to my current situation, as suddenly I find myself with time, and lots of material for writing again. I feel as if I have missed chatting with old friends and have lots to catch up on; the arrival of Leo into our lives will be a chapter, as well as our journeying between London & Greece. There are stories to share about my injury and the beacons of light that shone in the darkest moments, the caring compassionate nurses, the bravery of fellow patients on my ward, and realisations about life’s unexpected twists and turns that may actually have been necessary in guiding us to where we are meant to be. Meanwhile, two young and lively dogs are calling me with their playful antics, so I hope you are all well and I’ll write again soon, I promise! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo ~Via pinterest, sadly uncredited, words ~by me, Hayley Darby ©2016}

Letting go…

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Today I woke early, too early for my body, but my brain was insistent. My head lay heavy on the pillow, weighed down by a headache and sadness, my limbs felt leaden and sank into the mattress; my eyelids fought to keep the light out as it crept round the blind, and my heart just ached and tried to hide. I struggled in vain as I searched for the sweet oblivion of sleep again, trying to shut out reality as thoughts and memories flooded in. Words, that once uttered cannot be retracted, and more importantly, words that are left hanging, hopelessly unsaid; once happy memories distorted by bitter betrayal and knowledge that cannot be unlearned, however hard one tries to forget.

I lay for a while, drowning in disappointment as the sunshine pushed at the window, anxious to drag me from my den of despair. The knot that twisted in the pit of my stomach was interrupted by a realization that flooded my body; because today I don’t have time to wallow, to wonder how life would feel if things had been different; a record that’s recently been stuck on repeat in my head. So fortified with a latte, I washed my face and dressed quickly, smoothing the pain from my expression as I swept my bed head hair into a bunch of carefree curls, and applied mascara (not the waterproof stuff).

Today is a beautiful spring day in London, and my little pocket of the city was buzzing industriously as commuters headed to work, and the world carried on turning. My meeting this morning was informal and fortunate enough to include a walk, so we headed up the hill towards the Heath, comforting familiar territory. We walked and talked, my companion is well travelled, intelligent and interesting, excited about embarking on a new chapter, professionally speaking. Our conversation was full of hope and visions of the future; we discussed dreams, far-flung destinations and career opportunities.

I noticed the buds on the trees have started to swell, and the blossom that had tentatively blushed along branches, now blooms bravely and enthusiastically. The path was clear, no longer squelchy and impassable without danger of muddy footwear casualty. We wandered through the woods, where branches stretched skyward, reaching into the blueness, soon to become adorned with shady green canopies. Winter it seems has finally lost its grip, and slips away lost amongst memories as spring asserts her hopefulness and promise of summer. We all have to let go in order to move forward; like monkey bars we need to let go of where we’ve come from to embrace where we’re going. I have observed that people who insist on clinging to their past, often impede their future, painfully. Change is inevitable, sometimes we have to just let it happen, and when some things fall apart, we just have to trust its making room for something wonderful that’s waiting to catch us.

You don’t always need a plan, sometimes you just have to let go and see what happens next. Life isn’t about control, it’s about adapting to the changes that are inevitable, and sometimes it helps to remember we’re not in charge, which is probably a good thing. Once in a while, let go of what you think you want, create some space for possibility, let life surprise you xx.

Blessings & love ❤ Hxx

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

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

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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}

Relishing the rain

rainy ranuculous

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke late again, and it seems I have slipped back into that pattern of late nights and lie-ins; I find I am delaying bedtime, and then find it hard to wake in the morning. After a delightful dinner with friends last night, I found myself pottering around at home until the small hours, doing nothing urgent, but my brain was still active and didn’t snuggle under the covers until much later than I really should have been. I guess I just enjoy the quiet time, without agenda or responsibility, just a little window of freedom when everyone assumes I am sleeping. Note to self: I should be sleeping!!

This morning I woke slowly, noticing myself sunk deeply into a plethora of pillows with the duvet curled around me. There is a definite coolness in the air, and it’s a pleasant contrast on my exposed shoulder to the warm den constructed in sleepiness. I rolled over to glance at the window, a soft light feathering the edge of the blind belies the late hour, revealed when I roll back to check my watch, which sits loitering on the bedside table amongst a jumble of bracelets, several sizable ‘statement’ rings, and my trademark ‘story’ necklace. I lay for a while letting thoughts drift by, until I caught the one that suggested coffee, and the temptation moved me to throw back the covers and open the blind, observing the flat, opaque light that seeps through the comprehensive cloud cover, before quickly grabbing my robe since it’s chilly.

As the coffee machine prepared my elixir I watered the herbs and watched the rain dousing the world outside, the rich aroma of espresso wove it’s way up my nose, setting off a neuro-olfactory response that closed my eyes and put a smile on my face. It’s such a drizzly day, I didn’t hesitate to climb back upstairs to bed with my latte to watch the rain cascade over the slate tiles of the roof opposite, as the pink, purple and green tinged hues sparkle through the grey so beautifully when wet. It’s the kind of rain that feels as if it’s set in for the day, a gentle, quiet downpour, thorough and persistent, and soaking everything. Its actually the perfect day to snuggle up on the sofa with a good book and a pot of tea, some scented candles and a cashmere blanket; and yes, I’m very tempted! However, I have been home from California a whole week, and can no longer avoid the responsibilities, that jet lag afforded me. Besides it’s Monday, and it would be appropriate to make it satisfyingly productive; which I fully intend, after another latte, a yoga class, and maybe a splash in some puddles on Primrose Hill

I hope you have a gorgeous start to the week, wherever you are, and if it’s raining in your part of the world too, that you find a moment or two to really enjoy it! Blessings & love, 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}

Jet-lag and in between

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Good morning everyone! It seems as if my soul is weighed down with lead as it struggles to swim to consciousness from the deep sleepy depths, and there is a tussle between the choice of languishing in that peaceful dark solitude, and waking to embrace the day with all it’s beautiful potential. I woke earlier this afternoon, jet-lag always seems harder to overcome when travelling in an Eastbound direction. It’s my second day back in London and there is still a moment of confusion on waking amongst the fluffy white cloud of my bed, as to how far into the past I was dreaming and what has actually happened. After a summer in California, it seems a little surreal to wake in the familiar surroundings of ‘home’. The time has passed so quickly, yet it seems so much living has been squeezed in to those 3 months, so that it feels elastic and difficult for my brain to measure; rather like looking at a map, and gauging the journey time, without any indication of speed capacity and limitations.

An elderly man in India once kindly informed me that the mind and the body travel at different speeds, and it’s a truth that I observe acutely after long-haul journeys. The 10+ hour flight from LAX to LHR feels extremely quick in comparison to the thoughts still floating along the Californian coast; little things like the decision to have hemp or soy milk in my latte at ‘The Laguna Coffee company’, as I potter downstairs to greet my Nespresso machine. Actually I feel somewhere in between, as if suspended in the blueness somewhere above the Atlantic ocean, neither here nor there, or caught yet in life’s responsibility. It’s a feeling of surrender, an awareness that I’m not ‘driving the bus’ or perhaps not ‘flying the plane’ that gives me space to observe without engaging completely. My departure from Laguna followed a hectic period of packing and preparing to leave, hurriedly saying goodbyes to the friends I left behind, and stealing moments to treasure in memory; on the beach, favourite cafes, beloved scenes, and places where I dwelt in gratitude (so almost everywhere, really!). My arrival back in London was met by relative calm, my sanctuary of ‘home’ waiting with the peaceful, quiet, clean and tidy embrace I have missed whilst renting, and my local bistro (aka my second kitchen) provided the perfect post-transatlantic poached eggs to enjoy with my dear friend RO and a chance to catch up on stories, as I fought to stay awake and realign my body clock.

Two days later, the suitcases (all 3) remain half unpacked in the living room, and there is an unwillingness to settle in again too quickly. I find myself lingering in this uncommitted space, reticent to make plans or promises, not wanting to clutter up my diary, home or life with ‘stuff’ to do, or have, or be; or to unpack my memories and shove them in the back of a drawer till my next journey. So for now I am enjoying jet-lag, the perfect ally in resisting reality, whilst I make some decisions about what I want that to be. Meanwhile I’m going to enjoy what remains of the afternoon, a sojourn in a scented bath (dear tub I have had an amazing affair with an outdoor shower, but I missed you dreadfully!), then perhaps a journey into Selfridges for supplies (more coffee pods!), and somewhere delicious for a late lunch at dinner-time with my thoughts, and time to reflect on where and what I want life to be.

Hope you have a beautiful day, wherever you are, whatever you do, and that you can find time and space in your busy life to observe that place in between; maybe you will find the peaceful place waiting for you there too! Much love & blessings, Hxx

{Photo: Leaving LA, London bound, the sky in between. Taken by me on Saturday/Sunday. Words also mine ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

My first surf lesson (20th July 2013)

me surfingHi everyone!! It’s been another amazing day here in SoCal, and I am very aware that as the days and weeks slip by that I am busy being here, and not writing as much as I had planned; but ‘being’ just seems to be my priority, and there’s been a lot of ‘being’ to be! Today though was an especially awesome day, and one I want to commit to memory through written word, a reminder to read again when I need to remember how awesome it felt to face a fear, and how much I loved my first surf lesson!

I love the ocean, if you didn’t know this already, ‘welcome’ you must be new here! I dream about it when I’m at home in London, and feel most at home on a beach than anywhere else, and although I can swim I’m not terribly confident in the water. In Greece, where I have spent many happy times, I swim in crystal clear waters that are often have a pond like surface; here in Socal I could watch the waves gracefully arc and fall for hours, but have never ventured out to greet them, until today that is. Today I took my very first surf lesson, and pushed through my fears and self-imposed limitations as I swallowed my pride, and a more than a mouthful or two of salty water, to attempt something I’ve been telling myself for years that I would have tried if I was younger. Well I’m never going to be younger again than I am at present; but my courage found a friend in a patient and kind teacher, and it seemed like an adventure with my name emblazoned on it.

Growing up inland, I never really learnt to swim proficiently, it was only in my late 20’s that I learnt to breathe as I swam the length of the pool, albeit with my head out of water like a swan. Then in my thirties, after being seduced by the Greek sea, I took a single lesson to acquire a better technique (with the help of goggles), and can swim a reasonably acceptable breast-stroke back and forth across my favourite bays, watching the fish that glide beneath me. This gave me a taste of a calm, serene world that I fell in love with, an escape from the ridiculous chatter that pollutes my brain and a way to reconnect on a deeper level. However as my travels took me to shores of ferocious oceans (Bali, Australia, and California), my love of the deep remained in the form of a spectator, as I watched and admired the surfers from afar, enchanted as they played so elegantly amongst such unharnessed power.

I really never thought I’d be brave enough, or that I could be fit or agile enough, or indeed any kind of enough to put my life out there, leashed to a board, an inanimate object amongst the frighteningly fierce forces of the deep and daunting depths of the ocean. I’ve read too many Tim Winton novels and seen too many surf movies (Point Break, Lords of Dogtown et al.) where the dangers have been spelt out explicitly to enhance the drama; and I’ve met strong (sometimes cute) men in Bali, propping up bars with their ‘survivor’ stories, scars and injuries. However, there is something enticing about the sport; the freedom and oneness with the ocean, not to mention the ‘aloha’ culture and the tanned lithe bodies, and as I’ve been watching the waves here in Laguna the temptation has been calling, quietly yet persistently.

So when I met L a surfer-girl from Hawaii as I sat with coffee at ‘Brooks’ one morning, I was instantly charmed by her courage and dedication to a sport that steals her from her husband for hours daily. He surfs too, and shapes boards for a living, but his love of the waves cannot compete with his wife’s dedication, her escape and coping mechanism for any stress she’s encountered. Chatting one day, L’s husband asked if I’d give her a nutrition consultation, and since I cannot take payment (without a US work permit) she suggested a surf lesson in return. It was a pleasure to share my knowledge and understanding, not to mention my passion of healthy eating, yet part of me was unsure about accepting the lesson. However, L has a very understanding and patient character, someone I could trust, and hence it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

So today we met early, emboldened with coffee and well wishes from fellow wave watchers in Laguna, and drove up to Newport where the water is shallower for further, and there are less rocky outcrops to encounter. We drove through the cute homes on the Balboa peninsula and took the 3 car ferry across to the island, praying patiently to the ‘parking Goddess’ for a space near the pier for L’s flatbed truck that suits her immensely, despite her petite frame and feminine appearance. We changed into wetsuits, luckily we are the same size although I’m six inches taller, and once I’d got that far (one doesn’t merely dress but struggles into neoprene I discovered) I realised I was committed, and there was no going back without the burden of a regret too heavy to carry.

We practiced on sand initially, the jump from paddling whilst lying to standing, and I discovered I’m ‘goofy’ which means I’m left-footed, despite being right-handed, rather than simply as inelegant as the Disney character might be if he surfed; and I’m sure he’d be far more elegant than I anyway. We waded out, jumping the galloping white horses of waves that tumbled over each other and into the shore, then turned to present our backs to resist them as they got stronger, before launching ourselves over them as we progressed further out, deeper and deeper out of my comfort zone. I am not adept at keeping my eyes open under water, and struggle to clear the drops that cling to my eyelashes on surfacing; so feeling disorientated and utterly vulnerable I climbed to sit on the board as L held the nose steady for me, as steady as she could out of her depth between the sets. It took a while to get my position, evidently I need a longer board to stand on since I’m tall, but the light board we took today was a perfect introduction to feel the waves, learn to catch them as they crested, and practice paddling; and as soon as I caught my first one properly, somewhere between realizing that the sensation of joy that was propelled by the energy of the sea playing with me, I knew the desire exceeded my fear, and I was eager to try again and again. I did have some epic wipe outs, and felt incredibly impuissant in the force of the waves as they pounded my body, and tasted the bitter salty water that stang my eyes so viciously. Yet each time I recovered quickly, and got back on the board to paddle over the breakers to wait for the next wave I might try and ride on. After several hours I felt fatigue creep over me, and as we returned to the beach I felt myself grinning all over!

There were several novices in the friendlier water by the pier today, and we acknowledged each other’s progress and somehow avoided colliding and injury. And as we rinsed the salt from our wetsuits in the shower after our efforts, it felt somehow surreal that I too had partaken in this activity rather than just watching from the sidelines. As if I couldn’t quite believe that I had been the girl in the water, afraid but stubbornly determined, as if I had observed that part of me between feeling the sea carry me and giggle as it playfully pushed me, in the manner of my father swinging me around as a toddler.

Today I had my first surf lesson and it was awesome! I faced a fear and although I’m still afraid, I know how it looks and feels, I experienced it’s textures and tasted it, to discover that it’s something I can cope with, that yes it will knock me down, but I can withstand more than I thought, and for now I’m ready to get back up again, and I’m ready to be that afraid again, as soon as possible! Maybe you have a fear that’s not nearly as scary close up as it seems from afar, I guess the only way to find out, is to plunge right in and take a closer look! ‘Stoked’ and happy, and so very grateful for my kind and patient teacher : )) Blessings & love, Hxx

Photo & words: Hayley Darby ©2013

Sadness

sad

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, before my body was ready, but my mind was busy and insisted, so surrendering to wakefulness I found myself washed up on the pillow feeling exhausted. I lay for a while, just wishing sleep would reclaim me, waiting to wake up feeling refreshed and energized, but today is not one of those days, so I gave in and got up for coffee.

It’s a cool, grey start to the day in London, so I crept back to bed with my latte to sip it slowly and watch the cloudy sky as it threatened to cry. I had a lovely day yesterday; attending a first birthday party of a much prayed for miracle child, before meeting a friend I rarely see since he’s a professional tennis player on tour most of the time. I think perhaps my busy day just didn’t have time for self-indulgent feelings of sadness for a situation I cannot change, or the frustration and anger mixed up in the sense of helplessness as I watch someone I love drowning in shallow water they could easily stand up in. And yet it seems those feelings found me, having bided their time, and caught me defenseless whilst sleeping. The pain seeped through the cracks of the protective layers carefully constructed, winding their way round my heart and squeezing it until the tears rolled down my face as I let go of illusions of bravery and stoic aspirations.

Sometimes it’s too hard to stay strong relentlessly, so I sat with the sadness awhile; unfolding the layers, feeling the textures, seeing the flaws I cannot correct, the worn fibres and stubborn stains. I bunched the anger and grief up in my fists, then smoothed out the wrinkles of frustration and regrets, I poured salt water on historic wounds and wished it had all been different. Time passed and tears ran out, and suddenly I became aware of my breath and the rest of the day waiting patiently. So I sighed deeply and accepted things the way they are, that the changes I cannot make are not my responsibility and that no matter how hard that is to believe, it’s an immovable fact, with no way through, round it or over it. And I saw the day with all it’s potential, the preparation I must make and the progress beckoning. So I carefully folded away those feelings I couldn’t ignore, and having examined and accepted them, put them back in the drawer. Today I will be gentle, I will not expect too much of myself or pretend that I am stronger than I am, but I will be brave and I will not dwell on the pain anymore. If you’re feeling tender too, please be kind to yourself, you can be stronger and productive tomorrow. Blessings & love Hxx

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

Turning corners

am meGood morning everyone, happy Monday!! Today I woke early, the morning sun having sneaked into the room to tempt me from dreams that held answers to questions I’ve yet to ask, and found me smiling. I lay for a while trying to make sense of the remembered images of my reverie, until they faded and curiosity called me from my bed to find what lays in the day ahead. The start of the new week is for me an inspiration for productivity, I have a list, a long list, an extremely long list, and it seems to keep growing despite the time period shrinking. So I drew the blind, made some coffee, and got back into bed with my laptop and diary searching for a sense of organised confidence in the tasks to complete, and ticked off several surprisingly quickly.

As I peruse my list: appointments to schedule, telephone calls to make, items to collect, information to clarify and notes to check; I am aware that life seems to have turned a corner, and each tick is a step closer to the next thing rather than a step away from the last thing. My energy has improved dramatically, and even the most mundane tasks are embraceable with an enthusiasm recently lacking. The change in myself, and the direction I’m taking are all due to a moment of belief amidst the uncertainty, when suddenly creating the life I desire became more important than the responsibilities and limitations I had previously let confine me.

I wonder what this week will bring for you, and whether the items on your ‘to-do’ list are taking you in the direction you want to be heading? Because if you’re just fire-fighting to keep your head above water amidst a sea of responsibilities, maybe there’s something you’ve neglected that you should be addressing, since in the words of Goethe “things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least”, and if today isn’t the best time, maybe it should be!?

Wishing you all a beautiful day and a productive week, with blessings & love, and a smile on my face Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}