Walking in gratitude

winter-walkIt’s a chilly, frosty morning, the lawn is white and spiky, the dogs’ water bowl is full of ice, but the sky is a multitude of peachy pink hues that bleed from behind the trees on the horizon, seeping towards the heavens, as the sun rises lazily. I woke this morning with Leo curled up into my chest, as Poppy came bounding on to the bed to lick my face awake, whilst Platon waited patiently from his protective post on the sofa. Poppy is always the most impatient for the day to start, and bounces about, ‘talking’, as she demands cuddles, and pleads with me to get up. She goads Leo into play, and once he has unsnuggled himself to respond to this whirling dervish, I give in and leave the warmth and comfort of the duvet. Having thrown on a big snuggly jumper and shoved my feet into cosy slippers, I let the dogs out and stand at the patio doors watching them and the sunrise, whilst waiting for my coffee to brew. Then twelve paws need wiping, and I fill their breakfast kongs with kibble, before settling down on the awesome sofa with my latte.
Today Platon lies on my legs, a mirror of a memory from this day a year ago (thanks Facebook for the reminder), when I was so grateful I could feel this lump of love on legs that I was at risk of losing all feeling of, (prior to my spinal surgery for Cauda Equina). And as I savour his warmth, and reassuring, loving presence, I am reminded that the little things really are the big things. As the sun breaks through the clouds, a pool of sunlight spills over the wooden floor, and Poppy stretches out to sunbathe. The dogs have taught me many valuable lessons; living in the moment is one of them. They keep me grounded in the now, with their joy at simple pleasures, and ability to love and trust so much, after the abuse each of them has previously suffered. The sun also highlights the dog hair that peppers the floorboards, and the smeary nose marks at dog height on the French windows. Our home is lived in and full of love, these are tokens that go with the territory, I am reminded of the poster saying ‘dull women have immaculate houses’, and smile at the notion.

Beyond the smeared glass, our view is typical English countryside, unmarred by a single building, as paddocks of horses are framed by the wintry silhouettes of the spidery branches adorning majestic trees in the distance. Behind the trees, hills of fields rise to meet the skyline, and it’s a view that I appreciate every morning. We only moved here about 6 weeks ago, so I am still discovering new things, and yesterday a new friend showed me a lovely walk for the dogs beyond the line of trees, up a muddy track to the gallops (we are on a large farm estate with both a professional yard, and amateur stables), where rabbits darted bravely across the wide open spaces before disappearing for shelter, into hedgerows of thick undergrowth. Much to Poppy’s delight as she danced around like Zebedee on the end of her lead. Platon was trusted off leash, but thankfully was too busy in his own game of bounding around, to notice the vulnerable wildlife, apart from stopping periodically to stick his nose in the ground or bushes, sniffing at trails. Leo pottered along patiently, sniffing all the new smells with excitement, and periodically leaving his own ‘eau de pee’ to enhance the fragrance.

I have moved here looking for a more dog friendly home, wanting a private paddock and plenty of safe country walks. This has taken me over an hour away from my friends and family, the familiar places I grew up in, and the proximity to my old home in London. It is a new adventure, and after a year of many changes, I have a lot to be grateful for, including reconnecting with friends who live in this direction, and grateful for dear friends who have come to visit me. The dogs are happy here too, and wait patiently for their morning walk and playtime, so I’m going to wish you a beautiful day, get dressed in lots of warm layers, and hope you notice those little things that really are the big things, and what you are grateful for too. Many blessings, Hxx

{Photo credit, via Pinterest (but so similar to my view it is uncanny), Words by me, Hayley Darby ©2017}

Hope springs..

leggy am1

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke late as dreams of possibilities, that no longer seem tangible, slipped through my fingers like fine sand in a sea breeze. I lay on the pillow, lamenting the loss a little before focusing on the present to find that the reality I am left holding is not such a hard truth to swallow, and I decide to chase it down with a soya latte. The sunlight pushing at the curtains, burst into the room as I drew them, like a playful puppy that bounces around everything a little too enthusiastically. I stood for a while with my forehead against the cool glass of the window pane, and closed my eyes to feel the light on my skin, before smiling up at the baby blue sky that continues endlessly on this beautiful morning.

I made my latte and sat on the sunny end of the sofa, chatting to dear GH on the telephone, making plans for later, and moved my legs to catch the rays that stream through the window. I imagine for a moment that I’m planning a walk along the beach, rather than tea in Richmond; and right on cue, a cloud floats in to relocate my thoughts back to a February day in London. The daffodils on the mantelpiece remain cheerful, and promise that it might not be here yet, but spring is coming, and the clouds move to reveal the sun reassuringly. And I wonder where hope would flourish if we didn’t face disappointment, would spring’s beauty be appreciated without the winter it follows, and could we build new dreams if we didn’t let go of the old ones? ..and then my mind was back to wondering about which beach I would like to wander along..

I hope that the sun shines on your part of the world today too, but if it isn’t, know that it will come back again soon. Blessings & love ❤ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via kikisloane.tumblr}

Spring inspiration

spring coffee

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke from a deep, sweet, sleep, finding myself curled up in the duvet amongst a plethora of pillows. I lay for a moment in my comfortable nest, as a hint of a dream evaporated rapidly, before stirring to start the day ahead with the thought of coffee. It’s a cold start here in London, and the chill in the air caught me as I threw back the covers, so I wrapped up quickly in something cosy, and made my way downstairs to find it’s snowing.

It’s a cold, wet snow that falls faster than it’s crispy counterpart, and although it sits prettily on the rooftops opposite, it seems too heavy for the trees, leaving their bare branches standing spiky and resilient. I lit a candle, and curled up with my latte as the fig fragrance filled the room, reminding me of places I would rather be. I smile at the cheerful daffodils on the coffee table, a promise that spring is coming, eventually. February finds me most impatient for summer’s return, and I find myself searching online for deals to far flung destinations, where the sun shines optimistically and beaches stretch further than my budget.

Still, it’s a good day to stay inside and be productive, so I remained on the sofa a while addressing emails and getting caught up in the start of the working week, as plans and ideas start to open like the buds of early spring flowers. I have some creative projects that have been on hold for a while, as I have been directing my energy down other avenues, but today I have a chance to resume that spark, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s snowing outside because in my mind it’s spring already! There is something consuming about the creative process that enables us to get lost in the moment. I find something keeps me anchored in the present as I work with my hands, absorbed in the flow, distracted from worries.. and the weather. So as the wind swirls the snow, which is now falling heavily, I’m wishing you a gorgeous day, whatever you’re up to, and hope some creativity inspires you!

Blessings & love, Hxx

{Picture sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Rainy days and opportunities

rain

Good morning everyone! It has been a very busy week, and the opportunity to laze on the sofa and write this today feels like a luxury. It’s a damp, grey, rainy day in London, and as I sit on the sofa with my latte I watch the rain drops race down the window pane, snuggling under the cashmere throw dear ADS gave me. It feels like I’m fighting off a cold, which wouldn’t be surprising, stress depletes the body of immune fighting nutrients, and I’ve been stood in the less than clement weather on several occasions.

At the beginning of the week I gave a presentation on the detrimental effects stress can have on our bodies, sabotaging health, fitness, and waistlines too; since our hormones conduct our appetites and metabolism. I spoke to a larger audience than usual, in fact I’m more familiar with 1:1 consultations, which gave me an opportunity to observe my own stress response, particularly in the preparation. Stress is a largely unavoidable part of modern life, but much of it also depends on our choices, and sometimes it’s a worthy exercise to reflect on those elements. I often see patients who are neglecting their health and happiness as they strive to achieve in areas of work, or sport, or being the best at everything; as their health and happiness suffer tremendously. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and gain a little perspective.

This week I have observed lots of stress, my friend ADS had her laptop stolen on a short flight to Spain from Switzerland, it seems it was lifted from her hand luggage whilst in the overhead locker, something she failed to check before disembarkation, because who would think anyone would be so cheeky? Having endured the expense of a trip to Apple, she then discovered her time-machine back-up is defunct, so two years of her business development appear to be lost, and she’s devastated. My consolation attempts are limited to acknowledging her anger and frustration, as I try to focus on the things she CAN do, and the things she DOES have; whilst she laments her loss. There are some things we simply cannot change, and acceptance of such is a key step to moving forward. For ADS this feels like a bereavement, and she is going through the painful process.

I had another bereaved friend this week, I accompanied dear GH to a funeral as she said good bye to a man that seemed to have filled his short 50 years with an extraordinary amount of life, an action hero with a reputation for being jolly. As I sat and listened to his friends and family deliver his eulogy, it gave me cause to reflect on what I would want my own to be. I wondered about my life currently, and what my present concerns mean in the bigger picture, am I focusing on the things that really matter, or am I stressing about details unnecessarily?

So this morning, I am relishing the opportunity of just watching the rain, as I curl up on the sofa with my latte. I’m taking time out to assess what’s really important, and which aspects truly don’t deserve the energy expenditure I have been spending. And I know that some of life’s stress is unavoidable, but I’m going to try and monitor whether those levels of damage I inflict on my well-being, reflect the gravitas of the issues in the over-all picture. As I write the rain continues to fall, and the grey day beyond the window looks cold and uninviting, but I am grateful for the blessing. I’m privileged because I still have an opportunity to impact the meaning of my life, I have choices and the chance to make changes that may reflect in my eulogy, so I’m working on it! I hope that today you have a chance too, to choose a life with less stress about the little things. I’m off to meet dear LS for coffee and a dance in some puddles : )) Much love & blessings from a work in progress ♥ Hxx

Sunny feelings

sofa view

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, swimming to the surface of a deep sleep, rising from the dark depths of oblivion towards the day awaiting. I lay for a while sifting through the thoughts that greeted me, before stretching my full length, and pushing my toes onto the cool brass of the bedstead. I’ve had an exhausting week, and could really have done with more sleep, but as soon as I noticed a slither of sunlight that sneaked through the curtains, I couldn’t stay in bed. I wrapped up I a robe and made my way downstairs to greet the day, opening the door, despite the chill, to breathe in the blue skies and all their potential. It’s certainly still winter in London, but on days like this I can smell the spring.

I lounged on the sofa with my latte, enjoying the sunny rays that spill through the window, sending shadows across the book cases. Some daffodils sit cheerily on the coffee table reminding me of places in my childhood, and the hope that spring carries. I stared at the sky and got lost in thought, about the directions I’ve chosen and the future I’m creating; and I realize as I write that I’m not sure that I want what I thought I wanted, anymore. I think that our dreams and aspirations are often focused on achievement, things that we choose because of the expectations of the way we will feel when we get them. This can easily lead to disappointment, even when we accomplish our goals, because we fail to meet the deeper desire of the feeling we expected to accompany them.

So this morning as I lay in the sunlight, I started to rewrite my future, focusing on the feelings I want to experience rather than the objectives I supposed would achieve them. Suddenly the direction is less important than the way I view things, and I recognise that choosing to dwell in the thoughts that feed or drain my energy is the key. So I’m focusing on feeding my soul today with thoughts that nourish me, it might not be spring quite yet, but it’s on the way and I’m feeling optimistic : )) Have a gorgeous day everyone, I hope you find the thoughts that lead you to the way you want to feel too. Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Smiles and sun salutations

beach yogaGood morning everyone!! Today I woke late, and snuggled back under the duvet searching for remnants of the dream that I was waking from. I caught a fleeting glimpse of a favourite grin before it disappeared around the corner, a little ray of sunshine that left me with more questions than answers, and I sat watching the sea again and wondering. I miss the sea dreadfully.. something not lost on those that know me. Yesterday I met darling DA for a breakfast, and as we caught up on news and gossip, he informed me that I was lacking a little sparkle, and asked if he could tempt me with a flight to a beach destination, as if temptation is ever a problem! DA works for British Airways, and flights are answers to all those tricky questions, don’t you just love those friends who know what you need to make things better!? We perused a few possibilities, fanaticising about sun salutations on long sandy beaches, as he quoted me prices that generously include his staff discount, whilst I tickled Tosca (the dog) under the chin where she likes it. DA made me laugh, and when he declared with a flourish that really I’m not the sort of woman that should fly economy, and I suddenly wished he was straight; because seriously I could fall in love with a man that thinks like that! We giggled over almond croissants and coffee before I left with promises to dog-sit Tosca whenever required, and walking home looked skyward, searching for vapour trails and inspiration.

Today the skies are blue, bright and sunny, stretching as far as the eye can see, beyond the proud resilience of the bare branches of trees by my window. It’s a wonderful day for a walk on the heath, and I’ve already been on the phone to LS, arranging a rendezvous that involves warm scarves and walking boots. The sun pours into the living room, spilling pools of light on the awesome sofa, a suitable hot spot for enjoying my morning latte. I remembered another snippet of my dream, noticing a feeling more than a situation, and smiled at the clouds in my coffee. DA is right, I have been feeling a little lack lustre recently, probably just still recovering from flu, the January blues, and let’s face it everything feels more difficult when the days are short, dark, and cold. However from now on, each day will stretch out a little longer, as spring draws ever closer. Dear DA is right, flights to sunnier climes are terribly enticing, but the best medicine for everything, are the friends that keep us smiling : )) I hope you’re blessed with people who put the sparkle back in your smile, and that your skies are sunny and blue whatever your weather this weekend! Blessings & love with hugs, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}

Snowy start

blonde snow

Good morning everyone! Today I woke late, feeling tired and not quite ready to release the sleep that had abandoned me unceremoniously, finding myself on the pillow fighting off wakefulness. After a week in bed with flu I returned to work this week to realise that perhaps I hadn’t recovered as fully as expected, finding myself struggling with exhaustion and feeling depleted. I lay for a while this morning, noticing how heavy my head felt as leaden limbs pinned me to the mattress, but sleep eluded me as a stream of conscious thought laden with responsibility flooded the space where dreams had left. I gave in quickly, grabbing my robe and a thick pair of socks, descending the stairs in search of coffee to find it’s snowing in London, beautiful, gentle, gracefully.

I sat with my latte just watching for a while as the fine flakes swirled on their descent, dancing on the breeze in absolutely no hurry as they alight the rooftops, branches, balcony and any upturned surfaces. The scene beyond my window has been transformed, the Victorian buildings seemingly more Dickensian with the soft white blanket that covers the dirt and blemishes of city dwelling. I smiled at the clouds in my coffee, the weather suits me, suddenly there is no reason to rush, and fortunately there is nowhere I absolutely have to be today. I made a list of the things I really must get done, the dreaded tax return being one of them, and I’m going to enjoy methodically working through them. Somehow the weather seems to dictate the day as a gentle one, time to stay warm and cosy, a chance to clear some chores from my desk, and take it gently. I do hope that whatever weather you’re treated to today, that it suits you too! Blessings & love, Hxx

{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}

An indulgent start

kfast

Good morning everyone! Today I woke early to birdsong, and lay in the darkness waiting for sleep to reclaim me before my brain started spinning. The birds realizing their error stopped chirping since the dawn was not yet ready, I imagined them curling up in their nests, tucking beak under wing to sleep again, as the privilege eluded me. I snuggled deeper into my nest, curling into swirls of white duvet, searching for dreams, but unable to release conscious thinking.

Eventually the day arrived; cool, damp and misty, and as the hour turned into a reasonable one I got up for coffee, accompanied with that tired craving for comfort in the form of an almond croissant. So I dressed immediately, before giving myself time to contemplate, wrapping up in my scarf and coat, and headed over the road to the café. It’s a grey day, and the morning traffic was getting busy on the main road as I approached, focusing on the cosy, welcoming lights of the café on the other side of the street, glad I’m not a rush hour commuter, as people ran for the buses amongst the crowd walking towards the train stations. The baristas greeted me with cheerful smiles, bemused that I didn’t want my regular coffee order, just a croissant to take home and devour whilst curled up on the awesome sofa.

The dampness of the day seemed to creep under my skin in the short distance I walked to procure my breakfast, so armed with my latte and indulgence on a plate I swathed myself in some extravagant cashmere blankets dear ADS gave me yesterday. I lit a candle, scented with suede patchouli, a comforting smoky fragrance wrapped in vetiver bourbon and oakmoss. Then I turned my attention to breakfast, smiling at my treat, pulling apart the flaky pastry to reveal the sweet almond paste, and licking sugar dusted fingers. Food is a fundamental pleasure, and whilst I don’t advocate croissants for breakfast professionally speaking, I do think it’s important to feed the soul and mine just happens to desire a sweet, sticky, almond croissant on occasion : )) I hope your day starts beautifully too, and that whatever you treat yourself to, you thoroughly savour every moment! Blessings and love, with a sugar dusted grin ♥ Hxx

Footprints..

footprints

Good morning everyone! Today I woke late, drifting into consciousness from the dreamy depths, as I surfaced to the sound of the wind swirling round the house, with the TV ariel swaying against the chimney to mimic the sound of yacht rigging. I lay for a while to get my bearings in the gloomy half light, it’s a very grey day in London, making the comfort of the nest in which I woke more delicious than coffee, for a while at least. I slipped back into some dreams of the sea, those gentle lulling waves near the shore, feeling safe and secure yet free. I miss the beach, and as sleep slipped away like fine sand running through my hands, I visualized walks along some favourite shores I have visited before: (South beach, Miami; Three Arch Bay & Laguna, California; Legian, Bali; Palm beach & Avalon, Sydney; Cei bach, Llangrannog & Penbryn, Wales; and my Greek island ‘secrets’) but none of them seemed to know what I was looking for, and the wind continued to rage beyond the window, sending echoes down the chimney. The footprints in the sand may be washed away, but those in my heart are surely indelible.

Resigned to wakefulness eventually, I stretched my full length, pushing my toes into the cool brass of the bedstead, then twisting my spine before getting up to grab a robe and descend the stairs into the day ahead. I lit candles in the living room as the coffee machine spluttered into my favourite mug (a tall pink bistro latte cup, a gift from LS), and inhaled the aroma of eucalyptus, rose and sandalwood (Penhaligon’s Elixir) as I settled on the awesome sofa with my laptop. The trees bowed to the weather in the dark day beyond the windows, and I felt smug & snug for a while as I flicked through my emails, I am seriously bad at managing them and my inbox is over-flowing <sigh!>. After a hearty breakfast of porridge with pear and cinnamon, topped with Greek yoghurt and almonds, I’m craving fresh air, and since it’s not raining, I’m going to walk up the hill into the village, preparing to get windswept, to meet LS and catch up on festive news over tea and treats in our favourite deli. We may or may not check out some bargains in the sales, no purchases planned, but I’m not making any promises! I hope you have a fabulous Saturday whatever you’re up to, and that the Christmas spirit keeps you warm and happy if you’re in a cooler climate : )) ..and if you’re somewhere hot, please do send some sunny vibes in this direction! Blessings & love, Hxx

 

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest}