nature

Give Thanks

Spiritual thoughts come from many different directions, and I think this year so far I've turned to a few in this daily blog. 

Today I turn to the wisdom of a man called Tecumseh who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century in what is now 'America'.

He was a chief of the Shawnee tribe and a warrior who resisted the expansion of the United States onto Native American lands. He wanted to draw  the different tribes to his cause so he travelled widely trying to encourage different indigenous peoples to support the resistance to the expansion of the 'incomers' who were determined to take over their lands. This resulted in a Native American confederacy and although his efforts to unite Native Americans ended with his death in the War of 1812, his legacy did not die with him. Tecumseh has become an iconic folk hero in American, Indigenous, and Canadian popular history.

Native Americans were and are a very spiritual people, with a culture, philosophy and spirituality close to the land and nature, animals and the universe, and although Tecumseh and his peoples lived so long ago and in very different times, some of the thoughts that have been handed down through the centuries are profound and are really pertinent to our circumstances today. They go to the heart of what it is to be 'human' and that is so thought-provoking.

So, for this Saturday, here's one of those wise Native American thoughts ... attributed to Tecumseh himself.

Once you've asked yourself these challenging questions ... Have a happy day !

Saturday thanks


A Time for Everything

We've had a lovely weekend in Jersey, with lots of sunshine and the temperatures still warm. It's been glorious!

But last night, for the first time, it felt like there was a nip in the air ... and what with the leaves beginning to turn, it really feels like summer is turning to autumn.

I'm reminded at times like this that each season of the year brings with it challenges and joys. Autumn, or Fall, brings harvest and a reminder of what the world has to offer, so long as we take care of it. 

Autumn is also a time of preparation for winter, when we maybe hunker down a bit ... well I do anyway. A time to maybe not rush around quite so much as I have in the summer. A time to appreciate home.

Every season of the year, every time of our lives, brings with it responsibilities,  demands on our time, periods of rest and recuperation, work and life, family and fun. As we grow older, I am finding, life takes on new perspectives. The dreams I had as a young person are now no longer so 'essential'. The sky won't fall in if I don't get all I want! I no longer worry much about what people think of me. I find myself becoming aware of the need to use the time left to me wisely, rather than worrying about things I cannot change. 

Time is a precious thing. Every day I learn a little more about that. And although I still yearn for a bit of 'adventure' in life, these days good health and good friends, love and security are the things I find myself cherishing  ...

Oh ... and a good night's sleep! 

In the Bible, in the Old Testament, in the book of Ecclesiastes, there are some words which talk about there being 'A Time for Everything' ... it pertains not just to people but also to nations and nature. It reminds us to use time wisely. As I said before, to cherish the moments we have been given. 

The words are encouraging, and challenging, and worth reflecting on. And at the beginning of a new week, it's worth thinking about.

I love the poetry of passages like this ... glorious!

Not sure what 'season' this is for you ... but as you read this maybe you'd like to think about your dreams and wishes and wants, priorities and the passage of time.

Be blessed!

There is a seasonA Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes Ch 3: verses 1-8)

 


October Blessings

It's the first day of October - time is flying!

The nights are drawing in, there's a bit of a chill in the air and the leaves are turning golden and brown and beginning to drop.

Another Autumn is with us!

I have to admit I'm a bit of a Summer person myself ... I love the warm weather and sunshine. I love swimming and walking in the fresh air, no need most of the time for bundling up! In summer-time I feel liberated! 

Seeing all this disappear can make me feel a bit depressed, I have to admit, but I'm reminded today, as I turn the page into October, that there are blessings to be discovered at any time of year. And finding something positive to experience is what I'm looking for.

So here goes ... October is one of those months when we celebrate the Harvest, and I'm reminded of all the wonderful things that our earth produces. It's a month when we often experience the beautiful colours of nature, and prepare ourselves for the winter. It's the transition into that dark time of the year and it can be exhilarating. Crunching through those fallen leaves, feeling the autumn breeze on my face. And yes, delving into the back of my cupboard to fish out those winter clothes, my colourful scarves and hats and gloves which I adore!

So today let's be reminded of the importance of staying focused, and appreciating everything that every day brings us!  Not looking back, but enjoying the present moment. Enjoying what we have been given and the people around us. Remembering to treat each moment like a gift.

I love these sentiments and I'm sure that if we follow this little list, we will surround ourselves with happiness and the warmth of human kindness, whatever the weather outside.

Have a great day everyone

Happy October!

 October Blessings


And .... breathe

If you know a bit about me, you'll know that I love to swim in the sea.

I find it so relaxing, and so good for my mental health. The exercise, of course, is great but it's also such a calming experience, as you feel the water on your skin, the breeze on your face and, if you're lucky, the warmth of the sun on your skin.

In the summer time I do swim as often as possible, and it's been a joy this week to get in a few dips ... in between the hours at the computer ... working as a freelance writer and also concentrating a lot on researching and writing a new book.

Ouaisne Bay Sept 2021We have lots of beautiful beaches and bays here in Jersey in the Channel Islands - some rocky coves, and some beautiful stretches of glorious sandy beaches. 

One of my favourites for relaxing and swimming is Ouaisne Bay in the south west of the island ...it's at one end of a very popular tourist beach - St Brelade's Bay - but usually much quieter.

This week I managed to get a dip there ... and it was glorious. A great opportunity to ... just breathe really.

The sound of waves gently crashing on the shoreline can take me to a different place and can really help with my anxiety and stress levels. I find the sound of the sea so soothing and so good for 'de-stressing' my life.

So today, I just want to share some of those sounds with you and hope they will help you to.

Filmed at Ouaisne Bay this week.

Have a great weekend and ... stay chilled!

Enjoy!

 


 

 

 

 


Welcome September

It's September! The start of a new month!

Time is flying by ... the summer is almost done and autumn is on the horizon.

I'm still hoping and praying for a few more weeks of good weather but then we know the chilly nights and frosts will reappear, and that can  be a bit depressing. especially if, like me, you prefer the warmer days of the year.

But we know that autumn - or Fall - also brings the harvest and beautiful colours, like nature is having a last glorious celebration before the dark and colder days of winter.

I think the dawn of every new month is always exciting. It's a new chapter, a new page in our book of life! New opportunities! And the first of any month is a reminder that time passes quickly, and we need to grasp life, enjoy it and make the most of each moment that is given to us.

So here's a thought to inspire us, to make us smile and encourage us to make the most of this new month!

Have a great day everyone!

And have a FABULOUS September

 

First day of September

 


Discover Peace

A week or so ago I brought you an Apache blessing and since then I've been doing a little exploring and investigating.

This ancient Native American people have a culture and spirituality very much linked to nature and their connections to the environment and to the world around them. Their spirituality venerates ancestors and links the generations through the connections of respect. Among other things, they believe that every living thing has a purpose. Inspirational!

Prayers and blessings have been lovingly handed down from generation to generation, including through the spoken word. But how beautiful that now you can just find these thoughts, blessings and prayers on-line!

The ancestors who first spoke these words of wisdom thousands of years ago, perhaps around a camp fire, will surely have hoped that the next generation would come to understand the importance of keeping close to nature and being true to themselves and their history, but they can hardly have contemplated that they would be inspiring us today, many hundreds of years down the line!

So today I just share these pearls of wisdom and wish you a wonderful day!

Apache prayer

 

 


Pull the Trigger

Are you ambitious?

Or do you have dreams?

Maybe you want success in life? A fantastic job? Recognition and riches? Fame and fortune? Material possessions?

Or are your aims bigger than that?

Maybe you dream of world peace, a more just world, a cleaner environment? Perhaps you are after courage, strength, peace, security, love ... for yourself as well as others? 

There's a saying ... I think it's a line in a great movie ... 'The Sound of Music' ...

'Where the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window'

When I was a kid my Dad used to say sometimes 'God will open a door but it's up to us to keep it open' ... if a door opens perhaps we need to shove our foot in the gap and ensure it doesn't close on us before we have chance to see what's on the other side of the threshold!

Well I'm thinking along those lines today.

Many of us have things we aspire to be and do,  but the question is, do we think that it's just going to land at our feet?

Do we believe that if we dream or even pray hard enough, then what we want to do or be will just happen? A bit like magic?

There's nothing wrong with dreams but perhaps life is more than that.

As this picture today reminds us, lots of us have 'aims' in life, but some of us will never reach them because we don't do anything about it. We wait for life to happen for us rather than doing what we need to do to get the ball rolling.

Even if doors do open for us unexpectedly, we can't assume that that will lead us to our wishes, dreams and wants. But invariably we may be facing closed doors and it's up to us to get a key and unlock it.

If we want to get a great job, and even obtain that success, we may need to get our head down and study for our careers! We might need to start a bit lower down the ranks  and work our way up. It might be a bit tiresome and not glamourous and we might get impatient, but if we're not in the mix for any promotion, then how can it happen for us? If we want to run our own company then we will have to work hard for that!

Yes I know what some of you are thinking, life DOES land in some people's laps, or appears to do so, but it's very rare. If you look at many of the true stars who were an 'overnight success' you'll usually find years of graft in their past which got them to where they ended up.

If we want to become an author or writer, we have to write!  Unless you're one of those celebrities who populate our media world and are really just famous for being famous, it's unlikely that a publisher will pop up with a book deal. 

If we fancy living in a different place then maybe we need to investigate whether that's possible.

If we wish to see a more just world  then maybe it can start with us being a person who lives justice and fairness in our relationships ... avoiding conflict, treating others with respect no matter their circumstances.

If we dream of a world where the environment - flora and fauna - is not pushed to extinction, or where climate change is no longer an issue for future generations, then perhaps it could begin with our own behaviour. We can all rant on about waste but are we recycling ? We can all get angry about climate change but are we aware of our impact on the world, in our own travel habits, the cars we drive, the food miles attached to the products we buy in the shops?

You know what I'm talking about?

SO today - whether you are aiming for something personal or something more global ... there's no point just sitting around waiting for it to happen.

So if you haven't done it before ... maybe it's time to Pull the Trigger!

 

Target in Life



Delicious Writing

Today I'm remembering one of my heroines.

She was a fantastic writer, an artist and illustrator, a farmer, natural scientist and conservationist! And just an AMAZING person, a woman before her time!

Her stories have given hours and hours of pleasure to generations of children in the last century, with her incredible creatures - Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Mr Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck and so many more.

I'm talking, of course, about Beatrix Potter!

What a woman! 

Born on this day - July 28 - in 1866 she grew up in a strict middle-class Victorian home, educated by governesses and isolated from other children. Apart from her brother, young Beatrix's main companions were her numerous pets and early on she started painting pictures of them and making up stories. Beatrix and her family took holidays in Scotland and in the north west of England, in the Lake District, and as she grew she learned to love and closely observe landscape, flora and fauna. 

Beatrix studied and made watercolours especially of fungi, and she first became well respected in the field of mycology. the study of fungi. 

By all accounts she was not just an exceptional talent, but also frustrated at home, feeling trapped. She didn't care to do what other girls of her time were expected to do ... get married to the 'right' man and produce lots of offspring. She wanted more. She wanted a career, to do something useful with her life. She bucked the trends of her day.

By the time she was in her thirties, she turned to writing and illustrating stories for children.

Peter_Rabbit_first_edition_1902Her first book, 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit', started out as a story for a little boy she knew, five-year-old Noel Moore who was the son of one of Beatrix's former governesses, Annie Carter Moore. Beatrix drew pictures and made up the story in 1893 and in 1901 she revised it and offered it to some publishers. When it was rejected, she decided to print copies herself but a year later it was picked up by the publishing house Frederick Warne & Co.

With its central character a naughty and mischievous little rabbit who gets into, and is chased around, the garden of  Mr. McGregor, the book was almost immediately a huge success, capturing the imagination not just of children but of their parents. It's a simple story - Peter escapes and returns home to his mother, who puts him to bed with a cup of chamomile tea - but the exquisite pictures have helped to make it one of the best-selling books in history. In the years after its publication it was reprinted multiple times and in the century since it was published it's sold more than 45million copies and has been translated  into 36 languages.

After Peter's success, Beatrix began writing and illustrating children's books full time and she let her imagination run wild, writing many stories based around what have become iconic animal characters ... some of whom I mentioned before. She wrote 30 books, 23 of which were her children's tales.

She was also a canny businesswoman. As early as 1903, Beatrix made and patented a Peter Rabbit doll and this was followed by other merchandise - painting books, board games, wall-paper, figurines, and even baby blankets and china tea-sets. Warne and Co licensed these and they and Beatrix reaped the financial benefits.  She became a very rich woman, and within a few years of that first book she was able to move out of home and the restrictive influence of her parents in London.

In 1905 she had been unofficially engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne, much against her controlling parents wishes. Sadly Norman died unexpectedly a month later and Beatrix was then even more determined to move out of the family home. That same year, with the proceeds from the stories and merchandising, and a legacy from an aunt, she bought Hill Top Farm in the village of Near Sawrey in the Lake District in Cumbria, near Lake Windermere. 

And this is where her story takes an unexpected twist. Living in the Lake District, Beatrix became aware that much of this beautiful land was under threat of being bought up for housing development for the ever expanding population of the northwest of England. 

Over a period of decades, she gradually bought more farms, and so preserved the unique hill country. Her busy writing was eventually replaced by her passion for land and conservation and farming. She became a prize-winning breeder of native Herdwick sheep and she was  a prosperous farmer. When she died  in December 1943 at the age of 77 Beatrix left almost all her property to the National Trust and this legacy means she is credited with preserving much of the land that now makes up the Lake District National Park.

And she didn't live her life without love. Beatrix eventually DID marry - in 1913 aged 47, she married William Heelis, a respected local solicitor from the town of  Hawkshead.

Beatrix Potter was a force of nature. She refused to be constrained by the 'rules' and expectations of her day. She walked her own road and allowed her creativity to thrive. She was determined to follow her own path, even if that scandalised her parents and other 'respectable' folk. She made a fantastic success of her life, and her legacy lives on not just in all those amazing stories, but also in the beautiful Lake District National Park.

As a writer I'm inspired by Beatrix Potter and am a little envious, truth be told, of her imagination and her determination. I need more of that!

She once said that she never really 'grew up' and that was the basis of her story-telling. She also apparently said she was pleased she didn't go to school because that might have robbed her of her originality.

But this is my favourite quote from Beatrix Potter. She obviously LOVED writing ... she was excited by the prospect of putting pen to paper. Bringing her animal friends to life was a joy, but she allowed them to tell their own story.

I love that.

Some writers report that sometimes characters in their stories DO almost manifest themselves through the writing and that's happened to me once in a while.

To do that, I must simply allow my imagination to go wild, just as Beatrix did.

Thanks Miss Potter - may your stories always not just entertain but also inspire!!!

Beatrix Potter

 


Climbing our Mountains

Have you ever climbed a mountain?

I'm actually talking about a real 'mountain' now, although I'll get on to the metaphorical in just a moment.

I know quite a few people who have climbed summits. I even know some very brave souls who have scaled the highest mountain in the world - Mount Everest in the Himalayas!

In my youth it was something I fancied doing ... well maybe not Everest but certainly smaller mountains ...

However, a medical condition I had in my childhood meant that I don't do well at very high altitude so that was not an option for me. I have been skiing in the mountains but I have always lost a few days of my holiday to severe altitude sickness, so I haven't swished down the slopes for quite a few years now. Truth be told, my knees probably couldn't take the strain now anyway.

I still love the idea of going to the Himalayas and the Andes but I guess I'll just need to do that in my imagination.

Back to why I'm talking about this today.

Well, it was on this day in the year 1919 that a child was born in New Zealand who would go on to become the first of two people to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Edmund Hillary (later to become Sir Edmund) was an explorer, mountaineer, diplomat and philanthropist and it was on May 29th 1953 that he and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest - or at least to confirm they reached the top of the mountain.

It was just one of many achievements but, by all accounts, it didn't make Hillary big headed or arrogant. Although his climb made him an international sensation, and of course led to the opening of the mountain for the generations to come, following his ascent of Everest,  among other things Hillary devoted himself to assisting the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he established, and which built many schools and hospitals. 

To climb a mountain, let alone the highest mountain in the world, takes great bravery, and in 1953 it took exceptional courage. There wasn't the sophisticated equipment including  breathing apparatus which exists today, so the peril was severe. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay weren't the first to try to conquer Everest, many many people had attempted it before and failed and even died in the trying. People have died since ... I remember one former teacher who I learned some years after I left school in the 1970s had perished while attempting Everest.

And, of course, many have successfully now followed in Hillary and Norgay's footsteps.

Everest wasn't the only peak in the Himalayas (and other ranges) that Sir Edmund would climb in his lifetime and he knew that it wasn't just about physical bravery but also mental strength.

After climbing Everest Sir Edmund is said to have said this ... 

'It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves!'

Stand by for the metaphors ... because of course we all have 'mountains' to climb in our lives. They might not be actual mountains but they feel like that sometimes. Insurmountable conditions under which we are living, difficult people, constrained finances, ill health... you get the idea. Fill in the gaps for yourself.

Before we face these problems in life, maybe we need to consider and perhaps attempt to overcome some of our own issues? Those things which maybe are holding us back from going for our dreams and for the things we know will improve our lives. We need, perhaps, to find ways to ensure we are strong, so we can face what might come and ensure we have the mental, physical and spiritual 'equipment' to cope with it all! I'm not only talking about 'mind over matter', it's more complicated than that. But maybe we need to draw on our inner values and strength to face difficulties and move forward.

It may be hard, but worth trying., if we are to reach our goals in life!

So, whatever your 'mountain' is - hope this encourages you today!

 

Sir Edmund Hillary


Happiness

I've had a great week.

I've scaled back a little on the workload, caught up with friends who I haven't seen for yonks, and because the sun came out here in Jersey, I've managed to get in a few visits to the beach and to SWIM!! 

I'm blessed to live in this lovely island where there's lots of opportunities to get out into nature. For me, swimming in the sea is so great, not just because of the exercise, but because for a while when I'm in the water I can forget the worries of the world and the demands on my time and just BE.

In fact, at one point this week when I was just enjoying BEING in the ocean, I tried to practise a bit of 'mindfulness' ... just concentrating on the sounds around me - the waves, the water, the seagulls, the distant sound of laughing children, the sound of a motorboat - and feeling the sun on my cheeks, and the occasion wave smacking me in the face!

I do find detaching myself from day to day worries sometimes difficult but I'm working on it.

And this thought helps me today.

Because I know when I dwell on my problems, they appear larger and more difficult to overcome.

Whereas, in reality, they are not insurmountable!

 

Happiness and Gratitude