Not much to say today ... apart from the fact that ... it's Saturday!
I'm so happy!
It's the first weekend in March, so if you're in the northern hemisphere, I hope Spring is 'springing' wherever you are, that you maybe get a chance to get out into the fresh air and you have an opportunity for a bit of rest and relaxation.
If you're somewhere else ... enjoy whatever season it is where you are!
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Years ago I visited Wordsworth's Lake District home in Northwest England - Dove Cottage - and one day I might chat about that as well. It's a place I had always wanted to visit, ever since I read Wordsworth as a teenager, including this fantastic poem. In fact, his sister Dorothy also wrote about seeing the daffodils in all their glory in her Journals ... again another brilliant read, if ever you fancy it.
So today, to mark the birthday of William Wordsworth - born on this day April 7 1770 - I bring you his immortal lines...
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretched in never-ending line along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not be but gay, in such a jocund company: I gazed—and gazed—but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
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First it's a bit warm, then we're plunged into winter conditions again. Light breezes give way to gales. One day the sun is bright, the next the sky is laden with clouds and those 'spring showers' feel a bit more like winter downpours.
It's like the weather can't make up it's mind what to do.
The daffodils and primroses are around and then disappear. The trees have buds but are not yet green.
It's like nature is about to surprise us, but we just need to wait a little while longer.
But yet in the midst of all the confusion, there's hope on the horizon.
Spring IS a lovely, optimistic season and I for one, am ready for spring this year and hopeful for a new beginning ...
Have you ever had one of those moments when life feels so great that you just want to smile, and laugh out loud?
I had one of those moments last week when walking on St Catherine's Breakwater in Jersey. After a stressful few weeks it felt great to just be in the fresh air and walking. I could see the French coastline in the distance ... it was Glorious!
I've always loved St Catherine's, not just because it's also my name, but because when you walk the breakwater, it feels like you're stepping into the ocean. The breakwater is about half a mile (700metres) long so a stroll to the end and back is about a mile and it's an easy walk. Even if it's busy you feel like you're getting away from it all and it always fills me with joy, whatever the weather.
The other day spring was in the air, the sea was calm in the bay, the sun was shining and there was a bit of of breeze on the coast. As I walked to the end of the breakwater, it felt a little more windy, but I was bundled up against the chill and it was exhilarating. When I reached the end of the breakwater, looking out to sea across to the French coast, I breathed in the clean air and my heart began to soar. I found myself laughing out loud.
Now, I don't often film myself, let alone when I doing something like smiling and laughing, but I did switch on the phone-camera the other day. It's nearly a month ago that I finished work with the BBC and started a New Adventure as a freelance writer/broadcaster/PR and communications expert, and lots of my friends and family members have been so kind to check on me from time to time, to see how I'm doing. So I sort of wanted to show them not just the beauty of St Catherine's, share some sounds of the ocean, which I find so relaxing, but also that I'm doing ok in my New Adventure!
There's a quote which sums up the benefits of laughter for me and which is attributed to the English poet, satirist and politician Lord Byron, who died on this day in 1824. I'm not going to talk much about him today ... I may do that another time ... just to say he was a bit of a character, to say the least. I remember studying his poetry at school as part of our exploration of the Romantic poets of the late 18th/early 19th century, and learning about some of his physical and romantic antics!
And from what I discovered he was a bit of a 'lad' and certainly enjoyed life.
So I can imagine him saying something like this ...
There's loads of science which indicates that smiling and laughing is good not just for our physical but also our mental health. So today I hope YOU find something which makes you Laugh Out Loud!
And if you want to smile with me ... here's my moment at St Catherine's ...
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Every year since 1970 this has been annual event designed for us all to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It's grown over the decades and lots of important environmental events have happened on Earth Day.
This year on Earth Day, today, there will be a Global Climate Summit, convened by the US President Joe Biden and held virtually I'm guessing because of coronavirus. Among other things it is designed to be a 'critical stepping stone for the U.S. to re-join the world in combating the climate crisis', having agreed to re-sign the Paris Agreement. It's just one of the events being planned today and just one example of how Earth Day continues to be a momentous and unifying day every year. These days it's reckoned that 1 billion people in more than 193 countries will mark Earth Day in some way.
And so to MY contribution.
A couple of years ago, I recorded a series for BBC Radio Jersey with the Jersey artist and iconographer Karen Blampied.
She has created something called The Earthday Icon ... inspired by the ancient nature embedded in the Eastern Orthodox Church Calendar, which each September celebrates Creation and which has a three year cycle, ending every year with the feast of St Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of the Animals. During this liturgical time of Creation, each Sunday is dedicated to a specific aspect of creation and the Earthday icons depicts forests, land, wilderness, rivers, skies, mountains, the universe, animals, storms, oceans and more, all with spiritual significance.
Karen's inspiration is to 'highlight the need of all people to be stewards of the Earth' and this really inspires ME.
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For us here in the northern hemisphere, we're moving into the summer season and here in Jersey in the Channel Islands the weather is warming up.
I'm one of those people who loves the warm weather. It might come from my spending a lot of my childhood and teenage years living in Africa, but I just think it's because ... well I love the warm weather!
I love the feel of the sun on my skin, I love swimming in the sea and summer IS the best time for that. I love that I feel lighter in my head and my heart when there's less darkness and the days are longer.
The colours seem brighter - the new leaves on the trees are greener, the colours of the flowers in parks, gardens and in the hedgerows appear more vibrant, the sky bluer! It's at this time that I feel especially blessed to live in a lovely island like Jersey.
So today, as we enter the month of May, I'm just going to share a photograph I took a week ago, in the Parade Gardens in St Helier, just a short walk from where I live.
I've been writing this daily blog 'One Day at a Time' now since January 1st and if you've been following me you'll know I set out on this journey really just to encourage me to write more.
I am a writer, that's how I define myself I think, but with full time work I have to admit sometimes I have struggled to get writing properly every day, so committing to a blog was one way of ensuring that I get thinking and put pen to paper, or at least fingers to keyboard.
Sometimes I wake up with an idea of what I want to say, other times I'm out of ideas which is when those 'On This Day' websites have been useful. As a result I've found out so much about so many different people who were born/died on a certain day, or events that happened on a particular day in history.
And then there are those 'landmark' days and weeks and months across the world which have been set aside to mark a particular initiative or campaign. You know the sort of thing I'm talking about ... World Health Day, International Mother Language Day (I featured that on February 21st), Mental Health Awareness Week, which was last week in the UK - May 10th to 16th - and so on and so on.
Actually you don't have to go far on your internet travels to discover that most days and weeks of the year have been given a designation or are associated with a campaign somewhere in the world. And some dates are more popular, and obscure than others.
Take, for instance, today - May 20th.
Did you know that in some parts of the world today is World Bee Day? A few years back, the United Nations designated May 20th as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development. An important day, even if like me you don't actually like bees. I was stung rather badly several times when I was a child and I have to admit I do have a bit of a phobia when it comes to things that buzz.
So today I'm turning to a subject I'm more comfortable with - Strawberries!
Yes, it's a new one to me too and to be honest I think it's only in the USA. National Strawberry Day is actually February 27 ... yes I know it's very confusing ... but in my opinion we don't do enough celebrating of soft fruits!
Don't worry, I'm not going to wax lyrical about the little fruit. Just to say, I love them!
In the past I've even grown them but since returning to Jersey some years ago I haven't done that. And I've missed it.
I've missed watching the little fruits appear and ripen on the plants in my terracotta 'strawberry planter' - it's a pot with holes on the side where you can plant lots of strawberry plants which hopefully gives you lots of produce.
This year I found my strawberry planter and I have put in a few plants. And I'm delighted to say the fruits of my labour are already appearing.
So a few days ago I made a little video and I put it on my YouTube channel. Which is also a work in progress.
OK - so it's not Hollywood - but who cares?
I'm not sure I'll be able to PICK my strawberries today, but in a week or so I might have one or two fruits to enjoy. And there's something about growing your own which is empowering.
The strawberry planter is just on my doorstep so I'm watching the little plants grow.
And although, with just six plants, I'll probably only manage to harvest a bowlful of strawberries, I'm going to enjoy every single delicious morsel.
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This past week I was having a conversation with a friend and in usual fashion, we chatted about anything and everything. Work, frustrations, our health (physical and mental health) ... and along the way the subject of Celtic Christianity came up.
Rather random, I grant you, but it's once again made me think about the ancient faith of many of our British forefathers and mothers, a spiritual tradition and theology which is connected not just to God but also to the earth and nature, the elements and the natural environment around us.
I love this tradition and the sentiments and prayers which come out of it. These days you might often see these defined and described as 'Irish' blessings and prayers, but many of these come if not directly, then indirectly from the Celtic tradition. The fact that many of these blessings are based on very old spiritual traditions inspires me as I realise these prayers have been spoken silently and out loud for many hundreds of years by the faithful. They have brought inspiration and comfort, challenge and affirmation in equal measure.
I don't know anything about you, dear reader, or how you are feeling right now. But what I've learned down the years is that God sometimes gives us a thought which, without knowing it, will help someone else if passed on.
So today I bring you one of those blessings and trust it will bring you whatever YOU need.