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The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 24, 2018 at 10:44 am

Alternative Advent Calendar 24Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!

DOOR NUMBER TWENTYFOUR:

Mother’s Night.

This is it… Christmas Eve and the last door of the Advent Calendar! However there is an extra door which I would like you to open tomorrow – Christmas Day – can you guess what might be behind it?

Today’s door is not really about today but about this evening. In many places around the world, but especially in Britain and parts of northern Europe this is when Mother’s Night is celebrated. The archetypal ‘mother’, grandmother’ or ‘crone’ is an ancient feminine figure – in the singular or plural – and predates many of the more recent masculine deities.

In Italy there is Santa Lucia; in Russia, Snegurochka; in Germany, Frau Holle and her sacred work of birthing souls into life on Earth but also birthing souls back out of earthly life onto a higher plain. She then became translated into English as Mother Holly while here in Wales we have the goddesses Modron and Rhiannon. Looking at the 25th December as the day when the solar event of the Solstice is completed and the Sun/Light is reborn – as reflected historically in the celebration of the birth or rebirth of so many solar deities such as Isis, Mithras and Apollo – the night before any birth must surely be spent with the mother in labour – as with Mary in the stable before giving birth to Jesus.

However you look at it, this is a sacred time when the feminine aspect within all of us is called upon to birth this annual celebration into our world and nurture those around us. Your task for today – or this evening – is to remember your own mother, or the woman or women who have fulfilled that role for you at different times in your life. If she is still with you on this Earth perhaps you might like to take a few minutes to tell her that you love her and thank her for all she has done for you.

Conversely, as a mother yourself, you might wish to gather your children about you and let them know how much you love them – or if they are not with you, then pick up the phone and call them.

At the same time, do not forget to honour that of the Mother and that aspect of a tender, nurturing nature within yourself – whether you be male or female – we all have a feminine side to our nature.

This evening, when all the last minute preparations have been seen to and the rest of the family has bustled away to finish wrapping their gifts or flake out in front of the television or whatever it is they need to do, find a quiet corner for yourself. Light a single candle and pour yourself a glass of good wine – or make yourself a hot non-alcoholic drink if you prefer. Sit quietly and think about this sacred feminine role which so many of us seek, to some degree, to fulfil… or sometimes totally avoid. How do you demonstrate your feminine aspects? How have you seen others demonstrate theirs? What is so especially important about them? Why do we thrive surrounded by feminine care and attention and crave it and suffer if it is missing from our life?

Acknowledge and celebrate the mother(s) in your life, including your own mothering capabilities, and also remember the greatest mother figure we have which is the Earth herself. Be gentle in your evaluation and reflection.

My greatest respect to all of you who are filling the role of ‘mother’ tonight.

The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 23, 2018 at 11:02 am

Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!

Alternative Advent Calendar 23DOOR NUMBER TWENTYTHREE:

Bless your home.

It’s getting very close to Christmas Day now. there may be chaos on the kitchen, pandemonium in the sitting room, hysteria in the hall and tears in the bedroom… so now is exactly the time to STOP. Stop everything that you are doing and put the kettle on, or get out that half drunk bottle of wine… that box of gorgeous biscuits or chocolates you were keeping… or put some mince pies in the oven to warm. You are going to take a few minutes break.

Sit down, put your feet up.

You may wish to keep this moment of relative calm to yourself – and that is absolutely fine, you owe it to yourself – or you may decide to extend this brief oasis of sanity and peace to the rest of the family or other people resident where you live. If you choose the latter, put on some Christmas music, put more water in  the kettle, get more glasses out of the cupboard, sacrifice more biscuits/chocolates/pies or other goodies.

After all, THIS is Christmas. All this work, panic, running about is all a part of our winter celebration. Yes, there are certain chores which need completing, specific things which have to be done. It is not so much what needs doing as your frame of mind while you are doing it which is important. In extreme circumstances, you may have to decide that some things just will not get done. Even with help from others we have to be realistic and admit that we do only have so much energy, time (or money); that perhaps we have been a bit too ambitious this year – or have had other more important activities which have taken our time. So be honest with yourself. Prioritise. Shelve the rest!

We do not have to spend all of these lovely, exciting pre-Christmas days rushing around trying to make everything perfect. Very often we are only doing these things on our own account. We have the idea of how our Christmas is going to be and come hell or high water, that is what everyone is going to get. It doesn’t have to become a contest. For those things which are an absolute must, see if there is anyone who can give you a hand… or is there something that you can buy instead of bake?

NOW is what is important. It is the accidents, chaos and things that went wrong which tend to cause the most hilarity and stick in the memory long afterwards. So as the kettle comes to the boil, smile and take a deep breath. Sit yourself down with whatever drink you have chosen, put your feet up – literally – close your eyes and simply take in what is around you… the sounds and smells of your home… the decorations which are or aren’t yet up, the warmth, the smells of incense, fruit, cooking, perfume, flowers, (the wet dog!); the sounds of the cat purring, rain beating on the window, music playing, birds chirping outside (have you fed them today?) or perhaps just blessed silence… and stillness.

Can you begin to see and understand how lucky you are, to have what you already have? No matter how imperfect… how incomplete.

If you decide to call your family or friends into the room to share your little respite from all the seasonal hurly-burly, give them this as a gift. Greet them with a smile (no matter how you might have had to crack you face to force it on to your features) and a bright welcome to come and take a break. Give them a warm hug… make a little joke as you hand round the drinks and goodies. Again, think how lucky you are – some people would give everything they have to be able to sit with others as you are doing now.

This is what it is all about. And not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

Now take that break!

The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 22, 2018 at 7:43 am

Alternative Advent Calendar 22Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!

DOOR NUMBER TWENTYTWO:

Deep appreciation.

Following on from the solar event of the Winter Solstice yesterday, the feeding of the birds or other wildlife and the setting of personal intentions for the coming year, it is a good idea to spend a little time today focusing on the Earth itself.

If the weather permits, step outside for a few minutes. Close your eyes and breath deeply… yes, even breathing in the fumes of the city, because we have created them – are responsible for them – and they are also a part of our world.

Feel the ground beneath your feet. You are standing on it with all the weight of your body. Really register that there is something solid beneath you, that this is planet Earth which nurtures and supports us in every physical way. Send feelings of deep appreciation down through your body and out of your feet into the ground and deep into the Earth. Where would we be without it? That might sound like a silly question but think about it. This is our land, our place, our planet. And what have we done to it? So take this opportunity to begin to reverse our thoughtless and ignorant despoiling of this incredible place and replace our rape and ruination of it with some very personal and sincere gratitude and thanks.

Next turn your attention to the air which you are breathing. It may be flawed and polluted, but then again, imperfect as it might be, where would we be without it? Simply focus on the fact that we have an atmosphere to breath and that it gives us life. As you breath out, with every exhalation, breath out your appreciation and thanks.

Now pause to consider all the wondrous species of animals, insects, birds and fish which inhabit the globe, in, on and under this earth of ours. All the amazing, bizarre and stunningly beautiful forms of life which breath the same air, eat, sleep and live their own lives along side us. How privileged we are to co-exist with so much rich and fascinating diversity – and you might also wish to extend this to the human species as well. Actively become aware of sending out your appreciation of all.

Finally, bring your mind to bear on all the gorgeously lush mantle of plant life which cloaks our world; which is mind-blowingly beautiful with a staggering ability to survive and thrive… which feeds, protects, shelters and heals us and which also acts as the filter and lungs of the planet and without which we could not breath.

Send some deep appreciation out from the centre of your chest – from your heart – to all these numerous and stunning life forms. They all play an integral part in the place and survival of the human race. We are all physically made up of earthly molecules and energetic matter; we are all connected to each other by our common source of physical origin.

This concept might make you feel uncomfortably small. Conversely it might succeed in giving you the impression of being a part of something so much greater, so much more amazing, so much more wondrous and beautiful than we could ever be just on our own. Life – ALL life – is truly incredible and, whether we like it or not, we are all a part of it. Surely this is something to celebrate and rejoice in?

So, at least for today, appreciate your natural world around you and acknowledge with gratitude your place within the whole grand scheme of things.

The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 19, 2018 at 8:07 am

Alternative Advent Calendar 19Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!

DOOR NUMBER NINETEEN:

Tell someone you love them.

As mature, rational adults we are encouraged not to show our deeper feelings, although thankfully this has begun to change over recent years. Many people assume that their nearest and dearest must know that they care, so why state the obvious? But conversely, I would ask why not? We have got very much better at showing our feelings, but not at expressing them verbally.

It is a sad fact that often, if you tell someone you love them, they respond with suspicion: ‘Why, what do you want?’ or fear, ‘Is something wrong?’ ‘Are you ill?’ How dreadful is that? Why should something have to be dire before it is acceptable to express our most dearly held feelings?

Bite the bullet! Today make a point of saying to someone how much you care. For a friend you may wish to tell them how much you appreciate them being in your life, how much you care for them; for a child, parent or partner how much you love them. It is good to clear one’s throat and actively, openly speak out. These days we are encouraged to speak our truth, to let the world know how we feel, to not just merely defer to others but to speak up for ourselves, so why not apply the same principles to expressions of care, gratitude, fondness and love?

In this modern age of numerous technical devices which all make it so much easier to connect with one another, one of our greatest downfalls is still our bad communication skills. All the devices in the world are not going to solve the problem for us if we still have difficulty actually  articulating the words and recognising and acknowledging the sentiments behind them.

It is good to hear these words of affection too. Sounds good in your own ears and certainly sounds good to other people. Have a practice while you are by yourself. Go on. Say ‘I love you’ out loud… now. And don’t forget yourself in all this. Tell yourself how much you really care too. We habitually leave ourselves out and although this Alternative Advent Calendar is focused on what we can give to others in the run up to Christmas, in this instance, telling yourself how much you care is also a gift because we so often ignore ourselves, deprecate ourselves, or at the very least leave ourselves out of any appreciation or consideration.

I shall start the ball rolling. To all of you who are reading this now, I care very deeply about you, even though I might not know who you are, and if you were standing here in front of me now I would give you a great big smile and open my arms to you and give you a great big bear hug. I truly and deeply appreciate all my readers.

Now it’s your turn. Be bold. Be definite. Stop beating about the bush. Do it. Make someone’s day. Tell those around you just how much you care.

The Alternative Advent Calendar

  • Posted on December 13, 2018 at 8:30 am

Alternative Advent Calendar 13Merry Midwinter’s countdown to Christmas with a difference!

DOOR NUMBER THIRTEEN:

Beginning to feel the pressure now? Things still to do mounting up and time growing short? Getting tired and inclined to be tetchy? Then just stop for a minute. Take time to consider just how lucky you are. Yes, I said lucky. Because no matter how much work you have to do, how much preparation for the Winter holiday, how many sticky situations with recalcitrant relatives you may be facing or how great the financial short-fall in your bank balance, there is still a great deal going for your life, here, now, this minute.

Think about it. What have you to feel grateful for? Look around you. No matter how you feel, you probably have a certain degree of health and ability to achieve something good this Midwinter. And if you don’t have any relatives to share it with, then at least you don’t have to worry about awkward family members or someone causing a row. You have warm clothes on your back, a roof over your head, something to eat today… the list goes on and can become far more refined.

So for today I challenge you to think of ten things that you are truly grateful for. Write them down if you can and when you are feeling downhearted take a look at your list and focus on all the good things in your life instead. If you can, put your list up somewhere you will see it as you go about your daily tasks.

Blessings – not of abundance – but of having enough.

The Home of My Heart

  • Posted on November 14, 2018 at 3:03 pm
Shadowy living room at Christmas

Our living room a bit later in the year – hence the emergence of some Advent decorations – but you get the idea!

Ah, one of my most favourite kinds of days… almost dark at 2 o’clock in the afternoon with thick cloud obscuring most of the mountains and valley, heavy rain lashing staccato-fashion against the window and the roaring wind tossing and whipping the trees outside in a frenzied and grotesque dance. Brown leaves are blowing in sodden drifts… pools and puddles forming everywhere and the river in the bottom is already in wild and boisterous spate. This is a day not to be outside!

But within the walls of my home all is still. The living room is softly shadowed, the blue and white crockery on the dresser and the gleaming brass and copper ware cheerily reflecting the little coloured fairy lights which run along the mantleshelf above my AGA. All is warm, peaceful and cosy after the wind and rain outside. Two of our cats are fast asleep, curled in tight balls on the backs of the squashy old chairs. Both of the dogs are stretched out before the stove. The tick of the clock suddenly sounds overly loud within this tranquil oasis.

This is not only the heart of my home, it is the home of my heart. Continue reading The Home of My Heart…

Swiftly Time Passes

  • Posted on January 30, 2018 at 8:25 pm
Lon Goed

A new path opens before us…

Here we are, already nearing the end of January. Daylight hours are still relatively few but the quality of that light has changed – it is brighter and lighter somehow – birds are singing and getting very frisky, green bulb shoots are growing taller and my first snowdrops are in bud.

Winter is passing. Soon, now, it will be time to take the remaining evergreens back outside into the garden – release the spirits of the natural world back into the wild where they can thrive and bring new growth. The season is rolling on and come February 1st we shall be celebrating Continue reading Swiftly Time Passes…

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