Tag Archive | happiness

Wild in the UK

Ben Fogle; ‘Lives In The Wild UK’

I’m totally loving the new Ben Fogle programmes; Lives in the Wild UK on channel 5.

I’m not especially an admirer of his but I love what the people featured in the programme are trying to do; trying to live their lives a little differently and not bow to mainstream pressure to do it the same as everyone else.

When you listen to the interviews with them during the programmes their heartfelt values and principles come shining through and I always admire anyone living by their values, even if it’s going to be challenging. For many of them it certainly is.

As a former home educator I know all about challenging. And I also get to meet some incredibly courageous people also living by their independent values, courageous because they have to step away from mainstream thinking and other mainstream lives, as home schoolers do.

Looking at these programmes it is comforting to see others, not necessarily home educators, but others who are upholding values outside the mainstream thinking of a heavily consumerist society, that tends to judge people by what they have rather than what they do or what values they uphold.

People who are finding that others ways of living, that are not to do with the treadmill of wealth adulation, are turning out to be more fulfilling than even that. Who are returning to their connection to the earth, in fact to ways in which we all must have first lived, living as much with their hands as with their computers, in order to restore something that modernity tends to be neglecting; our need for something other than big wealth, technology and a consumerist treadmill.

Collecting fuel for warmth, raising crops, farming and feeding and keeping a physical roof over your head can be just as much a treadmill as the commute to work to earn enough to buy it. But these people are finding that doing it for yourself sometimes, instead of always buying it in, can be satisfying in ways that buying cannot.

It’s making me look at my life and see if I can think more creatively and find little ways and changes that help me do the same, rather than always opting for the mainstream way, which so often seduces us by default. And the more we do this as parents, the more we encourage our children to question and examine their own ways of living, rather than always opting for the norm without questioning if it’s right for them or the damage it may be doing them.

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Creating myself some sunshine – 6 ideas!

What a dismal lack of sunshine we’ve had this summer. I feel my smile disintegrating! The prospect of longer nights without that

Fun makes for a dark evening; tissue paper flower and bunting!

Fun makes for a dark evening; tissue paper flower and bunting!

normal recharge of rays is rather frightening, especially suffering from SAD. I can feel my mood becoming heavier already and it’s only October. I know that it affects kids and families too, although parents can sometimes forget to acknowledge that their kids need outside time and daylight.

I’ll just have to manage as best I can, I’m thinking, and try and create my own sunny lift! So I’ve been inventing ways to do that and am recording them here in case you need some ideas for the family too. Here’s what I’ve come up with – I’ll let you know what works:

  • Getting outside every day – no excuses – as even the dullest daylight makes a difference. Find ways and means; walk instead of bus, go to park, whatever.
  • Painting one room in the house orange or yellow. Ours is the kitchen – it’s orange and makes you feel brighter instantly.
  • Making tomato and lentil soup. Or carrot and sweet potato. or butternut squash. Using sunny veg!
  • Wearing something bight, or warm in colour and texture.
  • Achieving something new – always gives me a lift that, whether it’s changing the room round, making something, artwork, crafting, planting, whatever.
  • Calling up my sunniest friends for a chat and keeping the conversation positive and forward looking. Can be tricky!!

Got any more ideas you could share? Meanwhile, I’m wishing you sunshine in your day! O look – the sun just came out here! 🙂

The joy of contrast

Well, I’ve certainly been in the wilds and away from civilisation this week.

Courtesy of Mike Turtle

We’ve just spent some time with friends in a remote part of Wales, climbing hills with spectacular views, walking in boggy fields, observing wildlife in woodlands and scrambling rather precariously up a waterfall!

Totally loved every minute of it! A natural environment fills me with joy.

And delightful to know that there are places without crowds, without traffic jams, where nature takes over and man has to bow to her forces at times rather than it always being the other way round.

I was also without signal – but I soon got used to that and it has advantages!

Just before we had to leave, I was sitting on top of a hill, Wales laid out around me and the Brecon Beacons blue in the distance, and I had a rather mind crunching thought; at exactly that time the following week I’d be in central London, at a meeting with some of you lovely home educators and supporters of my work. I’d be walking on pavements and pressing through crowds and traffic with noise and hubbub filling my ears instead of – well – nothing!

I’ve always maintained that we need contrast in life to keep it sweet – couldn’t get much more of it than that!

The view from the roof…

A change of view sometimes brings a change of mind!

A change of view sometimes brings a change of mind!

I was on the garage roof quite a bit last weekend. Charles was inside cooking dinner.We have very different priorities!

Although, he’s not interested in cooking any more than I am, it was just his turn. And I like being on the garage roof because it gets me outside.

It was part of the gardening I was doing. It’s a flat roof and thanks to deposits of leaves and blooms from the beautiful roses tangled there it’s almost an unintentional rooftop garden.

However, what isn’t so beautiful is the rapping on our bedroom window on gale force nights. And not just rapping, sometimes it was clawing and scraping like fingernails down glass. Not very soothing or restful when you’re trying to sleep. I lay planning my revenge; a severe chop.

Thankfully, after the raging wet and storms it was fairly pleasant up there. The sky felt lifted, the fields greening up and, unleashed from the bonds of snow and frosts, flushing with a brighter colour and shimmering in sunshiny moments.

Up there, the surrounding land stretches out from house to horizon and is not a view I see regularly. It instantly changed my perspective.

It’s amazing what a change of perspective can bring to a day, not only with regard to the landscape. The view from higher up than normal makes you feel tall both physically and emotionally. Your spirits seem to climb with height and distance. It must be why people like hill walking or mountaineering; the view from the top making you feel elevated in all respects.

Maybe that’s why my youngest liked climbing trees – I can still picture her face now, high up there staring at the distance.

When I lived in London it was at the top of a house of flats and I could stare over the rooves and treetops into endless sky. It lifted me away from weight of immediate concerns. It made me feel that life was larger than just my own little world.

When life makes you feel so very small on occasions it’s worth taking some time to stop looking at it from ground level and allow a change in perspective. For circumstances don’t necessarily have to change for you to feel better.

I got the climbing roses cut back from the windows. And also spent some moments admiring the view, changing my inner perspective, letting go some of the nagging concerns I could do nothing about. After all, life is not just nagging concerns! So not only did I have a more peaceful night following, I had a more peaceful state of mind.

And I only had to climb the garage roof to achieve it!

Lift up your eyes!

I know it’s cold when even the salt marsh starts to freeze and turn white!wintermarshlandfeb14 010

Despite being a normally positive kind of person I can sometimes get in the glums and this challenging cold contributes to that.

Add car troubles, bill troubles, and work troubles into the equation and my mindset falls to boot level.

I chomped all this over in a downward plummet, tramping along in the raw fenland wind, cluttered up with clothing and staring at my boots, head down – that typical position of the downhearted, muttering in my head about it all. Not repeatable!

As the wind dropped a little I lifted my gaze and had a quick scan around me looking for something else to be miserable about – as you do when you’re in one of those mindsets.

Forcing watery eyes to the horizon – this sometimes lifts my mind and my mood – something caught my attention. Right on that uninterrupted line of distance; occasional flashes in the wintry sunshine.

Now, you have to imagine a marshland horizon with absolutely nothing on its distance till it becomes sky, the two almost indistinguishable. Yet I was sure I could see little ignitions of whiteness appearing and disappearing on the skyline. Too far away to capture with my camera.

Was I imagining it – I watched through runny vision. Yep – really there.

What were they?

Little bits of litter tossed by the wind?  No; not out at sea and my eyes aren’t that good – I’m not superman!

Gulls? Not possible, too distant, wrong image; they were flashing on and gone.

Then I guessed.

They were only visible in one place – that one deep water place where marshland gives up to North Sea. And what I could see was the reflection of the low winter sunlight catching the tops of waves as the tide began to swell and the wind whipped up the surface.

Like the proverbial white horses, the far away waves rose up and tossed their manes between sea and sky and made a kind of magic show that you could only guess at.

I watched them rear and fall, ignite and sparkle and disappear, over and over. And in those moments troubles were tossed aside and mood uplifted with them.

Sometimes it’s helps not to just mooch along miserably staring at your boots!

wintermarshlandfeb14 008

When you lift your eyes from your boots your heart goes too!

 

Not doing tidy!

I’ve had a fabulous Sunday. sundaygardensundown 001

I was outside from breakfast till sundown thanks to a jewel of an autumn day. Not to mention a dashing set of thermals!

The garden needed a tidy. Well – that’s not strictly true. Tidy is not something I do much, either in the house or out.

In the house I don’t do tidy because we need things around to inspire and stimulate. I found this out when home educating, when the children were far more engaged and busy when there was an array of projects, constructions, toys, creations and craft stuff, left about to stimulate them into action. Very useful when the tendency is for them to lay glossy eyed in front of a screen and be entertained. That’s useful too, at times, but they need to be building alternative skills too and nothing like a bit of inventing or creating to get their brains going and practical skills improving.

Little hands just can’t resist when there’s bricks asking to be built, sticky bits asking to be stuck and something to be experimented with. A tidy house with young children in it is not good.

Mine doesn’t have young children in it any more so I leave stuff around to stimulate myself – good excuse that – have you tried it?

And a tidy garden is not much good either. Not only for the children – they love den making with all sorts of junk you’d rather wasn’t out there, and mine was obsessed with digging child sized holes, so the garden never looked that great.

But now I still don’t tidy because under those piles of shabby leaves and rotting logs there is shelter for all the creatures who need it to survive the winter weather, who need rottings to eat and things to hide under. So I leave the garden untidy with autumn fallings to protect and shelter any wildlife that wants to over winter with us.

But, rather than tidy, I had to do some cutting back. This is so we don’t get drenched with overhanging shrubs as we go out the gate, or have our eyes gouged by lashing rose stems that have quadrupled in length over summer, which I can’t see as I go out to the compost heap in the dark and forget to duck.

So this has been my delight today; to be out there. Hard work it may have been – there was an awful lot of it when I looked – but happy-making being outside with nature. And now I can walk about unlashed and keep upright too, as I removed a few of the slippery leaves that slide my feet from under me when I’m least expecting it.

Then, when my arms got too tired to do any more, I shuffled off out the garden at sundown towards the marshland where I get the final sun-shafts right down to the last remaining minute, as there’s nothing manmade out there to obstruct its descent to horizon. The wild geese keep me company and finally an owl as I turn homeward in the dark.

And joy; I pass down paths without any scarring to the face and come inside to see what the untidy house has to offer for the evening!

Nothing but nature to obscure its descent

Nothing but nature to obscure its descent

Peculiar seasons of the soul

How peculiar the season is this year! peculiar autumn14 012

We’ve had August temperatures in October when it’s been warm enough at times for me to sit on the step outside with a lunchtime cuppa.

We’ve had the rich scent of a spring flowering shrub, flowering now despite the fact it’s not spring. And that’s mingled with the perfume of late roses. I’ve collected one for the table – it’s alongside the Christmas cactus, also deciding to flower out of sync with the season.

And I’ve just discovered the stems of a miniature daffodil rising up beside a pot of viola and nasturtiums still surviving despite the first frost.

peculiar autumn14 004

Daffodils shooting up already!

Very peculiar!

Although we like to think we can, there’s just no predicting nature.

There is no predicting our own nature either!

I find my own seasons come and go just like nature’s, flushing me through with emotions either blossoming or bleak, bounteous or barren. And our children are just the same. You can almost see the changes in their moods flash across their lovely faces like clouds on a blue sky. It all gets a bit difficult to manage sometimes.

So this is to reassure you, especially if you’re going through a particularly challenging season with the little ones right now, that there is one thing that is comfortingly constant through all this unpredictability; things always change.

Children and nature. Seasons and souls.

Whatever is feeling difficult now, won’t remain so. However peculiar their moods and emotions are they’ll pass; they too experience seasonal changes. As you do. We all do. Nature does. And it’s important to acknowledge your own as well as theirs, let them be and let them pass.

And incidentally, there’s no better tonic than getting all outside and seeking the delights of this season to help lighten the spirits whilst you do so.

A seasonal delight – gossamer strung across the fields catching the autumn sunlight