Waiting, Hiding, Patience & Resting [Poem]

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Reflections on four modes and moods of progress…

Waiting

Hoping it will happen, some day.
Wondering whether you’re ready.
Wondering whether you’re enough.
Wanting it to be more comfortable.
Wanting to it be perfect.
Waiting for someone (else) to reach out.
Waiting for permission,
for self-belief…
for self-compassion;
for self-for-give-ness.

Hiding

There are stages to hiding:
The deepest being recovery,
the most powerful being protection,
and the most comfortable being avoidance.
At the edges of avoidance, lie the soft sands,
caressed, sometimes viciously,
by the call of vulnerability.

Patience

Trusting it will happen in time,
even if that happening takes another form.
And, planting seeds today;
preparing ground…
(Maybe the way turns out better).
Opening to curiosity,
Learning and applying.
Re-learning.
Noticing resistance.
Noticing.
Building relationship.
Courageous determination;
Relaxing,
moving,
intending,
attending.

Resting

Renewing,
processing,
letting go,
sleeping.
Recollecting, reflecting
nourishing,
rejuvenating,
exploring.
Asking,
allowing.
Playing. Pausing.
A heart of nurturing,
within a cycle of persisting;
fuel for Patience.

Is the Rope Still There? [Story]

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Story:

There once was a majestic elephant capable of roaming many miles.

Only she wasn’t free to move more than a metre or two, for she was kept in captivity, in a circus for the entertainment of people.

So as to keep her from wandering off, a rope was tied to her young legs. From an early age, she learned that she could go only so far as the rope would reach.

Each time she ventured just an inch more, it would strain and pull her back.

This was frustrating at first, but gradually she began to accept her limitations, unable to break free.

Many years later, the rope was cut. The majestic elephant was at last free to roam.

Can you imagine how she would run towards liberty… the miles trailing off beneath her enormous footsteps?

But the majestic and free elephant did not move any further. She didn’t even try.

She had “learned” that she was tied up and and this had become not only a default, but an identity and a truth. And so, tragically, she did not realise that the rope was in fact no longer there.

Its old, imaginary fibres, still rained her in, still comprised the remit of her world.

Reflections:

This story can serve as a powerful metaphor for limiting thoughts.

One of the most powerful limiting thoughts is often that we are powerless to affect any change.

Of course it is wise to understand our limitations, what we have influence over and what we do not. The flurry of thoughts in our busy minds can certainly be very difficult to control at times. However, we can learn to influence our response to these thoughts, as well as to question the truth of what we may be thinking.

Some of our thoughts may have originally been designed to protect us, or we may have inherited them from someone who wanted to preserve themselves or us, out of fear.

When we bring our awareness to these thoughts, pin them down, as if looking down at the rope holding our legs, we can begin to trace them to their source, and perhaps find there is not much value or strength attached to them “at the other end”.

Old constructs that we thought were keeping us blocked may have fallen away, or we may be ready to move away from them.

This enables us to move toward freedom, but not if we believe freedom itself is inaccessible.

Limiting beliefs and thoughts can show up in a variety of ways. Some examples could be:

I’m not good enough to do this.
I can’t figure it out.
I don’t have the courage.
I’m too sensitive.
I have to avoid mistakes.
What I really want is too hard.
I don’t deserve it.
I don’t have what it takes.

Take a moment to consider a thought that is limiting for you and that often comes up.

Can you feel it reigning you in?

Can you question it?

What if it wasn’t true?

What is this thought trying to keep you attached to?

Can you move towards freedom?

Even if it is just one inch?

Wishing you enlarging freedom…

With love,

The Tree-house Network.

The Elephant Tree of You [Poem]

 

"Elephantorrhiza cf. elephantina, loof, Steenbokpan" by JMK - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elephantorrhiza_cf._elephantina,_loof,_Steenbokpan.jpg#/media/File:Elephantorrhiza_cf._elephantina,_loof,_Steenbokpan.jpg
“Elephantorrhiza cf. elephantina, loof, Steenbokpan” by JMK – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons 

In Africa, there is a special kind of tree,
called an “Elephant root tree”

What makes it unusual,
and remarkable,
is that it lives almost entirely underground.

This is how it has adapted to cold, dry winters.

If you went walking amongst these trees, you may simply see plants, which look like shrubs.
Yet, in reality, you would really be among the canopy of very old, large trees,
Not knowing the heights which lay underneath your feet.

Beneath the surface of a fast-moving world,
(saturated with a relentless drive for gratification),
We can expect to see results instantly,
most especially from ourselves.

We may neglect the essential growing, nurturing processes that edge us toward our canopies.
It can be all too easy to forget about, or rule out entirely, the immense value of our
experiences, knowledge, connections,
or potential.

This is especially true when we feel afraid, doubtful, or frustrated.

All of our previous progress or positive experience gets cut short in our perception. We can’t seem to see how it fits into our current striving.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Our intense focus on the current leaves of our canopies does not negate the immense body of growth buried just beneath.
It does not cross out the myriad of dots which, somewhere along the line,
we learned to discount.

The process of zooming out,
and dusting away,
could reveal to us a context far bigger than our fondest hopes.

And it could be lying just beneath surface in others we know and come across too: within their potential, their roots and their dreams…

References:

Elephantorrhiza elephantina.

 

28 to 30! of 30 Days Wild – Surrey Adventures in Shere & Along the River Mole

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”. 

It is amazing how close the Surrey Hills are from (South West) London. This facilitated two wonderful day trips, which were the highlight of the final few days of the challenge!

The Picturesque Town of Shere

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This incredible town features stunning cottages and gardens cared for with flair. Many of the cottages are timber-framed, with the central part of the town buildings being of 16th – 17th century style.

There is also a river running through the town:

“The River Tillingbourne supports a healthy fish population of both wild brown trout and coarse fish. The Environment Agency has been working with local fishermen to improve the habitat for these fish by recreating a pool and riffle habitat and by cutting back overhanging vegetation.” – www.sheredelight.com/history

Importantly, there is also an amazing deli and café called The Dabbling Duck. It serves incredible cakes, and the chocolate cake was among the best I have ever had (and I rarely pass up the opportunity to sample chocolate cake!). Definitely worth a visit.

A Walk Along the River Mole

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The walk along the river mole was very calming and renewing. I also finally managed to snap a great photo of a bumble bee! Other wild sightings included swans sailing gently along and long-tailed tits excitedly collected in a tree.

I also noticed plenty of nettles around – perfect for making some wild pesto! Next time I shall I have to bring some gloves and a basket.

Robert Bloomfield (1766–1823) writes the following lines about the Mole Valley in his 1806 poem Wild Flowers:

Sweet Health, I seek thee! Hither bring
Thy balm that softens human ills;
Come on the long drawn clouds that fling
Their shadows o’er the Surry-Hills.
Yon green-topt hills, and far away
Where late as now I freedom stole,
And spent one dear delicious day
On thy wild banks romantic Mole.
Ay there’s the scene! Beyond the sweep
Of London’s congregated cloud,
The dark-brow’d wood, the headlong steep,
And valley paths without a crowd!
Here Thames I watch thy flowing tides,
Thy thousand sails am proud to see;
But where the Mole all silent glides
Dwells Peace – and Peace is wealth to me.

R Bloomfield (1806) Wild Flowers; or Pastoral and Local Poetry

Thank you 30 Days Wild 🙂

It has been an incredible journey with the challenge this month, with it gently reminding and inspiring me to notice and engage with nature each day. I am looking forward to continuing on in this spirit…whether through exploring new places or familiar ones, alone or together, keeping in mind I am part of the wildness too.

Thanks to The Wildlife Trusts for their enthusiasm, creativity and support during the challenge.

25 – 27 of 30 Days Wild – Repotting the Basil and Organic Joys

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”. 

Bountiful Basil

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All through the challenge the tiny basil seeds I planted a few weeks ago in seed compost have been growing steadily. It has been so delightful to watch them emerge and develop. In the beginning they have tiny leaves which do not look like the normal basil leaves, which grow later.

It has been a source of enjoyment, learning and discipline for me. Each day I make sure to water my little seedlings!

It is also a reminder of patient progress, they only grow a tiny bit every day, but it is amazing how that adds up over time.

I am looking forward to making a delicious tomato and basil Napolitana sauce once they are fully flourishing! I have also been thinking that the little pots could make a wonderful gift.

Growing Plans

I very much enjoy my organic veggie box and made a delicious rent lentil curry this week, after spending time with family in the garden (and, graciously they helped in the garden too!). I am also considering starting to grow my own vegetables. I feel it could be an excellent way to build upon my growing reconnection with nature. Growing your own seems nurturing to the body and soul in so many ways: the time spent in greenery, the exercise, fresh air, enjoyment and, of course nourishment.

Rainbow Colours

One of the 30 Days Wild challenge ideas was to go out and find rainbow colours – so after our garden work I went out and picked a few of the amazing flowers bursting forth and placed them in a vase on the dining table. I thought it was incredible how the flowers, from different corners of the garden, looked so stunning together.

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22 – 24 of 30 Days Wild – Views, Rainstorms (and a little garden party)

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”. 

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A Beautiful View

It might come as a surprise that the view with the green hill in the background is actually within London: Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park to be exact. I was fortunate to visit for a family celebration over tea. Richmond Park is the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks and is the biggest enclosed space in London. It is also home to herds of Red and Fallow deer.

Rainstorms

The run up to the end of June saw an unprecedented amount of raining falling within the London area. Some streets and houses were flooded and trains were severely affected with delays and cancellations. My local high street was closed underneath the railway bridge due to the amount of water held there. The picture that looks like a river seen through trees is actually meant to be a dry piece of land near the railway!

A Garden Party

Some sunshine and peace after the storm did emerge, however. Happily this lead to some more garden work and a little rejuvenation with some snacks and cold water with fresh lemon balm and apple mint. As usual, the time spent in the greenery of the garden brought a much valued feeling of peace and grounding.

19 to 21 of 30 Days Wild: The Simple Things

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”.

On wondering what I mean by the simple things, I came up with this definition for myself.

the simple things: those which nurture our body, heart, mind and soul; but that we tend to overlook when rushing through life

Here are three ways I slowed down enough to notice or incorporate this sense of nurturing over the last few days.

 

Eating My Veggies

IMG_3626This Sunday saw a relaxing and nurturing meal prepared with wonderful organic vegetables and a herb from the garden. Nothing too fancy: beetroot, carrot, potato and rosemary gently roasted together in the oven. Yet their nourishment brought a sense of well-being and contentment, both while peeling and preparing, and in the eating. The vegetables came from an Abel and Cole vegetable box. To me this seems like an environmentally nurturing option: all the vegetables are organic and have little or no packaging, and the boxes are reused.  I am also keen to start growing my own!

 

PURPLE Simplicity

IMG_3656The following day, I noticed how hardy the geraniums and flowering chives are. I had placed them in a vase the previous week and they were still going strong. It is amazing how some plants can survive on less water and nutrients. I’ve noticed that the chive plant tends to survive through the cold winter months too. In any case, this little fractal of the floral brings a sense of joy each time I glance by them. These are two purple pleasures I might have overlooked, had I not been challenging myself to connect with and notice the natural world around me.

 

A Little Movement (Letting it Go!)

During the third day in this trio, I was inspired to get back on the yoga mat, garden plants around and sky above… This time it was the fabulous Adriene’s “Letting go” class. You can find her channel on Youtube: Yoga With Adriene. Noticing simple things can be easy to overlook, take for granted or omit while striving for future plans. Yet it is often those moments I look back on through life and appreciate most.

 

16 to 18 of 30 Days Wild – gardening, sailing and rain drops

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”. 

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Gardening

It is incredible how being in the garden for an hour and two can relax you. Recently, I have been fortunate to be included on a little gardening expedition (happily the rain abated that day!). Being new to the processes, I found it useful to learn from those more experienced, and was struck by how calm and centred I felt after spending time among the plants. I also snapped this wonderful photograph of insect life amid the buds. I think nature helps us to be more appreciative and mindful too.

Sailing

On the weekend I embarked on my first sailing experience. I wasn’t used to squeezing into a wet-suit so it took me a little while to figure that out and relax. I’m not sure how I would react to more intense wind movements, but definitely felt a sense of connecting with the elements: the wind rushing by and the water rippling just below. I haven’t ever really thought about which direction wind is coming from, so that was fascinating to gauge. Balancing of boat and sails seems to be an artful skill. The overall experience seemed a great way of focusing mind and senses in the present moment and fostering teamwork and connection. This is especially so as gadgets are left behind in the safety of the dry shore. I must add that everyone at the sailing clubhouse seemed very calm, relaxed and content… perhaps it’s something about the wind rustling through your hair and over your cheeks, helping you let go of it all.

Raindrops (and a puzzle-cracking exercise…)

You may have noticed that I am quite fascinated by rain and raindrops (I’m in the right country for that then!). I took the above photograph of the raindrops and contemplated an exercise that Martha Beck uses. Basically you think of a current challenge that is bugging you, turn your attention to what’s around you, and notice what you’re drawn to…. to something that strikes your attention. You then consider what you notice about it, what stands out to you, and describe those characteristics.

My chosen challenge was that I was feeling a little overwhelmed and uncertain. I was wondering what to focus on and which steps and ideas, of many, to pursue: which were the “right” steps and fitted into my “whole”, aligning with what I wanted to achieve?

I noted that the raindrops were:
Still;
Many, like many little steps…
Distinct, yet part of one whole;
A beautiful pattern;
Supported by the window they were resting on.

The next step is to reflect upon this question (with kindness, openness, trust and curiosity):
How are these characteristics (or qualities) like solutions/ clues/ answers/ guidance for your challenge?

So I reflected and mused that the steps I needed to take felt peaceful; there was a quality of stillness to them, even if they involved effort or courage. This same sense wasn’t there for steps that I was considering more so because I felt I should, or that upon reflection where distractions or busywork.

There were also many little drops. Likewise, I needed to be patient, to value and appreciate each step. Each one counts, forming the whole. They are all useful and beautiful, even if they seemed small and insignificant alone.

Each drop was supported by the window pane. When I feel particularly tense it’s almost like I forget about my “support”, my grounding. This can take various forms. It could be asking for help; or noticing who and what is around me that I’m taking for granted. It could be a reminder to notice the support and feedback of the world around me, always talking to me, inspiring me, teaching me – even if I have no idea what it’s teaching at the time!. Most of all it’s going within, noticing where I am lost in the world, where my feelings are entangled in those of others, where my thoughts are no longer my own. 

So there you have it.

It’s an amazing, simple, insightful and playful exercise… and works by helping us tap into that creative, puzzle-cracking side of our right brain region. I find it always yields insight I couldn’t have logically reached in a purely analytical sense. Insight that is uniquely meant for me. I suppose it’s like wild, wise thinking 😉

Happy WILDing!

 

 

13 to 15 of 30 Days Wild – Potentilla, Apple Mint, Lemon Balm

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”. 

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This past week I found myself sprucing up the conversatory a little, and doing some yoga, enhanced by a beautiful garden and sky view. I also lucked out to three new plants… some stunning Potentilla (Gibson’s Scarlet) and two fabulous herbs: Apple Mint and Lemon Balm. I was immediately drawn to the Potentilla with its beautiful pops-of-colour red flowers, little heart-shaped petals and strawberry-like leaves. It is a striking plant, reminiscent of both country cottage and the Mediterranean simultaneously. I’ve since discovered more about the benefits of my freshly acquired, fruity herbs, which I’ll share with you below :-).

Apple Mint

Apple Mint has soft, almost furry leaves, which have earned it endearing names like “fuzzy mint” or “woolly mint”. Perhaps tellingly, the leaves also feature apple-flesh-coloured edges.

Apple mint leaves can be added to ice water with some lemon (or indeed, lemon balm) for a refreshing drink. For a cosier feel, leaves can be dried to make a delicious warming tea. It can also be used in salads, dressing, jellies and marinades… The mints are versatile herbs!

It seems that Apple Mint is rich in essential oils that have antiseptic properties and a beneficial effect on digestion. There are several varieties of mint, and this post from Grow Veg talks more about growing Apple Mint in your garden (note that it can grow voraciously when not contained), as well as the other more well-known varieties of Spearmint and Peppermint.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm seems to be an absolute gem as I am discovering in this lovely blog I found called The Nerdy Farm Wife. It attracts bees to the garden, is a great anti-viral and has soothing, relaxing properties. I am keen to try the bath bag idea with the lemon balm leaves and rose petals! (as well as the soothing herbal honey syrup before bed… Zzzz).

https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/12-things-to-do-with-lemon-balm/

10 to 12 of 30 Days Wild – Foraging in the Forest :-)

This is a series of blogs exploring my experience of 30 Days Wild, a challenge developed by The Wildlife Trusts. The aim: “to feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June”.

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This past weekend, my husband and I ventured down to Ashdown forest near Brighton. We stayed overnight near the picturesque town of Lewes in a lovely airbnb with a beautiful cat named Mitsy. The following morning (in pouring rain) we ventured out to a foraging workshop held by School of the Wild and led by bushcraft and nature connection expert, Robert Fallon of Wild Nature.

The rain was due to stop at 10 am – happily it did start calming down near that time. Something about the wetness (at this more measured intensity) helped to amplify that feeling of immersion in the wild. From our meeting point, we walked together to the site base of our little adventure. On the way, we picked some ground elder leaves, which were to form part of our meal later on.

Upon arrival at the site, we were met with the warmth of a campfire and some wild tea.

I had some Meadow Sweet which apparently contains the same chemical aspirin is made form. We gathered around the campfire, drinking wild herbal tea while the last of the rain gently fell in that very English of ways. In this atmospheric setting, we began the workshop with some mindful breathing and grounding, before briefly sharing about our foraging interests/ journey thus far.

Soon we began exploring the plants around us, all only a few short steps away.

We tasted thistle, picked nettles and lime leaves, and nibbled on yarrow. All the while soaking up the atmosphere of the forest: through our lungs, our senses, our minds…. chatting along the way, the mist swirling around the hills.

We were advised to stay away from all mushrooms and umbelifers, a family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems and many little flowers in the shape of umbrellas. This is because these two families are difficult to identify and contain several species that are fatal when ingested (a foraging not for the fainthearted). Luckily though, there are many other options of plant families around and it seemed that we had only touched on the possibilities when it came to the time to prepare a meal from our efforts.

After drinking some nettle tea, which has a surprisingly hearty, almost meaty taste, we went about preparing some nettle pesto.

I am an avid fan of basil pesto and found the nettle pesto to be absolutely delicious: even more so spread upon the fresh crusty bread and topped with a strip of venison. The ground elder leaves (from earlier on) were expertly wrapped around some mackerel fish and cooked on the open fire. The bright and soft lime leaves were delicately sliced as a fresh side salad.

For dessert, we picked Elderflower bunches and, holding them by their stems, fried them in some batter to make fritters – simple and scrumptious! I, for one, heartily enjoyed my introduction to foraging in Britain, with many thanks to our hosts.

 

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