Winter Stroll

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Photographs©VCUzzell2016

 

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Time to Reflect

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In the Celtic year, the time between Samhain and Winter Solstice is one of reflection and inner work before the Sun begins its return and the earth’s energy becomes more active again. In numerology, 2016 is a nine year; a year of completion of events which began back in 2008.  My life number is nine, so this year has been quite challenging in many respects and I am greatly looking forward to 2017, and the beginning of the next nine-year-cycle.

I am aim to start afresh and have been doing a lot of self-reflection on the events which have caused upset in my life this year, and the lessons they have for me. As the year comes to a close, it is time to let go of anything which holds you back; especially any negative behavioural patterns which prevent you from moving on in life.  I have been examining my own and others’ behaviour and have learnt a great deal about the subconscious thoughts which prompt us to react in certain ways again and again.  It is this type of inner work and development that the final months of the year are meant for, and when Winter Solstice arrives, we can begin to act on our greater understanding of ourselves.

What do you need to release? What has challenged you this year?  What old patterns do you need to let go of so you can move forward in life? 

The dark nights of winter are an ideal time to reflect and make plans for the coming year. Yet this is even more important as 2016 comes to a close and we enter the next nine-year cycle.  I don’t usually place much importance on New Year being the time to change your life, as I believe you can do so on any day, but it seems that this year it really is a new beginning, and a conscious clearing away of the old to welcome in the new is more powerful than ever.

So make the most if these dark nights and be ready for when the Sun returns on 21st December and we will begin again.

 

A Lesson in Compassion

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I hate conflict and try to avoid it wherever possible; so it was quite a shock to my system last week when I did something I have rarely done in life, I lost my temper. Looking back from a more detached perspective, I can see how I had been sucked into someone else’s whirlwind of negativity and how their energy had brought down my own.  On top of that, ideological and personality clashes had led to a toxic air which was finally cleared, but not after a good deal of unpleasantness.  As I sat in the middle of it all, and despite being upset by their words, I suddenly felt compassion and sadness for my foe.

In the ensuing days, I have been able to return to that feeling and realise with the help of a wise friend that I had been opposite an individual in pain, who was unable to reflect on the effect they were having on those around them. I had tried to act as a mirror but have to acknowledge that my actions had been misjudged.

I am a very sensitive person; is that a good or bad thing? When I was younger it felt like an insult; ‘you’re too sensitive’; ‘you shouldn’t take it to heart’.  I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to that.  Growing up I felt my sensitivity was a flaw; a disadvantage.  I’m open-hearted and honest; that’s a risky combination too, as I have learnt over the years.  Yet being sensitive can also make you empathetic, with the ability to feel things deeply, and that is a gift.

However, as I have reflected in these last few days, I have decided I would rather refer to myself as intuitive. I knew a year ago when I came into contact with this individual that I didn’t want to be around them, but I ignored my doubts; I had to work with them, and so tried to make the best of things.  Yet as so often happens in life, that quiet voice knew there was a negative aura around this person and it tried to tell me to guard against being pulled into it, but I didn’t listen and tried to handle the situation as best as I could.  My best was not quite the right way though, and I can see that now.  I can also see how I beat myself up over the resulting situation, which also revealed I need to be more compassionate towards myself as well as others, even those who cause me pain.

This has been a lesson in compassion for me; and one from which I intend to learn and grow. It has also prompted a return to spiritual practices which I had long neglected and so I hope I will become a better person for what I have been through.  I sincerely hope my foe, my teacher in this lesson, can do the same.

Stunning Stourhead

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A misty day with drizzle in the air might not inspire a trip to a country house and garden, but that did not deter me and my family as we set off for Stourhead House and Garden this morning. In fact, the weather being a bit ‘iffy’ worked in our favour, as it wasn’t too busy when we arrived and the rain brought the lush greens, browns and reds of the trees to life.  Not only that, but the smell of the dew covered grass and the damp earth was breathed in deeply as we made our way through the tree lined paths, constantly amazed by the view around each corner.

Green is often said to be a healing colour; being immersed in it today I received a good dose of its health giving properties as I strolled along, camera in hand, trying to do justice to the scenery but feeling like I couldn’t quite capture its beauty. Every few minutes my brother and I would stop and go ‘oh wow!’ before experimenting with different angles, framing and trying not to get in the way of one another’s photo.

The house is both interesting and beautiful; the tasteful furniture and numerous paintings are particularly impressive, with each room immaculately arranged and knowledgeable staff on-hand to tell you more about every element of a room. We weren’t able to see everything today, which is brilliant as a return visit in the autumn will be a must!  Having seen Stourhead’s landscape in all its green glory, I can’t wait to see it covered in reds, oranges and yellows.

For more information, follow the link below:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

Photographs©VCUzzell2016

I visited Stourhead House and Garden at my own expense.

The Alternative Bucket List

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Don’t you just love those ‘bucket lists’ and ‘things to do before you’re insert age of choice here’ articles? No, me neither.  Who thought that was a good idea?  Did someone think ‘Oh I know, let’s make people feel more inadequate by telling them they should have snorkelled off some far-flung beach, sky-dived and got hideously drunk in a famous club, and all before they’re 20’?

How about putting this on your bucket list? Go for a walk among nature on a sunny day with your loved ones.  Sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings while eating a rather delicious scone, then go for a leisurely stroll, admire the view, take a few photographs and breathe in the fresh air; simple and achievable, with no need for specialist equipment other than a bottle of water and sun protection.

That’s on my list, and it’s a goal I’ve been able to achieve time and time again. I wonder if all these ‘must do’ lists only add to our anxiety about ageing and do little to make us feel we’ve actually lived well and to the full.  What consists of a fully-lived life is very personal to you and what you take pleasure from; that might be bungee-jumping in New Zealand, or spending the day walking round a stately home and gardens, or it might not.

In a bid to appear to be living our lives to the full (and putting it on social media) have we lost sight of (apologies for the cliché) the simple things; just being with those we love and admiring the world around us.

So what would be on your alternative bucket list? Think of the little things; a meal with your family in your favourite local restaurant, going to the cinema with your brother/sister, having coffee and a laugh with friends; life isn’t all about the big moments, it’s about the small ones too.  Don’t take them for granted, for they too will pass.

This post was inspired by a walk around the RSPB’s Arne Reserve in Dorset. It has a lovely café, where they serve delicious scones, and you can choose from several walks around the reserve.  The views over Poole Bay are wonderful and the walks take you through beautiful oak woodland, past purple heather and of course there’s plenty for bird watchers all year round.  Despite being a native of Dorset, this was my first visit to Arne, but I hope to make it a regular haunt in order to see the reserve in all seasons.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/a/arne/

Photographs©VCUzzell2016