Monthly Archives: August 2013

Creating Daily Nurture

This blog was born on August 1st, after a particularly sunny and beautiful early morning jog.

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I set out to share an exploration of what actually feels nurturing, inviting everyone who reads this to consider what nurtures them best.

We have explored quotes, food, books, sunsets and bubble wrap…. compliments, , jigsaws, walks by rivers, gifts from mountains, walks in nature and walks with cats …. accepting uncertainty, enjoying sunflowers, enjoying hugs

Of all the discoveries this month, two things stand out loudest to me:

Firstly, that a focus on nurturing yourself is in itself nurturing

Simply remembering to check in each day and consciously create a nurturing moment created a sense of gentle well being, a little smile. But not just in that moment! That cheeky little inner smile warmed up, moments of nurture started to happen more often, in more and more ways … this stuff is catchy!! 😉

Offa's Dyke Path seen from Capel-y-ffin

Nurture from the hills that hug

Secondly, that there are in fact a zillion little things every day that are nurturing. They are there all around us, all the time. The difference is whether we slow down enough to notice, smile, and gratefully receive 🙂

Raindrops on pink rose

It seems to me that there is a healthy balance to be felt out, one that enables us to give and enables us to receive, to refuel. Finding the balance, and adjusting that balance as daily circumstances change, is both a skill and a habit.

A big thank you to everyone who’s shared this first month of Daily Nurture, and in particular thank you for sharing all the different ways you’ve been creating nurture for yourselves!

More nurturing stuff in the coming month… Here’s to nurturing the nurturing habit… !

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Books that nurture…

We’re nearing the end of this month’s, “Creating Daily Nurture” exploration. As I asked myself what nurturing moment I’d like this evening, my thoughts turned to a particular book.

When I was 17, my PE Teacher leant me a copy of a book. I can remember how honoured I felt that she had brought one of her own books in for me, and said she thought I might enjoy reading it. I was a crazily sporty kid, so between school sports and other sporting events, she probably had a pretty good handle on what sort of 17 year old I was. There was a gentle acknowledgement in her book loan, and the sense of being seen and understood a little… something I appreciated then and remember today, a number of decades later!!

The book was unusual to me at that age, and I loved it. It was The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran.

Book, The Prophet by Kahil Gibran

The Prophet… poetic beauty:)

I read it cover to cover, loving the poetic depth, the exploration of life and our approach to it, the wisdom, the beauty on each page.

I bought my own copy soon afterwards, and still turn to it often. It talks of friendship, marriage, trade, giving, time, talking, kids … all the stuff of life, and death. It’s one of many books that feels nurturing to me – one you can read in any state and find sustenance.

This evening I turned to a page at random and enjoyed richness again. It settled beautifully around me, in the midst of my life as it is at the moment – loving, working, caring, exploring, growing, creating, assisting, giggling…

This is the passage:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper the sorrow that carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight….

To anyone who is – or who has ever – experienced sadness, these words remind us that happy and sad are equal, connected, unavoidable. The depth of sadness reflects the depth of love, joy and delight we share during life and vice versa. It flows in all directions.

Books can nurture, I think, not because they tell us something new; but because they reflect back to us in clear form, that which we only dimly sense in our deepest wisdom. We read a passage and feel, “Yes! That’s exactly it!” We see ourselves, and we know others share our experience.

I like!!

Foooooood!!

It’s high past time to mention food as a means of nurture!

Eating something broadly healthy is a good start. Well… actually, let’s go back a step: Eating anything is a good start – skipped breakfasts, skipped lunches etc. are not so hot on the nurture!

But if you’ve got as far as having some food available, what makes a meal nurturing rather than just broadly nutritious? There’s bound to be loads of different answers to that!

Minced lamb and hummus

Spiced Lamb with Hummus, pine nuts, pomegranate

Here’s my personal recipe for food that nurtures:

    • Local Produce – Fresh ingredients, purchased from my local grocer, butcher, deli and other friendly stores and suppliers. Preferably grown or reared locally too, but I treat that with a dose of reality (or there would be no olives, lemons, or pretty little pomegranate seeds!)
    • Natural produce – seasonal vegetables I’ve grown myself, or veg grown by suppliers with a focus on taste and nutrition rather than uniformity of size and colour.
    • Home Cooked – no additives, no preservatives just freshly, lovingly, home cooked food.
    • Colourful – my favourite meals are all full of vibrant colour
Tuna Nicoise Salad

Colourful Tuna Nicoise

  • Gorgeous taste – flavours that make me smile, my personal favourite palate
  • Presentation – Nice plates, relaxing surroundings, a few soft details like flowers on the table, and candles.
  • Cake – Afternoon tea is a meal! Lovely fresh baked cake, especially after a wonderful walk
Banoffee Cake

Banoffee Cake… with added mountain backdrop 🙂

  • Company – Relaxed, warm hearted company, the sound of laughter and chatter… probably the chink of wine glasses too 🙂
  • Eating consciously! – Savouring flavours, a bit of awareness of what I’m eating, appreciating, grateful for.
  • And also … This is real life! Sometimes it’s fish & chips from my favourite chippy, happily consumed with salt and balsamic vinegar, snuggled up watching a favourite film: It is not so conscious, not so healthy… but ohhhh so snuggly!!!

So, what makes meals nurturing for you? What are your personal ingredients?

P.S Here’s the recipe for those Banoffee Cakes

Allowing compliments

I feel warmed and fulfilled when I can let in the fact, or permit myself to feel that someone cares for, accepts, admires or prizes me – Carl Rogers

This is a biggy for many people!!!

Have you ever watched someone playing “compliment cricket?” It goes something like this:

“Wow, you’ve got a real talent there!”
….”Oh no, it’s pretty easy really” …. BAT

“You made a real difference to that meeting”
….”It went well, didn’t it? I guess everyone was in a good mood today!” …. BAT

“This is delicious!! I love your cooking!”
…”Anyone can do it, I have a great recipe book” …. HIT FOR SIX

Bread Pudding

Nana’s Bread Pudding

Any one of those comments could be gracefully received, appreciated and used to nurture our confidence, awareness or ideas as to how we use our talents. But what do we instead? Bat the dratted positive feedback safely out of earshot, claim it was, “nothing really” and protect our littleness.

Well, go join the fielding side for a bit will you?

Catch those kind comments, and hold them long enough to absorb their best intent for you. If you truly find them inaccurate, you can put them down again – but you’ve still done something to provoke that positive comment, haven’t you? What was it? What part of you would it provide nourishment for, if you actually allowed yourself to hear it?

Daily Nurture – more ideas

We’re now at the end of the third week of this blog, and the third week of August’s “One moment of nurture every day” exploration.

If you missed it first time round, you’ll find the initial ideas for daily nurture on here: Ideas so far.

Two toddlers share a hug

Share a hug

And here’s more nurturing ideas that have emerged during the last week or so – thank you to everyone who has contributed via comments, tweets and Facebook posts!

  • Pop some bubble wrap!
  • Watch a film that inspires you
  • Remind yourself of a favourite quote
  • Search online for quotes relating to something you need or love (e.g. hope, patience, courage, mountains, sea, cake…)
  • Find an on-line jigsaw creator app and load up a picture you love, then tootle through the jigsaw
  • Spend time with friends that listen
  • Share a hug!
  • Watch a sunset
  • Send a surprise gift to someone
  • Cook something special
Sunset, North Downs

Watch a sunset…

So… one more week on this August creating daily nurture game…. What other ideas will you come up with?

For days when you doubt…

Just because I can’t do it today, doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to do it some day

This film is for all of us who’ve ever had a day where doubts danced about… for all of us that have feared that we’d never move forwards from where we are, or where we were.

I fell many times… but I got back up again

As nurturing films go, I think this is my personal favourite. The quotes on this page, and the feeling behind them, have sustained me on the days when I’m feeling totally bleaaaargh.

I started to believe it could happen…

I’m not saying that belief is the only thing you need – a bit of action and practise is rather essential too. But without the belief in yourself – the motivation to take the next step, practise and do the bit you can do is oh so much harder to find.

 

And WITH that self belief … wow. You can find yourself gradually pootling into territory way better than you ever dreamed was possible!

Never underestimate what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself

Courageous lives

Every courageous life is lived in the grit and difficulty of existence – David Whyte

Like many kids, I grew up with stories that started with, “Once upon a time…” and ended with, ” … and lived happily ever after.” Excellent, a good cheery start for kids.

But at some point, possibly during adolescence, possibly during second adolescence (aka mid life), you kind of start to realise that somewhere in the ending there really ought to be a mention of the fact that, as well as the happy bit, “Sh*t still happens.”

Mountain horse poo & toadstools

Sh*t till happens… (and stuff grows!)

Because it does: Things don’t work out; People you love go away, fall ill or have the audacity to die; Your circumstances change in a way you don’t like; You fall in love and sometimes you fall back out again; Dreams come true and then you discover the dream comes with some tedious rubbishy stuff to deal with too…

Rainbow and cloud over Hay-on-Wye

No rainbow without some rain

So, this quote is nurturing to me because it reminds me that life is amazing and we can blossom into the most wonderful new ways of living and sharing our particular talents. And whilst all that gorgeous stuff is happening, it’s absolutely normal for stuff to hit the fan sometimes, and we manage it as best we can. That’s part of the story, it’s part of the deal. It’s part of life, along with the happiness.

So there’s no need to throw your toys out of the pram if things don’t go your way. Just decide what you can do about it. Keep the faith and carry on, deal with the sh*t and enjoy the happiness 🙂

Rainbow in Ewyas valley, Black Mountains

Oh look, rainbow is right here

Nature’s Nurture

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul – John Muir

Autumn view of valley below Gospel Pass

Where nature may heal

Oh, I hardly need to say anything about this one!

Anyone who has taken a walk in nature will know how nurturing wild places are… anyone who’s gazed at a view and been moved by the immense beauty, watched a teeny ant carrying a crazy out-of-proportion load, taken a smiling sniff from a fragrant flower, admired the colours on an Autumn leaf, ambled through woods listening to the birds sing, sat by a giggling stream, gaped at the peaceful grandeur of a loch or lakeside, played on gnarly tors, looked out on fens and moors, mountains and huggy hillsides … oh the list is endless!

Nature fills your senses … sights, sounds, smells, feel and oh yes a home cooked meal sure tastes even better after a walk!

Nature connects us to basics, grounds us and teaches us, teaches us to manage hazards – and then relax and enjoy our experience.

Nature is full of wild beauty and gentle detail. Nature will rain on you, blow your hair sideways, warm you, cool you and sometimes freeze your wotsits off. Nature connects, calms, inspires, nurtures. And it is free.

This is my moment of nurture today, remembering this rich gift and taking a moment outside to reconnect with the eternal wisdom and love that speaks through nature. That and letting rip with a bit of waxing lyrical 😉

And forget not that the earth longs to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair – Kahil Gibran

Little one in big valley

Nature nurture

What’s your favourite bit of nature nurture?

Soothed, healed, in tune

With magnificent views, teeny details, layers of sounds, seasonal scents, the feel of the wind, sun and ground beneath your feet …. out in nature, everything that wants to be soothed or healed seems to do so very gently and naturally.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more –John Burroughs

Capel-y-ffin summer afternoon

Sunny August afternoon in the Black Mountains

Definitely nurturing 😀

Sunny view looking towards Gospel Pass

😀

Setting Sail…

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time – Andre Gide

What do I find nurturing about this quote? It’s the reality of it, and the word “consent” … Setting sail to discover new lands is a choice. You don’t have to set out, but if you want to discover new land, you’re signing up to lose sight of that shore for a bit.

Familiar shore line gone? Don’t panic, it’s part of getting to where you’re going and zillions of people are experiencing the same thing. Sure it’s great to have the certainty of a shore line. But if you’re compelled to explore, you let go of that bit of certainty for a while.

Seascape losing sight of the shore

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time