Category Archives: Creating Daily Nurture

Hope is a renewable quality

Today’s thought is about hope… and the difference between gently nurturing your sense of hope or ignoring it.

In this context, hope is way softer than an expectation of a specific result. It’s more of a quiet sense of background direction, a flow moving forwards, exact details and route unknown but a direction you want to explore. Hope speaks quietly in words like “may be…” “might” “curious” “possibly” “what if…?” “I wonder…”

Not every moment feels as hopeful, or so connected to that sense of gentle momentum. Sometimes you just splat in a heap, stumble about, or inexplicably decide that you are so close to your dreams, you’d better turn back. Not every recovery from a set back will be stupendously elegant, swift or resourceful. We do the best we can at the time: My scale for “best I can” goes from Complete Pants to Stonkingly Awesome.

Hope matters because it leads you through fear, it hears your doubts and encourages you to consider that maybe not all of those doubts are completely based in fact. Hope reminds you that new things are likely to feel uncomfortable at first, and the answer to that is not to stop, but to practice, gently. Hope can also be a cheeky monkey and play hide and seek, especially if you haven’t been nurturing yourself and are getting a bit frazzled.

But I think one of the ways you can nurture hope is to to treat each moment as a new one.

Hope can be nurtured by reminding yourself that the future is not set. The fact that you’ve ballsed something up, again, does not mean you will balls it up for ever more. The past does not equal your future. The past gives you some experience to draw from. End of.

What you choose to do right now, with this moment, that’s where you can become hopeful again. Especially if you’re willing to make a tiny change, and see how that works out. Hope is stronger than fear, and with a glimmer of hope – or a socking great truckload of it – you can keep taking little steps forwards.

As Thomas Kinkade said, hope is a renewable quality. Renewable at New Year, & New Moons, renewable every moment, every breath. Whether you choose to do something differently or circumstances change around you, some kind of newness will happen.

Daisy - hope is renewable quote

Hope is a renewable quality

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Nurture

Nurture:
To care for and protect someone or something while they are growing

Young seedlings are tender and can easily be lost. They are vulnerable in multiple ways:

  • Treading on them
  • Ignoring them and leaving them to wither
  • Providing no protection from slugs, snails & other nibblers
  • Providing no protection from strong winds that can break them
  • Being too keen & leaving young plants out on frosty night
  • Over-watering: drowned, anemic plants
  • Over feeding: Spindly weak plants that shoot up but then can’t hold their own weight

All the above are a right pain in the arse, those beautiful dreams of flourishing plants set back. Particularly a bit of a shocker that you can destroy by too much of something which, in lesser quantities, is beneficial.

Seedlings

New ideas, new habits, new skills, new friendships, new ways of thinking, new projects … they’re all tender and vulnerable too, whilst they develop roots and become stronger: They need protection from too much criticism too soon, from doubts, from over enthusiasm, from overwhelm, from over-reaching, from stalling, from starving.

Discovering how to nurture healthy seedlings that grow into healthy plants is likely to take some learning (i.e. mistakes). You may have to re-sow a few times!! Keep nurturing:

  1. You’re responsible for daily care, ongoing. It’s not a one off thing. Check how things are going often, and provide whatever is needed.
  2. There is a rate of growth that can be handled, and you’re best off working within that. A little oomph helps. Too much oomph destroys.
  3. The healthy growth of that seedling (or idea, project, habit…) is inherent, ready and waiting. You don’t have to create that bit. You just have to nourish that inherent potential, and protect it from external hazards, your own neglect – or your own over-enthusiasm.

That’s why nurture matters. Nurture enables the new. Success depends not on being brilliant immediately, but on having the patience and persistence to nurture.

Get away…

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgement…

Go some distance away because the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lock of harmony of proportion is more readily seen – Leonardo Da Vinci

Get away from it all

Get away from it all

Find a Thinking Rock

Find a Thinking Rock… Ok, what’s a Thinking Rock?

This is a Thinking Rock:

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So is this:

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It doesn’t actually literally have to be a rock. I do seem to be partial to them myself, but the fact that it’s a rock is not the essential bit. The essential bit is:

  • You can sit down
  • When you sit down, the views fill your senses. You can gaze, listen, be awed
  • The place feels special to you
  • It’s peaceful, you can sit undisturbed

So, the Thinking Rock doesn’t have to be a rock, it could be a bench, a handy tree trunk, a sunny patch of grass … Some place outside where you love the views, be they hills and mountains, streams, rivers, parkland, garden, seaside.

Then there’s the “Thinking” bit. You don’t actually think at the Thinking Rock either.Ā  The point of the Thinking Rock is that once there, your senses are so full and you feel connected to views so uplifting, that you forget all about conscious thinking.

The Thinking Rock allows your thoughts to stop scampering about trying to find an answer. It tucks your ego up in an awesome snuggle of nature and allows your brain to untangle. It eases fear, tension and grasping for answers. It calms, sooths, rebalances. It brings a little zing of inspiration. Your Thinking Rock is space for you to Just Be. It’s a space where you find it easy to Just Be. In such a place, you can feel what you really feel.

Let nature do the work. Sit and be awed. Allow contents to settle.

Find your Thinking Rock, where you need neither think nor be sat on a rock.

That is all šŸ™‚

Permission to idle

We categorise adults who sit in contemplative moods as flakey, spacey, or lazy. But for your brain to do its best work, you need to be idle. If you want to have great ideas or if you just want to get to know yourself, you must stop managing your time. At the very least, modern neuroscience is rapidly amassing more and more evidence that the resting state of the brain is vital to its health – Andrew Smart, Auto Pilot: The art and science of doing nothing

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This is one whopping great, year-long permit to include idle time in your day, every day: Amble, gaze at whatever brings you joy, snuggle by an open fire with a glass of wine, picnic by a stream, meditate, nap, watch the clouds go by …

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If you have a To Do List, your bit of idle time is not the least important thing on it; it is the most important thing, the thing that’s going to nurture you and maintain you in working condition to handle the other things on that list.

So get a grip and develop your capacity for idling!

Being insanely busy all the time is not only bad for you; it also prevents you from discovering the human being you were meant to be – Andrew Smart, Auto Pilot: The art and science of doing nothing

P.S Winter time can be particularly good for chilling champagne whilst idling šŸ˜€

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Small steps…

One may walk up a giant mountain one step at a time – John Muir

Well said Mr Muir! One has walked up many mountains, one step at at time.

The richness of mountain metaphors is astonishing to me. None more nurturing than the power of small, persistent steps. I KNOW how slow I can go up mountains, as I’ve been privileged to holiday up nice big hills in the Himalayas,Ā  Andes and Alps.

At 16000ft, heading towards the Thorung La on the Annapurna Circuit Oct 2000

At 16000ft, heading towards the Thorung La, on the Annapurna Circuit Oct 2000

With every ascent at altitude it is wise, and indeed necessary, to take a steady pace. Once you’re back down in oxygen rich atmosphere, the effort of the climb seems a distant weirdity. But at altitude, on an eight hour ascent with every single step simply puffing you out, your brain gets a phenomenal lesson in what can be achieved one step at a time.

My development of relaxing mountain retreats has been the same: Small steps, persistently heading broadly in the direction I want to go.

How small is small? It can be miniscule! I can remember one day, feeling rather low and overwhelmed, my achievement was to find the telephone number of an organisation that might be able to give me some tips. The next day I dialed the number and got a bit of info. The day after that I rang another place and got a bit more info. About 2 weeks later, everything was sorted and my way ahead was clear again.

Just keep plodding... on Chichicapac in the Andes, June 2005

Just keep plodding… on Chichicapac in the Andes, June 2005

My pacing of myself and of others is a feature, perhaps something I am especially comfortable with and willing to champion in others: Persistence, patience and compassion nurture you and your talents. Value each and every small step you take!

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be only afraid of staying still

And actually, don’t be afraid of staying still whilst you rest, idle, daydream or recharge either. Just don’t stay still indefinitely because you will get bored and really hungry šŸ™‚

Facing outwards

I like my life best when it faces outwards most of the time – Carl Rogers

There is a strange irony in this blog, given that I have retreated from publishing any blog posts for the last few months! And there is also a perfect fit: This particular post was written way back in November. Since then, it has hung out with a dozen other draft posts… surely not especially outwards facing!!!

That’s why I like this quote, it reminds me that nurture can never be an entirely inward, reflective undertaking. The insights that settle during those times have nowhere to flow to without some outward facing aspect – a creative outlet or other means of sharing.

To all introverts who love peaceful space to themselves, relax. You still get that too. As with most things, it’s about finding your own balance. In this quote, Carl Rogers goes on to say…

I prize the times when I am inward-looking – searching to know myself, meditating and thinking. But I find this must be balanced by doing things – interacting with people, producing something, whether a flower or a book or a piece of carpentry – Carl Rogers

Quiet time is nurturing in one way – and the fact that quiet time works so well for you does not mean a diet of 100% quiet time will work even BETTER. (Follow that line of thought to extremes, and life starts to feel like it’s shrinking, till it too small for you šŸ™‚ )

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Outward Facing Cheese Scones…

And just in case you are now revving up to go and be 100% outward facing (hello you busy people and extroverts!), this is not permission to go forth and be an exhausted martyr either. Exhaustion from giving without ever pausing to top up the tanks is also unsustainable. Brains need idle time to function healthily.

So what does this mean for our daily nurture? If you’ve been doing a lot of quiet, reflective nurture, balance that out with something outward facing. Ring a friend up and listen. Bake for people. Send a surprise gift or card. Share a smile.

And if you’ve had an exciting buzzy, sociable time, take a bit of space to amble and reflect. Let your mind drift naturally for a while, slow down and breathe.

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Daydreaming by a stream…

You’ll know you’re getting the balance right when you’re feeling yourself smile. All it takes is a little internal pirouetting šŸ™‚

Favourite Things…

Part playful New Year fun, part simple reminder… Are you spending a bit of time doing some of your favourite things?

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Rainbows on mountains and bright golden sunrise
Sunlight on hilltops and star sparkling night skies
Mountains that soar till my heart simply sings
These are a few of my favourite things

Mountain pony funny face

Wild chestnut ponies and great soaring buzzards
Welsh cakes and cheese cakes and boots caked in red muds
Farm cats that purr and share life in full swing
These are a few of my favourite things

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Rucsacs and champagne and picnics on hilltops
New friends and old friends and fresh food from real shops
Sweet mountain water drunk straight from the springs
These are a few of my favourite things

Mountain stream , Black Mountains

Old Welsh farmhouses that snuggle the hillside
Dreams that share love and a joy in and outside
Small steps and brave steps and steps that stretch wings
These are a few of my favourite things

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When the fears rise
When the doubts sting
When Iā€™m feeling low
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I just feel ā€“

Ah. This bit is not going to scan so well….

How I feel? Well, I certainly don’t go straight from “Waaaaargh!!!!!” to skipping through the daisies just by thinking about my favourite things. But they remind me why I do what I do; They nurture my strength and belief in myself, and help me take action if something’s bothering me. They lift & comfort, connect, hug.

Can anyone squidge that in to a word that will scan please??!!!

Wishing you a contented, fulfilling 2014, with plentiful nurture from your favourite things. Happy New Year! xx

Raindrops on pink rose

Tuna Nicoise Salad Banoffee Cake

With love and thanks to the beautiful Black Mountains, and all my friends, guests, suppliers & supporters!

A little flower arranging…

Flower arranging … not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea but like drawing, we can all do it if we allow that the end result will be within our own style and capability.

My flower arranging style generally involves pottering around whatever natural environment I’m in and picking out a few of whatever there is plenty of: Even better if it can be salvaged having fallen off its perch… Autumn leaves are about to be a good example!

Arranging them in various rustic styles fills a happy few minutes of creative going with the flow… an arrangement that emerges rather than needing to adhere to any preconceived plan. Free, natural, playful, creative, a connection, sharing… yep, that’s nurturing!

What would your style be?

Autumn leaves

Autumn “Flower” arrangement

Autumn leaves moss and log

One log retrieved from the woodpile, one handful of leaves, bit of moss …

French marigold & Dog Rose flower vases

Summer flowers: Dog Rose, Marigolds, Grasses, & shot glasses šŸ™‚

Common Sense alert: Don’t go picking any old stuff, especially bright red things that look poisonous. No raiding your neighbour’s front garden either. Checking and removing any creepy crawlies before bringing stuff inside is highly recommended…

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!! šŸ˜‰

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 šŸ™‚

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… !