Lowering standards

The joy of lowering your standards! Tough love for anyone with high standards, but ohhhh so effective at maintaining forward momentum rather than tum-te-tum-I’m-still-stuck-ness:

“Much of what we do gets stuck not because we don’t try hard enough, but because we try too hard… we aim too high, too quickly, being prematurely concerned with correctness & results at the expense of practice and process” – Manjusvara.

To nurture your ideas, your momentum, your hopes – lower your standards enough.

Take the step that you can do today šŸ˜€


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™‚ )


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.


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?


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


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


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!

Sunrise … especially in winter

Winter brings the option to enjoy watching the sunrise at a broadly civilised time … a wonderful start to the day!

Frosty winter sunrise, North Downs


Sunrise Capel-y-ffin

What a difference a day makes

Sometimes nature’s nurture is a stunning transformation, like the difference one overnight shower can make on a baltic, snowy mountainside!

Snowy Hay Bluff

Hay Bluff wrapped in baltic dusting of February Snow

Hay Bluff

Hay Bluff the next morning…

Sunny hay Bluff

… and later that afternoon!!

Quiet moments

Sometimes nature’s nurture is providing thinking space, a great rock to sit on, and a very stunning view …


Rock seat Ewyas valley

The vale of Ewyas, generous & inspiring

Wild and strong…

Nature’s nurture … meeting the wild and strong…

Grey Stallion Cat's Back, Black Mountains

Mountain Stallion on The Cat’s Back, Black Mountains

… the wild and cute…

Cute Montain Pony Hay Bluff

Mountain Pony, Hay Bluff

… the wild and deeply contented…
Mountain Pony rolling

… and the wild and grinning madly šŸ˜€

Mountain pony funny face


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…

Nature’s soundtrack

One of the things I love best about being out in wild places is the peaceful, natural soundtrack. No cars. No trains. Few planes.

Instead, peaceful layers of sound that add flavour to the visual feast: Some sounds evoke memories and feelings, like the skylark, whose soaring song instantly connects me to many stunning hot walks where the whole world seemed to just slow down for a while…

(Thank you Chris Chalk for the youtube Skylark http://www.chrischalkart.com/)

The sound of the leaves rustling along an Autumn path; ewes and lambs bleating in the spring; the multiple different gurgles, giggles and chuckles of shallow streams tumbling over rocks; the various birds chirping and calling – some evoking open spaces like the buzzard and skylark, some closer to home like the blackbird’s evening song, or a thrush happily singing (or of course smashing a snail on the rocks, less tuneful but definitely rhythmical!)…

Mountain stream , Black Mountains

Gurgling stream in the Black Mountains

Whatever sounds of nature you love, there are rich layers to be enjoyed. If you pause and listen for what else you can hear that you haven’t already tuned in to, the layers go on… and on … and on.

A true feast!