Saturday, 20 May 2017

Moments of Joy




It's been a while!
I have to admit that I haven't felt much like writing recently, as grief does interesting things to your priorities and to your brain! On the times I've wanted to write something, I haven't had the brain power to sit and concentrate... or other things come higher up on the list of current necessities and blogging gets put on the back burner. Then, there are days that you just have to go in to survival mode when you can only do the basics and the desire to blog is a far distant thought.
It's been a rough few months with many ups and downs...  and although the "ups" haven't been as up as I would like them to be..... I have tried to be diligent and consistent in plodding ever forwards, learning how to create a new, different life without Heni. It's often been a struggle along the way to search out those moments of joy that I mentioned back in a post  I wrote just before  Christmas .
Those moments of joy ARE there... they just take some searching for right now.  It's a purposeful activity. One in which if you engage in, opens your eyes and broadens your view.
Those moments often arrive when I go out walking and intentionally look and see the perfect picture to photograph. Or awake and pause to listen to the sound of the birds chirping outside. They come when you tune into the warmth of the sun on your face on one of those rare glorious days or a fleeting break in the clouds.They can easily been overlooked, mistaken or even ignored if you are not mindful and actively engaged in the process of being aware and noticing them.

Sometimes those moments of joy come when a friend I haven't heard from in a while sends me a text telling me that they are mindful of me and have been praying for my comfort and strength. They come with the kind words, hugs and thoughtfulness of others.
At other times you have to just make your own joy.... to purposefully get up and go out the house to do something constructive, like a class or to provide help to someone else. To turn on the more upbeat music, take time to read or just tune in and be cognizent of the moments needs.

Recently my mac reached the point where I had no disc space left! My  almost 30,000 photos were taking up a little too much room... that made me grin because it showed me something that I enjoy and reminded me   (as I sorted and looked back on the photo library) of the moments that have made me smile and that have given me (and still give me) Joy. 

Today I thought I'd share some of the pictures taken on our yearly traditional walk around Tarn Hows in the Lake district.... the same day on which we put Heni's memorial bench in place and scattered some of her ashes... 

(If you want to compare previous years pics you can also click here as we usually take pictures in the same spot each year!)
They are followed by some other photos from the trip that make me smile and instill a sense of joy when I look at them and remember the memories.

Warning... lots of scrolling involved!
















 
Following are some of the lovely walks and joyful memories that we made on our trip ...


Stock Ghyll force Waterfall walk in Ambleside


Cat Bells Walk near Keswick


Lunch stop on Wainwright's Harter fell climb


The bearded boys

...and some of the amazing scenery that always instills in me a sense of peace, calm and awe at nature. 







Ambleside to Grasmere walk - looking back at Rydal water



Lakeside walk -Howtown to Glenridding


Mossy stone Boat house - Howtown to Glenridding walk


Roman fort at Hardknott pass


Glenridding church - on the last leg of our
Howtown to Glenridding lakeside walk  (another Wainwright)


Stone walls, tree roots and moss - my favourite combination of texture

 ... and some of the joyful moments when I see love all around me and capture it in my heart and mind with a photograph.



Heart on a tree - found on our Wray castle to Bowness walk



Hear shaped rock in the  stream by our favourite bridge - Tarn Howes (top of page)


Love is everywhere if you only look for it!


...and a few of my favourite black and white photos from the trip.... taken at Alan Bank in Grasmere



The boys doing a pastel picture

Hubby contemplating the view at the writing desk - looking over Grasmere lake

Big Bro T - taking a moments reflection of the stunning views

Girls in the games room

The hungry boy in The library


This week... if joy seems to be eluding you ... I would encourage you to stop what you are doing at regular intervals (maybe even set your watch timer?) take a few deep breaths, look around and then ask yourself a few questions.

What do I see that I like right now?
What is good in my life?
What is one simple pleasure that I can enjoy today?

If you would like to have some more questions to ask yourself you can find a list of "50 questions that will help you feel grateful and good about life".... and I would add joyful too!


Until next time.... whenever that may be : )

Jx







Friday, 14 April 2017

Memorial Bench

A week ago today we got back from our yearly family trip to the Lake district here in England. It's one of my favourite places to visit... it's such a beautiful place that it draws us back time and time again.  When Heni passed away last October, we all knew that we wanted to return this year on a "memorial trip"... put a bench in a special place, and scatter some of her ashes on one of our "Heni" walks we do each year.

It took a bit of time and effort researching how to go about it all . As I approached a number of organizations to see what could be done, I felt repeatedly dejected to find that our idea was just not looking like it would ever happen.
The National Trust were unable to offer any memorial benches or tree planting (although they do allow you to make a donation and record it in a book). However I read on another blog that they do allow scattering of ashes as long as you abide by a few guide lines and do it discreetly and respect other individuals.
 Another organization called The Lake District National Park have a number of projects that you can donate money or time to (such as a gate, sign or helping build a trail etc).  They also allow a small plaque with a name, birth and death date. Unfortunately for us though,  none of the projects were in an area that had any sentimental connection or memories that we associated with Heni on our previous trips.
The Forestry Commission didn't allow memorial benches or tree planting either... and so my investigations came to an abrupt end.  I was advised, during the many telephone conversations I had, that we should see if anything could be done on private land.




You may remember that last year on our Lakes trip we stayed at a wonderful place called the Cedars. It was one of Heni's last holidays... and her very last trip to Cumbria. We decided we would love to book the property again for this years trip. It is set in the grounds of Pullwood Bay estate just behind the large Manor house which is now converted into holiday apartments. The manager of the house very kindly approached the Pullwood Bay estate team on our behalf and as a result we were given permission to place Heni's bench on the grounds in front of the beautiful big house on the side of lake Windermere. The team were all amazingly understanding and helpful to work with on the run up to our trip.



  
 The spot we eventually decided on was in front of a small beach area by the side of a lovely little jetty. The jetty already has another memorial bench on it ...



...but the area just a little further back is perfectly centred to the beach and framed by trees. It looks out to a small island full of ducks, swans and other birds. As you look further across the lake you can see the hills at the other side, just above Windermere town. If you look up the lake you can see Ambleside nestled amid the hills above it.




It really is just the perfect spot. 


 

















We ordered a lovely chunky bench from Sustainable furniture on line and we had it delivered to our home with the intention of taking it up with us in the Landy. Landy however, decided not to play ball and broke down a week before we were supposed to travel! It couldn't be fixed in time for the journey and we ended up having to hire a white van at the last minute to transport it up.  





 We deliberated for quite some time over what to put on the Plaque but we all loved this one below.



 It puts in to words how strong our beautiful daughter was. She had so many reasons to give in and be unhappy but despite all of her difficulties she made it look easy as she smiled and carried her trials with grace and beauty.


On the day we had arranged to put the bench in situ  we woke up to stunning blue sky... a real treat for us as we normally get rain and wind in the lakes at this time of year. It made me think that perhaps Heni must have been in charge of the weather department that day... helping us feel that she was mindful of us all!  We were blessed to be able to go down to the waters edge, put our blankets down and enjoy the sun as we admired the company of the local swans and listened to conference in the back ground....


One of the talks we listened to resonated with me a great deal. It was a timely reminder  of Gods plan for all of us....that birth and death are just milestones on our journey to eternal life back with Him. An apt message in light of our purpose that day and for us all on the run up to Easter!

"Because of God’s holy plan, we know that birth and death are actually just milestones on our journey to eternal life with our Heavenly Father".





We all took it in turns to plant the Tête á Tête daffodils on each side of the bench in pretty little circles.



I even managed to find a gorgeous heart shaped trowel (you probably know my love of all things heart shaped by now!)....in a local garden centre in Ambleside to dig the holes.


 When the planting and setting of the bench was complete we all took a bunch of photos on and around it (with Heni's friend Rapunzel!) for the family album.... and then later that afternoon we walked in one of our favourite spots.... each scattering a small amount of Heni's ashes along the way.

It was a week of mixed emotions and I sure miss my sweet precious daughter... but we are SO grateful to have this place to return to each year (I'm sure it will be more often than that now!) Every day we were in the Lakes I loved to walk down to the bench and just sit, look out over the view and think of all that Heni has brought into my life and remember her beautiful smile. Now that I am back home again I still revisit the bench every day in my minds eye.  I can see the stunning scenery and the peace and calm it instills. If there is one thing for certain, it is that the beauty of this view needed to be and thankfully IS so apt, appropriate and fitting for such an amazingly beautiful person as Heni!

I don't really need a bench to sit on and remember my daughter each day but as I recall her  there is one thing that makes it bearable for me to be without her....and that is to sit and remember the one who made it possible for me to see her again one day.I hope that this Easter as you celebrate you will look beyond the Easter eggs, fluffy bunny rabbits and baby lambs and also take time to remember "The Good Shepherd" who sacrificed himself for his sheep John 10:11 ...even the one who called himself the "Resurrection and the life"... the one who if we believe in him, will make it possible for all of us to eventually see our loved ones again.

Jx


 
You can scroll below if you would like to see a bunch more pictures from the mornings activities.
Sighting the bench in the perfect spot





























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