NatureConnect Counselling and Psychotherapy with Neil Jordan
in Marsden, West Yorkshire and Wilmslow in Cheshire

Saturday 4th February 2017

Even though I was tired today I felt I had to get out for a walk, and what a day for a walk. It was beautiful, a clear blue sky and the air was cold as it should be at this time of year. I was well covered up so kept warm but the sharpness of the cold air on my face was invigorating. I felt quite low when I went out, largely because I'd slept badly last night so was tired and irritable. Yet, as I walked I felt my mood lifting and a sense of optimism crept in. It just felt good to be alive and I had an increasing sense of life being good. This doesn't mean that there are no problems in my life, that there is nothing that I'm struggling with. There are many things that I find difficult in life. But today I just had a sense that all is ok, that I will find a way through those problems and challenges that life throws my way. It felt like I was beginning to believe in the intrinsic goodness of life. Of course, when I look around me how can I not let in the shear goodness of all that's around me, the vivid colours that are everywhere; the birds singing, the clear blue sky, the dark brown of the moors, the pheasants hopping off into the long grass, the gushing of the water as it heads downstream. There is so much to cherish. And I realise how I spend so much time wrapped up in my personal struggles with life that I don't see the beauty that is all around me. Life itself is indeed intrinsically good. I just have to let it in more. A work in progress.

Saturday 25th March 2017

What a glorious day to be outside. The sun is shining at last. I've been struggling under the leaden skies these past few weeks, especially earlier this week when the rain seemed endless. I find the dark winter days difficult at the best of times, getting up in the dark, coming home from work in the dark. Everything seems so bleak. So, its a welcome respite when spring shows her face at last and begins to warm my face and my soul. I need the daylight. The next couple of months is my favourite time of year; nature is coming to life, the daffodils are in full bloom; lots of other little flowers are showing their pretty faces; I see a couple of clumps of primroses in the garden as I look out the window. I feel as though I come to life in some way as well at this time of year; my mood lifts; I enjoy being in the outdoors much more.

Today I built a veg box in the garden and filled it with soil. Unfortunately, I had to import topsoil as the soil is so poor here. We have perhaps two inches of soil at best, then its pure clay. Yet, I was amazed at how the worms were still at work in this little layer of topsoil. Give them another few hundred years and they will turn the clay into good soil. Isn't it amazing how they break down clay and raw food into topsoil. I set up a compost bin some time ago and just started to throw all our waste food into it - within a few weeks hundreds of little red worms had made their way into it and were busy decomposing. A lot of the time I'm too busy doing other things to really notice what is going on under my nose. But when I stop and take note of what is actually happening, how the worms and the bees and hundreds of other insects, animals, birds etc are doing their bit to keep the ecosystem balanced it takes my breath away. How blessed I am to be alive.

Friday 21st April 2017

I'm sitting at our kitchen table looking out the window at the garden as I type. It lifts my heart to see spring literally blossoming forth. The various clumps of daffodils have been a source of delight for me over the past month - my favourite flower I think. For me the daffodils represent the return of the spring, of the growing season, of life springing forth. They also bring back fond memories of my childhood. I was brought up on a farm and daffodils seemed to shoot up everywhere. My mother loved them. I still love getting my nose into a daffodil and smelling its scent. I feel like I take the scent deep into my body.I just feel like I want to drink it up. I guess I'm a bit like a bee - I want the nectar.

We moved to this house two years ago and, as I think of it now, we have transformed the garden. It was growing wild when we arrived, completely taken over by rhodedendrons. Its amazing how a non-native species can crush the life out of all other trees. The balance that seems to be inherent with native species, where there is space for all to thrive, disappears. Yet, I still question should we have left them alone and let those living trees continue to grow. There rarely seems to be a straight-forward answer to lots of these issues. On the other hand we built a rock garden which is now thriving - so many flowers of different shades that just seem to want to be admired. The tulips look especially dazzling to the eye. As I look at the variety of plants and flowers which I can now admire outside our window I don't regret our decision even though we deliberated about it for some time before we set about making the changes. And, what I am sure about is I just love what we have made and I love spending time in it.

Then again, when we spend time in it, the midges appear and make life difficult. Marsden midges are famous, or should I say infamous, for those of you who don't know the area. They love human flesh. So, I wish they weren't here as it would make life easier for me. But are they entitled to a life as well? I guess they have every bit as much a right to be here as me. Perhaps I should stop there. If I carried on I could drive myself crazy with the 'rights' and 'wrongs' of how all these species, including the human species co-exist. All this co-existence is a challenge!

26th May 2017

It has been so hot today. At lunchtime I went out for a walk to a local reservoir and had a swim. Its so different swimming in the great outdoors than swimming in an indoor pool. The sense of freedom and space is incredible. Even though the weather has been hot the water was still relatively cold so it was a shock getting in initially. But once in it is so rejuvenating. I felt so alive, so energised and just wanted to stay there. I often swim in the local pool which is enjoyable but the experience of swimming in an outdoor lake/reservoir surrounded by trees and blue sky, watching the swallows ducking and diving and catching the midges is magical.

At a different level its great to see so many people go into this outdoor space to have a swim. I'm obviously not the only one to enjoy the great outdoors. I guess part of the enlivening experience is taking a risk, going somewhere where there aren't life guards to protect us. I certainly agree that its comforting to have lifeguards watching over us in the swimming pool, but I think we are living in a society that is becoming increasingly risk-averse, where everything should be completely safe. There's something sad about going to a primary school in winter when there is snow on the ground and the children are no longer allowed to play out or throw snowballs because someone might get injured. Its certainly not that I want anyone to get injured but there is something about taking risks in life, sometimes falling down and hurting ourselves, picking ourselves up and learning from the experience. How do we learn if we never fall down. How many times does a child fall before it learns the art of walking? I find that the experiences I learn most from are those that were difficult, where in some way or other I fell down and had to pick myself up or ask for help to get myself up.

I went for an early morning walk down the canal this morning. What a lovely morning it was, a little cooler that recently but the sharpness of the early morning breeze made me feel alive. And nature is so vibrant at the moment, so much colour everywhere. I stood by Sparth reservoir for a while just taking in the beauty. I realise how often I walk here yet rarely do I take the time to take it in. So, I stoopd for a while and immersed myself in the trees and the water, the sky and the birds. I felt so much part of it all. I'm just part of all this wild beauty - its a challenge to let that in, an ongoing challenge to let myself be truly part of creation. Yet, I am. We all are.

I felt so alive on the way back. Just taking my time, in no hurry, going with the flow. So glad I took the time to go out and immerse myself in the beauty that is all around me.

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