Have you known darkness? I have. Dark, sticky, no hope darkness, the kind that makes you want to end the pain, the kind that pulls you down into places where you feel no pain. And I've known the darkness of days and nights filled with anxiety and worry. But I've learned how to stay well, and I try to be a light for others. I love this.. "We are not saints; we are not heroes. Our lives are lived in the quiet corners of the ordinary. We build tiny hearth fires, sometimes barely strong enough to give off warmth. But to the person lost in the darkness, our tiny flame may be the road to safety, the path to salvation. It is not given to us to know who is lost in the darkness that surrounds us or even if our light is seen. We can only know that against even the smallest of lights, darkness cannot stand. A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle. A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame. It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity. It is simply an issue of the presence of light." Kent Nerburn
One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal.
One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey,
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what’s true.
One life can make the difference,
You see, IT’S UP TO YOU!
By Ashish Ram
“My home is a peaceful haven and I feel safe and loved.” Louise Hay
I’ve spent the most lovely weekend with my family and extended family. On New Year’s Eve as we stood in a circle singing “Yon Bonny Banks” I could have burst with happiness. And last night (well, about 1.30 a.m), Lee and I were talking about how good our lives are, and how much we have to be grateful for as we enter 2012, and that we might be in the minority of people in the world who feel that way. Home is where my heart is, and I’m so grateful now to live in a happy, peaceful home.
Change starts with little things
Which is not to say it’s perfect – we are human, and the house itself needs some work done. Just little things, but in 2012, we will make those changes – that bedroom carpet I hate will get changed, the bathroom will have the bath boxed in and a new shower panel put up, the dining room will have the shelves put in that I want, and we might change the floors in the kitchen and utility rooms. Little things that need done that could so easily be done. That’s a good metaphor for life, really – it’s the small changes that make our life better after all.
Our haven, our cocoon
Even with these things that could be changed, our home remains perfect enough to be our haven, a cocoon from the madder and busier outside world. I love my friends passionately and love spending time with them, connecting with them, being challenged by them, or supporting and encouraging them when they need it, as they do with me; but it pales against the passion I feel for my home now, and the peace and joy I know there. (And I qualify that with the truth I learned in 2006/7 that if I lost that house tomorrow, I know it’s only a house as what matters is the people in it, and I know I can create a home wherever I want to do that. I can do the same with a haven).
Creating your haven
One day, I’ll run “The Haven” as a retreat from a madder world – but for now, I’ll create my own haven as that longer journey begins here. If you want your own haven, you will have to put some initial work in. De-cluttering is vital – throw out what is no longer useful or attractive to you (or pass it on, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder). De-clutter the closets and drawers as well; don’t hide stuff away behind closed doors – it is stil there, and still draining your energy. Everything in your house should be there because it brings you happiness, either through memories connected to it, because of the fact it makes your life easier, or because it brings pleasure to your senses, so critically examine your belongings through those filters. And as you take stuff away, decide to fill any spaces that are left with what brings you joy. This does not need to be costly – it takes time and imagination, but you can even use other’s “junk” to do this, or you can go to many of the budget home places and find what you need easily.
Our haven and happiness
I’ts YOUR haven so it needs to reflect you. If you don’t know what your haven might look like, start thinking and journaling on that one. Use some home magazines and see what draws your eye, stick them into your journal and then copy what you see – you’ll personalise it easily to suit you. Our haven has a lot of little pointers towards happiness – signs that say “laugh,” and “love,” posters and plagues that say happiness, ornaments that give us joy.
We also have a “happiness tree” where we attach little things to it that either make us happy or are memories of things that gave us happiness in a year. This is our third year doing it, after a friend on Facebook said that they didn’t want the Christmas feeling to end, and I realised I felt the same, and the reason was because it was a season of general goodwill and happiness. The first year, I got a tree branch and painted it and attached things to it, then we bought a metal tree with lots of branches and I’m just about to remove the various tickets, butterflies, corks, and tiny ornaments attached to it to prepare it for 2012.
Christmas trees and the January blues
This year, I also do not want to get rid of my Christmas tree because it’s so beautiful – but much and all as I feel that, I know that come mid January, it’s tinsel would look decidedly odd, and it’s particular baubles would look out of place. The Christmas tree is a symbol of light in the middle of darkness, it’s symbolism steeped in ancient history – and yet, I’ve wondered why we don’t have something similar for January, seen as the “most depressing month because of the shortage of light (and usually lack of money caused by Christmas celebrations). It’s like January is a waiting month – between the joy and celebration of Chrismas, and the extra light we start to see in February, heralded by my favourite flower, the snowdrop. Yet if I see it as a “waiting month” or a “month to get through,” then I waste 31 special days of my all too short life. So how to “get through January” while living in the present, so I’m not wishing the days away?
January Joy Ritual
A few years ago I started to plan good things into January – massages, weekends away, catching up with friends – things to look forward to. This year, I’m adding to that by creating a January Joy ritual. Rituals are so important in life, particularly where change is required or to cope with change, as there is safety and peace and calmness in them (and what is Christmas with trees and cards, and presents if not a yearly ritual?) Enjoying my home will be key to this, (so I can snuggle in it with warm rugs and the light of candles and good smells), and candles and lights will remain critical.
I was going to hit the sales for a special candle holder, but then I remembered that we got a number of tall red candle holders for the tables at our wedding in 2005 that come out each Christmas, and I realised that I could use these, with some sort of baubles somewhere, as these reflect the light. Now all I need is 30 quotes/songs we can use for each of the days, as we will light these at dinner time, and keep them lit for the rest of the evening – not as a countdown to light, but an appreciation of light in the middle of darkness..
What ritual might help you in January, and how can you make your home a haven, or more of a haven than it all-ready is?