Spirit, character and the blessing of unconditional love….

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Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. No? Oh well nevermind then, life carries on regardless.

On Monday I walked down the long and winding driveway between showers to meet my Mum and Dad in the country lane, so I could show them the way to my new little home. It is such a treat for us all to be able to get together and spend time like this. There has been so many years where we have lived thousands of miles apart, reliant in the early days on telex machines with ticker tape to keep in touch, right through to now when mobiles and emails link us.

Lately we have the joy of face to face visits.

They love my new home and we had a special time together. Mum tucked all sorts into my cupboards and a lovingly homemade Shepherd’s Pie was popped into my oven for us all to have lunch.

There have been many times when plans went upside down and they have had to invent new dance steps to unexpected songs being played out in their lives. That spirit and character from each of them has forged a bond that positively hums with energy and has given them the wisdom of ‘knowing’ the unspoken. New dances have been invented with love, grace, dignity and sheer hard work.

‘It’s like a retreat here’ said Dad finally after lunch. ‘Yes, it is’ I replied ‘that is exactly what it is. I can make a new life here Dad.’ We all smiled at each other. Then we headed off to sample the delights of the little medieval town that I am blessed to live near.

Mum and Dad ‘get’ why having the barn so near to my home matters to me.

‘Our’ farmer is a gentle soul and I often watch him leading the cows around here. He silently walks a few paces before them and they all drop into single file and follow him wherever he leads. I like him. As a backdrop to this week there has been much activity in the barn and it culminated with the equipment that was used being transported away today. You could feel the peace re-settle again. There were strangers in the mix during the working days and one is particular could be heard above the other men. There was anger in his voice and I picked it up instantly, as did the herd. I could ‘feel’ and hear him being rough and sharp with the animals in the barn and all week there has been a spiralling circle of distressed noises, smells and fear emanating from the hubbub.

As the sun was setting tonight, I walked out for a breath of fresh air. Down at the far gate I took pictures of the sunset and stood listening, in the cold evening air, to the kestrels on the hillside and the crows calling back from the trees. I heard a hoof on wood and looked up to see the herd going past my ‘usual’ gate and one was waiting there for me. I walked across to stand before a lovely gentle, about two years old, heifer. We stood together under the trees in the evening gloom and nattered for a while. I was asking her what on earth had happened to them all this week and she was snorting her replies. Her companions gathered around her for a little while, adding their comments. As they all started to move away she gave my hand a ‘raspy’ kiss with her tongue and with a dip of her head she headed off. A young steer, just behind her, stepped forward to rest his head on my outstretched hand, then he too walked off with his buddies. They have all stuck together and whatever they faced this week, they have retained their love, grace and dignity.

I love you Mum and Dad. <3

Feel the peace of a moment and breathe….

St Meugan's

Just over the end of the lane from where I live there is a little church called St. Meugan’s. There has been a church on this site since the sixth century, and after repair and restoration in the 1800’s, she still stands today re-built in stone. I was on the way back from town on Friday and as I passed by there was a sign fluttering in the breeze on her walls ‘Church open’. I turned back and parked up. Stepping inside I was enveloped in a deep peace and I sat inside for a good long while, alone with my thoughts and the feeling of many centuries of prayers emanating from the walls.

I needed the peace…

I returned from the south of England a few weeks ago, having finished my last farm sit, and courtesy of my Dad’s trailer I brought all my stuff back with me. On the Monday I had an interview in Chester and landed a role as a community carer for disabled adults living in their own homes. I hit the ground running with it on Tuesday and bonded very quickly with the souls we flow care to. Dashing between homes across Chester, and dealing with all sorts of situations and circumstances, I had a ‘baptism of fire’, but I loved being with the patients. It took a few days to realise that my printed rotas/timesheets were not adding up and I made the discovery that in the care profession we are not paid for our travelling time. So last Saturday I completed a 14.5 hour shift which equates to 8.5 hours of actual pay. The pay was modest anyway, but with this balance I was virtually working for nothing and doing it in my own vehicle. A clear and pithy conversation with the owner of the agency I was working for, resulted in a boardroom discussion later with the directors and me exiting stage left. As I recall I was heard to comment ‘Do I look like I came down in the last shower of rain?’ as I glanced outside at the owner’s new upmarket vehicle with personalised number plates! The actual payment terms are not made clear on induction and their huge staff turnover is an indication of this. My leaving caused upset to the patients they care for and certainly distressed me. How can we care for those that are vulnerable, if we are not cared for in a basic way? It is not a profession one enters into for the pay, as this is far more vocational than working, but goodness me what a ‘eye opener’ this has been. As a society we are marginalising those who are so very vulnerable and reliant on those who are physically able to do right by them. This includes our government, but that is another topic.

So I stood back in my apartment, with tight finances, a poorly car, a need for new options and a weariness that seemed to go right through to my soul, as I thought ‘What do I do now?’. It was upon returning from my local town, chasing down work opportunites the next day, that I found St. Meugan’s.

I met an elderly gentleman as I was leaving the church, who was visiting his wife’s grave with flowers. We stood there chatting in the wind, looking up at the mountains and finding out a little about each other. I did not mention my current challenges, but he did ask me what kind of work I was doing and I said I was currently looking. I touched upon a few of the different things I could do and he made a suggestion that may not come into being, but he sparked a spirited feeling in me. I have always been better off paddling my own canoe and I came home to think about the different things I could do. I have now ordered a broadband service for my little place and I will go back to the telephone service work. There are a number of other self-employed irons in the fire and I am sure it will all flow in as it is meant to.

I am meant to be here, that much I am sure of.

To give myself a break today, I am painting artwork onto a wooden pine chest and writing. Sometimes it is good to do what soothes a weary soul and as I write I can hear the kestrels on the mountainside and the cows in the barn nearby.

It is also good to stop in a peaceful place and breathe…..bless St. Meugan’s.

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Magic moments threaded into the flow that we call everyday….

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Laura and I having a loving catch-up in the garden under the morning sunshine. Bird song mingling with our loving laughter and shared confidences.

Opening each package to reveal a set of paintings created by Em. She wanted me to have her love on the walls of my new home, for my fresh start as she calls it. When I opened a set of two with mirrored heart images I dissolved.

Joy as Em and I watched Otis start to put weight onto his poorly leg, as the last rays of sun left the sky and Em stroked him. The look on her face is branded on my heart.

Each idea and job application hitting a blank wall so far and being seen as guidance by me, rather than rejection. Gratitude as these tweaks created space for me to have an idea in the peace of the early morning hours today. Life was breathed into that idea with a phone call first thing and I have let it go to see if it has wings.

Pepper waiting at the gate for me, (no.5 in the herd), so I could stroke her and chat as she walked with me while I did my morning head count. All present and correct. Unlike Sunday morning when they had gone walkabout because some unthinking soul had left a gate open! I eventually found them, but not before I had walked across numerous fields and telephoned a neighbouring farmer and his wife alerting them to the herd’s plight with these lines….

Me:’Good morning, I am so sorry to call you this early, but I have a slight hiccup here as the river gate was left open and the cows are missing’.

Farmer’s wife: ‘How many Jane?’

Me: ‘The whole herd.’

Farmer’s wife: ‘The WHOLE herd??’

Me: ‘Yes!’…..

Bless them for being so kind on the phone. We all laughed with relief as I carried on talking to them as I searched and spotted the herd calmly tucking into the delights of a new corner in a hitherto unreachable distant field! As I approached talking to my charges, they looked up as if to say ‘Gotcha!’ The farmer thanked me for getting him dressed, albeit in haste, and they made absolutely sure that I knew I could call them at any time, for whatever reason. Loving kindness from strangers and a growing desire in me for a quad bike.

Laughter and clucking as I shared my morning museli with happy hens.

Peace to sit and write to you all.

I dwell in gratitude knowing that everything is exactly as it is meant to be. Dreaming with hope, and without expectation, I am free to flow with the magic of life and love.

I have only gone and fallen in love….

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Meet my new love Otis, a very handsome and poorly boy.

I have come to a friend’s farm to care for her organic beef herd and her happy hens. Ages ago I promised her that I would come and flow care on her farm if she managed to organise a holiday for her family and her Mum. Success, as she organised it all and I headed away from my new home feeling rather fragile.

I have learned not to question life’s flow and I know there are many positives to come from the next week, but today there is something special to share.

We had a few hours together before they all headed off (which ‘us girls’ relished) and as we walked around and I absorbed it all, the conversation went something like this…..

Lovely friend: ‘Jane, I am really sorry to do this to you, but our bull Otis went lame yesterday. The vet’s been and his hoof is not infected, but he needs peace and a safe place to heal. So we have put him in the barn with a steer for company’.

Me: ‘Ohh, poor Otis…well, this is a first on the care front. I am guessing that we are talking hands-on care here?’

I was pale underneath my tanned face…..

Lovely friend: ‘Whatever you feel comfortable with, but he is feeling very sorry for himself.’

Me: ‘Poor boy, let’s go and see him.’

Otis and Zaphod, short for Zaphod Beeblebrox. When the herd reached number 42 a ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy theme developed and yes, there is an Arthur Dent. Anyway I digress, ‘the boys’, are happy in their barn together and as we walked up they watched us. Otis stood stock still as we went into the barn. My lovely friend explained that the water butt was ‘auto-filling’ from the mains and the manger was accessible from the outside, so I did not have to go in. I chose to go in though, as this magnificent boy is in pain. We moved calmly and my lovely friend went up to him, as I stood back, and stroked his head and talked to him. As she stepped back I took my time and went up to say ‘Hello’. I stroked his head and flank and talked to him. We topped up his hay and watched him walk. He is really limping and the pain is evident in his eyes. Poor boy. Zaphod is never far from his side.

We left ‘the boys’ and went to see how the main herd were doing in another field. They have all been moved to ensure Otis has peace and Zaphod does not pine too much. Then we came back so I could be introduced to all the quirks of the farmhouse and be greeted by the friendliest hens I have ever met. I am going to love tending to them and staying in this loving home. My lovely friend’s family are so at ease with each other and their love has soaked into the walls of their home, so it radiates back and you feel like you are ‘home’.

This evening I walked across to see how ‘the boys’ are doing. I talked to them and stocked up their manger with fresh hay to take them through the night. A little treat was called for and I put a scoop of nuts in the manger trough. Otis came right up and as he ate I stroked his head and talked to him. I was flowing healing into this beautiful boy as we stood there and each time he raised his head, I moved my hand to where a few nuts had got lost amoung the hay. He knew and dropped his head to eat them. Zaphod watched this bonding and very sensibly went to the other side of the manger to get his fair share.

I stroked, talked, healed and fell in love.

Standing there I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that I need to find farm work where I can care for animals every day.

I have found my true love.

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What is real and the kindness of strangers…..

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This photo was taken on Wednesday night, from the top of one of the mountains that nestle the valley, where I have chosen to put down roots and make the next chapter of my life. I have found a little apartment in a 17th century converted coach house, on an estate and working farm, in the depths of rural North Wales.

I am aware, as one of life’s ‘cliff leapers’, that I may not always have all my ducks in a neat row, but I have faith and trust in what is meant to be. I was drawn here, (never having been to the area before), and as soon as I drove over the mountain range and saw the valley stretching out before me, with the little medieval town in the middle, my soul spoke the words ‘You are home’.

My new home

With much gratitude to the loving support I have had, I came into land last Saturday and a few things happened in quick succession. My original choice of apartment felt all wrong as I unpacked my car and stood in the middle of the main room. My warm spirited landlord caught on very quickly and I was moved to another apartment on the estate. As I spruced the place up and settled in my laptop died, my phone struggled with any mobile signal at all, the Wifi signal was faint (that is being kind) and nothing electrical in the place worked. I have not collected my belongings from David’s yet, so I had very little that was familiar around me. The care agency work I was assured was a doddle to get into, is anything but, and I awoke the next morning to a cold feeling of ‘Oh what have I done…’.

OK, I thought, this is fear and I will acknowledge it, but not sink into it. I have been stopped in my tracks for a reason, but I am very definately in the right place. The fear is not real, what has gone before is not real, for it is in the past, and my imaginings on what might happen next are not real either.

What is real is what I tell myself and how I tackle this. I am capable and I have my smile..I can climb mountains.

My landlord on various visits has sorted my sparkly clean washing machine, which I can now set the dials on and start with a ball point pen…he’s ordered me a new button. The oven is now functioning (it had a dicky timer) and is sparkly clean. My laptop is fixed and I have made friends with the friendly man in the computer shop in the town and a lovely lady who runs a cafe nearby. Rachel lent me her laptop and let me sit in her cafe for hours on end as I job hunted. I have sussed the water timer and I can have hot, deep soaks in a sparkly clean bath. The sparkly clean theme now runs throughout my whole place and it made my landlord smile when I texted him a friendly warning to wear shades to combat sparkliness when he next visited. He is also buying me a Wifi booster. I am starting to get to know my neighbours, as there are forty odd places all rented out on this estate. Some are in the main hall and others in the coach house, stable block and assorted cottages and farm buildings dotted about.

Midweek, a visit to my Mum and Dad, who now live less than an hour away, was much needed. Mum got my washing done, fed me, sat me down to watch an escapist film and sent me back home with all sorts of goodies. That was real.

The job hunting has clarified something for me and I think it is based on all the blessed forms to be filled in and hoops to be jumped through…I am a self employed lass at heart. So I have created some handmade cards and started advertising myself as a ‘Home Service’…think Mary Poppins. Anything from cleaning to decorating, right through to cooking and baby sitting. I had a think you see and what is real are the things that I can do right here, right now. I can do accounts and finances, but why would anyone let me loose on those when I am in a foreign country and I am an unknown? If I start by being of service; work, smile, gain trust, talk to folk and get to know those in this farming community, then I can expand my services.

With the kindness of strangers; my cards are being handed out, helpful tips are being shared (along with some much needed local knowledge), decorating work is being promised, I was given a yummy piece of chocolate cake lovingly made by a neighbour’s young daughter last night, I have been gifted a beautiful rose bush for my patio, along with a thoughtful lavender plant (they are alongside a pale pink geranium from my Mum), friendly greetings are called out as I go about my daily tasks, invitations are being issued for coffee, dinner, a visit to the top balcony on the coach house (the views are breathtaking), advice for joining local business groups and I have been driven up one of the mountains to see the valley from there. Kindness is flowing….

What is also very real here are the views from several five bar gates. I can see the cows and sheep in the fields, each afternoon I can hear the cows in the wooden barn opposite me, hear the fountain playing through my kitchen window and each evening I watch the swallows flying in formation and calling to each other as they cool off in the evening breeze, just before the bats start to fly in the dusky evening sky.

I am home.

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Last week I was mainly driving tractors, diggers and trailers……love it!

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On the farm last week, the father and son builder team of John and Duncan, creating a huge 90ft barn in a far field, were a gift. Over coffee and cake breaks we perched on stacked timber and forged a friendship with much banter and laughter.

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One evening I looked across at the tractors dotted about and asked who owned them. Duncan said he did as he watched my face light up. For years, and I mean years, I have yearned to be back on a tractor. This is linked to heart memories from my days as a teenager in Africa, way before the days of health and safety, where we really pushed boundaries and had real adventures. Anyway I digress, I whispered to him (it was that important to me), could he take me out on a tractor….pretty please? We arranged it and end of play one early evening I stood welly booted and expectant in the field. Duncan went one better and handed me the keys with the words, ‘I think you can handle this yourself Jane’. He gave me instructions, perched in the cab with me and off we went. The sprung seat bounced and I drove around that field with a massive grin on my face. He had given me the gift of a dream.

A few days later John was unable to come to work on the barn, so I offered to help Duncan and he gave me instructions on how to drive the digger, with it’s many levers! The plan was to put Duncan in the digger bucket with a 16ft wooden beam and I would manoervre him through the steel shell and lift him up to various points to place, drill and then bolt each beam into place.

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The faith and trust he placed in me was immense as I have never driven one of these things and my fear level was high as I applied every atom of concentration to my task. Backwards and forwards we went and we managed to finish a whole section.

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My heart was in my mouth, but gradually I got the hang of it and the banter flowed through facial expressions. We had been using a system of hand signals above the racket of the engine and after a while I knew when to lower this trusting soul to bring him out for the next beam. I had a little fun with him in there. I would catch the flash of a smile as the last fixings went into a beam and I would grin at him from the cab and raise him an inch (steel beams above his head). His expression was priceless and I continued to grin and bring him slowly down again. He didn’t need to hand signal, his facial expression was eloquence enough in itself. He gave me another precious gift that day as my confidence came flooding back. I struggle when I think how long ago I lost it as I have been running on auto-pilot, with regular mental reminders of ‘I can do this’, for months now. His faith in me was uplifting and I must have slowed him down that day, but he gave no hint of it, just gentle encouragement and laughter.

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I left with love and much gratitude to head on up to Cheshire. John was back in the bucket, with Duncan driving the digger, and he looked down and said ‘Will you miss the place Jane?’, I replied ‘I’ll miss you two John, and the animals, I am so grateful for your friendship this week. It has been a special gift’. This roughty, toughty compact man in his special cap looked down and his eyes twinkled. Duncan and I hugged without words.

I am back at Mum and Dad’s and their moving plans are gathering pace. I awoke on my first morning to my Dad, with a familiar look on his face, saying ‘You’ve got a tow bar on your car haven’t you Nane?’, (that’s my old family name). That morning we shifted a huge heap of ordered debris (it’s my Dad after all), that used to be the old roof of Dad’s back workshop. ‘Thirty years ago I hand laminated that with a two inch brush’, said Dad. ”Really?’ I said as I struggled to split the external panels. Now for those of you in the know my Dad does nothing by halves and this is a trailer with a capital ‘T’ and I have never driven while pulling one before. After several trips we finished the job without incident, having befriended a kind young man at the tip who made the whole thing seamless at their end, and was very appreciative of the homemade cake from my Mum.

I think I have found my calling….all I need now is a hard hat.

The ultimate ‘selfie’ – self love, self respect, self worth – all interlinked and vital.

Daisy

There is a herd of Jacob’s sheep here, along with their lambs, and Daisy is the eldest in their group. She is a character and comes to say ‘Hello’ and stands still for as long as her head is stroked and her neck rubbed. We stood at the gate this morning and chatted, as I rubbed her shorn fleece.

Without a shadow of doubt, this farm sit has been my busiest assignment, calling upon skills and dollops of common sense in equal measure.

I started these adventures with the belief that I could earn my living through my telephone work and writing assignments. This would enable me to gift my time and love caring for pets, farm animals and homes, in return for a roof over my head. Again, there have been blessings and challenges in equal measure and a huge life lesson nestled within.

I have ended up skewing my own balance out of whack. I became very involved caring and flowing love into others’ lives and it has left precious little time for me to care for me. I did not value myself enough. The consequences of this lack of care are evident, but repairable. I choose not to travel down the path of blame, recriminations, anger or bitterness, as my own choices took me down this route in the first place and others’ actions are there own responsibility. So there are new choices being made, balance coming into view and as ever, life gifts being acknowledged.

We all give freely of our love, in so many ways, as we go about our daily rounds and I believe this is driven by the desire to be valued, loved, appreciated, respected, or all four, by others. Our own view on how worthy we are of love and respect cannot be sustainable like this.

How often do we pause to flow love to ourselves? For in loving ourselves we create and grow our own self worth and this is self respecting. We owe ourselves that surely?

We can love ourselves for who we are, not what we do, or are seen to do. Self love and appreciation builds sustainable self worth and that shines a light that warms everyone. Ask Daisy, she has a special light.

Golden light


Jane Thorne

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