Over the last couple of days there have been thunderstorms, dark, foreboding and epic. Rumbles of thunder interspersed with flashes of lightning, followed by a torrential downpour of rain.
‘Good for the garden’ – said my mum, and she continued, ‘Won’t have to water the garden for, oh, I reckon three days now, brilliant!’
Today, the morning after the storm, it is a beautiful day. The sun is shining in a brilliant blue sky. It’s hot, it’s summery, it’s everything you’d want from an early English summer’s day.
The combination of sunshine, heat and then the rain, has meant that everything is growing – the wildflowers in my garden beds, the lettuce and chard growing in my vegetable patch, and sadly, the grass which I definitely must cut this weekend!
While I was out today on my daily late morning walk, I noticed that nature was in full bloom, everything seemed to be delighting in the weather, not just me. There were birds busy feeding their fledgling chicks, robins and wrens singing their little hearts out, and squirrels were bouncing across the path and climbing the trees. Trees were swaying in the breeze, their flowery pollen filling the air, and the baby fish in the river were hoovering up the pollen as it landed on the surface of the water. And of course, then there were the flowers, every garden I passed seemed to be a riot of colour, small flowers, big flowers, tropical flowers, wildflowers – all radiantly, brightly coloured, and just beautiful to see.
It reminded me, as I walked, of the everyday saying, ‘Stop to smell the flowers’ – and it prompted me to do precisely that! How often do we stop to smell the flowers as we rush through our busy lives? How often do we actually stop and notice them at all?
‘Stopping to smell the flowers’ can be taken literally (and by the way I DO encourage you all on your next walk to actually STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS YOU SEE, it is such a fuel-tank filler!) – or one can use it as a metaphor.
In a metaphorical sense, it means that it’s important to stop sometimes and get perspective on what’s going on in our lives. It’s important to realise that, actually, there’s a lot to be grateful for!
It’s only when we stop and get that perspective that we can get a sense of what is really important, and not get caught in the drama of our lives but instead appreciate all that we have. It’s easy (when we’re busy being busy) to miss or overlook or take for granted the people and things that we love, the things that really matter.
There has been so much research which highlights that, the happiest, most positive people are those who notice the good things in their lives and take time to be thankful for what they have.
When was the last time you stopped, I mean really stopped?
I have to here give credit to a dear friend of mine from New York, Karen. Every day she goes to her local park on Staten Island and sits under a tree. She sits, she watches, she breathes, and she stops. She leans against the tree (with her dog companion Luca) and together they just watch the world go by. She calls her daily visits to the park her ‘tree medicine’, the place she gets her ‘vitamin tree!’.
Now I get outside every day, I walk most often up and down the River Severn near me, but what Karen made me realise is, although it’s great to get out into nature and have that exercise and light – I was never actually STOPPING.
So, one day I took a leaf out of her book and found myself a nice big old tree to sit under and stopped. I have to say it was pretty revelatory! The old oak tree must have been a couple of hundred years old and, as I leant into it, I could feel its age, it’s wisdom. It calmed me down, from the inside, and I felt myself totally relax as I watched the other people whizzing by. Now I know, that probably sounds like woo-woo to some of you, but all I’m gonna say is give it a go! I’m totally hooked now, and when I’m feeling a bit flat, flustered, or stressed, I go get me some vitamin tree!
It reminded me of one of my teachers who told me that meditation wasn’t sitting cross-legged, bolt upright, breathing deeply. Meditation could be sitting under a tree or lying on the ground watching the clouds as they crossed the infinite sky… it’s definitely meditative and it’s definitely a fuel tank filler!
So, whether it’s to stop and smell the flowers, or whether it’s stopping to watch the world go by as you’re sitting under a tree – can I recommend that this month (especially now as it’s so summery and beautiful), you do find time to stop, and be grateful for the abundance that is all around you, and be thankful for the beautiful people and things that are in your life.
And finally, on my way home, after having had the thought and inspiration to write this Meta article, and with the title ‘Stopping to Smell the Flowers’ buzzing around my head, I literally was stopped in my tracks by the smell of these incredible big bunches of lilies on a flower stall in Worcester town centre…
… and guess what? They were reduced to half-price, two bunches for £10! – how’s that for serendipitous!?
So of course, I had to buy them as a treat and a reminder to myself of how important it is to stop and smell the flowers! Don’t you just love how life is sometimes?
Wishing you all a wonderful month,