Money isn’t everything

In Colchester, Essex the hunt is on to find the holder of a lottery ticket worth £8 million. They have until 13th March 2017 to claim their prize.

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Lottery by K J Payne courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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It’s a life changing sum of money but there have been plenty of instances of lottery winners who thought their dreams had come true only to see that dream turn into a nightmare because money isn’t everything and a large sum of money can bring with it a complex set of problems alongside the flying champagne corks and I’m not talking about whether you should buy a yacht or a sports car or both.

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Sunseeker v Baja by Lets Go Out Bournemouth courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Squabbles amongst families and rising tensions between husbands and wives are the stories that hit the headlines months and years after the champagne has gone flat. It isn’t the money itself that tears people apart rather it has a way of exacerbating the fault lines that already existed in a relationship before the potent mix of lots of money got added to the pot.

It’s good to aim high. It’s lovely to have dreams. Just make sure your foundations are solid before you start reaching for the stars or have them handed to you on a plate.

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Tell the people you care about that you love them.
  3. Show that love in what you do not just in what you say.
  4. Take pleasure from the simple things in life – a leaf caught on the breeze, a beautiful sunset, a roaring fire.
  5. Cherish happy times.
  6. Look for the good in people.
  7. Give second chances to yourself and to others.
  8. Smile even if your heart is breaking
  9. Practice random acts of kindness.
  10. Remember that somewhere inside all of us there is a clock ticking so don’t waste precious moments on those who don’t deserve your time.
  11. Never be afraid to live, laugh or love.
  12. Don’t strive to be happy because happiness is ephemeral. Strive for contentment instead.
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Contentment by Mario courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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The end of the summer

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere we are rapidly coming towards the end of summer. The nights are drawing in far too quickly, the mornings have a slight chill to them. The memories of the summer holidays are receding as the kids go back to school and the Halloween merchandise suddenly appears in the shops.

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End of Summer by Jocelyn Kinghorn courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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Wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep those happy feelings of holiday freedom going to comfort us in the shorter, darker days ahead?

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A room with a view by Ellie Holmes Author

Whilst we cannot conjure up the summer sun and long days spent enjoying alfresco meals, we can try to prolong the essence of the holidays – the divergence from routine, the permission to be free of stress (if only for a short while), the time to enjoy being with family and friends or even rejoicing in a little solitude.

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Holiday Feelings by ND Strupler courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Those things are all still achievable once you are back at home. You just have to try a bit harder to make them happen. Schedule movie night for a Monday instead of at the weekends, let the Sunday lunch with family and friends extend into the afternoon and early evening as you would have done on holiday. Give yourself permission to leave your everyday worries behind for a set period of time – an evening, a day or a weekend and concentrate on the things that give you pleasure instead.

As the darker nights encroach allow yourself to go into holiday mode once the day job is done because the person we are on holiday is the same person we are at home the only thing that changes about us is our attitude.

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Happiness by Caleb Roenigk courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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The Return of Happiness

Some of you may be familiar with a flower called Lily of the Valley. It is a woodland plant which thrives in dappled shade. With its delicate, bell shaped flowers and sweet scent, Lily of the Valley is a welcome sight in the northern hemisphere, heralding the time when spring begins to slowly transform into summer. The scientific name for Lily of the Valley is Convallaria majalis. Majalis meaning ‘of or belonging to May’.

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Little Kiss of the Sun – Lily of the Valley by Anje Pietsche courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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There are many stories that surround this beautiful plant. Some say it derived its common name of Our Lady’s Tears from the story that as the Virgin Mary shed tears at the crucifixion of Jesus her tears fell onto the ground and the Lily of the Valley sprang from the ground where her tears had fallen.

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Lily of the Valley by Jim the Photographer courtesy Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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The plant is also said to signify the return of happiness. Legend has it that the plant fell in love with a nightingale and became utterly enchanted by the bird’s pretty song. When the nightingale left the forest the plant was sad. It was only when the nightingale returned the following May, filling the forest with its beautiful music, that the Lily of the Valley bloomed in delight at the nightingale’s return.

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The Woods of Lilies of the Valley by Claudia Dea courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Whilst the return of happiness is always something to be celebrated, how much better it would be if happiness never went away in the first place. An impossible thing to achieve? Probably. One way to achieve if not happiness then at least a level of contentment, would be to take pleasure from the small things we see, hear, touch and feel as we go about our everyday lives. The pleasure in listening to a child laugh or watching a puppy play. Running our fingers over a lavender plant and then smelling the scent on our fingers. Watching the breeze play across a field of grass, pushing it one way before pulling it another as if orchestrating a dance for our delight. The feel of sinking into the crisp, clean cotton sheets of a freshly made bed at the end of a tiring day.

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Child Laughing by Cheriejoyful courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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All too often we are weighed down by our cares and woes, wishing the week away to hang on to every weekend but to do so is to live only half a life. To live a whole one we need to be fully engaged. Mindfully aware and ready to acknowledge beauty whenever we see it.

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Roadside Flowers by Kurt Bauschardt courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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If we can learn to take pleasure in the small and simple things we can find a reason to rejoice every day and not just when we hear a nightingale sing. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to live?

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Happiness by Moyan Brenn courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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