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Volunteers in the Willows

  The rain is trickling down the small of our backs, our bodies still warming from the tea. “Twenty five to go!” harks the cry from within the group, in an almost victorious tone. Bending the thin strips of willow down, intertwining them with last week’s work (and the week before’s), it’s fair taking shape. As the hiss of the fire slowly becomes less frequent, the small droplets falling on the fire, the last few go in place, and as the pitter-patter of rain starts to become more frequent and slightly heavier, not an eyelid is batted…no one seems to notice, or care. That’s it, done. “Doesn’t look like much just now.” “Will it even grow?” It will, in fact it’s already started. Gently pulling on previous weeks’ strips of willow, it’s solid, it’s already started rooting and as we look closer we can see small buds appearing, small petite green buds fluttering up through the branches. It’s not just pretty to look at, some caterpillars have already been enjoying the green delicacy of our work. They’ll soon grow into beautiful

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Mindfulness matters

If the recipe for happiness was made of very simple things then one of the ingredients for happiness could well be a plain ‘thank you’. More and more studies confirm that showing gratitude in any shape or form increases our level of happiness. One doesn’t need to be religious or to pray as such for it to work. This thank you doesn’t even need to be directed at anybody. It can just be a simple thought acknowledging an appreciation for something in our everyday life. It might be someone’s nice words or smile, a beautiful flower in someone’s garden, or an attractive photo in a magazine. Anything at all! According to recent research, being grateful on a regular basis, can boost your physical and mental health, strengthen relationships, and help us to keep disciplined and focused. A good time to do is in the evening before bedtime. Think of anything positive in your life and say thank you. Sometimes it is a struggle to find something. During some recent training with the Mindfulness Association, we were given an exercise to