Cathedral Grove

Monday Mindfulness ~ July 20, 2020

Today, I want to thank you. (Yes, you!)

I often feel a great deal of gratitude for this kind, respectful, and supportive online community, which all of you have helped create alongside me. Whether you’ve kindly followed Cathedral Grove by email, Facebook, or Twitter, left a thoughtful like or comment on a post, or even made a small donation towards cups of tea and biscuits to help fuel my creative urges, I want to tell you how very grateful I am for you and your continued support!

Where has all this come from, you might ask?

Well, recently, I wrote a bit about the importance of checking in with ourselves often, greeting our negative or difficult thoughts with gentle acceptance if we can, and practicing gratitude for the things, places, and people that bring us joy and comfort. (If you missed it, you can check it out here!)

The wave of positivity and kindness that rose up from the ripples made by that relatively short piece of writing was wonderful to witness. Truly, it has been such a pleasure to read all of your wonderful comments over this past weekend, as well as to see that the topic has inspired so many lovely interactions between readers over on other sites (…like Elle’s Unpopular Opinions, for instance – cheers, Elle!).  

I’m of course grateful for you all every day, but every now and then a certain special something will happen which really highlights the loveliness of this community and makes me want to sing your praises!

Just before I leave you with this week’s quote, I’d like to just remind you of a little thing I put together a few weeks back – a dedicated space for anyone and everyone to share and promote their creative work. Whether you have a blog, YouTube channel, podcast, Twitch stream, or maker’s shop, do stop by and leave a link to your work so that I and others can support what you do!

Mahatma Gandhi - Where There is Love, There is LifeToday’s Monday Mindfulness quote is from Mahatma Gandhi, a leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against British rule.   

Self Check-In: A Simple Gratitude Exercize You Can Try Right Now


Hello, everyone.

How are you?

It’s a seemingly straightforward question we ask and get asked every day. Often though, it’s used more like a casual greeting than a proper question, as though it’s simply another way of saying: ‘Hey there, person I know!’

Whenever this has happened to you, you’ve probably replied with a quick: ‘Oh, fine – and you?’ Then, the other person likely responded much the same: ‘Fine, thanks!’ And with that, you’ve both moved swiftly on to other topics of discussion.

Within seconds of greeting each other, we’ve often – quite unintentionally, like an involuntary reflex – briefly acknowledged then quickly dismissed the very notion that we each have an inner world, populated by a host of emotions both mixed and messy. Put another way, we all instinctively know mental health is important, but we aren’t always so practiced at giving each other – or ourselves – the space and time to share and reflect on what’s going on inside.   


Keeping this in mind, here’s a self check-in challenge for you to try whenever you feel able to this week:

  1. Find a quiet place – a spot where you feel comfortable, safe, and relatively undistracted. Mute or turn off your phone if it’s nearby.
  2. Make sure you have something to write on and a pen/pencil.
  3. Ask yourself how you are doing. Try to be honest with yourself about whatever you might be feeling. These are complex, unusual times, and we’re all bound to be feeling a great many things. It can be really difficult when struggling with challenging circumstances, but see if you can identify more reasons to be thankful than to be sad or frustrated.
  4. Think about what you are grateful for. Try not to worry about how big or small that thing may seem in the moment. If you’re grateful it exists, it matters.
  5. List at least 10 things you are grateful for. If you prefer, you can try to come up with something for every letter of the alphabet. (Need inspiration? See here for an old example of mine.)




Monday Mindfulness ~ June 29, 2020

Here in the UK, we are on a knife’s edge.

Come July 4th, many of the restrictions put in place on March 23rd – the start of our nationwide lockdown – will be lifted. Following on from the recent re-opening of shops, the likes of pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, playgrounds, cinemas, museums, libraries, and places of worship will be allowed to welcome visitors once more, albeit in a socially distanced way. Lockdown-weary households will be able to travel elsewhere within the country, with summer ‘staycations’ becoming possible now that holiday accomodations like campsites and hotels can begin operating again. These are but some of the big changes occuring this weekend, but suffice it to say July 4th is our big leap back towards ‘normal.’

As an American ex-pat living in the UK, I must say it feels strangely fitting that our day of release from lockdown restrictions should happen to fall on Independence Day. But I digress.

As we prepare to make our big leap back towards ‘normal,’ I must admit that I feel a bit discouraged. This ‘anthropause’ – as I’ve increasingly heard it dubbed – has afforded us with such a unique, possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-examine the way our governments, societies, and even selves operate. We have a chance to tweak and reshape how we do things, to create a greener, kinder, safer, more inclusive world for all. But when I look ahead to our country’s grand re-opening this summer – well, it looks to me like we’ve generally decided to press on with business as usual.

There’s still hope, however. 

I haven’t shared these doubts with you all to cause any despair. Rather, let us – you and me both – see our dreams of different times ahead reignited and our efforts to help bring about positive change both big and small redoubled. As today’s quote urges us to do, let’s not simply have an opinion of what the post-anthropause world should look like; let’s take steps to make it our reality.

Paulo Coelho - The World is Changed by Your Example

Today’s Monday Mindfulness quote comes from the Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho.

Positive News Stories From This Week #9

Hello again, all of you lovely people!

As ever, I really hope that this latest end-of-week round-up of positive news stories from around the world finds you doing well. These are tough times, so please don’t forget to extend some well-deserved loving-kindness to yourself as often and as best you can. If you have been struggling with weighty world matters at all this week, then I hope that this collection of inspiring and feel-good news stories might help uplift your spirit even just a little bit.

If you happened to miss the last installment of Positive News Stories, you can check it out here.

Thank you all for stopping by! Wishing you all peace and well-being in the week ahead.


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Positive News Stories From This Week #8

Let’s not let too much time slip by without acknowledging some of the many good things that continue to happen around the world, even in these trying times.

Every week, I search news outlets both local to me and abroad to put together a round-up of some of the many positive news stories I find, with the hope of spreading positivity, shining a much-deserved spotlight on acts of kindness of every shape and size, and inspiring myself and others to do good things in our own communities however and whenever we can. 

Here now are this past week-and-a-bit’s feel-good finds. Read on, and smile wide!


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30 Days Wild: Inspiring Random Acts of Wildness

There is a lone oak tree on a hillside not far from my home. Its many branches are twisted with age, and there’s a notch in its thick trunk where some small creature has made a nest. At its base lie a few mossy stones, a bit of weathered deadwood, and a twisted tangle of brambles.

Happily enough, there’s also a small patch of grass that’s free of prickly plants, along with a flat, bare stone just large enough for a certain violet-haired visitor to sit upon whenever she comes to visit this loveliest of trees. (Spoiler alert: It’s me!)

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Monday Mindfulness ~ June 1, 2020

Hello, world.

I don’t need to tell you that these are challenging times. As many worldwide continue to perish of COVID-19 and its many complications, we’re also bombarded daily with news stories of political malfeasance, human cruelty, and environmental destruction.

The pain felt and uncertainty faced by many of the most vulnerable right now is undeniable, but what is will not always be. Change is a constant, and – though it is perhaps difficult to imagine at present – there will come a time in the future when current events are but a distant memory.

We shouldn’t just move on, however. I remain hopeful that we as individuals, communities, nations, and as a species can find ways of learning from our present circumstances and that we can work towards a better, kinder, greener world, one that helps look after the mental and physical health, education, financial security, and safety of all – not because there is a major public health crisis occuring, but because it is the right thing to do.

What’s more, I hope that we can find ways of balancing the meeting of our own needs with those of the planet as well. (Remember, climate change hasn’t been put on hold while humanity has been busy with other big issues.) 

I’m not naive, thinking all this will be easy to achieve. It’s a herculean effort – one that will take time, as well as the dedication and persistence of a great many people. But I believe a better, kinder, greener world for all is worth it, don’t you? 

Dalai Lama XIV - Pain to Wisdom

Today’s Monday Mindfulness quote comes from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. 

Positive News Stories From This Week #7

Hello, everyone! After a bit of an unscheduled pause, my end-of-week round-up of some of the many positive things happening around the world right now is BACK! 

First of all, thank you so very much for sticking with me during this recent pause in posting. After kicking off Mental Health Awareness Week at the start of last week, I suddenly realized that I’d been pushing myself to be way too productive, way too often as of late, and that I was in fact feeling a bit burnt-out. After a good rest and a bit of self-care, I was then able to celebrate my big 3-0 (GASP!) feeling much more like myself. (I suppose I took a little bit of extra time off for that too – and I’m much better for it!)

Anyway, that’s quite enough about me. On to the good stuff, eh?

Wishing you all joy and contentment in the week ahead.

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The Potential and Power of Small Acts of Kindness


There are so many different ways to be kind to yourself and others, and often it only takes a moment. 

This Mental Health Awareness Week, with its always pertinent theme of ‘Kindness,’ I’m reminded of a moving scene from a couple of weeks back. While waiting in the socially-distanced queue at a local shop, the woman in front of me spotted a homeless gentleman quietly tucked away behind the shopping carts. She smiled, asking if she could get him anything to eat. He politely asked for a sandwich, thanking her profusely.

That act of kindness was beautiful in and of itself, but it went on to inspire a chain reaction of compassionate giving and community spirit. Before long most everyone in the queue had brought the man in need something to eat or drink, and his smile continued to grow – as did the smiles of those who had helped him that day. 

It’s really nice to do kind things simply because, but doing kind things can also confer positive health benefits as well. Acts of kindness and helping others have been linked to greater feelings of well-being, increased self-esteem, and a more optimistic outlook – among other things! For even more on the potentially wide-reaching health benefits of kindness, I highly recommend checking out the Mental Health Foundation‘s guide all about how ‘Kindness Matters.’

Before you go…

With all this in mind, let’s work together to create a ‘Kindness Thread’ to bring delight to and inspire others. 

To take part, simply take a moment to share a recent or fondly-remembered act of kindness you’ve witnessed or heard of in the comments section below. Everyone is welcome – and whatever act of kindness you share can be anything, of any shape or size. Every kindness matters!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, May 18th-24th


Did you know that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK? 

Taking place each year during the month of May, this year’s week of mental health-centred awareness raising, de-stigmatization, fundraising, and resource sharing is happening right now between Monday the 18th and Sunday the 24th.  

Every year, the campaign is guided in part by a unique theme, with the theme for 2020 being: ‘Kindness.’

Why kindness? The Mental Health Foundation, the charity behind this annual campaign, explains their lovely choice like so.

“We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.”

I couldn’t agree more.

As regular readers of this site will know well, kindness in all its shapes and sizes is something I like to highlight and celebrate as often as possible here on Cathedral Grove.

And while kindness – both the giving and receiving of it – has been essential to maintaining good mental health throughout history, I think you’ll no doubt agree that it’s especially important and impactful right now during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

I hope you’ll join me as throughout this week I share a variety of advice, ideas, and resources to help you both support others experiencing some form of mental distress and nurture your own good mental health and total well-being.

In the meantime, why not check out these popular posts from the archives? I hope you’ll find some of the suggestions within to be of help to you or others.

I’ll simply sign off now by wishing you all a very happy, healthy week ahead, with my best. Take care!





Monday Mindfulness ~ May 11, 2020

Hello, lovely people. I’m grateful as ever that you have stopped by. You’re just in time for another installment of Monday Mindfulness. This week’s thought for the moment comes from philosopher and psychologist William James.

Now, I have an important question to ask…

How are you doing?

As I’ve said before and will say again, these are strange times indeed. Tucked away in our homes during lockdown, alone or with just our immediate household, it can be all too easy at times to feel we are a distant island in a turbulent sea, cut off from other people.

But we’re not alone.

Sometimes we just need to remember to pick up the phone and call a good friend. Or send a lovely bit of snail mail to a dear relative abroad. Or simply say a polite hello to passerby – from a socially responsible distance, of course!

Anyway, lovely people, I truly hope that you are all doing well. Feel free to drop a hello in the comments below. And, in case you missed it earlier, I’d be thrilled if you’d pop a link to your own site over on this community thread I’m hoping to build up over the coming days and weeks. You may find a few folks well worth connecting with – and they can support you and your creations as well!

William James - We Are Like Islands