Jo Moseley, is a keen advocate of picking up plastic, an inspiring speaker, having fun on her stand up paddleboard, breaking boundaries and creating her own destiny. On the journal today, she shares with us her 2 minute beach cleans - for the good of our future.
“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed”
The October sun beams down from a bright blue sky. I stand on my paddleboard and spot the sheep munching their way to the top of the crag. Dogs scamper along the path as their owners try to keep up. A young woman strolls along chatting and laughing into her phone. She turns her face upwards to soak up the afternoon’s golden rays. I think of Mary Oliver’s words and breathe deeply, joyfully, gratefully, for this opportunity.
Like many women in their 50s, my life is busy. Happily flying solo with my sons and keeping a watching brief on my Dad, time for myself is precious and yet vital. Moments like this, tiny adventures on my paddleboard or running in the hills, bring a joy that lasts for days. I return nourished, my soul topped up with happiness and appreciation, ready to tackle the To Do List.
As I glide along the calm waters, free of distraction and with a beautiful autumnal afternoon to myself, I reflect upon the last few months. What have I learned? What has changed around and within me? What do I want to create more of in 2019?
One thing springs to mind – my 365 Days of Love project. Something so simple that has brought such joy. On a chilly January 1st, huddled next to the fire, I scribbled down my hopes and intentions for the year ahead. Amongst them, to do a 2 minute beach clean or litter pick wherever I am each day. Whether that’s walking along the shoreline, running in the hills or dashing to work in town, a commitment to take 2 minutes of each day to pick up litter and stop it from reaching our oceans.
I’ve always loved being at the coast, spending my childhood summers cartwheeling on the beach, throwing myself into the cold northern waves and collecting sea glass from the beach. Over the years, I noticed that amongst the shells and tiny fragments of pottery and glass washed up on the shore, there was more and more plastic. Bottles, crisp packets, bits of bags, discarded fishing net…. Not huge amounts, but more than should be. I sought out other beach cleaners and joined a wonderful community on social media sharing our finds and learning from each other. Watching Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 reinforced my commitment to do my little bit to help against plastic pollution.
Two minutes each day. This is going to be a tiny habit, my way of saying thank you for the joy and sense of peace and possibility the hills and waves give me. I call it 365 Days of Love based on a quote from Mother Teresa. “Not of all of us can do great things. But we can all do small things with great love.” This is my small thing with great love.
And yet, I never imagined that something so simple would make such a difference to my life or create so many happy memories. I think back to an early morning run along the cliffs, hopping across the mud to collect a balloon precariously blowing on the edge.
A Sunday paddleboarding with my son to a secluded beach, watching him proudly carry two large plastic containers back to the board. After a sunrise swim, in awe as the seagulls swooped from above and the world awakened, I picked up a broken bucket and spade from the beach. Walking, chatting in the late afternoon glow through the sand dunes of a chilly Northumbrian beach, laughing at how we can’t pass a piece of rubbish without stopping to pick it up!
This year, I have noticed the seasons change more closely and more intimately than before. I’ve run through freshly lain snow and muddy puddles carrying someone else’s rubbish and been thankful for the opportunity. I’ve plotted where the snowdrops grow and when to keep an eye out for the brief gloriousness of the blossoming peonies. On the longest day in June, I ignored the call of the vacuum cleaner for a scramble up the crag to watch the sun set late in the evening. I’ve explored under the roots and branches that hang above the river and watched the heron watching me as I pull a plastic bottle only visible from a paddleboard. I know the week the house on the corner will burst into a riot of red as the leaves that clothe the Yorkshire stone change colour. I’ve smelled the wild garlic and heard the call of the geese. I may not know the names of all the trees or birds but I feel a sense of guardianship I have not experienced before. This is my home and I want to take care of it. One piece of litter, one plastic bottle at a time.
I know I am not alone. The friendships I have met online and in the real world simply because of those two minutes each day have brought such kindness into my life. So many of us, scattered not just across the UK but across the globe, doing our little bit to make a difference. We are cheerleading and encouraging each other. We are a shoulder to lean on when we feel disheartened. I belong not just to the places I look after but to a community. A family of doers, of carers, of people who don’t just talk about making a difference but who actually go out in all weathers and make good on their promises.
Yesterday, as I walked in the bracing wind, I met a dog walker “Hello!’ she said, “What have you picked up today?”. I giggle to myself. I’m the middle aged mother with a bag of litter and proud of it!
Yes, as I stand on my board and look out at the hills of Yorkshire, I know that what I thought was a 2018 project will become a 2019 one too. The hills and waves give me so much – a place to calm my anxious brain, to unfurl my body and feel the joy of simply moving, a sense of possibility as I untangle the day and the challenges I am facing. Taking two minutes each day to say thank you is a habit I have come to love. In giving back, I have gained so much.
As the afternoon draws to a close I pack up my board and head home. Grateful, put back together, joyfully nourished by the fresh air. A small pile of sweet wrappers, an old milkshake cup and bits of broken tennis balls I’ve picked up from the hedgerow by my side. My 2 minute thank you for a cherished memory
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