windy evening promises…

I’m in Kentucky again. For a girl from upstate New York, I sure love my Kentucky time. I don’t know what weather you’ve been going through, but here? Rain with a touch more rain, so we enjoyed the miracle of a rain-free drive down singing with the radio at the top of our voices, all the way here. After we arrived and the house slowly warmed herself (and us!), my husband made a fire and I lit the candles and listened to the rain lash the windows and roof.

The fire snickered to herself while the hollow sounds of winds whirling made me burrow into my blanket on the couch, and then the most wonderful thing happened. Before my husband went to bed, we both stood on the upper back porch, and I heard it! The peepers or tree frogs or whatever they are called. They’re the little frogs that make a ruckus early in the spring by our ponds. (I discovered more hidden ponds this way.) With the mourning doves cooing and the peepers singing, spring arrived tonight.

I know more days of cold will visit me, and the grey days full of sodden skies will linger longer than I like, but…the tops of my daffodils resiliently push through the dirt, and I hold my breath, wondering if they know more than the weather reporters? I need spring, with her flirty ways. One moment she’s full of promise, showing off tulips and dogwoods in bloom, and the next day she ices me out, bringing an unwelcome snowfall. But I’m tentatively hopeful. And happy. Does spring do that to you?

You caught me. I’m watching Katniss Everdeen take on her world, while I wonder if it’s time to shed the weight of winter, the good and bad and grab at happiness. Can we all do that? I feel lighter already. Yes, a fire dies at my feet, but the window is open. I love open windows. Does it go back to being a child, when my grandma and I shared a room with an open window, bringing in the scent of lilacs, and freshly cut grass? Happiness is found. Created by us. We can chase her down, finding her in the wind, a warm fire, a delicious book, or a wonderful conversation.

Don’t waste your time on negative thoughts that bring you down. Be optimistic. Not cautiously so either. Go full in! Dive into your days. Make each one special. How? Sip wine with a sunset. Listen to Andrea Botticelli sing with Ed Sheehan. Buy the flowers. Remember the spring when you first found love. Me? I remember so much, too much, that I could write you every night for a hundred years. I used to open my window, sit at my desk and write into the night (I still do) with the wind puckering at the gauzy curtains. I remember falling in love over pecan cookies, shared on the spring grass at college with my boyfriend. The one man who made loving as easy as breathing. I just had to look at him. And I knew. I would stay 1,000 miles away from my family to make him my family. His eyes told me all I needed to know. And we still don’t know why we were eating pecan cookies, since we both dislike them so much! Who cares what you eat when love wraps you up, just by his voice, his eyes, his smile? I love spring…

While that boy who ate pecan cookies with me in spring, sleeps in the bed in the next room, I linger, longing to write you of love, promises and beauty. Find spring where you are. Search for her. Then go deeper and find that hope in you. Chase down your dreams, your love, your children, your God. Find the happiness in music, in singing in your car. In a fire with open windows. In the lonely sound of a windy night. Crawl into your bed and feel it. Go ahead. She’s all yours for the taking. Happiness.

until next time…which just could be tomorrow…

Drams and dreams…

The sun disappeared thirty minutes ago, and the sky looks like snow. Coming from Syracuse, where six inches of snow is unremarkable, and school was never cancelled, I’m dreaming of a proper snowstorm; one that dumps snow so thick and furiously, that once the driveway is shoveled, I have to go to the top and begin again. Or give up and hide inside for a few warm hours.

Sitting by the fire at our cabin…

We do have a quiet cabin that’s our refuge from the world, and I’d very much like to have a Christmas there, but not this year. My grandchild is due on Christmas Eve (oh please, little baby, show up in time for Christmas, because you’ll be the best gift ever!), so staying close by makes sense. I can drink my morning coffee and watch the birds from my windows, and day dream about the thick, deep snows of my childhood.

marathon cookie baking with my daughter…

Do you hold fast to traditions or are you flexible, whimsically following your heart? For years, I spent most holidays far from home, because I lived in Wisconsin with my own family and simply didn’t have the money to travel home, and vacation time was (still is!) precious, so we stayed in Tosa and created new traditions. But we usually had snow. Wisconsin is cold and wintering there should earn us all thermoses of hot chocolate. One winter frost covered the entire back wall of the kitchen. Inside my house. I know!

A light snow at the cabin…

While I’m waiting for that baby, waiting for Christmas, waiting for some time off, and waiting to give gifts (which happens to be my second favorite part of the holidays), I made plans to bake cookies with my daughter. The other daughter is studying abroad right now, but she’ll be home in time to sample the goodies I bake. And I wonder, even with a heart that hurts for others who are walking dark paths, for those who don’t know their way home to love and wholeness, I wonder how to make them happy. Can I? 

the more chocolate chips in the batter, the better…

Can we find beauty in the mundane? Yes. Absolutely. Can we find it in the unexpected? Of course. Most times. Can we forge ahead with new traditions, new ways to connect with ourselves and others? Absolutely, yes. This cookie baking will be interesting and I’ll take pictures, because I bake according to the directions and my daughter? She likes to experiment and sometimes the result is delicious and then there are cakes that come out hard as a rock. I’m looking forward to sampling her recipes as well as mine. 

sipping bourbon on a chilly evening…

The sky is darkening even more and I have a book begging to be edited, so I’m going to have to wander away from holiday musings with you. But I wonder, do we make our own happiness? Or are we waiting for others to fill that want? Forging ahead even on cold days and frigid nights, facing our ways through the crowds with a tiny smile on our upturned faces, takes discipline and we can practice that. Smile just a bit and see how many faces turn as you pass by. See how your happiness imprints on others and bring that beauty to your loved ones. Bring them the beauty of a happy heart. I’m running out of iced tea, so I do have to make a Starbucks run….

Until next time…

wading deeper…

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How was your week? Your weekend? Hopefully, you’re up to your elbows in contentment. I’ve been thinking about different ways to experience contentment and peace, wherever we are in life. Happiness is wonderful, but if we can nudge our way over to peace, that’s saying something. We all have different approaches, and as long as we aren’t hurting ourselves or others, there is a beauty in our paths. I enjoy watching people who seems genuinely pleased, happy or enjoying some peace (and quiet, perhaps?). I think that’s why we like sitting outside at a café in Paris, watching the world go on, while we sip our espresso or slowly drink some wine.

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I’m looking forward to a full week of Harry Potter trivia nights at a small bar my daughter frequents. I’ve been reading the books and actually studying them, earmarking relevant pages, because my kids just watched the movies, so they’ll enjoy some beverages, while their mom tackles the questions. What are you looking forward to? Do you spice up your week with dinners out? Maybe catch a movie?

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Adding a bit of sweetness to your day is wonderful. I admire my vegan daughter, as she discovers ways to feel better. I loved how I felt after a five mile run. I found peace, pounding out the miles, one by one. No headphones, no music, except the sound of my breath and that of other people living; mowing, walking, gardening, eating dinner outside, and dogs barking. Do you have a way to serenity? Happiness? Peace?

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As we walk hand in hand through spring, let’s celebrate most days. I know some are too busy, but try to remember these days. The ones where you work longer than anyone else, and dinner is a cup of ramen noodles. But there are days filled with potential. I knew a couple who set a beautiful table on their second story porch. For breakfast. They woke early so they could have a relaxed and enjoyable morning. I like that. When I’m going through my days, with a long list of to-do’s, I stop and savor a chocolate. Yesterday I ate a whole bar of chocolate in the afternoon, and I savored every bite. Let’s savor these lengthening days. Let’s wade in a bit deeper.

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One night in college on our mile hike back from the bars to our house, my roommates and I noticed the town’s only water fountain (think big here, not the one your drink from) was foaming and frothing over with bubbles. I immediately jumped in and started laughing and singing. I remember how much fun my girlfriends and I had that night at that moment. A fountain full of bubbles! at midnight! Never mind that my hair was a matted mess when I woke the following morning.

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I literally waded in a fountain. Of happiness, if you ask me. That’s how I remember it. Even the bathtub can be an incredibly soothing escape. Light your candles, drink a glass of champagne and float away on bath bubbles. We all have our thing.

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There’s another way I have found my way to peace, and that’s reading the bible. I know it might be a turn-of for some, but it’s never failed me in twenty-eight years. I find peace in the words, the psalms soothe my mind, the words of Jesus calm my soul. What do you turn to when you’re looking for a pice of peace? We all have our ways. I used to take some medicine to calm myself. I know some people prefer a glass of wine or beer with a side of buttered popcorn in the evenings. Or a long, steamy shower for ten minutes or more. Draw a bath, light a candle and drift away.

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Swaddle yourself in a beautiful blanket, light the fire or fire pit, listen to some awesome music, and if you come across a chance for a night out, and you have’t been with your friends for a while, do it! Then wade deep in contentment. Even in that cramped apartment. Or that dream home you’ve just moved into. You know why? Because you will look back at these years as some of your best. You will laugh, later, and have fantastic stories to tell. Be happy now.

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Choose happiness.

Until next time…

 

Smile…

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Champagne, anyone? Is it simply for celebrations? Weddings, graduations, promotions and that certain holiday that is ahead of us. You know what I’m writing about. Yeah, Valentine’s Day. I always thought the way we looked at that day depended upon our relationship status. Do you have a partner? Are you married, dating, or in love? Then Valentine’s Day is your day! Celebrate. Revel in love.

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But if we’re single, divorced, going through a messy break-up, then maybe Valentine’s Day is fraught with self-pity, loneliness, sadness and FOMO. (Fear of missing out.) But…I discovered a little secret, while going through this life. You can be single and love this holiday. (You can be married and miserable, but I’m not going there today. Soon though.) The secret is in doing those celebratory things you like and choose. Don’t wait for some guy to bring you flowers! Buy them yourself. The kind of flowers you love. Me? I really dislike red roses. So you see the pink ones I bought for myself.

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I arranged these yesterday. They’re mine. For Valentine’s Day. What about buying some chocolates for yourself? Just a few. And go ahead and enjoy a slice of cake. It is lovely to be in love. To have someone who makes your heart flutter. But so many of us do not have that. So go and shower love on your siblings, friends, and anyone else that could use some happiness.

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I didn’t want to bring this up right before Valentine’s Day, but here goes. Working out, in any form, gives us happiness. Those endorphins really do kick in. When I could run, and I loved the feeling of running, I felt terrific. It’s difficult to be unhappy in the middle of a run, a Zumba class, yoga or pilates. While we want to have our cake and eat it too, someone needs to tell us it takes a very long run to make up for cake, chocolates and champagne. Maybe have one piece of chocolate. Every day. And share the cake with a neighbor. I don’t have two hours to work out every day, but I’ll tell you this; a little exercise goes a very long way. Walk farther to that store. You’ll start to feel happier.

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Another secret to happiness? Fake it. Seriously. I put a smile on my face and pretty soon other people are smiling back at me! Maybe I look super goofy at the grocery store or Starbucks, but I’m okay with that. Besides, I just read that our brains believe we’re happy even when we start out by faking it. So smile! Right now. I know, life is tough, rough and bad, but just start with baby steps. Smile. See? You’re better looking when you smile, too.

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One last thing. Think of the good stuff in your life. Do you live in Florida? Lucky you! Great weather is right out your door this minute. Don’t think of the negatives. Force your brain to see the positives. Are you in Maine? Lucky you! You can walk out your door and make a snow fort, and the ocean is so close. Just a short drive and you can see the beautifully wild seas of winter. Step out of your house, car, or apartment, wherever you are and smile. Try it for the next three days. I’ll be back on Wednesday with more happiness.

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Until next time…

Choose happiness…

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I found this sign the other day and absolutely had to have it. This is my mantra, my hope for you, and what I strive to be even when I’m doing laundry or having a sick day. This sign is by my laundry basket that always seems to magically fill every day. I always suspected my kids wore an outfit for two hours or two minutes, changed, and put the (still clean, really) clothes in this basket and blithely moved on, while I had the washer going all day. Though when I saw my daughter spraying Febreeze on her shin guards and her shins, after a soccer game, I decided to stay mum on the loads of laundry I labored under.

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Then I decided to be happy in my pretty room. The girly, no guys allowed room. It’s my oasis of peace and calm and I read and sing in there and thoroughly enjoy the pink. But happiness is easy when we’re in our happy place, our space, our peaceful refuge. That’s too easy, and doesn’t work for very long, because we have to, ahem, work.

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Can I be happy while I’m editing my book, searching for the right words and not using be verbs all the time? Yes! That’s the window under which I write (see, I didn’t end that with a preposition).  Every paragraph is work, and it’s about a dark subject, but I’m still happy, or try to be, while I edit every page. We all have to work, so why not be happy while we do our work? Mainly happy, maybe? Nah, let’s go for really happy.

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Can I be happy walking by the cow picture my husband really likes, and me, not so much? Absolutely, because other people’s happiness brings a smile to us, especially if we don’t feel like happiness is a competition.

 

 

When my world is tilted and my view is limited, I’m still lucky and blessed. Do I see it that way? Do I choose happiness during another migraine? I’m learning to. Going to watch my daughter play Varsity basketball while I had a migraine, and seeing her sit the bench for the first quarter taught me a lot. She learned to cheer and be positive for others, and I learned to wait, be patient, cheer (quietly, ah my head!) and choose happiness. Even if she didn’t score. Even if she cried. Happiness. Claim it. Own it.

I found the perfect place for this pretty little sign that cost me a song. A place where my family might see it, and I will, every…single…day.

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Find a way to remind yourself to look on the bright side. Be happy. Choose it. Start now. Have a beautiful week. Until next time…