Lilacs offered to a queen…

lilacs in my yard…

Do flowers make you happy? Or lush green grass, just mowed, perfuming the air with freshness? I loved lilacs before I knew what they were. See, as a younger child, in May, at the Catholic school I attended, we made a big deal about Mary, the mother of Jesus by gathering outdoors and processing with flowers and surrounding her statue with as many blooms as children can afford. Cheap. But so worth it. Since lilacs grew along the playground, mingled with shrub roses and honeysuckle, Mary wore a crown of violet lilacs.

rosemary grows in a planter, waiting for her new house…

When I moved into a lovely bungalow (cottage) with my young family, I happily discovered the long line of shrubs standing sentinel along the fence were lilac bushes. Towering 10 feet high. Every spring I picked lilacs to fill my home. But one very early spring day I came home to discover my husband had decided to prune back those bushes, and I almost cried at the loss of all the little blossoms. He didn’t know he had inadvertantly cut my lilacs. And while I told my neighbor the story, she promised to share her blooms with me that year. And one breezy cool night, she told me to join her on a lilac walk.

my favorite oak on our farm…

A lilac walk? Intrigued, I made my way to her home to find a few other friends gathered on her front porch. We walked one block away, where the yards and homes are large. The streets wind appealingly. And in the middle is a park, where children fish in summer, skate in winter, play ball in autumn and in spring? Lilacs grow in luxuriant splendor. Everywhere. And those ladies who need a bit of happiness in the often capricious spring in Wisconsin, pick lilacs. Those who have enough at home, simply enjoy the night, spent talking in hushed voices, laughing (quietly, hopefully) about our lives, and secretly wondering if we would ever be able to live in the Washington Highlands ourselves. Those who have no lilacs, pick more, to enjoy at their leisure on a colder day when they think spring has forgotten them.

these beauties are moving to my new house in two weeks…

That night I tentatively picked, until a woman urged me to take more. All had taken a sprig or two, but they knew I needed lilacs that spring, so I filled my empty arms until my heart was full. An hour later, I had that heady scent to share, while I placed my lilacs on my nightstand, and fell asleep dreaming of warm days and long moon soaked nights. I felt richer than a queen. I didn’t even wonder if I would ever live in a larger home the rest of that month, as I happily worked in my perennial garden that the previous owners had bequeathed to me.

while the lavender grows, the rosemary is lush and ready to move to the new house too…

I’m moving in two weeks. Beautiful home. Same area, on a two acre lot. But what I did last night made me realize how blessed I am, because the last nineteen years have been spent toiling in clay soil. A small lot. Filled with trees to block the pool next door. So I learned to enjoy summer with a few flowers. I went over to the house to check on the renovation and decided to plant some roses and dianthus, and from that first shovelful, I knew I had struck gold. Gardening gold. The soil felt silky and soft and easy to work. I felt like the queen of May, taking more flowers over tonight, knowing my springs and summers can once again be lush and fragrant with roses and flowers. Such happiness!

this past weekend at the Kentucky house, listening to whip-o-wills at sunset…

Why do I tell you about lilacs? Flowers and gardening? Because getting a small piece of earth to tend is wonderful. For our souls. For our minds and our happiness. Beauty fills us with it, don’t you think? If you live in a city, having a real plant, some herbs growing inside, or fresh flowers will bring you beauty. If you live in the country, then make flowers and herbs your best friends. Happiness can be found almost everywhere. A garden is never wasted space. Time spent growing whatever you choose is worth it. And if you can only manage to buy a $5 bouquet this week, do it. You’ll feel rich. And if you don’t have enough money for herbs or flowers, then maybe a walk in the country will bring you beauty for your space. Or maybe you just need to take a little walk. One little sprig of lilacs might be just what you need.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time…

Bring on the happiness…

in sunny south Florida…gulfside…

I’m down south in Florida enjoying tropical breezes and sunny afternoons filled with sweet treats. How does this help you feel happier? It’s called making the best out of what you’re currently dealing with and facing. Right now, I am in the middle of a move, renovating the new house before the owners of our “old” home take possession, my son is home from college for the summer (yeah! cause I like that boy a lot), my daughter brings her son over once a weekend for Grandma Time, and my husband and I have much to do at the Kentucky cabin before our guests arrive. It is all good. Except for my daily health things. Let’s call it that.

drinks in the early afternoon…why not?

I could be all sad over not being able to lie in the sun or wade into the waves, and my husband could get down over me not being able to walk outside for miles anymore, but we don’t. I’m enjoying our downtime together, in the shade, and one night he promised to walk the beach with me as the sun lowers herself below the horizon. Today, we went from having coffee inside to wandering out to a bar by the gulf of Mexico. Blissful? Oh yeah. Even though I had to take my meds reserved for “bad” days. Even then, happiness is a choice and one I so enjoy with the love of my life.

the lovely view from our room…

Are you happy when life is humming along and things are calm? Do you prefer to work hard and play hard? Do you putter along, getting your to do’s accomplished and then reward yourself? When spring pops up, does your happiness quotient increase dramatically? And what if life is all good? Do you tentatively enjoy the good, knowing it’s inevitable for bad days to crawl into your lap eventually? Stop. And change your view.

enjoying watching the sun slower sink into the west…

We all have ways of dealing with life, and how we approach the very good days, weeks and even months. I am so blessed to have this time in Naples with my husband right now. Back home, things for him and for me are a little crazy, and I thought about canceling, so I could be productive. But isn’t that exactly when we need to get away? Recharge, talk about more than our work and endless list of to do’s. Yes. Take time out for you. You are more than your accomplishments.

the lovely hallway in our hotel room…

Vacations and long weekends are required to power us through life. I know a couple who worked their whole lives and did not vacation. Ever. Maybe they both loved their jobs, but to me, time away from our homes, even if we’re not at the Ritz, is essential. I grew up camping every summer and loved it. Even in high school. We hiked, swam and ate under the stars. Those halcyon days are etched in my mind, and I hope my kids look back on our beach vacations as fondly as I recall camping. (We took long weekends hiking too.) The point is to get away from your life. Your work. Your hobbies at home. Everything is different when you’re away from home, and that’s a good thing.

a gorgeous floral arrangement made for sunny days…

Get away from yourself. From your routines, habits, and comfort. Go new places. Try canoeing. Parasailing. Seeing a Broadway show in NYC. Fly across an ocean and immerse yourself in a different culture. Laze by a pool and read a book. There’s so much to see in this wold, and if you’re lucky enough to get time away, then do that! Go away. Happiness can be found in so many places in so many ways; home eating a wonderful dinner, planting rosemary (yes, you know I did) to enjoy the scent for months, at work through your accomplishments and being noticed, time with your friends at golf league or book club. That’s good! It brings happiness, which I applaud. But we still need to spend time away. It is good, and you’ll have rich memories that will fill your heart with happiness.

turndown service this evening…with two chocolates…

Yes, I’m enjoying my time at the Ritz here in Florida. I get to see my love in a new light, through the haze of a sunny, ocean breeze filled afternoon, drinking frou-frou drinks that we would never even try at home. Be happy. Take breaks, even if you don’t want to, because your life will be enhanced in a good way. Vacation in a different spot. Take the moments of happiness that you have and turn them into a day full of it. Tomorrow I’m having a spa day here. I plan on being very happy. And who knows what will happen after that?

I’m wishing you all the happiness you can handle and more…

Until next time…

smiling sliver of the moon…

Roses from the store remind me of all the flowers to come. Why, as I write to you, the very high windows in our great room, that I leave open, with no curtains or blinds to hide the wonder of the outdoors, those windows show me my bare limbed maple tree. And behind the branches lifting her limbs up to the sky in wonder, sits the crescent moon, tipped on her side. She smiles down at me and my tree, since the moon is waxing and she’s a large white smile in the inky sky. Even the moon loves spring!

The wind rising outside makes a lonely sound, and fast clouds pass my smiling moon and find other places to beguile. I’m showing you “Lucy”, a painting we brought home a month ago. We only buy paintings that make us happy, or content or restful. And I suppose I cannot wax eloquent about a moon all night. So here is a sliver of happiness on a wall to brighten the grey days. The yellow is in our kitchen, since to me, it is a very proper kitchen color at times. Sunshiney and pleasant.

Daylight is not foreign to me, and we all have our lists of to do’s, and one of mine is to play with accents at home. (See how occupied I can become and thus avoid editing my book?!) This bunny hopped into my arms and I carried her here, in the foyer, on our antique poplar table. The bunny likes the real roses as much as I do. Do you smile when you see flowers? The pizza delivery guy told me how much my crocuses made him smile as he made his way to our door. Smiles come easily in spring.

The crocuses are small, but the yellow catches the eye and stalwartly says, “Spring is here, even if tomorrow blows cold and grey. I’m here to tell you, be happy. I bring you spring.” What I buried in the cool earth five months ago, has brought me hope. The grass greens, and the buds on the trees swell. Oh! The birds! Do you hear them chattering as they gather sticks and grasses to feather their nests? I threw open the windows and door and reveled in their raucous songs today! You know spring is here, when the quiet is broken by birdsong. They’ll grow quieter as the summer approaches. So enjoy their music. You don’t need a radio; you need an open window or door.

What’s your favorite season? I used to love summer, since she’s hot, brash, full of color and brings long days of bright sunshine. Spring? I fell in love with her a few years ago. Did you know the greening up happens at the ground first, in the grass, then it slowly makes its way up to the bushes, with the forsythia and pussy willows showing off too. And finally the trees open up and share their sweet green leaves with the world. Another winter passed. Another spring is made welcome.

Since we’re discussing spring and how happy that season feels, I thought I’d show you another one of my frog princes. Why? Because he looks supremely confident, and it’s a subtle reminder to me that when I go down to our farm this weekend, the frogs will be singing all night long. I learned to love that sound years ago in Wisconsin, where spring is celebrated with abandon. (They have long winters, so I understand their happiness when a warm day arrives.) Do you grill out on that first warm day? Do the longer days make you happier? Happiest? I hope so.

I don’t have a picture of the moon that’s sinking lower in the west, so here’s one in a store nearby. Whether you revel in nighttime ponderings or love waking before dawn to watch the gold slowly light the sky on fire, try to open a window. Let yourself feel the hope spring brings us and places right at our feet. Those dandelions will soon remind us that our days and nights tucked in around a fire have given way to walks around the neighborhood, greeting people we haven’t seen since November. Be happy. Find your sliver of happiness this week and weekend. Embrace spring. Get outside. Breathe. And smile. Always…

Until next time…

Wisps of whispers…

cotton candy pink sails in a sea of blue…


Can you feel it on certain days? Spring inches ever closer, and I can’t think of many who don’t welcome her balmy embrace. The snowdrops have their green stems poking out of the soil, asking if it’s time to show up. I told them to sleep a bit longer; a freeze was coming our way. They aren’t listening. Spring’s impatience tugs at them and me.

Spring and love seem to go together, and Valentine’s Day is making her rounds, so I heard. The local grocer has so many floral arrangements, I feel like I’m in a summer garden, lush and fragrant, and since the flowers perch next to a Starbucks, I am in heaven every time I need a tea. So this begs the question. What to do on the day of love?

real flowers gracing a rough wooden table…

If you’re lucky enough to have love in your life, then the answers are easy. Send cards, give flowers, buy candy and catch the kisses cast in the air by those who love you back. But what if you’re tethered to a love who doesn’t think about flowers and candy? Talk about the upcoming holiday. Will we go out to eat? Yes? Will we spend a bunch of money on presents to show our affection? Not for me. Flowers and chocolate (and ice cold teas, please) are tokens of love. If you want something romantic, ask. Tell your love what you love. And give your love back, freely.

simply beautiful…

If you want something, sometimes you have to ask. Be specific. If you want a certain bottle of bourbon, ask. Hopefully, they just want to give you love wrapped in a box, tied with strings that might be attached, but then, those are the best kind. Don’t you want a string luring you toward your love? One Valentine’s Day, so very long ago, I brought six red and pink frosted cupcakes to a boyfriend’s apartment. He did not acknowledge my gift at all, rather he stood in his kitchen washing dishes. I had classes to attend, but he didn’t take my frugal (in college, on a tight budget) present. He didn’t tell me he loved me. I emotionally ate my way through two cupcakes.

a lovely new painting we bought recently, see, winter is beautiful (if you’re looking at it and not living in it:)…

And rather than make him notice me, I left the rest of the cupcakes and left him. That afternoon, another guy I had met and had been studying with since we had the same classes and major, sent me a beautiful arrangement of flowers! I found him and thanked him, and the man I married, has never forgotten a Valentine’s Day since that first one, and he still romances me with flowers and chocolate. And much more.

I decided the guy who paid attention to me, made me feel valuable, loved, and liked and appreciated was the man to go through this life with. What does this mean for you? The people or person who makes you feel valuable and important is the one. Love them. The good guy who loves you? And you think he’s beautiful? Him. Choose him. Choose love. Choose laughter, love and life.

aren’t real fires cozy? the warmth, the crackling logs are a part of our winter nights…

On Valentine’s Day, or anyway this week, if you want flowers and aren’t in a relationship at the moment, buy them for you. Pick out the candy you like and enjoy it. Light a candle and enjoy the beauty of being able to buy flowers in winter, and buying sweets. We are lucky. We are blessed. Wrap a blanket around you and enjoy your company. But the icing on the cake would be to make the day sweet for another human. Bake brownies. Send a card that you made with a note inside. We all want to be noticed and not ignored. It took years and that one Valentine’s Day for me to figure that out. I hope you have a week full of laughs, love and beauty. I have to finish my iced tea before the Grammy’s end! Until next Sunday…

light snow will be rain tomorrow…I’m not complaining one bit…

Windy winter day roses…

The wind outside is outdoing herself. The house stays silent except for the rush of the winter winds. Her cadence changes, from a full out gust that tosses the tops of the trees and hits my house with a slam, and then she winds down to a whisper for a moment. And the sky. I adore skies and seeing the dark clouds to the west from where I write fills me with happiness and expectation.

A bale of hay waits in a wintery field at our farm…

The dark clouds are not those of summer. No, these rise steadily but the skies have been overcast all day anyway, so I see the light grey give way to a deep blue. The approach of the storm thrills me. It’s curious that my mom feels the same way. Almost. One drippingly humid summer’s day in Virginia thunderstorms hit my house with hail and thunder, and as the power went out, my mom told me storms made her feel like a witch. I knew what she meant. She felt as though her mood conjured up the storms battering us outside, while indoors we had properly cast the spells that protected us. even when the power gave out. Especially then, because we sat in the semi-dark house and listened and told stories to pass the afternoon. I’ll always remember that day.

My $4.00 roses in my kitchen so I can enjoy them all day…

Another house, another summer storm blew up while I stood on my porch watching the dark clouds pile high in the western sky. I should have been inside cooking dinner, since each family member had a night, but the storm called. When my mother asked why dinner wasn’t in the oven yet, I beckoned her to our porch and pointed to the almost greenish-black sky, and she too stood in silence and watched. Together, we enjoyed the wind whipping our hair. Food could wait. Storms are to be enjoyed while they happen.

Can you believe February is almost upon us?

Do you have storms with winds scouring your home? A storm in your life? Where is the beauty in that? I enjoy the cleansed air after a storm. I enjoy the storm itself at times, too. Crazy? Not really, since I’m talking about a brief thunderstorm and not a tornado or hurricane. Just a storm that comes with too much to do. Yesterday, after a full day, my husband gave me some more items to put on my to-do list and suddenly we had stormy conversation.

These roses have a lovely, light scent…

The conversation had to happen, because my husband didn’t know what was going on in my everyday life. There’s a beauty in knowing how to navigate a brief thunderstorm. The clean air afterwards feels fresh and revitalized. Beauty is everywhere. Even when the grass lies dormant. Even when I picked up branches brought down by these winter winds, with a broken foot. Even then I admired the stark landscape. Join me.

Even a broken rose is beautiful…

Those $4.00 roses that I brought home and placed in a vase, after I picked up the fallen branches? Those roses gave me summer on a winter day. So worth the little splurge, wouldn’t you say? The snowstorm has passed, and the skies are sunny again. I’ll have to wait a bit for another windy, wild storm. I’m looking forward to the spring with it’s cold fronts that bring lightning to my nights. For now? I’m going to enjoy the wintery white snow, glistening in sunlight. Each day hands me a gift, and I have to decide whether to enjoy it or balk at yet another grey, cold day. I choose to see beauty in the day (trust me, there are plenty of days where I do not see beauty, but really, that’s my fault). I choose happiness today. I hope you do too. Until next time…

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…

Free flowers and bourbon…

 

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December descended upon me and the first flakes of snow surprised my upturned face, and I began to hope for a very snow-filled holiday. While spending time over some very good bourbon with my husband, we began deciding where to travel next, but for now I’m happily tucked away at home, buzzing with energy and happiness. Is it the hot coffee I cradle each morning or the excitement of the season? Do you feel caught up in the fun? Are you merrily preparing for Christmas or Hanukkah?

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I’m back on a happiness hunt and finding it so many places my head spins round. I found these gorgeous flowers at the store and half of them were thrust in a shopping cart labeled “free”, and I grabbed the gift. It’s not about presents but about being fully present in the moments that make our days happy. My daughter came over and made a gingerbread house while I played with my free flowers.

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Have you noticed it’s the small things that bring us happiness? I love Snoopy and always have, and after the dog decided to ravage him last year, I replaced him and he sits, lovably, with all my bears. Small thing, discovering this Snoopy at the grocery store. (I know! My grocery store sells the most interesting things and I love it.) I’m creating a teddy bears’ picnic under one tree and sweet Snoopy crashed their party. I’m happy fussing with my trees and their themes. So…what’s your small bit of happiness today?

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These pretty pillows add to the Christmassy feeling. I know one of the guys in our family is going to comment on the impracticality of a pillow with jewels attached, but I’m on a tartan plaid hunt, and the reds are luscious. Everyone on my list is getting tartan flannel pajamas, and the reds turned my head. Red feels warm and this cold weather has me reaching for anything that brings warmth and beauty and comfort.

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These flowers look beautiful. And I have a few more secrets to share…

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This luxurious Advent calendar sits under my “main” tree and every day, after I’ve spent time reading and sipping hot coffee, I open another day and find a pretty treat. I’ll take these little treasures on trips since they’re perfect for packing on a flight. It’s a small bit of happiness, I know. But sometimes that’s all we need.

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I’m trying to enjoy each day. My cat thinks the “kids” Christmas tree is his personal play land and climbs the branches, batting at the “toys” hanging so deliciously. For him (or so he believes). I know it’s not his tree, really. But watching him enjoy Christmas makes me think how we need to find happiness today. Grab a book and head for a quiet spot. Watch those Hallmark movies. Head outside and embrace that cold and the skies that are the color of snow.  Ice skate again. Hike. Sit indoors with a little bit of bourbon and watch Netflix.

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Make this your happiest holiday ever. I’m wishing you skies full of snow and a basket of free flowers for the taking. Until next time…

Untethered…

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I write truth. When I started this blog, I thought I could be bubbly, happy and inspirational for you no matter what, but I can’t. Just the way that I could never hang with the bubble-headed girls, constantly fixated on their manicures, spreading rumors about others outside their circle, and eating so little I thought I’d faint from merely watching them in college. I like truth. In people. In me. In those I love. I expect truth, too.

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Just like the first pic, life has been rather bleak for me, and I didn’t want to write from a dark place, but I finally decided that if I could write truth, maybe you’d be okay with it; maybe it would resonate with you even more. Because if I can’t find beauty on some days or even for a whole month, I know that one day I will. I know life’s going to get better. Slowly maybe, but life is a gift and I see that now. I tell the twenty-somethings to not kill themselves; to stay here and wait, even though the waiting for better is dark, bleak, dull and infinitely sad.

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In the middle of my anxiety ridden days and endless sleepless nights, I didn’t see anything but bad, except this time, I remembered my daughter is expecting a baby in a month. I went through depression in one of my three pregnancies, with postpartum depression descending upon me for two of those pregnancies, but I am so glad I stayed here and walked the paths at dusk. I have three very unique and interesting kids, and I like them all, different as they are. And I’m married to a man committed to walking with me in truth. We’re not fake with one another. Not anymore.

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What caused this fall, this tumble into semi-darkness where the familiar became unknown and my steps were haunted by the memory of another? I cannot tell. That’s someone else’s story and I play but a part, but I can say this. Holding someone up so high in your eyes and your esteem will only result in a crash. An earthquake violent enough to shake your world, wide awake.

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I’ve been feeling untethered. Shaken. Scared and tired. My foundation has been shaken, but not my faith. See, I follow a guy named Jesus, and based on what he says, he’s got my back no matter what. He’s supposed to be my rock, but I didn’t quite do that. I have an annoying habit of making other people my Jesus. Unintentional, yes, but a bad idea, nonetheless. And God has a way of pulling down anything that could stand in the way of Jesus being my foundation. So discovering that the people I idolize are capable of disappointing me or not thinking of me first, causes me to walk with my eyes downcast, not seeing much except a few steps in front of me. And then I hand myself over to God. I surrender. He becomes more of my rock, though I think this is a lifelong task.

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I’m not going to lie and say my days are rocked with sunshine and I feel like singing from a hilltop. No. I feel the antidepressant working but it doesn’t touch that core of hurt. It never does. So what’s beautiful when your world is tinged with grey? Knowing the family will be together for Thanksgiving. Hearing music that brings me to my knees in anguish and relief. Starbucks, oh come on, you knew that was coming! My husband and kids bring me offerings of Starbucks tea and I see light. Happiness? She’s a ways off, but this life is rich and worth living. I’m inspired by those who give. Stories of people being kind lifts my eyes up for a while. I try in my own way to give.

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Tipping at the car wash or coffee shop every single time. Stuffing money into the hands of the street people who call the outside their home. Giving money to the disabled in Romania, because they are treated worse than dogs.

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I hope you’ll stay with me while I gain ground, sort through this latest earthquake in my life, and begin my somewhat faltering steps back to beauty and sunshine, and happiness at waking up to another day. Stay here. Even though my days are subsumed with winter and long nights and cold. Even when sweaters and blankets piled on do not quell the cold inside me. We’ll walk through this life together and claim beauty and laughter and happiness…again. Please stay…

brownies, cookies and two sweet ladies…

Another beautiful September night in my perfectly suburban subdivision life, and I wish you were next to me. The windows are open, of course, and the crickets continue their night’s songs. They won’t be silenced until the first frost, and even then, I’m amazed by the number of crickets who stay warm enough to sing to me until the middle of November. The other night’s noisemakers diminish week-by-week, and I’ll know Thanksgiving draws near when the nights finally become completely silent.

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Finding beauty can be easy some days. Others? If I showed you the tough days, you would see a mountain of laundry, bathrooms that need attention and very old veggies in the fridge because I wanted to cut up that cucumber and place it in a glass pitcher of water, just the way a spa does. But my life intruded, just as yours does. Endless lists and jobs and work and school get in the way too. For me? I have a body that has decided to not feel okay since I noticed something was very wrong in the days before I turned seventeen. Years later (so many years, lol) and my health never returned.

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I tried therapy, eating so many interesting diets that helped with weight loss but not health gains, running, Pilates, not running, going to top name clinics etc. Why do I share this? Because we all have different challenges in life and if we’re going to get through this life somewhat happily, contentedly and with a sense of humor too, we have to find our beauty. Okay, not the kind in the mirror. No. We’re too vain as a society, and selfies kill people each year. Not kidding. Look it up.

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The beauty we’re meant to find is around us. At work, in the fluorescent glow of the lights, can you prop up one picture of your happy place? I have a friend who has never taken a proper vacation, and her dream is to fly to Fiji. Pictures of white beaches and blue waters might make her feel calm. I like to walk in the evenings just as everyone’s homes light up. I used to get decorating ideas for my 1920’s bungalow that way. And now? I enjoy seeing lights on in rooms. Is someone studying up there? Is my neighbor playing his piano while his wife knits? (Oh, I love them so much!) And if your neighborhood doesn’t feel safe, go to a place where you can walk safely and look at beauty.

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Autumn is filled with beauty. The colors of the trees are finally revealed! Pumpkins of all colors surround us. Go drink some fresh apple cider! I look up at the cirrus clouds, so whispy, and I know winter’s grim, grey days aren’t too far away. But wait! We’re on a beauty hunt. So grab some acorns, snip a small branch or two from a maple or an oak tree and bring them home. Make your home, large or small, a place filled with beauty. Your kind of beauty.

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Maybe a thrill runs through you when you finish a quilt. When you have just enough pretty pillows surrounding you. Is it the music floating on the air? The scent of your newborn baby? That’s a treasured scent. Even when you’re going on three hours of sleep. Maybe it’s baking completely from scratch brownies and sharing them with neighbors. Do that! It matters and you’ll make a difference.

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When I was a newlywed and lived in a four apartment building, two kind old sisters lived above me. They didn’t get out much, if at all, and they loved it when I walked upstairs to offer them butterscotch cookies. I certainly didn’t need all of those calories staring back at me, and they didn’t seem to have much fresh food, so I baked. For them and for me. I love baking. Adore it. And now I have no flight of stairs to walk up and no one to share my pumpkin bread. Wherever you in life, try to treasure it…

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You have gifts to share. Do that! Give away your time, your love, your cakes, your ability to read well, sing, to listen to someone’s story. That’s beauty. The Sephora stuff we buy to look beautiful can’t cover up a sour person. Someone with true happiness spilling over is lovely! Why do we like looking at brides so much? Because they glimmer, gleam and beam. They shine with love, and we all enjoy it. Go for that beauty today. The kind inside you, that no one can ever take away. Even if you’re sick. Dying. Divorcing. Even then…

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You are beautiful. Make a small space in your room beautiful too. Light a candle. Drink some soothing tea…or go to Starbucks (I love the happy baristas there, seriously!). Bring pretty pictures to your space. Books, incense, jewelry. Make it yours. Make it pretty. And enjoy being you for a little bit tonight. Until next time…

IMG_E7203(I’m slowly switching out summer’s flowers, but look! The rosemary survives…)

 

 

Sweet September Surrender…

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I woke in time to witness the dawn, with the swirls of mist snaking through the low places on our land. The verdant green of the trees and swaying grasses play tricks on my mind, and I believe summer might last forever. On a lazy September weekend anything feels possible, so I pretend for a while that the sun beating down on our cabin/farmhouse (take your pick) is as strong as June sunlight, but I’m fooling myself. It’s time to wake up from daydreams and wishes and look this month straight in the eye.

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Give in to this beautiful month of what is technically still summer. Autumn will arrive, and then we can find our blankets and socks. But now is a wonderful time to hike without the scorching heat of summer swallowing you (hopefully). Take a bike ride or linger for a morning outside, drinking in the quiet, since many birds have left for their southern nesting grounds. I have a friend who naps on a cot on her back porch. Doesn’t that sound wonderfully indulgent?

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Do you see the school busses rambling around the roads, collecting children and think about the start of a new year? Does your heart catch for a minute, thinking you missed the bus? Only to realize those days live in another time and place?  This feels like the right time to begin anew. And we can, you and I. We can take stock of where we are, how far we’ve come since those rosy January resolutions, and adjust. Maybe you need to rest on a porch in the afternoon sun, with a blanket and book by your side, but only if you open your eyes long enough to see them. Maybe you need to work on that project you so wanted finished by the end of spring. Do it! Get it done! Time’s almost up…

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See that tree above? The oak? That is my favorite tree in the world. The new sun, slanting more each day, runs her fingers through the leaves, and I hope for plenty of acorns for the fawns and their mothers this fall. I have many favorite trees, just like all my kids are my favorites. I think it’s good to love something so much that you enjoy life that much more. Find your favorites, especially going into the turn of the year. Take time to love this time in your life. The hard times and the good… Give in to it. Accept. Surrender.

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We have so much to learn, and if we only had good times, then we’d never learn how to find the beauty in the middle of a cubicle on a Monday morning. Right now there is so much beauty everywhere you turn your head. The farmer’s market, and the grocery stores both hold new tomatoes, zucchini and yes, mini pumpkins. Grab one for your apartment and celebrate. Hold this time close to you. Go about your work, but open the door and marvel at the sunset. I do that so many nights, saying good-bye to this day before welcoming the next.

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Surrender to September. That beautiful month of transition. And enjoy this day.

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Our pool closes this weekend and I want to take a dip before the preschoolers stake their claim. Early morning might be best. So while I take one last summer swim, why don’t you say bye to your summer in your way and enjoy it?  Take time away from studying, working, cleaning and whatnot, and enjoy the beauty of a September sun. Be happy. Find beauty. Until next time…

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(My dream home just north of Seattle.) Hey, a girl’s gotta dream!