Taking the long way home…

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Do you travel? For fun? I have been going from city to city and while it is meant for fun, I’m finding my heart is back home. In very southern Ohio. Autumn showed her pretty face this past Wednesday, but I took a cursory glance, fluffing up the outdoor autumn pillows as I did, and then stepped out the door for more nights on the road.

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This helps. Copious amounts of tea. Try finding Starbucks on an app while driving (my husband was at the wheel, so this was perfectly legal)! I think  we spent an hour finding places to get more tea, and the 8 hour trip turned into over 9 hours. Crazy? It’s all part of my fun. My way of making a long trip fun. Is that finding beauty on a long day? I think so.

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And my husband made stops to see what other states offered on his bourbon hunt. I didn’t mind one bit, since I had a sweet tea in hand. This is a way to enjoy the experience. And I guess what I’m trying to say is this: enjoy where you are.even if you’re late for your next flight and you have to run. An all out sprint to get to the gate.

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Whether we are at a point in life where we’re tethered to our home, job, kids, a lack of money or are finally traveling after years of going to other fun cities for soccer tournaments (been there), we can choose to make our stage of life pleasant or we can whine and complain a bit. Because all those photos of your friend at the beach, in Europe or in drizzly Seattle slurping hot coffee get to you. You want freedom! To just go somewhere. Restless feet beg to travel.

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And the funny thing is this. After staying home and raising my kids and finally getting to a relatively empty nest, I overbooked my schedule. Three trips in less than ten days? Whoa! Wait up! And what was I thinking? Home looks so good, with my mantle rocking a glimmering orange vibe that I absolutely love. And I’m not there to bake, to have a campfire in Kentucky or to sit in my nook and relax.

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While jogging through another airport (my family is far away, but we’re close…make sense? Yes??) and then wishing for a packet of peanuts on the plane, because I can’t have cookies or gluten and I am not allergic to peanuts…I realized sitting in a comfy seat on a plane and finishing a spell-binding novel was so good. More delicious than a packet of peanuts.

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Today (I got one day at home before I left again)…after singing our way through most of Indiana, I fell into complaining. I’m tired and wanted to be home in my sweats, planing a baby shower!, and planting tulips for next spring. But tomorrow, I’m meeting a lovely friend for lunch and then having a nice family dinner. And I forget how lucky I am. Blessed. I forgot to be happy. I didn’t look for the beauty in today. But I hope you choose to be happy or at least content where you are today. Things change in a heartbeat. We don’t know what’s coming our way next, so let’s enjoy our trip through this crazy, wonderful life we have.

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I miss home a bit, even after I finished complaining. Even though the complaining was in my head. And you know what? I’m here. The hotel room is nice. Good. I have to remember to be fully present while meeting friends, talking to my husband on a too long (ops, complaining again…) trip. Wy? We all have stolen moments that will never come back. Grab your pumpkin spice latte and find something beautiful. Me? I turned on the gas fireplace here. Yes, the room is toasty warm and I’m going to sleep in a bed with the softest pillows. I might dream of home. But I’m grabbing at today. At where I am and being fully present. Can you join me?

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Yes, I miss my cats. But I get only one chance this year to see my football team, and even though one of my kids is stepping through a mini medical issue, I have to “be” here. I hope this rambling post makes sense and that you can sing on your road trip. That you’ll stop for a Coke or a tea and stretch. That you’ll sink into pillows as soft as a cloud, and you’ll smile and count yourself lucky. Better than lucky…count yourself blessed. Have a lovely day. A beautiful evening…

Until next time…

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…

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Summer’s Slow Farewell…

 

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I recently learned the word, gloaming, and that’s my favorite part of my day. Gloaming, twilight, and dusk. The words themselves are full and beautiful. Don’t we love lingering over a glass of wine in the warm embrace of a summer’s night when the sky is tangled with too many subtle colorings to count? Part of me feels like summer is waving good-bye, but really, she’s not. Not yet. Not here. It’s the t.v ads that talk of pumpkin spice’s return, but it’s 90 degrees now and I won’t be placing a sweater around my shoulders until the nights dip into the chilly 50’s. Then I’ll know.

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I’ll know summer has headed south, and by then I’ll be ready for coziness, candles, my homemade pumpkin bread and yes, pumpkin spice craziness. I adore the way Americans can make a celebration out of the smallest thing. Autumn is here, the school busses are brimming with kids heading off to learn something, hopefully, and our hearts droop a bit, but hey! Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes and burn a new candle named Pumpkin Moonbeams and it’s a party!

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This is the sky, in the gloaming. The perfect balance between pink and blue is found by lifting our eyes skyward. This nightly show is better than seeing every piece of priceless art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Take time out of your crazy day or your lonely day and go outside for a minute. Sure, your neighbors might wonder what you’re doing, standing on the stoop, gazing skyward, but you can keep secrets and smile at them as they amble forward on a pleasant walk. You’re witnessing the change in the sky as we move from August to September. You’re celebrating the end of this day, because you made it. You’re still here.

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And you’re here for a purpose. Big or small, we all have reasons for being on earth. Even on those days when we face Facebook and look at the parties and smiles and gatherings and feel uninvited and for a minute, perhaps, unloved, even then, we need to remember that it’s no accident that brought us to today. This evening, whether filled with gentle breezes in the dusk or stormy skies brimful of lightning, is important. Why? Because after the dishes are washed, the cat is fed and we finally sit down (or on days when the bed has been our home and we finally walk out to grab the mail, still in sweats with no makeup on), we can breathe in our purpose. Our meaning. And why God dropped us here. Now. In the waning days of August. 2018. Find your purpose.

 

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Find the beauty in this day. On the drive to work look for a stunning house or a beguiling road. At lunch, take time to taste your food. Enjoy it. Even if it is a PB&J sandwich. Read inspiring stories on Reddit. Step out into the dusk or the dawn, knowing you matter. You make the world a better place. And then go and make it better!

Kindness and patience should be spread liberally through your day. Is the barista slow? Tap into your well of patience, and yes, it’s there… Then tip him and smile and make his day better, as you grab your cold brew. Talk to the lonely octogenarian in the grocery store while you wait, patiently, again!, for your deli order. Reach out to your neighbor. Witness the wonder of an August day slipping into September. Smile as you gaze at storm clouds. (I love, love a good thunderstorm.) Make this world beautiful. And you have a head start because you. are. beautiful…

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Above? The vividly green view from my writing desk. So beautiful. Hey, I’ll see you in September. I’m heading to the farm, so I’ll have lots of pics and maybe even one of the horse who runs free on our street down there. This is an incredible world, isn’t it? Enjoy yours, and tell me what’s beautiful in your space. I really want to know. Thanks!

 

 

Summer’s Bliss…

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Well, I’m back! I left for two weeks in Europe and fell off the wagon, so to speak. Let me explain. I’m going to be super transparent, so hopefully you’ll appreciate my search for happiness, here, in this world we all live in. I have lupus. It was no big deal for years. I could do as I pleased until two summers ago at the beach. I sat under my umbrella, with 50 SPF coating my limbs, but that ocean called to me, as she always does, and I, unable to elude her allure, waded in. For hours. Dumb me. I spent the rest of vacation in bed, joints screaming in pain, with my body reacting wildly to the sun.

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Since that last beach vacation, I have been managing my new life with this strange illness. See, I’m very affected by sun. On those blissfully sunny days when I choose to run errands, in short sleeves (hey, it’s 90 out there!), even with sun block the sun reaches my hair, my face, and toes and it’s back to bed for me. So I haven’t felt like writing about finding happiness. Why read about a woman who’s dealing with things that get in her way to happiness? And then it made sense. After three months of flailing around, I think I can get us there. To my happy place. And to yours…

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I went to Munich in April so I could stroll around in a jacket, in coolish weather, with no fear of beach sunshine, and it worked. That river above is in Munich. Beautiful, right? Munich mesmerized me.  I had a Starbucks right across the street from our hotel, and we walked miles each day, soaking in the city’s vibe. When I came home, some people asked about every sight in London and Munich, clucking their tongue in disbelief when I relayed, that, no, we did not run around ticking sights off a tourist’s list. We discovered the city at our pace. We took our time. And that made all the difference in the world. It made me happy.

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When I came home I brought out my plants and pillows for the summer, and I found ways to love the long days. Under the shade of my maple, I can read or work and still glimpse that sunny sky. I love to wander out in the evenings. I need to look up at the sky to see how she’s feeling. Do you notice the light and how it changes  from week to week? I forget to feel sick when I’m looking up.

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I’m learning to love the rainy days. I didn’t much, growing up in Syracuse. But a day like the one above gave me the chance to roam around with my daughter. We took her dogs along for a very long walk, and we talked about everything and nothing at all. People like that make me happy. The ones who are easy to be with. The happy people in our lives.

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Warm summer rain is a pleasure. As a child I would run out to play in the puddles and little streams forming in my yard.  The rain felt like little warm kisses. Take a walk in a warm rain and see if you like it. Feel it. Raise your head to the sky.  Revel in a summer’s rainy day. (This is the other pond at our farm. The North Pond.)

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Summer is here! You can find the beauty everywhere in this season of plenty. I’m learning new ways. I look out of many open windows these days. I have to. If you’re blessed enough to revel in the sunshine, do it. Go outside. Walk. Sit outdoors and enjoy a chilled white wine. Or tea. 🙂 Find happiness in these effortlessly sunny days. Open your door and find a slice of happiness. I might be inside if the sun is bright, but at night, I’ll join you. We have fireflies to catch. And smiles to share with the people we love.

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beautiful embrace…

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We’re looking for the beauty in the everyday, right? What if I told you that I’m sitting in my favorite spot in this house, listening to the thunder, and since it’s still daylight, I’m watching the clouds for the peculiar green they become when bad weather is on the way.  I wish I could have a storm almost everyday of the year. Last night I stayed up long into the night working on my computer, when I suddenly spied lightning, and I eventually decided to put down my work and picked up a book I’ve long been in the middle of. I enjoyed every flash of light in the sky (and the gentle rumblings of far off thunder) and it continued for hours. But storms in our lives, figuratively? Umm…

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We’re supposed to have another line of storms run through here later tonight, and while I’m looking forward to another night of lightning, I’m not looking forward to the storms in my life. I’d much rather have a life of sunny days, except the storms in life make us look at things we need to see. Bad behaviors, bad habits, bad relationships or a string of accidents, these things make us feel like a tornado ran right though our lives. But these storms can be beautiful, if only we look for it.

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One of the reasons I waited to write was due to a storm I’m going through, and I just didn’t feel like I could write about happiness when I was feeling anything except that. A few days out and I’m smiling again. And though I lost my appetite I still breathed in the scent of my hyacinths. I ate peanut butter cups and called that protein (I know!) I can write about storms even while I’m hearing the deep bass booming of thunder rumbling in. Sometimes it seems like the tempest will never end, but it does. It will.

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Those storms in our life are necessary but not always wanted. And some storms are much larger, bringing a tornado into our lives, and we wonder when we’ll have all the debris picked up. Will we ever? Yes. We will. Look for the beauty where you can find it, while we’re picking up the debris laden life that’s ours. I’m not trying to be all sunshine and happiness, but rainbows are real. After the rain clears out enough, I look for them. Do you still have your dog to cuddle with? Are most of your kids okay (I swear there always seems to be one in need…or maybe that’s just me), then celebrate with them all but console the one who hurts. Go look at the pictures of you from way back. Maybe you need to look at your wedding pictures again to remind yourself why you married in the first place. Look at all that beauty.

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Keep your head up, beautiful one. (Because you are!) If you’re cleaning up the debris from a storm, like I am, vow to change one thing and move forward. Mine is reading every. single. day. What would yours be? And the next thing is to love your own company. Unless you are an incredible extrovert who feeds off being around others constantly (I’m applauding you right now), then go find your people! Oh, below are some tag sale finds. No more than ten dollars. That’s a bunch of beauty for a song. So maybe retail therapy really works, as long as it’s small and not too often, right?

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I have a daughter who needs to always have people around, so when my introvert went off to college this past fall and didn’t like it right off, she told him to take the hammock she gave him and string it up between the trees where some random people are hanging out. Extrovert daughter informed my introvert son that she met people doing that very thing. And she loved talking to strangers. (She’s still learning stranger danger…) The introvert found friends quietly and not in a hammock. My point? What works for one does not work for all. Look at yourself and decide to love you. Decide to find something beautiful this week. Decide to make one small change. And you don’t have to sit in a hammock and talk to strangers. But maybe listen to the thunder and look for the rainbow.

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I’m now listening to the birdsong that signals the end of day. I’m lucky enough to have a nest just outside my bedroom window, and I am being serenaded so beautifully. Bruno Mars has nothing on this guy outside my window! I hope you have a beautiful week. And yes, I will be back on Saturday.

Until next time…

 

Breathless Wonder…

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I’ve been waiting weeks for today. The first day of spring. Not calendar spring, but that undeniable mist of green covering every bush, ready to burst forth with tender leaves, and daffodils nodding their pretty yellow heads that, yes, it’s here. My daffodils are trusty and stood up in defiance of an early spring snowfall, whereas my magnolia tree? She waited and now those creamy white blooms reach out heavenward and I know it. I’m in love with the world again.

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How can anyone feel ill on such a beautiful day, I once asked myself, about a hundred years ago. Because I was. I thought twenty year olds stayed healthy until old age dawned. You know, like, around age forty at least. I smile at my younger self. I can laugh at her too. Especially on days when happiness is the creek running fast, gurgling songs that make you pay attention to her. And did I mention the bluebirds I’ve seen in my yard?

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How can you not feel gloriously happy when bluebirds show up at your bird feeder? The gentle spring rains are adding their music to my day, while I sit here in the quiet and listen to the pattering on the roof, snug underneath, thick socks still keeping toes cozy. Don’t days like this feel wonderful? Happiness, like love, is so much easier when hope blooms. And it is. Some of you have already thrown open your windows to catch the warm whispers of spring breezes, while others wait patiently for old man winter to finally move out for good.

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Happiness looks you in the mirror in the mornings, because that sun is starting to shine so brightly, that even wrinkles look good. Yes, I am that enthralled by spring. Aren’t we all lured outdoors to bear witness to the dawn, and the gold-hued world she offers on sun drenched mornings? I’m called out in the evenings, the colors feel more muted and soothing, and I love holding tea in my hands, while drinking in the purples, chasing the pinks, that follow the orange in the sky.

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Even if you’re sick, in body or heart, take time to be outside in the freshness of this spring. You need time out for you, and ten minutes of sitting on your front step is pouring life and love back into your body. Share the moment with others and add to your happiness. I like to pick out the evening star and remember the night my father taught me the basic constellations. If you can get away from city lights, look into the night sky and be filled with stars and planets.

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On a late spring evening when I lived farther south, I stood under the whisperings of a willow tree with several friends, ready to head home. My best friend’s brother reached out to my thirteen year old self, to catch my attention, and I’ll always remember him saying with a measure of wonder in his voice,”Your skin feels so soft.” It caught me off guard. Was that a good thing? Soft skin? Because a thirteen year old girl back then didn’t know if she was pretty or pretty enough. At least, I didn’t. I wanted dark hair and dark skin, but had been handed very light hair with almost blonde skin, so I didn’t know if what I saw looking at me in the mirror was okay. When the guy I secretly liked said that to me, I felt beautiful and light, as though I had drunk a glass of wine.

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Why do I bring that up? Because most of us are lucky enough to have had springs of discovery, where we found our footing in a precarious world. We only have a handful of springs before responsibility calls our name and we enter the race. Busyness claims us, one by one. But don’t let the cares of this world keep you from feeling love, wonder, happiness and hope. We were made for these days. May wide-eyed wonder fill your days (and evenings) this week.

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Until next time…

Make a beautiful day…

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A lovely book, its pages begging for words, and a simple, pure, white candle waiting for a spark. Finding the beauty on some days feels easy, doesn’t it? You step outside on a bright, sunshine filled, blue sky day, and the world beckons you. So many possibilities, so few limitations, and off you go. Whether that day ends as beautifully is occasionally up to us, but most of the time, the power rests in others, in circumstances, or in our perception of that day.

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Right now for me? Most days don’t start out super sunny, bright and wonderful, but I am continually learning to change my perception of what a beautiful day looks like. Time does that to each of us. Here I sit, in Chicago, for a fun weekend, that has been wonderful. I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was such a huge holiday in Chicago. We’re here for a basketball game, but the rest of Chicago seems to be wearing bright shamrock green, filled to the brim with beer, or Irish whiskey, and I’ve encountered many oversized leprechauns. Did I mention the Chicago River? As green as the clovers on my cups in these pictures.

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I love the enthusiasm of today. If some people have had a wee bit too much of liquid happiness, I overlooked that. Mostly, I witnessed grins on a cold day, laughter among friends and strangers alike on a mercifully sunny day, and acts of kindness many times over. So why am I sitting outside my hotel room to tell you this? My perception. My eleven o’clock at night take on the day. I told someone a truth that I didn’t know how to soften. Nothing major, except, I could have placed the truth on a better day. A Monday? Just starting out the week, let’s get back to business and by the way, let me add to your rainy Monday kind of feeling? Yes, that would have been better. I’m learning. Still.

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I want everyone to feel loved, cherished and special everyday, but perception plays a part in our time together, our lives and our dreams. I’ve had days where I think I’m just every kind of fabulous and been side-swiped by the realization that I’m not. Not super wonderful, and that someone caught more than a fleeting glance of my flaws and addressed them. So what do we do when that happens to us? Feeling hurt is valid. Taking an hour to nurse a wound might be okay, even. But to let a night fester with silence and brooding? Why would we? When it is within our grasp to let it go.

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Before I burst into song here about letting some things go, maybe lots of things, I want you to know I try to find the beauty in many things. I can’t go in the sun anymore? Who needs it! Loving the beach, the feel of ocean waves carrying me along, well, I hear London and Seattle are places to explore and decidedly not sun soaked. Perception. While at the spa earlier this evening, the workers described their loathing of this drunken day. I thought most of the people were lovely, fun-loving and really, seriously, not drunk. (I may be oblivious here.) Perception. What if talking to the green people resulted in a friendship, a romance or a beautiful conversation?

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And I took this lovely day, filled with green rivers and bagpipers and made someone sad. The way my stomach feels, way up in my throat, heart pounding and decidedly wrung out, over truths that hurt, is that a perception I can change. Can we all do that? Can we take a rain pouring in our face day and twist it into beauty? Yes. Dwell on the good that happened, is happening or could possibly occur. Perception is the path, the key, and the way. If we look for the drunks, we’ll see just them. If we look for sadness, it’s out there, around the corners. Don’t go there. Look for someone beautiful. Something pretty awesome. You.

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I’m even smiling, out here in the hallway, because my attempt at Easter decorating is making my front hall table look like a deranged bunny king rules the entryway. Back to beauty, happiness and kindness. We all have tough days, filled with hard truths and someone informing us we are not terribly wonderful. Right? But if we think we’re doing our best to bring grace, love and truth spoken in love, and if we try to get better at this living our lives this way, isn’t that good? Doesn’t that make you all kinds of wonderful?

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We can find something beautiful. Even on the worst day. When I take walks, I always look up. Clouds and the colors of the sky fascinate me. I ran one night into an oncoming lightning storm and could not look down. I’ve twisted ankles because of this. And one daughter loves looking at the ground when we walk. And she pulls up the most perfect four-leafed clovers I’ve ever seen. She does this on most walks. Perception. I would rather go a lifetime without a lucky clover and never miss the clouds amassed in the sky right before a storm. And she? Would rather find the diamond in the rough by the side of the road.

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Even on the happiest days, some sadness seeps in. But let’s get through this week, together, willing our eyes and minds to find the beauty. Alter our perception. When a truth must be told, be as kind as you can. Kindness is cultivated through hours of practice. And be kind to you. You deserve love, goodness, and kindness too. I’m heading back into my room now. My perception has changed. And the hotel is slowing growing quieter. Did I mention that my daughter found a diamond lying on the side of a road. Just a small chip. But her perception during our strolls led her to that beautiful chip of diamond perfection. So look at the world only the way you can. In your way, because you know what?

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Hey, this sign says it all. I didn’t place it there. Some kind soul out there did that. And those people? They are diamonds in the rough, ready to be discovered. Enjoy beauty this week. Especially when you look at yourself. You are amazing, you know.

Until next week…

 

 

Within our grasp…

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How is March going for you? I think those of us who live in the warmer parts of the nation are feeling spring tugging at their sleeves, begging them to take off that jacket and enjoy the warm sunshine. Those of us farther north are gritting out teeth while we look for snowdrops and crocuses to push up through the brown ground, or through the endless slush of grey snows. I live in the middle, so the grass is greening up (and I heard someone close by mowing their lawn this week, and no! it’s way to early to begin that) and my daffodils are blooming. But we had snow last night at the farm. This is a month of waiting.

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Waiting requires patience and that’s difficult. I even broke open my St. Patrick’s Day candy a bit early. Green looks so good after months of brown, taupe, and grey. Those grey days pull me down sometimes. You? Can you march right through a string of grey days, armed with inner fortitude? I think we all have ways of dealing with endless grey days, whether they be outside or in our heart. A cup of steaming coffee, espresso or tea in the morning helps. Coming home to a glass of Chardonnay or two fingers of bourbon is something to look forward to for others. Me? My espresso when the morning is rough, followed by copious amounts of sweet tea. And yes, sugar is bad for me, but it is my vice. Okay, yes, chocolate is my vice too. I know. I should gnaw on a carrot stick rather than savor that dark chocolate, but I don’t. How about you?

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If you’re going to tell me a five mile run followed by a green shake (not a Shamrock shake) is your pick-me-up, I will act impressed. But. I can’t do that right now. Maybe never. And if you’re in the same boat as I am, what do we do, while we wait for sun soaked days filled with lilac scented breezes?

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Several things come to mind. Bringing spring inside helps. Some prefer escaping into a book, their video games, meeting up with someone. I was on Facebook last night and a young man messaged me. He went to school with my daughter, and basically he said he felt very lonely. I wasn’t going to bring up loneliness this week, but this conversation  happened. I tried to make suggestions for him, but it’s tough for introverts to get out there. Just stepping through the door of a new place sends shivers down their backs. I think we all need to cultivate a couple of friendships.

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Making the effort to join a group where you’ll find friends is vital. Join something. Yoga, soccer, book groups, running groups or just about anything you dream up is out there. Walk out your door and join. And if you’re connected, fabulous! Can you look for the people on the side? Not talking to anyone? Just watching? While your laughing away with your besties, can you look for a new friend to pull into your circle? Can we all be more inclusive? What is that old saying?

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Step outside your comfort zone. That’s what we’re told. Do something new, and grab someone kind of new to go along. I just went with a new friend to construct a rustic sign for my farmhouse/cabin. I felt like I was back in shop class, and as intimidated as I am by drills and hammers, I persevered and the sign looks okay. Nice, even. But the best part? Getting to know a new friend better and laughing our way through the event.

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Tonight I’m going to a play with one of my kids. They know one of the actors, which I think is way cool. Last night, though? I stayed in all day. In my sweats. I worked on my book, with plenty of breaks spaced between chapters. I was alone. By myself. Part of me liked it and another part didn’t so much. It really is a balance, isn’t it? Time alone and time together. Ready for a story? Then, I’m done, promise.

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When my kids were little, my mom and dad organized and paid for (thank you!) a vacation at Disneyland. We stayed in a house about 45 minutes away from the Magic Kingdom, because my dad is thrifty. He woke us up every morning at 6:00 a.m. and my brother and sister helped me get the kids dressed, fed and ready for a day of happiness. We were in the van by 7:00, parked, walked, and stood in line for early access. Then it was five hours of rides, ice cream and running after my kids. My dad drove us all back for nap time around 2:00. (I think it was his nap time to be honest.) I played in the pool with my two older kids for a few hours, and then up! and back! on the long drive to Disneyland. From 5:00 until 10:00 p.m. Long drive home. Then some relatives would visit once we got back to the house, and my father slipped up to bed, while my brother and I yawned and did everything we could to indicate visiting hours were over. In bed at midnight. Up at 6:00. To get to the “happiest place in the world”.

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I thought it was just me, feeling tired, just wishing we could spend a day at the house by the pool, when my brother whispered to me, “I need a vacation from this vacation.” Oh, thank goodness. It wasn’t just me! I adore my dad. He has the energy of a twenty-five year old on five Red Bulls. And a few espressos also. I do not. And, I need and crave time in my woman cave. Alone. Especially when three kids are with you constantly. And relatives that you love, but not at midnight. What I learned is balance. That vacation taught me a lot. Time alone. Time together. Let’s find that balance while we revel in the end of winter. Eat your chocolate or that cookie, and let’s see if we can find a bit of happiness along the way.

Until next time…

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Long roads with wonderful views…

 

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While sorting through the pictures to choose the ones I want to place here on this page, that take you through my day, I pass through photos going back more than five years. And in those pictures of specifically my family, I see an array of emotions. Sure, happiness on a birthday where we all deliberately sing terribly out of tune (and one daughter insists on regaling us with The Star Spangled Banner at the same time) is evident. That’s fun. Special and happy. We’re all laughing and grinning!

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And I see the vacations. Happy times, right? Except I see the depths of depression welling up into one daughter’s eyes. She cannot hide what lies beneath. She tried to take her life. Deep stuff here, I know. But I see it every time I come here to write to you about happiness. Be happy wherever you are, except. Except, there are simply times where we cannot feel it. So what do you do? I chose to ride it out. It hurt. I hurt, and others around me were affected, which didn’t make me feel any better.

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But I made it out. I’m happy to be here doing this thing called life.

In those particular vacation pictures of me and my always smiling daughter, I see her smile never reaches her eyes. And I remember her long road to happiness. That was so very worth it. She left the kind of life that brought her down and climbed out of the darkness and now lives a life full of laughter, with much kindness and concern for others. Because she knows what it feels like when we just can’t cross the bridge to happiness. But she and I know it’s a climb worth making.

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So what can we do if we’re not at happy? When it’s nowhere in sight? Talk to somebody. Reach out. Counselors can be good, but sometimes it’s a kind friend. Find the merciful, kind people in life and keep them. They are worth so much more than a roomful of raucous laughter. My daughter just happened to call a college friend to say good-bye. A forever goodbye. Outside my house, while I slept.

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That far-off friend called the police, not knowing quite where she lived, and that saved her life. I had no idea how sad my laughing, uber friendly, voted funniest of her class, daughter was. But I found out.

She lived. Thank God, she is alive. And if you are at that point of thinking nobody cares and that you’re worthless. Stop. You are worth more than jewels. Just being alive matters. Not how much money you make. Not the clothes you wear. You. Are here. For a reason. You might not know that reason yet, but hang on. Because the day is coming when you will find out why. Why you went through pain. The suffering. The loneliness. Worthlessness. And you know what?

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Don’t buy into it. Don’t listen to the negative voices in your head, or the people around you that bring you down. Because you are worth so much. You matter. You’re smart enough, good enough and nothing you have ever done takes that away. Hold your head up. Look for the beauty. If you can’t see the beauty looking back at you when you look in the mirror, that’s okay for now. But please, take my word for it, you are beautiful, wonderful and amazing. And someday, after you survive this time, you will look back and see why. Why it happened. That dark and lonely road you travelled had a purpose.

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See those stairs? I pass them on my favorite walk, and it means I’m almost finished walking or running. Our life is a bunch of stairs we get to climb to go somewhere pretty amazing. We can stop here and there to catch our breath and admire the view higher up. That’s life as you age. Trust me. And then you start up the stairs again. I’m here to tell you the view gets better the higher we climb, so do not give up. Talk to someone who is caring and kind, if you feel alone. I have been there. Alone. Sad. No one understanding why I couldn’t pull myself together. But…I let time, medicine (we might need that at times), counseling, and kind friends help me. You can do this. You’re not alone.

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Happiness can be found along the way. In so many places. For me, it’s beautiful flowers, bought on the cheap. Iced tea in the afternoon. Pasta for dinner! A good book and my kind of music. Candles. My cozy spots in this house, where I retreat to when I feel like I need that. Find yours.

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I love long walks. Alone. It gives me time to untangle problems and I dream up my best writing ideas for that book. You? You might prefer matcha or an espresso in the early afternoon. Maybe a jazzercise class? Hey, my 77 year old dad goes to jazzercise three times a week. I love that about him! Go daddy! Find your thing. And stop to enjoy the view along this trip called life. We only get one shot at this. Let’s make it a happy one. Here’s to you and how amazingly beautiful and wonderful you are…

 

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…