Moonlight meandering…

The clouds broke up in time for the moon to show her full face, and I watched from a window I had opened earlier in the day. She continued swinging higher through the branches in the trees, and I wondered if the moon could ever be caught in them. My bare feet felt cold on the tile, since the unusual warmth of a late winter day had chilled to perfection and still I breathed in the scent of freshness. No scent of a fire made of cedar, nothing except the quiet of evening settled down upon the hills that surround our home.

As a young girl I remember running outside through the freshly washed sheets hanging on my grandmother’s clotheslines. My brother and cousins were prohibited, yet since I alone was the only girl, I think my grandmother took pity on me as I followed her while she reached up to drape all her linens on the line in the sunshine. Running through just dry sheets brought me early memories that refuse to leave, so indelibly did they imprint on my mind and imbued my senses.

My grandmother had only one bedroom in her home, since the upstairs is where her younger sister lived, which meant grandma and I shared a room. I would climb into bed with crisp sheets still scented with fresh air. Somehow sunlight, evergreens, clouds and breezes had all wrapped themselves into those plain percale sheets, and I fell asleep to stories of days long past and the sweet fragrance of outdoors. No candle can capture that freshness no matter how much they try. Which means I’m going to leave my sheets outdoors sometime just so my children can crawl wearily into bed and be lulled by the same heady scents I used to enjoy.

Why do I bring up the memory now? Because even though I am enjoying candles lightly fragranced with oranges, cloves and cinnamon, it isn’t the same as having spices simmering on my stove, and I want to go back to a more natural way of living, if possible. Of course I’m not giving up my dishwasher, but my daughters miss walking in and feeling embraced by the fragrance of the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves that filled our home. Our home in Wisconsin was drafty and a tinge chilly, and all winter the air inside felt dry, so I boiled water, and one day I decided to see what would happen if I dropped some spices in, and suddenly our home felt cozier and warmer without raising the thermostat up at all.

Now we live in very southern Ohio, and I could afford to open the back door to our porch in February. The winters here are grey, but they don’t last too long, usually arriving after Christmas much to my disappointment and punctuated by warm days starting in February. My cat sat quietly next to that door this morning, and he didn’t do that for the last eight weeks, so I trusted him and was met with the sound of the creek rushing by and the surprise of a warm breeze. We both meandered out into the bare porch. He laid in the sunlight and I idly watched the creek as the water flowed quickly over the falls.

This photo was taken weeks ago, and all the ice and snow are gone, but the creek has swelled to twice its width. I know I must go down tomorrow to gather my thoughts and take some more photos. I want to see the little falls we “own” now. How can anyone own water? Maybe the ponds that dot our fields and woods in Kentucky, sure, but this creek is always running onward, rushing to some place it simply must find. Today she spoke wildly and didn’t have time to babble or rest in a still area near the rocks.

Do you feel the moods of the day speaking to you? Can you see the moment the sun lets go and succumbs to sinking far into the west? Do you notice the moon in her many moods, and how the clouds kiss her face, only to darken her for a moment? How about the cold winds of winter? Do you wonder at the bite of that cold, wondering how the air can feel savage? And when warmer winds beguile us and tempt us to forget our work or study and come out to play, do you follow? See how the days and nights talk to us? I try to listen. I had to finally close the door and the window, because a cold front blew through, but I have a warm fire at my feet and a pile of books next to me. And the candles. Always the candles.

You can see the rooms I walk into. The coziness of the browns feels rich and comforting in winter or fall, and the large front windows are more for summer days when the light lingers long into the evening. Here, in June and July, it is light until almost ten in the evening. I like watching the light play with the sky through these windows, where if I’m lucky enough I’ll see the deer who travel in a group pass by in front. Yes, they nibble away at the boxwoods, but it’s all part of being close to the woods.

I suppose I have no time left for stories, so I leave with this instead. I had two very different grandmothers. One lived on the edge of a large forest, and she had about an acre of her own, where the other grandma lived in a small city brought together to mine coal. That grandmother always felt too busy for me to ask her many questions, but I did watch her in fascination as she hung out her clean laundry to dry. Clotheslines were strung up between her house and the neighbor’s just twenty or thirty feel behind her, and as she hung out her sheets she would pull the line close to her second story bedroom window in winter or summer. She reached outside to quickly fasten her clean sheets between the row houses.

I never asked if they worked out a schedule, so they wouldn’t need the lines on the same day. Grandmothers are very different and while I loved her, she was brusque, busy and forever having people over to visit. I’d wend my way over to a relative who had time for me. My grandmother’s sister did, as she lived alone, so we’d play games for hours on end and she’d ply me with pie and pay attention to my words. Isn’t is odd what we carry forward with us? We don’t choose it at the time, but it follows us nonetheless and hopefully we are wiser and richer for it.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

the warmth of a snowy day…

The snow arrived after the sleet stopped. Hearing the sleet hitting the windows made me cold enough to turn on the fire which warms up the downstairs nicely. I decided the day looked dark enough to light the candles, and I decided to curl up in my warmest blanket while I worked on my laptop. At times, I’d leave the warmth to brew another cup of coffee. After I had done some work, I opened up one of the books I’m reading.

I decided to read the easier book, while I waited for the snow to finally arrive. I’m trying to get into The Silmarillion since it’s been almost thirty years ago that I slogged through those pages. Reading on any given day is a delight for me. Hand me a book, and as long as I have iced tea or hot coffee nearby, I am deep into happiness. Some people find their bliss on a spa day or time spent outdoors, but a book in my hands with a glowing fire or an open window in spring, is a day or a night filled with contentment and peace.

I didn’t set foot outside yesterday, as I was content to watch the day pass from my nest inside. I had a wonderful view from the front windows, and I did open the door to watch the snow when it arrived about twelve hours late. Living where the world stops during almost any snowfall means enjoying the beauty of a world swathed in white when she arrives. By next week all of this will be gone, and the spring rains will take over, so I wanted to enjoy the whirl of flakes as they made their way to kiss the earth.

What is it about snowy days that makes me want to bake bread and stay well wrapped in sweats and two pairs of socks? I didn’t bake the pumpkin bread yesterday, so I promised myself that today I would. It’s terribly cold now, and this would be a wonderful day for chocolate chip cookies, but I haven’t baked pumpkin bread in a long while. My cat is keeping me company, and he looks at me occasionally as if to inquire if I would be so kind as to turn on the fire in the hearth.

I usually save that for the evenings when we gather in that room after dinner. Sometimes we drink a bit of whiskey and enjoy honey-roasted peanuts. They pair together quite well. On other nights, even the coldest ones, I find myself pulling out a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Who ever thought ice cream in the middle of winter would be a delight, but it is. Though slicing into a still warm loaf of bread sounds better today, and I know my son will slather his slice with lots of creamy butter and carry it to his room upstairs. I need to have that ready in time for a late afternoon treat, where I’ll pair it with a hot cup of coffee.

I’m thinking about walking outside to enjoy the view and to take some pictures for fun. It’s bitterly cold now, and I’m wondering if the creek will completely freeze over. This is my last chance to see the creek in her winter glory, because the spring rains are predicted for next week, and the sound that one creek makes as the water rushes on to the large river nearby is so loud! When we first moved to this house on the edge of the woods, or rather in the center of the woods, we marveled at the sound a creek could make after a thunderstorm.

Well, I’ll have to leave the cat longing for a warm fire and turn on the oven. It’s time to bake. Time to do more than read a book, too. I can do that tonight after dinner. I’ll light the candles and turn down the lights, and the space becomes smaller. The cat and I keep each other company deep into the night, where we both cocoon ourselves in piles of blankets and pillows. It would be heavenly to have some homemade bread ready for a long after midnight treat, so I must stop writing and see if I have any cinnamon in the pantry. I’m going to fill this house with the heady scent of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Embraced…

The biggest snowfall of the year was headed our way, and for days we have been anticipating this gift. Where I live two inches of snow is a problem, so the whole city went to the grocery stores and gas stations, because we were going to get hit with twelve inches of fluffy, white snow on top of last week’s surprise ten inch snow! I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning, woke up to no snow, waited only to hear sleet hitting the windows for hours. No big snow today. Just two inches tonight landing in the dark on top of the sleet.

Snow fell softly a few days ago while I walked to the creek.

Disappointment happens to all of us. This lack of snow isn’t a big deal, though I feel sad for our meteorologist who is on twitter saying he is so sorry. Hey, it happens. I wanted to sit by the cozy fire, light some fragrant candles, called Winter, no less, and watch the snow pile up outside. While I remained cocooned inside. I wanted to have an adult snow day. I was going to blissfully read without a care, skipping the bills and emails piling up. I might have watched a movie too. Baked some pumpkin bread.

I felt rather sad that my plans had not played out right, and I took a shower, put on clothes, opened the front door, felt the sleet, and started paying bills. When I needed to call insurance, they were gone for the day due to the terrible weather. Only we didn’t have any, and they are based right here. Sigh. Disappointment finds us all. It’s how we choose to look at it that determines if we can change into finding happiness amid our personal grey sky days.

Starting down our path to the creek…

We can usually try to focus on the positive, even while we’re feeling out of sorts. A friend cancels and we can have time to talk on the phone (call a different friend though), watch something inspiring or funny, play online, paint, write and create. When we find out we didn’t get the job, we aren’t pregnant after all (and we wanted to be), when family moves away, or when a string of blah days just won’t end, we need to lose ourselves in something. Not alcohol. No drugs. Create something or marvel at a creation made by someone else. Ever go to an art museum and want to crawl into a painting? Degas’ ballerinas at the MMoA amaze me every single time.

Put on a happy face…

Someone once told me it’s where you lose time that means you’ve hit your element. Not as in multiple personalities, but where you find yourself doing something, looking up and realizing hours have passed and you didn’t notice it. Mine is playing piano, singing (though I do it alone or with the husband now), writing and walking. What’s yours? Cooking? Tinkering on an old car for fun? Crosswords? Painting or sketching? We all have abilities to create, and we can lose our disappointment in finding out what we do that is enthralling to us, and then going for it. Do your thing. You have at least two. I believe we all do.

From a night out after seeing a play last year, before the sky fell down.

This pandemic has us all disappointed, and if I shared mine with you, maybe it might help you realize I’m not always happy. Six of us were scheduled to spend twelve days in Scotland this spring, but it’s not looking good for us. But my friend was diagnosed with a terrible form of cancer at a bad stage. She told me she might have months to a year or two left. I’m sad that we can’t go to Scotland together this year. There might not be a next year, and I’m disappointed and frightened at perhaps losing my friend. Yet, I’ll still watch Scottish shows and read up on Scotland, so when I go, with my friend or without, I’ll still find it beautiful.

When I gaze at the River Dee or see the Highlands, I will think of her, if she isn’t by my side. I won’t have to explain that I’ve acquired a taste for scotch, just a wee finger or two, neat if you please, though I hope I still get that chance. We all have problems and issues that affect us, but creating something or gazing at a creation, whether it be a mountain or garden, takes us out of ourselves. It can make us happy. We want to grab at happiness and lose our disappointments. Once you find your “thing” you can while away the hours in making your world better, happier and more beautiful.

The waterfall just might freeze before it warms up. Notice the light snow?

We make this world happier by bringing a handful of happiness with us, amid life’s disappointments, and what’s more beautiful than seeing someone smile as you pass them. We can have snow days without any snow falling. We can turn any mundane day filled with endless tasks blissful by thinking about when we’ll make time to lose ourselves as soon as we can steal away. When we’re creating paths through the woods so others can enjoy the views we so enjoy, when we listen in wonder to a love song and time melts away and we’re sixteen again, or if we just sketch out our dream home we are creating pockets of happiness. We begin to be happier, and soon we are quite content. Happiness just might be habit-forming.

More flowers.

Happiness arrives amid disappointment. How would I ever have found my true love if I hadn’t been so sad with the guy who decided to ignore Valentine’s Day? When I saw the bouquet of flowers that evening I knew he was the guy for me, and I had suddenly found more than simply happiness, but the person who would be my best friend, my only lover, my confidant and my arm candy. I hope he blushes when he reads this. You deserve to have happiness wend its way into your heart. Try losing yourself in the moment. Not just fifteen seconds of quiet on a tv commercial, but that yoga class where you find your calm. Find your happiness. Make it. Create it. Dwell in it.

I’m wishing you a snow day this week. One day where you do exactly what you choose. Maybe you’ll really find some snow outside, too. And…

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

Until next week,

Deanna

Blissed Out or Stressed Out…

The sun sets later every day now.

I try to write about finding happiness in our worlds, whoever we are, wherever we live. But it feels like most people are very exhausted with this pandemic, and people are losing their patience, tempers, and are acting out rather than acting zen. What can we do, while we wait for out turn to get the vaccine? I’ll take you through my days, so you can see how I find snippets of happiness along the road.

A new scent, Winter, from a new source is a treat.

In winter, in particular, I find myself craving light. I need sunlight, which is sparse and tough to find here in wintertime. So I turn on the lights inside and burn warming candles. They make me feel cozy as the scent wraps around my arms, my body and my space. I want the gas fire to be on, for light and warmth. I remember days when our house felt cold all winter due to old drafty doors and windows. One winter we nailed a quilt up against those windows to keep the sub-zero temps out. Warmth is a blessing.

Our creek grows wider and louder on rainy days…

I also find myself wondering out on mild days when it’s not snowing. We’ve been having light, little snowfalls for a week now, and you can see how the creek rises when we receive snow or rain. Being out on the cliff overlooking the waterfall is soothing, and the roar of the rushing water drowns out all other sounds. It’s just me and the water that hurries away. I’m cold, but I’m happy. There is a beauty outside.

A little graveyard in KY. Quiet and undisturbed.

One place that is restful and hauntingly beautiful is the little family graveyard on our land, and we like to think about the people who lived and worked on this land. And then they passed away. Several of the couple’s children did in the 1800s. One son was eighteen, while a daughter made it to twenty-five. Why is the wife buried there but not the husband? Where is he? Graves tell us beguiling stories, and we have to wonder what life felt like for them. They died over a hundred years ago now, and yet the spot feels right. Peaceful. Quiet, except for the wind blowing the tops of the trees above me. I feel a kinship with them, since we know where their house stood, along with their well, and the ponds they had for their cattle.

Dinner out at a tiny wine bar and restaurant. A rare treat!

A week ago, my husband and I took time to shop at the stores in our small downtown area, though the husband can only endure about fifteen minutes of shopping! So we walked down to a wine bar/restaurant and found they had just opened for dinner. We decided to enjoy some really good wine and wonderful food, and it felt like old times, as in before the world fell apart a bit. We both liked being in this very small place, so guess where we’re going for Valentine’s Day? Yes, to the wine bar. I’m already dreaming of their dessert menu.

Scalding hot coffee with a splash of cream keeps me warm. And clears my mind.

The weather here is supposed to turn bitterly cold and very snowy, which is a huge change from the original prognosticators claiming we’d have another mild winter. When February arrives, I’m ready for mild days, so I’ll try to embrace the cold. Skiing, skating or walking outside? No way! I’ll work out at home, bake some gluten free pumpkin bread, turn on the fireplaces, and warm up in my sweats and two pairs of socks. I embrace the cold by being warm these days. Plus every winter when I think I’m going crazy waiting for spring, I read a book about a snowed in family on the frontier. It never fails to give me perspective that life can always be worse. So…think warm thoughts and push on.

Our cabin as seen from our little road.

I do like the feeling when a snowstorm is upon us. I’m tucked inside baking, and the world is muffled. Quiet. Until I hear the relentless scrape of shovels or the drone of snowblowers, and I know it’s time to crawl out and join in camaraderie or send my son out instead. Living in the back by the woods is different, because the creek is rarely quiet. Today when I lifted the blinds in the morning I spotted a lone deer making her way into a steep ravine, and later I looked out and saw the neighbor’s kids flying by on a sled. Life can be so good, and filled with quiet moments that light up our days. Think on them.

I like having too many candles and too many books.

It’s time for my story, and then I’ll leave you to your own delightfully warm thoughts about hot chocolate and being snowed in with a great book or film to watch. So, back when we lived in Wisconsin, it could get terribly cold. Frigid. My husband’s sister had offered to watch our two little cherubs so we could spend a night at a hotel. We lived in Milwaukee, and she lived in Madison, which is about ninety minutes away. The actual temp on Saturday morning was minus thirty degrees, so of course my car wouldn’t start.

Keep looking for those beautiful blue skies.

Undeterred, we pushed my car into the road, and my husband’s car was in a rickety old garage, but it offered some protection, so we took his car battery and brought inside to warm up. We wanted that night away so desperately, and the warmed up battery started his car and we took off with the kids. The real temperature outside never moderated, so we hovered around negative fifteen or so with a strong wind, but we never turned the car off until we had dropped off our daughters.

The waterfall down the hill from our house.

We tried drinking Irish coffee in the lobby, but the cold crept in and snaked around us, so we decided to take our drinks up to our room and order my favorite thing: room service! How decadent for me back in those days. To order and never move, then have a beautiful meal wheeled in for us was splendid! My husband went outside every two hours to run the car for a few minutes to keep the battery charged, even throughout the night. We loved that one night, and to this day I still think of how wonderful it was of “Alice” to watch our kids. Never mind that one of them kept her up all night saying, “Goggie!”, because she had a dog and we did…not.

If you’re feeling chilly or downright cold, then find a way of warming yourself up. Call a friend. Bake or cook or do delivery. Find the beauty in others, because kindness is always pretty. Spend a day dreaming about what you’re going to do when the world goes back to normal and write your ideas down, because this is when we have the time to dream big and small. So do that. Make your own space a little cozier, pile up pillows, blankets, and make a little fort. Watch a miniseries all in one day. Why not? Before we know it, this world will be back to being busy as usual, and we will have wished we had spent our pandemic time more wisely. Normal is coming. Hang on a little bit longer; we’re going to get there.

And in the meantime, stay happy, warm and safe.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Winter’s gifts…

This is a place to come and find a way of looking at the world in all its craziness and still find happiness and contentment. Find the beauty in this world. So why would I even start with winter? Well, this is a tough season because many of us are stuck inside with few places to go to and escape this cold, dark time of year. I’m thrilled to see the sun setting later each evening, when I do catch a glimpse of that orange orb, because winter here is often filled with low, grey clouds that do nothing to lift one’s spirits.

The beauty of evergreens is the instant pop of green I see, especially now.

I try as much as any of us to find little snippets of contentment, and some days I find it by enjoying a sunny day or going on the back porch to listen to the rush of water as the creek runs past me, or by hoping for a foot of snow. Yes, snow! I am from the Northeast where it snowed almost everyday, and large snowfalls were common. I like the muffled sound that occurs when the world is being covered rather quickly in white, and then the feeling of unity or camaraderie that arrives when the neighborhood comes alive with the sound of shovels scraping or the occasional whir of the snow blowers.

A bit of snow transforms the browns of autumn to a winter wonderland.

I enjoy going out to shovel the snow (sometimes), and last winter brought us only rain, so I’m hoping for a lovely, large snowfall. A sunny day will usually follow, and after shoveling the sidewalks and paths, it’s great to come inside to wrap my cold fingers around a steaming cup of coffee or tea and feel a great sense of accomplishment. It’s been years since I made a snowman or a snow angel or went sledding, but I remember those days fondly. When I lived up North, I liked the feeling of being snowed in for the day. Nowhere to go, except home, where beef stew and fresh bread waited since the grocery stores were ransacked the day before a storm hit. Reading a book, and then tucking into some made-from-scratch brownies using the Toll House recipe makes me happy in winter.

Just a sprinkling of snow, but isn’t it beautiful?

Another way I’ve found to bring a bit of happiness to my winter world is traveling to see my family, as in mom and dad and brother or sister. It’s winter where they live too, but a visit every February lightens my heart, as I have a spa day with mom, while dad and I watch movies every evening together. He lights the candles I send him almost every month, and we settle in for a good visit. I’m just about ready to plan my trip, and this time I’m going to look through old albums to remind me of fun days spent with people who love me. Instant happiness.

Wood ready for the fireplace, while the snow flies at our cabin.

Can you tap into ways to find happiness as we still deal with the virus? Do you have a real fireplace to sit close to in the evening or even the day? Stringing up lights inside your space will bring a cozy feeling at night. Do you have a fire pit outside? Sit close to the fire, though be sure not to burn your shoes and bring out a warming drink. Whisky or hot cocoa? You can be by yourself and surround yourself with dreams of days past or the things yet to come, or invite a hardy soul to brave the elements with you next to that roaring fire.

The flakes just starting to fly.

I do have a little story to share with you about a campfire. My husband and I were camping with some other couples, and the evening was very cool to the point where a fire was necessary. We gathered next to it, shelling peanuts and telling stories and jokes, when one of the guys yelled that his shoe was on fire! We yelled back for him to get his foot far away from its perch across the stones encircling the fire. He stamped out the fire on his smoking shoe, and we laughed at how deformed his rubber sole now looked, and all because he had been so cold he placed his foot quite literally in the fire! That’s one way to get permanently warm.

A frozen pond perfect for ice skating.

If we embrace winter, rather than fighting it all season, we can find a measures of happiness poured out into our hands. I used to downhill ski, and then I tried cross country skiing, which is actually a blast and burns millions of calories. I took ice skating lessons with my young daughter a lifetime ago, or I would run laps while she skated and learned to pirouette on ice. Hockey games are fun, and if you’ve tried to enjoy winter’s gifts and are longing for escape, I have so many ideas for you.

Baking is my kind of fun, but maybe cooking brings you pleasure, reading while candles (real or faux) burn next to you conjures up warmth. What about staying in your sweats and watching a series of movies while you use your French press to make a delectable cup of coffee, and while you’re at it, add some Bailey’s Irish whisky to that cup. Call up a friend and chat. You’ll feel like you’re sitting across a table catching up on life. Take a drive and stop and take photos of something that catches your eye and captivates your imagination. Go to a small downtown area and shop their stores. Do a zoom while watching the football playoffs. Imagine all you’re going to do when this world opens back up. Save some money to take a trip, even a small one nearby, when it’s safe to do so.

It really is the small things that make our lives beautiful, fun and happy.

Be silly. Camp out in your family room. Turn up the heat for a whole day. Read a book that takes place in summer or play songs that remind you of summers long past. Order takeout as a splurge, and make it from a really fine restaurant. Have a picnic next to the fire. Take silly pics that will warm your soul next winter. Think warm. Look up how warm it is in Key West, Florida and imagine you are there. Go somewhere warm if you’re up to it. Play for a whole day. Workout so you can take a long hike or bike ride on the first lovely spring day.

This year will see the world opening back up at some point. Let’s keep our eyes on the beauty near us now, while keeping an eye on the near future when we’ll be able to go anywhere we wish. That day is coming. This won’t last forever. And now that I’m hungry, I think it’s time to bake some chocolate chip cookies that way I like them: with double the chocolate chips.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Simplicity and tough days…

Normally, I write about lovely pursuits, but I’m going to be very real today. I think it will help me, and I hope it helps you as we head into Thanksgiving week. I’ll still write about some lovely little things as they come to mind, and that’s what this is all about: being grateful even when life is tough. I do know Thanksgiving looks different this week, and I’ve spent the whole week in discussions with my adult kids about how we’re going to “do” Thanksgiving. Safely.

The last of the leaves, finally succumbing to the chill of late November.

While I’ve enjoyed the somewhat slower pace of my days, a lot is going on. I’ll explain. Yes, this pandemic isn’t getting any better. Meanwhile, I have a daughter about ready to give birth to her second child, and we’re deep into planning a wedding for early next summer while also setting final plans in place to take that trip to Scotland with a dear friend who is fighting cancer. In spite of the crazy year, I still believe in the inherent beauty of life.

Our days are measured out for us, and we don’t know how much time we have here. I think if we did, our days would look very different, me included. Every evening, I go on the back porch and listen to that little waterfall talk to itself, and I marvel at the long twilight we see in winter. Did you notice that, too? I feel sorry for the crickets who missed out on the summer party, only to arrive weeks late and in time for a killing freeze. Thanksgiving sits on our doorstep. So what are your plans?

Candles and books make a day brighter…

Every year since my father-in-law died, I have hosted Thanksgiving. Twenty-three years now. Due to the virus hitting people all around us, we have decided to keep our number at the table small, and I’ve spent all month contemplating buying a pre-made Thanksgiving courtesy of a local restaurant, or do I roast the turkey, mash some potatoes and call it as feast? I’m willing to make everything I usually do, though I am cutting out the stuffing. I might bake just one pie rather than the usual two. My family back east are having small dinners too, and we’re zooming afterward. It feels nice knowing we’re all eating at the same time. Almost like being together.

Bright, bold flowers were fun to play with today.

So many of us are having an unusual week, and I wonder at all the homes with Christmas trees lit and sparkling, and the Christmas lights are outside too. Half of me wants to dive into Christmas mode, but I realized tonight that I never switch to Christmas until Thanksgiving is done. No one in my family wants to enjoy a November holiday next to the tree, or so they tell me. So I wait, admiring those brave souls who’ve decided to lighten up a darkened world a week or two early. I’ll be joining them on Friday.

Treasuring the days where the door can still be open. Lucky me.

Simplifying sounds appealing to me. I usually decorate my house with six full Christmas trees, but not this year. I’ll buy a fresh tree for that glorious scent of pine and maybe a flocked one, dripping with faux snow. I usually arrive at Christmas Day exhausted, and I’m done with that. I want the time to read books for fun in December, so I’m taking a step back from what I’ve done for years. My Christmas is looking quieter. Calmer. What I wouldn’t give for a slice of peace in my world. Are you feeling the same way? Yeah. We’re all tired.

Even my usual autumn decorating is minimal. I like that.

Even though I’m not holding court in Starbucks as I usually do, it was so pleasant meeting friends outside, sitting apart, but enjoying the milder autumn days. Now that the windows are closing, in both senses of that word, I want a warm fire, a cup of scalding hot coffee and a pile of books at my feet. Maybe it’s a good thing that Black Friday began a month ago. No rushing through a dinner, that used to be savored later in the day, followed by pieces of pie that we couldn’t possibly manage to eat, yet we did. And so we will this year. We have our Thanksgiving back! Small things matter.

The last breath of autumn.

Wherever you are this week, can you find some time alone to think? Time to dwell on what you’ve learned about yourself in this year in particular? We’ve had to change so much, and yet it’s the simple things that make this crazy year okay. People choosing to be kind and patient, smiling even if no one can tell because of the mask. Asking others if they’re okay and waiting for the answer. Singing “Happy Birthday” over a zoom call like we did with my sister this past week.

Just a long last look at autumn.

I’m full of gratitude for lessons learned. How to hold back on airing my opinion. Realizing we’re hungry for words from other souls sitting close to us, more than we ever could be for food. Staying off the Instagram pages of those whose lives look perfect, especially now. Not comparing. Accepting boundaries and making my own. Deciding on spending time with my daughter, rather than curling up for a whole day with a book. Even if I’m tired. Making others feel loved and valuable. Reaching out over some texts to someone who is alone. Giving.

Think how a few kind words can change someone’s day, and then change it!

There’s so much to be thankful for this year. Enjoy these last days of autumn. Savor them with a fine wine or warm coffee. Light your candles and have a fire. Be warm. Be happy. Choose happiness.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Buffeted by the wind…

Capturing this autumn’s beauty has been a small challenge, because this year half the leaves fell in a very wild thunderstorm, and since then we’ve been mired under grey, sodden skies and I’m trying to give you a taste of autumn in Kentucky and at our home in very southern Ohio. As autumn 2020 progresses, does it sometimes feel like the world is a bit out of control? The UK went into another lockdown, which made me feel very sad for them, and I think we’re all preparing for the unknown, though this time we’ve stockpiled toilet paper and hand sanitizer, right?

A rare sunny day…

On this side of the pond, many are looking forward to next spring and summer. I took a stroll around my neighborhood before trick or treating started, and I chatted with a neighbor whose daughter is getting married in a vineyard next year. My own daughter is marrying next summer, and it fills us with happiness. Looking forward to an event is different now. Before we had tickets to see plays at two theaters downtown, and dinners with friends. We had planned on hosting several dinners at our new home to make them feel welcome and loved, but most of the visiting, the weddings, baby showers or even going to church just stopped.

A wee little pumpkin to watch over my lavender plants.

How do we handle Thanksgiving this year? Should a big family gathering be tucked away until next year? Do we make certain our elderly parents or grandparents stay safely away, or is it wrong to drain their calendars of these pleasures? I think we’re all glancing at the calendar toward Christmas and thinking of how to enjoy the festive season safely. I told my husband that I only wanted to put up three trees this year (I honestly normally have six or seven fully decorated trees, with one being a real Fraser fir.) A subdued season seems in order for us. What about you?

Willie enjoying the warmth of the sun, so slanted by late October.

How do we grab slices of happiness and find the beauty in these days of troubling news? Election fears. The pandemic causing so many businesses to close forever, and when will this end? Missing meeting up with our family and friends, both close by and far away. Vacation plans shuttled away until 2021, where we hope life with be normal and raucous, full of fun and joy and freedom. Until then though we do have choices. We almost always have the choice of looking at our situation in the best light possible. How so?

My neighborhood. That sky was made to be admired, and I did. All the way home.

Starting when you wake up, take a moment to stretch and think about what your day holds, and if it’s mainly work, try to fit in some time to get outside. Fresh air, even in misty, rainy, drizzly nights is worth it. Head out for even ten minutes and find something beautiful to gaze at. Even when that thunderstorm we had ripped half the beautiful hued leaves from their tenuous hold on their branches, I opened the door to the back porch just to hear the rain lashing the trees, and hear thunder rolling eastward.

Coffee in my new autumn themed mug makes me smile, no matter the hour.

If we’re forced to be indoors again more than we like, books and films are lovely companions. Are you lucky enough to have a piano or guitar in your place? Maybe it’s time to teach yourself how to be musical. Yes, I see the images of the celebrities who have chosen drastic weight loss or new plastic surgery during this pandemic, but what fun is not eating when we have the time to knead bread dough, slowly, almost sensuously by hand, and then not eat a slice slathered in butter? We don’t need an exercise in punishment or too much denial. We need to enjoy the ebb and flow of our days as they come to us.

For one fine hour, this orange tree shared her beauty with the sunset after a weekend of grey skies filled with rain.

We need to summon the patience we all have inside us, so when se do interact with the world, we can be kind and pleasant. My husband and I decided to hand out full size candy to whoever wanted some treats last night, and we brought down some whiskey and tumblers with us. Adult treats were needed to fortify ourselves against the chill. We offered a wee dram of whiskey to the parents taking their kids out, and we met so many of our neighbors in the back of the subdivision.

They laughed at the surprise treat, and called out “Cheers!” to us as we all took large sips together. The kids were plenty busy choosing the perfect candy bar, and suddenly trick or treat had turned into a meet and greet. I saw friends from at least a mile away, and we caught up as the full moon rose up behind the bare arms of the trees in my yard. We were socially distanced, used plastic cups for the neighbors and even in 2020, we decided to make a night of fun.

Well, look. I did have a candy bar with my scotch! Caught me.
On an old table I found for a future project, we started to set up our treats. No tricks allowed.

I took a walk through the streets before the trick or treating began, and while some streets had fire pits full of wood, just ready to be lit at 6:00, with chairs and tables and candy at the ready, I was actually shocked at the number of older folks (meaning my age) who closed up their homes and turned out the lights. Just a few years ago they welcomed the kids, because their own children were begging for candy, but it made me sad to see them turn into “those” old people, who were willing to spread fun and happiness just for a time that suited them.

Why not be those older folks who make the world more joyous? Just set out a bowl of candy. The kids know what to do. Are my neighbors too poor for this? Don’t make me laugh. On my old street we’d all sit on our porches and yell out to one another, and on the warm years, we would visit and watch for the kids making their way down our street. This is what I mean by spreading happiness. It makes us feel good. Yeah, maybe it’s easier to curl up with Ben and Jerry’s (again) and watch Halloween (again), rather than wearing masks (for Covid 19 this time), sitting far from the proffered candy bars, and washing hands when it was time to head back inside, but where’s the beauty in hiding away? Turn on a light and fill a bowl with beautiful, yummy treats!

Enjoying the sent of a new candle on a chilly evening.

When I write about spreading warmth, I’m saying let’s make Thanksgiving about so much more than stuffing ourselves into a coma. Let’s tell our family or our dog what we are thankful for this year. Let’s not be so scared of the pandemic, and I understand since I have a compromised immune system, but let’s grab the rest of 2020 and make it good. Make your Christmas beautiful. Knit, bake, sing carols and enjoy the quiet this year offers us. We can have a Black Friday showdown and shove others out of our way next year. (Kidding. I don’t go near a store on Black Friday. Never!)

Dreaming of our scheduled trip to Scotland in front of a warm fire.

This year is holding our her hands, hoping you’ll find some beauty in the changes. Let’s enjoy this. Even the small things like the scent of a burning candle. A child’s delight at getting candy for free! Being thankful for food on our tables, and sending food to the pantries where others will make a Thanksgiving dinner from what we share. Let’s be lavish. On them. Makes you feel warm inside, doesn’t it? Maybe 2020 is teaching us some beautiful lessons after all.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Leaves falling in the night…

Autumn has been sending down little showers of withered leaves this autumn, because it’s been so dry. I wondered if I see any red, gold or orange trees lit from within, showing their true colors, and I did. Last evening before the cold front blew through, I did step out to take some pics of the colors, and then while watching The Haunting of Bly Manor, lightning and thunder arrived for a properly spooky experience, and then the wind howled. I didn’t know it, but my beautiful leaves were shaken loose in the storm.

The leaves as seen from my back yard last evening…

I woke up early, for me, and had to run around almost all day. I decided due to the sunshine, I would head out and find a gorgeous row of orange glowing trees and snap some pics, but I called a friend and told her I couldn’t find any. She said she had been thinking of me yesterday since she had been north and the fall colors amazed her. The only problem was they had all been torn away in the windy storm last night. All my beautiful leaves were gone!

Some changing leaves by the new fire pit…

I asked my friend what was I going to do, and she laughed and said to look at all the leaves on the ground! She meant it, but all I noticed as I walked on the trail were brown curled-up dead leaves. Still damp from the deluge, but the color had changed and they looked sad and bereft. We decided that in another week or two, the next bunch of trees would change colors, and hopefully I would get a a chance to go out and enjoy the fiery hues, before another wild storm decided to blow in. Since the weather has been interesting, I’m going to make a point of finding a lovely colorful road, and the next sunny day I’m going to head out there and feast on autumn.

On the bike trail today, sunny, and see the leaves to the side? Yeah, me too!

I decided in the middle of running around to stop at the bike trail, which is a misnomer, since walkers, runners and bikers all share this trail. It wasn’t too crowded, though for a Tuesday at 4:00, I thought the trail had plenty of people enjoying the afternoon warmth. October is a surprise gift, with some days soaring into the 80’s and other days feeling cold and damp. We all know a beautiful day when it’s here, and we emerge, soaking up the sunlight, and enjoying the cicadas and crickets who haven’t felt the sting of a frost just yet. It’s coming, we all know that, but I love their summer songs so much, that I’ll enjoy their music for as long as they’re around.

A warm fire at the farm this past weekend…

I drift through October mainly content to spend time inside, but this year I’ve been out more often than usual. We decided to have a fire outside at the cabin, and while I savored a bit of scotch, we all chose our brand of brew and told stories in the dark. Funny ones. And because my son-in-law went to high school with our daughter, we plied him with questions about the kids in his year and what he thought of the ones we knew. We laughed about embarrassing parents, and I told them one day their son would feel just like that. Thankfully, we laughed about that day being far off.

These days their son has taken to my husband, and he even says his name, though it sounds like Bup Bup. I don’t have a name, really, though I think the way grandpa and grandson have bonded is a sweet thing. They both love John Deere tractor rides, and that’s something this Grandma doesn’t do. I read and sing to him, and my daughter takes him out for runs, so maybe liking his Bup Bup and being tossed skyward for a few seconds before my husband’s strong hands catch him again is just what this boy needs. Time enough for grandmas and their chocolate chip cookies later.

My keys with my gym card, and souvenirs from Charleston, SC, London and Paris…all favorite places.

I realize I didn’t tell you a story. So I’ll make this quick. See those car keys? I have my gym card in hand, and thought it was funny, since it’s been years since I stepped in there. But I have the card, because maybe I will walk on that treadmill, but on a day like today, walking inside is a shame. Being outdoors, outside, even with all the leaves tossed to the ground, was a blessing. I held Paris and London in my hand. I take them with me to remind me that the world is small, and going to both places was a gift. How so? I’ll tell you.

I found orange leaves and had to show you…and that blue, blue sky…

My first trip to London came with a week in Paris too. My parents wanted to take my fifteen year old son on a trip to those cities, and well, there was room for me if I would pay for my airfare. Would I!? They said I was the only one of their kids who had not been to Europe, so it was my turn, and my husband was happy for me. I hung out with my mom and dad, and my son and I shared times that we both remember to this day. He still talks about our first evening in Paris, where we walked in search of our dinner, and found it at a small outdoor cafe. Amazing food, and a beautiful night. London was fun, and I have been there since.

My sweet Willie Nelson on the back porch today…

The next time I landed in London was with my husband. One week running around London and then a blissful week in Munich. We ate fish and chips at many pubs. What can I say, except we love that kind of dinner, and yes to the mushy peas. But a full English breakfast is too much for me. My husband said it was divine, but I’ll take coffee with cream and wait for lunch. I laugh because I didn’t use the right converter for my curling iron, and it fried right up, so I begged my husband to go out and buy me one. I wondered if he had found a pub and decided to stay there for three hours. Turns out the English say, curling tongs. Turns out, the language barrier exists even for English people speaking English in Britain!

My back porch, in the autumn light. And with the pandemic, our visitors tend to hang out in this space. Coffee with my neighbors tomorrow. Right here…

I loved going to those cities with my husband. I’m happy to tramp around any place on earth with him, and hopefully Scotland will be a go next spring. We had fun in both cities, and wherever we go together we laugh. Walking through Westminster is always sobering. All those famous historic people buried under the stones on which we stepped made us thoughtful. And then to wander into a pub, ordering a gin and tonic, in the city known for its gin was an afternoon delight. He found some excellent bourbons that cannot be found in the States. Wonder what we’re going to search for in Scotland when it gets too warm? I’ll let you guess.

I’m happy here at home with him too, puttering around today, sweeping up the errant leaves that blew into my porch. He took care of climbing into the attic, checking for mice. Then we settled in for more of watching Bly Manor. We have a tradition of watching mysteries and scary stuff in October. I think traditions are a good thing. November will bring its own kind of traditions, but for now, let’s focus on October. On today.

I hope your trees still have gorgeous bold yellow, orange and crimson red leaves hanging in there. Slowly falling to the ground. Enjoy them. Eat a caramel apple too. And pick out a fat pumpkin for later this month.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Sweet September Blue…

Night sweeps in earlier each evening, and the sudden change to a chilly house in the mornings is a surprise to me. September is usually still a warm month here, but it won’t be for the next ten days or so I’ve read. I decided to embrace autumn, stockpiling autumn candles that remind me of the woods ablaze with color, when only the pine trees kept their steadfast green. I miss the woods up north at this time of year, but trips aren’t really in vogue these days, so I’ll stay where some trees are shrugging off their dusty, too dry leaves, knowing others won’t turn vermillion until November.

I’m nostalgic for the days when every leaf changed at the same moment. That doesn’t happen here, so I create autumn in my home and my heart. Today I found the largest potted orange mums I have ever seen and bought them right away, adding some cute pumpkins with tall, thin stems that will look nice on the porch. I’m not ready to give into fall completely, and I adore those brave crickets who manage to stave off the frosts and live to tell their stories until November.

A cozy outdoor fire at our Kentucky farm last weekend…

Are there rules to September? Am I allowed to sleep with the windows open, only to turn on the furnace in the morning? Just for a half-hour. I savor each season as it’s handed out, which is so unlike my impetuous and impatient youth, where I waded through autumn and winter as if they were to be endured and not enjoyed. Not so now. Even those long January nights can carry warmth, love and laughter.

So I’m pulling you with me, into opening your eyes to the feast laid before us, or the one to come. Yes, the sun slips lower now, but that sweet September blue is back, and oh how the white wisps of clouds look perfectly content to sail high in the sky now that the haze has diminished. I know. It’s permanently hazy in the West, and I don’t want to hear of a hurricane. I need to know why the west is burning and can we please make it stop? The last time I was in the Northwest fires blazed, and none of us saw the mountains surrounding us. They stayed obscured, and I felt like I walked through apocalyptic days with the sun barely penetrating the daylight gloom.

Having fun playing with my candles at our Ohio home…

We can find happiness even then. Maybe not outdoors, but maybe so. I never saw the mountains on that trip, but I marveled at the gorgeous gardens, the homes built on hilltops, the thrumming of the Native Americans in the evenings just across the bay, and the shops that welcomed me as I made my way across the main streets. And did you know I stumbled across the most magical thing there? A tiny library for free. It was a very little cupboard on a post, telling people to take a book or leave one to share.

If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. Books. I love words and the way authors place them perfectly into sentences that haunt me for years. Words flavor my life, and I carry some books, read long ago, in my heart forever. Seeing that perfect little invitation to take a book, and right next to the most beautiful garden perched against a simple, humble one-story home tells me magic exists anywhere. We just have to look for it.

Placing my weekly dose of flowers in the kitchen, where we all can enjoy them…

Even in this season of smoke. Even when the weather is much cooler than anticipated. Even when a hurricane brings too much rain. Especially then, don’t you think? We can find pockets of pretty in the middle of almost anything. Every sport under the sun is being played at the same time, after months of nothing, to the point where we watched two people playing corn hole on ESPN. Now we have a feast, and isn’t it fun? I love football, baseball and basketball, but my hockey-long family is gorging on that. Every sport is trying to make it work, and I am mesmerized at how resourceful we humans can be when hard pressed!

Sweet sunset evenings in the country, after visiting the neighbor’s horses…

One summer when I lived up north in a place called Wauwatosa, I spent much of my spare time painting the trim around the windows of our bungalow. One day I decided to have rice for lunch, so I set it to simmer when I spied the paint and paintbrush waiting for me by the kitchen’s back door. I picked up my toddler and took her outside to play while I methodically applied brilliant white paint to the freshly scraped wood trim.

While I perched precariously on that ladder, I heard the somewhat far off sound of a car alarm or siren of some sort. After five minutes or so of the relentless siren’s scream, I wondered if the source might be coming from inside my house. Was I ever shocked to discover the kitchen smoke alarm blaring as smoke billowed from the pot of rice! My self-diagnosed ADD had kicked in, and I had forgotten all about that rice. I had been in such a hurry to finish the painting, because September had arrived and I knew the number of warm days were winding down. Rain and cold typically took over by the end of that month.

Seeded eucalyptus and a baby pumpkin…

I spent that gorgeous afternoon opening every window, turning on the fans not yet placed in storage, and I scrubbed the pot until I realized I had no choice but to throw it out. In the evening when my husband came home, he walked in the door and started laughing. “Burnt rice again?” was all he said, and I shamefully nodded my head yes. It’s family lore now, all the times I forgot about the rice on the stove and scorched it instead. Finally, one day my husband bought me a rice cooker, and I’ve never burnt another pot of rice again. Just don’t ask about the time I forgot about the bacon. And I did.

September brings an urgency to complete so many outdoor tasks, and back then I spent my poorer days painting. Now it’s more about making sure we have wood stacked, and bulbs planted and leaves raked, but here I have until the end of October to finish. Somehow all the Septembers of my younger years have imprinted a more hurried approach, and any chance to be outside is refreshing and welcome.

A bouquet of September blooms and grasses…

I’m sending you our blue skies from the Midwest, the Ohio River Valley as they say here. Grab a fistful of flowers and bring them inside, burn those summer or autumn candles (inside, of course), hit up a movie at the drive-in, savor the simplicity of vanilla soft serve ice cream. Play your favorite music until it surrounds and imbues your mood. I always love The Boys of Summer and play it endlessly each autumn. Take care of you right now. Others always, but in the middle of everything or nothing, remember you matter. Find the beauty in you. It’s there. Then find the magic out there, waiting for you.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Letting go of the safe…

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After midnight, with the back door slightly ajar, just enough to hear crickets and cicadas enjoying the summer night, I feel content. My cat is out there on the porch, enjoying himself, and I’m ready to write. Properly. I’ve been thinking about school. August is when most of my schools started, though as a girl in New York, we began around September 10th. Not sure why, but when I moved to Dayton, the school year began toward the end of August, and I learned how hot a classroom could be, and wished they had waited until September to begin. All of my schools after that began in August after that. No matter where we lived.

My last kid is starting his fourth college in a week, so I’ve been thinking about college days.

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I have a story for you that I think you’ll like. In my sophomore year, I left one college to get away from a boyfriend, who I felt defined me. Too much. At my new university, I navigated my classes, made good friends, lived 800 miles from home (still), and I worked making pizzas and serving wine (sometimes a little bit too much for myself), but it was a ten hour shift, so Lambrusco made it enjoyable. I learned to live without the boyfriend, but I missed my girlfriends, and so I went back to the other university for the second semester.

I gave in to my dad. Accounting instead of theater or music. He was paying, so I obliged. The man has two Master’s degrees, so I finally listened to him. On the first day of classes in snowy, cold Wisconsin, I stood at the door of Accounting 101, and being on time meant the only row available was the front. I scooted to the far side, and yes, the boyfriend decided to take his accounting class with me. We sat together, smushed right up against the professor’s desk. Not fun, but all business majors had to take this class. Had.

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Two minutes after the start of class, two guys showed up and hovered at the door, looking, searching for a seat. The only two left were next to me. I saw the boy with bedroom eyes, green maybe, but he just glanced at me as his friend took the seat right next to me. I liked how he looked, but the professor had begun. It was a tough class. I studied a lot that semester, well I had to, and I discovered Mr. Green Eyes liked studying in the library too.

My roommates were Marketing majors which I believe means they majored in going out drinking every night of the week. I never once made it to Dime Taps at Mitchell’s. I had to study in a quiet space, and the library became my new spot. Green Eyes was there as much as I was, so I finally sauntered (well, I probably loped over, but the beauty of memories is changing them to suit us) over to his table. Green Eyes smiled up at me, but those eyes, with laughter hiding behind them, were blue. I asked for help with some obscure problem, but I spent the whole time wondering if he had a girlfriend.

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Turned out Blue Eyes was free. I still had the boyfriend from high school, though due to his cheating on me at least a dozen times when my parents (and I) moved from Milwaukee to Syracuse. He cheated while I waitressed and took a run each night, because I knew no one there. I thought the boyfriend and I would marry, but in my sophomore year, I told him I was now taking time to survey the scenery. Meaning other guys. He didn’t like it, but those were my rules at that time.

I flirted shamelessly with Blue Eyes, and I knew his name now too. He said he had seen my name on the homework I had to pass down to the end of my row in class. He noticed I had a boyfriend, so I explained about New York, my high school love and cheating, and somehow we began to easily converse. I liked his name. I liked him so very much, too. I knew since the boyfriend had decided I was his, after sampling others for two straight summers, that I would have to initiate any meeting with Blue Eyes. I kept the boyfriend, because it had been three years, and he was my security blanket, and I still liked him. Yet…

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I set it up so well. I told Blue Eye’s roommate that he should meet me at a certain bar where they had dancing on Fridays, and to look for the blonde from his class, if he was interested in me at all. I didn’t set it up with Blue Eyes directly, because what if he gave me a flat out no? When I turned up at the bar with my friend for support, he was dancing with his old girlfriend from high school. What is it about our high school romances, that they follow us out of the corridors of lockers, and stay with us long after graduation?

I turned away to leave, because clearly Blue Eyes wasn’t there to meet me. Suddenly I heard him say, “You can’t leave. You haven’t met me yet.” My roommate smiled and gave me space. Gave us space. We still don’t know what happened to his ex that he was dancing with.

We chatted and danced, and later, after a slice of pizza at two a.m., we walked to his dorm and talked. All night. Nothing else. But we had so much in common. It felt uncanny, how similar we were, about our days in high school, and what we did, who we were then, and where we were trying to go now.

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Do you believe in destiny? I have to, because no other explanation exists. I should have gone home to Syracuse to finish my schooling at that prestigious university. But I was angry and tired of moving, so I stayed behind. And our last names are such that I usually sat next to him in our classes. Accounting is not a popular major for a reason. I was Engle. He was right next to me. Eppers.

When I graduated university, I took my number and climbed the hill searching for my place among the E’s. I finally found it, and who should pop up but Blue Eyes. Eppers. I graduated five seconds before he did, though he is in my formal graduation photo, due to him being next. Yes. We sat side by side, and I guess our parents thought that was cute. Eppers had become my boyfriend, and I had left behind the security of a boyfriend who wanted to marry me, but only after two summers of cheating that hurt my soul. I gave him up. And went forward with Blue Eyes. With destiny. With hope.

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I chose Blue Eyes. My heart chose first, and then my head followed. And do you know, I had to take the CPA exam next to my very serious boyfriend? Engle. Eppers. Fate? Yes. But making the leap from the blanket security of high school, which reminded me of when my family still lived close by, to taking a chance on a man I met in class? That took courage. For me. I fell in love with his eyes first. Sexy. Kind. Bemused. Flirty. Funny. And then I decided to live in Wisconsin after graduation, because I loved him.

I jumped. Into the unknown. I had no idea that we would marry. Blue Eyes was smart and handsome and had so many opportunities to cheat or to change to another woman. I took a chance on a forever with him.

My point in your happiness comes down to this: Do you stay with the familiar, the comfortable just to feel safe? What if your happiness means you have to take a jump into the unknown, not having any idea how it will turn out? I learned to jump. To trust myself first, which I did by going to a different college to “find” my true self all on my own. And once found, I did hang onto the safe, for a time. But oh! the happiness that lies at the end of possibilities is worth a jump.

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To be happy, I think we need to know ourselves. And when we do, we know which way to go. When to jump, and when to pause. When to move forward with confidence, even if we don’t feel it yet, or when to wait. Happiness arrives at the least expected moments. I willingly gave up living by my family to spend a life with Blue Eyes in Wisconsin. I made the right choice. I’m happy with him. More than happy. Blissed out. Overwhelmed that God set me on a path to meet a remarkably gifted, intelligent, funny, sarcastic, sexy man who would be the father of my children.

Happiness. How do we capture it? How do you find your happiness? Is it fate? Destiny? Maybe not, but I know you have to sometimes choose the less traveled path. A path that might not make sense. Blue Eyes made me so happy that even though I lived sixteen hours away from home, I made a home with him. My soul found a home in him. With Blue Eyes.

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Trust me. It was hard to explain to the old boyfriend that all his cheating had hurt my soul and nibbled away at my confidence. How could I even imagine walking down an aisle to that? Our hearts need safe havens where we can rest. Mine is with him. Blue eyes. I handed him my heart on a January night at his place. He knows when. I chose to make my shelter with him on a late March day before spring break. And I waited for him to propose.

When the day arrived and I walked down the aisle, feeling awkward as I made my way to the front of the church, suddenly I saw him. I could walk confidently now. To him. He had my heart, and now I was simply handing it to him in a public manner, in front of all the people we loved.

Friends, happiness is real and out there. You have to let go sometimes to find what you want. And need. Let your heart find rest, and may we enjoy this summer, grabbing at moments that bring us bliss. Maybe it’s your turn to jump. Time to take that chance.

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

Until next time,

Deanna