Changing into happiness…

This “road” used to be well-travelled in the 1800’s…

I’ve been gone from this blog for a good reason. We moved. Changed houses. I loved my home surrounded by trees but it sat on such a teeny lot, so when this stately home came up for sale with acreage and a waterfall at the creek below, we scooped it up. 20 days later our home sold and I was living in the middle of another renovation (which I said I would never go through again, so the joke is on me). And I had so much to do. Change sat on my bed every morning waiting for me. Do you embrace change? Any change?

Willie Nelson loves the screened in porch…

I think change is good for us and our mental well-being. Seriously. Moving to this house made me see things differently. I went through box after box from 19 years of living in one house, and it felt good to rearrange and yes, toss out. I am the queen of throwing things out. I want to feel unencumbered. But change? No thank you. Except, we grow through change. You need a new view. A casting off of the stuff that weighs on you. All those photos waiting to be printed and placed in that scrapbook project you worked on five years ago. Let go…

Cookies from Coffee Emporium were a mid-day pick me up…

I’m not saying you should move. Though it does make you evaluate so much of your life. But you can change your view. Move your furniture around and place those vintage framed pictures just so. Sit by the window while reading your blogs. Eat dinner outside. I knew a couple who breakfasted out on their porch, fueling up on coffee and biscotti. What a beautiful way to see the world as it wakes up. Though you know me too well. I’m asleep then, but come midnight, I’m walking outdoors hoping for shooting stars.

a summery scene from our farm in Kentucky…

Listen, I never thought we would go through this ever again. Living with dust. No running water. Sean, the guy working on the master bath, lived in that small room. I think he spent some nights in there too. And I feel like I need to invite the painter, Bob, to our Thanksgiving, because he’s been here for two months! And I didn’t get to our farm much, since we have so much to finish here. We still have boxes lying around and I’m wondering where my grandma’s potato masher went.

Bourbon on the front porch in Kentucky…

We couldn’t leave the house much. We’ve missed our farm so much. But we’re enjoying the changes here. Now? When it rains, the creek below our house roars! We’re told many old-timers used to enjoy taking a canoe down that creek and over the Class III rapids! Crazy!! But the change has changed us. We’re in this home for the long haul. And this change of view? The quiet this home offers us? Is beautiful. A big sigh and a shaking off of the frenetic world just down that long driveway. Change your view. You’ll find out more about yourself and you will be happier. Just breathing in the cool (kind of) night air brings contentment and solace to our weary heads. We crave stability but why do we fight change so much?

Another day ends and I finish my walk…

Comfort calls. We are mostly creatures of habit. Some of you mavericks out there plunge into the rapids and shake off your cares so easily, but the rest of us? We need to push ourselves into doing something new. Find a different chair to sit in. This doesn’t have to be a “we’re moving to China so I can see if I’m happier there”. The subtle changes expand our minds and hearts. The night my whole family sat in Charleston,S.C. facing down a platter of escargot. And we all slurped them down and laughed. We ate that stuff and survived. I’ll always remember our first trip to Charleston.

friendly horses are our neighbors…

With one full month of summer left to us, why don’t you change? Read the new before heading out for work. Grab coffee and sit down and focus on the taste. I throw back shots of espresso, when the iced coffee I slowly sipped later this afternoon brought happiness. I was hanging out with my girls, in the bohemian chic part of Cincinnati. Surprise! We have it here too:). Grab your kid and go to a ballgame. Eat the hotdogs. Laugh and yell. Try to catch a foul ball. Then go home and sit in a different chair to catch up on Yellowstone or Stranger Things.

Cool bourbon on a steamy night on the porch swing…

I know we’re blessed to have a beautiful farm and this larger (just when we became empty nesters too) new home. We had little homes for so very long, that I am beyond thankful for this. Back to your point of view… When we’re almost to the farm, we drive rolling back roads and count how many people are whiling away the afternoon just sitting on the porch. Not reading. Not playing any games from what we can see. Yes, our neighbors sit and watch the world go by. Do that, would you? Look for late season fireflies. If you’re lucky enough to live in a bustling city, then open your window and let the sounds find you. Sit at an outdoor cafe and watch. Just enjoy the people around you. I wish you armfuls of happiness this August.

Until next time…

The wonder of wandering…

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Who takes a trip to see family in mid-December, with plenty of wrapping, baking and card writing waiting back home? Looking at all the people in the airport today, swirling with moms soothing toddlers and couples sitting this-close to each other and the long lines of passengers waiting for a cup of patience, either at the bar or my personal favorite, Starbucks, I’d say a good many do. My oldest had time between semesters, ┬áso a trip back east sounded perfect.

We begged my dad to show us some honest to goodness Amish farms, and out there in the country we found a pond, freezing over. Another week of very cold air and some lucky kids can skate and slide until their toes turn frosty cold.

 

 

My father obliged the two of us and we wound through the hills, knowing the farms would be magical, thinking we knew best and then… we fell in love with the winding road that brought us to some mid-century homes complete with electricity, tucked into the hills and hollows of the land. I think sometimes we go out searching for what we think will make us happy and are taken by surprise when our heads are turned in a different direction.

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The Amish farms were sedate and quiet on this Wednesday, so we wandered further afield and found an afternoon filled with pure joy! I spent the day with my dad and daughter and wandered around aimlessly until the car turned into a quaint village, almost like the town from It’s A Wonderful Life. I fell in love with the shops, and while my dad made friends at the pub down the street, my eldest and I discovered a shared love of all things vintage. Who knew? We sampled teas and chocolates, oohed over fragile glass ornaments that couldn’t possibly be taken home, and found treasures in the $5 and under closet at the men’s haberdashery. I bought a tartan blanket, some Christmas signs and potpourri. Purchases that would arrive home intact and ready to make our homes feel cozy and festive.

 

 

By the time we turned back to wend our way to the pub, our fingers were cold but our hearts were warm as toast. Then the pub topped off the day, so sweetly. We all ordered off the menu and ate our dinner while watching the attached hotel fill up with travelers and other shoppers seeking respite. My mom waited back home, but we knew she needed a little break from us (can you imagine?), so we chatted up the bartender while we feasted on fish and chips.

 

 

I drove home, since coffee and tea were my choice yesterday, and the twinkling lights and small towns called me back to the places where I once played, long ago with cousins and a grandma who fried chicken for dinner with no thought to cholesterol. And when I felt my heart burst with gladness, we topped off the night with a movie. Dad dropped into sleep rather early, so we sought out my mom who regaled us for hours with stories of Christmas in the 1940’s. Do you find moments of wonder in the unexpected? Isn’t it beautiful to listen to the ones who came before us? Who might know secrets we have yet to discover? Listen. Ponder. Wonder. Wander.

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December can drive you crazy and the finish line is New Year’s Day, when you collapse in a heap, vowing to make next year’s holiday better. More efficient. I say you could go the other way. Do something unexpected this December. Take a side trip to some out of the way place. Put off the cookie baking (you can always buy them at a local bakery) and watch the pond, the rivers or the woods. Find a space in the city away from the noise. Hang out in a cafe, tucked away from the world. Who knows what you might discover?

 

 

I desperately wanted to see the Amish farms, since they are slowly being devoured by subdivisions. I longed to see a buggy with proud horses trotting gaily down the same roads I used to drive. But the Amish stayed hidden this day. The corn fields stood quiet, almost sullen. No wash hung out to dry. So we took different roads home and stumbled upon something different, and our day was better for it. We found what we were looking for in another place. Do you do that too? It’s there. This very moment…

Revel in the magic of the end of the year.

The very trappings of happiness are so elusive. Really. We’ve had frugal Christmases in our home. That’s when we focused on other things. The dinner with whatever family members decided to ride out Christmas in frozen, snowy winters up north. You would find us in the kitchen, close to midnight, singing along with the songs on the radio. The Carpenters and Frank Sinatra. Half of having happiness is making your own happiness, filled with a good measure of kindness.

 

 

I hope this December has brought you lapfuls of contentment, but if you’re struggling, you’re not the only one. You have a lot of company.

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Don’t fight the twists and turns. They’re leading you somewhere better, someplace beautiful. We have so much to learn.

There’s an old Icelandic tradition on Christmas Eve, where they exchange books that evening, snuggle up in warm chairs together and read, while they eat chocolate. Chocolate!┬áThat’s my kind of holiday, and we’re doing that this year. I told my family I must have Icelandic roots, because books and chocolate would keep me happy for days.

Grab onto your traditions. Even if it’s a new one.

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Look for the beauty down the road. It’s there. You might find yourself standing in the middle of a road you never thought you’d be on. There might be something to learn, something to savor or something to celebrate. Grab your slice of happiness and bring a cup of it to someone else who needs that right now.

I hope you are somewhere cozy and safe tonight sweet friend. Be happy.

 

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