Dark eyes of the soul…

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What’s this? A window with wooden slats open to the night. Big deal? Yes, to me it is a big deal, and I have to stop writing to close out the dark. I’ve always hated seeing the windows open at night, unless it is warm out, because I feel the dark pressing against me. The dark has no soul, and I don’t like the bottomless pit of these soulless eyes peering at me. Watching me. Silly, huh?

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Except it works the other way by day for me. I felt all warm and happy inside. Just lit up by my screened in porch, with the pillows set for summer (oh cold weather, please leave for the upper North), my Boston ferns happily perched on the floor, and I look outside. All is bright, lit, the sun shines with a wisp of cloud scurrying by to join the rest of his friends. Must be a wayward cloud. Happily enjoying the gifts of this day.

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I shutter out the night, except the whole set of front windows have no curtains, no sheers, because those beautiful windows rise from the floor to the ceiling. I cannot bear to cover them up, but at night, when I’m alone, I feel like dark’s eyes are on me, watching my movements. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but it goes back to childhood. I had two windows that “screamed”. They made a high pitched whistling sound, and at five, I imaged all the monsters screaming for me.

My mother told me they were angels singing me to sleep. If that’s what angels sound like, I thought back then, who wants to spend any time in heaven? I’ve since changed my mind and made an easy pace with whistling, not properly sealed windows. I’m good with the angels. All is well.

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So I shutter out the dark, embracing the lights and the warmth within. Which brings me to you. How are you holding up these many, many weeks that droll on? An end is in sight, though cautiously. I went to the market and picked up tulips. Yellow is a happy color, don’t you think? Plus, I asked for just flowers for Mother’s Day, no chocolate, so I couldn’t very well buy a massive arrangement to brighten up my springtime home, could I?

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Are you looking forward to getting out more, being able to go more places, even with all the rules laid in place? Are you cool with isolation and hoping it goes on for a while longer? For the first time, tonight, I felt the strings of regular life pulling on me. I’m ready for full on summer. Are you? And I just cancelled our beach home for June! We will go next year. In the meantime, Im enjoying every sunbeam that floats my way, just like Willie is on the porch.

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Aren’t we told to soak up the sun? I think it’s time you decided what you’re comfortable with and do it! One thing. I’m going to get a pedicure and relax. Not say a word. And I might putter in the garden and pick some fresh lavender. Do you see it growing, in spite of the cold we’ve had? I think gardening is a blessing; you get so much in return. Hand sunk deep in cool soil while placing the plants in their dirt for the season feels right.

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The pics with sunlight make me smile. Even if Willie snuck into yet another photo. I love this light, so full of soul. The energy coming from the windows is bright, effusive, welcoming and happy. Ah happy! You knew that was coming. I love seeing the slant of the sun as it makes its pass in the sky, sailing high above our heads. I feel brightened. No dark, soulless black pressing against me.

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Wherever you are, enjoy the gifts of spring. It costs nothing to wake up and listen to birdsong. Though when I was in LaConner last summer, the birds began their racket at five a.m. Yay for morning birds. I learned to drink more coffee on that trip.

Flowers picked from your yard are free and smell heavenly. You can rearrange your rooms to make it feel happy and friendly. These extra days at home can bring simple little bursts of happiness. I’m not talking about that pint of Half-Baked by Ben & Jerry’s, though it is yummy. I was thinking of how we can enjoy the length of each new day. The days are still growing longer, and I heard tree frogs making a racket when I was at the farm in KY last week. Simply happiness is in the small things. We just have to find them.

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As the sun sets and I bid you a good night, think about your little bits of happiness. In isolation. Wearing masks. Being socially distant. The whole world is together for once. It might not be fun living through a major historical event, but there are small moments of happiness such as mac & cheese for dinner. The cheap box kind. Or a warm strawberry just picked. Hearing the owl hoot in the woods behind you. Buying a Boston fern for all summer and autumn. Maybe some lavender for by the kitchen window? Why don’t you fill your home with soul? A happy soul. Find it, and when the night creeps in so stealthily upon us, we won’t care. Choose happiness.

We’ll have so much light and happiness in our own souls, we won’t worry what is outside our windows. I think I’m going to try that tomorrow. Tonight? I’m still going to close the blinds. Old habits and all that.

Wherever you are, I’m wishing you all the happiness in your world…

Until next time,

Deanna

Billow and blow…

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Tonight, I listen to the rushing sound of the creek just down the path from my back door. Soothing, I love the way the night winds stir up the curtains, making them billow and pucker in the breezes. Those breezes touch my hands, anoint my feet and I reflexively grab my throw blanket. Even with the world falling to pieces, in a way, spring arrives and reminds us to hope. Do not give up. Hope.

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Even while waiting in exile away from others, here in the middle, waiting, knowing it’s coming and will touch us all, we can enjoy beauty. The sighing of the evening wind that swoops and dips around our house, apartment, farm or condo. Open a window. Let in the freshness, even if the day is a mite chilly or cold. We can celebrate spring and dare to hope as the leaves thrust out their new shoots.

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We have the sweetest creek running down a huge hill from our backyard, and I’ve never had the pleasure of going down to see her. Today, I decided was the day. My husband said I would slip and fall, and what does he know? So I picked my way past honeysuckle bushes turned green, buttercups all yellow and waiting to be picked, down to the little tiny creek, and oh! was it steep. I did slip on moss and my foot fell into the creek, but I laughed in spite of myself and went as far as I dared.

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Isn’t that little waterfall gorgeous? I knew if I didn’t get down there and quick, the bushes would prevent my passage, and so I did. The creek talks to herself and I stood on old stones listening. Peace. No thoughts of how I have to stay in the house now. No thoughts of my loved ones so far from me. Will we be okay? Are we as ready as we can be here? And still the world goes on. The creek babbled along, talking about promises and of a new spring and then someday summer. It will still happen.

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I think of not seeing my parents. My grandson. And of my son, in his junior year of university, holed up here, studying until his brain feels like it cannot take another single fact, and not being able to blow off the steam in a bar full of friends and pretty girls and dancing. We all are sacrificing, but I think it’s for good. I choose to believe that. Can we try to find the good in the people out there? Some are rotten as a dying tree. But most are like us, waiting, hoping, praying. We want peace. Happiness. Is that too much?

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I have hope in us. We will emerge wanting to get away from computers and tv.s. We will put down our phones and we will connect. Today, when I ambled and partly tumbled down the hill, I heard the birds chattering, going about building their nests, preparing for life. I could hear the children farther up the creek laughing and playing. When I made my way carefully back uphill, the water gurgled and spoke. The breeze blew my hair about, and I listened. Just stopped and stayed. I had no where else to be. Why not linger and look at the trees, the beguiling sky that always mesmerizes me? Why not just be?

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I cannot make a great offering for the world. I only have my words. And tonight I hear my son laughing with friends, online upstairs. Harry Potter is on the tv, on mute though, which is my go-to default for coziness. And the back door opens to the most delightful porch, so I hear the wind and even the creek. When I sleep, I leave a window open, to hear, to not miss the thunder that arrives at night, to hear birds chattering long before a decent time, but sweet to hear nonetheless. No matter the cost, no matter our price, the world goes on. We can pause for now. And then move forward.

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Tonight or today, whoever you are, you can still feel the wind on your cheek. The breeze carries the freshness of a new night, or at daybreak we are offered the sun along with our coffee. Drink it in. Staying at home and learning to be by ourselves is maybe a thing we needed to learn all over again. I read and write. Yes, we binge watch some shows, but the true magic is in seeing my family on Zoom, watching the leaves unfurl, unafraid of tomorrow, and learning obscure Scrabble words. Wish. Hope. Learn. Cry. Then laugh.

I’m wishing you all the happiness you can find….

Thank you to all who are helping the sick. I pray for your strength. Your health. Thank you. We all will never be able to repay you. But I offer my silent thanks every day, in spite of the tears.

Until next time.

Deanna

Breezing through…

Every February it happens to me. I hit the winter slump. I’m fine coasting through autumn, where every day brings a new delight from maple trees lit up in orange to apples ready to pick, and after Thanksgiving we sail into Christmas. As fun as that is, the January respite is welcome, even if she blows chilly. But I have a bone to pick with cold and indecisive February, who has decided to grant us one more day this month. Thanks.

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By the time I pass Valentine’s Day and the beautiful flowers and chocolates, I feel ready for spring. Even small tastes will do. To open a window and hear the creek rushing from recent rains is a joy I’m looking forward to, but in the meantime, for those of us still stuck with both feet in winter, what can we do? How do we find the beauty in today and tonight? By getting out and making ourselves do something. Beyond our comfort zones.

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You’re seeing pics from my latest walk on our Kentucky farm. The day had warmed up and I decided to make the most of it. And as much as I’d like to say it’s out of my comfort zone, walking our land isn’t. I love seeing new things like this pond, above. The farmer made this pond about 100 years ago, using the clay soil to keep the water in so his cows could drink. This pond is inaccessible by spring due to all the bushes and insects, but this day? I braved the briars and felt rewarded to finally glimpse the hidden pond.

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We have no name for this pond, but the frogs make a racket each spring.

As much as I’d like to say this nature walk brought me out of the doldrums, it was joining a bowling league. Wait? Isn’t that something people did years ago? Is that for men? Who bowls? Well, my neighborhood has a bowling league and we joined. All ages were represented. My son’s friends have a team there, and I found out the first game is the best scoring-wise, getting bad and going to worst by the third game. I also learned age has no true boundaries, since an 87 year old man is in the league and he bowls with a hook! Strike after strike in the lane next to me. Impressive.

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Oh, that’s out Kentucky home. It felt so good to get back into the warmth after hours tramping outside. But I was writing about bowling. It was fun, I got to know my two teammates better and I know my husband well, so we all laughed and tried to be bowling champions. All I know is the next day one side of me hurt. Think squats. Yes, that motion over and over for three games did it to me. Come Sunday, I’ll be ready for another fun evening facing off against a new team, so I’m sure to meet more people I don’t know as well. If at all. And that’s the point.

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These pics make me ready to go back to Kentucky. This pond is called “Deanna’s pond”, since I love beach vacations and this is my waterfront view. Yeah, it’s a joke, but I like having a pond of my own. It has fish in it now. We’ve stocked two ponds for fishing fun.

If you’re in need of a reset button or want to get out of old routines, then shake it up! Do something new. Karaoke night? Hiking in winter? Euchre nights? Just grabbing dinner wherever you choose is a break. We just did that two weekends in a row. Wonderful! And then I made sure to see Swan Lake with my daughter. The one who loves the arts and used to dance, so this was a treat. I felt blessed to see such beauty on stage. A little gift from heaven came down and settled on me. It was that wonderful.

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The next night my husband and I snuck out at intermission to go to a Scottish pub and have a late dinner. Just us! We were talking about bowling and how many weeks it goes on and on the actual night, I felt abashed at using a mere 8 pound ball. Sad. But lupus has affected me, so I do my best and hope our team isn’t gunning to be number one or even seventh this year. With me? It’s not happening. But I’ll laugh and chat with everyone.

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One story before I go. On a night long ago in Milwaukee, my husband and I had hired a babysitter so we could drive to the east side and have a wonderful authentic Mexican dinner. You could buy margaritas by the glass or the pitcher, and since the pitcher was more economical, we chose that. We should have known when almost everyone in the whole restaurant looked to see who was getting that glorious pitcher full of lime and tequila. We were! Yay us!

 

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Not so fast! No yay us, because we felt it was out duty, did I mention we were about twenty-eight at this point and still dumb, to finish every last drop? Then we stood up to drive home, and wow, neither one of us was in shape to drive. No ubers back then. Taxis, yes, but we barely had the cash to cover the babysitter. So we found a bowling alley and bowled. Drinking copious amounts of water and letting the evening turn to night, we spent a long time bowling, playing it very safe. And learned a lesson. Margaritas by the glass are better for two people. By far.

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Hopefully, you’ll try bowling at least once in your life. And then find a group activity or a solo endeavor and do it! Shake off the cold remnants of winter. Wait for the winds of March to blow warmer breezes on a beautiful day, and then go out and feel the wind. Open your window and freshen the air in your home. Nothing smells as good as fresh air. Just once dry your sheets outside, no matter what the covenants say in your neighborhood, and that night, climb into the stiff sheets and drift to sleep smelling the freshness of the day.

Who knows, you just might have dreams of the one new thing you’re going to try.

I’m wishing you all the happiness in the world today….

Until next time…

A cup of comfort…

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New Ear’s Eve. We had fabulous plans, my husband and I, to stay downtown in a swanky hotel and walk around the city until dinner at 9:00. A steak dinner with martinis, which is completely proper, followed by kissing and fireworks at midnight. But…I came down with bronchitis so we spent NYE in Kentucky at our farm, with wine and a martini for the man, shrimp, stuffed mushrooms and then the steak. Fabulous!

 

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We watched A Star is Born because everyone needs a tearjerker movie to set the mood. Thankfully, we like to laugh together, so we spent too much time taking silly pics and popping those little confetti things which are plain old fun. The fire felt good and we counted down and toasted a brand new year. I love laughing with that man. Do you have someone in your life who cracks you up even when you’re trying to be stern? That’s my guy!

 

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We need laughter. Can that be our resolution this year? To find happiness in a cup of comfort that is named laughter? How do we get through the tough times without laughter? The joyful days when we feel like the tips of our fingers graze the stars above? We laugh easily, beautifully, and sometimes until we cry. Laugh. I want you to fill your cup, no matter what you’re doing, going through or facing and laugh. Alone, with someone, it doesn’t matter.

 

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I have a story for you. When I started my first real job out of college, all the new associates were expected to pass all four parts of the CPA exam on the first try, so I worked lots of overtime and it made my head spin. I would come home, eat ramen noodles and study. My boyfriend, now husband, was working at another top accounting firm who didn’t pressure their newbies into passing the exam right away. So he went out at night. Bars, drinking, skiing. Fun!

 

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I studied every night and almost every weekend too. I worked Saturdays too. At our national training, two weeks before the dreaded exam, I asked a partner how we could have fun at training and still be ready for the exam. He said to just study. As in no fun. So yeah, I did. Except one night my roomie and I stayed out drinking until 6:00 a.m. We met Richard Petty (I had no idea who the guy with the hat and boots was, but the drinks were free), and we wandered about finding fun. Great night, but training that day felt awful. Tired, half-ill, half-drunk (please don’t judge I was 22 and dumb). Diet Coke saved that day.

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The day of the CPA exam dawned on a Wednesday. It is a two and a half day exam. My boyfriend and I drove down together to the huge, expansive convention hall. He and I separated to locate our seats and prepare and pray. Did I ever mention that alphabetically his name is right after mine, most anywhere? Engle was my name, so I sat at the table and guess who was to my right? Eppers. My boyfriend. Trust me when I say you never want to take that exam next to your boyfriend. Nope. Not good. Not fun.

 

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That’s us. Now. After that dreadful exam.    So proctors stood at every angle to ensure no cheating, and no way in hell was I going to jeopardize my career by cheating on the exam, so I kept my head down. You know how you look at all the test pages and try to figure out how much time to allot for everything? I do that. I also listen to when people start flipping to the next page to judge my progress. The boyfriend flipped his page way before I had finished the problems on page one, and he and I were evenly matched, so we usually flipped at the same time. I was doing horribly! He was on page two and why was I so slow?

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When I finally turned to page two, he was flipping to the third page. How? Why? I couldn’t look at him. Why was he so much faster than I? After four and a half hours of hell, we left the room. Done until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. So I asked him about being so far ahead of me and how it messed with my brain! I was panicking during the exam! My boyfriend told me he decided to mess with my head and flipped the pages, knowing I’d be in meltdown mode. And since I couldn’t look at him, I never saw him quietly go back to the right page he was still on.

Did it work, he asked? I fumed! Of course I felt flummoxed! And I had studied and he hadn’t, much. He “got me” just because he knew me so well. Knew I was listening for when he turned to the next page, the next problems. And then I just started to laugh. Yeah, the test was important, but for him to take that precious time to mess with me cracked me up! What an interesting sense of humor!  I loved him. Especially then, because we needed some laughs after those problems we faced down. Sheesh!

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The next two days were filled with every problem imaginable. I don’t know how we survived. We passed. I passed first, but retired long ago and now my husband does accounting “stuff” that is way over my head now. But what I love about him is he played me during the most important exam ever, of our whole lives. Our college prepared us with timed tests, too much homework and more. But my husband “got” me, understood me and decided to spend some minutes having some fun. I loved that back then, and am delighted to this day that he thought of that, when all I thought of was the clock and the exam. Laughter. Happiness that warm me even now.

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Shared laughter is beautiful. Comfortable and comforting. That’s why I married him. Well, there are many reasons, but we laughed from the start! We laugh when things go terribly wrong, because what else are you gonna do? Cry all the time? Nope. Fill your cup of comfort with laughter and you’ll feel full. And happy. Warm and loved.

That’s what I wish for you this year. This shiny new year that we haven’t messed up yet. I wish you laughter in good times and bad. In sickness and health. I laughed in Kentucky just as much as I would have downtown on New Year’s Eve. I was sick, but inside I felt warm, with wine, love and laughter. Be happy, my friends. We just get one shot at this, and why not start fresh? Find your cup of comfort. Fill it with hope, love, peace, cosiness, happiness, looking on the bright side, trying to give to others. All that. But don’t forget to laugh!

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

Until next time.

 

just breathe…

 

 

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Well, the Christmas crazies have hit. I love it. Always have. I think the more celebrations we have in the dead of winter, the better. We need more than one and a half weeks of frivolity! That magical time from December 23rd (I like the build-up) until January 2nd when my tired tree is unadorned, is beautiful, frenzied, silent, exuberant, exciting, hushed, alone, together, and ours to make the way we choose.

 

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Are you wondering what I’m saying? Make your peace with this season and find your happiness. Craft and carve it out so that Christmas Eve is the way you like. And Christmas Day and why not throw in Boxing Day, which is family game day at our home, and then New Year’s Eve Day, the Eve itself culminating in New Year’s Day. Spend some time with family or friends, and the rest of it is yours. Spend some time with you. Doing what you like. And the rest can be given to your family or friends and the people who want you with them. Give them a rested, happy you. That’s the best gift. And for you?

 

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If you want a cozy fire, with classic Christmas carols playing softly in the background, cuddled in a warm blanket, glass of wine in hand with an engrossing book, plan it. If you go to church like we do, plan for that special time. Meditate on what happened on Christmas Day. I look at our creche and sing the songs long known by heart, and I do feel it. My peace on earth, come down from heaven.

 

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Yours might look different. Santa and cookies left by the tree. Or skiing all day and enjoying eggnog at night. We all Christmas differently. If you want to change something to suit you better, try it. Remember that this is the season of giving, but it’s the little things, the smallest gifts that mean the most. A cup of chai tea latte hand delivered. A candle made by your hands. Finding a new song to love and share. Laughing over funny memes. Sharing a slice of cheesecake. Baking cookies and sending them off to neighbors.

 

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Give? Letting that car merge. Giving up a parking space. Opening the door for another human. Most aren’t aware as they wander in an unknown hypnotic state, trying to finish in time. Let’s make sure we walk through the next three weeks aware, awake and able to give, with the wisdom to stop when we feel out energy depleting. Then it’s time to mindlessly play a video game, watch a Christmas movie, or sleep.

 

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I like to look at my trees and look at the ornaments. The family’s favorite tree is the one I named the “family tree” because it has every ornament ever crafted and cobbled together by my children, by me when I was just five and all the “ugly” ornaments from the 1970’s that my mom gave me. We love that tree, more than the stately one full of glass ornaments. Precious, fresh, fragrant and perfect. We choose the imperfections. That brings up armloads of happiness, much laughter and happy memories.

 

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Make the next three weeks fun and restful, exciting and calm. Give a little and save some for yourself. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. And it will be if we make it that way, but it’s all a choice. Grab it. Your happiness. Peace. Warmth.

 

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

Until next time.

Whispers of woodsmoke…

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Well. After a month of waiting, my computer is fixed and my fingers are ready.

October is here in all her winsome ways. Beguiling us with mums, pumpkins and fat full moons with geese flying across her face in search of endless summers. But we know this is a beautiful time to stay behind and linger. Put on your sweater or hoodie and head outside. Look up at the blue skies, growing paler each day. Get ready to bring in your plants. My cats think my plants are their personal play land and litter box (yuk, I know), so I let the rosemary and fragrant lavender die each year.

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See that lovely rosemary? She’s still going strong, but I feel time is against me with so much to do. New house and all. So I’m planting tulips and daffodils together this week. I discovered living with a forest on three side brings deer in, and they think the pumpkins I so jauntily placed against trees and stairways are theirs for snack time. I look out and see so many deer tearing into the pumpkins! I love it. I keep buying more.

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Not a pretty picture, but it shows how they start nibbling on them. You should see the pumpkins ripped open and strewn across the yard. I don’t mind. this is like feeding bird but on a larger scale. Besides, I think the deer like me now.

The other evening, we were sitting outside in the screened in porch (I love this house, I do!) and heard a hoot owl again and again. My husband and I smiled and we knew all the craziness of renovating was worth it. We are blessed. We live in our same neighborhood, but in the back section, by a creek with actual waterfalls right below the house. It’s close but not too. And how it roars after a rain!

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This is part of the porch. But right now, I’m upstairs, window open, listening to the crickets cheerfully filling the night with their music. I’m waiting for the train to sound. It’s almost eleven, and I feel so cozy hearing the sounds of distant traffic and the trains, mixed in with crickets and owls. We still live in an urban area, and I enjoy hearing the announcer at the high school on Friday nights, at the football game.

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Do you look forward to that first fire inside? Outside? I do. We don’t have a place to put a fire pit until we terrace the backyard, but we are lucky to have a real fireplace here and a gas one for when I feel lazy. Oh, this pic above is before I added a bunch more pumpkins to the front door. And all the bushes are coming out next week. Just sharing. So back to autumn, I like cooler weather, even the frosty nights that sting your cheeks and make you draw in closer to the fire.

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We find happiness or peace in moments. Fresh apple cider. Hayrides. Pumpkin picking. Sweaters against bare skin. The scent of woodsmoke. Coming in from the chill to a roaring warm fire. Socks. Stars prickling the sky earlier each evening. Chili and cornbread for dinner. Comfort food. Football games (or insert soccer or lacrosse or autumn baseball). Cuddling under layers of blankets in bed. Listening to the rain lash the windows, knowing you’re safely inside. Holding the hand of a loved one. Sharing a fire with someone. Being alone with good music and a great book.

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Find a way to enjoy this month before November stakes its claim on us. Thanksgiving will come soon enough and then winter. So make a vow right now to find a fall day to get out and gaze at the trees. Drink wine or cider outside one night, even if it is chilly. Then you get the double bonus of a blanket shared with another. Laugh with delight every day. Find something that just makes you stop in wonder. For me it’s the deer who stand next to my winding driveway, acting like they own the place. And in a real way, they do.

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I’m a grandma now. I love it. Truly, as much fun as they say it is. And tomorrow, God willing, I’m going to wake up, make coffee and drink in the view and then go with my daughter and her son (my grandson 🙂 and enjoy a hayride and the goats and pick more pumpkins and yes, finally find some Indian corn for my mantle. And then? Well, I went to Barnes and Noble, because I don’t want real bookstores to become obsolete, and bought way more than I meant to, but I have a stack that my lazy cats are lying on (so much for new magazines), and three new books that I’m starting on tonight. Well, maybe tomorrow…

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But right now? My college kid is home for fall break and we’re going to watch a movie together! He went all on his own and visited his sister and nephew, which makes my mama heart smile. If only we can search for the good, the kind, the sweet, and look for a chance to complement someone or give a hand to the old and the young, this world will be more beautiful in our eyes. Let’s embrace October. Savor sweet moments.

I hope you find all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time,

Deanna

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…

Lilacs offered to a queen…

lilacs in my yard…

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

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

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

my favorite oak on our farm…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Bring on the happiness…

in sunny south Florida…gulfside…

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

drinks in the early afternoon…why not?

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

the lovely view from our room…

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

enjoying watching the sun slower sink into the west…

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

the lovely hallway in our hotel room…

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

a gorgeous floral arrangement made for sunny days…

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

turndown service this evening…with two chocolates…

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

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

Until next time…

smiling sliver of the moon…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…