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.

 

grace and gratitude…

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Today was rainy, gray and dark, so I poured myself another cup of coffee, lit some candles and went to the couch to read and pray. Yes, I try to stay on track, but my mind wanders. The coffee helps.

Gratitude is splendid and sets my world aright. When I’m feeling down or overwhelmed by people and their problems, I change my outlook and turn it upside down. How? Let’s say I’m putting away my husband’s clothes, and I’m tired of matching his mismatched socks. Where the other sock goes is a mystery I hope to uncover someday. But I thank God for my husband, who is busy at work, again, day after day, often working eleven and twelve hour days. I pray over him, his life and I thank God for him.

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If you’re busy feeling thankful for a person, you’re far less likely to feel anger or annoyed by them. So say out loud how thankful you are for all those “problem” people in your life. You don’t know how much longer you have with them. Be thankful.

 

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That little picture above? Was given as gift to me years ago when I had no money and cold only accept this gift and not reiterate. I treasure this and each year place it on my kitchen windowsill so I remember the joy of Christmas. Yes, it’s a secular view, but that goes along with the message of the birth of Jesus. I remember the reason for the season.

I’ve long forgotten the beautiful soul who gave away so many of these pretties, but I look at the picture and remember being so little and excited about Santa’s visit! I slow down and try to remember Christmas is a gift. Name the reasons why you are thankful right now. Even our problems can be blessings in disguise, teaching us patience, kindness and mercy.

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Make time to sit and reflect on your blessings. Name what you are thankful for right now. One time, when I was so sick and about to have my bladder surgically removed, because the lining has disintegrated and I felt the acidic burn every second of the day, and someone asked me what I was thankful for. Really? My hair was falling out, my two children needed constant attention, I was using opium suppositories for the unrelenting pain, and my street was being torn up with new sewers going in. And my husband was working more than twelve hour days. Thankful? Seriously?

 

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But she was serious. I was thirty-two, my family lived 1000 miles away, and I kept driving to the Mayo Clinic for tests. They did not want to do the surgery because I was “too young”. Too young for this pain? Too young to have this “middle-aged women’s disease”? I quipped, “I’m thankful that I can see.” That’s it. That’s all I said. And now I look back at all that happened that awful summer and I see more blessings.

 

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I had angels in disguise watching my girls as I stayed in the hospital for eight days after the eight hour surgery. When I came home, I couldn’t stand up straight, but I walked around the block every day. I’m thankful for my surgeon’s skilled hands. I left her a note on my body, written by a nurse trying to calm me down pre-surgery, that said, “I want to have another baby.” So my surgeon took care with my body. She told me she hoped I could have another child after my body healed. What a sweet surgeon to care about that for me.

 

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I had another baby two years post-surgery. It was touch and go, but I’m thankful for my son. For the people along the way who helped me. My neighbor who knew I had surpassed my limit, since I was yelling at my two kids in the bathtub that awful summer, and she asked if she could take them for an hour. Blessed peace. No road work sounds. Just silence. Thank you Judy. I’m grateful to this day.

List them. Write them out. Speak them out loud. Your gratitude. Even for the tough times. Maybe even especially for the rough times, when we learn so much.

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

Until next time.

Toasting to trying the new…

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It’s been years since I’ve faced down a jam packed December, and I remember why I like them that way. I woke up and threw coffee down my throat, hurried through my list of chores, and then had fun with dear friends catching up over chai tea lattes. Mailed every Christmas card after that. Came home to  snuggle with my eleven month old grandchild, and suddenly the afternoon had melted away.

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Suddenly, my husband was home, saying we were late for dinner downtown. I hadn’t even chosen what to wear, but I threw on something suitable, left my house with my daughter and grandchild still here and made it in thirty minutes to dinner. Interesting. My husband had eaten there before and didn’t like it so much, but every place was booked, since we were seeing “Hello, Dolly”, afterward. Dinner was…burnt. I must not be an incredible foodie, because some people seemed to be enjoying the very limited menu.

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(I like snow globes. Musical ones are even better.)

Dinner. I eat. I like to think I’m open to new ideas in food, but the risotto was crunchy. In fact, everything we ate tonight was burnt and dry, and that’s the way it is supposed to be served. I have a new name for the restaurant. Burnt. Maybe Toast. The only thing not burnt or charred or dry was my wine. The very kind waiter asked if we had time for dessert, but even that menu looked dry. Chocolate mousse with peanut brittle mixed in? Nope, not feeling it.

 

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We went across the street and I found chocolate. I bought some right before the curtain went up. Another great musical. We just got back home in time to see my son visiting the food here after a tough week at college.

So, I promised to send inspiration every day for a month. This is what I learned today. Try new things, even if it’s not your cup of tea. You must might like it. Actually, the chai tea latte was the first I’ve had in years, so that turned out to be a fun surprise. And seeing my grandchild marvel at the Christmas tree lights was fun. His first Christmas. Lucky me.

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The whole day felt like a blessing. I ran out of speed at the end of the musical. I have lupus and get tired easily. Tomorrow is a full day too. So it’s off to…read. Not bed! Soon though.

Are you up for trying something new? Today, if possible? This week, definitely! You might find something you really like. And if not, you can laugh about it afterwards. Happiness and laughter shared with others is wondrous. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. Not all days can be like today, no. All fun and play. But maybe that’s something to keep in mind, for you? Have a full day, full of fun. Enjoy every drop.

Wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

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.

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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…

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…

windy evening promises…

I’m in Kentucky again. For a girl from upstate New York, I sure love my Kentucky time. I don’t know what weather you’ve been going through, but here? Rain with a touch more rain, so we enjoyed the miracle of a rain-free drive down singing with the radio at the top of our voices, all the way here. After we arrived and the house slowly warmed herself (and us!), my husband made a fire and I lit the candles and listened to the rain lash the windows and roof.

The fire snickered to herself while the hollow sounds of winds whirling made me burrow into my blanket on the couch, and then the most wonderful thing happened. Before my husband went to bed, we both stood on the upper back porch, and I heard it! The peepers or tree frogs or whatever they are called. They’re the little frogs that make a ruckus early in the spring by our ponds. (I discovered more hidden ponds this way.) With the mourning doves cooing and the peepers singing, spring arrived tonight.

I know more days of cold will visit me, and the grey days full of sodden skies will linger longer than I like, but…the tops of my daffodils resiliently push through the dirt, and I hold my breath, wondering if they know more than the weather reporters? I need spring, with her flirty ways. One moment she’s full of promise, showing off tulips and dogwoods in bloom, and the next day she ices me out, bringing an unwelcome snowfall. But I’m tentatively hopeful. And happy. Does spring do that to you?

You caught me. I’m watching Katniss Everdeen take on her world, while I wonder if it’s time to shed the weight of winter, the good and bad and grab at happiness. Can we all do that? I feel lighter already. Yes, a fire dies at my feet, but the window is open. I love open windows. Does it go back to being a child, when my grandma and I shared a room with an open window, bringing in the scent of lilacs, and freshly cut grass? Happiness is found. Created by us. We can chase her down, finding her in the wind, a warm fire, a delicious book, or a wonderful conversation.

Don’t waste your time on negative thoughts that bring you down. Be optimistic. Not cautiously so either. Go full in! Dive into your days. Make each one special. How? Sip wine with a sunset. Listen to Andrea Botticelli sing with Ed Sheehan. Buy the flowers. Remember the spring when you first found love. Me? I remember so much, too much, that I could write you every night for a hundred years. I used to open my window, sit at my desk and write into the night (I still do) with the wind puckering at the gauzy curtains. I remember falling in love over pecan cookies, shared on the spring grass at college with my boyfriend. The one man who made loving as easy as breathing. I just had to look at him. And I knew. I would stay 1,000 miles away from my family to make him my family. His eyes told me all I needed to know. And we still don’t know why we were eating pecan cookies, since we both dislike them so much! Who cares what you eat when love wraps you up, just by his voice, his eyes, his smile? I love spring…

While that boy who ate pecan cookies with me in spring, sleeps in the bed in the next room, I linger, longing to write you of love, promises and beauty. Find spring where you are. Search for her. Then go deeper and find that hope in you. Chase down your dreams, your love, your children, your God. Find the happiness in music, in singing in your car. In a fire with open windows. In the lonely sound of a windy night. Crawl into your bed and feel it. Go ahead. She’s all yours for the taking. Happiness.

until next time…which just could be tomorrow…

Taking the long way home…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

brownies, cookies and two sweet ladies…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Summer’s Slow Farewell…

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Summer’s Bliss…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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