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.

beautiful embrace…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

 

Arms wide open…

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Let’s sit and catch our breath. I wanted to write before it all happened yesterday and I can’t get over it. Can you? The kids, at school, who will never come home from school ever again…    I’m going to purposefully turn to what I can control right now, because, we, the lucky ones, have lives that go on, thankfully, mercifully, wonderfully. (And if not, look at my last post.) I’m changing gears here. To the happiness we find where we are. Even in tough weeks we can grab it. Touch it. Feel it.

Today I decided spring is here no matter what, and so I started switching the season in my Ohio house. Notice the lighter pillows? The cranberry ones went away until cranberry season.

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What make me supremely happy are these warm, wistful days that you can’t hold onto. You can try to hang on, but all you get at first is a snippet of an afternoon to grab your iced tea, open a window or three and feel the freshness of the day wash over you.

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Do you see my cat, Willie Nelson, looking out at the seventy degree day? He’s as happy as I am today. We watched the robins tussling with the cardinals and sparrows over the seed I placed out there this morning. Rain did meander her way across the skies, but I dodged the raindrops and enjoyed running errands.

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Oooh. Right now I hear the faraway call of the night train on her way to somewhere. Anywhere.  The whistle makes me feel cozy and happy, and I revel in the freedom of following my heart to other cities. I could get up, head out and go. (I won’t.) But doesn’t the mere thought that you could, right now, just get up and leave, somehow make you feel lighter and happier? We both could do that. Just dreaming about it is fun.

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The call of the train is so loud tonight, that I even hear the low rumble, and I hardly ever manage to hear that.

Do you feel cooped up and penned in sometimes? Like tomorrow is another wintery day where you get up in the dark, brush your teeth, go to work, or school, or watch the kids? Then home to a hastily made dinner or hockey or soccer practice? Piano? Watch the same show on tv again. Mindlessly numbing? Then back into bed. Escape in your dreams. Ah, but dreams come true. Wait for it. Plan for that dream of yours. That trip on that night train, so to speak.

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That’s why the train’s call gives me shivers. You and I could go. Somewhere. A place that is warmer, drier, higher, by the sea, by that river, in the country. Anywhere but here. But… we can be happy where we are. Why? How? Bad things happen to good people. How do we even?

Because we know we’ll focus on what we can change, do our best to the people around us and find ways to enjoy the time given to us. And that’s where my pillows come in. And my flowers. And the open windows.

 

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Today I decided to revel in spring. We might have six more weeks of snow, sleet and ice but I’m calling it. Spring! I even took a walk looking for (desperately hoping for) crocuses, but I didn’t see any yet… So I brought home these pretty pink tulips that smile at me all day long. And the white roses? From my love, of course. I love the greenery he added, himself. Pure white love in a vase of sweet roses.

When I brought out the pillows that aren’t a perfect match for the front room, I decided to like those spring-y pillows anyway. Because you and I know some secrets that younger ones have yet to discover.

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We can take a drizzley day in the middle of February, when we feel fat from too many chocolates and champagne, or steak and chardonnay, and we turn it into the best day. Warmth? Yup, I’m in. It could be fifty-five degrees and the window would still be open because I decided I’m done with Old Man Winter and, besides, the robins are here. Springtime! It is on! And seventy degrees is blissful. Revel in what you have. No snowdrops in your garden? Roses in the house are magic. But really, we don’t need flowers or pillows to make this a happy day. We need our minds. They take us everywhere.

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That train I hear calling goodbye goes all the way West. Want to go? We can plan for that day. I want to head out and see DeSmet, South Dakota. Because my favorite author lived there and wrote all about it. I still haven’t been there, but just tonight I asked my love if he would go with me, and I got a great, big, “Yes!”. So, someday, even if I’m eighty, I’ll go. And knowing that makes my heart sing with happiness.

 

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Oh, please find your things that make you happy. On days when the news is bad and you want to crawl back in bed until sunny days bring better tidings, you need something to look forward to. To pull you through.

Develop your interests. Don’t be bored. Not ever. Find the things you love to do, and pretty soon you’ll have a bunch of people deciding they want to go to DeSmet, South Dakota with you. They might not know why, except you’re super excited about it, and happiness spreads. Your happiness will spill over. Today. Tonight. When you hear the call of the train, miles from home. When you open your windows and throw back the curtains. When you delve into your passions, your dreams, your hopes. Be happy. Today, tonight. Tomorrow…

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Until next time…

 

Choose happiness…

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I found this sign the other day and absolutely had to have it. This is my mantra, my hope for you, and what I strive to be even when I’m doing laundry or having a sick day. This sign is by my laundry basket that always seems to magically fill every day. I always suspected my kids wore an outfit for two hours or two minutes, changed, and put the (still clean, really) clothes in this basket and blithely moved on, while I had the washer going all day. Though when I saw my daughter spraying Febreeze on her shin guards and her shins, after a soccer game, I decided to stay mum on the loads of laundry I labored under.

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Then I decided to be happy in my pretty room. The girly, no guys allowed room. It’s my oasis of peace and calm and I read and sing in there and thoroughly enjoy the pink. But happiness is easy when we’re in our happy place, our space, our peaceful refuge. That’s too easy, and doesn’t work for very long, because we have to, ahem, work.

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Can I be happy while I’m editing my book, searching for the right words and not using be verbs all the time? Yes! That’s the window under which I write (see, I didn’t end that with a preposition).  Every paragraph is work, and it’s about a dark subject, but I’m still happy, or try to be, while I edit every page. We all have to work, so why not be happy while we do our work? Mainly happy, maybe? Nah, let’s go for really happy.

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Can I be happy walking by the cow picture my husband really likes, and me, not so much? Absolutely, because other people’s happiness brings a smile to us, especially if we don’t feel like happiness is a competition.

 

 

When my world is tilted and my view is limited, I’m still lucky and blessed. Do I see it that way? Do I choose happiness during another migraine? I’m learning to. Going to watch my daughter play Varsity basketball while I had a migraine, and seeing her sit the bench for the first quarter taught me a lot. She learned to cheer and be positive for others, and I learned to wait, be patient, cheer (quietly, ah my head!) and choose happiness. Even if she didn’t score. Even if she cried. Happiness. Claim it. Own it.

I found the perfect place for this pretty little sign that cost me a song. A place where my family might see it, and I will, every…single…day.

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Find a way to remind yourself to look on the bright side. Be happy. Choose it. Start now. Have a beautiful week. Until next time…