Of sunshine and laughter…

Summer still lingers, even though I spied the first mums at the grocery store yesterday, and some faux pumpkins too. I enjoy summer’s long days, where the angle of sunshine reaches out to places usually hidden in shadows, but I have to admit I fully embrace autumn. It wasn’t always this way. I lived life loving half the year, and spent the next six months is a purgatory of sorts, where I waited for spring. Everyday brought an extra minute or two of sunlight, and a return to living my best life, though I loved the occasional March thaw.

Most of my life I lived in the North, as in Upstate NY, land of snowy days starting in October and running until March. Did I mention the grey days that accompanied those snows? Then I lived in Wisconsin for twenty-two years, and yes I counted. Cold. Bitter, freezing cold to the point where I watched in shock as frost climbed the walls in my bedroom, and later in my own home, spreading across the back door and hallway. That’s cold. I counted the days until spring, and then I opened windows and slipped on my shorts when it hit sixty degrees. But then we moved. Seven hours south of north.

Cows at the farm next door…

That made all the difference. We still have all four seasons, but summer lingers until the end of September, when I’m ready for evenings where the chill curls around my legs, and adding a blanket on the bed feels good, even if I do keep the windows open. Then bring it on! Mums, pumpkins, and nights spent on the back porch listening to the creek talk to itself. The owls hoot in the evening, and I start to bring out throws for nights spent on the deck, watching the Harvest Moon sail high in the sky. Did you know the Harvest Moon is in September? October’s full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Interesting….

My copper comes out in autumn. It pairs with autumn colors so well…

I fell in love with autumn one day when dusting my parents’ room. I looked out the back window and saw the forest bordering our yard drenched in crimson, yellow, bright orange and burnt umber punctuated by the evergreens. I don’t know how long I watched the sunlight spotlighting the trees, and as soon as my Saturday chores were over, I ran outside and marveled at the lightening blues in the sky. Who knew the sky changed colors with the seasons? I had no idea until I turned nine. When did the world around you become noticeable, a presence who showed herself on some days, when others were shrouded in weeping, sodden clouds. Did you notice? Do you? Now?

The tombstones from over 100 years ago, on our land…

Yes, I’m lucky. I moved to a more temperate home. But I learned so much from being in the north. Things that might warm you through even if you’re basking in oceanside breezes come January. The people in the north are friendly, once you get to know them. You’ll be invited to soak in their hot tub, as I was, drinking wine on a frigid night, with the only issue trying to get home soaking wet and hoping to not turn into an icicle. Yeah, I didn’t properly think that one through, and she lived 400 yards away from me. Northerners get things done. It doesn’t matter the temp or if the sun sets close to 4:00, so you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, and then if you’re lucky, you take a chilling 5K run…in the dark. We just do it.

the house last year….

They embrace cold, snow and laugh easily. I once attended a Green Bay Packers playoff game in January at Lambeau and froze. The people all around us laughed and cracked jokes, even though out team was losing to the Giants! They offered me hand warmers, but even I had to laugh when I told them I had hand warmers in my boot, mittens, and across my back. I still shivered. But I loved that even through a disappointing loss, the fans weren’t cussing, throwing beer or yelling awful things about the referee’s parentage. Being kind is a whole thing in the frozen tundra. I do miss the warmth of friendship carrying us through the cold and dark.

an impromptu country bouquet gathered in late summer….

Finding happiness where we are is essential. We have to make out peace with our place. I am thrilled to be where we are now, and yes, people are friendly here, but the summer days can be so hot that it seems like people spend their summer hidden inside. We learn how to enjoy the water, take walks in the cooler shade and these days we don’t have as much to distract us, so I think a whole world is rediscovering the pleasures of home. We can garden, even in a city. We can step outside and drink to the end of the day and a beautiful evening. We have the power over how we think.

Mostly. Sometimes medicine is needed. But if we’re doing fairly well, we can enjoy every drop of summer fun, listening to the cicadas and crickets. I love to light candles any night of the year, and I’m loving the fresh and citrus scents. Have you had a fish taco yet? Drank scotch neat? Binge watched a show with a lover, friend or cat? Had popcorn for dinner, heavy on the butter? Dipped your toes into a pond, ocean or creek? You know we have a creek here! Swoon. That’s my waterfront property. And I laugh with my husband, because the life by an ocean is out of reach now. And that’s a good thing.

the woods are lovely any time of year…

I loved, loved the ocean so much. I could go out in the waves and play in the turbulent waters of the Outer Banks, riptides and all. I took my kids to the pool every day each summer, and then I found out I had lupus. No big deal, right? Well, I wound up being severely affected by the sun. Sunlight makes me sick. So I’m enjoying autumn a lot more. Summer isn’t the best season for me, so I read a lot and emerge in the evenings. And nights! I’m all about loving the night. I could stay up until dawn. Seriously.

taken from high up in a tree on our farm….

That joke about having a creek as mine is funny and perfect! I made my peace with my new reality. Now I love the ponds at the farm and we have a creek there too. One that the neighbor’s cows love to cross to get to our fields. My doctor told me to embrace vacationing up north in the lands of my youth. Maine, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. And Scotland! My dream come true. Oh pandemic go away! We all want to move about the globe freely.

An August sunset is savored….

I want you to feel happy. I’m not thrilled about being stuck inside over summer, but that’s my reality. I’ve made my peace with it, and the north would be a good place for me, but my family is here now. It’s okay. Can you make peace with your reality? Can we find a way to enjoy where we are, whatever season it is, city or country, a pandemic or not, rich or poor, sick or well (you know where I land on this one), alone or with family, moving forward or staying still? I think we can. Quick! Make your list of things to do before summer slips silently away.

And then? Decide to make the most of the autumn. You might find it’s your new favorite season. It’s mine. And I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve been yearning to burn a raked pile of fallen leaves for decades. I know, it’s bad, so I won’t. Plus I have images of starting a huge fire, so I found a new….candle, yes, you know me by now, I love candles, and this promises to smell like a leaf pile burning. Enjoy the rest of August. Wherever you are.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Of owls and other things…

Almost every day, while I’m out on the back porch, I hear a diurnal owl hooting, and I feel a kinship of sorts with this daytime owl. He also calls out in the early hours of night and I’m relieved to hear another call back, but most of the time the poor, mixed up animal makes a ruckus calling out in the daytime, all alone, with no answer.

I’m a night owl, but the world operates on early birds, and I envy those admirable souls who happily rise at dawn and power through their mornings with one cup of tea or a protein bar.

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At the farm, I’ll sit out on the front porch, carrying a large mug of coffee, blinking at the bright sun. Somedays it might be ten o’clock, while other days noon approaches. I’m embarrassed to tell you that. I need lots of sleep, but I adore the night. I did the whole rise at dawn for twenty years. My children had to wake up at six, and I would go out for a quick three mile run while they showered. Later in the day, once I had gathered my wits about me, I’d think about taking a quick run because I hadn’t yet worked out.

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I completely forgot the morning run! Essentially, I was running while asleep. I’d go to bed by eleven, and volunteer at the school, helping children learn to read, and at nine in the morning, I was falling asleep to the drone of a lone voice making sense of the letters on a page. Madness! I don’t fit into this world. I tried for thirty years, and finally have succumbed to my natural clock. Just like that owl who loves the daytime.

I wonder if he/she feels out of step and somewhat lonely. I know, these pics don’t fully explain my life. I love being at the farm, only I’m the last one to join it. And the flowers? Well, whenever I create a new bouquet, I like to gaze at the colors and profusion of colors as I wash the dishes. It’s a bit jumbled and wild, but it suits me.

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When I was ten years old, I’d go to bed rather late. I think my nocturnal mother sent me up by ten o’clock, but sleep didn’t find me easily. I’d gaze down through my window at the neighbors next door, still in their kitchen, talking to kids who hadn’t been sent to sleep. And at eleven I’d turn on my radio to listen to an hour of mystery stories. After that, I’d often wait well past midnight passed until I succumbed to sleep.

Trust me. I wished I could drop off into dreams when my head touched the soft pillow, but it didn’t. When the genetic testing indicated I had a gene for insomnia, I laughed at the doctor. I figured that one out years ago. I could try to be an early bird, but I never caught the worm. I was too busy swilling down shots of espresso.

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There. See that? A beautiful sunrise? No. the gloaming. The time when the sun has set but the light hangs in the sky, suspended for an hour in the summer. Almost daily I try to say good night to the sun. I’m trying to accept my place in the world. And what can this possibly have to do with happiness? Well, accepting who we are is essential. We must come to terms with ourselves, embracing the good parts and trying to do away with the bad. That’s responsible and noteworthy, right?

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If we embrace who we are at the core, but try to change the bad, I think that’s a good thing. It leads to happiness. I fought my night owl ways for most of my life, thinking I was bad and sloppy and lazy. But that wasn’t bad. I write best at night. Fact. Words flow through my hands and I don’t even think much about what is coming out of me. So, yes, I welcome the sun as it lowers and evening hovers nearby. My time is coming. I sit on the back porch and drink in the light, knowing I haven’t yet done a full day’s work. No shame. No blame.

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See the lights that turn on at dusk? I accept who I am. Finally. I’ll bet there are aspects of you that you wish you could change, but it’s such a part of you that it feels impossible. Can’t you finally accept yourself? I know women who have starved themselves, working out twice a day to slim down, and all that work doesn’t make them happy. When my friends start eating again and actually drink a latte when we sit and visit, I can see their joie de vivre has returned!

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Yes. me, drinking a wee dram of whisky at night. I perch on the bed, reading or writing and sip some good whisky, though really I’m a scotch, neat please, kind of woman. And my husband sits outside in the humid night, smoking a cigar, listening to country music and we’re both content. We’ve spent all our words on the car ride down, and dined together. I’ll visit him and listen to the whip-o-wills calling and then I make my way inside to enjoy the rest of my evening.

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The point is this: accept yourself. Love your eccentricities that make you who you are. I know an older man who works at engraving from midnight to five a.m. He’s fabulously talented and turns out the most minute yet beautiful creations. He owns who he is. Can’t we all do that? In the U.S., I think many of us suffer from FOMO, and we also want to belong, to be doing what others are doing. Sticking out, or being slightly eccentric is frowned upon. That bothers me. A lot. (See my coffee? Nothing makes sense without it!)

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That photo? Yes, it’s Harry Potter. I love watching Harry Potter on the television, even though I’ve seen the films twenty times. Who cares? I’m delighted by hearing a network is having a “Harry Potter weekend” and I mix up cookie dough, and have my Starbucks at hand and a warm cookie in the other while watching parts of every movie…again. I feel cozy, happy and content. I’m learning to embrace the introspective parts of me too. What do you want to embrace that makes you unique?

That’s the road to happiness, I believe. Understanding yourself, how you fit into the world and making it work. For you. Your family. Your world. If we’re fundamentally kind and nice, then the rest is fluff. If we work hard and are trying to be decent people, the rest can fall into place. Those parts that make you who you are. Acceptance. I believe faith in God is essential, but many don’t choose that path. Okay, then. You can still love who you are. What you do, how much you weigh, how old you are, where you live, and how to make it through this pandemic nicely. Let’s be true to ourselves and yet, be kind.

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

Until next time….

Deanna

 

 

 

Light the way…

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For the next few crazy weeks, I’ve decided to post everyday. I hope to inspire you. To find comfort and caring in the middle of a frenzy. And if not a frenzy, then in loneliness. Because I know each person matters. We all carry light or darkness with us as we leave our homes each day. I like light at the windows, so other can enjoy the warmth. Choose light today.

 

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Deciding to deal with the gray of winter, while Christmas, which some days feels like a full contact sport, with us meeting Christmas Day, tired, longing to remain in our pajamas or sweats, nibbling on candy and watching old Christmassy movies till our hearts are full, seems almost impossible. But it’s not. Bring in the fresh cedar tree and even a tiny Charlie Brown tree. I’ll get my morning coffee today and see this Charlie Brown tree and make a choice to see good in others, even in the middle of impatience. Just the way you choose too. What do you want to change? For a better you?

 

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In spite of work, raising families, helping our aging parents if we’re lucky to still have them, in spite of all we need to do, there is time for us. Step out and look at the sky at sunset. I know, it’s awful that the sun sleeps much of the day, but still, the sky is hauntingly beautiful, in a way a December sky can only be. The angle of the sun, the silence outdoors, well I do hear the freeway, but still. Breathe in your day and exhale all the bad. And look around.

 

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Do you see the peonies I found? Peonies mean springtime, when possibility lands at your door every morning. But today I found a spot of spring in the middle of the longest nights of the year. Find a way to relax. Hallmark does have happy movies on right now. Twinkle lights make me feel less alone, when I’m here, by myself. Put up twinkle lights. Choose your color. Blue? Go for it. I’m into a classic white this year, and I’m not sure why. New house and all? I guess I have to figure her out.

 

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You have to know I follow Jesus. I choose that. So I may pepper my posts somedays with Jesus. But he brings light, just as much as my snow laden tree does. Why do we crave light? The candles, the fire, fire pits, the Christmas lights thrown everywhere? To feel less boxed in, to feel up when the darkness yanks us down? Is that it?

Choose right now, until Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate that, then until New Year’s Day, choose to light your early mornings or evenings with meaningful and purposeful light.

 

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Make a choice to put up a strand of twinkle lights. More if you have the energy, and take time out to look at them. Enjoy them. That’s my wish for you today. Light. Take it in. And send it out by showing kindness today.

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

Until tomorrow then.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Wisps of whispers…

cotton candy pink sails in a sea of blue…


Can you feel it on certain days? Spring inches ever closer, and I can’t think of many who don’t welcome her balmy embrace. The snowdrops have their green stems poking out of the soil, asking if it’s time to show up. I told them to sleep a bit longer; a freeze was coming our way. They aren’t listening. Spring’s impatience tugs at them and me.

Spring and love seem to go together, and Valentine’s Day is making her rounds, so I heard. The local grocer has so many floral arrangements, I feel like I’m in a summer garden, lush and fragrant, and since the flowers perch next to a Starbucks, I am in heaven every time I need a tea. So this begs the question. What to do on the day of love?

real flowers gracing a rough wooden table…

If you’re lucky enough to have love in your life, then the answers are easy. Send cards, give flowers, buy candy and catch the kisses cast in the air by those who love you back. But what if you’re tethered to a love who doesn’t think about flowers and candy? Talk about the upcoming holiday. Will we go out to eat? Yes? Will we spend a bunch of money on presents to show our affection? Not for me. Flowers and chocolate (and ice cold teas, please) are tokens of love. If you want something romantic, ask. Tell your love what you love. And give your love back, freely.

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If you want something, sometimes you have to ask. Be specific. If you want a certain bottle of bourbon, ask. Hopefully, they just want to give you love wrapped in a box, tied with strings that might be attached, but then, those are the best kind. Don’t you want a string luring you toward your love? One Valentine’s Day, so very long ago, I brought six red and pink frosted cupcakes to a boyfriend’s apartment. He did not acknowledge my gift at all, rather he stood in his kitchen washing dishes. I had classes to attend, but he didn’t take my frugal (in college, on a tight budget) present. He didn’t tell me he loved me. I emotionally ate my way through two cupcakes.

a lovely new painting we bought recently, see, winter is beautiful (if you’re looking at it and not living in it:)…

And rather than make him notice me, I left the rest of the cupcakes and left him. That afternoon, another guy I had met and had been studying with since we had the same classes and major, sent me a beautiful arrangement of flowers! I found him and thanked him, and the man I married, has never forgotten a Valentine’s Day since that first one, and he still romances me with flowers and chocolate. And much more.

I decided the guy who paid attention to me, made me feel valuable, loved, and liked and appreciated was the man to go through this life with. What does this mean for you? The people or person who makes you feel valuable and important is the one. Love them. The good guy who loves you? And you think he’s beautiful? Him. Choose him. Choose love. Choose laughter, love and life.

aren’t real fires cozy? the warmth, the crackling logs are a part of our winter nights…

On Valentine’s Day, or anyway this week, if you want flowers and aren’t in a relationship at the moment, buy them for you. Pick out the candy you like and enjoy it. Light a candle and enjoy the beauty of being able to buy flowers in winter, and buying sweets. We are lucky. We are blessed. Wrap a blanket around you and enjoy your company. But the icing on the cake would be to make the day sweet for another human. Bake brownies. Send a card that you made with a note inside. We all want to be noticed and not ignored. It took years and that one Valentine’s Day for me to figure that out. I hope you have a week full of laughs, love and beauty. I have to finish my iced tea before the Grammy’s end! Until next Sunday…

light snow will be rain tomorrow…I’m not complaining one bit…

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!

 

 

Make a beautiful day…

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A lovely book, its pages begging for words, and a simple, pure, white candle waiting for a spark. Finding the beauty on some days feels easy, doesn’t it? You step outside on a bright, sunshine filled, blue sky day, and the world beckons you. So many possibilities, so few limitations, and off you go. Whether that day ends as beautifully is occasionally up to us, but most of the time, the power rests in others, in circumstances, or in our perception of that day.

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Right now for me? Most days don’t start out super sunny, bright and wonderful, but I am continually learning to change my perception of what a beautiful day looks like. Time does that to each of us. Here I sit, in Chicago, for a fun weekend, that has been wonderful. I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was such a huge holiday in Chicago. We’re here for a basketball game, but the rest of Chicago seems to be wearing bright shamrock green, filled to the brim with beer, or Irish whiskey, and I’ve encountered many oversized leprechauns. Did I mention the Chicago River? As green as the clovers on my cups in these pictures.

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I love the enthusiasm of today. If some people have had a wee bit too much of liquid happiness, I overlooked that. Mostly, I witnessed grins on a cold day, laughter among friends and strangers alike on a mercifully sunny day, and acts of kindness many times over. So why am I sitting outside my hotel room to tell you this? My perception. My eleven o’clock at night take on the day. I told someone a truth that I didn’t know how to soften. Nothing major, except, I could have placed the truth on a better day. A Monday? Just starting out the week, let’s get back to business and by the way, let me add to your rainy Monday kind of feeling? Yes, that would have been better. I’m learning. Still.

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I want everyone to feel loved, cherished and special everyday, but perception plays a part in our time together, our lives and our dreams. I’ve had days where I think I’m just every kind of fabulous and been side-swiped by the realization that I’m not. Not super wonderful, and that someone caught more than a fleeting glance of my flaws and addressed them. So what do we do when that happens to us? Feeling hurt is valid. Taking an hour to nurse a wound might be okay, even. But to let a night fester with silence and brooding? Why would we? When it is within our grasp to let it go.

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Before I burst into song here about letting some things go, maybe lots of things, I want you to know I try to find the beauty in many things. I can’t go in the sun anymore? Who needs it! Loving the beach, the feel of ocean waves carrying me along, well, I hear London and Seattle are places to explore and decidedly not sun soaked. Perception. While at the spa earlier this evening, the workers described their loathing of this drunken day. I thought most of the people were lovely, fun-loving and really, seriously, not drunk. (I may be oblivious here.) Perception. What if talking to the green people resulted in a friendship, a romance or a beautiful conversation?

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And I took this lovely day, filled with green rivers and bagpipers and made someone sad. The way my stomach feels, way up in my throat, heart pounding and decidedly wrung out, over truths that hurt, is that a perception I can change. Can we all do that? Can we take a rain pouring in our face day and twist it into beauty? Yes. Dwell on the good that happened, is happening or could possibly occur. Perception is the path, the key, and the way. If we look for the drunks, we’ll see just them. If we look for sadness, it’s out there, around the corners. Don’t go there. Look for someone beautiful. Something pretty awesome. You.

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I’m even smiling, out here in the hallway, because my attempt at Easter decorating is making my front hall table look like a deranged bunny king rules the entryway. Back to beauty, happiness and kindness. We all have tough days, filled with hard truths and someone informing us we are not terribly wonderful. Right? But if we think we’re doing our best to bring grace, love and truth spoken in love, and if we try to get better at this living our lives this way, isn’t that good? Doesn’t that make you all kinds of wonderful?

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We can find something beautiful. Even on the worst day. When I take walks, I always look up. Clouds and the colors of the sky fascinate me. I ran one night into an oncoming lightning storm and could not look down. I’ve twisted ankles because of this. And one daughter loves looking at the ground when we walk. And she pulls up the most perfect four-leafed clovers I’ve ever seen. She does this on most walks. Perception. I would rather go a lifetime without a lucky clover and never miss the clouds amassed in the sky right before a storm. And she? Would rather find the diamond in the rough by the side of the road.

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Even on the happiest days, some sadness seeps in. But let’s get through this week, together, willing our eyes and minds to find the beauty. Alter our perception. When a truth must be told, be as kind as you can. Kindness is cultivated through hours of practice. And be kind to you. You deserve love, goodness, and kindness too. I’m heading back into my room now. My perception has changed. And the hotel is slowing growing quieter. Did I mention that my daughter found a diamond lying on the side of a road. Just a small chip. But her perception during our strolls led her to that beautiful chip of diamond perfection. So look at the world only the way you can. In your way, because you know what?

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Hey, this sign says it all. I didn’t place it there. Some kind soul out there did that. And those people? They are diamonds in the rough, ready to be discovered. Enjoy beauty this week. Especially when you look at yourself. You are amazing, you know.

Until next week…

 

 

Long roads with wonderful views…

 

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While sorting through the pictures to choose the ones I want to place here on this page, that take you through my day, I pass through photos going back more than five years. And in those pictures of specifically my family, I see an array of emotions. Sure, happiness on a birthday where we all deliberately sing terribly out of tune (and one daughter insists on regaling us with The Star Spangled Banner at the same time) is evident. That’s fun. Special and happy. We’re all laughing and grinning!

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And I see the vacations. Happy times, right? Except I see the depths of depression welling up into one daughter’s eyes. She cannot hide what lies beneath. She tried to take her life. Deep stuff here, I know. But I see it every time I come here to write to you about happiness. Be happy wherever you are, except. Except, there are simply times where we cannot feel it. So what do you do? I chose to ride it out. It hurt. I hurt, and others around me were affected, which didn’t make me feel any better.

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But I made it out. I’m happy to be here doing this thing called life.

In those particular vacation pictures of me and my always smiling daughter, I see her smile never reaches her eyes. And I remember her long road to happiness. That was so very worth it. She left the kind of life that brought her down and climbed out of the darkness and now lives a life full of laughter, with much kindness and concern for others. Because she knows what it feels like when we just can’t cross the bridge to happiness. But she and I know it’s a climb worth making.

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So what can we do if we’re not at happy? When it’s nowhere in sight? Talk to somebody. Reach out. Counselors can be good, but sometimes it’s a kind friend. Find the merciful, kind people in life and keep them. They are worth so much more than a roomful of raucous laughter. My daughter just happened to call a college friend to say good-bye. A forever goodbye. Outside my house, while I slept.

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That far-off friend called the police, not knowing quite where she lived, and that saved her life. I had no idea how sad my laughing, uber friendly, voted funniest of her class, daughter was. But I found out.

She lived. Thank God, she is alive. And if you are at that point of thinking nobody cares and that you’re worthless. Stop. You are worth more than jewels. Just being alive matters. Not how much money you make. Not the clothes you wear. You. Are here. For a reason. You might not know that reason yet, but hang on. Because the day is coming when you will find out why. Why you went through pain. The suffering. The loneliness. Worthlessness. And you know what?

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Don’t buy into it. Don’t listen to the negative voices in your head, or the people around you that bring you down. Because you are worth so much. You matter. You’re smart enough, good enough and nothing you have ever done takes that away. Hold your head up. Look for the beauty. If you can’t see the beauty looking back at you when you look in the mirror, that’s okay for now. But please, take my word for it, you are beautiful, wonderful and amazing. And someday, after you survive this time, you will look back and see why. Why it happened. That dark and lonely road you travelled had a purpose.

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See those stairs? I pass them on my favorite walk, and it means I’m almost finished walking or running. Our life is a bunch of stairs we get to climb to go somewhere pretty amazing. We can stop here and there to catch our breath and admire the view higher up. That’s life as you age. Trust me. And then you start up the stairs again. I’m here to tell you the view gets better the higher we climb, so do not give up. Talk to someone who is caring and kind, if you feel alone. I have been there. Alone. Sad. No one understanding why I couldn’t pull myself together. But…I let time, medicine (we might need that at times), counseling, and kind friends help me. You can do this. You’re not alone.

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Happiness can be found along the way. In so many places. For me, it’s beautiful flowers, bought on the cheap. Iced tea in the afternoon. Pasta for dinner! A good book and my kind of music. Candles. My cozy spots in this house, where I retreat to when I feel like I need that. Find yours.

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I love long walks. Alone. It gives me time to untangle problems and I dream up my best writing ideas for that book. You? You might prefer matcha or an espresso in the early afternoon. Maybe a jazzercise class? Hey, my 77 year old dad goes to jazzercise three times a week. I love that about him! Go daddy! Find your thing. And stop to enjoy the view along this trip called life. We only get one shot at this. Let’s make it a happy one. Here’s to you and how amazingly beautiful and wonderful you are…

 

Until next time…