Looking back with eyes wide open…

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I’m just going to post some of my latest pics, but they don’t follow the narrative today. I just like the pics because they lighten the mood. Today is about our past. Where we’ve been, understanding it, and using it to move forward.

My best summer was in 1978. My family moved frequently, but this summer was my second in Northern Virginia, and I had friends. A best friend, who would be the closest friend of my life. I loved waking up, knowing another day at the pool beckoned, and being thirteen, and waiting to be fourteen before school started back up, meant I was into boys. Crushing on them pretty much.

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I fell for my best friend’s older brother. One year above me in school, he had black tousled hair, tall in the way freshman boys tend to be, and he played electric guitar. My heart hummed around him, and since I was learning how to properly smoke cigarettes at her house, he was there too laughing at my coughing fits! I think my mother let me run free that summer, to make up for all the moves and summers of complete boredom.

So I spent all day at the pool. Starting at noon, swimming and playing four square, I listened to the songs playing loudly overhead, and they are imprinted on my soul. I instantly know where I lived when I hear a song, and any music from the summer of ’78 is on my phone. I loved that time so much. I learned about love. I cut my teeth on “Blake”. I think I was his first crush also, and my bestie wasn’t thrilled, but….

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We would all head home for dinner, when all our fathers who worked for the government came home, late, again. Around six thirty. None of us knew what our dads did, because it was all “classified”. That’s DC for you. I’d swallow dinner in ten minutes and head back to the pool until closing at nine. And we’d linger afterward, some of us talking, not wanting to go home to parents who asked too many questions.

On a night thick with stars hanging down on us, Blake brushed his hand down my bare, tanned arm. He said quietly to me, so no on else could hear, “Your skin…. It’s so soft.” I wanted him to run his hands all over my arms, legs, face… But my best friend was still there, so he smiled at me, and I floated home. Turns out, boys like soft skin, but I wasn’t sure of anything at that time. Only that I wished we could date.

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Blake and I would run into each other often, but my best friend had told me I had to choose either her or her brother. They were so close that she couldn’t handle me dating him and hanging with her at the same time. I chose her. I needed a best friend, and we had so much fun that summer. I might sound like a delinquent, but I got good grades and preformed in community theatre and sang. I always sang.

And I would actually sit on the swing at the far end of our backyard, thick with the overgrowth of bushes and trees so close to the creek, and I hoped no one would hear me, as I swung and sang love songs. I loved Blake, and we talked so much at his house. It was difficult to set aside my feelings for him. But I tried. For friendships’s sake. I kissed a different boy for my first kiss ever,  and I don’t even know his name. It wasn’t Blake.

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I moved the following summer. To Wisconsin. I hated that first summer so much that my mom sent me on a trip to meet my old best friend at summer’s end and stay with her family at Rehoboth Beach. I hugged my friend, and we caught up on life. She had fallen for a boy back home. And one night, Blake asked me to meet him on the beach. I had grown a bit taller, and I had the lithe body of a teen who ran three miles every day for fun, and I was just realizing how to navigate the world of boys.

We met at the beach, and I finally tasted my first real kiss. A kiss from a boy who held my heart in his. He knew that too. Blake used to stop by my house to drop off something my bestie wanted me to have, and he’d find me playing piano and singing alone. He’s pause and listen for while. We had shared music. At the beach, we talked and kissed more. Looking out at the dark ocean, I knew Blake would fall out of my life, so I decided to find my friend, shook out all the sand clinging to him and me, and I never looked back with any regret. Well, not much.

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We learn to love at our own pace, but the teen years are fraught with falling in love so easily, at least for me, and then hurting so much when my love was rejected and tossed aside. I went on to love others before I found my husband sitting two seats away from me in a class. Isn’t life about love? Aren’t we who give our hearts to another blessed? I look back on that best summer ever and realize I had great summers with every boy who had my heart. Four. And I married number four.

While our lives are in a state of suspension, it might be sweet to look back at our lives, picking out the good parts, and trying to feel a slice of what we felt then. Music does it for me. Always will. It’s difficult to look forward with certainty, but the past is there, and maybe there are lessons we learned, and we can remember the people who strolled into our lives for a time, making us who we are today.

Can you do that, for fun? Play songs from your high school years. Go back and laugh at your first forays into having a crush and acting silly. We were learning. We had to start small, because by the time we hit twenty or so, those people we loved might be our forever love. Mine was. I met him at nineteen. The man I’ve been with for thirty-six years now. Go back. Re-read letters. Love yourself. Love the paths you took to get you to who you are now. And then look forward, facing uncertainty, knowing you made it through high school, so you can do this.

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You’ve got this. Crazy times are here, but we can face it with love for others, unafraid, because we know we’re tough enough to deal with it and still feel happy. We’re learning that the little, small moments in life are the ones that count. Find them. And hold onto them.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Summer breeze blue…

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Summer conjures up spellbinding clouds wafting on a summer breeze, and I stop to wonder, wishing I could find a patch of grass to lie down in, bringing along time to watch those cumulus clouds piling high in the western sky. No worries about dinner, ironing, or cleaning the bathroom. Okay, so dinner is something to contemplate, but some nights I have popcorn and peanuts for dinner and call it a night.

 

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Summer breezes bring the sound of lawn mowers, and the smell of the grass, freshly shorn, and I remember all the years of childhood, where the perfect dummer day was to open all three bedroom windows, lie on my bed and read and read. The breeze filled my room with the smell of the new mown grass, and my mom would ask me to shut the windows because the air conditioning was running. I still need open windows, summer, fall, early winter. It makes me quite happy!

This week was to be our week in an oceanfront house on Folly Beach, but we decided to put it off until next year, so I’m enjoying this week in a different way. By having some family over yesterday, and plans to go out to dinner on a beautiful patio enjoying one of the best wine selections around, and going on an antique hunt. I know I’m going to sit on the shaded porch in a minute and read until evening. Bliss.

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Believe it or not, but when we moved into this house last year, I felt the summer blues descending, and it’s because we are so far off the road, that I felt out of touch and disjointed. After nineteen years of being squashed between a neighbor having a pool party all summer long, and a lovely British couple who took tea in their garden, I suddenly didn’t have anyone around. Turns out right past the acre of trees behind me, I have new neighbors, and even if I never venture down the ravine and up their hill to visit, just knowing they are around makes me happier. Snug, cozy and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

See where I sit when we’re down on the farm? I bring out coffee, because I’ll take my Starbucks anyway I can get it, which reminds me to head over and grab a tea (sweet and yes, I feel guilty about that) before I begin my week of reading. What brings you delight in these days where night descends so late, and being outdoors is a delight?

What are you doing this summer to bring you happiness? Visiting family after not seeing them for a while? Drinking a margarita on the rocks while listening to music? What about heading out for long walk when it’s still cool outside, before everyone joins in? I’m still sleeping that early, but years ago, when my only option was to run at 6:00 a.m., I would head out and run these hills, and much later in the day I couldn’t remember if I had taken a run. Basically, I was running in my sleep; that’s how out of it I was. So evening or night walks are a pleasure to me.

 

 

I like how the candle matches the hue of the walls in our living room. Just had to mention certain colors make me happy, and so I’m sharing them here…blues, green and this muddy yellow or whatever the name was on the paint can. I love it!

 

 

 

 

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I still have so much to do here at home too, and when the sun is too high or too hot for me, I’m reminded to head back indoors and iron the linen, and put up the family photos in the little hallway upstairs. Every year I say I’m going to pick strawberries and turn them into jam, but when you can’t go out in the sun like me (damn lupus), it’s kind of difficult to do. Thank goodness I didn’t have this issue until my kids grew up, because my summer days focused on taking them to the neighborhood pool for long afternoons and even some evenings to keep them active and happy. Happiness comes so easily in the summer, if we look for it.

 

 

 

 

Take a swim, ride your bike, read long into the afternoon, but if you’re me that means reading until well past midnight, send a friend a beautiful card, buy a meal for someone, tip well, drink lemonade that’s ice cold and have ice cream from a mom & pop store, watch a film at the drive-in.  And when life gets to be too much or full of sadness, look up. I look at the trees, full green and owning their beauty, finding that first star at night but wondering if it’s Venus or a star and does it matter if I accidentally wish on a planet, or the clouds at sunset, the fading rays still touching the tops, and making them beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

Wander into beauty, and happiness will find her way to you. Another perfect scotch, neat? I’m proud of myself because I’m learning to like scotch. There’s no way I’ll ever get gin out of my system, because I learned ages ago, one good martini lasts far longer than a gin and tonic. That’s how I spent so little in the bars when I was in college in Wisconsin, where I swear drinking is a matter of personal pride there. I played darts, danced in the courtyard and carried my one martini around. Basically, I could not afford more than $10 out on a Friday, and some nights I had $5 to my name. But dancing never cost anything, and I still like waltzing in the kitchen with my husband, when we’re laughing and singing along. Summer laughter is easy to find.

 

 

 

 

Summer wanders in one day and decides to stay. Aren’t we blessed to be anointed with deep blues skies, balmy breezes, summer bracelets jangling on your wrist, wearing tee shirts every day, all day long, and coming home to find more flowers decided it was about time to show their beauty? We are so lucky.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer breezes in and blows another season into our hands. The days are long and the years so short. Grab it. Happiness is here, all around, and all we need is to recognize her when she’s near. Look up and wish on a planet, listen to the thunder, watch the rain fall. Have wine at noon, and espresso after dinner. I’ll have to write again some time and tell of how I had French espressos for a week in Paris, and I could still fall asleep. Another memory for another time. Enjoy those soft summer winds, and grab some happiness for yourself. I really do need to get a Starbucks….. (instant happiness in a cup!)

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

Until next time…

Deanna

 

Changing into happiness…

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

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

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

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

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

a summery scene from our farm in Kentucky…

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

Bourbon on the front porch in Kentucky…

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

Another day ends and I finish my walk…

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

friendly horses are our neighbors…

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

Cool bourbon on a steamy night on the porch swing…

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

Until next time…

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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