End of Month Potpourri-April 2015

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The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good. ~ Brian Tracy

 

 

For this month’s potpourri, I am continuing my thoughts about self-love.  Self-love and self-care are things we are not routinely used to considering…we are not brought up to think about ourselves first….it is thought of as selfish.

 

 

But in reality it is the most self-less thing we can do to care for ourselves….I feel if we don’t care for ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, then we cannot adequately care for others.

 

 

Part of that self-care is making time for ourselves….not easy in our busy lives, but essential.  It is important to connect to our inner core….to find ways to replenish ourselves.  I disconnect from the world for chunks of time.  It gives me space and solace to think or not think…to go with the flow or put my ideas down on paper.

 

 

But the best thing I do somedays is to celebrate.  With the coming of May, I find it a perfect time to celebrate as it is my birth month.  It is a standing joke that in May….I don’t have a birthday, but I celebrate my birth month.  But that joke has really become a reality for me, as I think it is a perfect idea.

 

 

And while this is something I do in May, I have begun to realize that I need to celebrate more….not just the big occasions, but the smaller moments in my life.  A glorious day….a perfect sunset….the return of a beloved flower or bird to my garden…..a mother rabbit nursing her young.

 

 

These times don’t need a big celebration…they just need to be noted in a journal, or for me with my camera.  So as I look back at some of these special times this past month, I thought I would celebrate them here with you as I saw them through my camera lens.

 

 

 

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As the snow finally began to melt in the beginning of April, fog came to the garden.  This was the foggy sunrise that met me on that glorious morning.

 

 

 

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The willow trees outside my front door, capture the droplets of rain and hold them making sparkles and reflections.

 

 

 

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And those same trees are a perfect perch for many bird visitors seeking shelter, a home or just a spot to watch the sunrise on a foggy morning….like this Junco.

 

 

 

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The first flowers of spring were a daily occurrence as the snow melted to reveal them already blooming.  And with spring rains, the flowers were bathed in more beauty.

 

 

 

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The first daffodils shimmered like the snowdrops above.

 

 

 

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As the ground warmed, and the bright spring sun shone down, more flowers bravely bloomed for me…Iris reticulata here…..Chionodoxa in the first photo.

 

 

 

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And Crocus tommasinianus blooming through the new green grass.

 

 

 

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This Scilla siberica is finding the first light of the new day…what a glow it is giving off that is captured here and in my heart forever.

 

 

 

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And finally the silver maple flowers are blooming already as the spring sunlight makes them shine like diamonds on the branches.

 

 

These are the celebrations I see each day…and so many more I hear with each new bird’s song.  Each a delight…each renewing me helping me to SOAR higher.  Each and every day now I am making time for me…I take it slow with no set plan…just kindness, gentleness and a child’s curiosity regained.

 

 

 

Note:   Each photo was taken on my daily walk around the garden in the month of April, 2015.  Some required me to lay on the soft, wet ground and see the flowers from a new perspective.  Oh what breath of life I found there as I reconnected with Mother Earth.

 

If you like gardening, and want to see more pictures of my April garden, I have a monthly journal post at my garden blog, Gardens Eye View, the first Monday of each month.

 

 

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I leave you with more thoughts about self-love and giving love back.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

heart

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-This Holy Vessel

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This Holy Vessel

 

 

This holy vessel now in decay-

The shell cracked, withering.

Paint peeling, boards warped.

It’s sailing days gone.  Beached now-

Bleached and rotting in the storm’s spray.

 

 

I see its bolder brash days.

Sails full, catching the wind,

Riding the rough waters.

Strong masts unbreakable-

Now bent, broken, gone.

 

 

Strewn upon the shore

Are memories of youthful journeys.

Abandoned, alone-

No longer able to navigate

The vast ocean seeking adventure.

 

 

Do not look with pity upon these bleached bones.

They sing of joyful times-a life well lived and loved.

There is a spirit still residing here,

Inspired and still inspiring.

Strong of will even as each wave takes a bit more with it.

 

 

A holy vessel now unconfined,

Free to travel the oceans, the heavens and reach the stars.

 

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2015

 

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I do write and group prose and poems around the same topic.  And this poem is a culminating piece to my other posts where I have been contemplating about aging….my aging, my mom’s and big changes in life in general.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

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I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of my mom at different stages of her life.  The first picture, is the one I call “The Women”.  My mom is in the center (at her engagement party), and is surrounded by her sisters on the left, and my dad’s mother and aunts on the right.

 

 

In the collage you can see her when she is near 60 (around my age) with my dad, as a three year old with her sisters, and then as a high school graduate.  The picture at the bottom is when she was about 9 yrs old at her First Communion.

 

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I leave you with a few words additional words about aging.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

holy vessel

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Loving My Scars

 DSCN6944“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.”  ~Unknown

 

 

 

I have lived my life with many scars.  Those visible childhood scars from when I fell off my bike.  Or the time my hand went through the plate-glass storm door…ouch and long story.  And then my first serious car accident where I hit the steering wheel (before seat belts-yes I am that old), and my teeth went through my chin…lots of stitches.

 

 

DSCN6215And there are the not so visible scars…I don’t mean the ones from surgery….mine from last year is still healing nicely, thanks for asking.  No, I mean those scars we hide inside.  When we were deeply hurt for the first time.  Mine was a Kindergarten teacher on my first day in a new school and she crushed my spirit...a scar that stayed with me, unseen even by me until a few years ago.  When it came bubbling up to the surface, I realized that this scar had led to some self-defeating ideas I had been harboring for almost 50 years.  WOW!

 

 

And the scars that built on that first one….the stories I believed about how I was not artistic, or creative, and yes Mr. Driver’s Ed teacher who said I would never learn to drive.  OK there are some who may have agreed with him (and secretly still do).  And my thesis team…those professors I had to convince I was worthy of passing by successfully defending my Master’s thesis….those who took pride and pleasure in trying to make me look not so smart or accomplished.

 

 

DSCN6957Yes, I could go on with the ruminations from when I started work….it is an endless reel of tape that sometimes plays in my head.  But at some point these scars tend to heal over only opening again when someone close to me, personally or professionally, would say something nasty.  And over the years I built up a thick skin around those scars so as not to feel them there.

 

 

But they are there.  I even built a high wall from all the bricks thrown at me over the years.  In fact, the wall became so high I began to feel suffocated, claustrophobic and isolated.  So I finally burst through the wall.  And instead of viewing my scars as something to keep hidden, I have brought them out to the light of day where I can see them, and they can heal.

 

 

I now view my scars as gifts….gifts that have led me down my path…the path where I am DSCN7502meant to go.  They are my strength.  They showcase my resilience.  And I am darn proud of them.  Sometimes I write about my scars here….it helps me to heal them, and sometimes it helps others.  I am not depressed or upset about them or the lessons they are teaching me….actually it makes me happier when I can talk about them, and then let them go.

 

 

So you see I really do love my scars.  Those that show the physical or emotional pain of my life….they are me…an important part of me.  They help me to continue to embrace my vulnerabilities.  Without them, I would never have been able to truly love my whole self, scars and all.  They have become a kind of Superpower that assures me that whatever is happening, I will have the strength to get through it.

 

 

DSCN7270I am still figuring out the “get through it” part.  For me, it is like putting on a soothing balm to heal the wounds and scars.  But it is an individual journey…we all process let downs, disappointments, and grief in our own unique way.  Sometimes I surrender and let go….sometimes I decide to walk away and not engage….and sometimes I fight head-on into the fire coming out a little scraped and bruised, but again wiser, stronger, and oh so much happier.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, daffodils represent self-love.  And I chose white daffodils, as white represents light, goodness and safety.

 

 

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I leave you with another thought about self-love.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-The Garden of Life

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Garden of Life

 

 

I fell upon the garden of life

and it sang to me a joyous song,

Beckoning me ever forward

onto a path along a crumbling wall.

 

 

And I sat and contemplated

the flow and rhythm,

While the trees held me tight

and the grasses gave me rest.

 

 

As I awoke born anew

of a seed with similar leaf and stem,

Now I bloom a more brilliant flower

that cannot fade or wither.

 

 

I am strength, I am hope, I am joy.

I am the garden of life.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2015

 

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I wrote this poem as I was contemplating mid-life and mortality.  As I watch my mother age and lose more of her independence mortality comes painfully close.  So I continue to cling tightly to life and living my life to its fullest.  And I find my greatest strength, solace and inspiration in my own garden….my garden of life.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

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I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

 

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Special Note:  The echinacea that grows in my garden of life (pictured here) represents strength.

 

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I leave you with a few words about feeling reborn.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Conversations In The Garden-On Living with Uncertainty

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“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.”  ~Gilda Radner

 

 

 

There is one thing I know that is definite about life….we are all going to die someday.  Now I know this is not a major revelation nor even a pleasant thing to think about.  But the realization of this fact recently caught up with me.  Prior to that, this fact was pushed far down into the nether reaches of my brain so I didn’t have to deal with it.

 

 

Talking about death was scary because for me there was nothing definitely known about what happens to us when we die.  I also didn’t want to leave those I loved, and there was so much I still wanted to do with my life.  But the fact that I am going to die someday was always looming somewhere in my brain even if I resisted it.

 

 

And dealing with the death of loved ones, I think was even more painful because I couldn’t DSCN5808accept the finality of death.  That sense of loss was too great for me.  So I always pushed it away.  Recently, it has been continuing to dominate my thoughts.  Perhaps because of my mother’s failing health.  And perhaps because another birthday is coming closer to another decade done for me.

 

 

These thoughts had been weighing on me, and it was finally time to face them….to deal with them as we each must do in our time.  And when I ran across this quote, everything suddenly changed for me…becoming clearer.

 

 

I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.  ~Brené Brown

 

 

And reality hit me square in the face….I had been limiting myself, my life.  Not really living…wrapped in deep fear, and dipping deep into unhappiness many days, all because I couldn’t deal with the uncertainties of life.  And maybe too because the only certainty was not such a pleasant prospect.

 

 

DSCN5795As a gardener, I face uncertainty every season.  When winter yields to spring, I am never sure what damage will be shown once the snow melts.  What flowers and plants will have succumbed to nature’s wrath and the natural process of dying.

 

 

In gardening it is an accepted fact, this life and death cycle.  If you don’t accept it, you won’t be gardening for long as the disappointment can be too great and defeating for some.  But not for me.  I have learned from my mistakes, and the ravages of nature that are out of my control.  I have shifted my perspective, and learned to accept each season as it comes, no matter what happens and enjoy the garden knowing it is never the same year to year.

 

 

So why does it seem easier to accept uncertainty in my garden?  I think because the joys I have found in gardening far outweigh any disappointments, and maybe make the successes of the flowers that present themselves so much more meaningful.

 

 

I have even come to enjoy the stages or seasons in my garden.  The first signs of new life DSCN5811and focusing on the beauty it brings as we get into the many flowers of spring and summer.  And learning to love the fading autumn beauty of my garden, still alive and exquisite setting up new life as it turns to seed.

 

 

These stages of life in my garden have become an inspiration for me.  They present themselves in each day as the sun begins to lighten the sky, until the last rays of light fade bringing the beauty of the stars at night.  I appreciate the fullness of each part of my day as new experiences dawn, and my body breathes in the life each new hour brings.

 

 

And I have begun to notice myself in each subtle shift this year.  I have learned that while I know there is a winter in my garden, as there is in my life, I don’t have to perseverate on it.  Instead, I can acknowledge that my time, like my garden, is limited, but it is in the moments between my birth and death that I find my greatest joys and fulfillment…this is where I choose to reside, to bloom and grow until my last breath.  Seeking the uncertainty where that delicious ambiguity resides.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, daffodils represent uncertainty.  I decided to feature daffodils that were hit by a snow storm last year, and still continued to go on blooming brightly.  When they were weighed down by the cold and snow, I was uncertain if they would survive.  There was a beautiful quality about these daffodils even as they faced death.  But in the end they showed their resilience and strength as they went on to live their lives fully in my garden.

 

 

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I leave you with another thought about uncertainty.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-How It Feels

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How It Feels

 

 

I know how it feels to have lost,

As if the life I know has ended.

Moving through a vortex,

Not really living, just existing.

 

 

I know how it feels to hurt deep inside,

that intense pain in your heart.

As if a vital piece is missing,

and it feels impossible to move; to go on.

 

 

And yet I know it is from this pain,

 That the stronger me will emerge.

And the truer meaning of my life will be known.

 

© Donna Donabella 2015

 

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I have these inner dialogues with myself sometimes when I am hurting, depressed or going through some unpleasant strong emotions.  Recently with my mom’s illness and weakening, some of these darker moods have shown up again to be heard.  And so the inner dialogue continues as I move through them.  For me, I know I must lean into these times of shadow, in order to move back out into the light.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

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I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

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Special Note:  The thyme plant and flowers pictured here represent courage and strength.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about strength, courage and  finding the better path.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

thyme-how it feels

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Surrender

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“I wonder if pain comes from surrendering or resisting?”  ~Donna Lynn Hope

 

 

I have been taking stock recently of my life.  This journey in retirement has been interesting, and has taught me many things so far.  With a year into this journey, I am not sure sometimes if I am where I am supposed to be.  I have long controlled my life.  Planned, over planned and tried to wrap it up in a nice, neat bundle doing what I think I should be doing.  Many times not listening to that little voice to guide me.

 

 

And in those times, life was hard, unhappy and full of pitfalls into which I fell hard.  I would get up, and control things even more, resisting the path being shown usually because of fear.  And inevitably pain would be a big part of my life.  Along with the feeling that life was unhappy, and I would never find real joy.

 

 

DSCN3355And of course life is anything but nice and neat many times.  I am never sure what it will bring me next.  But I have noticed since I stopped controlling my life and its journey, I have been happier.  It is not easy to drop what you had been doing for over 30 years, and strike out on a new path.  A path not even defined, with very little direction.  Just showing up each day and wondering what it is I am supposed to do, and where I am supposed to go.

 

 

I do feel like I have been drifting lately.  And that drifting is okay when you need time to heal yourself.  But it seems it is time now, to start contemplating what is next.  And instead of trying to take control and orchestrate the life I think I am supposed to live, I have instead surrendered to the Universe.  I am looking for those signs that will show me what is next…listening for that inner voice to talk with me again.

 

 

It take’s patience to surrender…another lesson I am learning.  Living each day in the moment, exploring and taking a few risks.  These are scary steps, but oh so much better than giving into boredom and complacency, where I tend to reside when I am afraid to move out of my comfort zone.

 

 

One of the most important lessons I have learned in surrendering, is that there is great freedom when I loosen my grip.  When I let slip those tight reins I have on my life, I open my heart to joy, wonder, and infinite possibilities.

 

 

I did say this was my year to soarflowing with and following a path DSCN5360shown to me in small steps.  And recently I have been taking a few test flights to try out my new wings.  But I think it might be time to step out a bit further, and maybe from a higher branch.  To fly from this place of surrender, and have faith that I am doing the right thing.  Knowing that these wings will lift me up to new places, new challenges and wonderful adventures.  After all if I don’t,  look what I might be missing.  A whole wonderful world just waiting for me.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, grass represents submission; a synonym for surrender.  These wonderful tall ornamental grasses grow in my garden every summer and bloom in the fall, finally surrendering in winter to the snow.

 

 

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I leave you with another thought about surrender.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

surrender

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Upon Spring’s Wing

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Upon Spring’s Wing

Spring glides in slowly on her soft, gentle wing.

She floats down easily warmth touching everything.

In the garden now bare, stirring the senses throughout,

The critters are returning with joyful song and shouts.

 

 

The drifting scents linger and stir me awake,

From my winter doldrums and meditative state.

Time to wake up, it’s the return of the season,

Where gardeners everywhere lose all reason.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

 

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This poem was written last April as I was thinking of spring, and watching each new bloom break through the soil.  Spring is definitely my favorite season, and one where all gardeners will do just about anything to finally plunge their hands into the just thawed soil.

 

With two warm days, our snow has melted into long deep puddles.  I suspect by next weekend, I will be plunging my hands into some garden soil as I plant peas and lettuces.

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

 glory of snow collage

I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

 

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Special Note:  The Glory of the Snow blooms pictured here are one of the first blooms that herald in spring in my garden.  They have not appeared yet, but they will be blooming soon.

 

 

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I leave you with a few words about the gentle glide of spring.

spring glides in

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Wildlife Lesson-Orange Pride

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“Birds are flying over the garden. What are you doing inside the house? Join them! If you can’t join them, at least open the window and greet them!”
Mehmet Murat ildan 

 

 

On March 20th spring crawled in even though we had cold air and snow covering the garden.  But it was the signs that nature brings, that really heralded DSCN7229the new season was indeed upon us.  The red-winged blackbirds had arrived a few days before….and the deer, who were about and feeding on shrubs, were already losing their winter coats.

 

 

And I knew that eventually the warm winds would blow again and melt the foot of snow remaining (we are still waiting for the melt).  So it was time to get ready for other critters we knew would be returning.  I usually put out the hummingbird feeder in late-April as scouts can be out and about.  And right on the hummingbird’s tail feathers, is the arrival of other birds.

 

 

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One of my favorite birds, returning north anytime between later April and early May, is the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula).  I adore their bright colors, a welcome sight, just as the trees are leafing out so I can still watch them easily.

 

 

 

Last year, they announced themselves with their wonderful song and by hanging on the two hummingbird feeders we had out (see photo at the top of the post).  I had not seen too many of these beauties before in my garden except when one or two would take a quick bath in the pond.

 

 

 

other birds on feeder

But last year, there were several hanging around the hummer feeder trying to get at the tasty liquid.  So I quickly purchased a ‘cadillac’ oriole feeder.  Orange in color with lots of spots for drinking sweetened liquid, eating orange pieces or partaking of grape jelly.  It was a big hit with the orioles and hummers, and other birds who learned how to get to the sweetened water like the catbirds, downy woodpeckers and house sparrows (top left to bottom right).

 

 

DSCN7155Last year at the crack of dawn, the orioles would wake me as they ate and sang at their feeder which was right under my bedroom window.   Such a wonderful array of bright warm colors against the early morning sun.  They are a perfect symbol of summer as the color orange represents warmth and heat.

 

 

 

I have never spotted an oriole nest in my garden, but they do build their nests in the “wild area” woods behind us.  It is an unusual sight to see this basket of grasses hanging from slim fibers on a tree branch.

 

 

And once the babies fledge, the orioles are gone as quickly as they came.  But their short time in my garden gives me much pride; which is another word for happiness.

 

 

oriole collage
Top 2 are males; bottom left is  female and bottom right is fledgling

 

Here are some interesting facts about Baltimore Orioles:

  • They got their name because their orange and black colors are the same as the heraldic crest of the Baltimore family of England.
  • It is said, Baltimore Orioles prefer only ripe, dark-colored fruit, and will ignore ripe green and yellow fruits.  Ours loved the dark grape jelly, but did not like the oranges we put out.
  • Young male Baltimore Orioles do not get their bright-orange adult feathers until their second year. They are very similar in appearance to younger females.
  • Females become a brighter orange as they molt, and almost resemble bright orange males once they are older.
  • Baltimore Orioles can stab soft fruits, and drink the liquid with their tongues.

 

 

 

With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.

 

 

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I leave you with another thought about birds.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

bird-oriole

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.