Poetry Sunday-Autumn’s Kiss

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Autumn’s Kiss

 

A chillin’ kiss on frosty morn,

On every blade and flower adorns.

 

As summer fades and autumn is born

The icy dew does bid us warned.

 

 

 

For soon the nights will be long and cold

As winter slips in to take its hold.

 

So cherish for now each warm sunny day,

As they skip on the breeze and fade away.

 

© Donna Donabella 2013

 

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I wrote this poem last October 3rd, 2013 on my garden blog, Gardens Eye View, in anticipation of the coming frost.   Frost came suddenly in late October that year, and the pictures here show the killing frost in the garden readying the landscape for winter’s chill and frozen time.

 

 

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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.  

 

 

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Special Note:  This year we waited until the middle of November for our killing frost which came with snow.

 

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I leave you with a little bit of sentiment about keeping warm in frosty cold.  I welcome you to download the photo and share.

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

Seeking Vunerability

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 “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown 

 

The day my father died, I closed up my heart, shut out the world and the light….and plunged into darkness.  I was 40, had just been married (my dad could not attend due to his health), and now a pain, a loss too great to bear, had seared my heart.

 

But this covering up of my light actually happened 15 years before his death.  The day the doctors told us that our father had Alzheimer’s started me down that path of darkness.  And I could not bear to talk about it.  And who would or could talk to me?  Not my family.  If we didn’t speak about it, then maybe it would go away.  So we never did speak.  We still have not spoken about any of this even 16 years after his death, that is how painful it is to each of us.

 

I said my goodbyes six months before he died, when hospice was called in.  I flew from NY to AZ numb, so much uncertainty I just could not bear it.  We did not know how much time he had left so I wanted to see him even though he did not know who I was.  Do you have any idea how rip-out-your-heart awful it is to have your father not know you?  Not be able to talk to you even though he is sitting right in front of you.  It is a special kind of torture.  But that last time I spoke to him, he seemed to know me for just a minute or two…you could see the cloud lift from his eyes and the sparkle of life return.  I told him of the upcoming wedding, and he answered that was good…..which was code for I am glad you have finally found someone special.  And while his moment of recognition buoyed me, soon after I was plunged into a deep despair again knowing he would not be with me on my wedding day.

 

These deep rooted agonizing feelings have been with me too long now.  I have built up great pain avoidance so as not to deal with them…keeping them at arm’s length.  And with so much pain avoided, there was a lot of time wasted in my life.  Time where I just existed, but did not really live.  You see when I shut myself up, I avoided the world and all other feelings.  And that included joy, especially joy.  And while this is all natural you may say, I think it is the worst thing I could have done….because once started it is hard to stop the avoidance.

 

DSCN6056But even though the road has been slow and it took 16 years to work through, I have learned from these dark times.  I don’t avoid pain anymore.  Instead I embrace the pain and other discomforting feelings because they are an important part of me, and must be dealt with.  They do not go away if we avoid them.  They stay like a fog blocking the light from every part of our life.  And I have to say, I was pretty darned tired of the darkness surrounding my heart.  The high walls and shields built around me.

 

I no longer run from these vulnerabilities as they are sometimes called.  Please don’t call them weaknesses….being vulnerable is not being weak.  Being vulnerable is allowing your strength and courage to shine through as you embrace your weaknesses, your pain and sorrow.  Vulnerability is facing pieces of life that cannot be cast aside.  So how did I face mine.  I learned how to identify my comforts…what brought me to calm.  I learned to play more.  But I think my breakthrough came when I got to know my Superpower.  What is a Superpower, you ask?

 

In a course I took about vulnerability from Brené Brown, we were taught to look for this Superpower; our higher purpose, that which inspires us.  This was a life changer for me because now I could identify where my life flowed from…where my center could be found.  I found my Superpower was and is communication.  And this blog is part of that Superpower.  It all clicked for me one day, and I knew where I needed to head next in my life.  Where I had found my greatest joys previously when I was connected to this center….writing!  So now I write as therapy.  I write to stay in touch with feelings, good and bad.  I write to plumb the depths of my despair so I can shine a light on it finally…for when the light is there, darkness cannot stay.

 

And while the pain is still great when I think of my dad’s disease and death, I can talk about it now.  I hope to write about it in greater detail one day.  Without the darkness, my heart is open.  And life is renewed.  I am still feeling my way along the path as it is a bit rocky some days, but now I am walking down the road of life again.  Embracing all the uncertainties, seeking out those things I previously hid from…those vulnerabilities that now bring me the greatest joys in my life.

 

 

Note:  The Hepatica here represents Confidence in the Language of Flowers.

 

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I leave you with another thought about vulnerability and strength.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

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

The Quiet Miracles of Change

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“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.”   ― Kiran Desai 

 

As a gardener, I can be quite obsessive when I start plants from seed; especially those for the veg garden.  I will read up on their requirements for planting, and how to tend them once they emerge from the soil.  And I will continue my daily vigilance once they start to grow, so I can monitor when they need water and have enough light and heat, all important for their growth and survival.

 

So it is no surprise that when I am contemplating a change in my life, I can be quite obsessive there too.  Or at least I have been in the past.  Reading, researching a topic, coming up with new schedules, ideas, plans….well you get the idea.  Sometimes, the change met with success, and sometimes not.  Sometimes I gave it time, and many times I did not as I wanted change to happen quickly.

 

And was the change sustained by me if there was immediate success?  Of course, but not so much when the change was delayed.  Many times I would file it away, and forget about what I had done thinking it did not work.  I would abandon all my efforts.  The funny thing is, that change was still growing and going.  I may not have been aware of it, but when I came back around to it, I found to my glee that change had happened.  And many times just like a seed planted and forgotten, nature takes care of it helping it to still grow.  All the work was important, but it just needed time. 

 

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Now I tend to let things go more.  I will read, write, contemplate and make the steps necessary for a change…but then I let it go.  You know the old saying, ‘if it was meant to be, it will be’; if not then perhaps something better is on the way instead, and I have learned from this too.

 

I call these changes that go on outside of my consciousness, quiet miracles.  They happen all the time because each day, each moment we are changing and different.  Each new bit of knowledge, each ah-ha moment, adds to the one before and the one coming after it….and it all changes again.  We aren’t aware of these quiet miracles until we see the fruit of our labors; if we are lucky to see them at all.  Some quiet miracles happen without us ever knowing.  One day in the future, you might hear about it from someone in passing, or from a blog reader in a comment. You might finally see the change in yourself or someone else.   And it is then you know that this quiet miracle has happened, giving you a sweet surprise that makes the effort worthwhile.

 

Recently I was doing a journaling exercise and was exploring this concept of change.  You can read more about it in a guest post I did for Mari McCarthy on her blog.  She is a journaling guru who has helped me to focus myself through journaling from time to time.  And in exploring change, I became aware of the idea of letting go.  Aware that courage is a part of change too.  I even wrote a poem about change, and posted it this past Sunday.  I consider the poem one of those quiet miracles.

 

I now am embracing change by recognizing these quiet miracles.  What’s the next surprise I will see?  They are just waiting, growing beneath the soil drinking in the nourishment needed until that brave day they break free and bloom right before my eyes.  Are you seeing any of the quiet miracles of change?  You just need to stop, wait, look….it is right over there.

 

 

Note:  The Sunflower here represents Pure Thoughts in the Language of Flowers.  Change is a powerful purifier of thoughts.

 

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I leave you with another thought about change.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

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

Poetry Sunday-Change

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 Change

 

Time is needed for change.

Patience is needed too.

Some things are out of our hands,

this I know to be true.

 

Allow for change,

grasp it.

Learn from change,

chase it.

 

Challenge and courage are blended.

As we permit it to unfold.

 Cultivating the rich rewards,

Embracing change foretold.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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I wrote this poem after going through a journaling exercise exploring who we are.  The prompt was, “I am aware that.”  The journaling guidance was provided by Mari McCarthy@CreateWriteNow.  

 

Mari asked me to write a guest post for her blog to talk about my journaling experiences, and what journaling means to me.  I hope you will stop by tomorrow to read the post.

 

 

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.  

 

 

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Special Note:  Blue hyacinths represent constancy, the antithesis of change.

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I leave you with a little bit of sentiment about change.  I welcome you to download the photo and share.

 

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

Tearing Down The Walls

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Be the kind of person you would like to be with. Some people come into our lives, make footprints on our hearts and we are never the same. People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.  ~Joseph F. Newton 

 

 

With retirement comes major changes in one’s life.  I anticipated many.  The extra time on my hands with no schedule.  Less money to pay for expenses.  And dealing with finding and paying for my own health insurance.  What I did not foresee was the isolation.  I should have figured this would be the case, but I am an introvert and we crave isolation over crowds and hours of human contact engaged in small talk.

 

For over 30 years, I lived in the realm of the extrovert during work hours, and sought refuge from it all when home.  After all being “on”, at work for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week was exhausting.  My family lives out-of-town virtually unreachable without a costly plane ride or a long drive.  Friends outside of work are few, the hallmark of an introvert.

 

Neighbors were neglected as work wore on me, and left very little time or want for being with “more” people.  So I had built a slick little world with a few friends, co-workers and family all kept at arms length making my world insulated and safe with enough human contact to last a lifetime…or so I thought.

 

As winter has hung on, my retirement has been spent in the cocoon of my home.  I long for my wildlife garden as it brings me hours of pleasure, a refuge for the critters and me.  But with the no garden, few critters and “cabin fever” hitting me suddenly, I found myself craving time with people.  Wow, what was this!

 

So when I had an invitation to a party from a neighbor, I decided to accept.  It was a party where a product was reviewed in hopes those attending would buy something.  In years past, I would have politely declined preferring instead to have respite at home on a Friday after a long week of work.

 

DSCN1215But I was not working, and I thought this would be a great test for me.  The day of the party, I almost didn’t go.  But I made the short walk, anyway, forcing myself forward with each step knowing there would be few people I knew at this party.  And lots of chit chat, a nightmare for any introvert.

 

At first I was quiet.  I listened.  Then I joined in a bit…even with the chit chat.  I found I was calm and let the evening unfold staying in the moment working through any fears.  And I had a nice time for an hour and a half.  I even bought a gift for a friend.  I was pleased with myself.  I had made it through without wanting to run screaming from my neighbor’s house seeking the refuge of my home.  And with this test passed, I even suggested dinner with friends the next evening.

 

Two social gatherings in two days would be unheard of for me usually.   But now I was experiencing more bouts of loneliness.  The well-built walls I had been dwelling behind were feeling far too confining.

 

So I am learning to reconnect.  To join in once again with the human tribe as I tear out the bricks of my isolation.  To seek opportunities in small chunks.  To build new bridges seeking out the company of people I have missed.

 

And as this amazing new discovery has certainly opened the eyes of this introvert, I will not forget its importance…..that continually establishing and maintaining human connections is essential along my life’s path.  

 

Note:  The bluebird pictured here is a symbol of happiness and good cheer.

 

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Update 8 months later:

This post was originally published March 27, 2014 as I was beginning my retirement.  Just getting used to the new-found freedom, the pros and cons of this new life.  I have kept the connections going although they were not as frequent as I thought due to health issues.

But I hope to keep human connections front and center, as we enter the holiday party season and the isolation of winter.  Here where there is a lot of snow, we tend to remain indoors and not see each other often in winter.

I am also planning a couple of trips to see family over the upcoming holidays.  Sometimes family can also be overwhelming, but I look forward to reconnecting and rekindling the light of my family so far away.

 

 

I leave you with another thought about relationships.  Please feel free to download the photo and share it.

 

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

Poetry Sunday-Trees

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I Am The Tree

 

Erect I stand, strong of will.

Defying the wind, and all nature can swill.

 

I cast my eyes to take in the scene,

While all around is washed white and serene.

 

The strength of my roots and courage in my stance,

Will serve me well in life’s new dance.

© Donna Donabella 2014

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I am participating in The Personal Photo Challenge hosted by Donna@Cottage Days and Journeys.  This month’s challenge is called Trees.   I wrote this poem on the first day of my retirement, March 3rd 2014, after over 30 years in public education.  It is a testament to my perseverance and what awaits me now in my new life beginning again.  I hope you enjoy the poem.

 

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

 

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Special Note:  These trees are from my garden and surrounding my garden.  The views I see every fall when trees are at their finest.

 

All photos were taken on auto mode and processed in iPhoto (so nothing fancy).  The collage was made in Fotor.com.  The last image was taken in black and white on a foggy autumn morning and processed in PicMonkey.com to add the text and frame.

 

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I leave you with a bit of a sentiment about trees and planting dreams.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

 

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

Poetry Sunday-Thrive

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Thrive

 

Moving forward

Slowly along a path-

With a sense of hope and

Renewal welling up.

Inside filling me

With a burning desire

That shines bright

Radiating all around.

A deep realization growing,

Flourishing, strong, thriving!

 

© Donna Donabella 2013

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I wrote this poem New Year’s Eve 2013 as I chose my word to focus on for the year.  This past year’s word has been Thrive.  I chose the word before I decided to retire and this word has served me well to set the foundation to heal and ready myself for the next steps.

 

 

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.  

 

 

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Special Note:  Butterflies represent transformation.  And monarchs are especially important as their numbers certainly have been declining.  But it seems they continue to thrive and it is reported that their numbers are beginning to increase with this years southern migration.

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I leave you with a little bit of sentiment about butterflies, transformation and thriving.  I welcome you to download the photo and share.

monarch

 

 

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

 

Hunger

DSCN3789Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.  ~Les Brown

 

 

I have been restless these days.  I am not sure what is behind it all.  Perhaps the fact that spring and summer flew by without me being engaged in the these critical months.  Months I crave for time in the garden and renewal.  But alas they are gone…and fall is quickly blowing through.  Soon it too will be no more, and I find the abyss of winter daunting.

 

This cold, frozen season will bury us under her canopy of white…frigid winds howling daily seeping into every crack and crevice .  Frost covering everything like an ice palace.  And while I love the slow, healing time of winter, I loathe its lingering.  It finds us in November, usually, and stays until late March and many times not leaving until April.

 

I am tied to the land here.  It is hard to explain, but every spring I am filled with a deep hunger to start again.  Plant new seeds and watch them magically grow as if I have given them life.  I can plant seeds in winter and grow them under lights, but that artificial light is not enough for them or me.  I long for the warm sun to bathe my skin and give life to the soil once more.

 

I have projects lined up to sustain me for the four to six months of winter’s exile.  Exercise and creative pursuits like drawing, designing and writing.  But there is something I am hungering for…it is a deep longing I cannot yet put into words.  Something is coming, born on the wind that blows through my life.  The seeds planted now to wait through this long, agonizing winter to come.

 

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And though I have no words to describe it yet, it is there none-the-less.  I wait, I pine, I plan, I prepare.  It will be here soon.  And will I be ready…can I ever be.  I will embrace the challenge and change that waits for me with trepidation and joy.  I can almost see it as the fog lifts and is burned off by the bright light of the sun waiting to show the world what will be.

 

So now I hunger for this change.  A soulful longing brought forth finally.  Something I must touch, I must do, I must see.  It is an absolute yearning that I will put every fiber of my being into until I lay, prostrate exhausted unable to move any muscle.  It is deep inside me needing to be voiced, to be seen.

 

Have you ever had this hunger?  If you have, then you know it and I need not describe it for you any further.  If you have never hungered like this, then I cannot describe it further for you as it will make no sense until you feel the deep pull inside you.  But oh if you hunger as I do right now, grab hold of it and ride that howling wind for all its worth.  I know you will not regret one moment of being pulled, whipped and blown about as it finally lights upon the new green growth ready to unfold.  Reborn, newborn a passionate hunger attained.

 

 

Note:  The rudbeckias here represent Encouragement, Motivation in the Language of Flowers.

 

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I leave you with another thought about motivation and hunger.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

 

rudbeckia

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

A Saboteur Heals

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“Sometimes you hit a point where you either change or self destruct.” 
― Sam Stevens

 

Life sometimes brings you messages, signals that if you pay attention will serve you well.  I missed many signals for a long time.  And while life brings on its own stresses some jobs add to it.  But we can manage stress in our lives, if we can see it happening.  I did not see it happening for a long time.

 

Stress builds up in your body and disrupts all your systems.  You don’t eat regular meals, you gain weight, you work long, long hours and bring work home.  You are on call with little time to play or have hobbies or exercise.  Years of bad eating habits don’t help….I have been a sugar addict from a very young age.  And more and more illnesses escalate and can bring you close to death.  I had several wake up calls, all unanswered.

 

But life kept intervening, thankfully, and I started to pay attention.  Change my diet…harder to do but not impossible.  Exercise….start slow and have fun with it.  Take time to do the things you love….absolutely.  So why could I not sustain it, keep it going?

 

I have tried to change some habits.  I knew my health depended on it.  I added meditation which helped with some stress. I would give up sugar only to run right back bingeing on it until I was almost sick.  I would start an exercise regime knowing I couldn’t sustain the time needed.  So why were these bad habits that got me into trouble not changing?  They crept back in, and even a little was enough to start the unhealthy cycle.  And when I finally stared hard in the mirror, I realized I was sabotaging myself and not really wanting to heal.

 

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“My illness, I well knew, had been entirely brought on by myself by such negligence of my own health, as I had felt even at the time to be wrong. Had I died, it would have been self-destruction.” 

 Jane Austen

 

I am still wrestling with this and trying to figure out why it is hard to make these changes…and maybe I am afraid that all the effort will not work yet again mostly because my heart was not in it.  But regardless I know I need to do something.  And I am determined to go down this path of healing now that I have decided to retire.  The retirement itself was for my own health.  But it is not enough.

 

What is important for me is that I heal the whole me….mind, body, spirit.  I have worked first on my mind and spirit.  And I have made great progress in these areas.  So now it is time for me to heal the rest of me.  And this is the hardest work.  And I will make false steps.  I will fail.  And I will make small steps forward and big steps back.  But the important thing is that I not give up.  That I not engage in that incessant negative self-talk that always sabotages my efforts.  That instead I keep the picture of perfect health front and center.  Yes I do believe that this idea of already having perfect health will finally diminish the saboteur until she is finally silenced.

 

Note:  It is said that if you cannot find an herb to treat your disorder then try the rose.  The rose is said to be a panacea and can treat stomach disorders, kidney and bladder disease, gallbladder, exhaustion, skin problems and more.

 

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Update 3 months later:

This post was originally published July 7, 2014 as my last post for Vision and Verb.  It was a bittersweet time as I did not want to say goodbye to writing for Vision and Verb.   I had just begun 7 months earlier and had so much I wanted to share with this incredible group of women.

But things will end as they must and we must find our next path.  And this blog was born from that change.  So I thank Marcie the founder of Vision and Verb for pushing me out of the nest a little sooner than I had anticipated.

And to the tribe I found at Vision and Verb, thank you for continuing to show up here and support me.

 

 

I leave you with another thought about healing.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

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

 

Poetry Sunday-Mending

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Mending

 

 

Like the frayed edges of my favorite shirt,

Warm and comfortable with the holes.

 

 

Torn pages of a special childhood book,

Smudged with memories.

 

 

Worn photos, now the colors fading and antique,

As if that time will be gone, forgotten.

 

 

Scars lighten, barely visible,

Fully healed, the wounds still linger.

 

 

But less tears shed now with the mending,

The knitting of the tears that ripped the heart.

 

 

A restoration has begun,

A spirit made whole.

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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I have been going through a healing time this first year of my retirement.  This poem conveys the tears (crying) and tears (ripping) of that healing.

 

 

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.  

 

 

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Special Note:  The helenium pictured here represents tears (the crying kind).  In this case healing tears.

 

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I leave you with a little bit of sentiment about love and life that can still come even from the tears.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

 

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

 

Poetry Sunday-Still Life

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Still Life

 

The heat of my days is gone,

now a tinge of coolness on the wind lingers.

 

Soft colors faded from the garish summer sun,

as light shines at an angle, my perceptions skewed.

 

Gone is the black and white, the absolute.

Born is the gray, the in-between that stays.

 

Locked in my periphery, soon movements far afield will dim,

all will stretch out before me barren, a new canvas.

 

Awaiting the first brush strokes of fresh color,

a novel design-now the whisper of a dream awaits.

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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I am participating in The Personal Photo Challenge hosted by Donna@Cottage Days and Journeys.  This month’s challenge is called Still Life.  So I decided to create a poem about how my garden has become a still life as it fades and withers to winter, and that it still has life as do I as I age being reborn again.  There are multiple meanings in this poem but you can also take it at face value.  I hope you enjoy the poem.

 

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

 

And speaking of wonderful verse, my friend Susie@Life.Change.Compost has written a  beautiful poem she is featuring this week.  I encourage you to read it…you will be glad you did.  Susie is a gifted writer and I look forward to her posts.

 

still life

 

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.  

 

 

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Special Note:  These vases were some of my favorite still lifes from this past summer.  All were created by me with flowers and foliage from my garden.

 

All photos were taken on auto mode and processed in iPhoto (so nothing fancy).  The first collage was made in Fotor.com and the last image created in PicMonkey.com to add the text and frame.

 

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I leave you with a bit of a sentiment about dreaming.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

still life dream

 

 

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

Finding The Productive Path

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“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  ~ Steve Jobs

 

 

I am a couch potato by nature meaning I enjoy just sitting.  Sitting and and reading.  Or sitting and glancing out my windows at the gardens and nature around me.  And I love to sit and watch old classic movies from the 1930s and 40s.  It is my ultimate escape from work, worry and engagement with others.  I use it as a numbing technique when I am overwhelmed or need to shut myself off.

 

And since retiring, I have found I needed that numbing for a while.  A cocoon to encase myself as I healed and rested.  Being a workaholic for so many years, it would seem it would be hard to sit still.  But not so.  It was easy to fall into the habit.  Not have an agenda.  Not have any set ambition for the days, the months ahead.

 

Oh yes I had my garden blog and I had big plans for my garden, but life intervened and my health issues forced me to rest more than I had planned….No you are not going to go out and spend hours, days and weeks beating up your body to make-over gardens.….They are not ready, you are not ready.  So this was what I was relegated to do…just sit.

 

DSCN4201So I did just what my body told me to do for 5 months initially.  Then this summer, I broke free a little and allowed myself to explore more with photography.  And I started this blog as a vehicle to continue the exploration, the creative endeavors and the healing.  But I never stopped mostly sitting and observing.

 

It had become part of me this waiting and looking.  This quiet time to see deeply into the landscape of my gardens and my soul.  To see what would be the productive path.  What I want to do and love to do, not wishing for a different life or hoping things would change.  But a deep knowing this was what I wanted to do now.

 

And there will come a time soon when I will be ready to move on again.  To add the next steps in my journey.  But developing the habit of waiting, looking and now intuitively knowing has been more productive than any other work I could have done.  It is the lesson of slowing down I had not been able to master.

 

Now not just “busying” up my day, but following what the heart and soul desires.  Floating through the day like a butterfly searching for the sweet nectar.  Then alighting there to drink it in until full.  Moving only when the sun sets, to start again the next day to find my next source…my desire.  It can be anywhere you know as long as you take time to sit and look for it.  And I will know it as it waits for me to follow along again floating on the wind.

 

 

Note:  Goldenrod means encouragement in the Language of Flowers.

 

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I leave you with another thought about living a full life.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

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

Saying Goodbye

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 “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”  ~Ann Landers

 

I have been toying with the idea of retirement for a few years now.  As I neared the 30 year mark and 55 years of age (the markers for qualifying for retirement from public education in my state), I was sure I would retire the first year I was eligible.  But a funny thing happened as it approached, I became unsure.  Always saying yes I am retiring…no hesitation…. while inside feeling sad and unable to understand why I was feeling suddenly so confused.

 

Why was it so hard to let go of a job after 30 years especially when the last few have been very difficult.  It wasn’t until I read this passage that a bit of light started to niggle at the corners of my consciousness.

 

 In life, goodbyes are a gift.  When certain people walk away from you, and certain opportunities close their doors on you, there is no need to hold onto them or pray to keep them present in your life.  If they close you out, take it as a direct indication that these people, circumstances and opportunities are not part of the plan for the next step of your life.  It’s a hint that your personal growth requires someone different and something more, and life is simply making room.  So embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive sets you up for an even better “hello.” Mark and Angel Chernoff

 

DSCN1843There it was.  Simple really to understand but equally difficult to put into practice.  Letting go of my past life to embrace this new journey into the unknown is scary.  It feels like I am going into a haunted house in the dark of night not sure what pits and falls might be around the corner.  Can you feel the fear mount…the butterflies in my stomach…the hair on the back of my neck standing up…chills running down my spine.  So how do I deal with all this fear and simply let go?

 

It is hard to say goodbye to a big part of our lives, but it is necessary to move into the next best phase.  To transition, a part of me has to die.  So that grief I have been experiencing is only natural.  In fact it is necessary.  And as I have slowly removed this veil of grief, I am looking now toward the light shining bright for me as I retire at the end of this month.

 

And as I move on there will still be tears, there will still be confusion.  I will be learning to walk all over again on this new path in these brand new shoes.  I am not sure if retirement is a death, a rebirth or a reconstitution of one’s self.  But above all it is a celebration.  Time to celebrate all I have become and all I have learned as I finally let go.  I am most grateful for it all-good and bad.  And I welcome this next phase and its precious gift as I say goodbye, and get ready to say hello world it’s me and I am so happy to be here!

 

Note:  Butterflyweed means “Let me go” in the Language of Flowers.

 

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Update 7 months later:

This post was  originally published February 21, 2014 as I was getting ready to retire on March 3, 2014.  And retire I did.  It felt strange for about a month.  Almost like an extended vacation.

But with many health problems cropping up, it was the best decision I could have made as I found I needed surgery in mid-May to repair a hernia.  The surgery and recovery were more extensive so the gift of retirement so far is for me to heal.  Physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

And I am grateful for every moment I have to slow down, watch the critters in my garden, pick flowers, take photographs, create new meals, harvest the veg garden and just be.  I plan to do a follow up post about my retirement soon.

 

 

I leave you with another thought about letting go.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

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

 

The Worry-Go-Round

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“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom

 

I come from a long line of worriers.  My world was steeped in their distress.  Maybe they worried because of the events of their time… living in poverty, experiencing many wars.  Losing loved ones and friends to sickness.  Survival was their mantra.

 

But as they grew it seemed their worries only grew, never diminishing.  And that was the world I knew.  If I was sick, the worry was would I survive….of course I was sickly as a young child, born with asthma and almost died of pneumonia when I was one.  And I began to worry at an early age, as children listen and take in the feelings around them.

 

The daily messages were life sucks, nothing ever goes right, we can’t catch a break…the not-so-positive messages that were not always in your face, but presented more subtly.  So we were raised with that subliminal message to think the worst would always happen.  Maybe it was a survival technique.  If you didn’t raise your hopes, then they couldn’t be dashed too harshly.

 

But in living with these negative messages of circumstance all the time, I would never think to aim too high…I was afraid of the long fall.  And life was predetermined so just suck it up and live with the misery.  As I look back on it, I realized how sad some of those worriers were.  They did not have much of a life because they would never dare to strive for it.  And I seemed to always be settling for what was thrust upon me having no hope to make it better.

 

 

DSCN1240I am not sure when the shift happened….it was a slow turn where I would work at worrying less.  But I’d get only so far away from the Worry Road, and then something would happen.  The worry would suck me in dropping me back on the Worry-Go-Round until I was dizzy with it again.

 

But I can tell you when I was freed from the endless, needless cycle or worry.  It began when I started to slow, to just be with myself.  It continued with daily practices of meditation, leaning in to emotions and then letting them go.  When I dropped self-judgment and immersed myself in doing what I loved, I found happiness surrounded me, a beacon shining from deep within.  

 

Currently I find any worries have been pushed into my subconscious and show up in my dreams from time to time.  So when I catch these worries, I am gentle with myself as I acknowledge there is nothing to fear and then I bid it adieu.  I am not perfect with this…nor will I ever be.  It is a process to lessen the worries that will show up from time to time.  But they cannot last long as each dawn that beacon chases away any darkness that wants to linger.

 

 

As a side note….I have recently come across many readings about worry.  It was also one of the lessons I worked through during Sandra Pawula’s Mini-Mindfulness Challenge.  I liked the gentle way she approached diminishing worry.  If you have a chance check out her blog, and this wonderful set of lessons.

 

 

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Special Note:  Queen Anne’s Lace signifies haven, home, comfort; antidotes for worry.

 

 

The picture below is my gift to you this week.  Please download it and use it to spread light.

QAL-worry

 

 

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

 

You Need To Listen To Me

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“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

 

 

As summer wanes, the silence increases.  Little birdsong is left as many parents and young ones get ready for the trip South.  Crickets and locust still continue their chirping day and night, but the frogs’ croaking has lessened as well.

 

With the movement now of summer to fall, I begin to hear the crunching of the leaves.  I hear the grasses rustle and sway.  Soothing sounds that nature gives us that seem to move with my breathing in and out.

 

And with the quieter times in the garden, I revel in that solitude.  It gives me a chance to listen intently to every little sound now.  And to listen to my internal voice.  It usually is too busy with so much outside stimuli that I can never quite hear its message entirely.

 

DSCN2616I often think we don’t listen enough to ourselves and to others.  I have definitely been more of a talker instead of a listener.  Nodding, shaking my head…in a hurry…get to the point…I need to move on to a meeting….oh yes I have done that too…now what was I going to respond…need to keep that thought in my head…what were they saying…..that was the usual discourse going through my head as someone was talking.  Not listening, just hearing dribs and drabs so it would appear as though I was.

 

And I wasn’t proud of those moments.  Sometimes I wished I had the time to listen more, to really listen.  Maybe to make the time to listen.  When I took time to listen to people who came to me, I was helpful even it was just to lend an ear and not to give advice.  People need to run their ideas or their troubles by someone and sometimes come up with their own solutions.

 

But beyond those times when someone came and I had time, I wish I had connected more with people.  Spending less time talking….this is hard for me…..and more time listening.   Hearing them, letting them talk.  Getting to know someone by letting them tell you about themselves without interjecting about my life.

 

But listening isn’t easy, is it.  To keep your attention focused on someone else.  Really hearing their words, watching their body language totally engaged with them.  Not wanting to respond and get your ideas or experiences out.

 

It is a gift to give someone your full attention.  And when I give this gift, I find I have less of a need to talk.  Instead I crave the connection that comes from this gift…a more special experience.  Giving someone my attention, my time….I can’t think of a better gift, can you.

 

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Special Note:  The plant featured in this post is Northern Sea Oats.  It is a wonderful native grass that grows here, and I love to listen to it rustle from late summer through winter.

 

I leave you with another thought about listening in my garden.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

 

listening

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