Poetry Sunday: The Drought

 

The Drought

 

Clouds drift along in the blue-grey sky,

Words and phrases obscuring the sun.

Drifting in and out of my consciousness,

Not wanting to be captured on paper.

 

 

I am like the earth and sky

Seeking balance between rain and drought.

My heart knows when

It will be time to come home again.

 

 

Distracted at present-

A monarch floats into my line of sight,

While a hummingbird peeks through the window

To see only its reflection against the vast darkness.

 

 

For now I am content

To let the words drift among the clouds.

Soon enough they will meld into a storm, and

Rain down freely again, singing on the page.

 

©Donna Donabella 2018

 

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This is a poem that was started a few year’s ago, and like the poem says, it drifted in and out of my consciousness until it fully formed recently.  Poetry can come easily or be a bit elusive….but I don’t obsess about it.  I keep a journal of phrases, lines, ideas, and revisit them until they decide to rain down fully into a poem.

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2018.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: I Am Called

I Am Called

 

I am called from deep slumber
To awaken now.
A dynamic spark firing through me
Beckons me from hibernation.
Emboldens me to germinate
Seeds of inspiration.
And as the icy shield melts from my body,
I feel a creative fire building inside greeting the sunrise
On this first spring day!

©Donna Donabella 2018

 

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As March begins, my thoughts turn to spring, a season that takes it time to show up this far north.  And as I await spring, I keep preparing by starting seeds early for the veg garden in late May.  And I clean and clear the garden as the weather permits.

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

 

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2018.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Word of the Year-TEND

 

 

Tend

 

Ex-tending myself for far too long

In-tending to slow and embrace ease

But I was just Pre-tending.

 

 

Now Con-tending with the after effects of the stress.

Unin-tended consequences none-the-less happening,

When you have a Tend-ency to overdo it for far too long.

 

 

So now I must At-tend to my not so selfish needs

With extreme Tend-erness in body, mind and soul.

Tend-ing to my hearth and home madly, gladly with ease.

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

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Every year I pick a word to help guide my year.  This year TEND came up with ease, shining down giving me peace and healing just to say it.  I started a healing path in late 2016, and found my ROAR, my voice and power, again this past year…..now I want to TEND to my inner fire, my home within and surrounding me.

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

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I leave you with an additional image for TEND.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Dear Sky

 

Dear Sky

 

 

Dear Sky:

 

I bask under your brilliance,

I sigh as you lighten through the hours.

 

 

I relax as you color my end of day,

And I contemplate beneath your moon and stars.

 

 

Your colors emerge and delight;

They renew my soul and sing to me.

 

 

Yes, Dear Sky you are my muse,

My life giving breath, and I honor you.

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

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Another epistolary poem, in the series I am writing, from a letter I wrote in April of 2016.  This poem was written on a morning of brilliance as the sun rose.  I hope to post one of these a month.  I will be taking time off for the rest of December….enjoy your holidays and I will see you around the New Year.

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Nature Speak

Nature Speak

 

Dewdrops of rain kissing leaf and flower,

Cool crisp breeze cleanses my soul.

The hum of bee and cicada fills the air,

Sun warms my skin, lulling me into a trance.

The leaves bend with the wind,

Keeping time with my heart.

The flow of life all around me,

As I stand in this one moment.

© Donna Donabella 2017

 

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I was reading a wonderful book, which inspired me to write a stream of consciousness poem in one minute this summer…staying in the moment.  So I went out after a rainstorm, sat on my step, breathed in and observed for one minute (OK 3 minutes) and wrote my thoughts and observations from the heart.

 

The pictures here are of bees going crazy for my native Summersweet bush flowers this summer…it has a dreamy scent.

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up, Poetry Pantry, for poets who blog.

 

 

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

 

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Weaving A Life

Weaving A Life

 

 

When I first looked at the spider, all I could see was a creepy vixen waiting to trap and enslave her prey.  But now, I notice the webs, the homes lovingly created to provide food, shelter and a home to nurture her young.

A mighty creature, the garden spider goes about making beauty all over the garden.  And she also helps keep a healthy habitat for all creatures who rely on the food chain.  Sometimes eating, sometimes eaten~she is essential!

Old tales tell of Grandmother Spider stealing a piece of the sun.  She rode her silken threads back to earth, with her treasure tucked under one of her mighty legs.  And if you look upon her web today, you can still see the sun’s delicate pattern woven there.

And the Ancient Ones wove a spectacular tale about climbing to heaven on spider silk.  Perhaps that is why dream catchers are made in the shape of a spider web.  To catch our dreams as we climb each night into the heavens.

 

 

Silken threads glisten

New patterns made on life’s loom

Woven in a moment, a blink

 

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

 

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I love watching spiders in our garden.  They make incredible displays from spring into summer and even into fall, where their handiwork glistens in the dew.  You can see those displays below.  They always seem to be weaving a life as they spin their webs.

I created this haibun, to sing their praises.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their Poetry Pantry link up.

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Taking Back A Life

 

 

Taking Back A Life

 

 

There is a change coming

Riding high on this mighty wind.

A soulful stirring

A door opens

I stand upon a threshold

Pausing now-

Eager to cross yet fear holds me tight in place.

 

 

The scent upon the breeze stirs my every cell

Filling me with a joyful excitement

Brushing my skin-tingling-

I am awakened.

 

 

Toes stirring, ready for this chance

Taking back a life full of promise.

Not knowing where we are headed

Is the best part of this journey

Coming alive.

 

 

So here we go!

Taking – that – first – step

Toward my destiny…. no looking back!

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

 

 

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This poem came streaming out of me after I finally let go of my fears and attended a writer’s conference.  I knew this was going to be a big step towards fulfilling my destiny, and that once I entered, and crossed the threshold, there was no turning back!

 

The pictures here are hummers visiting the garden this year…they represent pure bliss and joy!

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up, Poetry Pantry, for poets who blog.

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: This is for us…..

 

 

This is for us……

 

 

I scratch the earth

to plant a seed,

and watch it grow and bloom and green.

 

 

And I scribble these words

across a page,

to capture my heart as I wrinkle with age.

 

 

You splash fine colors

on a canvas blue,

with red and orange and all manner of hue.

 

 

And you scramble an egg

whipped together with ease,

adding onions and herbs to create a feast.

 

 

We dance upon life’s stage

whirling round,

playing on our heartstrings melodious sounds.

 

 

Oh this beauty of creation

we bring to life every day,

brightens our world in moments we give love away.

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

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It has been almost a year since I have written here on this blog….since I injured my shoulder and had to listen to my body and really rest which meant no writing or gardening (I am right handed and the injury was to my right shoulder).  I learned to be more left- handed….and it has been a good rest.  I have discovered much about myself and my journey while away.

 

I had no clue when and how I would return to this blog and writing poetry.  But the day my beloved Aunt Mary passed (July 3rd) I wrote a blog post on my other blog and 3 poems.  This poem is one of them.  It seems the floodgates are open again.  This poem is based on my interpretation of a quote I used on my tribute post to my aunt.  It captures my essence and my purpose these days and how much Aunt Mary has influenced my life.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to…
~Charlotte Eriksson

 

I am joining  Poets United for their Poetry Pantry linkup.  The roses here have been blooming in my garden for weeks in honor of my Aunt Mary Rose.

 

 

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I leave you with a another image about creating.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Creative Quest

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“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”
~Steve Jobs

 

 

 

Recently, I took part in a week-long Photo Quest (#celebrateARTlife ), put together by Whitney Freya.  I find when I take part in photo challenges, I really reach deep inside and touch my creative soul.  So I was excited to participate.

Each day we were given prompts, and then asked to look at the symbolism of our subject.  I liked the idea of the symbolism, as it revealed much about me, and where I am on my journey.  

Initially, I posted these photos and narratives on my Facebook Page, but I wanted to combine them and post them here too, where I like to showcase what I am creating.  I hope you enjoy the Photo Quest as much as I did…..

 

 

day1 garden maiden

On Day 1, we had to post a picture of a favorite piece in our house that has special meaning for us.  I chose my Garden Water Maiden statue.  Here is what I wrote about this photo:

 

As a long time gardener, she has special meaning for me. I feel she symbolizes gardeners like myself who cherish the land and the critters who live there. She has made her home in my house for a number of years.

And the water jug she carries symbolizes healing water.

Water also symbolizes friendship and love connecting us to the world. It is vital for life, and is a feminine element. Water is also the element of emotion, purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. Water seems to be the perfect symbol for me now as I work on healing and connecting. And we could all use a bit more healing with cleansing water in the world!

 

 

day2 pink

On Day 2, I had to take a picture of my favorite color at the moment.  I was surprised with my choice:

 

Right now pink is catching my eye. I don’t have much pink in the house, but I have a few key pieces like this lovely rose quartz box that belonged to my mother-in-law. It is special and means a lot to me.

Pink has special significance for me right now too. It has very special meanings that are an important part of my healing journey. Pink represents unconditional love, hope, compassion and nurturing. Pink is intuitive, and shows kindness. And pink can signify good health. What a luscious color in my world right now.

 

 

day3 star

Day 3 we had to take a photo of a shape or pattern that was catching my eye.  I thought it would take a while to zero in on one, but I noticed my shape right away:

 

It seems stars are shining for me at the moment. This one is of particular significance; a gift from a dear friend in NM.

Stars have wonderful symbolism and shine the light on our self-reliance. They also symbolize navigation; for me it is navigating a new path with retirement and writing. Stars seem to be guiding my way to my passion and dream, and suggesting I take some bold steps. And this particular star has the Native American lizard symbol on it, also significant for me right now as it represents healing and survival.

 

 

day4 echinacea

Day 4’s prompt was perfect for me, as we had to take a photo of a flower that was most attractive at the moment.  I wasn’t sure what flower I would choose until I went into the garden:

  

Echinacea purpurea, also know as coneflower, is a native wildflower growing throughout my garden smiling on me every day. 

It is a special flower as it represents Strength and Health.  And it is said that Echinacea helps remove whatever is holding you back allowing you to let go of stagnate energy.  It also supports transitions to new ways of doing things.  You should use Echinacea when your self-image is beginning to change, but you haven’t completely become your “new” self.

It is interesting that this flower is capturing my attention as I continue on my journey of retirement, change and healing.  A good flower to keep around me!

 

 

Day5 mandala

On Day 5, we had to create a mandala with materials found inside or out.  I had so many ideas, but when I happened on these materials:

 

I thought about flower petals and stones outside.  But it was hot and humid, so instead I noticed some California poppy petals curled and dried on my little bench indoors.  I gathered some little stones and some live petals from a hydrangea flower in a vase, to add to the mandala.

I am combining materials from the indoors with outdoors for my mandala.  And if you look closely you will see both live and dead materials.  The live or current ringing the past.  And there is much pollen left in those long dead petals, which seem to represent my past life.  These seem to say to me that I have learned so much from my past, and it has propelled me to my current place now.

I also found working with such small materials to represent the minimalism and mindfulness that I am adopting these days.  All in all, this seems to be a pretty significant mandala that I created today.

 

 

Day6 altar

Day 6 had us displaying our sacred space.  I have one inside and one outside, so:

 

I thought I would show a peek at the altar in my sacred space indoors.  It holds many cherished memories and mementos.  It is where I go to relax, to meditate, to read and reflect.

The picture is one of water lilies to remind me of my pond and cleansing water.  The bowl is from a friend filled with last year’s rose petals….the parts of me I am letting go.  The cloisonné bell was a present from my parents that was given to me in my former life as a teacher.  In the right hand corner you can see a bit of the Georgia O’Keeffe comparative stamps given to me by a dear friend and a picture of my dad.  And the vase of fresh white flowers represents my outdoor sacred space, my garden.  White is significant as it symbolizes light, goodness and safety. 

I painted this sacred space a bright vibrant green, a very significant color as green is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy.  It also represents growth, fertility and environment. All the feelings important to cultivate in my sacred space.  When I enter there, I have the feeling that I am home.

 

 

day7selfie

Finally on Day 7, we had to take a selfie of ourselves doing something we love.  What a way to end the quest, with the most challenging prompt:

 

Those who know me well, know I do not take selfies, but I certainly am up to the challenge.  I decided to take a picture of myself doing something I have loved to do since I was very young….reading.  I spend hours a day reading for pleasure.  And my favorite spot is in my sacred place in my rocker next to the window.

This summer I have been reading more self-help, motivational books that have helped me connect to my inner source.  And this personal growth is coming out in my creative self especially through my writing and poetry….and now in my photography with this challenge.

This is our last day of the photo challenge, and I am feeling a sense that I will miss this creative time as it has energized me.  But I am sure I will stay connected through my creative endeavors in some way.  I want to thank Whitney Freya for a most marvelous adventure!

 

 

echinacea

What creative quests have you been on lately?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  

The echinacea in the mosaic and at the top of the post were the rest of the photos I took for Day 4.  it was hard to choose from all these fabulous shots of an amazing native plant that grows all throughout my garden.  You can learn more about echinacea in my garden post.

 

The photo below is another perspective of the mandala I created.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about creativity and my inner fire.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

inner fire

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Dear Imagination

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Dear Imagination:

 

 

You come to me on crayon-colored rainbows

scrawled on envelopes and walls.

You ride on the wind with swings flying high,

and bike spokes pinned with cards, clapping like hoof beats.

You roll down hills laughing so hard

you can hardly breath.

And you plunk down in a meadow plucking yellow and white petals

to the tune of, “He loves me, he loves me not!”

 

 

 

You are part of my soul.

Maybe its most important part.

You have been with me for all my life.

And you are my saving grace.

You are what makes my heart sing.

I am forever yours.

 

 

 

Now there have been times I may not

have been open enough to hear you,

But rest assured I will not let

Fear, Worry, Doubt and Self-Judgement shut you out.

Your voice will sing to me all my days,

and we can ride the clouds to new adventures!

 

 

 

As we lay under the leaves of maple and oak and ash.

And dream of forts, and pirates and princesses.

Making braids of grass and playing tunes on leaves.

Laughing until we can hardly breath.

 

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

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I am bringing you another epistolary poem from a letter I wrote in April.  This one is special, recalling my inspirational days of childhood.  I have included pictures of native purple lupines which represent ‘Imagination‘.

 

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

lupines

 

 

 

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

dear imagination

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Learning Everyday

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“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

Many times when I look at nature, around me in my garden, I see one thing.  And when I look again at the pictures I take, I see so much more.  I see deep into these scenes, and each one teaches me something daily.  So I thought, why not share some of the things I learned by watching nature in late spring….

 

 

Starting with the top picture, we are watching the baby bunny who was born here in our garden, and now visits.  He is adorable, and I noticed I captured more of his shadow, than of him, as he scampered about.  He was tasting the weeds and plants between the bricks as he is learning what he likes.

 

 

 

sunrise

Seeing the sunrise, is a glorious event that gets better as dawn unfolds.   I have learned to have patience, and take time to see the sun rise completely….you will be glad if you do.

 

 

 

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And don’t forget sunset.  Even through the clouds the view can be amazing!

 

 

 

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I love wandering in the garden early in the morning.  The light playing off and through the plants can take my breath away.

 

 

 

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And even on a gray day I can see beauty.  The water lilies shine against the dark water and lily pads

 

 

 

orange flowers

I am noticing the orange flowers showing up now.  Orange poppies, first daylily and the Geum.  They stand out against the sea of green and purple blooming right now.  And this little bit of bright color, adds so much to my view.

 

 

 

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These ox-eye daisies are an non-native plant that spreads all around my garden.  I used to see them as a nuisance. but now I love the surprise of their blooms ever year.  And at night, you can see them shining all over the garden like beacons.

 

 

 

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Like many native plants, this Zizia aurea has seeded itself around the garden and meadow.  And as you can see it is a pollinator favorite.  I picked a few for a vase, and learned they not only have a beautiful, long-lasting flower, but they have an amazing citrus fragrance too.  I can’t get enough of them.

 

 

 

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Looking closely at a plant, can give you a special surprise.  I love seeing the unusual petals I might not notice unless I took a closer look.

 

 

 

What are you learning from Nature these days?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  

I am moving my Thursday posts to Wednesday starting in July.  I will still have my poetry posts on Sunday, with maybe another poetry post midweek each month.  The little fairy house, below, was made by a neighbor and friend…..isn’t that just the sweetest gift.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words learning everyday.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

learning

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Beyond Words: Spring At The Lake

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“Silence was the cure, if only temporarily, silence and geography. But of what was I being cured? I do not know, have never known. I only know the cure. Silence, and no connections except to landscape.” 

-Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

 

 

I wanted to wrap up this series with another trip back to the lake across the street.  Several months ago, I started this series called, Beyond Words.  I wanted to showcase different spots I find, in pictures, with as few words as possible.  I have been focusing on the lake across the street; already seen in late summer, late autumn and winter.

 

 

Now as we are full into spring here, I thought it would be interesting to see how spring unfolded in late April at the lake.  It was chilly still in April.  Some days were warm, and many nights freezing cold.  But still life moved along, and the leaves just started to show up on the trees.

 

 

So let’s see what early spring looked like, at the lake.

 

 

 

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This is the iconic view as you pull up to the beach.  Picnic tables and grills to the left in the trees, and the playground and bathhouse to the right.  Of course the still lake in the background is always a peaceful sight…..when there are no swimmers!

 

 

 

beach collage

The beach wasn’t much different, just a bit greener as the grass grew quickly through the sand in spring.  Soon the machines will be there to dig up the sand, sift it and get it ready when the beach opens this weekend.  For now, geese and gulls are making the beach their home.  And watch out for those cigar-sized goose droppings.

 

 

 

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Closer to the shore you can see all the grass and wood debris that continues to wash up on shore, all needing to be cleaned up too.

 

 

 

jetty collage

Looking left toward the jetty we can see it is just beginning to green up, and tall grasses will grow out into the lake soon.  Mallards are likely nesting along the shore.

 

 

 

woods collage

Again looking toward the little cove, we see all the tall grasses and weedy plants, along with small trees greening up too.  I love how the lake was still and calm making it a reflecting pond.

 

 

 

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As there were no fishermen on the lake or boats yet, I turned around toward the woods that were alive with activity.

 

 

 

tree collage

Looking up we can see visitors stopping by.  I was unsure who this was….perhaps a sparrow.  And I was checking out the woodpecker holes to see if anyone was claiming them as a home.  And you can see the maple trees were first to leaf out.

 

 

 

bench collage

I decided to walk the path to the bench.  It looked a bit lonely at the edge of the grassy beach.  Lots of bright glaring sunlight around mid-morning.

 

 

 

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I turned back around toward the right again, and saw clouds were beginning to roll in, almost giving the long view, out to the point, a foggy appearance.

 

 

 

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As I walked away, I turned back to look through the woods where the sun was still shining….this view will remain etched on my brain.  I will not be back to the lake for the rest of spring or summer, as it will be overrun with people soon….basking in the sun and splashing in the water.

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these trips to the lake.  I am not sure what spot I will pick next to highlight, but I’ll let you know.  But for today, I am out celebrating as I turn a young 59!  With this post, I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

 

 

 

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Special Note:  Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State.  It has a surface area of 79.8 square miles, and is located northeast of Syracuse and near the Great Lakes.  There are several parks, marinas and beaches along this lake that spans several counties.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional thoughts about celebrating life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

celebrate life

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Conversations In The Garden: On Creating a Sanctuary

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“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.”

~Bernard Berenson

 

 

Many days I felt like this.  Hurried, hustled and bounced about.  Feeling time was running out, and I had accomplished little.  And even after I ticked everything off my To Do list, more was added instantaneously.  Never time for leisure, relaxation or rest.

 

 

 

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I always dreamed of a safe haven away from the flurry of life….where I could go to get away even for 5 minutes to regain my sanity.  And when I thought about this place I saw the ocean or a meadow….flowers or a beach.  Each of these images are healing for me, and immediately ease my pain and renew my soul.

 

 

 

IMG_5627So when I designed the bones of my garden, I imagined flowers and water there in a special spot…and with it the sound of water.  It was clear that a pond would be the perfect spot to have water and flowers.  And that pond had to have a waterfall, so I could have the healing sound of water nearby, especially since I don’t live close to the ocean.

 

 

 

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It was easy to decide where to place the pond….as close to the house as possible so we could have easy access, and hear the water flowing over the rocks.  Where I could sit on a large rock at its edge and look out over the garden of my soul…my sanctuary!

 

 

 

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And once created, this place took on a magic all its own.  I discovered that my sanctuary was also a safe haven for others who wanted to share it with me.  They didn’t talk, they just hung out with me in the moment….they were my quiet solitude companions that added their song to sing me to sweet solitude and peace.

 

 

 

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I am of course referring to the frogs, toads, birds and insects who also call the pond their home, and their sanctuary.  They bathe here, and give birth here.  And some have made this place their home too.  We commune and talk, but mostly we just sit in peaceful meditation marveling at how incredibly beautiful this place can be.

 

 

 

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I look forward to every spring when we put the pump back in, and the pond stirs to life.  To see the tadpoles and frogs awake.  And the lily pads start forming on the surface, knowing the flowers will be along soon.  To watch the reflections in the water.  This is my heaven on earth….my special haven for healing.

 

 

Have you ever created a sanctuary for yourself?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of my pond in its first year of bloom.  While it is a bit overgrown these days, it is still my sanctuary, and beloved habitat for so many who share the garden with me.

 

I will be taking a week off, and will have another post next Thursday, the 26th!  It is a special day for me….

 

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I leave you with a few additional words on creating a sanctuary.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

sanctuary

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

An Interview with Pamela Hubbard

Astolat Farm

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings.”  ~W.E. Johns

 

 

 

I am always excited when it is time for another interview post.  After receiving an award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you.  It is such a pleasure talking at length with bloggers.  Getting to know online friends more intimately.

 

And for this next interview, I am driving (figuratively) south to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to visit with Pamela Hubbard@Pam’s English Cottage Garden.  I have known Pam for about as long as I have been blogging.  And I am always inspired by her beautiful and creative gardens, especially the way she incorporates native plants into her cottage garden…a favorite garden style of mine.

 

 

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So let’s meet Pam……..

 

Pam Hubbard 1524BF

 

I was born in England. I taught first grade in the school that I, and my father before me, attended as children. In the sixties I married and had two children. I immigrated to America in 1978 where I met my second husband, Duane. We have four grandchildren: all boys. In this country I was an elementary school librarian for more than ten years, then an elementary school principal for twelve. I retired to garden in 2005 and then began studying to be a Penn State Master Gardener.

 

 

1. Pam, why did you start your blog?

 

I started my blog eight years ago for two main reasons: I wanted to share my passion for gardening with others and I wanted a record of my progress toward achieving my dream of creating an English cottage garden in the Poconos. I derive great pleasure from looking at my early postings and realizing I have attained this dream!

 

 

 

Cottage Garden

2. What a great dream and accomplishment, Pam.  I assume that your blog name comes from your love of English Cottage Gardens.  Tell us about this type of garden, and why you love it so much?

 

While I am very proud to be a naturalized citizen of the USA, like many expats I feel the need to maintain my heritage. My grandmother had a small cottage garden that I remember fondly. Creating something similar in the Pocono Mountains began in my dreams long before I retired. I love this style because it is quintessentially British. Ethne Clarke described an English cottage garden as,

“… above all things a place of uncontrived beauty, 

easily enjoyed, where labour is well rewarded 

and quiet pleasures satisfied.”

Ethne Clarke and Clay Perry
English Country Gardens

Ethne says it all.

 

 

 

Waterfall

3. I couldn’t agree more with Ethne.  Pam, I know you live on a farm.  That must be a wonderful experience.  Can you tell us more about it.  It’s history, etc.

 

Duane and I live in the circa 1850 house where Duane lived all his life, Astolat Farm. There were no gardens here as the property was a kennel where Duane’s mother raised Shetland sheepdogs. She was hailed as the world’s top Sheltie breeder in her day having twice won Best-of-Breed at Westminster Dog Show. Originally the place was called Astolat Kennels. My mother-in-law took the name, Astolat, from her favorite book, Idylls of the King, a Scottish legend by Alfred Lord Tennyson – very appropriate for a kennel with a Scottish breed of dogs.

 

 

 

Dude and Billy

4. What a fabulous heritage for your husband’s farm and family.  And you have some farm animals too; a miniature horse and pigmy goat.  How did you come by these unique creatures?  What are their names?

 

Dude and Billy are my gardening buddies. Dude is a tiny miniature horse and Billy is an overgrown pigmy goat. My mother bought Dude as my retirement gift when he was seven years old. My husband bought baby Billy as a companion for Dude because this is a small crop farm with no other animals. Dude and Billy are inseparable.

 

 

 

Kitchen Garden

5.  Oh Pam how special they are.  Besides English Cottage Gardening, do you have some other types of gardening you enjoy?

 

I enjoy many types of gardening. Besides my English cottage garden I have a shade garden, a woodland garden, a container garden and a kitchen garden. I also enjoy miniature gardening, a wonderful activity for children, so one of my grandsons, Jonathan, helped me make several fairy gardens that are situated around the property. I like to garden indoors during the winter and recently discovered the joys of making terrariums and dish gardens, other forms of miniature gardening.

 

 

 

Best of Show

6. Wow Pam that what a diverse number of gardens to keep you busy all year.  Recently you have been getting all kinds of honors for your gardens, including from your local fair.  Tell us more about that.

 

I enter vegetables and flowers in our local fair every year. I couldn’t do this without Jonathan’s help. He stays at our house for Fair Week, preparing all the specimen jars and choosing the best vegetables to show. On opening day he helps me set up displays. After the judging it is such fun to check our exhibits to see if we won any ribbons. We always seem to do well and last year I received my first Best in Show award. In addition, last year was special because the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded my garden their blue ribbon. I felt very honored.

 

 

 

Miniature Garden

7. From all your pictures, Pam, I would say these honors are so well deserved.  Besides your garden, what are some other creative endeavors that bring you joy?

 

Writing brings me so much joy. Unlike you, however, I’m not a ‘creative’ writer. How I wish I could write poetry like yours, Donna. All my writings are research based, and of course, I’m talking about garden writing. I write a monthly article about ‘Gardening in the Poconos’ for our local newspaper, the Pocono Record. Also, my articles have appeared in various online sources. I’m currently writing an article for an English publication, The Cottage Gardener. I love garden photography, too, but feel I’m not very good at it. Every year I say I’m going to take more photography classes and I am happy to say I just signed up for some.

 

 

 

Entry Garden

8. Oh Pam, how wonderful to be published in so many publications.  And I can’t wait to hear more about the photography class.  What would you say is your creative process?

 

My work, whether designing a garden, writing about gardening, or teaching gardening classes, is completely research based. When I’m writing, I begin by reading, reading, and more reading. For material I go to the land-grant colleges – my favorite being Penn State Extension, of course, as I’m a Penn State master gardener. Research-based writing tends to make for some rather dry prose, so I liberally include personal stories from my own experience.

 

Research is very important , and I am so glad you remind us of it.  And I think those personal stories are also important so gardeners know you have such extensive experience.

 

 

 

Woodland Walk

9.  Let’s shift gears a bit.  I know you have traveled to many places, so where would you like to travel next?

 

 I just finished planning a summer vacation. Duane and I feel there is still so much for us to see in the USA, so this year we will explore some parts of New England we haven’t yet visited – via a few gardens, of course. I have a son and his family in Arizona, but would you believe I never visited the Grand Canyon? … Next year’s trip, maybe.

Oh The Grand Canyon is a must…lots of history and fabulous spots to visit in Arizona.  

 

 

 

Shade Garden

10.   Tell me what famous person or not so famous person would you like to meet?

 

I would like to meet Dame Judy Dench, one of the most celebrated actresses of my generation. Her work spans so many genres from Shakespeare to comedy, and I love all of it. I admire how she continues to devote herself to her craft despite being unable to read her scripts due to macular degeneration. The infirmities that come with aging (she recently had knee surgery) do not hold her back, and in this respect she is my role model.

 

She is an amazing actress, and person…and I agree a fabulous role model.

 

 

 

Arbor to Kitchen Garden

11.   If it is possible to pick a favorite book or song, what would you choose?

 

This is the most difficult question, Donna, because I have so many favorite books. I read at least one novel, usually historical, each week and often my favorite is the one I’m reading at the time. Right now it is The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. This is the second time I’ve read this book, as I wanted to refresh my knowledge of the story and characters before reading Grissom’s recently released sequel, Glory Over Everything. In the gardening genre, my favorite is The Cottage Garden by Christopher Lloyd. I nearly said ‘Christopher Lloyd’ in answer to your last question, but he passed away in 2006. I haven’t yet visited his garden, Great Dixter, and nearly gave that in answer to your travel question.

 

You know I would love to visit some of the great gardens of Great Britain, so maybe some day we can visit together!

 

 

 

Kitchen Garden Border

12. After several year of blogging, I am always fascinated to know what keeps someone blogging.  So Pam, what keeps you blogging?

 

As I’m sure you know, I am obsessed with gardening, and garden blogging is part of the passion. My garden continues to evolve, every year is different, and therefore I continue to have much to say about it. In addition, I made so many wonderful gardening friends who follow my blog and/or I follow theirs. I love belonging to this greater gardening community and it keeps me blogging.

 

 

 

Pond

13.  The blogging community is amazing.  Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?

 

I have my first book in the works. It’s been on my desk for a long time, but I was forced to put it on hold through a couple of years of ill health. Now my health is at an optimum level and I’ve turned back to my book with great enthusiasm.

 Just want to end by saying how honored I feel that you asked me to participate, Donna. I enjoyed answering your questions enormously. Thank you, my friend.

 

 

Pam the pleasure has been mine, my friend!  As I said, I love these interviews as I get to know my fellow bloggers on a different, more personal level.  I hope one day soon to drop by and visit your lovely farm and gardens…and meet Dude and Billy in person.  And you continue to inspire me to keep expanding my creative horizons.  I hope you will keep us posted about the book project.

 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Pam a bit more.  I know I certainly did!

 

 

pamPlease make sure you visit Pam in all the amazing places she hangs out.

 

 

 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Photos are the sole property of Pam@Pam’s English Cottage Garden, and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.

End of Month Potpourri-February 2016

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“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” ~Hugh Macmillan

 

 

 

With scenes like this, I feel a sense of peace and calm even in the midst of a snow storm.  There is a feeling of being wrapped in a blanket, cocooned in safety as I watch this swirling magical world descend.  There is a beauty and magic to winter we miss when we just think about the negatives of snow.

 

 

It’s cold, the roads are a mess and I hate driving in it, I can’t garden or get outside….the list can go on and on.  But when I think of the time I spend indoors in winter, I feel glad to have this special time to rest, recharge and reconnect with my inner self.

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And I do make time for the outdoors almost daily in winter….it is a renewed commitment to being out in all seasons and experiencing what they bring.  I absolutely love walking outside, even in cold winds, because it is refreshing.  I can give it many other terms:  bracing, invigorating, stimulating, energizing, exhilarating, reviving, restorative, rejuvenating, revitalizing.…well you get the picture.  And these words also describe how I feel about winter in general.

 

 

So I thought I would show you a few more pictures of winter this year…..most of it has happened in just one month, January.  Very strange to not have snow for at least 3 months, but I accept each month as they come.

 

 

 

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When winter falls on the meadow, it is a breathtaking sight especially when the cold frosty morning meets the sunshine of the new day.

 

 

 

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Each plant, coated in frost and snow, shimmers with the sunrise.

 

 

 

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The fresh snow sits like cotton balls dipped in glitter.

 

 

 

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And as the sun rises, I am intrigued by the bokeh effect on the landscape.

 

 

 

snowy branches

The display changes from different vantage points and lighting.  One reason I love to wander around after a snow fall, is to capture the different effects and views.

 

 

 

DSCN1881And  even on the grayer days, there is a beauty to the snow.

 

 

 

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New snowy white flowers appearing where there was once only a seedhead….I call them winter flowers.

 

 

 

winter clethra collage

As the gray lightens or darkens the effect on the garden does too.  This Clethra bush is stunning when it is splashes with some snow.  It completely transforms under a heavier coating.

 

 

 

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I hope you enjoyed this little look into winter in my own backyard.  We don’t have to venture too far to see the beauty of nature, frosty and sparkling under the winter snows.  You can also see some additional winter scenes with, winter at the lake, just a 10 minute walk from my door.

 

 

I will be away from my blog for a bit, and won’t have a Thursday post until March 10th.  I’ll see you then.

 

 

 

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

winter

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Beyond Words: Winter At The Lake

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“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one; each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.”  ~Paulo Coelho

 

 

 

So we are back again to explore a beautiful spot that lies just across the street….a mere 10 minute walk from my front door.  Several months ago, I started a new series called, Beyond Words.  I wanted to showcase different spots I find, in pictures, with as few words as possible.  I have been focusing on the lake across the street; already seen in late summer, and again in late autumn.

 

 

It was time, now that winter was here, to venture across the street after our first big snowstorm, and a foot of fresh snow.  In autumn I visited on the unseasonably warmest day in November.  And on this winter’s day, in early January, it was the coldest day.  I was in many layers bracing myself against wind chills near -20 degrees.  It was so cold I couldn’t stay out for more than 15 minutes without my fingers turning numb, even though I was wearing gloves made for this severe cold.

 

 

But regardless, I was drawn back to this beach, this place, to see its beauty now in winter.  So let’s go to the lake…….

 

 

 

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It isn’t surprising that no one is here.  I did find a few footprints of another brave explorer.  How desolate it looks, yet very calm and serene.

 

 

 

DSCN2020I have never walked on a snow-covered beach before.  I felt a bit giddy, and just like when I was a child seeing the beach spread out before me….drawing me in.  Knowing I could stay here forever.

 

 

 

DSCN2019Oh the soft feel of the sand beneath the snow….such a different experience.  Looking to the right, is the area where I saw the soft grassy jetty in late summer.  Now it’s icy and snow-covered, but it appears someone is visiting.  Let’s look closer.

 

 

 

geese collageThe gentle waves have frozen in place close to the shore, but there is open water near the jetty.  The wind has stopped and the lake is like glass.  A flock of Canada geese are feeding here in the warmer open water.  They will soon leave as the cold air and winter weather are finally settling in.

 

 

 

DSCN2044And if I shift my gaze a bit to the left and close up, I see the grassy shore now draped in its wintry cloak.

 

 

 

DSCN2045As I pan back, I can see more of this beautiful cove with the pristine beach.  I didn’t want to walk on it.  So instead I shifted back to face the water, and moved a bit forward.

 

 

 

ice collageAnd I took in the view of the lake in front of me.  Snowy beach meeting frozen water’s edge.  Frosty frozen water meeting ripply waves caught in winter’s icy grip, then open water, more ice and the deep blue lake beyond still not frozen.

 

 

 

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And out in that open water are more geese.

 

 

 

other shore collageIf I stretch my gaze to the other shore, I see a foggy haze out in the middle of the lake where the warm water meets the frigid winter’s air.  One of the amazing sights on this day was all the blue.  The blue of the sky meeting the many shades of blue of the water.

 

 

 

snowy bench collageAnd as I shift my gaze left again, even the snow in shadow is blue.  Do you remember this bench from the last post?

 

 

 

DSCN2050It is already getting too cold, so I turn to go.

 

 

 

DSCN2048I’ve left my own path….my tracks in the snow here today.

 

 

 

frozen beach collageThere are no children playing on this day as there were in autumn.  I couldn’t resist photographing this sign again.  The thoughts of swimming here are farthest from my mind on this day.

 

 

 

DSCN2015One last look before I hurry to the waiting, warm car.  Soon enough this picnic spot will be filled to capacity with people celebrating the coming of beach weather.

 

 

 

DSCN2051Before I get in the car, ahead of me I see the sun blazing off the snow, almost blinding me as it illuminates the trees far on the other side of the parking lot.

 

 

 

DSCN2053As we were driving away, I was struck by the beauty of the trees no longer colored in their magnificent yellow and orange autumn cloak.  Now instead, they sparkle in their winter jewels.

 

 

 

DSCN2054Each scene more wondrous….

 

 

 

DSCN2055My soul drinking in every awe-inspiring view as we wound our way to the street, and back home.  It is amazing what wonders lay just 10 minutes away, waiting for us!

 

I’ll be back to visit this spot one more time in spring to give you a glimpse of its splendor, before the beach opens.  With this post, I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts 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:  Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State.  It has a surface area of 79.8 square miles, and is located northeast of Syracuse and near the Great Lakes.  There are several parks, marinas and beaches along this lake that spans several counties.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional thoughts about nature’s heart.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

nature-winter lake

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

An Interview with Catherine Drea@Foxglove Lane

Frost on the lane

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

It is time for another interview post.  I have been getting into a routine every couple of months now, interviewing amazing bloggers who have influenced me.  As you might remember, after receiving and award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you.

 

 

I decided to nip across the pond for this visit.   I met this amazing blogger through, Vision and Verb, a wonderful website of talented women.  Although I think I knew her a bit before I wrote for V and V, my recollection is fuzzy.  I know I felt a kindred spirit for Catherine@Foxglove Lane immediately.  Perhaps because her photos are soul refreshing, and her words penetrate me to my core, bringing joy and understanding.  Or maybe it was because she lives in Waterford, Ireland.  I have only been to Ireland once, 7 years ago, but I fell in love with my ancestral home of Ireland immediately (I am half Irish).

 

 

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So let’s whiz across the Atlantic and meet Catherine……..

 

 

Pilgrimage

 

I’m Catherine Drea, a blogger, photographer and facilitator (www.foxglovelane.com)  I studied art, psychotherapy, have a Masters in Business Studies but my current love is Contemplative Photography.

I founded a social organisation 20 years ago (www.frameworknet.ie) where I still work part-time.

I live down a long green lane in Ireland with my husband and I have three grown up sons.

 

 

 

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 1. Catherine, why did you start blogging?

 

It was a typically Irish grey and wet Sunday about 5 years ago. I had just discovered the world of blogging. I guess I was suddenly inspired to have a go! I didn’t think about it or plan anything. I just sat down and figured out how to do it and in a couple of hours there it was……. my first blogpost!

 

 

 

The exuberance of summer is summed up in the buzzing and dancing of bees in foxgloves on the lane.

2.  I love the name of your blog.  What is its significance?

 

I chose Foxglove Lane that first day. It is literally the name I have given to our boreen, so full of foxgloves in June. It is home, freedom, peace to me……

 

 

 

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3.  It sounds like heaven to me.  Your blog seems to extend the heaven of your home and Ireland, and others have recognized its wonder through the Ireland Blog Awards you have won.  What do these awards mean to you, and what keeps you blogging?

 

As blogging has become so much more commercial and competitive I am always amazed that my blog, a labour of love (and not about fashion or beauty!) manages to win. I have very mixed feeling about competitions at the best of times, and yet I have benefitted from winning for sure.  

What actually keeps me blogging is probably more complex. It is a creative habit, a form of discipline in a way. It helps to keep my creative muscles fit. Without it where would I be, I live in the absolute middle of nowhere on a tiny island in the Atlantic? Through blogging I have been able to share my work, connect with others and create an online home where I can meet people….

 

 

 

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4.  And this creative home seems one of the reason many of us keep blogging.  So how do you define creativity? What does creativity mean to you?

 

I was an Art teacher and I always felt that creativity was about much more than just artistic attainment. It is about a sense of self, a way of relating to the beautiful mysteries of the world, a way of engaging with your own potential. It is for each of us to find our own way to express that. Creativity for me is an essential part of everyday life……when I start humming I know I am in the zone!!

 

 

 

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5.  Oh I love this idea of creativity as an essential part of everyday life.  Do you have a favorite space or spot that is sacred in or around your home where your creativity flows?

 

I am lucky to live in a beautiful and tranquil place in a wild and untamed couple of acres. I think my favourite spot is at the desk in my studio which looks out on it all. I am constantly distracted especially in winter by the birds, animals and wild weather changes rolling in from the Atlantic. Home is precious for humans,  enabling us to thrive and I feel so lucky to have a roof over my head and a room with a view.

 

 

 

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6.  I have traveled to Ireland, and loved its beauty?  What makes your piece of this special island nirvana for you?

 

Ha! Nirvana it is definitely not! I say that because Ireland has been through an economic crash that has been a real struggle. There is nowhere on earth without it’s challenges and we have had so many. However, Irish people are essentially happy go lucky and can embrace the dark side without too much trouble. I remember John O Donoghue saying that if you ask an Irish person “How are you” they will shrug and say “Sure not too bad!” or “Pulling the divil by the tail” Light and dark are part of us……So I suppose the special magic  is in the resilience and good humour of Irish people.

 

There is no downside to the beauty of the land and sea, it is stunning….just keeping it in pristine condition for the next generation is our challenge….

 

That is what I experienced when I visited…the good nature and humor of the Irish people….

 

 

 

Patrick Ryan's

7.  Tell me what famous person or not so famous person you would like to meet?

 

Well if I wanted to swoon it would be Leonard Cohen, if I wanted to chat it would have to be Elizabeth Gilbert and I would love to have a coffee with a group bloggers including yourself Donna…..I think it might just happen some day…..

 

 

 

Coumenoule Cafe

8.  Oh I would love to have that meet up one day!  So let me shift topics a bit Catherine.  What is or would have been your dream career or job?

 

If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now I think I might have liked to run a seaside cafe in the South of France. Well who wouldn’t!! A lot of Irish people emigrate. It’s a big part of the culture. I was lucky in many ways to be able to stay in Ireland but if I had gone, it would have been to the Mediterranean and the sun! My amazing Grandmother ran a restaurant in a small town in Ireland, long before women had their own businesses. So I think cafe management could be in my genes!

 

 

 

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9.  Oh that sounds like an amazing dream.  And emigrating to the Mediterranean sounds perfect.  I know you love to travel.  What are some favorite spots you love to travel to and why?

 

I have a fierce touch of wanderlust!! We can get a ferry across to mainland Europe from Ireland and after that we can drive anywhere to get off the beaten track. (A gift for island dwellers) I love France and last year followed 5 rivers cascading through a very traditional part of central France. Recently we spent a month in the Peleponese in the South of the mainland Greece. The small town of Kardamilli there is a blissful spot. New York where I worked as a student is a favourite city, as is  Stockholm where I have family. It can be short or long trip, in wild Ireland or further afield…..any change of scene is inspiration to me!

 

 

 

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10.  Photography is such a big part of your life.  You have an extensive portfolio on your blog where folks can purchase your photos. What is your creative process, and tell us a bit about contemplative photography?

 

I have always taken photographs. My Dad gave me a camera at the age of 10. I study the surroundings of where I live in minute detail and take every opportunity to learn. Contemplative photography is a more soulful approach. I find it is something a lot of women photographers relate to. Although I am committed to fairly complex day job I usually get time to follow some creative instinct every day. Then on my days off I delve deeper into projects. Working from home helps too. I don’t work well under pressure, for prestige, or for money!! It doesn’t suit my muse! As she is a mother earth sort of character I have to be true to myself and my roots or she will squirm about and fail utterly to co-operate.

 

 

 

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11.  I love that you are so connected to your muse and so true to her.  What are some words of wisdom you have for those of us who are still learning about photography?

 

Find and follow the joy in what you do. Linger in those moments because photography is endlessly fiddly and years later your taste will have totally changed and what you adore today you will shun later!! I have gone through a lot of glorious colourful phases and find myself longing to return to the simpler days of black and white….you just never know which way you will be drawn…..I think if you are not “feeling it” something is missing……

 

 

 

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12.  Perfect words of wisdom my friend.  So what new form of arts or crafts would you like to learn now?  

 

I saw some incredible forest yarn bombing in the Basque country once and it remained with me. Crochet and knitting are huge again here and maybe that would be a way to that?

 

 

 

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13.  Catherine you recently wrote a wonderful book, “Seek light, embrace shade, live colour”.  Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this book?  How does it fulfill part of your soul’s journey?

 

People are very “helpful” and everyone told me that  I “should” Looking back I wasn’t ready at all to make a book and it was actually quite hard to deal with the attention it brought. I had a hunch that people who are not very active on line would finally get to share my world in an actual book…..and that proved to be the case….My soul’s journey is an everyday thing….if the truth be told putting myself “out there” always scares the pants off me!!!

 

 

 

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14.  Oh I can relate to that and it “scares the pants off of me too”.  Can you tell us anything about the process that you went through in creating your book that was a great lesson or an aha moment…words of wisdom?

 

The process was simple and I loved making the book. Blurb is a very easy platform to learn and work on. I decided to use my Instagram Gallery as the book was square format and tiny 7×7. The writing part as usual were inspired by the images I selected. The great lesson was when the book went out there, the first edition had 12 spelling mistakes!! Living in rural Ireland with a wonky internet connection meant that the corrections didn’t always get saved. So when I thought I had fixed them, they remained unfixed. I nearly had a heart attack when I discovered on the day of the great launch and after a number of sales that I would have to replace the first books. Blurb were totally unsupportive and my aha moment came when I realised that they really have no back up if something goes wrong. Also Blurb don’t share the names of your  buyers so it is hard to give good customer service. A serious draw-back…….on the other hand once a book is done it is there forever and that’s a plus.

 

 

 

Buy this image by clicking on the small shopping cart symbol above and browsing prints and products.

15.  Very helpful information for those of us contemplating creating a book.  What new projects are you working on you’d like to share?  What are your inspirations for your work?

 

I would love to create an archive from my first photos aged 10 up to the present day. I might also include some great photos taken by other photographers in the family. I also want to concentrate on making more physical manifestation of my work, I’m not sure what that will be but I hope to pursue a year long woodland study and shoot some video.

 

My inspiration will always be the light and shade of the day. I watch weather and conditions all the time…..nature is she who must be obeyed, so you just need to be ready to heed her. I also love studying the work of other photographers, poets and artists.

 

I love the idea of a woodland shoot.  And there is that kindred spirit again …..nature.

 

 

 

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16.  Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?

 

Donna I will be 62 in 2016!!! How did I get here and where am I going to? One thing is sure, none of us is getting out of here alive!

 

I am not ambitious as such, more hopeful and steadfast. And I know that every moment counts!

 

 

 

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My goodness you are still so young my friend, and I love your words of wisdom….every moment does count especially now as I am moving to the other side of middle age….59 for me this year.

 

It was such a delight talking with Catherine.  Learning about her philosophy, her spirit and her creative process.  It renews me as does her beautiful photography.  One of the reason I enjoy these interviews is the connections I make on such a deeper level with amazing, gifted, talented and inspirational folks.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know Catherine a bit more.  I know I certainly did!

 

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Please make sure you visit Catherine in all the amazing places she hangs out.

 

 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Photos are the sole property of Catherine@Foxglove Lane and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.

My Manifesto: An Innovative Life in 2016

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“Making the beginning is one third of the work.”  ~Irish Proverb

 

 

 

As the year was coming to a close, I decided to wander out to my meadow.  Really a sanctuary garden, wild, with native plants, a couple of birdhouses and trees.  It lies just beyond the fence.  It is a place of quiet, curiosity and peace…where I can commune with nature and wildlife.

 

 

 

DSCN1160And it was here, while I snapped pictures of the dried and tattered plants, that I realized I had a full and abundant life.  I was lucky to be alive, to have relatively good health, a partner who gave me support and unconditional love, and family and friends who were still there for me.

 

 

 

I started to think about the upcoming year.  What would it hold?  What did I want to accomplish, how did I want to live out this next year of 2016?  I had recently adopted my word for the year, INNOVATE.  And I was thinking how this word would guide me.

 

 

 

DSCN1187I was also thinking what color this year would be.  I have been working with the Colors and Numbers, by Louise Hay, since 1998.  Each year has a number, unique to you, that matches with a color.  And when we tune into the color of the day or year, we can find more harmony and flow in our lives.  I have found this to be true, and I enjoy the colors.  Before I tuned into colors and numbers, I was wearing too much of one color especially black or gray.  This exploration of color was much more creative and fun.

 

 

 

You don’t have to believe in colors and numbers to have fun with it.  And when I explored this year for me, I realized it was a Personal Year 4.  But not just any 4, a 22/4.  Meaning, when I added my birthdate and this year, I got 22.  The color for the 22/4 year is coral.  And its significant meaning, Greatness.  And when I coupled it with my word for the year, Innovate, I saw a wonderful synchronicity developing.

 

 

 

This 22/4 year, superior accomplishments could be DSCN1164achieved…maybe writing and
publishing that book….it has been on my mind of late
.  It is also a year where I can have success, if I work on big plans for the good of the community.  It is said to be a powerful year.  A bit daunting and exciting, and definitely a year to Innovate.

 

 

 

As I tried to make more meaning of all of this, I decided this might be the year to create a manifesto.  A manifesto is quite simply a written declaration of my intentions, motives, or views.  And I am making mine for one year.  Not really goals per se, but more how I intend to live this Innovative life in 2016.

 

 

 

Creating a manifesto, is a work in progress so I hope to refine it as the year progresses….check in and see how I am doing.  And hopefully make this a yearly practice, if it helps organize and further guide me.

 

 

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As I Innovate my life in 2016, I am living a life:

 

    • Seeking out new destinations to explore
    • Inspired by creativity
    • Spent in the arms of nature more often
    • Of new experiments with growing, cooking and eating new foods
    • Of new habits that facilitate innovation, creativity, health and happiness
    • Moving more each day; stretching my body, mind and spirit.
    • Of gratitude and abundance
    • Of courage showcasing my talents to the world
    • Connecting with more people, more often
    • Of beauty surrounding me inside and outside my abode
    • Tuned into my creative channels allowing them to come forth and flourish
    • Serving my spiritual and intellectual needs

 

 

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Do you have a guiding word or phrase for the year?  Maybe a manifesto?  How have you decided to embrace the new year?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are from my meadow at the beginning of winter.

 

 

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

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Innovation in 2016

DSCN6566“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”  

~T.S. Eliot

 

 

Just before the New Year, I have a tradition of choosing a word to guide me through the coming year.  It becomes my muse, my mantra, my guide.  In 2014, as I had retired, I chose THRIVE.  I needed to remind myself that I was healing and to nurture myself….that I was still alive and thriving.  In 2015, I chose SOAR.  As I had healed more, I felt like flying.  Getting above the clouds, and the gray, to see what was over the horizon.  It felt like a year to just enjoy my life.

 

 

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Now with 2016, I am feeling like I need to get out of my cocooned comfort zone.  At first I thought my word might be Connection or even Diving, but neither felt quite right.  And as I started my search, I happened on, Move.  Yes, I did need to Move more….still not quite right.

 

 

Then I saw three more:  Stretch, Integrate and Innovate.  Stretch, now that was a great word.  I needed to let go and get out there more….yes, this would do me nicely.  But you know, I liked Integrate.  I have so many skills I need to use more…to integrate the parts of me as a whole.  Maybe, this is the word.

 

 

But Innovate was still circling around.  I had seen this word before in a Facebook game I played.

 

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This word will guide you through the year of 2016! It will support you in your daily struggles and situations that may appear hopeless. This word will always show you the silver lining so that you won’t ever need to worry. It was chosen for you specifically, embrace it!

 

 

OK this sounds like a word I could embrace.  But this word was big….so big it scared me.  Am I up to the task of this word Innovation?  I don’t know!  It is like Stretch, but a bit more forceful.  Like a shove in the back to get out on that stage and show your stuff.  Not exactly what an introvert wants to do.  But maybe, that is exactly what I need.  After all I did say I needed to let go, to move, to go beyond my comfort zone.  Stretch could help me do this, but it is too comfy a word.  I might not Stretch enough.

 

 

 

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So I vacillated between the two some more, Stretch and Innovate; Innovate and Stretch.  As I thought more about Innovate, I saw for me that it could mean new, different, expand, branch out, extend….and Stretch.  But it adds a different dimension to Stretch….a little more oomph!  And it incorporates Move and Integrate…I see me doing more, and using more skills with Innovate.

 

 

 

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Oh yes….just maybe.  Perhaps Innovate will help me break free from some self-imposed bonds….to experience life more without fear, or with accepting there will be fear.  So I took the leap…and decided on Innovate.

 

 

It is causing some butterflies in my stomach….a scary excitement as to what this year will hold.  But oh, how I am looking forward to it.  As I am already encountering situations, I am looking on them with fresh new eyes…a new perspective…with Innovation.  And on this New Year’s Eve, I ready to Innovate in 2016!

 

 

Do you have a word to guide you this year?

 

 

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Note:   The flowers pictured here are cosmos, which in Greek means order, harmony, or the world.  In the Language of Flowers, it also means innocence.  The collage of words was made in Wordle.

 

 

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I leave you with my image for Innovate 2016.  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, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Creativity Sunday-Holiday Views

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“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”  

~Norman Vincent Peale

 

 

It has been almost 18 years since the passing of my father….40 years for my husband’s father, when he was just 15.  And 10 years ago, his mother died leaving a huge void in our lives.  Our traditional family gatherings were no more.  We seemed a bit lost trying to find our way.

 

 

We had just moved to our new house a few months earlier, but I just couldn’t open the boxes of decorations I had lovingly used in year’s past.  We didn’t cut down a tree.  Instead we put up a ceramic tree and a little faux tree, and lit them nightly. And I took whatever new decorations I was gifted, and scattered them about.

 

 

DSCN0983But this 10th year in our new house, I found a renewed energy…maybe because I was less stressed and had been retired now a year….maybe it was just time.  This past February, I went through all my Christmas decorations, and saved only those I cherished and might want to use this year.  And I promised myself to open those boxes, and put up some Christmas decorations.  Those I did not use this year would go in the pile to give away.

 

 

So in early December, the 4 boxes and our 2 little faux trees came out of the basement.  As I opened the boxes, a rush hit me, and I went about creating new scenes.  Three hours later, the house took on a holiday feeling, and the spirit of Christmas seemed to pour from every corner.  And you know what?  I used every single decoration….coincidence, I think not!

 

 

So I wanted to share some of our holiday scenes this year, that mean so very much to us!  With as few words as possible….

 

 

 

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Here’s one of our little faux trees.

 

 

 

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With some of my favorite old decorations…..some as old or older than me.  The background is our ceramic tree that once belonged to my mother-in-law.

 

 

 

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Sitting at the base of the tree, is this wonderful container of more old ornaments and garland.

 

 

 

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This little tree graces our front hall.

 

 

 

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It is also decorated with old ornaments, and my cherished garden tool ornaments given to me by a very dear, dear friend.

 

 

 

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My favorite of these garden tool ornaments is the old-fashioned watering can.

 

 

 

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And what better accompaniment for this tree, than my Christmas Garden Fairy.

 

 

 

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The mantel was completely redone this year.  I brought out our wonderful Mr. and Mrs. Claus stocking holder and our stockings…..they were missed.  The wreath is one given to me by one of my thoughtful teachers when I first became a school administrator….I adore it.

 

 

 

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Here’s another view of the mantel.

 

 

And a couple of more lovely scenes….

 

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I leave you with a view from my front windows looking onto the porch…the glow of candlelight keeping the Christmas spirit bright!

 

I hope you enjoyed these holiday views.  I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and with I Heart Macro hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

 

 

 

I leave you with a bit more sentiment about Christmas.   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, 2014-15.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.