Poetry Sunday: A Most Extra-Ordinary Life



A Most Extra-Ordinary Life



Though your smile fades from this place

it shines deep inside of me and all

who have known you, loved you.



Your life’s breath, extinguished here on Earth,

now a forever light that burns brighter through me,

around me and into the ethos.



I quiet to hear the faint whispers of your voice

telling of a passion for life;

your legacy I now embrace.



And I will sing your song to capture it forever;

to share it in these words, in a smile,

or a hug or a deed most kind.



As tears splash this page, they are joyful

celebrating the ordinary life of a most extra-ordinary woman~

whose greatest gift is enduring love.



©Donna Donabella 2017


This poem is a remembrance for my Aunt Mary who passed away July 3rd.  A dear friend said to me that dwelling on missing her would only bring sadness and depression….but celebrating her light would bring me solace and peace.  I liked that idea and this poem came to me the next day.  You can read my tribute post to my aunt here.


I am joining  Poets United for their Poetry Pantry linkup.  July 12th was my 3rd blog anniversary….what an amazing 3 years of creativity it has been.


The picture at the top is of my Aunt Mary with a few sweet peas, snapdragons and lavender.  The vase below is more of these same sweet flowers.



I leave you with a another image about an extra-ordinary 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


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.




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.

Still On A Break…


“Solitude is not a port to drop anchor, but only a port to rest for a while!”
~Mehmet Murat ildan



My shoulder is healing from the overuse and abuse I had given it this summer.  But I am realizing that I still must rest in order to heal.  That means I will still be away from the computer….writing, blogging, reading posts, etc.


I am hoping to return in October. I might publish a picture or two to stay in touch a bit as I do hate being away.


In the meantime, I will continue to visit blogs as I can. I have also turned off the comments for this post so I am not tempted to respond, and delay my recuperation. Take care, and enjoy the late summer or whatever the season in your part of the world!



Blog Hiatus


“It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi 




Due to an ongoing shoulder strain, I am unable to do much typing or work on the computer, including reading and commenting on other blogs.  So I will reluctantly not be blogging for at least the month of August.


Once my shoulder heals, I will be back blogging and visiting blogs to leave comments.



Midweek Poem-Innovate







Words fall, swirling around my brain today

As the world softens about me-

Bringing up new ideas to spark

This New Year–this new path.




Opening a bit more.

Integrating all of me into one wholeness

A word drifts around my periphery.



Speaking its name.

A newness, a change

Butterflies now in the pit of my core

Giving me a push forward.



Comfort disappears with this word

A movement in a different direction.

To explore free

from my self-imposed bonds.



Allowing me the freedom to go

to places I never dared to dream!



©Donna Donabella 2016



I wrote this poem at the new year, as I was contemplating my new word for the year, Innovate.  I have written a couple of posts about this word and what it means to me, and how I planned to incorporate it into My Mantra.  So after 6 months with this word, I find it still serves to push me a little further outside my comfort zone, and take new steps forward toward my dream.




I am joining in with Poets United for their Midweek Motif.  This week Susan is giving us the theme ~ ‘The Song of a Single Word’.  I am also joining in with Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights.  This week’s theme is ‘Dreams‘.  As Sanaa says, ‘We all have them. We strive for something which at first we deem impossible. But as they say, the key to realizing a dream is to focus on its significance, cause then even our smallest steps and victories will take on a greater meaning.’   My word for the year helps to focus me on my journey toward realizing my dreams.




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

innovate-bleeding heart

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.

Midweek Poem-The Best I Can Do




The Best I Can Do



A growing anguish churns

in my belly-

Like acid, it

rises through me cutting like a knife.



I feel the deep pain of our growing divide.

There is no way- I

can find across this chasm.  And

my head aches trying to see it; to see you.



But to lift the veil, and see

a clear path, I

must go within once again with slow breath,

To calm the burning, churning within.



To see you through my tears of hurt and torment,

as a glowing light surrounds you, blesses you.

It knows what I forgot-do not

blame this one, for she is doing the best she can!



And I do believe that,

can believe that-yes

I must.  Oh I do, for I too can

only do my best at this moment.



It’s all we can do, as

this torrent of fire eases, and the veil

is lifted to see you my sister self.

 To see deep in this chasm where we reside.

And we will do the best we can,

hoping we can hold onto this truth.



© Donna Donabella 2016




This poem reflects a difficult period in my life with people close to me who continue to frustrate me…those I cannot always trust.  Recently I was introduced to the concept that ‘everyone is doing the best they can’.  And if we can believe this, it will lead to healing as we interact with difficult people…..allowing us to forgive and/or let go.

I have been working on accepting this idea, and as I accept it for others, I accept it for myself too.  As I am also doing the best I can, at any given moment with my life circumstances.  I will say, knowing we are all only doing the best we can has been helpful, and releases a huge weight many times.  But this is not an easy concept to utilize with everyone…..maybe I will get there someday.

I thought this poem would be perfect for  Poets United’s midweek prompt, ‘acceptance’.




white astrantia

The flowers pictured here are Astrantia.  They represent strength, courage, and protection.  Traits we need when we are working on acceptance.




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

best I can be

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-Inner Critic




Inner Critic



Inner Critic (IC)~You can do better, Donna.  

You know and so do I.  

I don’t want to hear excuses.  

I just want to see results.



My dear Inner Critic, I know you mean well,

but I beg to differ with you.  I

am not perfect, even though you want me to be.

I just can’t.  No, I just WON’T be perfect!

And no amount of haranguing will make it so.



IC~Look, all you need to do is work

harder and longer.

More effort that’s what you need.



It won’t matter, don’t you see,

because I am flawed.  I do try

my best, but in the end I will make mistakes.

I will fall face down many times over. But I WILL pick myself up.



IC~But why fall?

Do you want to get hurt, scraped, embarrassed?

Don’t you understand, I am trying to protect you from this.



I know you are.  You are, after all, part of me.

And you mean well.  But no, I do not fear the fall,

because I know it will happen.  And when it does,

I will learn to fly again, and fall, and fly, and…..

It is the inevitable cycle.




What is wrong with you?!

That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard….



Maybe so, but it is my sacred life.

And as part of me, you will just have to accept it.

No more shouting.  No more belittling or bemoaning.

Understand this-I AM STRONG.  I am enough.

And I am flourishing just fine the way I am at the moment.



Now come on, let’s go have some fun!



IC~OK, but I still think…….



No thinking my dear Inner Critic,

and no talking.  Let’s just be for now….

In this moment….time to enjoy life!



© Donna Donabella 2016



I read a prompt a while ago where they asked us to have a conversation with our Inner Critic.  I have had a long-standing Love-Hate relationship with that part of me, with me losing more times than I care to count.  So I thought it was about time we had it out….after all this Inner Critic was holding me back and I was letting it.


As a reforming perfectionist, I am dedicating this poem to all of us who have been caught in Perfections trap.  And most especially, I dedicate this to my lovely niece, Natalie on her 13th birthday, today!  Like her Aunt Donna, she is a perfectionist.  A wonderful goal to to try to reach, perfection, as long as we don’t let it hold us down and make us feel bad about ourselves, as I have done.  So here’s to you my dear niece!  I wish for you the means for working with your Inner Critic, and not letting it get the best of you.  Oh and she is a most gifted and creative poet as well!




I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is ‘The Hidden Realm’, that safe haven I find inside as I heal and discover my true self.


I am using pictures of Columbines, and faded Columbine petals that represent Anxious, and Resolved To Win, in the Language of Flowers!





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

Inner Critic

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.

Creative Quest


“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.




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!




What creative quests have you been on lately?







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.




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-Finding My Core




Finding My Core



I stand here at my center

while all around me seems to be falling apart.

Senseless violence.

Memories of loved ones, now gone,

bubble up to open the wounds of my heart.



And it is in these times I seek my core,

a need to express my true self.

Nothing dancing off the tongue,

but words conjured up from deep inside.



They express the swirl of emotions.

They provide a base of stability to stand on.

They yield a sliver of light shining in the dark.

They form new boundaries, places to explore.

And they heal the wounds that can break me in two.



Words call me home when I find this core.

So I seek this poet’s heart to find the words

that make a dwelling place for me.



© Donna Donabella 2016



This poem came to me recently in the aftermath of yet more killing, carnage and fighting in the world.  I felt the pain deeply, and needed to connect to my inner core. Where I am reminded, that a beautiful sunrise means each day starts anew and anything can happen.  The sun represents for me healing light, and connecting to my true self.  It is always shining deep inside me, I just have to be aware of it….especially if I lose focus.  And with all the pain and suffering in the world it is easy to lose focus especially for this highly sensitive person.


The flowers pictured here are native Rudbeckia hirta that shine throughout my garden like the sun all summer.




I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is “Hate’s a parasite that rots the Soul. ”  We are to write a poem which helps dispel hatred.  This is my take on the theme, and how I deal with the hatred I am finding more and more around me.

core collage (1)



I leave you with a few additional words about finding my core.  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, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Midweek Poem-Yesterday






Some days I sit with melancholy moods.

Slipping back to yesterdays,

where memories are strongest,

yet so very far away.




And I long for those days,

such an absence,

aching now to regain playful flashes.




But they seem gone, those firsts….

riding a bike with no hands

learning to swing to the sky

eating hand churned peach ice cream we just made

Yet so many of these memories flood back almost drowning me.




And like an old friend I visit them,

and all the emotions they bring.

These memories relived, an old black and white movie

scratched, moments fading on the screen….some almost gone now.




Can we ever really relive those first times,

going back to yesterday?

Perhaps we can take up where we left off,

building new memories, no longer standing still.




Catching up, no time elapsed in our absence.

Senses renewed and awed, reimagined.

New flashes, forever a part of me.




Like watching a fawn discover a grassy meadow,

running free and wild on fresh legs for the first time.

I travel back to that first tree I climbed so high,

with views still magnificent and full of wonder~even in my absence.



©Donna Donabella 2016




It is the second anniversary of my blog this week…and as I start year three, I thought I would branch out a little and Innovate (my word for the year)…new starts!  And my first new start is participating in Poets United’s Midweek Motif.  This week Sumana is giving us the prompt “absence“.


I have been kicking around the idea of a poem based on this wonderful quote….

“I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly; “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass


I thought it would be interesting to look at the idea of going back with memories….being absent from these childhood times, can we really go back as the memories age and fade.  I hope you enjoy my take on ‘absence‘.  I used Zinnias, I grow in my garden, to illustrate the post, as they represent ‘Thinking of an absent friend’.



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




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



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.






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.

Wildlife Lessons-The Magic of Toads


“I believed then – in a deep, easy way that is impossible for me as an adult – that there was more to this world than meets the eye. Trees had spirits; the wind spoke. If you followed a toad or a raven deep into the heart of the forest, they were sure to lead you to something magical.”

~Jennifer McMahon




When we had the pond built, almost 20 years ago, we had high hopes that lots of critters would visit or make a home there.  And we have seen our fair share of critters come to the pond….frogs, insects, turtles, snakes, birds….and the list goes on.  The most consistent visitors making a home, in the pond, has been the frogs laying many eggs every year (see picture above).



But my favorite, yet elusive, visitor to the pond has to be the toads.  Although we hear the toads, we only see them from time to time as toads are generally nocturnal.  The American toad (Anaxyrus americanus, formerly Bufo americanus) is the species of toad found here.  They love areas with moisture and plenty of insects…..which is exactly what you will find in our garden.



We heard the toads again in early April, and they seemed quite close each night calling with that amazing long, trilling sound.  So imagine my surprise when we saw them not soon afterward…..




I was so surprised because we had never seen two at once, and certainly not in this amorous embrace.  Of course in this position it was quite evident that the large rust colored toad was the female and the smaller the male.  The female makes her home just outside the fence in a small garden we have, and we see her burrowing herself in for the winter, or uncovering herself as spring warms the ground.





We see the smaller male toads here and there, in the garden and pond and even some tiny young toads.  But we have never seen the making of those little toads.  Not wanting to intrude on these two, I took pictures and quickly left them alone.





It is interesting to note how the mating ritual takes place.  Males go to shallow ponds, and call to females.  When the female arrives, the male actually grabs or hugs her (the lady must be willing if the smaller male can grab the female twice his size) until she discharges her eggs.   As the eggs come out, the male fertilizes them by discharging fluid with sperm onto the eggs.  I actually witnessed her continuing to push out two long strings of eggs looking like a necklace of black pearls.  See them draped all along the vegetation above.





If you look closely, you can see the eggs are covered with a jelly like substance in long tubes. The toads found the perfect spot for the eggs; shallow water with vegetation near the irises that had not bloomed yet.




developing toad eggs

Like frogs, once the toads lay the eggs they leave them to develop on their own.  Eggs begin to hatch in a few days.  The process can take up to 10-12 days before the eggs become tadpoles, and then they fully develop into toads in about 2 months time.  American toads usually survive only a year or two in the wild although we have seen the large female here for a few years. Most tadpoles don’t survive very long becoming food for snakes, and frogs.


You can see the development of the eggs above over a 10 day period.  We have not seen the toads yet, but they should be emerging sometime this month we hope.





Here are some additional facts about the American Toad:
  • Toads don’t cause warts, but the American toad produces a toxin that can be harmful if swallowed, or if it gets in your eyes.  So be careful if you handle toads.  We leave them alone.
  • When the tadpoles are ready to leave the pond they emerge usually in groups.
  • Tadpoles have several ways to keep predators at bay. They swim close together in schools, and stay in very shallow water that is thick with vegetation.  We have lots of that especially around the cattails so perhaps we will have several surviving toads emerging soon.



Special Note:  I wrote a poem about our toads and you can find it here….Ode to A Toad.  The picture at the end of the post is of our House Wren feeding its babies recently.  The wrens have fledged, but we still hear the Wren’s song in the garden.




What wildlife lessons are you learning as summer begins?




With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.  Please check out all these great blogs.




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

 study nature

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.

Poetry Sunday-Box Full of Darkness


Box Full of Darkness



I open this box again.

Its dark demons still survive there.

The bruises, the slaps, the cuts-

Pain still runs deep in the scars.



You told someone recently you remembered me fondly.

And my snort of derision was a surprise.

Maybe a slap back.

But this ‘box full of darkness’ has risen again.



No longer all neatly wrapped and stored in the attic of my heart,

Where it had burned a hole.

White hot with searing anger,

With anguish and betrayal.



And as I gaze upon this box, I know it is never forgotten.

But it no longer defines me.

Abused, Used, Victim!

No this box I hold, shows me I am a survivor.

I have risen.  Strong of heart, shame resilient.



And while I may feel some residual pain,

And a tear may appear at the corner of my eye,

This box, oh this holy, blessed box is your gift to me.

One you never knew you gave me,

Perhaps the only one you ever gave me.



And so I keep this ‘box full of darkness’

Neatly wrapped in the attic of my heart,

Where now it holds a special place on the altar of my soul.



© Donna Donabella 2016



“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” ~Mary Oliver


I read this quote some time ago, but could not wrap my brain around it.  How could darkness be a gift?  And then when I was doing some inner work, something happened to bring the quote’s meaning home.


So as the ah-ha moment penetrated, I wrote this poem.  A victim of domestic abuse from decades ago, the poem is based on these painful memories.  And they have not, nor will they ever be forgotten or define me.  I have forgiven, and moved on…..and this beautiful box full of darkness is now not something that holds me down or holds me back.  No, instead it has freed me.



I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up, Poetry Pantry, for poets who blog, and with Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is “Passion makes the world go round”.  Although this is a painful and dark poem, it is dealing with subjects passionate to my heart….forgiveness, letting go, resilience and healing.  All important things happening in my life right now that I am passionate about on my journey.

box collage




I leave you with a few additional words about a box full of darkness.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

box full of darkness

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


“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.





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.





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





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





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.





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.





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.





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?







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.




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


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-Indigo Sky





Indigo Sky



Stars twinkle in the indigo sky

Like notes to a score heard only by me,

To catch the rhythm of the nite

And ride it to the heavens.



Holding tight to angel’s wings,

Watching the meadow with owl’s eyes,

Knowing there is life here in these dark shadows.



Brimming with the almost imperceptible sound of moths and fireflies,

I cock an ear listening to the music of

little mice feet scurrying, mouths nibbling.

The evening symphony, surely missed by those who do not notice.



Under the stars twinkling in the indigo sky

Like notes to a score heard only by me,

To catch the rhythm of the nite

And ride it to the heavens.



© Donna Donabella 2016



Many evenings, as the sun slips from the sky, and darkness descends slowly, I love watching the fireflies, listening to the night noises and seeing the first stars twinkle.  The sky turns from pink or purple to a beautiful Indigo.  It is even more beautiful just when the moon is rising.  This poem came to me one of those evenings.




I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

indigo sky collage





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

indigo sky

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.

Filling My Bucket


“You fill a bucket drop by drop. You clear your mind thought by thought. You heal yourself moment by moment. Today I make one drop, clear one thought, and get present to one moment. And then I do it again.”

~Lisa Wimberger



I first heard about bucket filling 5 years ago, when I was working in a new school district.  I was visiting a school, and saw posters talking about ‘Filling Buckets’.  I was intrigued and asked the principal what all this bucket filling was about.





She proudly explained that it was a new program to promote character building, better social skills and relationships in the school community….with parents, teachers and students.  I asked how it worked and here is a bit of an explanation…..


It is based on the premise of the cup that overflowed, but instead we all have an invisible bucket that determines how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about and get along with others.  When we feel good about ourselves, and things seem to be going well, our bucket is said to be full.


Many things can fill a bucket; from a smile, to a kind word or DSCN4696deed.  Just the simplest things can add drops to our buckets giving us emotional support and kindness….filling us with feelings of joy and happiness and self-worth.  And when our bucket is full, we tend to want to act kindly toward others adding to their buckets….which then keeps our buckets full.


Of course there is another side to all this.  Sometimes we use our dippers, and take from people’s buckets with unkind words and deeds.  It can be the smallest of words or acts such as bringing light to someone’s mistakes through criticism or sarcasm.  And when we empty someone’s bucket, we then spread the unkind words and deeds because people with empty buckets feel bad about themselves and spread those unfriendly feelings.  Using our dipper has another downside, for when we empty someone’s bucket, we empty ours too.





Now all this may sound like something just for children, but the premise is a good one for all of us, regardless of the analogy we use.  I rather like the visual of bucket filling as it is easy to understand and visualize.  So I thought about this concept of bucket filling as I have contemplated empathy and self-compassion this month.



In order to further our efforts at self-compassion and self-love, we must refill our own buckets often.  And I have been thinking about what I am doing to keep my bucket full, while filling the buckets of others at the same time.



DSCN4709I find making sure I have enough sleep, getting daily exercise and eating good foods that are good for me all go a long way to keeping my bucket full.  Taking time for rest, meditating, and spending time in nature also add to my bucket…..as well as participating in activities I love, spending time with people I love, expressing gratitude, laughing and doing little things for others.  The possibilities are endless, and grow exponentially once you start.



And when I am feeling down or miserable, and am not sure why, I think of my bucket, and pick one thing to do that will plug the hole in that bucket.  It really is amazing how quickly that bucket fills again.  For me the bucket is a symbol of my connection to my soul or true self.  When the connection is weak I am disconnected (bucket empty), but when I feel connected to my true self (bucket full), I find my inner happiness again.  So I think I will keep working on filling my bucket…how about you?




bucket collage (1)

How do you fill your bucket and the buckets of others?







Special Note:  The pictures here are of my meadow.  The ox-eye daisies and lupines grow from May through June.  I picked them and put them in a flower bucket.  Filling this bucket brought me such joy!




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

bucket filling

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 Rest


Dear Rest:



How sweet it is has been to make your acquaintance.  For years, Sleep and I were great friends, but then I let Stress take her place.  And without Sleep, I was doomed to health issues.  But oh Rest you know this all too well, don’t you?



So I had to tell Stress to back off as he was smothering me.  But Sleep has not yet forgiven me, I fear.  And our relationship cannot be the same, it seems.  But I found you dear Rest.  And I realized even though Nap and I don’t usually get along, I have you to help me heal.



Rest, you come to me wearing many costumes, engaged in many scenarios.  Sometimes in PJs, we do nothing but watch an old movie….such sweet bliss.  And in our most comfortable yoga pants, you envelop me dear Rest, as we sit together in nature drinking in all that surrounds us.  Or under our garden hats, digging in the soft earth, picking a flower or pulling a weed….yes you are beside me, dear one.  There are times, too, that I just need to have you close by, as I breathe slowly and deeply in the moment.



Oh, there are so many sides to your personality, dearest Rest.  And I am enjoying getting to know each one intimately!




© Donna Donabella 2016



Each April I participate in a month long challenge from Susannah Conway called, April Love; extending love and kindness to ourselves.  And each day in April we were challenged to write love letters given a specific topic.



I enjoyed writing these letters.  But had no idea that I would use some as poems, until I read, Rosemary’s Blog, where she talked about the Poetry of Letters:


Did you know that there is a category of poems called “epistolary poems,” that the Academy of American Poets describes this way:  “Epistolary poems, from the Latin “epistula” for “letter,” are, quite literally, poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured. The subject matter can range from philosophical investigation to a declaration of love to a list of errands, and epistles can take any form, from heroic couplets to free verse.”


And once I read this, I knew I would transform some of my Love Letters into these epistolary poems.  I hope you enjoy these poems that I will post at least once a month.  The pictures here are of places I love to Rest.



I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, with Gillena@verses for her Monday WRites meme and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is REST!

rest collage (1)





I leave you with a few additional words about Dear Rest.  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, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Conversations In The Garden: On Empathy


“Most of us are experts at solving other people’s problems, but we generally solve them in terms of our own and the advice we give is seldom for other people but for ourselves.”

~Nan Fairbrother




Last week I talked about self-compassion, and how we must start there to increase love in our lives.  It is easier said than done, as we usually can find empathy for others over ourselves.  But I think it is harder to find empathy at all these days.  So much judgment and criticism in the world and especially on social media.



DSCN9798Sure we feel ‘sorry for’ people we see on the news, or that we may know who have a serious illness, lost a family member or a job.  We have all manner of feeling ‘sorry for’ people.  But that is not empathy.  That is sympathy.  And while sympathy may seem to be the right thing in the moment, it really doesn’t go far enough.  Sympathy keeps us at arms length where we really don’t have to engage with people.



When my father died, all those years ago, many people sympathized, but few understood and empathized with me….felt what I was going through and had been there perhaps.  His death devastated me so much that I didn’t know how I would get through the loss.  I really didn’t want to go on, and if it wasn’t for my Uncle and a dear friend, Marie, I’m not sure I would have gone on with my life.  They listened, helped me cope and go on with my life.



DSCN9807When I listen to people, especially dear friends and loved ones, I used to find it hard to connect without trying to solve their problems.  I wanted to help them so much that I found myself looking for solutions instead of listening.  I mean really listening without thinking about my response….just letting them talk and say what they needed to.  Assuring them I was here for them no matter what they needed.



I have worked hard to mindfully listen, to not solve problems, because the solutions are inevitably for me….how I would solve the problem.  Recently a dear friend shared that living alone was getting scary as she got older.  She is afraid that she could be sick and dying and no one would know.  In that moment I felt her fear.  And we made a pact.  I would call her weekly, and if I didn’t hear back from her I would call her until she called me back.  Usually I waited for her to call me, not wanting to be a pest.  She thanked me and this eased her fear.



DSCN9808Empathy cannot always be shared with everyone for everything.  And sharing our stories takes courage as we want to connect with someone we trust.  Who has earned the right to hear our stories…..who is not going to be critical or hurtful.



And empathy doesn’t stop with people.  Showing we care about the earth, and the critters that inhabit it, is important too.  That is why I garden organically, don’t use chemicals and plant native plants as they use less water and benefit the wildlife.  There is so much we can do to show everyone compassion, but it starts with how we connect with the world and ourselves.  Do we approach it from a place of loving kindness and caring?  I hope so….for this is the single most important thing we can do to make the world better.




bee balm collage


How do you give others the love, empathy and compassion they need?






Special Note:  The pictures here are of bee balm or Monarda that blooms in my garden all summer.  In the Language of Flowers, they symbolize protection from evil and illness. Bee Balm is also said to represent fertility and promotes restful sleep.




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


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-Do You Talk To The Bees?




Do You Talk To The Bees?



Do you talk to the bees?  Well I do.  I wish them a good morning, with the sun’s first rays.  And as I do,  I give a wide berth to these buzzing teenagers, slow to wake.  They can be ornery, you see.  And if aroused, you might feel the sting of their wrath if they are still trying to sleep on their flowery beds.  They require a soft voice, and gentle touch.  Needing time to stretch their wings and get their bearings, they drink in the moment.  They linger over their first sip of nectar or sniff of silky pollen passion.  But once tasted, they move from plant to plant leaving their mark.  Letting all know, “I have been here”.



Catching the first light

Dancing through the morning scents

Waking to my day



© Donna Donabella 2016


I love to go into my garden and start the day by watching the bees sleeping on flowers.  And I talk with them as they are just beginning to wake.  Thanking them for being part of my garden sanctuary, and pollinating the flowers bringing us abundance.  They remind me to savor the beginning of the day, and live in the moment.


The pictures here are of those spring bees that wake early in the garden season, and do their spring dance bringing me indescribable joy.  This haibun poem is in honor of these precious bees, who are under assault from chemical warfare.



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

bee collage



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

talk to bees

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.

Finding The Compassion We Need


“Today I began to criticize myself and look at myself with a judgmental eye… but then instead of going all out in that direction, I stopped and I began to understand me. And then I began to be patient with me. And then I began to feel a softness in the middle of my chest. So then I concluded that I can understand and be patient with me, just like how I am always understanding and being patient with everyone else. Why? Because I deserve that, and more.”

C. JoyBell C.



Recently I was able to participate in two online courses about self-compassion.  Even though I felt that I had made great strides in this area, when both of these courses almost simultaneously hit my Inbox, I thought I would explore this topic a bit more.



Surprisingly at first, I encountered all sorts of resistance within.  But this only confirmed, I needed more work on self-compassion, and  I knew I was going to learn more about this very important topic.  As the above quote says we deserve understanding, patience and above all else love.  And not from outside ourselves….no we must seek that love inside first.



In life we all face circumstances that are difficult to handle…challenges like the death or illness of a loved one….pressures at work or of losing a job.  Busy schedules where we try to juggle more than is humanly possible.  And with these trials, we also find failure.  All of these can seem to happen at once until we fall into a heap thinking we can’t handle much more.



DSCN4421And what I have discovered in these impossible moments, is that I need to turn inward, and tap into my hidden reserves.  What powers these reserves, and allows us to survive?  Quite simply it is love.  Not just love from others, but love of ourselves….really the most important gift we can give to ourselves and others.  For when we love ourselves, the tribulations of life can seem to melt away, and our capacity to love others increases tenfold.



One of the most important things we can do when building our self-compassion, is to identify the barriers to love we have created.  For me the need for perfection used to bog me down.  Starting from childhood, and on into my adult life, I would berate myself for making, what I viewed as, stupid errors.  I have had a long history of putting myself down that was perpetuated by some well meaning adults and teachers who continually pointed out my mistakes.



DSCN4542Changing an answer on a final that resulted in a grade of 98 instead of 100% would put me in a tailspin where I would call myself ‘stupid’, say ‘how I knew better’…’what was wrong with me’…and causing me to obsess on this mistake for months.  Nothing was acceptable to me but perfection.



And there were other thoughts and emotions that built up barriers causing more negative talk.  The list can be endless:  resistance, worry, fear, self-doubt, procrastination and frustration to name a few that have plagued me.  I have worked hard over the past 5 years or so to break through these self-imposed barriers.



DSCN4478What did I do?  It really is quite simple, and a bit brave, if I say so myself.  I recognize these moments where I engage in negative self-talk, and I stay in the moment with them….I feel them, where they reside in my body, and then I give myself a bit of self-love.  I tell myself, out loud usually,  ‘I am doing the best that I can in this moment’.  Then I recognize that indeed I am doing my best….and I let go of the emotions tying me down.



Sometimes when I would rush and drop things or make a mess, I would look at why this was happening….and again this would require me to stop, focus and be in the moment.  It became easily apparent, that I was rushing because of time constraints or wanting to finish…. so I would tell myself to take it slow and be in the moment more.  And when I slowed, and focused, I would enjoy the task.



DSCN4664Each time I focused and stayed in the moment I sensed an easing of these negative emotions and self-talk.  There are many practices to help with this process, and I have learned some new techniques, from the courses I took recently.  I highly recommend Open Your Heart To You from Sandra@Always Well Within, and Self-Compassion taught by Kristin Neff & Brené Brown@Courageworks.  Check these courses out to see when they will be offered again.



We can easily turn our self-doubt around, and embrace our own inner love.  We just have to have a little courage to stay in the moment, and break through any barriers we have encased around our own hearts.  And you can start by smiling at yourself a bit more, and realizing that you deserve love too.  Speak to yourself as you would a good friend…..you wouldn’t berate them, right?  Give yourself a few words of encouragement by being your own best friend…..you will be amazed at what that self-compassion can do for you!





How do you give yourself the love and compassion you need and deserve?







Special Note:  The pictures here are of different purple irises that bloomed in my garden this spring.  In the Language of Flowers, they symbolize ‘Compliments to you’.  I can’t think of a better way to express self-compassion.



I leave you with a few additional words self-compassion.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

self compassion

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.