End of Month Potpourri-August Break Highlights 2015

real life

“When the creative impulse sweeps over you, grab it. You grab it and honor it and use it, because momentum is a rare gift.”  ― Justina Chen

 

 

 

 

I am continuing my participation in the photography challenge,  The August Break, the creation of Susannah Conway.  Today I have the next 7 days of words, and my interpretations for you.  This week seemed to be quite a challenge as I tried to capture so many images interpreting the latest words, many which are very common.

 

The first picture above is Day 21-Real Life.  This is my everyday work area with my laptop front and center.  I liked the picture better in black and white, as color was not an important aspect of the picture.

 

 

 

curves collage

Day 22-Curves  I had many different pictures picked out for this word.  But it was when I was outside sitting, that I noticed the curves in my garden hat.  This hat is a prized possession, and I had a lot of fun capturing the curves.

 

You can see another picture of my garden hat in the last picture.  This was an impromptu picture taken while I was sitting outside enjoying the garden.

 

 

 

water collage2

Day 23-Water  One of my favorite spots is the pond in our garden.  The sound of the waterfall is relaxing.  I wanted to capture the waterfall as it flows down the rocks.

 

 

 

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Day 24-In The Distance  This is the beginning of the wetlands about a couple of miles down the road.  It is acres of cattails that end at the woods edge, in the distance.

 

 

 

green distance

Day 25-Green  The cattails end as the wetlands open up.  And you can see this amazing Chartreuse green algae covering the entire surface of the water.  Isn’t it stunning?  Especially against the pinkish-purple flowers of the purple loosestrife plant that has invaded the wetlands.

 

 

 

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Day 16-Door  When I originally was thinking about this word, I wanted to capture our front door.  But then as the day went on, I wanted to look at a few more doors around the house and garden.  I especially love the view through the door on the gazebo.  Isn’t it inviting?

 

 

 

door collage

Our purple front door is bottom right, the door I originally wanted to capture.  And then I experimented with opening the door to a couple of rooms and capturing the view as you enter.

 

 

 

recipe collage

Day 27-Favorite Recipe  During tomato season, we love to make sauce.  This is a special recipe from a garden friend, Kathy@The Violet Fern.  It is called Summer In A Jar, and you can read more about it here.  All the ingredients, basil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, were grown in our garden this summer.

 

 

 

 

So there you have the photos from days 21-27 of  The August Break challenge.  I will have the remainder of the words, for days 28-31, in two weeks.  Next week will be another Wildlife Lesson post, always on the first Thursday of the month.

 

I am linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and with Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) photo linkup party at image-in-ing.

 

 

 

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

creativity artist

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.

August Break Continues

edge vase“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.”
~Hugh MacLeod

 

 

 

I have been enjoying the photography challenge,  The August Break, the creation of Susannah Conway.  And today brings another 10 days of words, and my interpretations.  This creative challenge continues to tickle my creative muscles as I play with ideas, composition and perspective.  Again I am including a few collages of pictures as they make for interesting photos too.

 

 

The first picture above is actually Day 11-Edge.  I was looking at this vase that was sitting on the windowsill of our back windows that angle out.  And I saw how it was peeking out from the edge of the wall.  I thought it was an interesting shot.

 

 

 

edge collage

Part of the same vase contained Queen Anne’s Lace which I just love to photograph.  And it is especially stunning in up close pictures emphasizing the Edges!

 

 

 

yellow

Day 12-Yellow  There is so much yellow outside in the garden, so I was searching inside for something yellow I wanted to showcase.  I spied our yellow hummingbird teapot that we bought in Santa Fe, NM.  It was perfect next to the same vase of declining sunflowers (also yellow).

 

 

 

last year

Day 13-Last Year  When I searched through the photos from last year, one special event that I just loved was the twin fawns that visited nearly every day.  Surprisingly, we have not seen any fawns so far this year.

 

 

 

favorite smell

Day 14-Favorite Smell  At this time of year, my favorite smell is fresh picked tomatoes sitting here on the kitchen counter.  They are a favorite treat as well.

 

 

 

art collage

Day 15-Art  This word was a challenge until I looked out at the garden in the morning light, and saw this hardy hibiscus glowing.  The incredible details of the huge flower petals are truly a work of art.  I thought I would make the inset picture into an actual painting, and then compare them in this collage.  I can barely tell the difference between the two….both Nature’s art.

 

Speaking of Nature’s art, I have a picture of a monarch, at the end of the post, that has been visiting my garden for several days.  I consider monarch’s and their beautiful wings, with the stripes and spots, artwork!

 

 

 

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Day 16-Fire  The early morning light coming into the garden creates so much magic.  And as it touched the red and orange sunflowers recently, it looked like the flames of a fire.

 

 

 

fire collage2

I absolutely love these sunflowers because of their color, and they have about 50 flowers on a 7 foot tall multiple branched sunflower.  And this sunflower is a volunteer from last year’s plant.  .

 

 

 

books collage

Day 17-Reading  I have so many bookshelves filled to overflowing with books.  But my absolute favorite is this Stickley glass-fronted bookcase.  I keep very special books in this bookcase with special artwork.  The tile and the pottery are both from NM.

 

 

 

look up

Day 18-Look Up  The days have been hot lately, and the sun around midday washing out all the color.  As I sat on the patio step and looked up, I shot a bunch of pictures.  And to my surprise, I caught some interesting spider webs being constructed in the Sanguisorba officinalis.  It is always good to look up!

 

 

 

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Day 19-Sweet Delight  What better sweet treat on a hot day than a popsicle.

 

 

 

sweet collage

I left it out in 85 degree heat and photographed it melting from many different views.

 

 

 

two final

Day 20-Two  I was not sure what I was going to do for this word as I already had a few pictures with 2 items in this post.  Then Tuesday, we had severe thunderstorms that snapped many of my beloved sunflowers in two.  Those same beloved sunflowers above set ablaze by the sun.

 

 

 

two collage

Now they are in a vase a bit bedraggled, and dropping petals….these two petals were my inspiration!  It seems sunflowers have been an ongoing inspiration for me during August.

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these photos from days 11-20 of  The August Break challenge.  I am linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and with Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) photo linkup party at image-in-ing.

 

 

 

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

aug break create2

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.

August Break Begins

talisman

“Non-judgment quiets the internal dialogue, and this opens once again the doorway to creativity.”

~Deepak Chopra

 

Last August I participated in a photography challenge called The August Break, the creation of Susannah Conway.  And I was excited when I heard she was doing it again this year.  Each day is a new word, and you decide how to show it.  So for Thursdays in August, I will be showcasing my pictures from the challenge.

 

 

I love this challenge because it is simple, and allows me to be in the moment and to be creative.  I thought I would break it up into thirds and show you what I came up with in 10 day chunks.  I am truly a novice with photography still using the auto setting on my point and shoot.  But I am enjoying composing the images daily, and looking for different perspectives.  I have included a few collages of pictures as they make for interesting photos as well.

 

 

The first picture above is actually Day 10-Talisman.  This hand-blown glass rabbit has been with me now for about 30 years.  I bought this at our local Renaissance Faire as I was told it was a special animal spirit for me.

 

 

 

bfast collage

Day 1-Breakfast  I took a few different perspectives of my breakfast plate; in more light and then less light.

 

 

 

air

Day 2-Air  This was a bit challenging to decide what to shoot, but when this dragonfly perched on the tip of this tiny plant right in front of me, I knew this was my shot.

 

 

 

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Day 3-Skin  I wanted to find something besides the obvious human skin to shoot.  So when I saw these cucumbers from the garden, I was drawn to their skin which can be smooth or bumpy.  They also make great pickles!  YUM.

 

 

 

numbers collage

Day 4-Numbers  I took this day to go around the house looking for interesting numbers.   And then I thought about how I would compose the photos of these ordinary objects.  The first is of an antique crock.  Next is an antique kitchen timer.  Both antiques belonged to my aunt and uncle.

The last photo is of a ceramic clock we bought on our honeymoon in Italy.  I love this photo because even though the numbers are Roman Numerals, the number 4 is incorrect.  It should read IV as a Roman numeral.  It gives this clock more personality the way it is written as tally marks instead.

 

 

 

citrus views

Day 5-Citrus  There isn’t much to tell here.  Again I was playing with perspective when shooting the lemon next to this vase of flowers from my garden.

 

 

 

notebook

Day 6-Notebook  My notebook is my journal.  I opened to the next blank page and took a picture.  I liked working with the perspective and angle of this shot.

 

 

 

5 things

Day 7-5 Facts About Me  I had no idea what I was going to use for this day.  As I was sitting on the couch and looking out the window, the sun was streaming through this little display on the windowsill.  The screen was up so the garden in the background was more pronounced.  I loved how the scene glowed and I knew this was the picture.

So what are the 5 things about me:  Love to garden, love to pick flowers and arrange them, love New Mexico where I bought the glass tile (and wanted to move there at one time), my dear friend (who lives now in NM) bought me the 2 figures and the gourd is an inspiration to me for many things including gardening, and I am fascinated with Native American lore, history and archeology.  In another life, I might have studied Native American tribes as my career instead of being an educator.

 

 

 

smooth contrast

Day 8-Smooth  So many choices here, but I decided on the lily pads in the pond that are still occupied by many frogs who love using them as lounge chairs.  When I was leaving the pond area, I caught sight of the native cactus I have growing in the stones on the side of the waterfall.  The contrast struck me, and I added it to the picture.

 

 

 

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Day 9-Earth  Again the possibilities were endless, but the sunset that night was too beautiful not to use here.  The atmosphere of the Earth working its magic here and in the last picture below.

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these photos from the first 10 days of  The August Break challenge.  I am linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.  And I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

 

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

aug break creativity

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.

An Interview with Susan Troccolo (and a Giveaway)

BeachJune2015

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw

 

 

 

A while back, I was given the distinct honor of being awarded recognition for this blog by a reader, Julie@Gardening Jules.  And I promised that I would do a few interviews in recognition of the honor.  Finally, I am getting around to the first interview, and it is indeed a special interview with author and blogger, Susan Troccolo.

 

 

I met Susan Troccolo in this wonderful blogging world almost 3 years ago when Susan found my garden blog, Gardens Eye View.  Somehow we both found our way to writing for the wonderful website, Vision and Verb, which is no longer online.  When I heard she was writing a new book, I decided I had to interview Susan.

 

 

Susan has been on this journey of writing a book for a while now, and I am learning so much from her.  She has just released her first ebook, , which consists of 4 essays.  As Susan says this will be ‘a taste of what’s to come’.  Eventually these four stories will be among the twenty or so included in her next collection, and I can’t wait for that collection.  So sit back, relax and enjoy this wonderful conversation with an amazing woman and author…..

 

 

 

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1.  Susan I am so glad to have found you online through blogging.  I always find it interesting how folks get into blogging.  Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog because I knew that I had another book in me and I wanted to connect with more readers, the kind of readers that I thought might like my stories. You know, it’s funny, even traditional New York based publishers are advising their authors to start up a blog. This is not just for the Indies anymore. All book promotion is basically done by the author herself. I also was hoping, really hoping, that I could create something beautiful and fun and make new online friends. It has worked out that way!

 

 

2. Susan I really enjoy my visits to your blog, and have always been intrigued by its name.  What is the significance of the title of your blog?

Well, at first, it was purely a funny thought that came into my mind. It was me poking fun (in a tongue-in-cheek way) at all the three word titles out there now. My humor is a little quirky. Also, my blog covers so many topics that I needed to find something that would embrace a lot of life using the metaphor of the garden. It was: Life (with a big L), Change (our own aging process,) and Compost, (the mess it all makes in the process!) Gradually other people started providing other ideas that had significance for them regarding the significance of compost. They saw it as the gradual breaking down of all the elements of life into something rich, and nurturing for new growth. It became a metaphor that had more than one meaning and I like that: readers can make of it what they want. I always try to give readers an opportunity to make something I write their own.

 

 

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3.  The creative spirit seems so much a part of you.  What are some of your creative endeavors that make your heart sing?

I’ve been a guitar player since I was seven. Teaching guitar was my first job at fifteen, through the Parks & Recreation Department where I lived. I love bluegrass—I used to be a pretty mean flat-picker, and I love blues. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed arthritis in my hands and so a lot of that skill is lost. But I’ll always play the guitar, I just love it. I also love speaking Italian. The sound is like singing.  And I get to use my hands to make a point-:)

 

 

Susiewriting

 

4.  And what is your creative process?

That’s a tough one. I have to work really hard not to sabotage myself with thinking that my creative work needs to be  good coming out of the gate. I think it was Anne Lamott who said: Write shitty first drafts! Those were her words exactly. For example, if I just scratch things out when I’m in a vulnerable and open space and write in a plain, lined, school-type notebook, then I’m less concerned with expecting great things from the writing at first. (There will be plenty of drafts and editing to follow!) I guess I’d have to say my creative process is trying to get free. Also, my best stories have come to me in the middle of the night. I have woken up laughing; honestly it’s happened three times with pieces I’ve sold to online magazines.  Usually it’s something that makes me laugh or makes me cry.

 

 

5.  What new form of arts or craft would you like to learn?

I’d like to get better at cooking. I’m the one that always brings the salads to the Pot Luck Dinners! They are pretty good salads, but I get tired of making them.

 

 

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6.  Do you have a favorite space or spot that is sacred in or around your home?

Two places really. My office and the garden. My office has a Tibetan Thanka on the wall and I meditate there. In the spring, summer, and fall,  I like nothing more than to take my coffee outside in my jammies and putter in the garden.

 

 

7.  I know you have traveled to many places in the world, so where would you like to travel next?

I’ve never been to Scotland and I’ve never seen Alaska, the inland passage. I’d also love to rent a cottage in the Cotswolds and just relax after the year I’ve had! So many losses.

 

 

Delphiniums & Dalhias watermarked

 

8.  Oh I would love a cottage in the Cotswolds.  Let’s shift gears now.  Tell me what famous person or not so famous person would you like to meet?

I’d love to meet Michelle Obama and her mother. What a mother she must have! I’d also like to meet Anne Lamott and the Jungian writer James Hillman. Oh, and Michael Pollen—what a thoroughly enjoyable writer he is!

 

 

9.  Now that is an interesting collection of people.  Susan, what is or would have been your dream career or job?

I wish I could have made it as a Country Western Singer in the old days, not now though, when everything is so over-produced. I know that sounds silly; but what a hoot! Unfortunately, my singing isn’t up to snuff. I play guitar better than I can sing.

 

Here’s a little treat.  Susan singing and playing the guitar.  I think she would have made a fine entertainer….

 

 

 

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

Two very different ones come to mind: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard  and the most exciting adventure story I know:  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Oh, and anything by MFK Fisher.  Oh, and A Passage to India by E.M. Forster.

 

 

The-Beet-Goes-On.cover

 

11.  You just finished writing the ebook, , and are writing a bigger collection of stories.  Can you tell us a bit about why you wanted to write this collection?  How does it fulfill part of your soul’s journey?

I want to write about aging to help myself understand it. I have found that the garden is the perfect metaphor for the process of life and death, the seasons of our lives. I also know that because of the cancers that I’ve had and recovered from, I still hold fear in my body. I want to learn to release that fear. I’m hoping the book—as much work as it is—will give me some peace at heart.

The larger print book will come out in early 2016.

 

 

Susie&Fly at the Beach

 

12.  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?

I really push myself too hard. And my body always pays the price. I would never think of someone like Clint Eastwood as being a model of aging (!?!), but I read the other day that he said: “if you just relax, it can be fun.” Good old Clint. Imagine that. But I liked what he said. In that moment I got it. Just kick off your shoes, and relax. There is nothing to prove.  Also I have a note in one of my garden journals that reads: Dreamt I was Clint Eastwood. Woke up. I AM Clint Eastwood! It cracked me up. That’s the post-menopausal woman for you—we are forces of nature.

 

 

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

Right now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all I need to learn to put forth my best work. Whether you go traditional , or indie, writing a book is hard work. The social media piece alone is daunting. I pray to be able to do it with joy…in fact I have a note on my computer from Jennifer Richardson that says: “As easy joy about it all.” That’s all I want. But I can tell you that the people who have shown up on my blog have really helped me in ways I wouldn’t have expected. These readers and other bloggers keep me writing. They make me want to tell my truth and to keep putting it out there. I couldn’t be more grateful. Beyond that, it really is day by day.

 

 

Well I really enjoyed this time with Susan.  Like I said, I always learn so much when I talk with Susan.  Please make sure you visit Susan Troccolo in all the wonderful places she hangs out:

Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Life-Change-Compost

 

 


 

Giveaway:

If you would like a free copy of Susan’s new ebook, just subscribe to her blog, Life-Change-Compost.  You can also .  If you have any problems downloading the ebook, please email Susan at at susie@troccolo.com

 

 

Susan will have a print copy of The Beet Goes On for purchase from Amazon soon.  If you would like to win a print copy of The Beet Goes On, leave a comment here, and LIKE Susan’s Facebook author page.  Then your name will be placed in a hat for the chance to win this wonderful book.  I will choose a name at noon on August 2nd, and email the winner.

 

 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Photos are the sole property of Susan Troccolo and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.

End of Month Potpourri-June 2015

seedhead drawing

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”  ~Maya Angelou

 

 

One of the people I was introduced to in the April Love course, I wrote about last week, was Andrea Schroeder.  She has a wonderful website called, Creative Dream Incubator.  And it is here where I was reconnected with my creative dream, and began drawing again.

 

 

daylily drawingAndrea has a great free 10-day course called, Give Your Dream Wings, and I loved this easy 10-minute a day class.  It finally gave me the push to connect again with that wonderful artsy side of me that has been hidden and tucked away to languish for almost 50 years.

 

 

That side that colored in coloring books for hours….who made her own paper dolls, clothes and all, and loved every one of them…..who adored the messy paints in art class, was never really nurtured or encouraged.  In fact quite the opposite.  I was told in veiled comments that I had no real artistic talent.  Art classes became drudgery and painful in middle school.  And I was politely asked to leave the chorus in 8th grade…..I was enthusiastic, but tone deaf so it was best for me to leave so there weren’t any awkward moments during concerts.

 

 

coneflower drawingI was asthmatic and uncoordinated too so no sports for Donna.  Actually my Physical Education teachers never marked me absent, so I never had to make up classes as it was best for me not to be there since there were less accidents in PE class when I wasn’t there.  So I knew I had to take to my books, and my studies, and excel there as all other outlets were closed off.

 

 

 

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”

~ Georgia O’Keefe, artist

 

 

Maybe had I been introduced to artists like O’Keefe, and given encouragement, I could have stopped the constant messages of not being good enough, not being creative, not having any talent except for being book smart.

 

 

hosta leaf drawingBut no matter, that is all old, old water under a bridge I care not to cross anymore, as I have found my inner creative again.  And I am once again connected to that dream of exploring this once closed off area…..no fears, no judgments….just creating, trying and moving on with exploring more and more ways to create.

 

 

So where did I start?  Well I got a little boost from my dear, very talented friend Mary…she is a wonderful artist (although she will not say she is….but she is).  And 5 years ago, we started a little weekly ritual called, Art on the Patio.  She was working part-time and so was I, and she offered to teach me to draw and use watercolors.  At that time, I was not in a good place with self-confidence….actually I was at a very low spot, but wanting to stretch myself a bit and try things I had long put off.

 

 

pot in chair drawingWe met almost weekly for 2 months, and here in this post you can see my first attempts.  The first drawing at the top of the post is my first drawing of a seed head in my garden.  Our art studio was my garden where we would sit at my patio table, under the umbrella, surrounded by a garden with healthy goodies to munch on.

 

 

And if it weren’t for Mary, I would not have had the courage to begin this creative endeavor again….we are thinking of getting our Patio Art time started again as we are both retired.  In the meantime, I watched a video of Andrea’s on her website about drawing Mandalas.  And you can see the start of one below.  I draw them daily in my journal after meditating.

 

 

mandela 2So where is all this heading?  I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care….I am just so excited as the creative spirit is with me again, and my child-like anticipation and wonder has taken control.  I plan to take a free art journaling class next that is offered on Andrea’s site.  It is wonderful to find so many things offered for free especially when finances are a bit restricted with retirement.

 

 

I have my new journal waiting to be filled with even bigger mandalas and other creative works.  And those blank pages, are not scary to look at any more.  I believe wholeheartedly that we can live an inspired, creative and thrilling life by doing what excites us.  And exploring things we want to know more about or see and do.  Each little step we take in this direction opens up new paths, new doorways into new aspects of our lives we never thought would come about.

 

 

pink flower drawingWho knows what the next big thing will be….and I am so OK with that.  I want to open that new box of crayons again, and smell that new smell….see the new perfect tips ready for me to wear them down to a nub.  This has been a long time coming getting back to my artsy side….and even acknowledging that I have an artsy side is a big first step.  Because we all do….we just forgot it, or never had the chance to explore it.

 

 

And I promise, Mary, if we do some more art on the patio, I won’t get all judgy and try to compare myself to you or anyone.  I will just be me, and let the experience wash over me like a gentle wave of water bringing me new life and exhilarating every cell of my being.

 

 

 

Special Note:   All the drawings here were done in my first attempt at drawing, under the tutelage of my friend Mary 5 years ago on my patio in the summer.  I am sharing these drawings for the first time, and that is a huge step for me.  These are a great start, and I hope to continue to draw often as I meditate with my creative side.

 

 

 

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I leave you with more thoughts about creativity.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

leaf drawing

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

End of Month Potpourri-April 2015

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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The first daffodils shimmered like the snowdrops above.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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And Crocus tommasinianus blooming through the new green grass.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

Poetry Sunday-Creating My World

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Creating My World

 

I touch the heaven inside of me

Flowing, boundless, creating my reality.

 

Always changing, twisting, transforming

Beliefs morphing, still being born, forming.

 

All before me limitless

Unending joy, pure bliss.

 

Listening, tapping into the whispers that surround

Nature’s miracles through my eyes abound.

 

A spirit transcending time and space

Manacles broken, no longer in a race.

 

Moment to moment the scene will change

As I try to capture it just out of range.

 

A word, a melody, the light

With pen and paint our senses delight.

 

So harness the wind, oh I think you can

Creating your world with a wave of your hand.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

 

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This poem was also created during that inspiring flight to see family in November.  I was in a very artistic mood, creating my world.

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Special Note:  The lotus flower, pictured in this post, is a symbol of spontaneous generation, and also represents creation itself.

 

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I leave you with a little reminder of the creating.   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, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Creating Pure Joy

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“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”  — Erich Fromm

 

 

One of the habits I have lost along the way was the ability to have fun.  I noticed it only recently when I was taking stock of myself and my habits after being retired for almost a year.  I did things that I liked to do such as gardening and photography.  And yes they were fun, but I felt something was missing in these endeavors, in my life.  And I found I did not have as many hobbies or friends to “play” with anymore.

 

Now I know I am an adult and we have to work, but there was never anything that precluded us from playing and having fun with friends as an adult.  It just seemed my life became about the job… especially since we had no children.  And there was less and less fun in the job as time went on.  Challenges had replaced pure fun, and for a while sufficed.  But soon the joy seeped out of the job and I couldn’t find it anymore.  It became, “I have to” not “I get to”.  Where was the fun in that?

 

And sadly it was as if I didn’t know how to play anymore once I retired.  I used to DSCN6752amuse myself for hours as a child bouncing and catching a ball to see how many times I could do it without missing.  I would wander and smell the flowers, look at the bugs, climb trees, swing, wade in the creek, ride my bike, and all alone if friends were busy.  When friends were around we would play make-believe games, riding our horses to the rescue (our bikes with rope tied around the handlebars).  We would roll down hills, play tag, hide and seek and even card or board games.  Nothing planned or scripted, but whatever we felt like doing in the moment that would bring us immeasurable joy.

 

I miss those simple games, those creative fun times lost for hours in the sheer joy of life.  When we were with family at Thanksgiving, my 27-year-old niece and her fiancé wanted to play a board game.  So we got out the only game my sister had, Trivial Pursuit.  You bet I was in and ready to play.  And we were lost for hours playing the game, making up new rules and having so much….you guessed it, FUN!  Yes I won, but that is beside the point.

 

One of the ways I know I can create more joy in my life is to learn to play again….to let go and be creative…find what amused me as a child and still does.  There are the obvious things like riding my bike, wandering around the garden and watching bugs.  But those will have to wait for warmer weather.  It will be challenging to see what fun things I can find this winter…I love puzzles and there are a few jigsaw puzzles with my name on them just waiting to be put together.  And perhaps a bit of play in the snow-making snow angels and  snowmen!

 

Of course once the weather warms up and spring fever hits, I will be itching to get out and DSCN7059have some fun in the garden.  I can ride my bike over to the lake and see what’s what.  Oh that sounds like fun….you know I never get over there.  I wonder why…it could be fun!!  And there is flower arranging, or maybe painting a few pictures of flowers….oh I think I am going to like that too.

 

But more than doing all these things, I will be continuing to find more and more time to create joy…the pure joy from just exploring my surrounds and enjoying life in the moment with no scripted plans.  The possibilities are endless.  All I have to do is get back into the flow of those joyful, spontaneous moments of life.  Hey if you are in the neighborhood, stop on by…no need to call….we can play.  It will be such great fun!

 

Note:   The yellow roses pictured here represent joy.

 

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I leave you with some additional thoughts on, creating joy in our lives. Feel free to download this photo and share.

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

Poetry Sunday-Sky Painting



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Sky Painting

 

 Splashes of paint on a cloudy morn

Carried like fire, the sky adorned.

 

Deep purple hues, bright orange splashes

Undulating hints of gray dots and dashes.

 

Then spread across the deep bright blue

Pictures forming, ever shifting anew.

 

Now marshmallow fluff, mountains in the sky

Clouds collide painting pictures, rolling by.

 

The sun creates the palette, the wind is the painter

Seeking new canvas as soon or later,

 

A new scene emerges with each breath I’m taking

Behold nature’s finest; look the sky is painting.

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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This poem was created as we were SOARing through the sky at 35,000 feet.  I am always mesmerized by the clouds from high in the sky as well as when the sunrises.  Actually I find the sky paints the clouds best during sunrise.

 

And given that my new word for the year is SOAR, this poem is the perfect complement. You can read about my word of the year as it will be my guiding force this new year!

 

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

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

 

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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.  I hope to more overtly spread some blog love through both my blogs in the future. 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are from recent sunrises where I watched the sun paint the clouds and sky.

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I leave you with a little bit of sentiment about clouds and light.  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, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Christmas Scenes

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Christmas Scenes

 

I look upon the Christmas tree

And fade to childhood memories;

 

Of snowflakes, boots and mittens warm

Donned on frosty, biting morns.

 

Sleds dragged down snow-covered streets

To find fresh powder on hills replete.

 

Later home with frozen fingers and toes

Warmed before the fire with hot cocoa.

 

Smells of cookies permeate the house

As I stealthily sneak one as quiet as a mouse.

 

And all about tinsel and lights galore

Are sparkling hung from roofs and doors.

 

While I await, anticipating the scene

Of Santa and spectacular Christmas dreams,

 

I sing songs of joy and choruses of mirth

that herald in the day of His spectacular birth.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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I am participating in The Personal Photo Challenge hosted by Donna@Cottage Days and Journeys.  This month’s challenge is called Christmas Scenes.   I wrote this poem on my way to see family for Thanksgiving.  I had not seen much of my family for a few years.  And on the plane ride, some lovely thoughts of Christmas were running through my brain.  So I hope you enjoy the poem that is filled with many of my childhood memories.

 

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

 

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

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Special Note:  These Christmas scenes were taken upon our return home once we did a bit of Christmas decorating.

 

All photos were taken on auto mode and first processed in iPhoto (so nothing fancy).  The collage was made in Fotor.com.  The tree images were further processed in PicMonkey.com to add some brilliance, snow, frost and stars.

 

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I leave you with a bit of a 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.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Change

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 Change

 

Time is needed for change.

Patience is needed too.

Some things are out of our hands,

this I know to be true.

 

Allow for change,

grasp it.

Learn from change,

chase it.

 

Challenge and courage are blended.

As we permit it to unfold.

 Cultivating the rich rewards,

Embracing change foretold.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

Poetry Sunday-Still Life

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Still Life

 

The heat of my days is gone,

now a tinge of coolness on the wind lingers.

 

Soft colors faded from the garish summer sun,

as light shines at an angle, my perceptions skewed.

 

Gone is the black and white, the absolute.

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

 

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

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

 

Awaiting the first brush strokes of fresh color,

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

 

© Donna Donabella 2014

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Creating My Fear

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Fear has always been my greatest enemy.  It has controlled me.  And consumed me.  So much so that I prefered to remain invisible for many, many years.  I chalked it up to being an introvert.  I was just not wired to be out there taking risks.  Nice excuse and it served me well.  And I had folks protect that hard shell I created for myself.

 

But as my job changed and I had to put myself out into the public eye more, I was forced out of that cushy, but dangerous, comfort zone.  And what do you know I was successful and happy in the change that had come over me.  My courage increased as I continued to move out of that zone growing along the way.

 

I forgot that with growth comes pain and with pain that fear was back.  Big and ugly, looming, sucking my reservoirs dry.  And it wasn’t until I hit a high, hard wall that I decided to go back to my roots.  Back to the mighty word.  My words. The words that speak from the soul.  From deep down inside my belly forcing those emotions back out exposing my raw self.  Funny thing was there was no fear once those words were laid bare.  At least not for a while.

 

But I did not understand, that fear would return over and over to beat me up and knock me down.  And I let that fear suffocate me, cutting me off from my words.  It wasn’t until I read an interview with a wonderful purveyor of words.  One who understood that in order to create with words you had to embrace fear.  Know that you would and must create it along with your soulful work.  It was not to be squashed, but accepted.  Embraced and even cultivated.  Because without that fear you would cease to create; really create from your roots.

 

 

“I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins; they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both. And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear!  You must accept that Creativity cannot walk even one step forward except by marching side-by-side with its attached sibling of Fear.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

 

 

Simple words really.  Create and Fear.  Inexplicably intertwined.  And to cut off my DSCN9826fear was to cut off the flow of my words rendering me mute.  Safe yes, but mute.  Soul speak quieted.  My heart smothered.  So the choice was simple. It was time to stop despairing.  It was time to whisper those fears.  To take fear by the hand and walk with it.  Get to know it intimately.  Give it voice.  And as that fearful voice rose, I discovered my words.

 

Those deep down feeling words are flowing again.  And as long as I keep fear beside me, I will compose, generate, form and otherwise forge my words here every month.

 

Special Note:  Water lilies symbolize Eloquence and Purity of heart.

 

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Update 6 months later:

This post was  originally published January 22, 2014 when I became a regular part of the team writing at Vision and Verb.  And it was the inspiration for starting this new blog….to continue to challenge my fears and to not lose my words and creativity.

It has been six weeks since starting this blog, and I am having so much fun stretching my creativity wings with photography and what I call my weekly ‘heart-felt’ posts on Thursdays.

I will be expanding my creative Sunday posts in September by adding some poetry.  I hope to join in a few poetry sites for their challenges as I continue my love for reading and writing poetry.  There is something so very personal and soulful in poetry, and I hope to continue to tap into my soul giving you little glimpses.

 

 

 

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

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