Creativity In Winter



The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  

~J. B. Priestley



With the solstice behind us and we head into more daylight hours, I thought I would share with you some of my winter, and the beauty it brings me inspiring my creativity.  The first photo is my meadow in winter as the snow makes dollops of cream on the goldenrod seedheads.





The trees are another wonderful place for winter creativity and inspiration.  The snow clothes the trees leaving me to wonder how beautiful a tree can truly be in winter.  This is my beloved silver maple covered in lichen and snow.





We have many types of snowfall, and I love the gentle slow falling flakes shown here against the backdrop of the gazebo slightly off center.





Here’s another tree shot of the same silver maple, but this time it is the red flower buds that stand out in winter waiting for the warm spring.





Then there is the beauty of snowfall in black and white.  Here is it falling a bit steadier with no wind again against the backdrop of the gazebo.





And here is a part of the garden that was recently covered in snow.  The snow washes the landscape clean and there are few colors left making black and white photos of it very intriguing and creative in my opinion.





One other spot that is magical in the garden in winter is the big birdhouse.




creative snow collage

And finally I leave you with a mosaic for the season that shows you more of the bokeh effect (out-of-focus areas of the photo) of snow.  You can see this same effect in many of my photos of snow in this post.



I hope you enjoyed these winter scenes created by nature.  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 the magic of the first snow.   Feel free to download the photo and share.


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.


Happy Holidays

happy holidays


Today marks the celebration of Christmas around the world.  It is a day of hope, a day of new beginnings, a day for families and friends to gather together.  It means so much to so many, and yet we all have our different memories, traditions and beliefs.


And during this time of Christmas, there are many other holidays celebrated as well.  Chanukah has just ended, Kwanza will begin tomorrow.  We celebrate the New Year soon and we just celebrated the Winter Solstice as the days now lengthen and the light returns to the North.


Recently I discovered this Tara Mohr quote that spoke volumes to me and shifted my perspective of gratitude.  I thank Sor’a Garrett@The SHINE Connection for bringing it to me in her Joy of Giving series.


“Gratitude for makes me feel fortunate, gratitude to makes me feel in my right place-as a humbled, limited, human being. Gratitude for is about counting our blessings. Gratitude to is about being on the receiving end of a conversation with something larger.”   ~Tara Mohr


So during this special time of the year, I am filled with gratitude for so much and to so many people.  And I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to thank all of you for your support of my new blog.  Whether you read, comment, subscribe or pop over from time to time, I extend my gratitude to you.


And I wish you Happy Holidays as you celebrate the season.  



Poetry Sunday-Push Pause Please



Push Pause Please


As our days speed by and I fight for my glee,

I long for a way to regain my sanity.

For time to stand still for just a little while….

to push pause please and bring me a smile:


Pause for a bit of ruminating

Pause for a saunter or stroll,

Pause to see beauty through my camera lens

Pause to hear nature’s calls.

Pause while the rain pitter patters,

Pause for a flower bud tight

And pause to reflect at the end of my day,

in the sun’s tranquil, golden light.


Oh yes a button to push at anytime,

to push to my heart’s content.

Yes I will push pause each time I must,

For a pause is time heaven sent.


© Donna Donabella 2014


This poem was written in the fall, when I knew the garden would be done blooming soon, and the sometimes hectic days of the holidays would be looming.  The phrase, push pause please, came into my head loud and clear almost like a song or chant to be sung.



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.



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




Special Note:  In the Language of Flowers the lavender pictured here means calm.  When I see lavender, I pause and take in its intoxicating scent.  A sweet pause and time to reflect.



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




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.

Confessions of a Perfectionist


The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



It came as a complete surprise when I realized that I was a perfectionist.  I had been told before, in jest, that I was a perfectionist.  But I always shook it off and said, “no way”.  I am far from perfect nor do I care to be perfect…or so I thought.  But perfectionism is not about being a perfect person, it is striving to be perfect.  That is the trap.


How can anyone live up to perfection? Oh you try, and try, and try.  But it is just like beating your head against a wall constantly.  One mistake and you go down a deep, dark hole….trying to claw your way back out exhausted and bruised.  And just when you do see the light of day, after working so hard at this perfection, you again make a mistake or someone points out your imperfection or you beat yourself up for not making it to perfection….and once again you slide back down depressed, broken and back to clawing your way up again.


IMG_9782And just when I think I have this trap beaten, and I have made it beyond the dark hole, I find I have only fooled myself into thinking I am OK with not being perfect….and down I go again.  Except this time procrastination shows up.


I have been a lifelong procrastinator…I just thought it was part of me…something I could not overcome.  Until recently I learned procrastination comes from fear.  OK so what have I been fearing for so long….yes you guessed it…..drum roll please….perfection was my fear.  So if I never try and only talk about the wish list, the hopes and dreams, then I can never fail.  Excuses and avoidance are then my mantra, instead of striving and thriving.


And what I realized was in this avoidance, I had put my life on hold.  So how to balance this striving with perfection…well that is what I am working on presently.  Just recognizing I have been in this dark hole has helped me to climb all the way out finally.  When I find myself slipping down again, I grab hold and plant my feet firmly on the ground like a root grabbing onto the firm earth.  Then I face the howling wind and hang on.


It is a choice to live or merely exist.  So these days, I am choosing to live.  A walk around the garden in my bare feet or sandals.  Watching the sunset.  Capturing in pictures every new bloom and critter that shows up in the garden.  Walking in the rain.  Listening to the birdsong in daytime and frogs at night.  Laying on the grass watching the clouds, and sitting outside in the quiet still darkness to gaze at the heaven’s and marvel at the stars.  Dancing and singing to music instead of whiling away the hours on mindless TV or the internet.  Making one new bold excursion to explore a space or place around my neighborhood.  Savoring the smells and flavors of new restaurant.  In all these things, I am thriving…. making time to play and revitalize, not so focused on the to do list anymore.


Note:   The Chrysanthemum pictured here represents perfection.  The Japanese see perfection in the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals.



Update 6 months later:

This post was originally published on June 3, 2014 in Vision and Verb.  This revelation about myself was a curious observation, and serendipitous.  It has served me well to not be so focused on the To Do list anymore.  One that has been instrumental in my healing time since retiring.


This is the last of my Vision and Verb posts that I am sharing here as the year comes to a close.  I hoped you enjoyed these special posts.  And I will moving into a new mantra and word for the year soon which will help focus my writing again.



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



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-Christmas Scenes



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


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.


xmas collage

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



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  The tree images were further processed in to add some brilliance, snow, frost and stars.




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



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.

Life Long Learner In The Garden


Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. ~ Robert Frost



I have always considered myself a lifelong learner especially in the garden.  And I find I learn the best through my experiences good or bad.  Bad sometimes being the over the top, knee-jerk reactions to things.  They have become less and less since retiring, but they still happen.  Case in point was this spring as we awaited the nesting of the birds, especially the robins who usually nest in our front dwarf willows.


DSCN5908Every year we look forward to watching the robins make their nest, lay the eggs one a day, nurture the babies and see them fledge.  So we were ecstatic when we saw a pair of robins checking out one of the trees in April just after the last spring snow.  You can see the female robin above.  Little did we know at the time that we would get to know her up close and personal.


Soon after the robin pair checked out the tree, I was sure they were set on that tree, and was happy knowing we would have a nest here again.  A few days later though something strange happened.  The bluebirds had chosen a house in the back garden, built a nest and were all set until a lone robin chased them out.  Robins don’t nest in houses so I was perplexed as to why this robin was continuing to bully the bluebirds out of their nest.  You can see her sitting here unrelenting as the bluebirds fought her unsuccessfully.  They went on to another house and built a nest where they had a few babies who fledged.


DSCN5987Then one day, soon after the bluebird house fight, we heard an unusual banging on the front windows.  Perched on the front porch bench was a robin pecking at the window.  I thought nothing of it until the pecking moved from window to window all day long.  It seemed the robin was protecting the area around the tree she had chosen, and saw another robin in the window.  I read online to cover the windows with decals or paper to break up the robin’s image.  It went on to say that if the robin didn’t stop she could wear herself out and die.  Not to mention the incessant banging against the window did not stop if we ignored it, and the noise was making us me crazy!


So I proceeded to cover every other pane with white paper.  I left it loose on the ends so it would fly up and discourage the bird as she was now flying up and pecking into the windows.  We moved the bench off the porch and she then took to flying from the trees right at the window.  Eventually she eased up on the pecking, and just when we thought we had her calmed down, she went to the back of the house and started pecking relentlessly at our bedroom windows launching herself from the roof below.  It was then that I surmised that the robin was clearing all similar birds from the area, including the bluebirds as they are also part of the thrush family.


At one point I had 3 of the windows in the front of the house and our bedroom windows DSCN6164completely covered with wrapping paper and white paper.  Of course our neighbors noticed the paper on the windows and were asking all sorts of questions.  And still the robin pecked at the windows more out of habit than anything by now.  This was beginning to wear thin for us, and my patience was about gone.  She seemed a bit more than quirky and we thought perhaps all the banging had loosened a few screws in her head.


So back to the internet, and with more research I bought an owl that we could hang.  I really wanted her to nest here, but I was more concerned for the bird and our sanity.  The owl seemed to work right away.  The robin moved on to the unoccupied house next door.  We had done all we could, and wished her well.


DSCN6619We unwrapped the house, and were settling in to the calm again when we heard an occasional peck at the front windows as the robins visited to find food in our garden.  Then I spied the female gathering nesting materials.  I was happy she would be nesting, and was shocked to see she had completed the foundation of nest in the original tree they had checked out in April.  And right under the hanging owl.  Great deterrent that owl!


As she built her nest, she would fly by, weave the nesting materials and then peck at the windows.  She took forever to build the nest as she kept getting distracted by the robin she saw still in the window….I think at this point she had developed ADD.  Her mate could be seen flying to the tree and calling to her to get back to the nest-building.  But in three days she finally completed the nest, and three days after that she laid her first egg.  Whew!


And after all that has happened, I have been trying to figure out the lesson of this robin DSCN8859adventure.  One thing I have learned throughout my life is that the more distressing the experience, the more profound the lesson.  And each experience will be interpreted differently depending on our view of the world.  But most importantly, try not to judge the situation.  Instead dig into your feelings looking for the wisdom found therein.


So what is the wisdom from this experience.  The obvious lesson was; don’t try to change nature.  But when I thought about it a bit more, I realized the bigger lesson was one of resilience and perseverance.  You can hit your head against a wall or window many times before you might find success, but it is important to keep trying if you really want to reach the goal.  And boy was this robin a role model for reaching a goal in the midst of many obstacles or perhaps perceived obstacles.


DSCN5803So this fall, as I think about the deer already browsing the garden and the voles digging holes in my veg beds, I also think about the robin.  Her lessons so vital to me….we can only do what we can do in our gardens after all we share the land with the critters.…and of course, don’t beat your head against the wall for too long, but keep working on the problem by getting a new perspective.  Then we can work through the obstacles toward a solution.




Note:  There is much animal symbolism surrounding the Robin.  Their bright yellow beak stands for the sun’s rays.  The white ring around the robin’s eye is symbolic of clarity, and great wisdom. When clear understanding is needed the robin is called upon.




Update in fall:

While this story started in early spring when the robin’s returned it did not end with the first nest in our tree.  After a week of the robins laying the eggs, we arose to find some of the eggs pushed from the nest.  It appears something was wrong with them so the robin’s destroyed them and started over.

This time they moved to my next door neighbor’s tree and within hours had a new nest, and a couple days later they were laying another clutch of eggs.  She did not peck at their windows as they have a dog, but she flew for an occasional peck at our windows to make sure our robin in the window stayed at bay.

We never saw any fledglings, but heard there were some.  And just this fall we saw lots of young robin’s still around our garden.  It seems the robin is more than just a harbinger of spring here in our garden.



I am sharing this lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I hope you will join her.  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.  And I am joining Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  Please check them all out.


Also as the solstice approaches, please join me join in at my garden blog, Gardens Eye View,  for my quarterly meme, Seasonal Celebrations, where you can find all the details for linking up to this celebration of the new seasons around the world.



I leave you with another thought about my garden lesson learned this year.  Feel free to download the photo and share.



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.

Channeling Anger


“I want to say somewhere: I’ve tried to be forgiving. And yet. There were times in my life, whole years, when anger got the better of me. Ugliness turned me inside out. There was a certain satisfaction in bitterness. I courted it. It was standing outside, and I invited it in.”

Nicole Krauss



Yes indeedy I invited anger, bitterness and resentment in for a long time.  It had resided somewhat quietly awaiting one of my famous private tantrums of release….these were never pretty nor very helpful.  They were instead deadly.


I have learned the hard way that holding on to anger has so many ugly side effects.  It reaches into every crack and crevice eating away at your body, mind and soul inevitably compromising your health.  My blood pressure was inching up, I was breaking teeth, the weight gain was out of hand, I had insomnia, a bleeding ulcer and migraines.  And while these all seemed like enough, I was also unhappy, depressed, stressed out and angry all the time…..oh so angry.


“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ― Mark Twain


And why was I so accepting of anger… so happy to keep this close relationship with something that was literally killing me?  It seemed to boil down to this…I could not forgive.  Actually it was more like I would not forgive.  I was happy to savor the nasty, bitter taste.  I found power in it.


By doing this, I was able to project all my woes on those I perceived were doing me wrong….it is all their fault.  They were stressing me out causing my illnesses and migraines…their fault, Their Fault, THEIR FAULT!!!!!


But what was this thinking getting me?  Not health or happiness.  What did I want?  I no IMG_5647longer knew.  I was beaten down.  Just dragging myself along.  I read books, worked with an acupuncturist and tried to work through all the stress triggers and issues that came up.  But what I still couldn’t get my head around was the idea of forgiving.


Forgive, but don’t forget.  Forgive, but don’t condone.  Excuse, exonerate, release.  But I couldn’t.  I felt I would give my power away if I did….so I hung on for dear life.  Until I was so sick, so worn down that you could have scraped me off the floor with a spatula.


Finally unable to bear the pain, it was time….time to release this anger.  It was time for a change.  But how?  How to turn this negative around?  And then one day during my fairly new meditation practice that seemed to be going nowhere, it happened…quite unexpectedly actually.  I finally connected with that place behind the thoughts….it was a place that felt like home…where love resided…where healing tears could flow freely…where I could look within without fear, confront the feeling, stop blaming everyone else for my feelings, my illnesses, my woes.  To feel it all, let it go, and then to give myself some compassion and time to heal.


No it was not easy, but it was time to take care of me, and this was the only way to let go of the hurt, the anger and resentment.  By doing so, suddenly I had more room in my heart and my life for other things.  I was transformed and reborn through my anger……now in its place there was peace, joy, abundance.  I had channeled my anger and felt free again.


But to maintain these wonderful joyful feelings, I must show up every day, and go to this very special place to continue the work.  Do I still get angry….yes.  Do I hold onto it….hell no.  I feel it, express it, change it into something more constructive and then I smile!  A heart stretching smile that carries me through each moment of each day as I learn again to move forward and put one foot in front of the other, some days content to stand still and rest.   So very happy for each new breath I draw every day I am alive…really alive!!


Note:  In the Language of Flowers the petunia pictured here stands for Resentment and  Anger.  And they also mean your presence soothes me.  I adore these flowers and grow them every year in my garden.  Now I know why.



Update 7 months later:

This post was originally published April 30, 2014 in Vision and Verb.  When I finally really learned to forgive, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from my soul.  I was able to really heal.  I saw each day differently as a newborn.  I was really happy, and knew I owned my happiness.


Now I still live in this light of forgiveness.  Still not an easy path, many times rocky.  But I know it is the essential missing piece, that has made my life whole again.



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

letting go


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.