Some Time Away


“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”  ~Alan Cohen



It has been a delightful winter, not too much snow or cold….just enough to enjoy!  And in winter, I like to do a lot of writing, and some other projects.  All of which can make me a bit tired.  So I have decided to take a rest, and will be away from my blog for the next couple of weeks.





I will return on March 10th with a Wildlife Lessons post.  And my poetry posts will be back on March 13th.





While I’m away, I leave you with another thought about rest and taking a break.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


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.

End of Month Potpourri-February 2016


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




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



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




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



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





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





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





The fresh snow sits like cotton balls dipped in glitter.





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




snowy branches

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




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





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




winter clethra collage

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





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



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




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


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.

Conversations In The Garden: On Boredom


“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”  ~Louis C.K.




This quote, that I found recently, struck me as an in-your-face truism.  And I will be the first to say, I can get bored easily.  Or at least I thought I was bored.  Especially in winter when I am cooped up inside…ughh!  Now what do I do….sit and look at the white landscape.  Yes, the snow is pretty, but really I need something different after a while.



What I didn’t know then was, ‘I need something different’ was code for, ‘Routine is what is boring me’.  The same old, same old…..white landscape, too cold (or so I thought) to go out…..nothing new happening, ‘cabin fever’ feeling was creeping in.
And when I thoDSCN2001ught about it, that feeling doesn’t just happen in winter.  It actually happens in summer when it gets too hot to go out and do much.  And I find myself cocooned inside with the air-conditioning.  And then it struck me, how sad is that!



Did you ever notice that you will hear children saying, ‘I’m bored’ more easily than adults.  I know I did especially in winter, and toward the end of summer vacation.  Sounds familiar…..hmmmm!



I will even become bored with my garden….more bored by the look of it.  The same tried and true bulbs bloom every spring in the same spots.  The same bushes and trees leaf out.  The same weeds take over as I lose steam at the end of May trying to combat them….they’re everywhere….my God, they don’t stop!  At about that point, I give up and go inside just as the garden is heating up.  I know it is a sacrilege to be bored in a garden….but it happens.  What is causing this?  And really how can I be bored with so much life to be lived?



innovate3aSo am I really bored?  Or is that I need to shake it up a bit?  Try something new.  So I began exploring this a bit more toward the end of fall.  I think that is why the word, Innovate, really resounded for me as a mantra for the new year.



Like any activity or habit, if we don’t stretch ourselves, we can become tired of the sameness that comes from repetition.  Now some folks love the safety and security of repetition.  My husband does…..(Shhhsecretly sometimes so do I, but don’t tell him that).  He likes his comfortable routines, and when I need to shake up mine a bit, he unfortunately or fortunately has to come along with me many times…..with much kicking and moaning, I might add.  But once we start, we both find we like the change.



So there it is…change… is change I am seeking.  We fight it, we run from it, but inevitably it is what we seek…what we crave.  I know I do.  My brain craves new scenery, new scents, new experiences.  Some changes in the garden help….new bulbs, new designs….trying a few new vegetables; tomatillos this year.



DSCN1899But my soul seeks change as well.  It wants to explore, to contemplate life in new places, and meet new folks.  Engage in stimulating conversation or just watch the sunrise or set from a different locale.  To learn about myself more, and watch this woman grow.



So this is my year to Innovate….embrace change in my habits.  We are walking almost daily even when the temps are in the teens and it is snowing….what a wonderful experience!  We are planning some travel to see family…they are scattered around the country and we just don’t get to see them often enough…fingers crossed my health stays good for travel!  And we are exploring our surrounds…..going to the beach on the coldest day of winter was breathtaking!



Of course these are only a beginning….as I move through my day, I wonder how I can stretch myself.  Instead of reading 60 books this year, can I expand my normal repertoire or genre (mysteries and garden books)…I have added some spiritual books, memoirs and non-fiction to the list and love the intellectual stimulation.



DSCN1926So I am really bored?  Or maybe I just need a little shift.  A few more layers to endure the sharp bite of the wind, as I go out even on the coldest, snowiest day to find a warm, cozy world.  It seems just a gentle push up and over the hump or edge of that rut, I have worn into my path, is just enough to set me off onto a new adventure…..




Do you ever feel stuck in a rut or bored?  What have you found that helps lift you out and over that hump?







Special Note:  The pictures here are recent winter scenes, photographed through my windows.




I leave you with a few additional words On Boredom.  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.

Poetry Sunday-A New Life




A New Life



First kiss.

Such bliss.

Standing at this entrance way,

As One,  will be joined this day.



Joined as one this day

Pure love delightfully displayed.

Tears of joy shed all around,

Souls collide in sparks abound.



Watch the sparks from this collision

Can’t be stopped that’s love true mission.

The current builds, this pair transformed

And now, a new bond is formed.



Formed today this bond is spoken,

With vows never to be broken.

Hard work is needed, and a grand wish,

For a new life started with this first kiss.




© Donna Donabella 2015


I wrote this poem in October after attending my niece’s wedding.  The first 2 lines were a song in my head, and the rest just came after.  I was playing with an idea for a form, to work the first line of the next stanza from the words of the last line in the stanza before.  It was a challenge, but fun.  And I rather like how it turned out.


The pictures at the beginning and end of the post are of my niece, Christina, and her husband Colin, Mr. and Mrs. Murtagh.  The mosaic is my parents’ wedding picture from 1954, and my wedding picture from 1997.  In my wedding picture, my mom is pictured far left standing, and my niece was the flower girl.  She was 10 years old.




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.  Thanks for the invite Sanaa! Please visit these fabulous poetry blogs to read some more wonderful verse.

wedding collage

I am also linking in 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 leave you with a few additional words about a new life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

new life

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

Beyond Words: Winter At The Lake


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




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



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



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





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




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




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




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




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




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




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




more geese collage

And out in that open water are more geese.




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




DSCN2054Each scene more wondrous….




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


I’ll be back to visit this spot one more time in spring to give you a glimpse of its splendor, before the beach opens.  With this post, I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



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






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




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

nature-winter lake

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

Wildlife Lesson-Welcoming Mice in the Garden

“The bird is powered by its own life and by its motivation.”

 ~A. P. J. Abdul Kalam



You can tell by looking at this picture, these are not the mice you were probably thinking of when you read the title of this post.  Those mice are free to roam the garden and wild areas.  We rarely see them, except when they come in the house in winter.  We did find their access and have so far put a stop to that.  Sorry, those mice have to stay outside.



But this little mouse, pictured here, is a Tufted Titmouse or Baeolophus bicolor.  These birds are common to the eastern US, and can be seen acrobatically flitting around gardens and feeders all year.  They are considered a small bird, 5 inches, but seem larger than other small birds like finches.



Since they tend to hang with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers, I was not surprised to see them in the garden in early December when these other birds were hanging from the suet feeder.



They heralded their appearance by noisily chasing off a Downy Woodpecker who was happily feeding on suet.  The Titmice had been at my neighbor’s feeders two doors down.  But their curiosity got to them, and they had to see what was all the rage at our house….that rage would be suet as it keeps the woodpeckers and chickadees happy all day.



I usually see these cute birds in spring just before the songbirds make a reappearance from their warmer winter homes.  They come to the feeders, like in winter, and leave the feeders behind once the insects are out and plentiful.  They especially like caterpillars, beetles, ants, spiders and wasps.  Of course they won’t turn down seeds, berries and nuts.



The one other encounter I have had with Tufted Titmice was a few springs ago when one ran right into our glass French Door….which had grids in the glass.  I had heard the ruckus of two Titmice squabbling and flying around fighting.  Then suddenly that loud bang on glass….you know when you hear it, it’s a bird strike.  It was apparent this bird had not been watching where he was going as he was fighting.


titmouse hit collage

I jumped up and looked for the bird.  I saw it laying upright on the patio.  But as you can see from the picture, its neck was bent.  I was sure it had broken its neck as it was dazed…unmoving.  I was reluctant to go out and see if it was alive.  I didn’t want to scare it any further.  I tend to give birds some time to recover if they strike the house, and if they don’t I know the inevitable conclusion.





He took a long time to straighten, probably a good 15- 20 minutes.  And then more time to get over the concussion he probably had.  After all he was flying full force in that bird fight.  His mate was calling to him for most of the time.  She did move on eventually as it may have appeared he was dead to her.  When he finally flew off, I wished him well and silently told him to please be more careful.



We don’t see a Titmouse nest as they use tree cavities, especially old woodpecker holes or nests (we don’t have any in our trees yet)….which explains why they hang around woodpeckers.  They can pick up a good, used home quickly.



I expect to see these cute birds out and about soon as spring starts to show itself soon.  After all we are supposed to get an early spring, aren’t we?


titmouse collage

Here are some interesting facts and folklore about the Tufted Titmouse:
  • The common name Titmouse comes from the Old Icelandic word ‘titr’, meaning something small, and from the Old English ‘mase’ meaning small bird.
  • Tufted Titmice seem to always choose the largest seeds they can when foraging.  In fall and winter they often hoard these seeds in bark crevices.
  • Tufted Titmouse pairs do not gather into larger flocks once breeding is done like many other birds.  Sometimes a juvenile will remain with the parents for a time even to help them raise young fledglings.
  • Tufted Titmice often line their inner nest with hair, sometimes taken right from living animals. They have found hair from raccoons, opossums, mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, livestock, pets, and even humans in their nests.
  • In Cherokee Indian legend, the Titmouse is regarded as a messenger; and has the reputation of a liar.



What wonderful critter surprises are you seeing these days?


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 Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and 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 don’t forget to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count coming February 12-15, 2016.  You can read how to participate here.





I leave you with another thought about Life and Birds like the Titmouse.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


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.