Midweek Poem-The Best I Can Do




The Best I Can Do



A growing anguish churns

in my belly-

Like acid, it

rises through me cutting like a knife.



I feel the deep pain of our growing divide.

There is no way- I

can find across this chasm.  And

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



But to lift the veil, and see

a clear path, I

must go within once again with slow breath,

To calm the burning, churning within.



To see you through my tears of hurt and torment,

as a glowing light surrounds you, blesses you.

It knows what I forgot-do not

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



And I do believe that,

can believe that-yes

I must.  Oh I do, for I too can

only do my best at this moment.



It’s all we can do, as

this torrent of fire eases, and the veil

is lifted to see you my sister self.

 To see deep in this chasm where we reside.

And we will do the best we can,

hoping we can hold onto this truth.



© Donna Donabella 2016




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

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

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




white astrantia

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




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

best I can be

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

Poetry Sunday-Inner Critic




Inner Critic



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

You know and so do I.  

I don’t want to hear excuses.  

I just want to see results.



My dear Inner Critic, I know you mean well,

but I beg to differ with you.  I

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

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

And no amount of haranguing will make it so.



IC~Look, all you need to do is work

harder and longer.

More effort that’s what you need.



It won’t matter, don’t you see,

because I am flawed.  I do try

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

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



IC~But why fall?

Do you want to get hurt, scraped, embarrassed?

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



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

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

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

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

It is the inevitable cycle.




What is wrong with you?!

That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard….



Maybe so, but it is my sacred life.

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

No more shouting.  No more belittling or bemoaning.

Understand this-I AM STRONG.  I am enough.

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



Now come on, let’s go have some fun!



IC~OK, but I still think…….



No thinking my dear Inner Critic,

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

In this moment….time to enjoy life!



© Donna Donabella 2016



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


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




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


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





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

Inner Critic

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

Creative Quest


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




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

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

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



day1 garden maiden

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


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

And the water jug she carries symbolizes healing water.

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



day2 pink

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


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

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



day3 star

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


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

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



day4 echinacea

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


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

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

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



Day5 mandala

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


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

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

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



Day6 altar

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


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

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

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




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


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

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

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




What creative quests have you been on lately?







Special Note:  

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


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




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

inner fire

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

Poetry Sunday-Finding My Core




Finding My Core



I stand here at my center

while all around me seems to be falling apart.

Senseless violence.

Memories of loved ones, now gone,

bubble up to open the wounds of my heart.



And it is in these times I seek my core,

a need to express my true self.

Nothing dancing off the tongue,

but words conjured up from deep inside.



They express the swirl of emotions.

They provide a base of stability to stand on.

They yield a sliver of light shining in the dark.

They form new boundaries, places to explore.

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



Words call me home when I find this core.

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

that make a dwelling place for me.



© Donna Donabella 2016



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


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




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

core collage (1)



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


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

Midweek Poem-Yesterday






Some days I sit with melancholy moods.

Slipping back to yesterdays,

where memories are strongest,

yet so very far away.




And I long for those days,

such an absence,

aching now to regain playful flashes.




But they seem gone, those firsts….

riding a bike with no hands

learning to swing to the sky

eating hand churned peach ice cream we just made

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




And like an old friend I visit them,

and all the emotions they bring.

These memories relived, an old black and white movie

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




Can we ever really relive those first times,

going back to yesterday?

Perhaps we can take up where we left off,

building new memories, no longer standing still.




Catching up, no time elapsed in our absence.

Senses renewed and awed, reimagined.

New flashes, forever a part of me.




Like watching a fawn discover a grassy meadow,

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

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

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



©Donna Donabella 2016




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


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

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

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


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



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

Poetry Sunday-Dear Imagination




Dear Imagination:



You come to me on crayon-colored rainbows

scrawled on envelopes and walls.

You ride on the wind with swings flying high,

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

You roll down hills laughing so hard

you can hardly breath.

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

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




You are part of my soul.

Maybe its most important part.

You have been with me for all my life.

And you are my saving grace.

You are what makes my heart sing.

I am forever yours.




Now there have been times I may not

have been open enough to hear you,

But rest assured I will not let

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

Your voice will sing to me all my days,

and we can ride the clouds to new adventures!




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

And dream of forts, and pirates and princesses.

Making braids of grass and playing tunes on leaves.

Laughing until we can hardly breath.




© Donna Donabella 2016



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





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






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

dear imagination

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

Wildlife Lessons-The Magic of Toads


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

~Jennifer McMahon




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



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



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




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





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





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





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




developing toad eggs

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


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





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



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




What wildlife lessons are you learning as summer begins?




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




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

 study nature

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

Poetry Sunday-Box Full of Darkness


Box Full of Darkness



I open this box again.

Its dark demons still survive there.

The bruises, the slaps, the cuts-

Pain still runs deep in the scars.



You told someone recently you remembered me fondly.

And my snort of derision was a surprise.

Maybe a slap back.

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



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

Where it had burned a hole.

White hot with searing anger,

With anguish and betrayal.



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

But it no longer defines me.

Abused, Used, Victim!

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

I have risen.  Strong of heart, shame resilient.



And while I may feel some residual pain,

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

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

One you never knew you gave me,

Perhaps the only one you ever gave me.



And so I keep this ‘box full of darkness’

Neatly wrapped in the attic of my heart,

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



© Donna Donabella 2016



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


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


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



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

box collage




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

box full of darkness

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