Poetry Sunday: Savoring

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Savoring

 

For me, food was always an after thought.  Something I had to have to fuel my growing, in-constant-motion- child’s body.  Grabbing a bowl of cereal here and there; a quick sandwich.

 

And into adulthood, this still was the case.  I had my favorites, but still food was merely fuel to be gobbled, rushed, downed and then move on.  Eat at my desk, eat on the run.  Never really savoring.

 

Instead the moments of food bliss were kept for those special treats:

 

The home-made chocolate chip cookies still warm from the oven.  The gooey chocolate-covered fingers licked clean.

The ice cream that I lingered over, and licked slowly off the spoon, tasting the swirl of flavors from lips to tongue.

 

I was lost in the moment with these sugary treats.  And these moments increased with age until sugar was the only thing I savored.  Now, no longer can I dally with sweets.  Instead, I relish the sumptuous taste of the fresh pea or tomato picked from the vine.  Warm in my mouth.  Luscious, now savoring these.  The rush of a sugary addiction transformed.

 

Sweet licks and morsels

Lightly dancing on my tongue

Moments now savored.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

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This poem came from a prompt given to me a couple of winters ago challenging me to write a poem about enjoying food.  I have never had a problem enjoying food…there was little I didn’t like.  And sugar was my favorite food….in any way, shape or form.

But with age, has come issues with food.  The need to reduce sugar or eliminate it as much as possible.  Gluten, acid reflux, no preservatives, eating organically all add to the issues where my food intake is now very healthy, and I have made peace with the changes as I turn 60.  This is my haibun poem paying homage to savoring food throughout my life.

 

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

chesecake collage

The pictures here are of my husband’s award-winning cheesecake that he made for me two years ago on my birthday!  One of those rare sugar times.  The picture below is of the peas I savored from my garden well into summer.

 

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

savoring

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Breath of Life

 

Breath of Life

 

The wind blows through me; the breath of life.

It restores me.

The soft rustling, white noise calms me-

Enveloped in a warm, cozy blanket.

 

 

Cool breeze on my skin like wading in a creek.

Waking my senses,

I rise to the scents and smells-

New grass, fragrant blooms, leaf mold.

 

 

The drone of bees blends with the wind chimes.

Their music tickles my mind.

Dozing, bringing a deep peace-

Descending, melting throughout my being.

 

©Donna Donabella 2017 

 

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While listening to the stillness of late summer, early fall, there were few sounds but the wind.  These sounds filled me with the breath of life.  And this poem poured forth.

 

 

The pictures here are of fading sunflowers…they bring me such peace when I look upon them in fall.

 

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

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about breath of life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Who Are You?

 

 

Who Are You?

 

 

The life of the soul is where I reside now;

I am energized,

I am in my truth,

I am joyful, grateful, trusting.

 

 

On this journey with doubt and certainty-

I am building a self,

It is my life story,

There is a vision of possibilities here,

Now love fills me.

 

 

I am expanding into my higher self;

Knowledge and experience liberate me.

I am ready to be lifted above the drama.

The rewards expand before me on my path ever mindful of this moment where….

 

This life of the soul is where I reside now.

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

 

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This poem flowed during a meditation where I was exploring my inner self; answering the question, ‘who are you?’  The pictures here are of Tibetan Prayer Flags on my bookshelf.  These flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The wedding picture is of my husband and me…we are celebrating our 20th anniversary on Oct. 11th.  I’ll be away from my computer for the next 2 weeks so I’ll see you upon my return on the 22nd.

 

 

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

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Life’s Happiness

 

 

Life’s Happiness

 

 

For here the wonders of the world behold

All wrapped with a stately bow,

Forever in my heart will I hold

My life’s happiness to be told.

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2016

 

 

 

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I have debated about publishing this little poem as it was so short, and I wondered if it was finished.  But I believe at this point it is perfect.  Of course I may change my mind eventually.

It was created as a mantra to go back to in times of need….it says it all for me.  The yellow roses here are from my garden and represent ‘Happiness‘.

 

 

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

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about life’s happiness.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

in my heart

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Nature Speak

Nature Speak

 

Dewdrops of rain kissing leaf and flower,

Cool crisp breeze cleanses my soul.

The hum of bee and cicada fills the air,

Sun warms my skin, lulling me into a trance.

The leaves bend with the wind,

Keeping time with my heart.

The flow of life all around me,

As I stand in this one moment.

© Donna Donabella 2017

 

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I was reading a wonderful book, which inspired me to write a stream of consciousness poem in one minute this summer…staying in the moment.  So I went out after a rainstorm, sat on my step, breathed in and observed for one minute (OK 3 minutes) and wrote my thoughts and observations from the heart.

 

The pictures here are of bees going crazy for my native Summersweet bush flowers this summer…it has a dreamy scent.

 

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

 

 

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

 

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Weaving A Life

Weaving A Life

 

 

When I first looked at the spider, all I could see was a creepy vixen waiting to trap and enslave her prey.  But now, I notice the webs, the homes lovingly created to provide food, shelter and a home to nurture her young.

A mighty creature, the garden spider goes about making beauty all over the garden.  And she also helps keep a healthy habitat for all creatures who rely on the food chain.  Sometimes eating, sometimes eaten~she is essential!

Old tales tell of Grandmother Spider stealing a piece of the sun.  She rode her silken threads back to earth, with her treasure tucked under one of her mighty legs.  And if you look upon her web today, you can still see the sun’s delicate pattern woven there.

And the Ancient Ones wove a spectacular tale about climbing to heaven on spider silk.  Perhaps that is why dream catchers are made in the shape of a spider web.  To catch our dreams as we climb each night into the heavens.

 

 

Silken threads glisten

New patterns made on life’s loom

Woven in a moment, a blink

 

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

 

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I love watching spiders in our garden.  They make incredible displays from spring into summer and even into fall, where their handiwork glistens in the dew.  You can see those displays below.  They always seem to be weaving a life as they spin their webs.

I created this haibun, to sing their praises.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their Poetry Pantry link up.

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: Muddy Waters

 

Muddy Waters

 

 

Muddy waters take me in

Take me down to nourish my skin

Skin made tough

Skin made thin

Through life’s adventures

Through life’s sins.

 

 

So soak it up and banish all ills

Fill me deep, realign my will

A heart made true

A soul made joyful

A powerful voice

Now once again skillful.

 

© Donna Donabella 2017

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I had not written much since last August due to a shoulder injury and due to a need to travel inward….a self-imposed time away. But on a sunny day in early April when I began my new journal habit, this poem flowed forth trying to break the ice damn that had built up.  It was how I was feeling sitting in my garden waiting for it to wake up….and hoping my creative juices would do the same.

 

The pictures above is of my early spring pond a bit muddy, and below my later spring pond full of life and water lilies.

 

 

 

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

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Taking Back A Life

 

 

Taking Back A Life

 

 

There is a change coming

Riding high on this mighty wind.

A soulful stirring

A door opens

I stand upon a threshold

Pausing now-

Eager to cross yet fear holds me tight in place.

 

 

The scent upon the breeze stirs my every cell

Filling me with a joyful excitement

Brushing my skin-tingling-

I am awakened.

 

 

Toes stirring, ready for this chance

Taking back a life full of promise.

Not knowing where we are headed

Is the best part of this journey

Coming alive.

 

 

So here we go!

Taking – that – first – step

Toward my destiny…. no looking back!

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

 

 

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This poem came streaming out of me after I finally let go of my fears and attended a writer’s conference.  I knew this was going to be a big step towards fulfilling my destiny, and that once I entered, and crossed the threshold, there was no turning back!

 

The pictures here are hummers visiting the garden this year…they represent pure bliss and joy!

 

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

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I leave you with a few additional words about taking back a life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: A Most Extra-Ordinary Life

 

 

A Most Extra-Ordinary Life

 

 

Though your smile fades from this place

it shines deep inside of me and all

who have known you, loved you.

 

 

Your life’s breath, extinguished here on Earth,

now a forever light that burns brighter through me,

around me and into the ethos.

 

 

I quiet to hear the faint whispers of your voice

telling of a passion for life;

your legacy I now embrace.

 

 

And I will sing your song to capture it forever;

to share it in these words, in a smile,

or a hug or a deed most kind.

 

 

As tears splash this page, they are joyful

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

whose greatest gift is enduring love.

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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I leave you with a another image about an extra-ordinary life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday: This is for us…..

 

 

This is for us……

 

 

I scratch the earth

to plant a seed,

and watch it grow and bloom and green.

 

 

And I scribble these words

across a page,

to capture my heart as I wrinkle with age.

 

 

You splash fine colors

on a canvas blue,

with red and orange and all manner of hue.

 

 

And you scramble an egg

whipped together with ease,

adding onions and herbs to create a feast.

 

 

We dance upon life’s stage

whirling round,

playing on our heartstrings melodious sounds.

 

 

Oh this beauty of creation

we bring to life every day,

brightens our world in moments we give love away.

 

©Donna Donabella 2017

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It has been almost a year since I have written here on this blog….since I injured my shoulder and had to listen to my body and really rest which meant no writing or gardening (I am right handed and the injury was to my right shoulder).  I learned to be more left- handed….and it has been a good rest.  I have discovered much about myself and my journey while away.

 

I had no clue when and how I would return to this blog and writing poetry.  But the day my beloved Aunt Mary passed (July 3rd) I wrote a blog post on my other blog and 3 poems.  This poem is one of them.  It seems the floodgates are open again.  This poem is based on my interpretation of a quote I used on my tribute post to my aunt.  It captures my essence and my purpose these days and how much Aunt Mary has influenced my life.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to…
~Charlotte Eriksson

 

I am joining  Poets United for their Poetry Pantry linkup.  The roses here have been blooming in my garden for weeks in honor of my Aunt Mary Rose.

 

 

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

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2017.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Midweek Poem-Innovate

innovate-allium

 

 

Innovate

 

 

Words fall, swirling around my brain today

As the world softens about me-

Bringing up new ideas to spark

This New Year–this new path.

 

 

Stretching,

Opening a bit more.

Integrating all of me into one wholeness

A word drifts around my periphery.

 

 

Speaking its name.

A newness, a change

Butterflies now in the pit of my core

Giving me a push forward.

 

 

Comfort disappears with this word

A movement in a different direction.

To explore free

from my self-imposed bonds.

 

 

Allowing me the freedom to go

to places I never dared to dream!

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2016

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

innovate-bleeding heart

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

Creative Quest

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“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.

 

 

day7selfie

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!

 

 

echinacea

What creative quests have you been on lately?

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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

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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

 

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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)

 

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

core

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

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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

 

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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.

lupines

 

 

 

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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

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“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…..

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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-Indigo Sky

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Indigo Sky

 

 

Stars twinkle in the indigo sky

Like notes to a score heard only by me,

To catch the rhythm of the nite

And ride it to the heavens.

 

 

Holding tight to angel’s wings,

Watching the meadow with owl’s eyes,

Knowing there is life here in these dark shadows.

 

 

Brimming with the almost imperceptible sound of moths and fireflies,

I cock an ear listening to the music of

little mice feet scurrying, mouths nibbling.

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

 

 

Under the stars twinkling in the indigo sky

Like notes to a score heard only by me,

To catch the rhythm of the nite

And ride it to the heavens.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

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

 

 

 

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

indigo sky collage

 

 

 

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

indigo sky

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

Filling My Bucket

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

~Lisa Wimberger

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

bucket collage (1)

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

bucket filling

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

Conversations In The Garden: On Empathy

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

~Nan Fairbrother

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

bee balm collage

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

empathy

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

Poetry Sunday-Do You Talk To The Bees?

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Do You Talk To The Bees?

 

 

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

 

 

Catching the first light

Dancing through the morning scents

Waking to my day

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

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

 

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

 

 

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

bee collage

 

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

talk to bees

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

Poetry Sunday-Bride’s Feather

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Bride’s Feather

 

 

Behold the sight of creamy white,

Like feathers standing, stretching, bending.

Fireworks of plumes exploding-now dancing on the wind.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

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The plant profiled here is called Bride’s Feather, Goat’s beard or Aruncus dioicus.  Its unusual blooms look like fluffy feathers.  And it is a pollinator magnet.  You can read more about it here.  This native plant grows in my summer garden, and is pictured throughout the post.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my wildflower poems, over the last several weeks.

 

 

 

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

brides feather collage

I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about this beautiful native plant.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

goats beard

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.