End of Month Potpourri-May 2015


“People often ask themselves the right questions. Where they fail is in answering the questions they ask themselves, and even there they do not fail by much…But it takes time, it takes humility and a serious reason for searching.”  ~ William Maxwell



As I end this special month of my birth, now another year older, I continue to contemplate life…asking myself questions about what I am doing, where am I going, what do I want out of this life of mine….and I am finding many answers within, as I listen to my heart and soul speak to me.  As you may remember, this year I have chosen to be part of an online group, Women’s Circle of Joy, led by Cigdem Kobu of Peaceful Triumphs.



And this month, we have been exploring, “Living Lighter”.  It’s not just about losing DSCN8975weight or getting rid of your stuff…it goes much deeper.  We were asked to examine seven areas of our life to see if we were Living Lighter.  These areas included:  Our Private Lives, Our Physical Body, Our Environments, Our Emotional Weight, Our Mental Hassle, Our Career and Work and Our Social Lives.



This path to living lighter really started for me last year in retirement.  I wanted to simplify my life, and took time to reacquaint myself with my home, and my husband as we would now be together 24/7.  We have easily slid into this new phase of our lives working together as a couple sharing the load.  We did a huge clearing in February when we clutter cleared our house from top to bottom.  It felt wonderful to let go of stuff we no longer needed, but I have learned this clearing of stuff is an ongoing process you must continue to revisit every couple of months as clutter can sneak back up on you fast.



DSCN9107And living lighter isn’t just about letting go of the things we have…it is also about the mental and emotional sides of simplifying.  I have poured out many of my personal revelations regarding mental and emotional clearing in this blog.  As I have worked through issues, such as worry and fear, I have found my heart and soul becoming lighter.  And with retirement, I lightened my stress load, and now dictate what “work” I will explore and take on.  Socially, I am reconnecting and opening up to invitations and connections put on the back burner.  And I have let go of relationships especially where others try to control my life.



And most of all, I have been building better habits that will bring me closer to perfect health.  Moving more, finding what physical activity I like to do, daily meditation and journaling, and discovering which foods are best for my body.



I have recently found it important to take time to pause and reflect on life.  I think that is IMG_2414where the poetry I write comes from….those things that give me pause or that I see when I pause…so magical really that reflective time.  And in that time when I let my mind wander and wonder, I think about my easy, carefree future.  What does it look and feel like…..



In this future, I awake from a restful slumber to the sounds of nature…refreshed and eager to see the new dawn…the wondrous colors of the day both in the sky and in the garden.  I move easily out-of-doors, and walk in this new light of day coming back home to the incredible smells of a nutritious breakfast.  What do I want to accomplish today?  A bit of weeding, a new writing project, a little cleaning and clearing in the house, or is this my day of rest where I can play or take a fun trip to a new spot.  Will I be grabbing lunch with a friend or perhaps seeing a practitioner for a bit of wellness care.



And part of my day will be spent in quiet contemplation….writing about my gratitude for the wonderful things in my life.  There is always time for daily reading; books for pleasure (mostly mysteries), or books I find more personal and spiritual….maybe someone’s journey of inspiration.  There are always things I can do to keep life simple…and with that simplicity, comes time for joyful activities that allow more room in my life for new experiences, new friendships and new journeys.





Note:   The Daisies pictured here are from my garden, and are said to represent simplicity.  Daisies were the first flower I remember that I cherished as a young girl.  They are such a simple flower of pure white that never cease to bring me a smile.






I leave you with another thought about simplicity or living lighter.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


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

End of Month Potpourri-April 2015


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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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





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





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





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





The first daffodils shimmered like the snowdrops above.





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





And Crocus tommasinianus blooming through the new green grass.





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





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



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




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


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






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


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

End of Month Potpourri-March 2015


Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.

~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You




In my neck of the woods, here in the northeast, spring takes her sweet time.  She slowly walks into my garden, and in March she is just beginning to yawn.  Consequently as others are showcasing their lovely spring blooms, I am still watching the snow melt.


But that doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty in my garden.  And for this End of Month Potpourri, I thought I would show you some of the beauty of late winter.




The sun comes streaming through the trees and bathes the garden in early morning light as spring comes closer.



DSCN0403The trees glow first as the sun splits through the bare branches, even those covered in chilly ice crystals.




It creates a rainbow on the snow as it sparkles.




Early shadows cast a blue glow over the snow-covered garden.  You can see the melting snow is creating creases in the landscape almost like a creek running underground.




The sun at high noon is shifting its shadow, and glaring off the surface of the melting snow.



DSCN0757A couple hours later, and the shadows have moved farther along the fence playing on the snow.



DSCN0726As the snow melts, it creates ripples and dimples….making it appear as if we are watching ocean waves frozen in place.



DSCN0733And then it will shift, looking instead like sand dunes on a desert of snow white.



DSCN0749And there are other playful shadows, such as this one from the patio table, reflecting its intricate scroll work.




As we get closer, it appears as if we can see right through the melting snow to the water beneath.



DSCN0754And even closer still, a few frozen bubbles….



Those bubbles mean the snow is melting, melting, melting…..soon to be gone.  And all that wonderful water, in the snow, is nourishing my garden and the spring blooms that lie underneath waiting for spring to step into the present.





Note:   The branches at the beginning and end of this post are of my dwarf willow trees.  As spring has sprung, and rain takes the place of snow, they are covered in the jewels of spring raindrops.  Soon they will burst forth in pussy willow flowers.






I leave you with another thought about the change of the seasons and weather.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

bad weather

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

End of Month Potpourri-February 2015


“Cherish the beauty and cherish the pain, both will give you experience and you will never be the same”

~ Nikki Rowe



It is the end of the month, and time for a little Potpourri.  A bit of this and a bit of that.  And I thought I would dip into the Women’s Circle of Joy assignment again this month.  February’s topic dealt with the idea of and our thoughts on the word Cherish.  The Women’s Circle of Joy group is led by, Cigdem Kobu of Peaceful Triumphs.



I don’t think I have ever thought much about the idea of cherish or cherishing.  And truthfully this whole concept, at first, had me a bit perplexed.  For my husband, cherish means sweetly thinking of old memories.  But my immediate thoughts turn to something different.



DSCN9192Cherish evokes thoughts of love….but maybe more….or maybe a bit different from love.  When I cherish someone or something, I not only hold them dear, but treat them dearly.  There is a tenderness and nurturing that happens in cherishing.  There is adoration, encouragement, treasuring, support, comfort.



I think perhaps this word, cherish, is the linchpin of love, or more specifically that deep soulful love.  I can say I love chocolate, but do I cherish it.  No, not really.  And I do love a brilliant, colorful sunrise.  But do I cherish this sunrise?  Yes, in this case I believe I do….because of the incredible soulful emotion that it brings to me….I somehow feel comforted by this new dawn.  And I treasure being in its presence.  I am lost in its essence for the 15-20 minutes it might last.  I can’t get enough of it as it changes, it deepens and morphs until the sun finally is revealed brightly burning.



And so it is when I love and cherish someone.  And we say this word in our wedding vows….love, honor and cherish.  But I never considered what those words really meant.  Somehow, on some level, I knew there was a mutual cherishing love between my husband and me.  One where we have grown together and still do.  Where we support each other in very different ways.  We love all of the other person; those things that are funny, comforting and even those things that annoy us.  And those annoying things, I think, are most cherished, as that what makes us who we are….our true essence.



I think those loves in my life that didn’t work out, failed because there wasn’t any cherishing.  The love was bright and burning, romantic for a while, and then it was gone.  And when I reflect back now, it seems they didn’t last because there wasn’t a deep support for one another.  Deep down my soul knowing I wasn’t accepted fully, wasn’t treasured for who I was.



DSCN9199And when did I first know that cherishing love?  I was lucky to know it from my loving parents who indeed cherished their children no matter what.  Even when we made mistakes we were cherished.  We were forgiven, taught a lesson perhaps with consequences and allowed to fall and make mistakes again.  They cherished us enough to allow us to learn and grow with their guidance and support.



“But for the most part, love is a recognition, an opportunity to say, ‘There is something about you I cherish.”

~Raymond E. Feist



And since I have experienced this cherishing love, I have found a deeper love and acceptance for myself and my gifts.  And each moment of my life is special; shared by and with those I cherish.  And I cherish the natural world around me supporting it as it gives back beautiful sights, sounds and smells.  I cherish the life lessons, both those that have been joyful and those filled with excruciating pain, as they are both special for what they have taught me and are still teaching me.



The exercise of contemplating this word Cherish has been quite interesting.  I encourage you to think about what you cherish in life.  From a simple smell, that brings back deep heartfelt memories, to a song or sound.  These things we cherish are what makes our life so much richer, so blissful, so very delicious.





Note:   The Paperwhite flowers pictured here are said to be an aphrodisiac because of their intoxicating smell.  They also represent respect, modesty and faithfulness.






I leave you with another thought about cherishing.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


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

End Of Month Potpourri-January 2015


“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” ~Pema Chodron



I had been toying with this idea of have a monthly post that really could be about anything.  Perhaps a conversation with an author, or a book review, a group of photos dealing with a subject that caught my fancy…really the sky’s the limit.  So I aptly named it Potpourri, which can mean any mixture, especially of unrelated objects, subjects, etc.  And coming at the end of the month I named it, End of Month Potpourri.



DSCN8533No pressure trying to find subject matter here.  Just connect with the flow, and what moves me at the time.  Trusting that it will all come together.  And so for this first post it has done just that.  There are photos of some winter scenes that fit a current topic I am studying along with an interview of sorts that follows up nicely with my personal poem from Sunday, Timeless Images.



After a virtual retreat of sorts with a wonderful group of women, I decided to join many of these same women in what is called, Women’s Circle of Joy.   The group is led by, Cigdem Kobu of Peaceful Triumphs.  Check out her website and the Circle as it is not too late to join.



DSCN8500Our first big topic this month has been the concept of  wabi-sabi.    I had heard of wabi-sabi, but honestly had no real idea of what it encompassed.  In essence it is a Japanese idea of the acceptance all things as impermanent, imperfect and incomplete (these are 3 of the seven principles of wabi-sabi).  And that beauty is found in this world of the impermanent, imperfect, incomplete.   Another principle is that of  greatness found in the subtle overlooked details instead of the majestic.  We just have to be still and patient in order to see it.  Something I have been doing in my garden this past year.



It has been fascinating trying to wrap my brain around some of these principles.  And this idea of wabi-sabi, really isn’t too far away from my current view of my life and the world around me.  Take the pictures in this post.  They are of recent scenes right outside my window.  Snow changes the landscape and adds a subtle beauty because it is impermanent.  And what better representation of imperfect than seedheads of flowers long gone.



DSCN8732Recently, I was given the distinct honor of being awarded recognition for my new blog by a reader Julie@Gardening Jules.  Now in the past I usually shied away from accepting awards, but I have changed my mind these days.  When someone praises my work, I try to acknowledge that praise.  So in going with the flow, I am accepting this award.  Thanks Julie!



It is called the Leibster Award, given by bloggers to other bloggers to say, ‘hey I like what you do.’  Now there are rules, but I am one to sometimes make my own rules.  You have to answer questions posed by the blogger and then choose 5 blogs you want to pass the award along to with questions you pose to them.  I thought answering Julie’s questions would be fun as you can always learn so much about other bloggers this way.  But I am unsure who I might give this award to as it is for newer blogs, and most of the blogs I would nominate have already been nominated.  So I reserve the right to perhaps do some interviews of bloggers I would like you to meet, in a few future Potpourri posts.




Here are the questions Julie posed to me….



1. Do you encourage wildlife to your garden?


Absolutely I do.  I have been revamping my garden to make it into a habitat for wildlife.  You can read about that in my Wildlife Lesson posts, on the first Thursday of the month, and in my Gardens Eye View blog.  I think it important that we share our space in a way that is mutually beneficial and does no harm.



2. Do you grow organically and use natural methods?


That is the only way I garden, eat and live.  I have found my health is better, the planet is better and my garden grows better using these methods.



3. Any tips for recycling plastic?


That is hard as we have laws here where we have to recycle our plastic and even pay a deposit of 5 cents on each bottle of water.  It encourages people to return them to get the deposit back.  But instead of using plastic containers and bottles, I use a modern stainless steel thermos for water, and glass containers more and more in which to store food.



4. Any recommendations for flowers to arrange in your home?


Grow as many flowers as you can, both annuals and perennials.  Use foliage from bushes, trees, groundcovers and plants.  Grow bulbs indoors during winter.  And don’t forget seedheads, twigs and dried grasses.  I think any plant material you arrange is beautiful and can be very wabi-sabi especially with those twigs and seedheads.



5. Have you tried edible flowers?


I sure have.  I love pansies, chive flowers, nasturtiums and borage flowers.  I hope to try more flowers this year.  My favorite so far is nasturtiums.



6. A favourite fruit recipe?


I am simple when it comes to fruit.  I like it fresh and plain.  I will bake apples sometimes with cinnamon.  And I love to add fruit to salads.



7. A favourite vegetable recipe?


Currently I am enjoying roasted veggies and veggies in soup especially winter squash and root veggies.  I also posted a favorite veggie recipe on my garden blog last month.  And I’ll have a veggie soup recipe, on February’s Journal post, the first Monday in February.



8. Do you like to create anything other than flower arrangements using natural materials?


I have never been too crafty so my answer is no.  But I would love to try a few new ideas once I see any that move me to create.  Of course if I stretch this a bit, I do create photos using natural materials as subjects…I know….I told you it is a stretch.



9. How do you feel about growing natives or non natives?


I am passionate about growing natives and they are essential for creating a thriving, diverse habitat for wildlife.  I continue to learn about them, and incorporate them in the redesigns of my gardens.  But I also still love my herbs, roses and other non-native flowers as long as they are not harmful.  I got rid of all my Buddleia because they were invasive here, and I had hundreds of seedlings yearly everywhere that I did not want growing in the woods that are protected behind me.  I even had some coming up last year and it has been about 4 years since I got rid of them.



10. Any recommendations for an unusual fruit or vegetable that is good to eat?


I like fresh grown fruits and veggies so I can’t think of anything too terribly unusual.  We have been growing different colored veggies like purple carrots and golden beets.  Both are tasty and a milder flavor of the original.



11. Do you have a good view from your home?


We bought the land because we have a protected wild area behind us.  And I designed the garden so we could see it from all the windows in the back of the house where we spend the most time.  You can see the meadow, wildlife, gardens and pond from the house.  So I think it is a fantastic view for a suburb.


But you judge for yourself….here is one view you can currently see from inside looking out at part of the back garden.




So there you have it some photos, some thoughts on wabi-sabi and my interview for the Leibster Award.  A true potpourri.  Thanks again Julie and I promise to do some interviews here to make up for the 5 blogs not nominated at this time.



Note:   All these images, of my garden, were taken in the month of January from inside the house.




I leave you with another thought about perfection and imperfection, one of the principles of Wabi-Sabi.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


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