Walking A True Path

This post was originally published 9/24/13 on Vision and Verb.  I am updating it a bit at the end.


“Only by its own roots does a tree stand tall and only by its own light does the sun shine brightly and bring life to our world. So it is with you – only when you’re trusting, loving and rooted in your true Self will the life that is your highest potential begin to manifest. Only when you are walking on the path of your highest potential will you ever be able to shine brightly and bring light to the darkness in others.”



Recently I set out on a new path to find what might be around the next bend.   I was in the process of retiring in late July, but turned back from that path 2 weeks before it was to happen.  I was not ready.  On that path I raced through the year trying hard to just hang in there long enough to jump off at some point.


Too many times I find myself running or walking so fast I miss all that is around me.  I am so afraid that I might fall over rock or root that my gaze is hard fixed on the path never looking up.  On those paths I find myself running smack into dark clouds and storms for which I am ill prepared.  They make the journey so much harder, and leave me with no joy at all.


But it is on those journeys when my gaze is not fixed, but expansive, that I find my true path and next journey. When I stop look, smell, explore even off the path a bit stretching my limits, I am most at peace.   Even if there is fog ahead, and I cannot see what is around the bend.  Even when the clouds may appear gun-metal gray and hard, I am resolved to forge on.


It is in these times that my soul is leading me on.  It knows the true way.  It feels the IMG_9823light-headedness, and giddy excitement for what might come.  And when I am not transfixed on the path, I stumble a lot.  But I pick myself up, brush off the soil, tend my wounds and look up again.  It is in these times that the next part of the path is revealed and I move on again assured in my conviction that I am on my true path.  Then and only then can I enjoy the journey.


I am walking the true path again, and maybe this time in late June I might find I am ready for what is around that bend.  But for right now I am exploring my surrounds.  I must be off now as there are some lovely flowers over there I must go and see…..oh and look a butterfly….my that is a large tree.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Update almost a year later:

I wrote this post just after the first time I tried to retire in July of 2013.  I was then hoping to retire instead in June of 2014, but again my path was changed and I retired instead March of 2014.   I have been retired now for 6 months and it seems as if time has flown by and stood still at the same time.


I promise to explain more about that at a later time.  Suffice it to say, I am still following this new path of retirement.  I have been noticing my surrounds more now as I live in the moment.  It has been a wonderful experience although I keep thinking the dream will end soon….but thankfully it continues on.


But even if it were to end, another curve in the path will show itself as it did when I started this blog.  So on I go following the path around the next bend as it is just appearing on the horizon…I am beginning to get a sense now when the next curve will show itself.  And I look forward to that shift as it approaches.



I leave you with another thought about walking a true path.  Feel free to download the photo and share.



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



Creativity in Monochrome


“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”― Rumi



This week’s photo challenge had us using black and white photography one day.  I have played a bit with monochrome photos in winter, but not when there is so much color around me.  So even though the other words didn’t have to be shot in monochrome, I decided to go with it anyway.  Words like bookshelf, peaceful, shadow and treasures were on tap for this week.  And like other weeks the themes overlapped on many days for me.



I hope you like the monochrome photos for this week.  I am linking in with The Weekend of Black and White.  I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.



This was the first picture I took as I sat in my favorite chair peacefully ready to take black and white photos.





The morning sun was shining perfectly in the back garden and on the patio table.  The pattern was perfect in black and white.




DSCN2951These are the Northern Sea Oats that I used as photos in my last post.  Different in black and white.  This is with the sun at my back casting a few shadows….





And this is the same plant with the sun streaming through it as I am facing the sun.  I love the difference especially in the light and shadows.




DSCN2943Morning dew lingering on the leaves that are tucked under each other in shadow as the sun starts to shine in the shade garden.  Very peaceful.





I experimented with taking many  shots of plants in black and white.  This Great Burnet or Sanguisorba officinalis has a burgundy color usually.  I like the texture.  I plan to use more monochrome pictures of flowers for my vase post on my Garden blog tomorrow.





Another grass that looks great in monochrome.  I love how grasses in morning light cast shadows on themselves.





A very peaceful spot is our pond.  The frog is enjoying the early morning sun too.  He even has a cute short shadow as he faces the sun.





This is a very special bookshelf that houses many of my treasures and favorite books.  I love the reflection of the windows and outside trees and gazebo in the bookcase glass.





And here is the bookcase from a bit further away as it holds more treasures on top.  I love the look of the room better in black and white.  I am sitting in my favorite chair taking this picture.





And saving my best for last.  This is a little hummingbird at the feeder.  I am only a few feet away.  These birds are quite a treasure in our garden much like the monarch in the first picture.  I love the look of this bird in black and white especially the texture of its feathers half in shadow.



I leave you with
 another shot of creativity…. sunflowers facing the morning sun in my garden casting shadows in black and white.  These sunflowers are a treasure as they volunteer themselves every year.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

creative sunflower

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







You Need To Listen To Me


“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” 
― Ernest Hemingway



As summer wanes, the silence increases.  Little birdsong is left as many parents and young ones get ready for the trip South.  Crickets and locust still continue their chirping day and night, but the frogs’ croaking has lessened as well.


With the movement now of summer to fall, I begin to hear the crunching of the leaves.  I hear the grasses rustle and sway.  Soothing sounds that nature gives us that seem to move with my breathing in and out.


And with the quieter times in the garden, I revel in that solitude.  It gives me a chance to listen intently to every little sound now.  And to listen to my internal voice.  It usually is too busy with so much outside stimuli that I can never quite hear its message entirely.


DSCN2616I often think we don’t listen enough to ourselves and to others.  I have definitely been more of a talker instead of a listener.  Nodding, shaking my head…in a hurry…get to the point…I need to move on to a meeting….oh yes I have done that too…now what was I going to respond…need to keep that thought in my head…what were they saying…..that was the usual discourse going through my head as someone was talking.  Not listening, just hearing dribs and drabs so it would appear as though I was.


And I wasn’t proud of those moments.  Sometimes I wished I had the time to listen more, to really listen.  Maybe to make the time to listen.  When I took time to listen to people who came to me, I was helpful even it was just to lend an ear and not to give advice.  People need to run their ideas or their troubles by someone and sometimes come up with their own solutions.


But beyond those times when someone came and I had time, I wish I had connected more with people.  Spending less time talking….this is hard for me…..and more time listening.   Hearing them, letting them talk.  Getting to know someone by letting them tell you about themselves without interjecting about my life.


But listening isn’t easy, is it.  To keep your attention focused on someone else.  Really hearing their words, watching their body language totally engaged with them.  Not wanting to respond and get your ideas or experiences out.


It is a gift to give someone your full attention.  And when I give this gift, I find I have less of a need to talk.  Instead I crave the connection that comes from this gift…a more special experience.  Giving someone my attention, my time….I can’t think of a better gift, can you.




Special Note:  The plant featured in this post is Northern Sea Oats.  It is a wonderful native grass that grows here, and I love to listen to it rustle from late summer through winter.


I leave you with another thought about listening in my garden.  Feel free to download the photo and share.



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



Using Creativity


“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 
― Maya Angelou


This was an interesting week with the photo challenge.  The words were different and difficult for this photographer who usually only takes pictures of gardens and critters in nature.


Words and phrases like in my bag, drink, on the table, hands, blue and my guilty pleasure (organic very dark chocolate pictured above) were the creative thoughts for the week.  And as I am still not out and about much, I had to look inside the house for inspiration.


I am linking in with a few memes.  One is Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday Another is River@Drifting through life who hosts Sunday Selections where folks post photos they have not shown before.  And I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.



I love the look of this blue glass lit up.



blue stained glass

And this blue stained glass miniature lamp was interesting to capture as the light changed throughout the day.





Of course the blue sky is always fun to capture especially when the sun is hiding behind the clouds making some rainbows.





On my table are lots of seeds as I am planting crops for fall.  And my most recent vase and a birthday gift were also there so I posed them so you could get a great view.





Drink was easy as every morning I have a cup of wonderful Italian coffee and fresh brewed green tea.  Both have health benefits and I love the taste of both.  The morning sun was lighting them up as they steamed hot.




In my purse was a bit of challenge as I was not about to empty my big purse.  Instead I thought I would look in one of my fancy vintage clutches.  I love this ivory beaded bag.  Inside it held the tag and the lucky penny you put in a new purse.  This one had the penny when I bought it.




Photo on 2014-08-14 at 08.32 #3

I was not sure how I would take a picture of my hands until I remembered I had Photo Booth on my Mac.  So I choose a special effect… X-ray for this picture and pushed the camera button.  I love the way it shows the knuckles and wrinkles of this gardener’s hands.



I leave you with another shot of creativity…. from my garden, on my table with a drink of my favorite tea.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


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


Being Peace


“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” ― Dalai Lama XIV



I am forever the peace-maker.  As a middle child, I avoided conflict and tried to help everyone get along.  I even became a certified mediator to further my skills at peace making in my profession.  And still to this day, my family and friends will call upon me to work out issues others are having.  They call when they need an ear or a shoulder or a referee.


But I have never felt there was much peace in anything I did.  Just trying to keep the peace perhaps, but who can keep peace.  It seems we need to be peace, not keep peace.  I confirmed this feeling when I recently joined in a global meditation for peace with Deepak Chopra.


His message was clear….we are peace.  You can’t tell people to be at peace.  You can’t really teach peace, but through your example of being peace others will respond.  So how do you become peace especially when conflict seems to be escalating everywhere even within ourselves?


“You have peace,” the old woman said, “when you make it with yourself.” 
― Mitch AlbomThe Five People You Meet in Heaven



DSCN8848I have been on a pilgrimage to find peace within for quite a long time.  And it wasn’t until recently that I have been able to feel I am more at peace or should I say I am peace.


For me, peace seems to be a deep internal feeling where I accept myself warts and all.  One of the things I still struggle with is judging people and situations.  I have trained myself to stop, step back and let go of the judgment as it does no good.  Instead I try to understand the situation or person.


And I try to connect more with compassion.  Not a pity or sympathy kind of compassion, but more of a tolerance and kindness sort as we really don’t know what it is like to live in another’s skin.


I think we may have lost our capacity for this kind of compassion in this world.  And it is vital that we recapture it.  Compassion for ourselves as well as others. Not an easy notion, I know.


So for now I am working on connecting with my internal self where peace, happiness and compassion are always present.  I know I have said it before but I connect with my soul, my inner self, through my daily meditation.  I find an inexhaustible source of peace and understanding there.  And once found, I stay connected to that state of peace, compassion and happiness for longer and longer periods.  Being peace…I am beginning to feel it really is in each of us. 




Special Note:  Purple is a favorite color of mine.  It stands for someone who is sensitive, compassionate, understanding and supportive.  Others come to you for help.  Sounds like this color is perfect for me at this point in my life.  A good color to represent peace too.



The picture below is my gift to you this week.  Please download it and use it to spread peace.




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



Creative Challenges


“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
― Albert Einstein


This week’s photo challenge was indeed a creative endeavor with words like orange, three and reflection.  For the most part, I take photos of my garden and the critters that visit.  But for this challenge, I needed to branch out a bit and find some different subjects.


The words for this week could easily be found in the garden, and I did take many pictures there as you will see.  But I wanted to stretch my legs so I started looking for subjects inside too.  And I also wanted to use more of the features of iPhoto to enhance the photos with different adjustments and effects.


So I hope you enjoy the photos this week.  I am still learning about photography, but I am also channeling my creative side.  You will notice that many of the photos overlap in theme between the words.  This was not intentional and I only noticed it when I was picking photos for the post.





I set up this photo just on the edge of the patio. I liked the effect of the orange candle.





The orange cone of echinacea.





My orange begonia on the front porch.





I liked how the orange utensil stood out.





This pitcher was to be for the word orange, but I found it had a great double reflection too.





Three was a challenge but I looked for things inside that would be interesting together.  These objects are on the fireplace mantel.





Pam@Pam’s English Garden told me about this book.  It just arrived in the mail, and I thought the three recently harvested heads of garlic would look great with it.





I loved the look of the three viburnum berries…the birds are devouring them quickly.





This crystal hangs in a northeast facing window and it captures the sunlight every morning.  I loved the reflection it made, and realized it also showed a three.


I hope you enjoyed some of these photos.  The photo at the beginning of the post shows three of the blue glass objects on our china cabinet, but if you look closely you will see some interesting reflections.  One is of me taking the picture!



I leave you with another shot of orange from my garden with some thoughts about creativity.  Feel free to download the photo and share….


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


Risen From The Flames



“None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.”  ~ Gail Godwin


I never thought I would be one of those people I had read about who was beaten down by life through stress.  Or that a job’s stress would impair my health.  Growing up we would hear about people who would die young (young meaning before their mid 60s) from a heart attack or a stroke because of stress and their job.


And once I was retired I was firm in my belief that I would not let anything bother me so much that my health would be compromised.  Of course all the stress that I let affect me prior to retirement, has had a cumulative effect and cannot be washed clean in a few weeks or months of retirement.


It was one month after I had retired that I was having abdominal pain…so bad it sent me to the ER where I was told I had a small hernia that should be repaired.  So I agreed to a repair that would be a small incision and would only lay me up for a few weeks.  No sweat….I can do this and bounce right back!


Of course it was not a small hernia and it was not a small incision and it was not a few weeks of recuperating but a few months.  So what happened?  What usually happens….stress affects our bodies building until the inflammation wreaks havoc, and the illness is much worse than we thought.


DSCN9713I know this was not a life threatening illness.  It was not even major surgery, but any inflammation we leave unchecked can lead to more serious illnesses.  So I am grateful this was taken care of.


The surgery did not cure me of the inflammation that caused the hernia, and in fact added to it for a while.  So what would put this right?  I have found it required being more in balance or in harmony with life.  Not letting thoughts or feelings eat away at me so much so it causes blocks.  These blocks are what disrupt our body’s ability to heal.


I am still wrestling with what all this still means for me.  How do I maintain balance, harmony and peace?  For now it is through my thoughts and how I act toward others.  It is more than a physical healing but a mental, emotional and spiritual healing as well.  I start my day with a peaceful meditation, and try to bring that state of harmony into my day and my actions whether it be kind words, helping someone or even just a simple smile to a stranger.


But above all it is allowing myself to be vulnerable…not hiding from life or trying to push it down…that just blocks the flow again.  And I am finding it best to share these feelings in my writing and with those closest to me.  Expressing them allows us to let them go so much quicker….and be like a phoenix renewed and risen from the flames.



Special Note:   The echinacea pictured in this post (also known as purple coneflower) represents strength and health.  This is very fitting since echinacea is purported to have significant medicinal properties.



The picture below is my gift to you this week.  Please download it and use it however you want.




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

And Now For Something Creative…


“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”   ~Eleanor Roosevelt


I recently took an online photography course from Tammy Strobel@Rowdy Kittens.  I wanted to dig in more and expand my horizons.  And at the end of the course, we found out about a month long photography challenge.


As this blog says, I am inspired by challenge and creativity so I decided to take part in the challenge…you take pictures daily that go along with the word of the day.  Yesterday’s word was patterns, and I knew if I went out into the garden I would find endless patterns to capture.


So here are some of the patterns I discovered…..the first is the tiger lily at the top of the page:




Queen Anne’s Lace

DSCN1767 Tree bark has endless patterns


 Hosta leaf


First sunflower facing east into the sun


Joe Pye weed before it bursts into bloom

DSCN1796The intricate pattern on the wings of the dragonfly



I leave you with another shot of the sunflower and some thoughts about creativity.  Feel free to download the photo and share….





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


A Heavy Heart


“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.” ~Walter Anderson


I have come to recognize the tell tale signs of grief.  They sneak up on me and cast me down into an abyss that I struggle to climb out of.  It has been happening for the last 16 years since my father died.  They are momentary lapses into sadness for no apparent reason.  And luckily these melancholy moods don’t last as long as they once did.


It is hard for me to deal with grief because my dad was the one I could talk to when I was heart broken over the loss of a pet or a relationship.  Or when there was a tragedy in the world and I was at a loss as to how this senseless act could have happened.  He knew I took these sorrows hard.  That my heart would shatter into a million pieces because I wore that heart out on my sleeve for all to see.  I loved completely, and so the loss was also as complete.


I had not intended to write this post.  I actually had two other topics I was wavering between, but I just couldn’t write them.  Something was blocking me, and it needed to be let loose.  I really had no idea what was going on with me just that I was in a very low place.  And then it became clear what was happening as those tell tale signs appeared again.


DSCN1597With the recent happenings in the world I am feeling very vulnerable.  Feelings of great sadness seem to bubble up at strange times causing me to withdraw or hide inside myself.  And I know these actions will not help, but for now all I can muster is to lean in again and let the tears flow and the love pour out into the universe hoping it will have an effect.


I am fighting the urge to curl up and just stay numb, not even venturing out into my garden which at least usually brings me some sort of solace.  And I can hear my father’s words helping me fight my way back….I can feel his strong arms hold me up, and I draw upon the strength of loved ones whose mere offering of a hug are sometimes just enough to bring back the smile and light my heart again.


The key for me at this moment is to appreciate life itself.   Yes it seems the most important thing to feel right now.  Sharing my hope for peace, treating others with kindness, spreading loving thoughts and actions out into the world help keep me strong…keep me resilient.  These actions are helping me move on and heal….and maybe in my doing of these seemingly trivial things the world will heal a little more too.  At least I hope it will….it is all I have at this moment.


Special Note:  The marigolds pictured above represent grief.  Such a sunny flower that somehow brings me solace.


The picture below is my gift to you this week.  These words helped me know that we must keep the love going…after all as the Beatles said so many years ago,

“All you need is love….love is all you need.”



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


Living From Happiness


“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.” ~Chuang-Tse


I don’t know when it all started, but for a very long time I was not a happy person…or should I say I could not maintain any sort of happy feeling for very long.  My happiness was a barometer that measured how things were going in my life.  It came and went with relationships, jobs, family issues, you name it.  It was just beyond my grasp where I only felt it for brief moments. Happiness would slip away as quickly as it came, hidden, masked, covered up somewhere replaced with long periods of sadness.


What a horrible way to live…glass half empty and draining fast.  Of course I numbed myself with many things especially sugar and carbs.  I bought things that I thought would make me happy.  I stayed super insanely busy so I didn’t have to deal with or feel life.  All of this didn’t serve to make me happy, but added to my sadness.  Until a very wise man and healer said to me six years ago, that I was killing myself and that I had the power to stop it.


But it can be impossible to stop a runaway train, once it has a head of steam and it is careening downhill.  And that was how my life was feeling.  My health began  to unravel with the stress of work and life so I said enough, I am done.  It was time for a change.  Time to jump off and either get a new job or retire and start a new career.   For me the decision was clear; it was time to retire.  But knowing when it is the right time and getting up the courage to jump is the hardest part.  There is a tremendous amount of doubt and fear with a change such as this.


So in these past several months of retirement, with time and the continual support of those closest to me, I began to see glimmers of light around the edges of my life.   I was beginning to recover from the crazy ride.  And now that I wasn’t speeding through life anymore, I suddenly saw my surroundings clearly.  Life was front and center and I was breathing that slow steady breath that connects you to your deep core.  A light suddenly switched on, and I had one of those big aha moments.


DSCN0821So what did I discover.  Happiness is not something you can seek because you already have it.  It is waiting inside of us.  Waiting for us to connect to it.  But what is the secret code for accessing this inner joy?  The big shift came when I truly began feeling and expressing gratitude daily both in spoken and written word.  And it was not until I began writing it down every day, that I had my lifeline.  It sounds too simple, I know, but it isn’t.  Not really.  It does take a bit of time and practice.  And some patience.  But it is there waiting to be rediscovered.  That sense that you can live your life from your inner happiness.


Now not every day is great, and I have my sad moments because lets face it that is life.  But I no longer dwell in the sad places.  And when I need to connect more to that light, I spend time with things that give me a boost….I read for pleasure, I watch nature right outside my window, I spend time among the flowers and veggies in my garden, I cook from scratch and try new recipes, I talk with loved ones who are so far away….so many things that keep me engaged with happiness.  Each of us accesses happiness in our own way through our own life lines so the key is to find your access points.


Another boost for me is writing.  I had been toying with the idea of writing another blog for a while now.  But I kept thinking am I ready?  Is this the right step?  But I knew deep inside it was the right time and place to start anew when word came that Vision and Verb would be shutting down.


And here it is…the end of that lovely experience on Vision and Verb where my voice suddenly and clearly was present.  It had found an outlet and it was not to be silenced.  And now it will continue on this blog where it can grow and expand with me as I run, walk, skip, plod and sometimes crawl down this path.  This blog is my conscious effort to open to the flow of happiness and share stories, conflicts, challenges and creativity with you as these have all led me to find my inner joy.


I hope you will join me here every Thursday as I share my stories, the stories of others through their blogs and books, and share how I am expanding my happiness through new outlets of creativity.

I leave you with a special saying and photo that I hope you will save and use.



Special Note:  The yellow of the flowers means optimism, happiness, hope.

The heliopsis in the top picture are said to be the happiest of flowers, and in the language of flowers they symbolize loyalty and constancy.



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



Just a short little post to say hello and welcome to my new blog.  I will be writing once a week on Thursdays about things that make me happy and inspire me.  I hope you will pop in and be part of the conversations.


And why did I pick the name, Living From Happiness?


I have found my life is so much better when I live from happiness with gratitude rather than living for happiness.


“When you’re happy for no reason, you bring happiness to your outer experiences rather than trying to extract happiness from them. You don’t need to manipulate the world around you to try to make yourself happy. You live from happiness, rather than for happiness.”

– Marci Shimoff