Poetry Sunday: You Have The Right



You Have The Right



You have the right to remain silent

Anything you say can and will be used against you,

But so what

Is it better to remain mute,

To not give voice to what assails my soul?



While silent, I give approval to insults, to violence, to cruelty.

While silent, I give up my rights.

And while silent, I condone bigotry, harassment and assault,

Based on nothing but the color of one’s skin or sex.

Based on only a name, ethnicity, or religion.



But isn’t it my right to also be free of these wrongs,

To be free to worship, to be free to be who I am.

There has been too much silence for far too long.



The silent ugly underbelly of a nation’s people,

Raised on freedoms taken for granted.

Believing there is no racism, and that

Women are treated fairly, equally and are valued.



But no~the ugliness was still here in this silent nation.

Blindly condoned and quietly strengthened,

Until one day a government gave it credence~

Gave it voice~made it legitimate and perfectly fine

To say the most vile, hateful words about its citizens.



Ignorance is not bliss anymore.

We cannot afford to be ignorant or stand idly by

As the very freedoms and foundations

We hold dearly are slipping into the abyss.



Lives lost fighting for these freedoms,

Now anguished in the soil of this fetid land.

Pride in a country where these freedoms were held scared,

Now fear runs rampant instead.

It is all there is some days,

No brave voices rising from the silence to be heard.

So many mute giving approval,

As silence kills.



You have the right to remain silent

Anything you say can and will be used against you,

In the court of life.

Will you remain silent?

Or will you give voice to the warriors

Needed to take back a country once lost.


© Donna Donabella 2017



This poem has been rattling around in my soul waiting to break free as my anguish with each horrific day goes by with more lies, more acts of violence, hatred, bigotry and on and on with hate.  And so many still stay silent as words and acts by our government bring us daily to new lows.

The irony of this poem’s opening is purposeful.  They are the opening lines of the Miranda Warning said to all who are arrested.  And who knows if our acts of resistance will get us arrested, but I have hope we will overcome the insanity and fear.   So this poem is my rant to those who are still silent, as I give my voice to those trying to change the dialogue, and not allowing my silence to condone any more of this insanity.


The pictures are more goddess selfies I created last year.

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and I am joining Sherry for her Thursday prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads; Being The Change.


I leave you with a few additional words about You have the right.  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, 2014-2018.  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




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.


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.

Fearless Living


“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.”

~Pema Chödrön




Reading this quote, I was bowled over by how much truth it contained.  And yet I wasn’t sure I could wrap my brain completely around it…or if I even agreed wholeheartedly with the idea.  So this was a tricky subject for me, but one I knew I needed to explore.



DSCN3187How could hope be from lack, and how could it rob me?  After all I count on hope to lift me up.  And then it hit me…..I am holding on to hope sometimes for dear life.  Waiting for it to show up.  Never quite satisfied with life as it is, or how I am in my own skin.



And once I started to warm to this idea, however strange it seemed, I received another Joyful Wisdom Letter from Sandra Pawula, at Always Well Within.  Her theme was also about this notion of hope and fear; specifically how both can be unhelpful to us.



As I read through her words, I was struck by this notion:

hope for gain and fear of loss can turn into an endless search for the pot of gold”


And as I read these words, I thought there was such an immense truth in these words that churned deep in my belly.



DSCN3190The fear of loss is easy to understand.  It happens to each of us as loved ones leave us, and we worry or even fear their loss.  And it can transcend to losing jobs, or other things that we think are so important in our lives.  And this fear paralyzed me many times as a child….so much so that I could not leave my mother’s side.



While I thought about the fear of loss, it began to dawn on me that I had an equally tight grip on hope.  It was what I had pinned my dreams to; that elusive hope.  Yes, I hoped for a dream job with good pay….I hoped to find a relationship that would be ‘the one’, my true love.  I could go on and on here with my hopes.  But in the back of my mind, there was that other shoe waiting to drop with hope.  The fear that once I got what I wanted, it would all be taken away.



DSCN3173I thought that I had let go of these notions of hope and fear years ago, but realized that many have stuck with me, especially those around hope.  There were still many hopes I was attached to….I could hear them in my everyday language.  Even small ones like, ‘I hope the weather warms up soon so I can get started in my garden’.



So what to do?  Well it all became abundantly clear I had to do something, when not too long ago I was deeply down.  I woke on a Monday morning to a gray sky that was becoming white with snow.  Snow in April-ugh!  Snow that was not supposed to still be coming down.  And while I started becoming depressed thinking about the snow, and all my flowers being buried, a plumbing problem reared its ugly head to heap upon the gloom.



DSCN3178I just wanted to dig a hole and bury myself.  My hopes for spring were dashed with the forecast for more cold and snow, and what did I have to look forward to?  A big plumber’s bill!  As I realized I was in this downward spiral, I allowed these feelings to wash over me…to feel them as they came up.  But I didn’t perseverate on them.  Instead once they presented themselves, and I recognized them, I let them go.  I focused on more important issues (living with no water for the day), and after a while I felt a load being lifted off me.



Eventually the day brightened…the snow still remained for several days, but I was no longer attached to spring coming NOW.  I knew it would get here.  And with this I also began to remember other times I let go of my attachment to hope.  Meeting the right person…that happened when I let go and moved on no longer worried I might never marry.  Even that dream next job came to me when I let go of pursuing it.



DSCN3183So is it wrong to hope?  I found that there is a distinction between what I call hope and dreams.  Hoping may not ever get me to my dreams.  Hoping to get there doesn’t move me there.  But moving on, letting go have helped me in pursuing a dream that is within reach….. as long as I don’t hold on to it too tight!



This is a new notion I am exploring….what has been your experience with hope and fear?  What new lessons are you learning?







Special Note:  The pictures here are of my dwarf willow trees blooming, showing me spring is here no matter the weather.




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

fearless living

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.

Innovation in 2016

DSCN6566“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”  

~T.S. Eliot



Just before the New Year, I have a tradition of choosing a word to guide me through the coming year.  It becomes my muse, my mantra, my guide.  In 2014, as I had retired, I chose THRIVE.  I needed to remind myself that I was healing and to nurture myself….that I was still alive and thriving.  In 2015, I chose SOAR.  As I had healed more, I felt like flying.  Getting above the clouds, and the gray, to see what was over the horizon.  It felt like a year to just enjoy my life.




Now with 2016, I am feeling like I need to get out of my cocooned comfort zone.  At first I thought my word might be Connection or even Diving, but neither felt quite right.  And as I started my search, I happened on, Move.  Yes, I did need to Move more….still not quite right.



Then I saw three more:  Stretch, Integrate and Innovate.  Stretch, now that was a great word.  I needed to let go and get out there more….yes, this would do me nicely.  But you know, I liked Integrate.  I have so many skills I need to use more…to integrate the parts of me as a whole.  Maybe, this is the word.



But Innovate was still circling around.  I had seen this word before in a Facebook game I played.



This word will guide you through the year of 2016! It will support you in your daily struggles and situations that may appear hopeless. This word will always show you the silver lining so that you won’t ever need to worry. It was chosen for you specifically, embrace it!



OK this sounds like a word I could embrace.  But this word was big….so big it scared me.  Am I up to the task of this word Innovation?  I don’t know!  It is like Stretch, but a bit more forceful.  Like a shove in the back to get out on that stage and show your stuff.  Not exactly what an introvert wants to do.  But maybe, that is exactly what I need.  After all I did say I needed to let go, to move, to go beyond my comfort zone.  Stretch could help me do this, but it is too comfy a word.  I might not Stretch enough.




innovate wordle


So I vacillated between the two some more, Stretch and Innovate; Innovate and Stretch.  As I thought more about Innovate, I saw for me that it could mean new, different, expand, branch out, extend….and Stretch.  But it adds a different dimension to Stretch….a little more oomph!  And it incorporates Move and Integrate…I see me doing more, and using more skills with Innovate.





Oh yes….just maybe.  Perhaps Innovate will help me break free from some self-imposed bonds….to experience life more without fear, or with accepting there will be fear.  So I took the leap…and decided on Innovate.



It is causing some butterflies in my stomach….a scary excitement as to what this year will hold.  But oh, how I am looking forward to it.  As I am already encountering situations, I am looking on them with fresh new eyes…a new perspective…with Innovation.  And on this New Year’s Eve, I ready to Innovate in 2016!



Do you have a word to guide you this year?



cosmos collage2



Note:   The flowers pictured here are cosmos, which in Greek means order, harmony, or the world.  In the Language of Flowers, it also means innocence.  The collage of words was made in Wordle.





I leave you with my image for Innovate 2016.  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, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Confessions of a Perfectionist


The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



It came as a complete surprise when I realized that I was a perfectionist.  I had been told before, in jest, that I was a perfectionist.  But I always shook it off and said, “no way”.  I am far from perfect nor do I care to be perfect…or so I thought.  But perfectionism is not about being a perfect person, it is striving to be perfect.  That is the trap.


How can anyone live up to perfection? Oh you try, and try, and try.  But it is just like beating your head against a wall constantly.  One mistake and you go down a deep, dark hole….trying to claw your way back out exhausted and bruised.  And just when you do see the light of day, after working so hard at this perfection, you again make a mistake or someone points out your imperfection or you beat yourself up for not making it to perfection….and once again you slide back down depressed, broken and back to clawing your way up again.


IMG_9782And just when I think I have this trap beaten, and I have made it beyond the dark hole, I find I have only fooled myself into thinking I am OK with not being perfect….and down I go again.  Except this time procrastination shows up.


I have been a lifelong procrastinator…I just thought it was part of me…something I could not overcome.  Until recently I learned procrastination comes from fear.  OK so what have I been fearing for so long….yes you guessed it…..drum roll please….perfection was my fear.  So if I never try and only talk about the wish list, the hopes and dreams, then I can never fail.  Excuses and avoidance are then my mantra, instead of striving and thriving.


And what I realized was in this avoidance, I had put my life on hold.  So how to balance this striving with perfection…well that is what I am working on presently.  Just recognizing I have been in this dark hole has helped me to climb all the way out finally.  When I find myself slipping down again, I grab hold and plant my feet firmly on the ground like a root grabbing onto the firm earth.  Then I face the howling wind and hang on.


It is a choice to live or merely exist.  So these days, I am choosing to live.  A walk around the garden in my bare feet or sandals.  Watching the sunset.  Capturing in pictures every new bloom and critter that shows up in the garden.  Walking in the rain.  Listening to the birdsong in daytime and frogs at night.  Laying on the grass watching the clouds, and sitting outside in the quiet still darkness to gaze at the heaven’s and marvel at the stars.  Dancing and singing to music instead of whiling away the hours on mindless TV or the internet.  Making one new bold excursion to explore a space or place around my neighborhood.  Savoring the smells and flavors of new restaurant.  In all these things, I am thriving…. making time to play and revitalize, not so focused on the to do list anymore.


Note:   The Chrysanthemum pictured here represents perfection.  The Japanese see perfection in the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals.



Update 6 months later:

This post was originally published on June 3, 2014 in Vision and Verb.  This revelation about myself was a curious observation, and serendipitous.  It has served me well to not be so focused on the To Do list anymore.  One that has been instrumental in my healing time since retiring.


This is the last of my Vision and Verb posts that I am sharing here as the year comes to a close.  I hoped you enjoyed these special posts.  And I will moving into a new mantra and word for the year soon which will help focus my writing again.



I leave you with another thought about perfection.  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.


Saying Goodbye


 “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”  ~Ann Landers


I have been toying with the idea of retirement for a few years now.  As I neared the 30 year mark and 55 years of age (the markers for qualifying for retirement from public education in my state), I was sure I would retire the first year I was eligible.  But a funny thing happened as it approached, I became unsure.  Always saying yes I am retiring…no hesitation…. while inside feeling sad and unable to understand why I was feeling suddenly so confused.


Why was it so hard to let go of a job after 30 years especially when the last few have been very difficult.  It wasn’t until I read this passage that a bit of light started to niggle at the corners of my consciousness.


 In life, goodbyes are a gift.  When certain people walk away from you, and certain opportunities close their doors on you, there is no need to hold onto them or pray to keep them present in your life.  If they close you out, take it as a direct indication that these people, circumstances and opportunities are not part of the plan for the next step of your life.  It’s a hint that your personal growth requires someone different and something more, and life is simply making room.  So embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive sets you up for an even better “hello.” Mark and Angel Chernoff


DSCN1843There it was.  Simple really to understand but equally difficult to put into practice.  Letting go of my past life to embrace this new journey into the unknown is scary.  It feels like I am going into a haunted house in the dark of night not sure what pits and falls might be around the corner.  Can you feel the fear mount…the butterflies in my stomach…the hair on the back of my neck standing up…chills running down my spine.  So how do I deal with all this fear and simply let go?


It is hard to say goodbye to a big part of our lives, but it is necessary to move into the next best phase.  To transition, a part of me has to die.  So that grief I have been experiencing is only natural.  In fact it is necessary.  And as I have slowly removed this veil of grief, I am looking now toward the light shining bright for me as I retire at the end of this month.


And as I move on there will still be tears, there will still be confusion.  I will be learning to walk all over again on this new path in these brand new shoes.  I am not sure if retirement is a death, a rebirth or a reconstitution of one’s self.  But above all it is a celebration.  Time to celebrate all I have become and all I have learned as I finally let go.  I am most grateful for it all-good and bad.  And I welcome this next phase and its precious gift as I say goodbye, and get ready to say hello world it’s me and I am so happy to be here!


Note:  Butterflyweed means “Let me go” in the Language of Flowers.


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

Update 7 months later:

This post was  originally published February 21, 2014 as I was getting ready to retire on March 3, 2014.  And retire I did.  It felt strange for about a month.  Almost like an extended vacation.

But with many health problems cropping up, it was the best decision I could have made as I found I needed surgery in mid-May to repair a hernia.  The surgery and recovery were more extensive so the gift of retirement so far is for me to heal.  Physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

And I am grateful for every moment I have to slow down, watch the critters in my garden, pick flowers, take photographs, create new meals, harvest the veg garden and just be.  I plan to do a follow up post about my retirement soon.



I leave you with another thought about letting go.  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.


The Worry-Go-Round


“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom


I come from a long line of worriers.  My world was steeped in their distress.  Maybe they worried because of the events of their time… living in poverty, experiencing many wars.  Losing loved ones and friends to sickness.  Survival was their mantra.


But as they grew it seemed their worries only grew, never diminishing.  And that was the world I knew.  If I was sick, the worry was would I survive….of course I was sickly as a young child, born with asthma and almost died of pneumonia when I was one.  And I began to worry at an early age, as children listen and take in the feelings around them.


The daily messages were life sucks, nothing ever goes right, we can’t catch a break…the not-so-positive messages that were not always in your face, but presented more subtly.  So we were raised with that subliminal message to think the worst would always happen.  Maybe it was a survival technique.  If you didn’t raise your hopes, then they couldn’t be dashed too harshly.


But in living with these negative messages of circumstance all the time, I would never think to aim too high…I was afraid of the long fall.  And life was predetermined so just suck it up and live with the misery.  As I look back on it, I realized how sad some of those worriers were.  They did not have much of a life because they would never dare to strive for it.  And I seemed to always be settling for what was thrust upon me having no hope to make it better.



DSCN1240I am not sure when the shift happened….it was a slow turn where I would work at worrying less.  But I’d get only so far away from the Worry Road, and then something would happen.  The worry would suck me in dropping me back on the Worry-Go-Round until I was dizzy with it again.


But I can tell you when I was freed from the endless, needless cycle or worry.  It began when I started to slow, to just be with myself.  It continued with daily practices of meditation, leaning in to emotions and then letting them go.  When I dropped self-judgment and immersed myself in doing what I loved, I found happiness surrounded me, a beacon shining from deep within.  


Currently I find any worries have been pushed into my subconscious and show up in my dreams from time to time.  So when I catch these worries, I am gentle with myself as I acknowledge there is nothing to fear and then I bid it adieu.  I am not perfect with this…nor will I ever be.  It is a process to lessen the worries that will show up from time to time.  But they cannot last long as each dawn that beacon chases away any darkness that wants to linger.



As a side note….I have recently come across many readings about worry.  It was also one of the lessons I worked through during Sandra Pawula’s Mini-Mindfulness Challenge.  I liked the gentle way she approached diminishing worry.  If you have a chance check out her blog, and this wonderful set of lessons.






Special Note:  Queen Anne’s Lace signifies haven, home, comfort; antidotes for worry.



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




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.


Creating My Fear

vv waterlily painting


Fear has always been my greatest enemy.  It has controlled me.  And consumed me.  So much so that I prefered to remain invisible for many, many years.  I chalked it up to being an introvert.  I was just not wired to be out there taking risks.  Nice excuse and it served me well.  And I had folks protect that hard shell I created for myself.


But as my job changed and I had to put myself out into the public eye more, I was forced out of that cushy, but dangerous, comfort zone.  And what do you know I was successful and happy in the change that had come over me.  My courage increased as I continued to move out of that zone growing along the way.


I forgot that with growth comes pain and with pain that fear was back.  Big and ugly, looming, sucking my reservoirs dry.  And it wasn’t until I hit a high, hard wall that I decided to go back to my roots.  Back to the mighty word.  My words. The words that speak from the soul.  From deep down inside my belly forcing those emotions back out exposing my raw self.  Funny thing was there was no fear once those words were laid bare.  At least not for a while.


But I did not understand, that fear would return over and over to beat me up and knock me down.  And I let that fear suffocate me, cutting me off from my words.  It wasn’t until I read an interview with a wonderful purveyor of words.  One who understood that in order to create with words you had to embrace fear.  Know that you would and must create it along with your soulful work.  It was not to be squashed, but accepted.  Embraced and even cultivated.  Because without that fear you would cease to create; really create from your roots.



“I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins; they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both. And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear!  You must accept that Creativity cannot walk even one step forward except by marching side-by-side with its attached sibling of Fear.”

Elizabeth Gilbert



Simple words really.  Create and Fear.  Inexplicably intertwined.  And to cut off my DSCN9826fear was to cut off the flow of my words rendering me mute.  Safe yes, but mute.  Soul speak quieted.  My heart smothered.  So the choice was simple. It was time to stop despairing.  It was time to whisper those fears.  To take fear by the hand and walk with it.  Get to know it intimately.  Give it voice.  And as that fearful voice rose, I discovered my words.


Those deep down feeling words are flowing again.  And as long as I keep fear beside me, I will compose, generate, form and otherwise forge my words here every month.


Special Note:  Water lilies symbolize Eloquence and Purity of heart.


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

Update 6 months later:

This post was  originally published January 22, 2014 when I became a regular part of the team writing at Vision and Verb.  And it was the inspiration for starting this new blog….to continue to challenge my fears and to not lose my words and creativity.

It has been six weeks since starting this blog, and I am having so much fun stretching my creativity wings with photography and what I call my weekly ‘heart-felt’ posts on Thursdays.

I will be expanding my creative Sunday posts in September by adding some poetry.  I hope to join in a few poetry sites for their challenges as I continue my love for reading and writing poetry.  There is something so very personal and soulful in poetry, and I hope to continue to tap into my soul giving you little glimpses.




I leave you with another thought about fear.  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.