Acceptance

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“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Am I beautiful?  I think now I can say that I am.  Oh not in a conceited, ‘love me, look at me everyone’ kind of way.  No just for myself.  I would not be judged a beauty in today’s world if we looked at outward beauty only.  But I am not consumed with being or thinking myself beautiful.  No instead I like and love myself…that is beauty to me.

 

 

And it has been a long time coming to accept myself as a beautiful person inside and out.  When I started high school I was 5 feet tall, and weighed about a 100 lbs soaking wet with naturally curly frizzy hair that did its own thing.  I wore tortoise-shell glasses (all the rage) which of course made me a ‘four-eyes’….or in other words an easy target for bully-types.  And I had not blossomed yet, so there were no big stares from the boys.

 

 

DSCN4441We were and still are bombarded with messages of being beautiful, and trying to achieve an image of beauty that is outside ourselves.  Add to that I was not outgoing, but instead a shy, introverted girl who was a dreamer in a sea of 3800 students.  So I was content to keep myself to myself…not letting many people in.

 

 

Now some 40 years later, and many experiences under my belt, I am just beginning to accept me for who I am…and I am learning about who I am again.  I think I was always trying to play a role in an effort to be liked or accepted never quite understanding that keeping these masks on would do more harm.

 

 

And although it is scary to strip off the masks, that is what I have done in the past 10 years.  And it was not always easy being alone with myself.  I had been learning in the last few years to be more accepting of others and not to judge them, but I had not given myself the same courtesy.

 

 

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It wasn’t until I started listening to the messages coming from within, that I saw just how judgmental I was with myself.  Being with those feelings and messages, has helped me to realize that I too deserve a break.  I am only human.  I am still learning, and will be for a long time to come.

 

 

I think the biggest lesson was when I could finally stop beating myself up for things I did or didn’t do, and finally accepted some self-compassion.  The self-sabotage ended, and the messages were ones of self-healing.  If I was trying to change a habit or incorporate a new healthier one, I no longer berated myself when I slid a little down the slippery slope.  Instead I just got back up and started again.  And it has become easier starting fresh each day.

 

 

The biggest thing I have done for myself has been to finally say, “I AM ENOUGH”, and really mean it.  Warts and all….imperfections, bad habits, fits of temper…you name it, it is me….beautiful, wonderful me.  I am really grateful for myself as I am.  And as I feel I want to change things within myself, I do.  Mostly to feel better, and be a better person…to be happier.  And isn’t that what it is all about.  Being happy in our own skins!

 

 

DSCN8317We are all on our own paths….we can only be where we are, and who we are right in this moment.  So let’s celebrate that.  Let’s celebrate all the wonders that make up our unique selves.  I’ll start….

 

 

 

 

Here’s to this 58 yr old, 5 foot tall woman who doesn’t look her age….who is kinder and gentler with herself and others….who is having more fun, practicing healthier habits (as I must now)…who is still the introvert and the dreamer….a creative being who loves to tell stories and share them.  She is my hero….I love her and I like her a lot….she is my best friend and fierce protector.  She is beautiful and enough just as she is right now!

 

 

Special Note:   The flowers shown here are pink lilacs.  In The Language of Flowers, lilacs represent beauty and love, and pink represents admiration and appreciation.  A perfect flower to herald the message of self-love and acceptance.

 

 

 

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I leave you with more thoughts about acceptance and being enough.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

acceptance

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.

Poetry Sunday-Be Like A Seed

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Be Like A Seed

 

 

See not the hopeless, helpless time.

Go instead underground

And be like a seed.

 

 

Seek instead the nourishment within your own soul.

Bringing refreshment and urging you to grow.

Letting go of your outer shell.

 

 

Draw your courage from deep inside,

It is there waiting to be summoned,

With perseverance and resilience.

 

 

To push you through the weeds and hard rocky soil.

To grow as you dreamed bearing flower or fruit.

Finally becoming the seed once again.

 

 

 

 © Donna Donabella 2015

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I love the perseverance and resilience that seeds and plants show as they bust through any barrier to grow.  This poem was written in response to this and how I feel as I heal and grow, create and expand my life.

 

 

Aunt MaryAnd as I think about seeds, I think of the strong influences in my life.  One being my Aunt Mary who is 93 years old.  Her story of courage and strength is being printed today.  I wrote her memoir to add to the stories of women who helped in the fight during WWII; referred to as Rosie the Riveters.  You can read Aunt Mary’s story and other Rosie’s stories to at the Rosie’s Daughters website.

And if you do like the story, please leave a comment at the end of the story.  And don’t forget to read some of the other Rosie stories you will find on the website!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

seed collage

I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of our native swamp milkweed plant, Asclepias incarnata, sporting its seeds that will spread out across the land growing more of this beautiful plant that is an important nectar source for pollinators and an even more important larval host plant for the monarch butterfly.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about Being Like A Seed.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

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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.

 

You Are What You Think

DSCN7942It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about. ~ Dale Carnegie

 

 

 

It has been almost a year since I started this blog…well 10 months really.  And in that time I have been on a journey to reconnect to my inner happiness.  It lies within me, within us all…all the time…available.  We just have to tap into it….to allow it to come into our lives.

 

 

Seems simple really, but it has been a bumpy road filled with so much learning, knowing, joy and some sadness that had to be wiped away occasionally.  When I read this quote by Dale Carnegie recently, it really stuck with me.  Simple and not so simple sometimes.  Just change your thoughts…

 

 

But in reality, it takes time to change our thought patterns…and we need patience DSCN7941with ourselves.  If we have been in a worrying frame of mind….my legacy given to me by my mom and my aunt who raised her….forever worrying about every little thing, thought, detail….we won’t just stop worrying at the drop of a hat.  Or maybe in a negative cycle where we think everything is going to go wrong…nothing ever works out….we just aren’t meant to be happy or to have nice things….well you get the picture.  I remember hearing some of this too growing up.  Part of a generation plagued by a Depression and war.

 

 

And when you have been exposed to or been part of these limiting thoughts for so long, they become you.  There is a fear in letting them go because they have been part of your identity.  Long engrained habitual thinking.  And there is the thought….If I stop the worry, what will I replace it with?   We even have long-held social interactions with family and friends around the worry…the negative.  Now how do I or who do I talk with if I give it all up?

 

 

I know this may sound crazy, but the fear and not wanting to let it all go can be real.  And it can completely change who and how we interact with those closest to us….some friendships may even slip away because the negativity is too much for us once we begin to change.

 

 

I have been dealing with changing thought patterns for a long time around family.  You DSCN7938can easily get sucked back in, as I did early on years ago as I began this change.  Especially when family doesn’t want to change.  But now I think about what I want for myself.  How I want to feel.  I think about the happiness always there for me….something I choose to tap into as often as possible.

 

 

And I want to enjoy my life…connect with people over mutual interests and celebrate the achievements we all are making.  So I continue to be a role model for some family and friends turning conversations to the positive….talking about the good things happening.  Changing the perspective, seeing the gifts laid before me each moment.

 

 

The flowers blooming and shifting, the cries of laughter of children playing outside my window, the birds…new ones visiting daily with new songs to witness.  The flowers are springing up all over dotting the landscape with a rainbow of colors….oh the heavenly perfume.  These wonders keep me connected to my inner bliss.

 

 

DSCN7939Will there be sad times…the loss of loved ones….the worry when a loved one is sick?  Absolutely.  That is just part of life.  But I try not to dwell there for long….I look for the gifts always around me, and lift up those who may be in pain with kindnesses….a bouquet of flowers or just a smile.  Trying to always see the magic, the tingly joyful times before me.

 

 

 

 

 

Special Note:   The flowers pictured here are columbines, specifically Aquilegia Vulgaris Nora Barlow Pink’.  In The Language of Flowers, columbines represent being anxious and trembling.  Such a lovely flower to have such worries, but I will dwell on their beauty not their meaning.

 

 

 

 

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I leave you with more thoughts about the power of positive thinking.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

think positive

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-May 2015

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“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.

 

 

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

simplicity

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.

Loving My Scars

 DSCN6944“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.”  ~Unknown

 

 

 

I have lived my life with many scars.  Those visible childhood scars from when I fell off my bike.  Or the time my hand went through the plate-glass storm door…ouch and long story.  And then my first serious car accident where I hit the steering wheel (before seat belts-yes I am that old), and my teeth went through my chin…lots of stitches.

 

 

DSCN6215And there are the not so visible scars…I don’t mean the ones from surgery….mine from last year is still healing nicely, thanks for asking.  No, I mean those scars we hide inside.  When we were deeply hurt for the first time.  Mine was a Kindergarten teacher on my first day in a new school and she crushed my spirit...a scar that stayed with me, unseen even by me until a few years ago.  When it came bubbling up to the surface, I realized that this scar had led to some self-defeating ideas I had been harboring for almost 50 years.  WOW!

 

 

And the scars that built on that first one….the stories I believed about how I was not artistic, or creative, and yes Mr. Driver’s Ed teacher who said I would never learn to drive.  OK there are some who may have agreed with him (and secretly still do).  And my thesis team…those professors I had to convince I was worthy of passing by successfully defending my Master’s thesis….those who took pride and pleasure in trying to make me look not so smart or accomplished.

 

 

DSCN6957Yes, I could go on with the ruminations from when I started work….it is an endless reel of tape that sometimes plays in my head.  But at some point these scars tend to heal over only opening again when someone close to me, personally or professionally, would say something nasty.  And over the years I built up a thick skin around those scars so as not to feel them there.

 

 

But they are there.  I even built a high wall from all the bricks thrown at me over the years.  In fact, the wall became so high I began to feel suffocated, claustrophobic and isolated.  So I finally burst through the wall.  And instead of viewing my scars as something to keep hidden, I have brought them out to the light of day where I can see them, and they can heal.

 

 

I now view my scars as gifts….gifts that have led me down my path…the path where I am DSCN7502meant to go.  They are my strength.  They showcase my resilience.  And I am darn proud of them.  Sometimes I write about my scars here….it helps me to heal them, and sometimes it helps others.  I am not depressed or upset about them or the lessons they are teaching me….actually it makes me happier when I can talk about them, and then let them go.

 

 

So you see I really do love my scars.  Those that show the physical or emotional pain of my life….they are me…an important part of me.  They help me to continue to embrace my vulnerabilities.  Without them, I would never have been able to truly love my whole self, scars and all.  They have become a kind of Superpower that assures me that whatever is happening, I will have the strength to get through it.

 

 

DSCN7270I am still figuring out the “get through it” part.  For me, it is like putting on a soothing balm to heal the wounds and scars.  But it is an individual journey…we all process let downs, disappointments, and grief in our own unique way.  Sometimes I surrender and let go….sometimes I decide to walk away and not engage….and sometimes I fight head-on into the fire coming out a little scraped and bruised, but again wiser, stronger, and oh so much happier.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, daffodils represent self-love.  And I chose white daffodils, as white represents light, goodness and safety.

 

 

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

self-love

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.

Conversations In The Garden-On Living with Uncertainty

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“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.”  ~Gilda Radner

 

 

 

There is one thing I know that is definite about life….we are all going to die someday.  Now I know this is not a major revelation nor even a pleasant thing to think about.  But the realization of this fact recently caught up with me.  Prior to that, this fact was pushed far down into the nether reaches of my brain so I didn’t have to deal with it.

 

 

Talking about death was scary because for me there was nothing definitely known about what happens to us when we die.  I also didn’t want to leave those I loved, and there was so much I still wanted to do with my life.  But the fact that I am going to die someday was always looming somewhere in my brain even if I resisted it.

 

 

And dealing with the death of loved ones, I think was even more painful because I couldn’t DSCN5808accept the finality of death.  That sense of loss was too great for me.  So I always pushed it away.  Recently, it has been continuing to dominate my thoughts.  Perhaps because of my mother’s failing health.  And perhaps because another birthday is coming closer to another decade done for me.

 

 

These thoughts had been weighing on me, and it was finally time to face them….to deal with them as we each must do in our time.  And when I ran across this quote, everything suddenly changed for me…becoming clearer.

 

 

I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.  ~Brené Brown

 

 

And reality hit me square in the face….I had been limiting myself, my life.  Not really living…wrapped in deep fear, and dipping deep into unhappiness many days, all because I couldn’t deal with the uncertainties of life.  And maybe too because the only certainty was not such a pleasant prospect.

 

 

DSCN5795As a gardener, I face uncertainty every season.  When winter yields to spring, I am never sure what damage will be shown once the snow melts.  What flowers and plants will have succumbed to nature’s wrath and the natural process of dying.

 

 

In gardening it is an accepted fact, this life and death cycle.  If you don’t accept it, you won’t be gardening for long as the disappointment can be too great and defeating for some.  But not for me.  I have learned from my mistakes, and the ravages of nature that are out of my control.  I have shifted my perspective, and learned to accept each season as it comes, no matter what happens and enjoy the garden knowing it is never the same year to year.

 

 

So why does it seem easier to accept uncertainty in my garden?  I think because the joys I have found in gardening far outweigh any disappointments, and maybe make the successes of the flowers that present themselves so much more meaningful.

 

 

I have even come to enjoy the stages or seasons in my garden.  The first signs of new life DSCN5811and focusing on the beauty it brings as we get into the many flowers of spring and summer.  And learning to love the fading autumn beauty of my garden, still alive and exquisite setting up new life as it turns to seed.

 

 

These stages of life in my garden have become an inspiration for me.  They present themselves in each day as the sun begins to lighten the sky, until the last rays of light fade bringing the beauty of the stars at night.  I appreciate the fullness of each part of my day as new experiences dawn, and my body breathes in the life each new hour brings.

 

 

And I have begun to notice myself in each subtle shift this year.  I have learned that while I know there is a winter in my garden, as there is in my life, I don’t have to perseverate on it.  Instead, I can acknowledge that my time, like my garden, is limited, but it is in the moments between my birth and death that I find my greatest joys and fulfillment…this is where I choose to reside, to bloom and grow until my last breath.  Seeking the uncertainty where that delicious ambiguity resides.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, daffodils represent uncertainty.  I decided to feature daffodils that were hit by a snow storm last year, and still continued to go on blooming brightly.  When they were weighed down by the cold and snow, I was uncertain if they would survive.  There was a beautiful quality about these daffodils even as they faced death.  But in the end they showed their resilience and strength as they went on to live their lives fully in my garden.

 

 

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

uncertainty

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.

Poetry Sunday-How It Feels

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How It Feels

 

 

I know how it feels to have lost,

As if the life I know has ended.

Moving through a vortex,

Not really living, just existing.

 

 

I know how it feels to hurt deep inside,

that intense pain in your heart.

As if a vital piece is missing,

and it feels impossible to move; to go on.

 

 

And yet I know it is from this pain,

 That the stronger me will emerge.

And the truer meaning of my life will be known.

 

© Donna Donabella 2015

 

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I have these inner dialogues with myself sometimes when I am hurting, depressed or going through some unpleasant strong emotions.  Recently with my mom’s illness and weakening, some of these darker moods have shown up again to be heard.  And so the inner dialogue continues as I move through them.  For me, I know I must lean into these times of shadow, in order to move back out into the light.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

thyme flowers

I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

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Special Note:  The thyme plant and flowers pictured here represent courage and strength.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about strength, courage and  finding the better path.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

thyme-how it feels

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.

Surrender

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“I wonder if pain comes from surrendering or resisting?”  ~Donna Lynn Hope

 

 

I have been taking stock recently of my life.  This journey in retirement has been interesting, and has taught me many things so far.  With a year into this journey, I am not sure sometimes if I am where I am supposed to be.  I have long controlled my life.  Planned, over planned and tried to wrap it up in a nice, neat bundle doing what I think I should be doing.  Many times not listening to that little voice to guide me.

 

 

And in those times, life was hard, unhappy and full of pitfalls into which I fell hard.  I would get up, and control things even more, resisting the path being shown usually because of fear.  And inevitably pain would be a big part of my life.  Along with the feeling that life was unhappy, and I would never find real joy.

 

 

DSCN3355And of course life is anything but nice and neat many times.  I am never sure what it will bring me next.  But I have noticed since I stopped controlling my life and its journey, I have been happier.  It is not easy to drop what you had been doing for over 30 years, and strike out on a new path.  A path not even defined, with very little direction.  Just showing up each day and wondering what it is I am supposed to do, and where I am supposed to go.

 

 

I do feel like I have been drifting lately.  And that drifting is okay when you need time to heal yourself.  But it seems it is time now, to start contemplating what is next.  And instead of trying to take control and orchestrate the life I think I am supposed to live, I have instead surrendered to the Universe.  I am looking for those signs that will show me what is next…listening for that inner voice to talk with me again.

 

 

It take’s patience to surrender…another lesson I am learning.  Living each day in the moment, exploring and taking a few risks.  These are scary steps, but oh so much better than giving into boredom and complacency, where I tend to reside when I am afraid to move out of my comfort zone.

 

 

One of the most important lessons I have learned in surrendering, is that there is great freedom when I loosen my grip.  When I let slip those tight reins I have on my life, I open my heart to joy, wonder, and infinite possibilities.

 

 

I did say this was my year to soarflowing with and following a path DSCN5360shown to me in small steps.  And recently I have been taking a few test flights to try out my new wings.  But I think it might be time to step out a bit further, and maybe from a higher branch.  To fly from this place of surrender, and have faith that I am doing the right thing.  Knowing that these wings will lift me up to new places, new challenges and wonderful adventures.  After all if I don’t,  look what I might be missing.  A whole wonderful world just waiting for me.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, grass represents submission; a synonym for surrender.  These wonderful tall ornamental grasses grow in my garden every summer and bloom in the fall, finally surrendering in winter to the snow.

 

 

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

surrender

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.

Conversations In The Garden-On Being Sensitive

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“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  ~ Dorothy M. Neddermeyer

 

 

Several years ago, I was vacationing with family at the beach.  Growing up, I used to watch my dad body surf, and always wanted to give it a try.  This day the water seemed to be calm enough to attempt it….enough of a wave to push you to shore, but not too rough.  So I eased myself into the next wave, skimming the top and riding it to shore.  After a few more tries, the ocean felt a bit rough so I thought, just one more time.

 

 

That one more time was almost my last as an undertow took me down under the water.  If you have ever been caught in an undertow, you know the panic that can ensue.  I fought and fought, to no avail, the strong pull keeping me on the bottom of the ocean floor.  So near to the shore yet unable to reach safety.

 

 

In those tense seconds when I realized what was happening, I also realized I could die and that these might be my final moments of life.  I am a strong fighter, but in this time when panic was reaching up through my body and strangling me, I suddenly decided to relax.  I let go of all the panic, all the struggling and went with the flow of the water.  I let my primal instinct take over, and suddenly I was on the surface and close to the shore, my feet touching soft sand as the water lapped around my knees.

 

 

Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation.  ~Vannevar Bush

 

 

DSCN7761I was reminded of this lesson recently when I found myself getting into a knee jerk reaction that brought back some unpleasant memories.  I had been growing herbs under my “grow lights” in the basement and was just about to start my seed growing, when two of the three lights went dark.

 

 

And right on cue, I went into panic mode.  How was I going to grow these herbs without lights?  Where could we find replacement bulbs?  I had to start seeds soon, and how could I without these lights.  I was spinning within this deep felt craziness, when I suddenly realized these were similar feelings I had a year ago in reaction to stress on the job.  Stress that finally led to my retirement, and that I thought I had released.  But given a seemingly small crisis, I went right back down that dark hole of despair.  Wow!

 

 

And once I was able to step back from the situation, I found I could let go of the panicky reactions and evaluate the situation.  All was not lost.  I could move plants to windows.  I could search for bulb replacements, and I could postpone the seed growing.  All better plans than to keep spinning in this stream of negativity I was creating for myself.

 

 

I think the garden has been the best classroom for learning how to handle what life throws at me.  Every year I never know what nature will bring.  A long cold winter, followed by a late freeze killing flowers or vegetables.  A drought or flooding rains.  And each scenario, in each new year, is different making for interesting lessons to learn so much more about my garden and myself.

 

 

As a gardener, I have found it doesn’t pay to give in to panic or worry.  When I DSCN7759started growing veggies, the first one I attempted was the tomato.  Any good Italian must be able to grow tomatoes, right?  But every year it was something new….sometimes it was the disease known as ‘blight’ killing the plants, or it was the deer eating the plants to the ground.  But I never gave up trying to get the tomatoes to produce an abundant crop.  Instead I tried hybrid seeds that were bred to fight diseases, and I netted the tomatoes to keep out the critters, but let in the pollinators.

 

 

And you know what?  I now have tomatoes.  Oh I still have to be vigilant, to make sure the pests and diseases are kept in check.  But instead of worrying and panicking, I now ease into the situation nature presents, look for solutions, and I don’t beat myself up over what happens.  Great lessons I am trying to stay mindful of as life presents itself.

 

 

So am I still sensitive to the curve balls life can throw me?…..Absolutely.  And is my first reaction still panic?…..Sometimes.  But I am reminded quickly that life is what you make it.  It is more about how you react or don’t react.  And in those moments when I need to step back, I go into my garden to be with nature.  To feel the slow pace of life where I take a look around and be in the moment.  Because it is in those moments that I find my inner wisdom calling me to breathe in life and let go.

 

 

Note:   The purple iris pictured here is symbolic of wisdom.  

 

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I leave you with another thought about sensitivity, strength and wisdom.   Feel free to download this photo and share.

iris confidence

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.

Creating Pure Joy

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“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”  — Erich Fromm

 

 

One of the habits I have lost along the way was the ability to have fun.  I noticed it only recently when I was taking stock of myself and my habits after being retired for almost a year.  I did things that I liked to do such as gardening and photography.  And yes they were fun, but I felt something was missing in these endeavors, in my life.  And I found I did not have as many hobbies or friends to “play” with anymore.

 

Now I know I am an adult and we have to work, but there was never anything that precluded us from playing and having fun with friends as an adult.  It just seemed my life became about the job… especially since we had no children.  And there was less and less fun in the job as time went on.  Challenges had replaced pure fun, and for a while sufficed.  But soon the joy seeped out of the job and I couldn’t find it anymore.  It became, “I have to” not “I get to”.  Where was the fun in that?

 

And sadly it was as if I didn’t know how to play anymore once I retired.  I used to DSCN6752amuse myself for hours as a child bouncing and catching a ball to see how many times I could do it without missing.  I would wander and smell the flowers, look at the bugs, climb trees, swing, wade in the creek, ride my bike, and all alone if friends were busy.  When friends were around we would play make-believe games, riding our horses to the rescue (our bikes with rope tied around the handlebars).  We would roll down hills, play tag, hide and seek and even card or board games.  Nothing planned or scripted, but whatever we felt like doing in the moment that would bring us immeasurable joy.

 

I miss those simple games, those creative fun times lost for hours in the sheer joy of life.  When we were with family at Thanksgiving, my 27-year-old niece and her fiancé wanted to play a board game.  So we got out the only game my sister had, Trivial Pursuit.  You bet I was in and ready to play.  And we were lost for hours playing the game, making up new rules and having so much….you guessed it, FUN!  Yes I won, but that is beside the point.

 

One of the ways I know I can create more joy in my life is to learn to play again….to let go and be creative…find what amused me as a child and still does.  There are the obvious things like riding my bike, wandering around the garden and watching bugs.  But those will have to wait for warmer weather.  It will be challenging to see what fun things I can find this winter…I love puzzles and there are a few jigsaw puzzles with my name on them just waiting to be put together.  And perhaps a bit of play in the snow-making snow angels and  snowmen!

 

Of course once the weather warms up and spring fever hits, I will be itching to get out and DSCN7059have some fun in the garden.  I can ride my bike over to the lake and see what’s what.  Oh that sounds like fun….you know I never get over there.  I wonder why…it could be fun!!  And there is flower arranging, or maybe painting a few pictures of flowers….oh I think I am going to like that too.

 

But more than doing all these things, I will be continuing to find more and more time to create joy…the pure joy from just exploring my surrounds and enjoying life in the moment with no scripted plans.  The possibilities are endless.  All I have to do is get back into the flow of those joyful, spontaneous moments of life.  Hey if you are in the neighborhood, stop on by…no need to call….we can play.  It will be such great fun!

 

Note:   The yellow roses pictured here represent joy.

 

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I leave you with some additional thoughts on, creating joy in our lives. Feel free to download this photo and share.

yellow rose

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.

Conversations In The Garden-On The Freedom To Soar

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“If you let go a little you will have a little happiness. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely you will be free.” ~Ajahn Chah 

 

 

As the New Year dawned, I was excited for all the adventures and changes that I imagined were ahead of me.  But as the days stretched out in front of me, I felt as if my enthusiasm had already waned.  I thought, ‘really, how could this be already’….’had I chosen the wrong mantra’.  No.  I knew in my heart that I was meant to use the word Soar this year as a mantra.

 

So what was wrong?  Why wasn’t I feeling any different?  Yes, I know it is not like magic when we start a new year, and presto things are changed.  But something crucial was missing.  So as I read and reflected a bit, I noticed that I was still tethered to the past.

 

With gardening we sometimes get tired of our garden…plants die, others become thugs and soon the landscape changes.  If we neglect our space, the weeds take hold and push out plants until our garden sometimes becomes unrecognizable.

 

DSCN0471That is what I noticed this past year as I lived with my garden for a year.  While there were many flowers and plants that made the garden beautiful, there were far too many weedy patches that needed a bit of work if I was going to see any semblance of a garden again.

 

As it is with my garden, so it is with my life and the weedy patches there.  Old habits, old thought patterns, old assumptions and judgements were cropping up along with old emotional reactions.  And when I dug deeper, I saw I was still surrounded by the old clutter.  Things used in a prior life that no longer served me in retirement.  If I was to stretch my wings I needed to clear out the old, to make way for the new.

 

Ready to let go and move on now, I am changing some key habits especially at the beginning and end of my day.  And my garden is integral to these new habits.  While I continue the work to transform my garden into more of a wildlife garden, I am looking for more spots where I can hear the birds, watch the hummers and butterflies, hear the water falling into the pond as the frogs croak their greeting to the sun.  The garden is a haven, a sanctuary where I plan to start each day.

 

I also want to plant more flowers that I can use for a cutting garden.  I have found making a weekly vase such a soulful experience.  Wandering, observing, creating…such deep meaningful pursuits with the satisfaction of a beautiful arrangement to see throughout my day.  I have enjoyed it so much that I plan to make more vases more often spreading them throughout the house.  Bringing more of the garden indoors will be a new habit.

 

DSCN2570I am even thinking about making it easier for me to do a bit of writing in my sanctuary.  The gazebo is a perfect spot that is underutilized so I need to find a way to be able to sit there, listen to nature and write…especially poetry which I write with pen and paper.

 

And ending my day in the garden…sitting, reflecting, perhaps writing in my journal, watching the sunset and playing more with the waning light as I try to capture it with my camera.  All wonderful ways to close the day.  And before the mosquitoes come out to stay, there are months of wonderful bug free nights where I can sit and gaze at the night sky.  Something I long to do more of…such a powerful end-of-the-day ceremony.

 

I have always had a tendency to observe myself living rather than actually experiencing life…mostly because of fear or crazy, self-imposed work habits.  But now I am feeling the need to free myself, to no longer miss out on this life.  And these new habits cultivated in the garden will go a long way in helping me spread my wings finally, and take those tentative first steps out of the security of my nest and experience the new life waiting for me in the sky.

 

 

Note:   I am using bees in flight in this post to help emphasize the idea of free flight and soaring in the garden.

 

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I leave you with another image of my word of the year, Soar.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

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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.

Poetry Sunday-Letting Go

 

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Letting Go

 

Rain fall down release my pain

Your healing touch, my heartache drains.

Out flows the gray, as warm winds blow

Dry my tears with sunbeams of gold.

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

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I wrote this poem October 29, 2012 during a somber period in my life when stress had taken hold of me and darkness seemed to take the daylight.  The words seemed to give me some peace and solace.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

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I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  

 

 

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Special Note:  The Hyssop pictured here refers to cleanliness in the Language of Flowers.  It felt appropriate to use these flowers given the cleansing that letting go can bring.

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I leave you with a little bit of sentiment about letting go.  I welcome you to download the photo and share.

 

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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 Quiet Miracles of Change

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“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.”   ― Kiran Desai 

 

As a gardener, I can be quite obsessive when I start plants from seed; especially those for the veg garden.  I will read up on their requirements for planting, and how to tend them once they emerge from the soil.  And I will continue my daily vigilance once they start to grow, so I can monitor when they need water and have enough light and heat, all important for their growth and survival.

 

So it is no surprise that when I am contemplating a change in my life, I can be quite obsessive there too.  Or at least I have been in the past.  Reading, researching a topic, coming up with new schedules, ideas, plans….well you get the idea.  Sometimes, the change met with success, and sometimes not.  Sometimes I gave it time, and many times I did not as I wanted change to happen quickly.

 

And was the change sustained by me if there was immediate success?  Of course, but not so much when the change was delayed.  Many times I would file it away, and forget about what I had done thinking it did not work.  I would abandon all my efforts.  The funny thing is, that change was still growing and going.  I may not have been aware of it, but when I came back around to it, I found to my glee that change had happened.  And many times just like a seed planted and forgotten, nature takes care of it helping it to still grow.  All the work was important, but it just needed time. 

 

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Now I tend to let things go more.  I will read, write, contemplate and make the steps necessary for a change…but then I let it go.  You know the old saying, ‘if it was meant to be, it will be’; if not then perhaps something better is on the way instead, and I have learned from this too.

 

I call these changes that go on outside of my consciousness, quiet miracles.  They happen all the time because each day, each moment we are changing and different.  Each new bit of knowledge, each ah-ha moment, adds to the one before and the one coming after it….and it all changes again.  We aren’t aware of these quiet miracles until we see the fruit of our labors; if we are lucky to see them at all.  Some quiet miracles happen without us ever knowing.  One day in the future, you might hear about it from someone in passing, or from a blog reader in a comment. You might finally see the change in yourself or someone else.   And it is then you know that this quiet miracle has happened, giving you a sweet surprise that makes the effort worthwhile.

 

Recently I was doing a journaling exercise and was exploring this concept of change.  You can read more about it in a guest post I did for Mari McCarthy on her blog.  She is a journaling guru who has helped me to focus myself through journaling from time to time.  And in exploring change, I became aware of the idea of letting go.  Aware that courage is a part of change too.  I even wrote a poem about change, and posted it this past Sunday.  I consider the poem one of those quiet miracles.

 

I now am embracing change by recognizing these quiet miracles.  What’s the next surprise I will see?  They are just waiting, growing beneath the soil drinking in the nourishment needed until that brave day they break free and bloom right before my eyes.  Are you seeing any of the quiet miracles of change?  You just need to stop, wait, look….it is right over there.

 

 

Note:  The Sunflower here represents Pure Thoughts in the Language of Flowers.  Change is a powerful purifier of thoughts.

 

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

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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

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 “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.

 

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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.

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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.