End of Month Potpourri-April 2015


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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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





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





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





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





The first daffodils shimmered like the snowdrops above.





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





And Crocus tommasinianus blooming through the new green grass.





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





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



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




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


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






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


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

Poetry Sunday-A New Life


A New Life


Survive or thrive

A hard lesson learned.


From wee bulbs in spring,

pushing forth through

softened earth.


And wee birds

chorusing beautiful songs,

a joyous burst.


Simply being or living,

I’ve found my path.


A light brightly burning.

No longer in darkness.


Time to fly, time to soar…

Free-no longer tethered.


© Donna Donabella 2014


This poem was also written when I was flying to Arizona to visit with family I had not seen for a couple of years.  Flying 35,000 feet through clear blue skies was an amazing atmosphere in which to write.  It was a quiet, not very crowded flight that allowed me to create.


And this poem was written before I chose my word of the year, Soar.  I had not read this poem again before choosing my word so it was certainly a surprise when I read this poem again recently.


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.

soar collage (1)

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. 



Special Note: The poem, collage and pictures are all reminders for me to keep embracing my mantra for the year, Soar.



A blogging friend (Donna@Garden Walk, Garden Talk) said I should use my own words with these special photos.  So I have included my favorite words from this week’s poem with this photo.

I leave you with a little reminder of feeling free and giving yourself permission to fly.   I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

soar poem

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.

Wildlife Lessons-Butterflies

DSCN1244“Like a butterfly stuck in a chrysalis, waiting for the perfect moment, I was waiting for the day I could burst forth and fly away and find my home.” ― Emme Rollins



I have long identified with butterflies.  Seeing them instantly brought me great inexplicable joy and happiness.  A freeing, playful spirit would overtake me.  I would want to follow them as it I could fly away on their adventures sipping the sweet nectar of different plants and choosing which I prefered.


And I never quite understood why these creatures held such magic over me until I began to garden for them, and then study them a bit.  When one gardens for butterflies, you make a concerted effort to bring in the flowers that will nourish and nurture them through each stage.  You bring in shelter too.  By getting to know how they live, you begin to know them….it is inevitable.  And to really understand them, you must also study their lore.


DSCN3557Butterflies seem very fragile.  Thin wings…wisp of creature that a strong wind could demolish…sensitive to their environment where slight changes could bring about their demise.   But if you watch them carefully and study them a bit, you get to know how really resilient these creatures are.  Flying thousands of miles to get where they must go…where they know instinctively they must go.  Battling storms and adverse conditions, yet still moving onward even in their short lives.


And it is the resilience that I most identify with now…still the playful, free spirit, but more the knowing of their place, their journey and never deterring…such commitment.  Of course these are human emotions I give to these creatures, but still it feels right to think of them in this way.


This year with my mantra/word for the year being Soar, I feel a strong pull, almost kindred spirit, to creatures of the air and especially the butterflies.  It is a transformational year too as I enter my second year of retirement, where I feel ready to shed the old and stretch my new wings getting ready to Soar into the brilliant blue skies.  So having butterflies as the symbol of my year, is perfect as they have long represented transformation in folklore.


As I look toward the future, I am looking back at the butterflies that Soared into my life and garden in 2014.  They were not great in numbers, but we did have a greater variety.



red admiral collage

The Red Admiral or Vanessa atalanta is usually a yearly visitor.




white admiral collageAnd the White Admiral or Limenitis arthemis arthemis has been visiting the last few years, now that we have been gardening for butterflies.





This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail or Papilio glaucus bravely flew around the garden although he was missing the bottom half of his wings.  Pretty resilient critter finding lots of nourishing nectar here.  We generally have a few of these lovely butterflies visit.





His cousin, the Black Swallowtail or Papilio polyxenes, frequents our garden more, and we usually have many of these caterpillars on our dill or Italian parsley.  I grow a patch just for these creatures.





Another cousin, I had not noticed in our garden before, was the Giant Swallowtail or Papilio cresphontes.  Very similar to the others, but the body and wings are a bit different.  It was a treat to see him nectaring on the Clethra bush.


Another new butterfly was the Fritillary that is pictured at the top of the post.  It is hard to identify it with just the one photo.  This one was hard to get a picture of as it wouldn’t stay in one place long enough.  But I think it could be an Aphrodite Fritillary or Speyeria aphrodite…maybe an Atlantis Fritillary or Speyeria atlantis….most likely though it is probably a Meadow Fritillary or Boloria bellona.  I will watch for more of these lovelies in my garden as their host plant is violets which I have plenty of.





Surprisingly the most plentiful butterfly in our garden is the Monarch or Danaus plexippus.  I think with all the milkweed we have now, and loads of their nectaring favorites like Echinacea, Monarda, aster and Helianthus, we see them on their way North and again as they migrate South. Not many caterpillars spotted in years past, but I hope that changes.


My plan for this year is to continue to add specific plants to entice loads more butterfly species into the garden.  I hope to compile a database of what host and nectar plants I already have that may draw in different species, and then go looking for caterpillars as I am more out and about in my garden.  It is my version of play….fascinating stuff really!





Here is some interesting folklore about butterflies:

  • According to the Blackfoot Indians, butterflies carry our dreams to us at night.
  • Native American cultures consider the butterfly a symbol of the sacred and the unknown.
  • Since ancient times, the butterfly has been a symbol for the soul.



With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  Please check them both out.




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


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

Soaring in the New Year

pink rose 3

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney



As the new year unfolds today, I am thinking of so many things that I want to try, to accomplish, that I am dreaming of.  There are great possibilities in the beginning days of the New Year, but I can get caught up in making quick decisions of what I want to do or change.


I have long given up on using “resolutions”, and instead embrace a theme for the year around one word.  This idea of one word is more of a focus or attention I want for the year.  It helps to energize me and helps me expand the possibilities.  Along with the attention or focus, this word also helps give me a clear vision of my intention or desired outcome(s) for the year…supporting and inspiring my path.


This year, when I discovered my word, it felt right immediately.  It actually brought butterflies to my stomach, tears of joy and an inner knowing that this was my soul speaking.  It is an action word that I know will be transformative to my growth and path.


The word I chose as my guiding mantra for 2015 is:




This word immediately uplifts me to seeing all the possibilities there could be.  To fly high, unrestricted…to rise above the fears…to rocket ahead, to aspire, pursue, strive and yearn with all my heart and soul.  Soar to me means freedom, especially freedom from doubt and fear.  Fear is still there, but no longer in the forefront.  With this word, I feel those fears fall away and my creative spirit expanding.


So what does all this mean for the new year?  I can say I am no longer letting fear pull me back from the dreams and desires that still smolder.  Soaring into the sun, these ideas I have had can now burn brighter.


And I am beginning again this year…always a fresh start.  Time to try out new ideas.  Of course with beginning, there is always fear, but I refuse to let that limit me from the new experiences and ideas waiting for me.  After all if you are a beginner then you are not expected to know everything or be perfect really.  Think about that….you are learning through new experiences so you should expect that you will make mistakes.  How wonderfully liberating.DSCN6115


In the spirit of trying new things, I want to expand my blog a bit this year with some new ideas:


  • I am moving my wildlife stories from my garden blog to this blog on the first Thursday of the month.  I love to garden for wildlife and observe the critters who come to live with us in our garden.  Their stories are inspirational to me, and I want to share them here.
  • I will be connecting my Sunday Poetry with particular themes each month which I think is a great way to emphasize lessons and experiences.
  • The second Thursday of the month, I am trying a new feature called Conversations In The Garden.  I am going back to my lessons learned through my garden posts that I used to write on my garden blog.  When I started my garden blog, that was the main feature with some gardening thrown in.  Now my garden blog has expanded to being more about gardening and specifically gardening  for wildlife, vegetable gardening and gardening with native plants.  I miss doing these ‘lessons learned’ features and will bring many back and continue them here.
  • The last Thursday of the month will be what I call, End Of Month Potpourri.  It will feature inspirational books I am reading, a photography project I plan to begin this year and other updates on the beginnings happening in this year of SOARing.


So I hope you will follow along and continue to inspire me as I SOAR this year.  Wishing you a most wonderful and happy New Year filled with lots of laughter and love!


If you like what you find on this blog, I hope you will share it with friends.  We can all use a little sharing of life’s inspirations.



Note:   The pink rose buds pictured here represents new love.  A perfect sentiment for a new year of SOARing and exploring new ideas.




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

pink rose bud


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.