Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer Beauty

I loved the comments from last week. I have decided to just enjoy the beauty that is now and not fret about the weeds winning right now. As soon as I decided to adopt this attitude I began to enjoy the summer a bit more. I am enjoying the colors, the fragrances, and the grace of the butterflies, the dragonflies, and at night- the fireflies.
 This is Joe Pye- it's 6 feet tall this year!  There are so many Tiger Swallowtail butterflies right now.
 This is a favorite from childhood. I cannot walk past this phlox without inhaling its intoxicating fragrance. I have to be careful early in the morning - there are usually bumblebees still asleep on the flowers!
I have fields of Queen Anne's Lace right now. I allow it everywhere - even in the flower borders and the vegetable garden because so many insects love it. Also I love the way it turns the fields into flowery meadows!
What beauty are you appreciating this summer? The beach and the ocean? Perhaps a lake or river? The mountains? Your own garden? Perhaps you are travelling to places you have always wanted to see. If you are in a hammock or a chaise-longue reading a book you can enjoy the beauty around you. Perhaps you only have time to enjoy a meal outdoors. I would love to read your comments! You may leave them here or pm me on Facebook or email me at colleen412@gmail .com. You might also take a peek at my Pinterest boards

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Attack of the Summer Doldrums

Here we are in mid-July . The heat has really turned up , along with thick humid air and even more varieties of biting insects. Last week I worked valiantly in the garden, but I became overheated with a headache and general queasy feeling. I am giving in to the Summer Doldrums! I am conceding that the weeds are winning yet another summer. The days are hot and often gloomy this time of year (at least we have had rain- but it does not cool the temperatures). My lovely landscape is looking like a jungle!

It is very lush and extremely untidy! I tried to keep up my Secret Garden.  For now,though, 
 work has come to a stand still.  It is too hot even to divide and move the daylilies!
I know from past experience that if I wait for more temperate weather I will be able to catch up. It took me a long time to learn when to desist and not fight uphill battles- especially in the garden! I am aware now of my tendency to burn out when I push myself.
I am learning to accept and be present with "what is". And "what is" now is hot, muggy, buggy weather- for me , the Summer Doldrums!
I am giving myself permission to let the garden  go ( maintaining reasonable access, watering when necessary, harvesting vegetables and any blueberries the wild life leaves for me ). So I have begun to go out very early most mornings for no more than an hour to work or survey what is going on. I am enjoying sunbathing  on mornings when the humidity is not  unbearable.
I am focusing on other areas of my life- my work and my creativity. I am enjoying catching up on some of my projects. I am enjoying doing this in the air conditioning!
When the days are a bit cooler and drier I will enjoy working in my gardens again. Meanwhile I can enjoy the colorful flowers that shine through  the weeds as well as the butterflies, dragonflies, humming birds, all the other birds, the bees , and at night the lovely light dances of the fireflies from my bedroom windows. I am learning to appreciate the beauty everyday in the Summer Doldrums. It has been another steep learning curve...
At least the plantings on the terrace and at the front door are not wilting or overgrown with weeds!

Thank you for stopping by! I would love to know if you experience the Summer Doldrums and how you cope with them! Please leave a comment below or if you are my friend on Facebook pm me or email me
I also love exchanging pins on Pinterest

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Influenced, Inspired, and Empowered by Friends

This week several times I have been in conversations about friendship and how we are influenced, inspired and empowered by friends. The people we spend time with - especially those we share more than superficial life experiences with - can have a profound effect on our character and our outlook on life.

This week a friend I have known for most of my life is celebrating a landmark birthday. I have been reflecting on how he has influenced and inspired me through the years  to develop new interests ( or revive longstanding ones!) to learn new skills, and to become acquainted with a variety of people  who excel in these interests and/or skills. My life has been so much richer by his presence.

I can think of so many friends who have inspired (and continue to inspire) me to grow. Some of them have been in my life for many years, some of them have come into my life relatively recently. There are a select number of friends whom I  only see on Skype, Facebook, and/or their blogs. What all of my friends have in common are various qualities that I admire and aspire to develop in myself. They inspire me to continue to grow into the best possible version of myself. Every one of them has influenced me to keep my heart and mind open to possibilities and challenges.

My friends and I also empower each other. There is reciprocal give and take. One is not the "helper"and the other the "helped"nor the "advisor and the other the "advised". I was reminded yesterday of a friend who knows my ineptness with mechanical things. Very patiently she has shown me how some of my tools are best used and how to assemble them . I needed to use one yesterday and I was reminded of her patient instruction. Then I slowly ( with a couple of mistakes!) managed to assemble and use the tool all by myself. I also took it apart and stored it properly afterwards. I was proud of myself and I was appreciating my friend for empowering me.

It has taken me some time to be aware of the friendships I keep and the ones I let go. I am more aware of who I am becoming as a result of the company I keep. I truly appreciate the give and take of  inspiring friendships.

Have you reflected on the friends you choose to spend time with? How do they influence, inspire and empower you? How do you influence, inspire, and empower them to be the best version of themselves?
Please share your reflections on friends! I would love to read comments here on the blog or you can e-mail me at or pm me on Facebook. You might also enjoy my Pinterest boards
Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cultivate Your Garden of Life and Happiness

Do you believe you are here on earth to be alive and happy? I do. If you don't maybe you will feel better if you go and read something else...
Still with me?
I cannot help comparing cultivating a garden to growing a happy life. I have been gardening  off and on most of my life. Here I am at age 4 weeding by my Grandma's back door- note the Mary Jane shoes (ever the Dressy Bessy I had to be dressed for the garden in those days- one of my paper dolls had a sun suit just like the one I am wearing- with the ruffles!). I am smiling happily while pulling the weeds.
One of my gardening friends commented that she has never seen a photo of me at any age barefoot. The reason dates from a year before the photo above. My Aunt Rose wanted me to experience the joy of walking barefoot on the grass. A lovely plan for a little girl who was growing up in apartments and hotels as she travelled with her parents. I joyfully took off my Mary Janes and my socks and took my first step on the clover studded lawn. I promptly stepped on a bee! That was the end of my barefoot days but not the end of my gardening adventures... Just recently I have been willing to try walking barefoot on a designated path in my Secret Garden. So far - even though beekeepers have been keeping bees for several years  on my property- I have not been stung. I have a feeling the bees know that I am the gardener who provides their feast and perhaps even that the beekeepers name the queens  after me!
So do I design my life and happiness  the way I design my garden -yes!  I understand that a garden requires quite a bit of maintenance and rebuilding. So does my life and happiness. I design my garden to be as pleasant to work in as I can manage. I am frequently discovering new tools and new methods to make my work more enjoyable and actually manageable. I have had to let go of many designs and plants that are just too labor intensive for me now.  The same is true for my life and happiness. I design my day - note - it is a design, a blueprint, not a rigorous routine- the way I design my garden.
The first principle for me is pleasure/happiness. If the garden / my life is not a pleasure/a source of happiness -why have it?  For me interleaving work with play/rest is key.
I begin most days  at 5:30 (sometimes even a bit earlier). The cats are my alarm clock. They want their breakfast and their lap time. They are not patient and their demands are quite vocal. I usually wake up well before they start in so that I can have a few minutes to appreciate being alive and awake for another day. I like to have a few minutes to wiggle my toes and fingers and wake up my body with some dance like motion. Once I am dressed, I feed the cats, unload the dishwasher and make my hot lemon water. I listen to music and dance around the kitchen as I do my early chores. Then I relax on the sofa in the den plugged into my Italian music/conversations with all 3 cats on my lap .
After awhile I get up, brew a cup of tea,and return to the sofa with the cats. By 7:00 I am ready to get myself and my tools together to work in the garden. Here is what I saw early one morning when I stopped to smell this fragrant lily on my way to the greenhouse:

 By some miracle the little frog was still there when I came back with my camera!

 If it is raining or too cold I do some housework or work on a sewing project. I work for 3 or 4 hours and then change clothes and have an enormous, healthy, late breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day. I take it out to the Secret Garden on fair days and sit at the edge of the lily pool and watch the frogs and the dragonflies. When I come inside at about 11:30 I check for phone messages and I turn on my computer to check e-mail, work on courses I am taking etc. Yes, I have been up for 6 hours before I get into cyberspace. I work on the computer and/ or I do household chores until about 3:00 when I have a snack or lunch. Again, I take it out to the Secret Garden or if it is raining or too cold/too hot I sit in my glassed in garden room. From 3:30- 6:30 I play and exercise (another form of play for me). This includes chatting to my friends on the telephone or Skype, practicing piano/rollerskating/learning a new dance or exercise routine etc.  At 6:30 I turn off the computer and I feed the cats and tidy up the kitchen. Then I have  a bath, get into my pajamas, and until lights out I read or I listen to music while crocheting or knitting. Even though it looks like I have been playing/relaxing most of the day, I have actually accomplished quite a bit of work.
Not everyday is exactly the same- but this is the general blueprint. Weekends are more free form - and I do indulge in Pinterest and watch movies and catch up with Facebook friends on Saturdays and Sundays. Even when I had my first 9-5 job, the blueprint was similar. I have always liked to have quiet, alone time before school/work and I always preferred to have my main meal at breakfast or  lunch.  I have also always at least attempted to work in playtime between bouts of work! No homework for me immediately after school-I was on my roller skates or my bicycle for awhile first! I scheduled my classes at university  so that I had plenty of breaks and playtime. When I had a 9-5 job  I would ride my bicycle after work for an hour or so to divide my day from work to play.
Confession: when I had my own bookshop and later when I had my flower farm and garden design business I burned out! I did not follow my blueprint  and I suffered from migraines and generally poor health. It took me awhile both times to recover. Some of us are slow learners. It's never too late...
I am NOT recommending my blueprint! What I would like to inspire you to do is to create your own blueprint for a life that makes you happy!
 When are you energized?
When do you work most efficiently?
When do you need play/creativity time?
When are you really hungry and what time of day is best for your main meal (this is about how you FEEL- not social rules!)
What is the optimum time for you to sleep? To wake up?
These are just a few questions to get you started to cultivate your own garden of life and happiness.
No hard rules - just an optimal blueprint!
How do you prefer to schedule your time? Do you like to work straight through the day and then rest/play or do you like breaks in your routine?  I know many people who seem to feel best getting all the work done and then relaxing and having their main meal late in the day. It is all about what works for YOU!
Please leave me a comment or email me or pm me on Facebook. How do you cultivate your garden of life and happiness on a daily basis?
It's lily time!