"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Looking for Happy

I met a friend for dinner recently.  I got there first and sat facing the door.  She was grinning ear to ear, a beautiful, happy smile when she came in, so I asked, "So what's going on with you?"

She laughed. "I don't know!  I just feel good -- and I'm happy." Later in our conversation, she revealed that she had fought depression since she was a young girl, which made it even more awesome that she acknowledged that she feels good and that she's happy.

In my daily "counting of the blessings", I changed my mantra to include this observation of my friend.  "As I begin this brand new day, my dominant intent is to feel good.  Nothing is more important, more essential, or more beneficial to my wellbeing than that I acknowledge that I am happy and that I feel good."

I've discovered that there is guilt associated with being happy, so I started digging to see what it is, and why we continue to harbor it.

This is what came out: a perception that the world is in a boat load of trouble.  We have an escalating drug problem, legal and illegal. We have homeless people, starving children, terrorists, corporate rascals hoarding the wealth, and people marrying the same sex.  We have global warming, Monsanto poisoning our food supply, fracking poisoning our water and air, a missing jetliner, and a congress that can't agree on anything.  We have Obama in the Whitehouse and Obamacare which will surely be the final nail in our coffin.  The list goes on and on. What right do we have to feel good when the world is going down the toilet as we speak?

The answer is simple, so simple in fact, many will reject it out of hand and insist on railing about any or all of the above problems and more, -- but we were born with the right to feel good and to be happy.

We lost touch with that right -- some where along the way.  We learned to worry. Nothing steals our ability to feel good and to be happy more than worrying about things beyond our control.

Several years ago, I got chill bumps when I heard Abraham say, "it's easy to bring yourself back to center (feeling good).  It just takes deciding that feeling good is worth something and practicing with real determination to feel good for no other reason than to feel good."

I have been "practicing with real determination" for many years now, to "feel good for no other reason than to feel good". I still get sidetracked occasionally but I'm happier than I've ever been before, and more often than not, I feel great.

When I first started on this path, I ran into a lot of folks who wanted to reinstate the "guilt" by mentioning the starving people in Africa, the fact that this person has cancer, and any one of a thousand other problems, in an effort to wipe that silly grin off my face.  They scold me because I'm not "staying informed". It took a long time for me to realize that I can not get sick enough to make anyone else healthy.  I can't eat enough to stop the hunger pains of one child in Africa.  I can't make those folks in the Middle East like each other -- and further more, neither can anyone else.  I CAN, however,  worry myself into deep dark depression that serves me in not one positive way.

So I turned my ability to focus on noticing, acknowledging and appreciating what God has given to me, good health and lots of evidence that there is much more to be happy about than the mortal "powers that be" want anyone to see.

When I look around me, I see a beautiful, tidy house, 3 sweet pooches, a loud green parrot and two argumentative cockatiels.  I see the beautiful art I have chosen to put on my walls, all of which inspire me in positive ways.  I see my friendly loving family. I see my many friends, old and new.  Outside I see wild birds and squirrels visiting my feeders as they do every day.  I see the sun is out as it is every day, even those when the clouds cover it up.  I see a beautiful clear blue sky. I see green grass beginning to emerge, having finally gotten a good drink of water after a long unusually frigid and dry winter. I can see my honey bees visiting the bird baths.  I see new growth on the groundcover and honeysuckle vines.  Behind the shop, I have a new 330 gallon water tote completely full and I plan to empty it on the big pecan tree within the next few days and get ready to experience a new thrill as it fills again soon. My list goes on and on.

It isn't that we apologize for feeling good and being happy as much as it is that we don't acknowledge it.  I remember feeling kind of paranoid in my youth because it seemed that if I said aloud, "everything's going very well" something came along to knock me off my high horse. But at that point in my life, I didn't know that my thoughts were building what would happen next in my life, that my nights of lying awake worrying were not helping in any way.  My mother shared this with me, "if you worry about something long enough and hard enough, more than likely it or something very similar will happen in your life."  The best path to getting happy and feeling good is to let go of worrying.

 Many of us are waiting for "our ship to come in" before we can say, "I'm happy and I feel good." If you're waiting for ideal circumstances, an improved financial condition, or the right spouse or partner, you're wasting time. Look for the things that make you smile, even if it's only for a moment.

Those smiling moments will link up with other smiling moments and before you know it, you'll be feeling happier than you've ever felt before.

I read an old poem when I was a girl.  It has stuck with me because even as a youngster, I knew the truth in it, although I haven't always adhered to it.

(Partial) Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep and you weep alone.

The sad old Earth must borrow it's mirth,
but has troubles enough of its own."

When I walk into the flower shop today and my boss says, "How is Paula?" I'm going say, "I'm happy!  And I feel good!"

Thank you Peggy Browning!  You inspire me!

You can read Peggy's own unique perspective  on her blog  at www.fiftyodd.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fragrances of Life

fresh pumpkin pie
With the Pioneer Restaurant and IHOP south of my house, it isn't unusual to walk outside in the morning and smell breakfast cooking.  I love that!  It reminds me of early mornings around here, Ronnie tending to the pigeons, and coming back in to say, "Let's go someplace and have breakfast today."

I breathe in when I slice an orange, an apple or a lemon, peel a banana, open a bottle of grape juice or sweet pineapple juice.  The fragrance of chicken frying blending with sweet corn and potatoes boiling for mashing, pumpkin pies baking in the oven -- all delightful!  All full of memories.

When it rained recently, I stood outside and breathed in that sweetest of all fragrances -- that of rain on parched ground.

white clematis vine
I love the smell of rain, and clean fresh air.  I love the fragrance of a clean home and a new car or a clean old car. I enjoy the heavy aroma of the honeysuckle, the white clematis and Carolina Jasmine when it blooms in the spring, the light sweet fragrance of petunias. I love walking into a flower shop and smelling their characteristic bouquet of scents.  (And by the way, Folks, flower shops do not smell like funeral homes.  Funeral homes smell like flower shops because of the high volume of fresh flowers they host every day.)

We have a type greenery at the flower shop called "myrtle".  It's different from "crepe myrtle" and when we give the stem a fresh cut, it has a very pleasant fragrance.  So does the filler flower we get called, "wax flower".  I think it smells like lemons.  My sister in law once said it smelled like butter. Butter?  Really? Oh well, each to his own.

I always enjoyed coming home from work and Ronnie and the kids commenting that I smelled like flowers. I love smelling Seth when he comes in to say goodnight after he's had a bath.  I love the smell of new babies, cedar burning in my chiminea, the fragrance that clings to Shelbie after she's been groomed, clean sheets and pillow cases, clean clothes fresh out of the dryer.  In the old days, it was "fresh off the clothes line". I don't even have a clothes line any more, but some of these new fabric softeners that we use smell AWESOME.

One of my all time favorites is the smell of horses, and barns and hay. I love the smell of fresh mown grass. It also has many good memories attached to it, of my dad and the other men in our neighborhood in Wherry Housing at Sheppard mowing the big square and us kids playing in the mounds of moist, fresh cut bermuda.

I was going out and around with Deidre recently, and as I passed her bedroom, she stepped out with a spray bottle in hand.  "Want some of this?" she asked, offering me some of her new cologne that she'd bought online at a ridiculously low price with free shipping.  Beautiful tall slender bottle.

"Sure!" I said and she misted me.

At Breathe Yoga, we misted ourselves with the calming fragrance of lavender.

I usually don't remember to wear cologne, but I LOVE it, so the next day when I was going out to meet with fellow writers,  I remembered and when I opened the cabinet door to get my "Angel", I saw the last bottle of original "Polo" the kids bought for Ronnie.  I've kept it in what used to be his bathroom.  Occasionally we spray it on Seth because he remembers it and likes "to smell like Paw Paw."  My son uses it himself, sometimes when he's here.

My dad wore "Old Spice" and so did Ronnie's dad, so Ronnie always had a bottle of that around. I always enjoyed the original Aqua Velva, so he usually had a bottle of that too.

As the kids got older they introduced him -- and me to the more expensive colognes.

I don't have a preference.  I think it all smells good!

I worked with a woman who said her husband never wore cologne.  I thought, "how boring is that?"  It was always a treat to smell Ronnie when he finally announced he was "ready to go".

I also had a brother-in-law who only wore one brand -- never anything else, and I thought, "well how boring is that?" to limit yourself to one scent when there is such a wide variety of fragrances out there.  It seemed as limiting as eating the same thing every day. But each to his own.

The fragrance of life is all around us, from good to bad, from horrible to wonderful.  We can choose to smell the roses -- or the yard full of dog poop next door.  The choice is ours.

I picked up the bottle of Polo, sniffed it and remembered good times.  I think I'll spray it in my car so it will smell like that "brown eyed handsome man just got out of it."

Monday, March 10, 2014


I went out this morning and fed and watered the pigeons and opened the coop.  From my bedroom window, I watched them fly and decided to go get a more unobstructed view from the front yard.

As I stood on the sidewalk watching them soar higher and higher, then spin down occasionally and speed back up, I felt some of the exhilaration a bird must feel when it plays in the air like these coop-raised pigeons do. They love to fly and it reminded me of that poem, "High Flight" by John Gillespie McGee.

It occurred to me that those pigeons may be even closer to God than I am, standing here earth bound, watching as they "slip the surly bonds of Earth
 And dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings".  They "wheel and soar" and swing "high in the sunlit silence". 

I knew, not for the first time, the pleasure that Ronnie gained from watching these beautiful birds chase the "shouting wind along".

I remembered a "pigeon gathering" we went to down near Stephenville many years ago.  It was a meeting of Birmingham Roller enthusiasts.  There was a judge present to watch the host's pigeon flock fly for competition.

This flock of twenty or thirty pigeons came out of a very small coop and flew into the sky almost as one unit.  We watched as this unit climbed higher and higher in the sky until it was almost invisible.  This took a long time of looking up, avoiding the sun blinding me so I lost interest and missed them coming back down.  These birds were Rollers, the same kind Ronnie raised, but if any of them ever performed the backward somersaults the birds are famous for, I didn't see it.

We had a great time visiting with the variety of pigeon raisers that attended, and the friendly horses waiting at the fence for us to come scratch behind their ears.

On the way home, I asked Ronnie about the way those pigeons flew so close together. He explained that it's called "kitting".  I asked how they get them to "kit".  He said they raise them in very small dark coops so that being crammed together eventually becomes "normal". When they are let out of the coop, they stay together.  He said that was one of the reasons he never  had any interest in showing his birds.  That method of training them to "kit" seemed cruel to him.  He didn't care that his birds didn't "kit".

This was one of the layers of Ronnie that I loved the most, the appreciation for living things and his dedication to taking the best care of them that he knew how.

Part of Our Flock
So I stood out front this morning, watching the flock of big red ones, black and white ones, silver ones and tan ones, (which for some reason is called 'yellow" in pigeons), crisscrossing the sky, never very close to one another, flying wherever their hearts desire, and I thrilled with the freedom that they have when they take to the sky, when they fly "up, up the long, delirious, burning blue" and top "the wind-swept heights with easy grace", and then "roll" many feet, come out of it and fly upward again.

And in this experience, I also felt a deep appreciation for the freedom that I have. It is my turn to soar, to find what makes me happy now, and to figure out what I believe this life is all about.

This is going to be a joy filled day for me and I hope it will be for many, many others too.

 High Flight -- Enjoy!

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air....

 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
 And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.