Monday, July 31, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 31

During the 31-Day Challenge, I found myself questioning the definition of joy. The word is used as a synonym for happiness and contentment, but are they interchangeable? And what about other words that are stirred in--hope, grace, mercy, and gratitude? Are they just words?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 30

During my 31-Day challenge, I wrote about the quest for joy and the roadblocks that prevent us from developing a resilient foundation. Sometimes I think I wrote more about the roadblocks, but it was a necessary part of the journey. My goal was to face my fears, to stop dousing my writing with vanilla flavoring, and to be as honest as possible. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 29

Through the ages, talented women have been squeezed into narrow pigeonholes. We were expected to be wives and mothers, and our avocations were supposed to enhance our primary role. When I was a girl, guidance counselors advised me to "not spread myself too thin." Meaning, I should choose a career that allowed a long summer vacation, one that coincided with my childrens' holiday. Most importantly, I should choose  a profession that I could set on a shelf, to retrieve at a later time. "Be a teacher or a nurse," my mother said, "so you'll have something to fall back on if your husband dies."

Friday, July 28, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 28

I remember a Thanksgiving in the blue mountains of the Cumberland Rim, the air spiced with roasting turkey, sauteed onions, browning rolls. Visitors came and went, catching up on stories. One of my mother's friends dropped off a homemade chocolate pie, then left in a flurry of hugs and good wishes. Later, when we tried to cut a slice, the rich filling oozed, pooling in the bottom of the pan. We just we dipped it out like pudding, and everybody said it was the best chocolate dessert ever, the perfect ending to our meal. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party
Party with us every Thursday and Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 27

Each summer my mother sent me away to live with my Southern grandmother. Mimi loved Jesus, lemon pound cake, old fashioned roses, and afternoon tea. As she hummed "In the Garden," she brewed a pot of tea, then made vignettes for us with china and fresh flowers. She also created a world, a little pocket of calmness, a place for a young girl to gather strength. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 26

I remember a hot summer day in 1985, when my youngest son was a toddler. I filled a plastic wading pool in the backyard, and he entertained himself by dipping cupfuls of water out of the pool and pouring it into a concrete bird bath. His forehead puckered when he realized he wasn't making progress. No matter how hard he worked, the water spilled over the concrete rim and vanished.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 25

At times, blogging reminds me of a fast-moving river, its powerful current rushing downstream, washing away everything in its path. Rocks are eroded, creek beds are carved out, and debris is carried for many miles. Drop a penny into the water, and it disappears. Writing a blog post is like building a paper boat and setting it gently into a wave. The boat launches, scurrying into the tumultuous current. Will it stay afloat or get sucked to the bottom?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 24

A few years ago, I took a writing course to help me better understand my characters and their motivations. The class delved into a personality tool called Enneagrams. It consists of  9 basic archetypes, and each one has a designated number and a descriptive tag (it varies), along with behavioral traits. The Enneagram system has been dismissed as New Age hooey, but the FBI and CIA use it to create profiles. By the end of the class, I was able to deepen my fictional characters; but it also gave insight into myself and basic human nature.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 23

During my search for a slower, sweeter lifestyle, I kept track of daily speed bumps--a whole cluster came from social media. I just couldn't believe it. After all, I am a Facebook Failure and a Terrible Tweeter. I prefer Instagram, mainly because I adore my tribe, but my phone isn't set up for alerts or email. How could social media be a problem?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 22

"When one door closes, another opens." That's what my mother always said. "And don't forget about windows," my grandmother would add. Apparently this quote isn't in the Bible, and it is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell and, in slightly different form, to Helen Keller. But is it true? When a door slams shut, will a window fly open? If so, do you want to climb through it?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 21

Joy has its own music, a spiritual hymn with movement and melodies, the notes playing through our days. And it can be muted by the sheer busyness of living. Without realizing it, we can become tone deaf to positive feelings. Negative emotions are so loud, they muffle the lovely background music. All we hear is grinding heavy metal from high expectations, over-committing, too much social media, saying "yes" more often than we say "no."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 19

 During the long winter, I studied positive affirmations, and I slowly began to understand that I was like Dorothy Gale, stuck in Oz, unaware that I had the power to return home by clicking the heels of my ruby slippers. Instead of slippers, I had another tool: Daily affirmations.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 18

What if joy was a rare event, occurring only once a year? Not only would we look forward to that day, we would also worry that something might steal it. What if a catastrophe ruined our special day? What if we fell off a mountain or a mountain fell on us? We might string up imaginary barbed wire, hoping to snag trouble before it had a chance to creep up and steal our joy. The problem is, we could get tangled in our self-protection and sabotage that one, magical day.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 17

In the Medieval period, people believed that life's ups and downs were governed by the Wheel of Fortune. When the zenith was reached, the inexorable, downward journey began. From peasants to kings, no one was happy all the time.  Adversity was seen as a judgment from God, but folks also believed that it shaped and strengthened one's character. Then and now, few people endured non-stop trouble or joy.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 16

"And they lived happily ever after. . . ."
A storybook life only happens to fictional characters. In real life, the prince turned out to be a compulsive philanderer, gambler, drug abuser, or garden variety pest.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 15

Our lives are shot through with colorful threads. Some dangle out of reach, luring us with a metallic sheen; others lay behind us in hopeless tangles. We may reach for a thread that's so short, we lose our balance and fall. Or we may grab a thread that's long enough to lead us safely through a labyrinth. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 14

"Isn't this your old house?" a friend asked, pointing to an image on her iPad. I bent closer. The photograph resembled my old Four-Square: brick walkway, L-shaped porch, and Corinthian columns. In 1995, I had stood across the busy street, trying to determine the best placement for those columns. The house was over 100-years old, and I'd spent three years renovating (in the house's long history, which included overhauls from many owners, those three years were tiny). Back then, I'd painted the clapboards pale yellow, the shutters bottle green. I'd lived there a decade, until my husband wanted to raise chickens and move to the country. I remember leaning against those columns and crying. Well, time to dream another dream. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party
Party with us every Thursday and Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 13

No one can sustain a joyful state. Bad days are just part of being human. Yesterday was packed with challenges, and my pulse zoomed, fast and irregular, like a squirrel racing across piano keys. I wasn't sure if I could get centered enough to work on Day 13. I reminded myself that negative emotions, events, and people can be countered if I made a conscious effort to find sweetness in the world around me. And sweetness, as we all know, is a gateway. I played with Jasper, then reached for my "Grace Notes." Inside this worn, spiral book, I document moments that bless my daily life.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 12

The journey to happiness begins in the mind. It starts as a kernel, and the kernel turns into a decision; the decision turns into a plan, and the plan turns into actionable steps.With steps, we begin to walk down a new road.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 11

At some point in your life, you may have put on your favorite striped outfit and asked a quintessential question: "Does this dress make me look fat?" The question beneath the question is, "Do I look ugly, self-indulgent, or weak? Am I giving off vibes of a woman who is splitting apart at the seams?"
The need for approval is human, but it's not helpful. It's baggage.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living: Day 10

A few times a week, the neighborhood cat, Gladys, puts dead birds and moles on the doormat. These unwelcome gifts made my chest tighten, so I bought her a collar, one with bells. But she was a born killer, and tiny bodies continued to appear on my porch.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 9

The phone rang in the middle of a cold winter night. It was New Year's Eve, 1995. Even before my husband lifted the receiver, the ringing continued in my mind. Something was dreadfully wrong. My 69-year old father had died. He'd been hospitalized for a fainting spell, but the doctors hadn't discovered the cause. I got out of bed and stepped into an abyss. My daddy was gone. My kind, brave, honest, wise, irreplaceable daddy.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 8

I began a 31-Day challenge on July 1st, and a week later, I still haven't offered step-by-step ways to infuse joy into our lives. It's tempting to create a punch list, drawn from cliches. You have probably seen them on social media, offering an alluring title and the promise of a quick fix. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 7

July 7, 2017
My grandmother used to say that choices are like desserts in Morrison's Cafeteria. We make decisions based on emotions, memories, and available information. As we pass through the line, we look closely at the creamy eclairs. How long have they been sitting under the lights? Will we get botulism? Behind us, people are lining up, nudging their trays forward.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party
Party with us every Thursday and Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 6

A few months ago, I thumbed through my 2016 diaries. The pages reminded me of a long and winding road, each thick, spiral notebook filled with twists and hairpin turns. The volumes were a rehash of the previous year, 2015, my "annus horribilis."  I'd felt an urgent need to write openly about it, perhaps in a non-fiction book, but I didn't dare. My words could hurt innocent people--and enrage the guilty. I put the journals in a box. Blogging about food seemed like a safe substitution, seeing as I hadn't lost my fascination with recipes and photography.
It was a goal I wouldn't keep. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living--Day 5

July 5, 2017
Nurture Your Creativity

Every morning I take vitamins for seniors. I'm "only" 63 1/2 years old, but why quibble? On the advice of my doctor, I drink easy-to-digest Ensure (the 80 calorie version), and I also scarf down a few extra B-complex tablets (they're water-soluble). Here lately, because I'm so focused on getting healthy, I sometimes forget to nurture my creativity.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 4

 July 4, 2017

When I was a girl, my family celebrated Independence Day at Center Hill Lake. Daddy launched his boat, and we caught crappie, bass, and the occasional blue gill. At home, Mother fried the fish in a deep iron skillet. Daddy was an ex-Marine, and our family, like many others, gathered at the table to give thanks for our freedom. We proudly displayed the flag, but at our house, you wouldn't find patriotic-themed food and decor. Color-coordination was meant for outfits, not tablescapes.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 3

July 3, 2017 
The other day, as I looked at images on Tumblr and Pinterest, I stopped feeling inspired and began to fidget. What was wrong? Didn't I enjoy looking at layer cakes and border gardens? How could I turn away from 1001 ways to make confection's sugar? Surely I needed to learn how to style my bookcases, hair, kitchen counters, or pantry.  What about the secrets of a Brazillian Butt Workout? I could use that, right? Or how about "10 Ways to Use Dead Flowers?" Well, I'm exaggerating about that one. But not much. Everywhere I looked, someone had the answer to all of my problems, including the ones I didn't know about. I just wanted to go away and eat ice cream.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living: Day 2

July 2, 2017: 
A One-Minute Inspiration for busy women.
How do you define yourself? Blogger? A writer? Artist? Photographer? Musician? Baker? 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living--Day 1

~ July 1, 2017 ~
Since the end of March, I've been struggling with my garden. Maybe the problems are age and infirmity; or maybe I've got too many petunias.Whatever the reasons, I'm determinded to keep my flowers alive.