Monthly Archives: August 2013

Winding Down

Where has this summer gone?  Have you noticed the date on the calender?  It’s already the end of August!

Of course, if you’re in Minnesota and you happen to walk out the door you can instantly feel that the sweltering heat of summer is still with us (especially this week, dang it’s been hot, and muggy!), but in looking at my garden I can see it winding down.

I yanked up my beloved zucchini plant the other day.  It just wasn’t looking happy or healthy anymore, I think all the chaotic weather we’ve had this season had just finally taken its toll.  In its full glory, it was a champ of a plant though and I thoroughly enjoyed its tasty fruits, and the few new recipes I tried using them in.

I had a good harvest of cucumbers this season too, but I see those dwindling down now as well.  There are still a few nice looking ones hanging out there, but they are no longer flowering, so they’ll be done before long.  They were great during their peak, and I even had enough of them come ready at one point to can a batch of my refrigerator pickles.  Other “life” stuff happened during that time too though so I never got around to it, but I still enjoyed eating them fresh anyway.

One sure sign that the growing season is coming to an end is that the tomatoes are ripening…

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And the bell peppers are finally turning yellow…

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And speaking of peppers, look at all my cute, yummy little jalapenos I picked this morning…

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I can’t wait to eat them!

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Also, I harvested my carrots the other day and got a nice little handful…

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This may not look like much, but I only have a tiny little garden ya know  ;), and last year I had a very poor turnout with my carrots, so these were extra wonderful to get.  My mom came out to the garden with me when I went out to pull them, and squealed with delight like a child as I pulled them from the ground.  It was really fun to see her so excited!   ♥

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And I’m excited that my little red pot of strawberries has sprung back to life, and is full of bright new blossoms.  I don’t know how the berries will taste at this point in the season, but the dainty little flowers sure are pretty to look at…

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Also pretty to look at are my sunflowers!  I named this sunflower Leo because I see a lion when I look at it.  😀

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Leo is all drooped over now because of his heavy head, and looks a bit depressing, but I bet his seeds will be extra tasty.

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And although they’re mostly faded now, the phlox over on the other side of the house were absolutely stunning this year.  And they smelled so amazing…

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I’ve let all of my various mints go to bloom now, and they’re so lovely.  This one is my chocolate mint…

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Mmm… ♥

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I still have green beans coming (gosh, this particular variety was just fantastic!), a few onions and some celery to harvest, along with the peppers and tomatoes, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of my gardening season is nearing the end here.

Of course with the odd weather we’ve had this year, I could end up being pleasantly mistaken…

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~Gardening is my therapy~

Feeling Buggy

Those who know me well know how much I dislike bugs.  Some bugs bug me more than others (spiders for instance, completely freak me out!), but basically anything within the realm of insects pretty much gives me the creeps.  As an avid gardener you can probably imagine how my fear of bugs could mess with my sense of peace and bliss while out tending to my garden, and sometimes it does.  But at the same time, I also think bugs are kinda cool.  Even though they creep me out (and I very much prefer them to remain at a distance), I still have a respectful appreciation for them that seems to be just a natural extension of my wonder and love of nature that carries over.  Because in the end I have to admit that the complexity, intricacy, and variety of bugs really is quite fascinating, and I truly am amazed at how they (and everything in nature) fits/works together so perfectly.

Throughout the summer while I’ve been out in the garden, or out visiting various nature areas, I have taken some random pictures of bugs here and there and thought I’d share a few…

Most recently I came upon this grasshopper while I was watering some of my potted plants out on the patio.  It startled the crap out of me as it propelled itself out from the pot to escape the spray of the hose.  I took this picture as it spent a few moments drying off on the fence before hopping away…

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Yes, please do hop away.  I’m not a huge fan of grasshoppers, especially within the vicinity of my garden, as they can do quite a bit of damage.  But they serve their purpose in nature, and are even used as a source of food in some cultures.  No offense but… Bleck!

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One morning as I was sitting out on the patio having my coffee I kept hearing a quiet little buzzing sound coming from the bouquet of phlox I had in a vase on the table next to me.  It was this tiny little hoverfly…

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  I must say, I didn’t mind having this little visitor join me for a morning drink at all.  🙂

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Another type of “fly” ~  I snapped this photo of a dragonfly while I was at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary with my daughter on my birthday.  It’s not the greatest capture, but I thought it was worth showing.  Its wings were so translucent, they were nearly invisible, I’m surprised they even showed up in the picture…

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It’s amazing to me that this creature can fly with such delicate, fragile wings.

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I took this next bugshot at Three Rivers Park while I was out one day taking pictures with a friend of mine.  She had been there previously and had photographed a “cool blue bug” that she saw there, but when she downloaded her pictures she found that they were all blurry, so I went with her so she could try again, and of course brought my own camera along as well.  😀  This was the blue bug.  I have no idea what kind of bug it is, but it had really cool, beautiful iridescent blue wings that looked so pretty against the pink milkweed!  I really love this combination of soft colors.  Because of my fear of wood ticks, I was not willing to venture into the brush for a closer shot, so this was the best I could do with my humble zoom…

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My fearless friend however, did go in for a closer look and got an awesome capture that I think she plans to enter into a photo contest being held by the park.  Hope she wins!  😀

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This is another picture I snapped while at Three Rivers.  I don’t know what kind of bug this one is either, but its color sure blends in well with the flower it chose to investigate.  Think that’s on purpose?  😉

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Lastly, here’s a fuzzy bumble bee feasting on some wild bergamot.  I had the hardest time here trying to catch a decent photo, I’m embarrassed to admit how many attempts it took, and I’m still not all that pleased with what I ended up with.  The bees were just so busy and wouldn’t stay still on any one bloom for more that a split second, I’m lucky I got one at all.  Busy bees…  😉

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You know… looking at most of these photos, being set amidst a backdrop of lovely flowers… the bugs don’t seem so creepy after all.

But of course these bugs are all outside, it’s when they come inside that I really get to “feeling buggy.”  😉

Opening

Unfurl your lovely petals, open up your fragile heart

Bare your radiant soul and reveal the beauty that is within you…

© Julie Rehnelt 2013

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Happy New Year!

It may not be January 1st on the calender, but it’s a new year for me ~  I had a birthday this past week!  😀

Each year when my birthday rolls around I tend to focus more inward and take a personal inventory of myself and my life, much like people do around New Year’s.  It’s usually a good and healthy thing for me, contemplating my purpose, setting goals etc., but this year I tried to stay clear of doing that because I’ve been struggling a bit as it is to keep my spirits up lately and I felt that it would be counter productive for me at the moment.  So instead, I chose to not think too hard about anything, to not make any judgements or major decisions about my life, and to just be in the moment and be thankful for another new year to live and breathe.

I didn’t make any big plans for doing much celebrating either, but the day ended up being quite festive for me, and I really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d share a little bit about it…

The day started out pretty much “business as usual” for me, and when I woke up I headed out to the patio for my coffee and quiet time.

My mom came out and snapped a picture of me sitting out there.

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It wasn’t exactly “business as usual” though because there usually isn’t a Happy Birthday banner hanging there on the fence.   😉

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I was still nursing my first cup of coffee when my daughter woke up and came out to join me.  It was really cute because she was so excited and anxious for me to open the birthday gift she got for me…

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This adorable little bunny is filled with LAVENDER!  Ahhh… my favorite scent in all the world!  ♥   My daughter knows me so well!   I not only had this bunny on my lap for this picture, but I also have it on my lap right now as I type this, so you gotta know that I’m in total bliss right now!  Worries?  What worries?  Anxiety?  Psh, what’s that?  All is well and right in the universe when I’m breathing in the heavenly scent of lavenderrrrr…

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And my lavender bunny went everywhere with me on my birthday…

One of those places was the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, a wonderful place where I used to bring my daughter when she was little.  I’ve been wanting to go back there for some time now, so I thought why not go there on my birthday?  Heck, spending time being out in nature on my birthday totally works for me!

I loved this sign they have over the entrance…

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There are several trails that wind in and around within, and everywhere you look, life is happening.  It’s beautiful!

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Here are just a few of the flowers that are in bloom there at the moment…

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There are different plants doing different things here depending on what time of the year it is, and one thing I kept noticing was that a lot of the plants had these big pods developing on them.  Well, when I went in for a closer look I saw this little guy!  Just chillin’ hanging out in the shade, on a pod.

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Omygosh so cute!  I named him Pod.   ♥

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We had seen another frog earlier on our walk taking a nap under the shade of a leaf, but I couldn’t get a decent picture of him because my daughter was insisting I hurry up so she could try and catch it.   She was so excited, just like a little kid again.  I love that about her ~ the wonder of nature and the delight in the little creatures is not lost on her.  Hmm… I don’t know where she gets that from…  😉

Well, that first little frog had escaped her grasp and she was so disappointed (hey, that’s what she gets for rushing me when I’m trying to take a picture), but she was able to catch and hold Pod for a brief moment and I snapped this photo of him cupped in her hands…

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Pod peed on her haha!

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Aside from pods (be they frogs or plants) and all of the lovely wildflowers blooming everywhere, there are also beautiful forested areas there…

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As well as various berry producing plants for the birds.  It is a bird sanctuary after all.

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I saw and heard lots of birds, but I didn’t catch any photos of them.  But that was alright, I was happy just being there.

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Oh, and I loved how this tree was standing alone in a clearing on one of the hills…

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And I love this girl who was there to enjoy it all with me…

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 ♥

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When we left there we went to my favorite coffee shop where I got a free drink for my birthday, and we almost had a car accident on the way.  Crazy, careless drivers!  I love people… until they get behind the wheel of a car, then they become maniacs!  Seriously, they are so rude, always distracted and in a hurry.  I am amazed and thankful everyday when I arrive at my various destinations safely after driving anywhere.  Gosh, I can’t even imagine how it would have affected my day to have had it include getting into a wreck, and I am thankful I didn’t get to find out…

When we got back home, the mail had come and I was delighted to have received a special gift in the mail from a dear friend of mine who lives in another state…

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It’s a little canister that contains a terrarium and seeds for growing a tree!  What a wonderful gift for the nature lover and closet tree hugger that I am ~ she too knows me so well!   Thank you again Mindi, I love you, my precious soul sister!  ♥

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Also in the mail was a random check from a profit sharing account from a utility company that I haven’t done business with for 3 years.  It wasn’t for a big amount, but hey, unexpected money is always fun!  And it paid for a good portion of the bill for my birthday lunch!

Oh!  And speaking of unexpected money…  a few days before my birthday I found a $100 bill tucked away in a box!  I had went looking for something else and BAM there’s a hundred bucks!  Whee so exciting!  That’s not exactly something that happens everyday!  I can’t even tell you how absolutely tickled I was to find it!  I used it to have my hair done.  That might seem like a frivolous thing, but I already had an appointment scheduled to get my hair done and so it was a huge blessing not to have to pay for it!

My daughter took this random photo of me at some point during my birthday festivities.  I didn’t even know she was taking it and I’m not sure what she was going for here, but hey, it’s kinda a nice shot of my hair…  😉

DSCN8470 (2)aI had some lighter colored foils added in this time as well as more purple, and I really love it!

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As I mentioned, we went out for a birthday lunch, and we went to Olive Garden, my favorite restaurant.  I had their new Asiago Garlic Alfredo with Cavatappi pasta, it was soooooo delicious and I savored every bite!  I enjoyed it so much in fact, that believe I was even mmm-ing out loud and closing my eyes while I was eating it.  Hey, sometimes having pasta is a sensual experience for me, what can I say?  Haha!

When we got back home we had a henna party out on the patio.  I have been wanting to experiment and play with a henna kit I bought for myself a while back.  Every year when I go to the Renaissance Festival (which is coming up soon!) I always get a henna tattoo at one of their booths, and one year after going to Renfest I bought myself a little henna kit online and thought I’d see if I could do it on myself.

Well, we didn’t end up using my kit after all.  Instead we called a gal that we had seen doing henna at the local farmer’s market a few weeks ago and asked if she could come over and do henna on us.  It was loads of fun!  Even my 76 year old mom went along with it and got one!

Just look at how festive…

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Each one was so unique and pretty, but I like mine the best…  😀

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I got one on my ankle too, but I don’t have a picture of it.  And you know, this just made me think all the more about taking out my little henna kit and trying my hand at it.  Then I can have one any time I want.  🙂

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If you’re ever in the Twin Cities Metro area, give Michelle at Let’s Henna a call.  Here’s the link to her Facebook page…  Let’s Henna.  Thank you again Michelle, it was so fun to have you here!  Happy henna-ing!  😀

And I also want to say thanks again to my best friend and big sister for paying for our little henna party for my birthday.  I love you so much Forest, you really are the best, and I am so very blessed to have you in my life!  ♥

And speaking of my sis…  she also gave me a lovely set of sheets for my birthday.  She knows how much I love my bed and is always giving me cozy things for it.

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I actually picked these out myself one day while we were out shopping together and they are so unbelievably soft, I can’t wait to put them on my bed!  Geez, I’m just noticing that I sort of look like I’m advertising these sheets here the way I’m holding them.  What a dork.  Well, they are really nice sheets.   😉

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My sis also brought over a ton of festive balloons, and then she and my daughter decorated the patio for my birthday.  It was very fitting that we had my little birthday celebration out there as it is right next to my garden, and you all know that is my “happy place.”

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She also made things extra festive with the bottle of red wine she gave me…

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And she is taking to me the Renaissance Festival!  Yes, she spoils me a bit, but that’s what big sisters do.  Well, mine does!   😉

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But before I give her too much praise, I have to give her a bit of a hard time too, she fails at some things sometimes, like… taking photos.  She snapped this picture of me showing the lovely Apatite gem earrings my mom gave me, but she cut off my nose…

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And the photo is all bright and over exposed and blurry so you can’t even see the earrings.  (They are a gorgeous blue-green color, by the way!)

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She also took a blurry picture of me while they were singing happy birthday.  And she hadn’t even had any of the wine.  😉

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Maybe like people get sympathy pains, she was having a sympathy drunk?  Haha!  In all honesty, the wine actually came after the cake and the gifts, and my sis doesn’t even drink, but it’s fun to tease her!  😉

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All joking aside… I genuinely appreciate her, and my mom and my daughter for all they did in helping make my birthday special.   I am so fortunate and thankful to have them in my life and I love them all so very much!  ♥

The evening weather was unseasonably cool for an August summer night, so I ended my day with a lovely, festive little fire on the patio.  It was very cozy and relaxing, and there weren’t any mosquitoes!

My daughter snapped this picture of the mesmerizing flames…

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Oh and I don’t want to forget to show this one… my kitty was crying out the window for me most of the day….

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Poor sweet thing.  She loves me.  And gosh do I ever love her!   ♥   My daughter tried to bring her outside with us at one point, but she was too fidgety and frightened out there.  The little party pooper…

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Well, I guess that’s about it for now.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and for letting me share a bit about my birthday with you.

In all, I think I’ve started my new year out very nicely, hopefully that’s an indication of a wonderful, Happy New Year ahead for me.  And even though it may not be your birthday or actual New Year’s on the calender… each day is a new beginning and another chance to start afresh, so Happy New Day to you!

Be well, be happy, and be blessed my friends…

Inspiration From a Sunflower

Basking in the warmth and the light of the sun

face turned upward with arms lifted high

reaching and also surrendering

waiting to bloom, longing to become…

© Julie Rehnelt 2013

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I’m feeling a bit of inspiration from my sunflowers today.  😀  Earlier this spring when old man winter was just refusing to release us from its snowy grip, a friend of mine from Alabama sent me a little gardening care package to help raise my spirits.  One of the things in it was a packet of seeds for some giant sunflowers, and once spring finally arrived I planted a few of them behind the privacy fence panel next to the patio.

I’ve really been enjoying watching them grow, and they get taller every day.   Just yesterday I noticed that one of them is now easily clearing the top of the 6ft fence and a couple of them have nice big buds forming on them, so I went to take some photographs.  Which wasn’t an easy feat for me in being rather short, but I managed alright and think I got some nice shots.

Here are a couple others…

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I absolutely adore sunflowers, while in bloom they are one of the most bright, cheerful flowers!  ♥  And I also love the fact that you can eat their seeds!  😀

One of the other things I love about sunflowers too is that their heads are always facing the direction of the sun.  As the sun crosses the sky and morning turns to evening, they turn in unison along with it.  The first photo after my poem was taken around high noon where as these last couple were in the morning.  You can clearly see that the head is tilted in the morning shots versus facing straight up at noon when the sun was directly above.  I know all flowers and plants do this, but it’s such an obvious shift of position with sunflowers, and I just think it’s neat.

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Maybe we’d all grow better if we kept our faces looking upward and directed toward the sun…

Me and my metaphors…

Of Flowers And Chocolate Messes

Well, I think I did a pretty good job of staying positive and not giving into my worries yesterday.  Shortly after my post, I got the idea of going to the little local farmer’s market down the street.  I didn’t really need any veggies (if you’ve been here with me a while you know I already have quite a few of my own things growing here in my tiny garden), but I thought I’d go take a peek to see what they had anyway.  And besides, going there is just a festive thing that I enjoy doing sometimes on Saturday mornings during the growing season.

Mainly though, I was sort of thinking about picking up a bundle of fresh-cut flowers there.  One thing I like to do for myself when I’m feeling a bit low is buy myself fresh flowers.  I don’t do it very often, it’s a bit of an indulgence that I can’t always rationalize spending the money for, especially when finances are tight, but the fresh flowers they have at the farmer’s market are very reasonably priced.

Plus, they’re gorgeous!  See…

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And this bright pink Zinnia was just begging for a close-up…

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So lovely.  ♥

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Sadly though, they’ve wilted quite a bit already and I’m really disappointed.  That’s the thing about flowers… once you pick them, they start to die.  😦

Bringing me to this morning’s mood…

Death.

Just kidding.

It’s just that I’m still struggling here with things.  I’ve been sitting here thinking “How the heck can a person have such a contrast of conflicting emotions inside?”  Cracking jokes one moment and then crying the next.  I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!  Is it hormones, the waning moon?  Calgon take me away!  I did buy myself some wonderful handmade lavender soap at the farmer’s market yesterday, so maybe I need to just go and take a good long soak…

But unfortunately aromatic baths and fresh cut flowers are only temporary remedies and can’t fix the deeper issues going on inside.  *Sigh*

The thing is… I know all the right stuff to tell myself (and do, like buying the flowers for instance), but sometimes I feel like I’m just full of crap with all my sappy, feel good, mumbo jumbo rhetoric.  I pride myself on always keeping it real, always being honest with myself and with others, but sometimes, the fact of the matter is… I’m really hurting inside, and I cover it up.  I say it’s because I never want to be a downer to others, and that’s very true, but it’s also because I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it.  And I’m embarrassed to admit that.  I sincerely do have so much in my life to be thankful for.  I mean, I really, really do.  And so sometimes when I’m feeling down, I feel guilty, like I’m not appreciating all my blessings, or that I’m feeling sorry for myself.

Then I tell myself to stop over-analyzing everything and just fricken settle down.  Go pray, go putz around in the garden, listen to some music (take a lavender bath) etc.  But the problem with that is then I’m not really ‘dealing’ with whatever it is that’s bothering me.  Well, I sort of am by praying, but the rest of it is just stuff to soothe me.  Don’t get me wrong though, we need those soothing coping mechanisms, to do whatever it takes to calm us ~ sometimes they make all the difference and help so that we can approach the things that are bothering us more rationally.  And I truly believe that.

But gosh this is just so hard.  I’m hurting and I’m frustrated, the things that are bothering me right now are things I have absolutely no control over, and I’m having a really difficult time with it all.   I can’t seem to find the solution, and I feel like I’m fumbling around in the dark looking for the Light switch.

But yeah, so anyway…

I’m feeling like a bit of an emotional chocolate mess here.

So now… whether to actually post this or not, to risk being a downer, to risk exposing this part of myself?  I should probably just stick with my gardening posts.

Ah what the heck…

My Saturday Morning Self Pep Talk

I love being up early in the morning hours, before the rest of the world awakes, quietly sipping my coffee, listening to the birds.  My best inspiration comes to me then, before I’m fully awake, while sleepy dreams still linger in the back of my mind, while I’m still feeling the aftereffects of the cozy comforts of my bed.

But sometimes as the day creeps in, it brings with it the worries and cares of this life, and those peaceful morning moments slowly disintegrate.

I’m faced with a choice then.

I can’t control my circumstances, but I can try to control my attitude toward them.  Some are very painful and distressing, and a battle of the mind wages a war within me.  Sometimes it’s hard and I want to give in… give up… just let the waves of despair pull me under.  And sometimes I do…

But most times, I don’t.

And today… I won’t.

Because despite the difficulties of my circumstances, there are far too many other beautiful things in my life to focus on, and I won’t let the negative ones steal the Joy and the Light from me.  Not today.

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And don’t you either…

May The Forest Be With You…

I created this while playing around with one of the photos I snapped during my mini vacation.

It emanates from the combination of my inner tree-hugger and the closet nerd parts of my personality, and depicts the perfect sentiment they’d like to convey…

(Why yes… I did just refer to parts of myself in the third person.  ;))

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😀