Happy Things…

Hi Friends!

When the world feels unsettled in so many ways, it’s always healing to stop, catch our breath, and focus on happy things. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing the past few weeks…

Intentionally…

Mindfully…

With gratitude…

Our family recently gathered for a very special celebration in honor of our parents’ 67th wedding anniversary! What a joy it was to be together for such a happy reason! There were flowers, balloons, cards, and a delicious dinner in a very elegant setting.

Most important of all, there were so many heartwarming memories shared! The stories of how our parents met, their dating years, and the proposal on a very snowy night so long ago.

They reminisced about how my dad made it home from the Army the night before their wedding day and their honeymoon on Mackinac Island. They shared how it felt to leave their families behind, as newlyweds, when they moved to Texas where my dad was stationed next.

Months later, Mom and Dad were separated, in service to our country, when the Army shipped Dad off to Korea. They faithfully kept in touch by writing letters to one another every night. Their bundle of precious love letters, still tied with a ribbon, holds the day-to-day stories of that challenging time in their young marriage. I wonder if they will read their letters to one another again? I hope so!

Over the years, we have celebrated our parents’ wedding anniversary in many special ways and special places. However, this was one of the sweetest celebrations ever! ♥♥

After weeks of record-breaking rain totals in May, we finally have a bit of SUNSHINE!  In fact, we just had four sunny days in a row. 🙂 It truly lifts our spirits and fills us with solar energy!

We have been taking long walks, chatting with neighbors outside, and enjoying quiet times on the front porch. Our days and nights have been cooler than usual… and feel oh-so refreshing!

 

My Friendship Garden is in full bloom. It has been a delight to watch the colors change daily! The dainty, white Anemones have been dancing in the breeze. The pale purple Iris blossoms appeared next. (They always feel like a special ‘visit’ from my dear friend, Iris, in Germany!) The sunny, yellow Irises added a bright pop of sunshine to the Friendship Garden. The deep purple Siberian Irises added such depth of color to this special garden bed.

All of the plants in my Friendship Garden were gifts from the gardens of special friends. So, in addition to all of the color they add to the garden, they fill my heart with special memories of loved ones!

 

Old-fashioned Peonies added lush beauty to the Friendship Garden. They were already here 32 years ago, when I became a first-time homeowner and gardener. I often think of Mrs. G. who lived here and loved her garden for so many years. Perhaps she planted the Peonies?

Due to our abundance of rain, the bright, pink Peonies are taller this year than I can ever remember! It has been such fun to cut bouquets from the Friendship Garden for the front porch and to share with my parents.

 

After so many rainy days, I’m still busy planting containers for the front porch and our flagstone patio near the Herb and Tea Garden. “No rain, no flowers!” So, I’m grateful for the rain showers.

Although Lavender thrives in dry Mediterranean soil, our Lavender is happily blooming in its container in a corner of the Friendship Garden. Nestled along the edge of its pot are two small ‘lovebirds.’  They remind me of my sweet husband and I who will always be newlyweds! This month, we will happily celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. The years have flown by so quickly! ♥♥

 

 

Earlier this month, a rainbow of welcoming doors was constructed and installed on the grounds of a nearby church. This artwork, created by the congregation, shows visitors to our town that ALL are welcome here. What a meaningful, heartwarming symbol of love!

 

 

A dear friend and I have a special tradition of celebrating her birthday at our beautiful Arboretum each year. This month, we were captivated by the creative artwork of Sean Kenney. Wandering along the tree-lined paths, we admired several intricate creations of insects, animals, and plants completely formed using Lego bricks. (Click to enlarge the photos to read the descriptions.)

 

Sean Kenney designs his fascinating creations to remind us that all of nature is connected just like the Lego bricks are connected.

 

 

The insects, animals, and plants are nature’s building blocks. We are reminded to take care of our fragile planet which connects us all.

 

 

Thick clouds overhead grew darker as two best friends walked and talked. Before long, we were caught in a very heavy downpour. Dripping wet as we burst into laughter, we promised to return again soon, to see the rest of these awe-inspiring creations!

 

 

For the past few months, I have been absolutely fascinated following a very special hiker on You Tube. It was her You Tube name, Radiate Joy, that first caught my attention. Yvette is documenting her 2,000+ mile journey as she hikes along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail from Georgia to Maine. Carrying her 25 lb. pack with camping essentials and 5 days worth of food at a time, Yvette is vlogging her Thru-Hike on the narrow trail, up and down mountains and across National Parks. She remains so upbeat and inspiring throughout this huge challenge!

I hope you will take a peek at her latest video on her Radiate Joy You Tube channel. As of Day 59 on the trail, Yvette has hiked northbound 865 miles, following the tiny, white ‘blaze’ marks painted on trees along the narrow footpaths. She has a beautiful way of filming her trek, with breathtaking sights and sounds of nature and wonderful music. I’m so impressed that she is filming on her iPhone and editing her videos in her little tent in the evenings. Yvette’s bubbly personality shines brightly through the rainiest of days and the countless obstacles she encounters along the AT.

In this video, Yvette shares her reasons for beginning this journey:

In this video, her journey begins:

 

Such an inspiration!! Although I would never attempt an AT adventure, I think of Yvette very often. Her joy is contagious! She inspires me to walk a little further along our nearby prairie and to meet the challenges I face along life’s journey with courage, determination, and as much joy as possible.

What Happy Things are you enjoying these days????

Do share with us…

 

Take time to smell the Rosemary!

♡ Dawn

 

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Prickly Times…

Hello, sweet friends!

It feels so good to be back home again! We have lots of catching up to do here in our little gathering place of kindred spirits. I have really missed you all. Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today!

I have spent the past several months with my dear parents in Arizona. Well into their 80s now, Mom and Dad began needing a little extra help earlier this year. It has been my honor to spend extra time helping out and making plans with my parents. For health reasons, Dad and Mom decided that it was time to make a BIG move, back home to Illinois to be close to their children.

After twenty-four happy, healthy years of desert living, their Retirement dream was taking a most unexpected turn. My parents faced very difficult choices… and many months of ‘prickly’ times. There were so many hard decisions to be made. Working side-by-side, our days were extremely busy. We donated so many cherished items to charitable causes. Finding good homes for beloved antiques and collectibles proved to be a true ‘labor of love.’ So many avid collectors were grateful to become the new owners of my dad’s Lionel trains and antique telephones. My mom’s vintage irons, beautiful, old crocks, oil lamps, antique kitchen tools, and many pieces of Southwest art all went to new homes, one-by-one. ‘Prickly,’ but important, work…

Preparing to sell their lovely, desert home in the foothills of Red Mountain just made our hearts so sad. With the Tonto National Forest just a short walk away, it is a nature lover’s paradise. My parents built their home with breathtaking views of Red Mountain, the Superstition Mountains, and the Usery Mountains. Moving away from longtime friends and special places was the most ‘prickly’ time of all.

Packing boxes, boxes, and more boxes filled our days and weeks. My dad shipped his car back to Illinois. A great pair of movers loaded up a few special pieces of furniture and many boxes filled with family photos and mementos.

After the moving truck pulled away, we were all lost in our thoughts.

It was all feeling very real now…

We took our last long drive through the Tonto National Forest, admiring the mountains, the giant Saguaros, and the wildflowers in bloom. We reminisced about all of our favorite hiking places, remembered picnics at Saguaro Lake, and waved farewell to the beautiful ‘secret place’ in the desert where my husband proposed to me. We all hold so many heartwarming memories of special times in the desert over the years. My mom chose a few favorite rocks from her lovely, desert garden to bring along as special mementos.

Unforgettable, beautiful, heartbreaking, ‘prickly’ times for us all…

After special gatherings with dear friends and a few nights in a hotel, my parents and I flew back to the Midwest together just two weeks ago. Together we knew we were flying toward our next adventure ~ a brave, new chapter in all of our lives. We have been a great team through all the ‘prickly’ times. I have learned so many important lessons over the past months. My parents will always be my first and best teachers!

Throughout my life there have been several challenges,

but this has truly been the most difficult thing

I have experienced so far.

Tears have filled my eyes so often over the past months.

Throughout the ‘prickly’ times this year, I always looked for blossoms…

and counted my many blessings out loud.

It really helped!

Making time for walks in nature always soothed my tender heart.

Sunrise walks filled my soul with sunshine for the day ahead. Walking many miles each week was an important part of my self-care during this very stressful, ‘prickly’ time. Remembering my ‘why’ and tracking my foods on the WW app daily have helped me maintain my healthy weight goal. 🙂  Good health is such a wonderful blessing!

Early mornings spent pulling unfamiliar weeds (using pliers) from the dry, red earth in my mom’s garden reminded me of the gift of gardening Mom gave me thirty-one years ago. What a blessing! My life has been enriched in so many ways since I inherited Mom’s love of gardening.

Sunset walks were the perfect way to connect with my husband each evening. FaceTime allowed us to walk together, although we were 1,800 miles apart. Sharing the stories of our days made it easier for both of us.

My sweet husband has been my ‘rock’ and constantly helps in so many ways. Throughout the Summer months, each evening after work, he deadheaded my ‘He Loves Me’ daisies, so that they would be in full bloom each time I returned home for a brief visit. When the seasons changed, he took such good care of our little ‘igloo’ throughout the big November blizzard. Storm damage left our home without power for several days. So, he worked with a neighbor to prevent our water pipes from freezing in our dark, frigid home. He researched and helped arrange moving plans from across the miles. A great listener, he can always make me laugh. My dear husband is a truly great blessing in my life!

I’m so blessed by friends, both near and far. Quick texts, long emails, and encouraging WhatsApp messages were most welcome day brighteners while I was away from home for extended times. Beautiful cards and letters always warmed my heart. We are so grateful for the kindness of our friends! A perfectly-timed ride home from the airport in a friend’s toasty, warm SUV (complete with a cozy, lap blanket for my parents) was an extra-special ‘welcome home’ on a cold December day.  A friendly visit delivering hugs and homemade turkey noodle soup warmed our hearts and tummies. Heartfelt thanks, dear, sweet friends!

Each day, as I quickly checked our little blog, it was so heartwarming to know that friends were stopping to read stories from the blog archives. I could feel our connection and was both humbled and grateful for the powerful friendships that have grown here over the years. I’m looking forward to blogging often in the New Year… and finally making time to visit my blogging friends again!

We felt so blessed that my parents’ beautiful, desert home sold in just ONE day! We were very grateful when the buyers visited and promised to take extra good care of this special place. We were so fortunate that our moving plans and travel plans all went very smoothly. Such a big blessing for us all!

After a long, cross country trip, the movers delivered everything safely to a nearby storage unit. Family heirlooms were handled with extra care. We were so grateful to see the big, orange truck pull up last week! Local movers will help with the next stage of the move in January, when my parents’ beautiful, new apartment will be ready.

After spending time in the desert in the Springtime and experiencing this Summer’s Monsoon season, I was delighted to arrive home for a brilliant, instant blast of Autumn color. I was so blessed that the beautiful leaves waited for me!

We packed lots of Autumn walks into my two-week visit home! It was so refreshing after the long, hot Summer days in the desert. (This year, the Phoenix area had over 125 days of triple-digit heat! Whew!)

No matter where I roam, the Midwest always feels like home to me!

I embrace the change of seasons,

with the blessings each one brings.

 

In spite of the ‘prickly’ times, it has been a very special blessing to experience ALL of the seasons in the desert Southwest this year. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much about the desert plants over the past 24 years. Walking with my mom is always a wonderful gardening lesson! I have also learned to beware of the desert creatures. It’s still the ‘wild west’ with coyotes, scorpions, lizards, and rattlesnakes passing through! Over the years, I have learned so much about the Native American people. I will always hold the call of the drums at the Harvest Pow Wow on the Pima-Maricopa reservation close to my heart. It was a remarkable cultural experience.  I truly understand why the Arizona desert will always have a special place in my parents’ hearts!

My greatest blessings of all are my dear, sweet parents! ♥♥

I cherish every precious moment with them!

We have been enjoying old family memories

and look forward to sharing as much joy

as we can squeeze into the coming years!

 

Hugs and simple joys,

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

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Quiet…

Hi Friends!

Our native plants are in full bloom here in the Prairie State. We are very fortunate to have several prairie areas nearby, just perfect for a walking meditation on a recent Summer morning.

The gentle, winding path took me past a quiet marsh area. Peaceful lilypads, slender grasses, sunny coneflowers, and delicate Queen Anne’s Lace inspired me to pause and reflect…

Native wildflowers have long roots that run so deep,

much like our family roots.

The Native plants support one another.

Growing together in the prairie ecosystem

allows the wildflowers to survive the difficult times and thrive.

As I walked, the silence was only broken

by the song of red wing blackbirds and crickets.

Then the stillness and quiet returned.

I wanted to let everyone know that, much like the quiet of the prairie, our blog will be quiet for a little while. I will be dedicating my time to helping my family and there just won’t be time to write and edit posts for a while. As soon as possible, I look forward to writing again. There is so much to share!

In the meantime, I hope you will peek into the blog archives to enjoy stories you may have missed during your busy times. Be sure to read through the comments, for these little conversations are always the highlights of every blog post here!

I will pop in to check our blog each day, so please do continue to leave your lovely comments on any post. Replying to your comments brings me such joy! You can always reach me, by email, through the ‘Say Hello’ page. I very much look forward to hearing from you!

Heartfelt thanks for always being here!

With love,

♡ Dawn

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May Blossoms

 

Hi Friends!

Such incredible Springtime extremes! Very likely, you might also be noticing extreme weather events in your little corner of the world, as coverage of terrible flooding, violent storms, devastating wildfires, and dangerous volcanic eruptions fill our news reports on a daily basis. I just returned home to the Midwest after spending several weeks visiting the Sonoran desert of Arizona. Throughout this month, my thoughts often turned to extreme weather contrasts offering just a tiny glimpse into the month of May on our fragile planet.

I boarded my flight in late April on a frosty 31 degree morning and landed a few hours later in the warm sunshine. It was such a blessing to spend a few weeks making precious memories with my parents in their lovely Southwest home. ♥♥

I enjoyed many peaceful mornings in my parents’ desert garden. Unfamiliar birdsong, gentle breezes, and mountain views nourished my soul as I worked outside very early to avoid the afternoon temperatures of 111, 108, and 106 degree days. We were experiencing typical July temperatures in May.

Pulling weeds ‘desert-style’ requires a large brimmed hat, thick gloves, and long-nosed pliers. Although I didn’t know the names of any of the weeds, it was easy to identify intruders that didn’t belong in the their tidy yard covered with tiny pebbles, smooth river rocks, and beautiful granite from the foothills of Red Mountain. The red, parched earth in their yard anchors the deep roots firmly as they reach for water.

Less than one inch of rainfall in 2018 has caused extreme drought conditions in their area. The last measurable rainfall was in January. However, my parents’ desert neighborhood is in full bloom this month. The stunning colors, against the bright blue skies, were a remarkable treat to behold!

Palo Verde tree in full bloom

 

Jacaranda tree filled with blossoms

 

Pink blossoms of the Ironwood tree

 

Blossom-filled stalks of the Joshua Tree

Whenever my mom and I took early morning walks, she shared fascinating facts about the desert plants. We both love the majestic Saguaro cacti. This month my mom has noticed more Saguaro blooms than she has ever seen in her 23 years in the desert.

The white blossoms not only crowned the tops and arms of the Saguaros. The blossoms lined the prickly sides of the Saguaros, too. We were in awe of these plentiful blossoms everywhere we walked. The pollinators were quite thrilled with this spectacular blossom display, as well!

Some of my solo walks became ‘Artist Dates’ as I observed…

the beautiful shadows created by the Red Yucca blossoms…

the brilliant, ombre color palette of the Mexican Bird of Paradise blossoms,

the pale, pink Prickly Pear buds that opened into sunny, yellow flowers,

and the hummingbirds sipping nectar from the blossoms of the Ocotillo cactus. I’m quite certain that some of these desert wonders will inspire watercolors in the weeks to come!

♥♥♥

While I was away, I was so grateful that my sweet husband was keeping watch over our Midwest garden. He told me of hot weather, cold weather, huge rainstorms, and a microburst causing a tree to fall onto a home just three doors down from us. Each evening after work, he checked on the garden, sent frequent photos of our Magnolia in bloom,

and updated me on the activities of a very hungry groundhog.

(Last week, it devoured all of the buds on our Columbine plants. 😦 )

May has always been my very favorite month in the garden. I wondered if I might miss seeing my perennials in bloom with our unpredictable Spring weather. We had almost five inches of rain during my absence and I was so curious to see all of the changes!

My return flight landed late at night.

I was so excited for the dawn’s early light…

and my first peek

at my Friendship Garden!

Everything has changed so much!

I’m absolutely thrilled that the May blossoms waited for me!

Can’t wait to play in the garden!

Spring blessings!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  How is the weather in your little corner of the world?

 

 

 

 

 

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Growing… Day by Day!

Hi Friends!

Things are growing and changing here slowly… day by day.

My Midwest perennial and herb gardens are definitely growing and changing, but that’s not the only place I’m noticing new growth. It’s happening within me, as well!

Inspired by all of the changes in my garden over the past two years, and the lessons learned and documented in my Garden Joys bullet journal, I knew that I wanted to create a very special, very personal Self Care bullet journal for 2018.

The new year offered a blank slate filled with endless possibilities and opportunities to grow day by day. So, I chose a beautiful,  Rhodia dot grid journal for this time of new growth. The luscious, ivory, brushed vellum paper, made in France by Clairefontaine, called to both my hand and heart. These creamy, blank pages must be filled with ink, color, and most importantly… with intention!

In late December, I anticipated that something very important was just about to begin. My blank journal would need a dedicated place for writing and reflecting upon all that I would learn. So, I chose a simple, pine, IKEA desk and my sweet husband spent hours assembling it, with so much love and care.  Now every day of the year begins and ends with those luscious pages and a few simple art supplies. The time I spend with my Self Care journal always feels like a special gift ~ to me, from me!

My Self Care bullet journal is the perfect place to set new healthy goals and quietly document my daily progress. Each morning, I track my hours of restful sleep and also those restless hours filled with worry. It’s interesting to see my sleep patterns throughout the month. I have grown very mindful of going to bed on time because I know that I will have to graph it in my journal in ink.  (*wink*) 

It’s truly heartwarming to fill my Gratitude page with the small blessings that add joy to each day.  I find myself looking for moments of gratitude all day long. By the end of each month, this page is overflowing with blessings and I always wish I had more space to write. I think my Gratitude page is actually the most important page for Self Care each month!

I have also been tracking all of my ‘workouts’ throughout each month. Whenever I workout, I document how many minutes I spend: shoveling snow, practicing Yoga, doing  a Zumba workout, walking, mowing the lawn, or gardening. My activities change throughout the seasons. It’s so wonderful to be more active outside now that Springtime has finally arrived here!

I’m keeping track of how much water I drink each day in my “Hydrate Your Soul” tracker. I have grown more mindful of refilling my water bottle multiple times each day while attempting to reach my daily goal!

My Fitbit counts my steps and I graph them daily. Just knowing that I must record my step count in ink helps me to think about moving more throughout each day. Bundling up for Winter walks felt energizing because I had to walk quickly! We have been ‘Walkin’ on Sunshine’ lately during our evening walks together.  Sunny morning walks in the park always lift my spirits. The easiest walks of all are long, chatty walks with friends. The miles fly by as we catch up on one another’s lives! I’m just delighted that nice walking weather is finally here!

It has been very interesting to document how I spend my days! By the end of the month, I can actually see how much time I have spent in my little Paper Garden studio, writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, writing letters, and blogging. It is creative time that truly nourishes my heart and soul. So, when I notice that one of my important activities is not a part of my days, I strive to make a change. This has been such a gift for my creative spirit!

From the beginning, I made a conscious decision not to include the minutiae of daily tasks in my Self Care journal. During my ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘R’ word that I use for Retirement),  I truly relish the freedom of my days. So, I use a beautiful Lang Engagement Planner for the events and tasks that must be done each day. I either ‘X’ each task as ‘completed’ or migrate it to another day.   I’ve always enjoyed being ‘busy.’ However, now I can feel the difference between just being busy and being productive. What a great feeling!

Perhaps it’s our wild Springtime weather, but it’s so hard to believe that May is almost here!  I’ve been peeking into the birdhouses in our garden waiting for robins or wrens to move in. So, it was such fun to create new spreads with birdhouse doodles in my Self Care journal. I just love adding inspirational quotes on every page!

It will be interesting to watch my healthy habits continue to grow, step by step, throughout May.

This month, I added a new chart to help me stay mindful of my most important healthy goals. Looking down the column each day will remind me of my intentions to do those things that make me both healthy and happy!

Have you noticed that I never include any eating habits in my journal? I feel extremely content using the Weight Watchers app to track all of my meals. It’s a very user-friendly, effective tool to help me maintain my healthy weight. I still count Smart Points every single day and attend my Weight Watchers meeting every week. Staying at my healthy weight for the past six months has been such an important part of my Self Care!

If you are interested, plenty of wonderful inspiration for bullet journaling can be found on You Tube. Kara Benz @ Boho Berry motivated me to give bullet journaling a try. Kara just created a beautiful digital planner (available on May 1st) for those who might prefer a more portable way to bullet journal. (Very interesting, but I think I will always prefer luscious paper and ink!) I also find great bullet journaling inspiration from Amanda Rach Lee.  Helen Colebrook creates lovely journals, too.

I’m so curious…

Do you keep a journal of any kind?

How do you bring Self Care into each day?

Hope you will share with us!

♥♥♥

Thanks so much for visiting today!

 

Sending warm, sunny hugs!

♡ Dawn

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Taking Steps…

Hi Friends!

It’s been a very long time since I last walked to school. This late winter morning, for the first time since the early 1970s, I bundled up in layers and headed out the door. I planned this walk several weeks ago and a windchill of 2o degrees would not deter my walk on this historic morning. I was taking important steps

The sun shone brightly as I stepped carefully over the icy patches on the sidewalks, detouring onto the snowy grass from time to time. It felt important, as though something BIG was about to happen! As I walked, I met up with friendly teenagers hurrying to their classes. I’m sure that they felt it, too. As I walked with one high school student, I told her that I was coming to school to ‘stand’ with all of the students and teachers… and she smiled and thanked me. Although I retired from teaching six years ago, there is still very important work to be done!

Of course, I was early… I’m always early! (“Anticipate the bell.” 🙂 “Early is on time, on time is late!” 🙂 ) These words still make me smile warmly as I reflect back upon my thirty-five happy years of teaching young children. ♥ As I walked around the quiet neighborhood surrounding our local high school, my thoughts turned to my own school days, both as a student and a teacher. So much has changed over the years…

Today was the National School Walkout as students, young and old, across America raised their collective voices against the ongoing crisis of gun violence in our society. Today marks the heartbreaking one-month anniversary of the massacre of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. Massive student protests spread across our land beginning at 10:00 in each time zone. Organizers planned the National School Walkout to highlight “Congress’ inaction against the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.” I knew that I must stand with our students and their teachers on this day.

At 10:00, the school doors opened and hundreds of students walked out and assembled in front of their high school. They had planned ahead and many wore red and black. Many students carried hand-lettered signs. Their speeches lasted for 17 minutes, in remembrance of the 17 lives taken by gun violence in Florida. As I listened from a distance, my eyes filled with tears for all of the school children and their teachers across our nation who face fears for their safety in their classrooms. My heart swelled with pride for all of the young Americans who are taking steps to solve our national epidemic and to create a brighter future.

In between the speeches, there was much chanting,

individual voices of young men and women,

tomorrow’s leaders,

united to send a strong message to our lawmakers and leaders.

♦♦♦

Listen to their words…

“Enough is enough!”

♢♢♢

“Congress is complacent.”

♢♢♢

“We are the future voters.”

♢♢♢

“We are the change!”

♢♢♢

“Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough!”

♢♢♢

Between their powerful chants, there were loud reminders to pick up contact information for our lawmakers, write letters, make phone calls, and send texts. Eighteen-year-olds were reminded to vote in our upcoming elections. After 17 minutes, the young protestors respectfully filed back through the school doors and went on with their studies. It was most definitely a powerful, teachable moment… one they are certain to carry with them into adulthood.

The gathering of community members who came to ‘stand’ with our high school students clapped with pride as we listened to their voices. Parents tried to explain to their preschoolers what the ‘big kids’ were doing today. I met other retired teachers who also came to show support. High school alumni shared their pride, as well. The tv news crew packed away their huge camera as the protest came to an end.

It feels like this is only a beginning for our nation! The March for Our Lives rally for school safety, on March 24th, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of marchers to our nation’s capital.

Another round of National School Walkouts is planned for April 20th, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

Malala’s words give me much hope…

“One child, one teacher,

one book, one pen can change the world.”

 

I’ll keep taking steps as long as necessary.

Be the change!

♡ Dawn

 

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Nourish… to Flourish!

Nourish

Hi Friends!

For the past year, I have quietly been working each day on a very special gift ~ to me… from me. In celebration of my birthday last week, it feels like the perfect time to untie the ribbons and share this gift of love!

I have been learning to live fully by nourishing my heart, soul, and body in so many exciting ways. My ‘word’ for this year is nourish and this little word has guided me in many new directions.

 

I have been slowly working my way through It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron. Writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, taking Solo Walks, and Writing Memoir have all helped to nourish my creative heart and soul.

Gathering together with other creative souls in a lovely, international, online book club has helped me to stay accountable and moving forward. Using Julia Cameron’s tools has nurtured me each step of the way.  Making creative time a priority has helped me to flourish and grow in countless ways. In fact, I’m looking forward to rereading and continuing to work through the tasks in this wonderful book again in 2018. I’m enjoying writing my memoir immensely! It has been such a gift to make time to explore my passion for creativity. It’s only the beginning…

Big changes happened in my perennial and herb gardens throughout the past year. Now that Winter has arrived in the Midwest, it’s such fun to look back through my Garden Joys journal and reflect on all of the hard work and changes…

This has been the first time in thirty years of nurturing my garden that I have ever kept a garden journal throughout the entire season. Experimenting with bullet-style journaling and using a few art supplies definitely nourished my creative soul! I have made so many changes as I ‘right-sized’ my garden beds… and I love the new look. “Less is more” has become my new mantra this year. Less weeding means more time for other creative passions! It’s only the beginning…

♥♥♥

All year long, I have also been nourishing my body and building a healthy relationship with food. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, I have ‘right-sized’ myself to a healthy weight (set by my doctor). It has been my most important birthday gift ever!  Although I have tried many times on my own over the years, it was always a struggle.

However this time, it feels very different… and I am singing the praises of Weight Watchers! With the help of Weight Watchers, I found the guidance and support that I needed. It was a little bit hard… but not too hard! (This post is not sponsored by Weight Watchers in any way. I just wanted to share…) 

Using the Weight Watchers app, I learned to be mindful of everything that I am eating. Although I had been making healthy food choices, portion control was a problem in the past. Now I use the Weight Watchers app to track each food and the amount I am eating. No food is off limits. Instead Weight Watchers has determined a Smart Points value for each food based upon its calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. I know my daily Smart Points budget and am able to make smart choices throughout each day. Additional Weekly Smart Points make it possible to enjoy those special celebrations that life brings.

In addition to tracking all of my meals and snacks, the other thing that truly made a difference for me is attending my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. I always think of it as a special gift that I am giving myself ~ a gift of time for my health. I faithfully go every Thursday morning. On the rare Thursdays that I am out of town, I make sure to find a Tuesday meeting or a Wednesday meeting instead. Gathering together as a community each week is a great time to share tips, recipes, encouragement, and inspiration with one another. I have made so many new friends along the way. At every meeting, Karen shares her knowledge and experience, while Fay shares kindness and encouragement as I step on the scale (privately and discreetly).

Throughout the year, I have continued my usual, active lifestyle. Taking walks in nature, working in the garden, and mowing the lawn helped me stay active during the warm weather. During cold weather, walking indoors at the mall has been a great way to ‘walk and talk’ with my husband or dear friends. It is my intention to make the Weight Watchers plan work with my usual lifestyle, so that I can continue doing what works for me long term.

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, I began to see and feel the results. My average loss was about one pound each week, although sometimes there was a plateau or even a small weight gain. Fay was especially encouraging at those times.

Little-by-little, I began to ‘right size’ my wardrobe, too. It has been fun to shop in different stores and discover my true style. Although everything in my closet is new, there aren’t too many things now. I have intentionally left plenty of ‘white space’ in my tiny closet. It makes my heart smile each time I open the door! It has felt so good to donate all of my clothing and share my very favorite clothes with friends. Hopefully, they will feel like warm hugs to everyone who wears them!

Along with all of the health benefits, there were also tiny, tangible bits of ‘bling’ from Weight Watchers along my journey. These meaningful charms celebrate: My first four weeks of meetings, 5% of my body weight, Making time for myself, 10% of my body weight, Creating a Vision (with themes: nurture, explore, create, imagine, commit, transform, embrace,…), Weight loss, Reaching my goal weight, Becoming a Lifetime member, and W.W. Freestyle.

At our weekly meeting, we celebrate each time someone receives a new charm. It is a lovely time of encouragement, honoring the huge commitment that it takes!

It felt so wonderful to celebrate with this tiny, golden key just before my birthday. It represents having reached my healthy weight goal, then learning for six weeks how to stop losing weight and maintain my healthy weight. This key is a Lifetime membership to Weight Watchers. (Yay! I no longer have to pay for the eTools and Meetings! 🙂 ) Lifetime Members must stay within two pounds of our goal weight or begin paying again. This is great motivation to maintain my weight. I’d much rather save my money for other things! 🙂 

I realize that the most difficult part of my journey lies ahead ~ the forever part. (Statistics show that with any weight loss plan, 85% of people regain the weight within two years. Knowing this, makes me even more determined to nourish myself in healthy ways!)

Over the past year, I have built a solid foundation of tools that work for me. I intend to continue tracking all of the foods that I eat and attending weekly meetings. With plenty of guidance from Weight Watchers, now I am learning how to eat a few more Smart Points each day without gaining weight. It feels like an exciting, new beginning…

Just last week, Weight Watchers introduced a new plan that gives us more freedom and flexibility with our Smart Points. For anyone struggling with weight issues, this is an exciting time to consider getting healthy and living more fully.

Now I’m creating a special Self Care (bullet-style) journal to plan and document this new chapter in my journey. It will help me to reach my new goals for activity during the winter months, including walking indoors, Zumba, Barre workouts, and a return to my beloved Yoga practice. I’m really looking forward to the challenge!

For me, this journey has been so much more than weight loss.

It is also about what I have gained during the past year…

♥  a sense of empowerment (“I can do this!”)

  dedicated time for self care, self kindness, and creativity

  patience with myself  (important things can take longer than expected)

  strategies that I know will work  (tracking my foods + attending meetings + an active lifestyle)

  lots of new friends along the way  (Each one is a unique part of my W.W. journey.)

I have been continuously blessed with the love and support of my dear husband, my wonderful family, and encouraging friends. I know they will continue to support me as I flourish in new ways!  Huge hugs, you guys!!

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today

as I untied the ribbons on this very special gift…

from me… to me!

My birthday cake (chocolate peppermint, a small piece)

tasted extra sweet this year!

 

Nurture yourself each day!

♡ Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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