Friday, December 3, 2010

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

Happiness Project

I've been following Gretchen Rubin since last year after reading her book, The Happiness Project.  Since we're getting close to another new year, most of us are thinking ahead to our new year's resolutions.  I personally have never really been one to make resolutions because like most of us, I usually fail to achieve them.  Today I read Gretchen's post looking at this from another perspective.  Instead of making new year's resolutions, think about a one word theme for the coming year.  Think about what one word would encompass what you want or need to accomplish. I gave it some thought and to be honest, I have not been able to nail down one word, but I have narrowed it down to 3.  My words are, GOALS, CHANGE AND THRIVE.  I'm leaning towards change because goals and thriving can fall under the category of change. I like the idea of THRIVE, because as another reader stated in her comment, she wants to "thrive instead of survive."  I like that idea a lot, because that's exactly how I feel, like I've just been surviving and not thriving and that needs to change.  There's that word again....CHANGE. 

Think about it, what would your word be?

Memories of A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown Christmas
Every year at Christmas time I can't help but remember a very sweet memory.  It was seventeen years ago; we were broke and in the process of moving back to Jacksonville from Georgia.  I was depressed about our situation and stressed beyond belief.  We would be making the move on Christmas Eve, so I definitely had no plans of putting up a Christmas tree, let alone even doing Christmas.  My kids were young, Sara 3 and Matt was 8 months, I figured it really wouldn't matter.  I was frantically packing and cleaning while trying to look after the kids.  Matthew, as always, was crying.  He cried all the time, hour after hour, it never seemed to stop and I was frazzled to say the least. Amid all the craziness, Sara wanted to put up a Christmas tree.  All I could think about was how I didn't have time for this, we're moving, we're not going to be here for Christmas and I didn't even know where any Christmas decorations were among all the boxes. The next thing I remember was Richard taking Sara out to the woods behind the house to look for a Christmas tree. I was standing at the kitchen sink and looked up in time to see Sara and dad coming around the back of the house dragging a pitiful little pine tree.  She was beaming, she was so excited about her little Christmas tree.  The first thing I thought about was that sad little tree in the classic Charlie Brown Christmas.  It wasn't quite that bad, but it was close.  So, we decorated our little tree with some odds and ends from around the house and made an aluminum foil star for the top.  We didn't have any presents to put under it, but I had a memory that would last me a lifetime. 

Well, life as we know it has it's ups and downs.  It's a roller coaster ride full of twists and turns and occasionally we get thrown for a loop and things get turned upside down.  This year has been one of those years for us and I'm just happy we're all in one piece and healthy. This year I lost a good friend and a sister to cancer.  These huge losses have certainly put things in perspective and have caused me to think a lot about priorities.  There have been broken bones, illnesses and financial struggles this year due to reduced hours at work and pay cuts due to the economy. We're in the same boat with many, many others across the country.  So, this year may be another "Charlie Brown Christmas", not just for my family, but for many others as well.  We'll get through it though, we always do. I will just pray that the coming year will bring much more joy than heartache for all of us.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Currently Reading

Geography of BlissGeography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

I was intrigued when I browsed through this book in the book store several months ago. Eric Weiner travels the world in search of the happiest places on earth.  I read an excerpt from it online and decided I had to go back and get it.  A witty combination of geography, psychology and philosophy.  I am finding it to be a very interesting read so far, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ways to Celebrate National Book Month

Ways to Celebrate National Book Month     
Click on the link above

I just thought I'd share this.  It's good that we take time to promote reading, but as far as I'm concerned, this is a year round event.


"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

"I love October!"  "What is your favorite thing about October?"

Those were the comments from a friend on Facebook recently.  The temperatures have finally cooled and we have been experiencing the most beautiful weather of the year the last couple of weeks.  October is probably the best month of the year in Florida as far as I am concerned.  After a long hot summer, there is no sweeter relief than October's pleasant weather, especially the cool crisp nights. October means that I can open my windows and let the fresh air flow through the house. I spend more time sitting in my back yard reading, or just watching the squirrels and birds that visit the feeder in my yard.  I look forward to the more frequent day trips to state parks and preserves where we can enjoy all that nature has to offer this time of year, walking trails, observing the wildlife, and enjoying a picnic. One of the best things about this time of year is the food.  As soon as we have our first cool snap, it's time for homemade vegetable or chicken soup, chicken and dumplings, chili, beef stew and biscuits.  Cooler weather means camping,  and we always enjoy a camping trip in late October.  It's so relaxing to disconnect from the world, no phones, no tv, just the sights and sounds of nature. I guess in response to my friends question, "What's your favorite thing about October?"  I would have to say, "just about everything."


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Big Talbot Island State Park

Big Talbot Island State
The temperatures in North Florida are finally cooling off a bit, signaling the arrival of fall. This is my favorite time of year because it means it's time to get back out and enjoy some of my favorite places around Jacksonville.  When I'm in need of an escape, my favorite thing to do is hit the road and head to one of Florida's many state parks or nature preserves.  Big Talbot Island is one of few undeveloped barrier islands along the Atlantic coastline, which makes it a great place for a nature enthusiast to enjoy wildlife viewing and beautiful scenery.  Enjoy a picnic in a very shaded picnic area overlooking the ocean. After you eat, take a short walk through the forest along the trail down to the beach. You're likely to see plenty of osprey, pelicans and other sea birds, and if you're really lucky, you may even spot a bald eagle. You won't find people sunbathing or swimming along the beaches of Big Talbot.  The only thing you'll see laying on the beaches here are the remains of live oak and cedar trees that used to grow along this barrier island.  They have been white washed and weathered from years of exposure to the elements.  The shoreline has suffered severe beach erosion in the past several years, which has created bluffs, exposing clay like soil and extensive root systems.  Take your time walking along the beach, but use caution as you may have to make your away over or around some of the trees, but that's half the fun. On your way out of the park, look up into the trees; you may see a raccoon keeping a watchful eye to make sure you don't take any souvenirs with you when you go.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Victoria Gaines » Blog Archive » Quote Attic: When I’m Not Up to Par -

Words To Help in A Dry Spell

I can always count on Victoria Gaines to lift me up.  She always has beautiful devotionals, wonderful stories, great quotes and more that inspire me. I have needed inspiration lately, I've been in a dry spell and I've  missed writing on my blog, I just haven't been able to concentrate on any of my writing projects lately. My daughter Sara and her boyfriend were in a car accident recently and Sara suffered a broken ankle. I have been a little busier with trying to help her out.  Since she has been unable to drive and go out to see her friends, there have been more frequent visitors here. A friend's daughter that is attending college here stayed for several days after moving out of her dorm for the summer. During and after the spring break we've had company off and on and I feel as if I've been running a hostel for young travelers. I have enjoyed it, but needless to say, it's been a little crazy around here. We did have our annual spring camping trip, but that's another story.  Now, my family is faced with a major crisis as one of my sister's has just recently been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and is in the battle for her life.  We are all coming together to help her and her family in every way we can, we are sending out requests for prayer for Carolyn as she faces this extremely difficult time in her life.  We took a very spontaneous trip to my sister Dieonna's place in Orlando this weekend to spend some time together just having fun.  Carolyn wanted to take a couple of days to enjoy herself before beginning treatment this week.  We had a great time playing in the pool, playing the new dice game "Farkel", enjoying good food, a few good glasses of wine and a lot of good conversation. I could see that Carolyn was not looking forward to returning home Sunday, knowing what she had to face.  We are all doing our best to be strong for her.

Meanwhile, I have been getting in my reading, it's my escape from all the craziness.  I did finish two books, and am reading two more and absolutely enjoying both of them.

Books I Read:   Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart                                                   Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now                             by Gordon Livingston, M.D.
                           Layers, by Sandi Patty, Uncovering and                                 Celebrating God's Original Idea of You                                     

Books I am Reading: 

God Never Blinks - 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours by Regina Brett
I picked this up and started reading it in the store, had to get it, I am loving it.


   The Journal Keeper, A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux
                                    I wish I could write as beautifully in my own journal.  This is a
                                    wonderful book.  I'm almost finished, will share more about
                                    this one soon.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Reading Thing 2010

This is my first year participating in the Spring Reading Thing. I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone in the group is reading.  I have a couple of books that I recently started; I'm really bad about starting a book and then something new comes out that grabs my attention and the other is set aside. So, now I have a stack of books I have yet to finish reading.  So, first I'd like to concentrate on finishing two particular books and then on to something new.
  • Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart - Thirty True Things You Need To Know Now                                  by Gordon Livingston, M.D.
  • Layers, by Sandy Patti
  • The Dead Guy Interviews, by Michael A. Stusser
  • The Journal Keeper, by Phyllis Theroux
  • The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar   
  • The Last Time I Saw You, by Elizabeth Berg                            
With my schedule, I think I'll be doing good to get all of those in. But, if time allows,  I'd also like to read another book by Gordon Livingston  And Never Stop Dancing, Thirty More True Things You Need To Know

Others that I am very intrigued with that I'd like to get to as soon as I can are:

Making Toast, by Roger Rosenblatt
So Much For That, by Lionel Shriver
This Year I Will, by M.J. Ryan (Although by the time I get to it, I might be thinking about Next Year I Will)

There are just so many great books out there and just not enough hours in the day.  In fact, I read a book once called, So Many Books, So Little Time, A Year of Passionate Reading, by Sara Nelson.  I really enjoyed the book; her goal was 52 books in 52 weeks.  She actually surpassed her goal and what I want to know is, what did her house look like at the end of that year.  How do you accomplish that much reading and keep up with everything else?

Well, I'll have to stick with a more realistic goal and just do what I can do.  I'm looking forward to many hours on the back porch with a good book.  If you'd like to join in on the fun, you can find more details at Callapidder Days at

**Note: The Last Time I Saw You, by Elizabeth Berg will be available on April 6, 2010
I'm looking forward to it as she is my favorite author.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stop Saying “Impossible” and Start Saying “I’m Possible!”

Stop Saying “Impossible” and Start Saying “I’m Possible!”
Do you remember the song High Hopes sung by Frank Sinatra? Okay, maybe some of you don't, if you're not a member of the baby boom generation.

Just what makes that little ant
think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
move a rubber tree plant.

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes......

That is of course the song that came to mind when I read the above post in Simple Truths today. This is a great little story that inspired me today and I wanted to pass it on.
Just click on the link above.

*Words to High Hopes by Sammy Cohn and Jimmy Van Heusen

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

The Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park, situated on the Suwannee River was built in honor of composer Stephen Foster. He is of course the author of the famous folk song, "Old Folks At Home", which is also the state song of Florida. The park includes the Stephen Foster Carillon Tower Museum, where you can view beautiful dioramas of Foster's songs, antique pianos and other instruments he used for writing and composing his music. The carillon tower houses the largest tubular bell instrument ever constructed, from which you will hear Foster's most famous tunes played in concerts throughout the day.

We enjoyed visiting the different craft shops in Craft Square, watching as pottery, beaded jewelry and quilts were being made. There was also the blacksmith's shop and an aroma therapist selling her home made candles and and scented oils. They all smelled so delicious and there were so many to choose from, floral scents, citrus, vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood, and more. There was an older gentleman selling canes he had carved from tree branches, they were beautiful. My favorite craft shop was the pottery shop, I love pottery. We spent quite a while talking with the owner as she created a quirky sculpture of a rooster, which as it turns out, I am a collector of quirky roosters. She invited us to come back some
time for a class and I would love to take her up on the offer, but it's a long way to drive for a pottery class. There is of course the gift shop which sells the work of these local artists in addition to t-shirts, hats, pictures, candies and preserves and many other items, and of course plenty of Stephen Foster memorabilia.
This is a great place to picnic; there are picnic areas throughout the park. These are some of the nicest we have seen in any of the parks we have visited. After lunch, we of course had to take a hike down one of several trails in the park and eventually made our way around to the river. One of the things you will notice about the Suwannee River is the really dark water; you may think it is polluted, but it is actually what is known as a black water river. The dark water is caused by organic acids which stain the water, thereby making it appear black.

This is a very popular area for those who enjoy canoeing and kayaking. There is a lot of beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife to enjoy while you paddle along the river. There is plenty to do and see at the Stephen Foster Culture Center. There are festivals, craft fairs, concerts and other events here throughout the year. You can see a schedule of events by going to the Florida State Parks website at

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heal Foundation - Heal Walk at Jacksonville Zoo

Help Raise Funds for a very worthy cause and help my buddy Jayson!
As many of you know, the HEAL Foundation is very near and dear to my heart. They are the only organization that I have found that actualy helps enrich the lives of children with autism in our community ...

If you're in Jax, follow the link and come out to support a great cause. Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

This is one of the most recent nature preserves opened in Jacksonville and it's a real gem. It has become one of my favorite places to walk. You can enjoy walking one of the nature trails and view plenty of wildlife. There is the Ravine Trail which loops around a large ravine and intersects with the Jones Creek Trail (my favorite), which runs along a creek that winds its way through the woods. You can stop along the way and sit on one of the benches placed near the creek and enjoy the view and listen to the sounds of the flowing stream. You can take the Lake Loop around Lake Ray, named for Councilman (now Representative) Lake Ray, who pushed for funding for the preserve. If you enjoy bird watching, there is plenty to see. During several different visits, I've spotted a great blue heron, egrets, cormorants, ducks, an anhinga, and a barred owl. There are of course many other varieties of birds such as robins, wrens, chickadees, grackles, blue jays and cardinals. If you get there early enough you could have a close encounter with opossums or maybe a raccoon; I don't know who was more startled one morning as I came upon a raccoon who quickly darted across the creek and off into the woods. There is also the Live Oak Trail, appropriately named for all the large, stately live oak trees draped in spanish moss. With spring approaching, the red buds are blooming, wild azaleas, beauty berries, atamaso lily and other types of flora will soon provide for beautiful color throughout the arboretum.

The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens can only get better as the city and volunteers continue to work towards making this a first class nature preserve, recreational and educational facility. There are plans for a butterfly and hummingbird garden, a picnic area, visitor center, amphitheater and more. You can visit their website for events and activities and check out their
master plan at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Speaking of Winter

After finishing my last post, I found this on my facebook. So, all of my thin blooded Florida friends, let's be happy we don't have this to deal with.

Battling Winter Blues

The winter of 2010 was a very hard winter for Floridians, especially in North Florida and the panhandle area. We've had weeks of frigid temperatures, seemingly endless periods of cold, wet, gray days that have left many of us with a case of winter time blues. I myself had to fight that "funk" frequently over the past few months. For some people, it's more than just a case of the winter time blues or cabin fever; they have a more serious condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. People suffering from this disorder often fall into a deep depression during the winter months. They may even need to seek medical attention to find a way to deal with their situation. For most of us though, we muddle through and there are things we can do to keep those winter blues at bay. It may be a bit late but here are some of the things I do to try to make those gray days more bearable, I'm sure we're not quite finished with winter just yet.

  • Open up the blinds or curtains and let in as much natural light as possible.
  • Keep candles burning with pleasant scents, my favorites are apple cinnamon or vanilla
  • If you have a fireplace, use it, light a fire, there's nothing like sitting around a warm fire
  • Winter is a good time to enjoy fresh homemade soups
  • Make hot chocolate and curl up under a warm blanket with a good book
  • Get together with friends, get out of the house
  • Put on some Jimmy Buffet and dream about being in the Florida Keys where it's always warm.
  • Winter is a good time to catch up on indoor projects, cleaning out closets and drawers are biggies for me; use those dreary days to accomplish something inside so when the weather is nice, you can enjoy doing those outdoor activities.
  • Try to keep in mind, we live in Florida, our winters are shorter and we'll be enjoying spring weather very soon; we haven't had it half as bad as those who live up north trying to dig their way out of several feet of snow.

Hang in there friends, spring is coming and before you know it, summer will be here and we'll all be complaining about the heat and wishing for cooler weather.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So Many Books to Choose From

I'm really beginning to think I may need an intervention. I need to join Bookaholics Anonymous; I've developed a serious addiction and I fear I am losing control. It's not as if I don't have enough books sitting around my house that I have yet to read. I can't help myself, I love to read. One of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to sit out on my back porch with a good glass of iced tea and a good book. And that time of year is right around the corner. And there's the matter of that annual spring camping trip coming up in a few weeks. I'm going to need a good book to read while I'm basking in the sun by the springs. Some people are out shopping for their spring wardrobe, I'm out shopping for spring reading. I was just browsing the latest Book Page Magazine and there are several that sounded very intriguing to me. I narrowed it down to four that I feel like I just have to read.

The Journal Keeper, by Phyllis Theroux
Making Toast, by Roger Rosenblatt
So Much For That, by Lional Shriver
The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar

Of course The Great Jacksonville Book Sale is this weekend and I'll be there when the doors open.
Is there a 12 step program for me?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thoughts on Reading

I was at a bit of a loss tonight as to what today's post would be. I'm currently reading a good book on which I will be sharing my thoughts at a later date. I read a few interesting articles last night which gave me an idea or two. But, nothing really inspired me today. So, I was chatting with a friend on facebook and eventually as it often does, the topic of books came up. I of course had seen another book I want to read, my list grows ever longer. Then I remembered that this week is the 2010 NEA Read Across America. So, I hope everyone has found something good to read and for those with young children, please spend time every night reading with them.

I was browsing through a book of quotes and found some quotes on reading that I'd thought I'd share.

"If we encountered a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There is hardly any grief that an hour's reading will not dissipate." L. de Montesquieu

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" - Richard Steele

"You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me. - Strickland Gillilan

"When we read we may not only be kings and live in palaces, but, what is far better,
we may transport ourselves to the mountains or the seashore, and visit the most beautiful parts of the earth, without fatigue, inconvenience, or expense. " -John Lubbock

"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting" - Edmund Burke

"He that loves reading has everything within his reach." -William Godwin

Quotes found in Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts, Funny Sayings, Bob Philips 1993
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Seuss

The first books I ever learned to read were by Dr. Seuss. When I was a little girl, I lived right across the street from the public library. Every summer I would participate in the summer reading contest. The winner got their picture in the local newspaper.. One summer I won; I remember getting a free book and a big bag of tootsie pops! I still love tootsie pops, and I got my picture in the paper; I still have that paper today. Some days I would spend hours sitting at a table, or on the floor by the bookshelves reading. I remember when I wanted to check out a book about Hiroshima, the librarian thought it might be just a little advanced for me and encouraged me to make another choice, but no, I wanted that book and I read it all the way through. I've always had a love for books, my favorite subject in high school was English Literature and Composition. Maybe it was the teachers I had, who were so passionate about what they taught. We read some great books, Camelot, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Flowers for Algernon, Pride and Prejudice and more, I still have some of those books. By the way, The Great Gatsby is when I discovered Robert Redford! When I go to a book store, I can be there for hours. I have to browse through books in nearly every genre and I have to have great self control, because I always spend more than I set out to. It's a joke in my house that if you're invited to go to the bookstore with mom you had better pack a lunch, you may be there all day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Twelve Good Things About Winter

We have had an unusually cold, wet, dreary winter here in North Florida this year, in fact the entire state has seen some very cold, occasionally record breaking temperatures this year. We are normally blessed with relatively mild winters here in Florida, so when we do have an actual cold winter, we don't like it. That couple of weeks of arctic chill we had in January were brutal and I'll add that the electric bill to follow was also brutal, OUCH! We've all done our share of complaining about the weather these last couple of months, myself included. But as I sat on couch last night, wrapped in a quilt with my dog Ziggy cuddled up next to me while I read a good book, I thought to myself, this is nice, I like this. I started thinking, there are some things I like about the cold weather.

  • Snuggling under a blanket reading a good book with your dog (or cat for some people) snuggled up next to you
  • Hot Chocolate!
  • Toasted Doughnuts
  • No mosquitos, and a lot less of the other bugs too
  • A big pot of homemade soup, my personal favorites, Chicken Noodle or Vegetable Beef with a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Being able to enjoy sitting around a fire in the outdoor fire pit while sipping hot chocolate or whatever your choice of cocktail
  • Being able to pull my sweaters out of storage, I love my sweaters
  • Hanging around the house in my big baggy sweatshirt and flannel pants
  • It's nice to get in my car and it not feel like it's 200 degrees
  • I like the fact that it's not 98 degrees outside
  • NOT SWEATING - And at my current stage of life, that's rare.
  • When spring does arrive, we're really going to appreciate the beautiful weather even more.
So fix yourself a cup of hot chocolate, wrap up in your favorite quilt, grab a good book and your favorite furry friend and hang in there for a little while longer. We'll all be complaining about the heat soon enough.

If you're a northerner reading this I know what you're thinking, we should stop whining about the cold, we don't have it nearly as bad as our friends up north. I completely agree, I watch the weather reports, see the pictures and I am very thankful to be a Floridian. I can't imagine battling the elements the folks up north have had to contend with this year.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tomoka State Park and Bulow Creek State Park

Last weekend Richard and I took advantage of the beautiful weather we had last Sunday to take another day trip. We ended up at Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach. This is a beautiful park located along the Tomoka River and the Halifax River and join with the Intracoastal Waterway at the north end of the park. You can enjoy picnicking, camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and if you're a birder, there are many species of birds to watch. Richard and I enjoyed a picnic in a secluded little picnic area overlooking the Tomoka River near the boat ramp. After lunch, we walked along the shore and watched as the mullet continuously sprang from the water. We spoke with an older gentleman while he fished, not much luck this day, but he said there was usually very good fishing along this river. We took some time to check out the camping areas of which there are plenty. They were nice, but a little too small and close together for our taste. We generally like a large area with room to spread out. If you're in need of fishing tackle, snacks, drinks, firewood, toiletries or other supplies, there is the Tomoka Outpost which is located at the boat ramp. This was definitely worth the short drive down, a really nice place to spend an afternoon. At the recommendation of the young man at the outpost, on the way back we drove a few miles down the scenic Old Dixie Highway to stop off at Bulow Creek State Park. This is a great little park to enjoy a picnic and see some of the oldest standing live oak trees around. The main attraction at the park is The Fairchild Oak, named in honor of American Botanist David Fairchild. This is a beautiful, majestic live oak tree that has branches that were so large, they grew into the ground and back out again. Also on the grounds are the remains of a historic coquina building built in 1915 that was to be the land sales office for the purpose of building a residential community at this location. Fortunately for all of us, this did not happen. There are also 2 walking trails, which I'd love to go back to take advantage of some time. One is the 6.8 mile Bulow Wood Trail which takes you to the Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park; the other is a short loop around a groundwater spring that seeps from a coquina rock bluff.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Happiness Project

While reading the book The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, I gave a lot of thought to what I would do this year to make myself, my family and my friends happier. I have to agree with one of her 12 commandments, act the way I want to feel; this is definitely one rule that I am trying very hard to adhere to. I want to be happy, so why not act happy. I try to steer clear of people who are constant downers, why would I want to be that way myself; it makes for a very lonely existence.

I have to admit, I really need to do what ought to be done and tackle that nagging project. I admit, I've been procrastinating on that one. It's a major project that I have been putting off for a long time. Let's just say if someone were to open my bedroom closet, I would be very embarrassed. It will require that I buy a few needful things, for the purpose of organization, but it will be worth it once I am finished. It will go towards that theory of outer order makes for inner peace. A small investment in this case will buy a little happiness, my husband will be VERY happy once this "nagging task" has been completed.

I am back in the habit of doing one or two extra chores a day, so that I can have more free time on the weekend to do the things I want to do, like spend time with friends or family, take a day trip, or spend time reading a good book. Like Gretchen, I can get completely absorbed in a book and neglect everyone and everything around me. I have a few craft projects I plan to work on, I'm not exactly an artist, but I dabble and it's a way to stretch myself a little, I find that doing something creative can really lift your mood. I am also spending more time doing working on one of my favorite activities, just what I am doing right now, blogging. This has been a fun hobby for me that has challenged me to learn something new, and it has been worth the effort.

Do Good, Feel Good, there are other takes on this, all mean pretty much the same thing -
Live by the golden rule; do unto others what you would have done to you.
What goes around, comes around.
The good you do comes back to you.
Give and it shall be given unto you.
No matter how you put it, when you do good deeds, bless others, it always comes back around, and often just in the nick of time.

We all definitely need to make time to play; you're never too old for a little fun. In today's world, we all really do need to lighten up. Have some fun, laugh, relax, it's good for you; ask any doctor, too much stress is detrimental to your health, so take a little time each day to laugh and play.
If there is one statement in The Happiness Project that couldn't be more true, "The days are long, but the years are short." I think I'm going to paint that on a plaque and hang it over my desk.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daybreak at Salt Springs

While on a camping trip with my family, I woke up early one morning while most of the other campers were still sleeping. I was awakened by the sounds of pileated woodpeckers hammering away high in the pine trees surrounding our campsite. Nature's alarm clock was sounding, telling us it was time to greet the day. I decided to take a walk down to the springs while it was still quiet. As I walked the path down to the springs, I noticed a couple of deer and a fawn, still with its spots, standing at the edge of the woods. I stood motionless for a moment and watched them until they spotted me and darted off into the woods. As I continued my walk, I was caught by surprise by several wild turkeys gobbling loudly as they crossed the path in front of me. The site of them made me chuckle. Looking out over the springs and toward the lake, there was a thin layer of fog lying over the water like a blanket. The sun was coming up and looked as if it were just perched on the water, slowly rising to start a new day. The otters came out to play; I watched in utter delight as they frolicked in the cool water as if they hadn't a care in the world. Suddenly the springs were bustling with activity; there were coots, ducks, and cormorants gliding across the water occasionally dunking their heads below for a bite to eat. Several egrets and a great blue heron took flight and landed on the banks of the water in search of their morning meal. I watched as the fish performed a ballet, springing from the water as if elated at the site of this beautiful morning. As I witnessed this miracle of nature, I thought to myself, it just doesn't get any better than this. There is no better way to start a day, and I was grateful to have been able to see it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life With Ziggy

You think Marley was bad, you haven't met Ziggy!

"Ziggy, that's not a rug you're sitting on!" Sweet Lula, she's so tolerant.

Time for a little R&R

"Night Night!"

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Ziggy was an unexpected addition to our family a year ago. He's quite the handful, but he has brought me so much joy and laughter. Every morning I wake up to this adorable face, how sweet is that. Our dog Lula welcomed her new playmate, although at times, he really wears her out. She is so tolerant of his antics, as you can see above.

Book Review

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Gretchen Rubin has come to the realization that she is not focusing on the things in life that really matter. While riding the city bus one day she looks out the window to see a woman about her age trying to balance an umbrella and look at her cell phone, while pushing a stroller and carrying a child. The sight of it gave her a jolt. She saw herself, riding the same crosstown bus everyday, back and forth; "This is my life-but I never give any thought to it." She realized she was suffering from a mid-life malaise; although she lived a very fortunate life, something was still missing. As she states early in the book, she had everything she could possibly want, but failed to appreciate it. Like most of us, she was caught up in the day to day routine of life. We just go through each day and fail to realize the things that really matter in life. The more she thought about this, she realized she needed a better perspective; she needed to be more grateful for just an ordinary day. That's when she decided she would start a happiness project.

Rubin creates a list of twelve resolutions to focus on each month known as her Twelve Commandments, she lists what she believes to be some of the secrets of adulthood, and along the way discovers what she calls Four Splendid Truths. She reads countless books on the subject of happiness from the likes of the Dalai Lama, Martin Seligman, Aristotle, Elizabeth Gilbert, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson and many others. She studies a great deal of scientific research, tries meditation, begins a strength training exercise program, studies various spiritual leaders and their philosophies, tries journaling and many other ideas in the pursuit of a happier life.

It is obvious Rubin is very passionate about this project. At times maybe a bit too analytical, however, I found the book to be very enlightening and I really did enjoy it. While reading The Happiness Project, I was inspired by much of the wisdom she shared from various books she read on the subject; I have added several of the books to my personal book list. I think anything book that promotes the pursuit of a happier, more fulfilled life is worth reading.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Missing Book

I am a bit freakish about my books. This morning I went looking for a certain book, only to discover it was not on my bookshelf. I searched all over the house and could not find it. So, my concern is that I might have inadvertently given it away during a recent cleaning out and de-cluttering. We hauled off several boxes and bags of clothes, books, nick knacks etc. I read the book once already, but I want to read it again because the subject matter is something of which I have first hand knowledge and would like to write about here on my blog. This will drive me crazy, wondering what has happened to it; I'm very protective of my books. I will admit, some may think it's crazy, but I'm very selfish with my books. Most of the time if I read a book that I think a friend will like, I will likely go out and buy them their own copy, rather than give away mine. I have quite a few books that I would like to reread because at the time I was reading it there may have been a lot of distractions and I wasn't able to fully absorb the material. I'll go back at a later date to read it again to really absorb the book. So the search is on, it has to be here somewhere.

The Most Depressing Day of the Year?

The Most Depressing Day of the Year?

Here is a link to one of my favorite blogs, Simple Truths, by Mac Anderson who is a wonderful motivational speaker. Like he says in this post, I too need constant reinforcement to stay positive. I'm sure many of us these days in the midst of some difficult times in our country feel the same way. You can subscribe to Simple Truths and receive regular newsletters and short inspirational movies to lift your spirits, give encouragement and advice to help succeed in life and business.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Castaway Island Preserve, Jacksonville, FL

One of the great things about living in Jacksonville is that there are so many great parks and recreation areas to get away without driving very far. Castaway Island Preserve is a beautiful nature preserve tucked away in the middle of neighborhoods off San Pablo Road, along the intracoastal waterway. This is a great place to take the kids for a nature walk or school field trips. There is an education center just across from the picnic area. The Island Trail is lined with animal tracks that you can identify to see which animal lives in this type of habitat. At the end of the trail of footprints is an information board that will tell you what kind of animal prints you have been following along with more detailed information about that particular animal. There are a few observation decks along the way that give a beautiful view of the marshlands, and benches to sit and rest or enjoy the view. This is a great place for birders to see many species of birds, such as hawks, osprey, egrets, storks, bald eagles, and many more. You can spend the day canoeing or kayaking along the intracoastal and get a close up view of the wildlife. After you've enjoyed the nature trails, enjoy a picnic at the shaded picnic tables. A note about this, there are no garbage cans at this park and that is noted at the entrance. They do provide you with trash bags through a dispenser, but it wouldn't hurt to bring one from home, just in case. Please, whatever you do, don't leave your trash. This park is definitely a gem, and we want to keep it that way.

NOTE: Castaway Island Preserve is part of the Preservation Project Jacksonville; a massive land conservation program instituted by former Mayor John Delaney in 1999. As a result of this program, Jacksonville now has the largest urban park system in the country.
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Happiness Project

During a recent book search on the Books-A-Million website I stumbled across an ad for a book called "The Happiness Project". The book is written by Gretchen Rubin, who after having an epiphany while riding a city bus with her young daughter, realizes how something that she dreads every day, means the world to her daughter. Thus begins her 1 year long happiness project, which she wrote about on her blog. After reading about the book, I suddenly began to hear about it everywhere, including The Today Show. You can see the video clip of that on her website. The book has inspired a "happiness movement" to make 2010 a happier year. So, after hearing and reading so much about it, and, sense I am at a crossroads in my life feeling somewhat stressed out and dissatisfied with the way things have been going in my life, I decided I have to read this book. So, I ordered it a few days ago and am eagerly awaiting its arrival, which should be Monday. So, I know what I'll be doing Monday evening. I have a good feeling about this book and have already gone to the happiness project website and signed on to be a part of this movement to make 2010 a happier year. Regardless of any book, you can't go wrong being a part of a movement that is designed to help people find some happiness. You can check out her website at So, stay tuned........I can't help but think of the song from the popular 70's tv show, The Partridge Family, "Come On Get Happy"!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My calendar, myself |

My calendar, myself |

Above is a link to a column by Laura Capitano, Lifestyle columnist for the Florida Times Union. I got such a giggle out of this recent column. It reminded me so much of myself. Just a week before, a friend at work was showing me how to set up my "digital calender", telling me I needed to open it first thing every morning, and all day long it would chime and give me pop up reminders of what I needed to do or where to go. The problem is, I rarely think to open it. Well, recently, while trying to organize my desk, I actually took the time to open up my calendar and update it. I thought of Laura Capitano's recent column and laughed. She was right, it just wasn't the same. My large desk calender was not only a reminder of important dates and appointments, it served many purposes. It was my note pad, where I would jot down reminders, phone numbers and grocery lists. It's my personal "sketch book", where I doodle when I'm on long phone conversations; it's a large coaster for my giant mug of tea that I'm almost never without and a placemat for lunch. My calendar was like a diary in a way, a reminder of how I spent my days and yes, sometimes, like Laura, a reminder of what I ate and drank. I miss my big desk calendar and I've decided there are some technological advances I can live without. So goodbye digital calendar, tomorrow you will be replaced with the old fashioned desk calendar.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I tried Animoto and they put together this video. Day trips with the kids and I love the song, Time for Time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Keeping Warm

We're having a long spell of very cold weather here in North Florida. Ziggy and Lula snuggle up in my bed to keep warm! Too bad I had to go to work and couldn't crawl back under the covers myself. Ziggy had been sleeping under the blankets at my feet and is usually an early riser, but lately when the alarm goes off, he just moans and snuggles up a little closer, which makes it even harder to get out of bed on a cold morning.
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