Finding Everyday Joy

Finding joy in the simple things is my quest.  I seek simplicity, peace and serenity.  I strive to make my days and my surroundings as quiet and peaceful as I possibly can.  I have made a purposeful decision to avoid stress and chaos in my life and I structure my days for calm and quiet.

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I realize this may not be completely possible.  I know that life can be stressful and there are certain times when stress and chaos are hard to avoid.  However, I am making a purposeful choice to turn away from stress and chaos and fill my days with calm and quiet.

This has been a long term goal of mine, however, as with many goals, often we fall short of what we have planned.  Life gets busy, overwhelming, with stressful jobs, raising families, and seemingly endless to do lists of things we believe must be accomplished each day.  It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday stresses of life.  Sometimes so caught up that we become weary, physically exhausted and emotionally drained.  

Finding everyday joy involves finding simple pleasures in ordinary moments.  Finding joy each day involves taking a moment to enjoy small, simple pleasures.

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I know that I cannot completely avoid stress and busyness in my life.  I know would be unrealistic.  But there are things that I can do to bring a stressful day back to calm.

Here are some tips that I follow when I feel my peace and calm is turning into hectic and crazy. 

Start each day with quiet.  I know this can be difficult, but I try to carve a few minutes of quiet into the  beginning of my day for meditation, reflection, prayer.  It truly gets my day started on the right foot.

Flowers, candles, music.  I love for my home to be filled with fresh flowers, the smell of scented candles, and spa music or jazz playing softly in the background.  These things can instantly take the hectic out of my day and bring me back to calm and joy.

Spending time in nature.  A part of everyday for me includes a walk outdoors and some time in the garden soaking up some Vitamin D and enjoying the nature that’s around me.  The simple quiet of a gentle breeze and chirping birds can relieve stress from my day.

Being Creative.  Writing, drawing, painting, photography, arranging flowers…..anything that allows me to simply escape and forge my own way brings me relaxation, calm and rejuvenates my spirit.

Keeping things simple.  I try not to let to much clutter into my life.  This includes physical and mental clutter.  Stuff that takes up space in my home and stuff that takes up space in my brain.  If I don’t need it it in my life, I let it go.

Find the simple moments in your day and you will find joy.   xxoo Gerri

 

 

 

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A Rainy Summer Day

As I look at the sky, I notice the gathering of dark water-laden storm clouds and wonder will we actually get some rain.  A bit later, I hear the patter of gentle raindrops as they slowly begin to fall.  The thunder rolls and the lightning strikes….. and, it has begun! A much awaited summer storm!

I know we equate summer days with lounging by the pool, relaxing at the beach, or perhaps a backyard barbeque. But one of my favorite summer events is when the rain begins to fall!

With summer temperatures rising into the nineties, and the blazing summer sun beating down with brutal strength,  the summer rain brings as much excitement to me as the first cool autumn breezes blowing in.

I embrace the summer rain much as I would a winter storm.  A chance to power down, choose a good book, grab a cuppa tea and hide from the world.  Believe it or not, I even have a favorite blanket (more for comfort than for warmth) that I pull out as I escape to a quiet corner with my awaiting summer read.  There I immerse myself in whatever novel has recently piqued my interest as I know the rain is continuing to fall just outside my window.

I don’t always read during a summer rain.  Sometimes I take cover on the back porch and luxuriate at the musical sound of the raindrops pounding the roof.  I have to position my chair just so under the breezeway as not to be splattered by the rain falling on either side of me.  From this vantage point I can watch the thirsty plants gobble up the falling drops.  It’s as if I can hear them chanting to the sky, “Thank you so much for this magnificent rainfall!”

Eventually, the rain will pass and the sun will come out again.  The temperatures will again rise and I will do my best to hide from the midday sun.

But until then, I will enjoy this refreshing break from summer’s heat with this delightful summer rain.

 

What do you like to do in a summer rain?

Have a lovely summer day! – Gerri

 

 

Early Morning Quiet

Summer has definitely arrived with temperatures soaring into the mid 90’s!  I am a lover of warm weather, but it is truly difficult to enjoy the outdoors when the afternoon sun just beats down on your head and bakes you.

Fortunately for me, one of of my favorite times of day has always been early morning.  (Well, to be completely honest, this probably wasn’t true when I was in my teens and only saw early morning on an as needed basis!)

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However, now that I am older, I feel my best in the morning, refreshed and ready to conquer the new day. Recently, I’ve taken to grabbing my coffee and sitting outside first thing to enjoy my garden and commune a bit with nature.  The sun is not high in the sky and the temperature is pleasant.  I listen to the birds chirping and enjoy the slight breeze rustling the the tall pines.  It is quiet and peaceful.  It gives me a chance to put my mind in order and reflect on my goals for the day.

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I draw my peace and serenity from these early morning quiet times. I gather my thoughts and my energy.  This time alone in the peaceful, quiet early morning inspires me.  It’s in this quiet time that I gather my creativity and think about the possibility of future projects.  Without this time, I feel lost, without focus, unable to attain my creative goals, or to even be sure of what they are.

I have found that if I go too long without this quiet time,  I become depressed, anxious and unsure about my future.  It’s in these quiet moments that I gather my serenity and hold on to my faith.

How about you?

Where do you find your serenity?

What to helps inspire your creativity?

xxoo Gerri

A Surprising Walk

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So often it’s the little things that take place in our day to day existence that make life meaningful.  It’s in the sound of the wind rustling through the tall pines.  It’s in the beauty of the light and shadows as they play across the water.  It’s coming across a special surprise on an ordinary day.

It is no secret that I am a lover of gardens and nature.  I am so fortunate to live in a lovely area filled with gorgeous, tall oak and pine trees.  A favorite activity of mine ( if you can call it an activity ) is to sit on our back porch and listen to the wind as it whistles through the tall pines.

I also enjoy walking on the trails we have and visiting the pond. It fills me with peace and serenity to escape from my home for a bit each day and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.

This morning on my walk I had a lovely surprise!  As I was heading along the path, I came across this sweet friend just coming out of the forest!  You can imagine my delight when I saw him there.  I am tracking my steps so I now walk with my phone in hand ready to capture any special moments.  He was probably scared to death of me, but he did stay still long enough for me to get a couple of photos before he scurried back into the woods.  It made me feel so fortunate to have just a moment to observe him just a few feet away!

I hope you all take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy this beautiful day!  Take in the small details of nature that surrounds you and look for the joy and peace it has to offer.

xxoo Gerri

From Tranquil Beaches to Majestic Mountains

The month of May has been an absolute whirlwind of travel! It began on the lovely Island of Isla Mujeres with it’s pristine beaches and turquoise waters. I then traveled to a family wedding in Columbus, Ohio and was amazed by the rolling hills and green, vibrant countryside filled with quaint farmhouses and picturesque flower gardens. Finally, I completed the month with a visit to the magnificent Rocky Mountains and Estes Park.

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View of Longs Peak from Estes Park, Colorado.

I am left with amazement and awe for the beauty that surrounds us in our world, and I was thinking, wouldn’t our world be a little better if we could all just stop to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us.  I know it is difficult or even impossible to drop everything and travel to the beach or the mountains.  However,  we can all take a few minutes of each day to step outside and enjoy the outdoors.  Spending time enjoying nature relieves the stress and anxiety that builds in us from dealing with our everyday tasks.

When I’m home and busy,  I try to at least take a walk everyday or spend some time in the garden just relaxing and watching the birds and squirrels romp around.  Taking time to enjoy nature can improve your outlook on life and relieve stress and anxiety.  And it doesn’t cost a penny to open your front door and walk outside to breathe in the fresh air!

I feel totally and completely blessed to have been able to see so much and have so many varied experiences in such a brief amount of time.  I will be back soon to share photos and more about my travels.  Until then,  you can find me relaxing in my back garden taking in the beauty of my own simple surroundings.

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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

xxoo Ciao  –  Gerri

Rustic Charm in the Texas Hill Country

I know that there are many places of awe inspiring beauty in the world. Colorado has the most majestic mountains I’ve ever seen.  I am enthralled by the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.  I have been astounded by the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii.  Thailand fascinated me with it’s exotic culture and charming people. I long to visit and see more of these amazing places.  However unique and fascinating those places are, they are far from my home.

So, when I need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, I escape to the Texas Hill Country. My husband and I load up the Tahoe, along with our schnauzer, Bear, and head west until the flat lands gradually turn into rugged, rolling hills covered with live oak and cedar trees.  Nestled between San Antonio and Austin and encompassing 25 counties, the Texas Hill Country boasts of a rustic charm filled with a a rich Texas history, charming architecture, and a natural beauty that soothes my soul and brings me peace and serenity.

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I have to admit, the weather was less than desirable the weekend of our last visit. After our arrival the fog and rain set in, and temperatures dropped into the 30’s.  No worries though.  We loved being there no matter what the weather.

The Texas Hill Country is known for it’s numerous small town venues, restaurants and antique shops all filled with quaint, rustic charm.  One of our favorite hidden gems is the Welfare Cafe. Located off IH-10, between Boerne and Comfort, the Welfare Cafe is an out of the way kind of place that is not too be missed.

The Welfare Cafe began as a General Store way back in early Texas history opening around 1848.  The local post office was later established in 1880 inside the General Store.  Welfare became a railroad shipping point and the small town thrived. By 1892, the town of Welfare consisted of a whopping 275 residents, along with a schoolhouse, saloon, hotel and cotton gin.

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In 1916, the original general store and post office burned down, but was rebuilt that same year.  As time passed, the small towns population dwindled and bad times haunted the small community.  The boll weevils destroyed the cotton crops, and of course there was the  great depression.  The population dropped to a mere 25 residents.  Through it all, the post office and general store continued to be an important meeting place for the community.  A place to collect your mail and exchange stories, borrow books and talk about the weather. Over time as the population of the small town dwindled,  the local school closed and the few students  that still lived in Welfare would take the bus to the school in Comfort.  At the end of the day the bus would drop them off at, where else, but the general store.  In 1966, the trained stopped running past Welfare and it wasn’t long after that the post office closed, followed by the general store in 1978.

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Today, the fascinating history of the small community of Welfare is being revitalized by Gabriele McCormick and her husband David.  In the early nineties, Gabriele and David were looking for a change from corporate life in the city and fell in love with the charm of the hill country,  as so many of us do.  They purchased the general store, post office, and various barns on about 150 acres.  Slowly, they began to restore the old buildings and began the transformation to what we now enjoy as the Welfare Cafe.  The restaurant has thrived, and over the years, Gabby and David have continued to make improvements on the land.

In 2005, the Goat Barn was built using reclaimed wood from the original barn.  There is now an intimate wine bar in the loft. The Welfare Cafe frequently offers special events and is the perfect venue for a rustic, but charming hill country wedding.

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As mentioned previously, the weather was dreary the day we visited and the charming, rustic gardens were showing the effects of the recent freeze.  I have to admit, I enjoy wandering the grounds almost as much as I enjoy the fabulous cuisine which has a touch of German influence.  The day we were there, we enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch complete with German sausage and strudel, croissants, an assortment of fresh fruits and cheeses, quiche, pancakes and so much more.  Of course, what Sunday brunch is not complete without Mimosas!

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The Welfare Cafe is a delightfully charming venue filled with nostalgia and relics from the past.  This is a delightful spot for a lovely lunch or dinner.  Be sure to check out their website and calendar for special events.  They offer special holiday celebrations and often have live entertainment.

The charms of the Texas Hill Country are endless.  If I had my way, I would spend my days wandering the many small towns and visiting all the lovely shops, restaurants, historical sites, and possibly a winery or two.

I hope that someday you have a chance to visit the Texas Hill Country and explore the many fascinating venues that the area has to offer.

“Texas is a State of Mind.”  –  John Steinbeck

xxoo – Gerri

* I would love to hear a comment from you have visited or plan to visit the Texas Hill Country or the Welfare Cafe and Goat Barn.

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My Hygge Obsession

Lately, I have been obsessed with the Danish practice of hygge, pronounced hue-gah.  I’m not quite sure for the reason for my obsession.  Perhaps because it seems to be the embodiment of all that I am longing for in my life.  It gives validity to  the peace and serenity that I so long for and have been trying to create in my own little world.  It has a name and that name is hygge.

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I have long been a fan of coziness.  Sitting by the fire, lighting candles, and buying fresh flowers to have in my home are not new concepts to me.  Craving a simpler, less hectic life and taking pleasure in simple, everyday things is what I strive for.  Spending quality time with friends and family, but also treasuring alone time, cuddling up with a good book or on occasion, cooking a fabulous meal for my husband, are things that I am passionate about.

Perhaps it’s because I feel such a strong connection to this latest wellness trend that I feel so obsessed.  It’s like “Hey, new friend.  You really get me!  You understand what I am all about!”  You know that feeling when you meet a new person and you just immediately connect. Yeah, that’s how I feel about hygge.  And I have to say it’s a really good feeling!

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Today, we are experiencing 100% chance of rain.  It is pouring right now.  Temperatures will drop into the 40’s again tonight.  I know that’s not especially cold compared to the weather in Denmark, but it’s cold enough for me!

Tonight, for Valentine’s we will probably have a fire and light some candles. ( I picked up fresh flowers yesterday.)  We will definitely be staying in.  We have no desire to fight the crowds at restaurants on Valentine’s Day!  We will have a wonderful home cooked meal and maybe a glass of wine.  I’m sure it will be a very hygge evening!

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I think our world needs a little more hygge right now.  Valentine’s Day is a day of love, a day to show kindness, to reach out to others and show them you care.  Today, consider calling a friend who might be alone, maybe an older relative who has lost their spouse, or anyone you can think of who might need a little lift.  Share your love and fill our world with a little hygge.  Who knows, if everyone makes an effort, maybe we can raise the hygge quotient around the world.

Peace and Love to all on this Valentine’s Day!

xx00  Sending Extra Hugs Today  – Gerri

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Photographs of these precious children are property of To Create Sunshine.  Thank you for not using them for other purposes.

A hygge state of mind

It’s a dreary winter day complete with a dense fog that has set in and plans to stay awhile.  So how about seizing the moment with a roaring fire and lighting some delightfully scented candles to enjoy the day.

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Apparently this is a concept that the Danish have mastered. They refer to it as hygge, pronounced hue-gah, which translates to cozy,  although it really means so much more.

Even though there have been several books written on the subject,  I only learned about the Danish word hygge recently.  Apparently, Oxford Dictionaries selected “hygge” as one of their Words of the Year for 2016.  I suppose that is why “hygge” is getting so much attention lately.

You see the Danish have incredibly long, cold winters with very few hours of sunlight. However, they embrace their winters by taking pleasure in ordinary everyday things, like a crackling fire, scented candles and cozy blankets with warm socks.  If I had to endure long, cold winters I’m sure I would be craving these things as well!

 

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From what I’ve come to understand, hygge is really a state of mind;  an attitude full of contentment with life. It’s about savoring the moment, relishing simple everyday life experiences, and enjoying time spent with friends and family.  It’s all about embracing the moment and living in the present.

I don’t think you have to be Danish to have hygge in your life.  Life can be hectic and stressful.  It’s important to find ways to step away from the stress and enjoy simple pleasures in your life.  Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the moment.  This may mean a quiet evening by the fire or it could be spending time reading a good book, listening to music, or pursuing any activity that brings you joy.  It might mean sharing a meal with close family, or using some alone time to soak in a hot bath, or go for a long walk.

Whatever it is that brings peace into your life, I hope you will take some time to embrace the simple pleasures of everyday moments.

Wishing you a very “hyggelig” (enjoyable) day!   xxoo Gerri

 

 

Something About Nature

Do you ever have one of those days where you  just feel out of sync with the world?  Maybe you’re feeling overly stressed, anxious or depressed.    To improve your outlook on life try stepping away from your troubles for a while and spend some time communing with nature.  Even a brief amount of time spent in the great outdoors can improve your outlook on life.  A few minutes enjoying a quick walk outside can help fight off feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and a myriad of other health disorders.  A quick break taking in nature’s beauty can lift your mood and even improve self-esteem.

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Many studies suggest that even a short amount of time spent outdoors can improve your outlook on life and assist in fighting off feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and a myriad of other health disorders.  Nature has a healing effect on our minds.  Spending time in nature can assist us to battle mental fatigue and other stress related disorders.   Communing with nature improves our cognitive function which restores the mind’s ability to focus allowing us to think more clearly.  Time spent on a nature walk  provides peace of mind giving us a happier, healthier outlook on life.

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Why does nature offer such a calming effect?  Nature offers a pleasing environment that reverses the effects that create anxiety.  Exposure to nature can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.  This allows our bodies to relax and our minds to return to a more positive mood.

So if your feeling blue today try getting up off that sofa, putting down that T.V. remote, or pushing away from the keyboard.  Step outside, breathe the fresh air and gaze upon the natural beauty of flower and tree.  Take a few minutes to survey the beauty of nature and see if it helps to lighten your mood!

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“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”  – Frank Lloyd Wright

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Finding Serenity

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Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

I remember as a young girl coming to understand the feeling of serenity.  It happened while I was sitting by the dock of the bay (thank you Otis) watching the sunset, after a full day of frolicking in the hot sun.  It was a magical feeling that came upon me unexpectedly as I watched in awe the magnificent colors of the sky intermingle over the horizon line.  It was as if I was seeing the sun disappear for the very first time.  A feeling of tranquility came over me that is often difficult to acquire in the hurriedness of life’s demands.

As life went on, and troubles came and went, I believed that serenity was something that could only be achieved when by the water, at sunset.  When troubled, I would try to imagine that day so long ago when I sat on the dock in reverence of the sun disappearing over the western horizon.  I would long for  the serenity found in times when I had the opportunity to wander along beaches.  I would imagine the peace I felt  when riding in my father’s boat, the wind against my face.

Recently, I have realized that I don’t have to be by water at sunset to find serenity.  It is right here in my own back yard.  However, I have to take the time to look for it.  It cannot be found in busyness.  It requires turning things off like the television, computer, and cell phone.  It demands finding a quiet place to either sit and relax, or maybe take a quiet stroll.  It means listening to nothing but my own thoughts, and maybe the birds chirping or the squirrels chattering.  It calls for peacefully watching as the sun filters down and sheds it’s light over trees, plants, and flowers.

I have found my serenity in slowing down and taking in nature’s beauty that is all around me.  I have found a passion in trying to capture how the sun falls on the flowers leaving darks and lights, shadows and highlights.  I look forward to the day when I can visit the bay and amaze at the way the light from the sun dances on the water.  But for now, I will content myself with enjoying my serenity in my own back yard.

Have you found your serenity?

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