“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Music to the Ears

Great music is a gift. It can initiate so many different responses for so many people because it pulls at our emotions from deep within where we are all unique. If it carries a positive message, great music can be such things as soothing, inspiring, energizing, heart-warming or galvanizing and I will often turn to music as a source of positive strength.

A few nights ago, I watched and listened to Jeffrey Osborne give a live performance to an enormous crowd on the town green in New Haven, CT. I’ve never seen him live before, but remember his music so well from the 1980s. His performance was fabulous. He sang some of his songs from the 70s and 80s with the passion and energy of someone who was singing those songs for the first time and I thought about how that made his music all the more timeless. I’ve posted a video below of one of his most memorable songs and one that I have always adored, “On the Wings of Love.” I hope it evokes something positive for you…

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Giving is Receiving

Some of my greatest pleasures in life are some of the simplest. Quiet early mornings, a steaming cup of coffee, a good book, a walk in the woods, a few flowers in a vase to brighten the room and good food. Today, I took a trip to the farmer’s market where I picked up a few fresh daisies, organic salad greens, locally made granola and some organic milk products (milk, half and half and yogurt) from Trinity Farms who are out of Enfield, CT. A few weeks ago, I talked with Dale Smyth, one of the owners:

I love that the farm is small and family-owned, they pasture-breed cows that produce a sweeter tasting, organic milk and they still use glass bottles. I also asked Dale about her thoughts on Independence Day and she explained how grateful her and her family are to be living in this country, that they always give back and are always learning. Today when I spoke to her about life her response was, “we’re moving forward!” They are passionate about what they do and don’t let life stand in the way.

To me, the attention and care they put into raising their cows is a form of giving back. Their cows in turn, produce a high quality milk that they then can offer to their customers. And their stand is always busy at the market so it’s wonderful to see the community supporting them. It makes me think that the giving and receiving is indistinguishable.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Magic of the Ocean

Early this year, I was in Northern California and spent an afternoon with my daughter and her friend taking in the breathtaking coastline. We began with a descent down Martin’s Creek Trail to Magic Beach. It was the first time I had been there. The trail began on the side of the road and led us into a shallow forest that quickly opened up into a spectacular view of the rocky shore below. To reach the water required a steep and muddy climb down the side of a hill but once there, we were able to stop and observe.

I was struck by the power of the ocean as I watched and listened to the waves crash into the enormous rocks and the water push it’s way through the cracks and holes and around the barriers. I could see its tireless work in the rocks at my feet as well. They came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Like snowflakes, no two were alike. The only things they had in common were how brilliant their colors shone when soaked with salt water and their polished edges. They continuously tumbled and scraped against one another as they were dragged back into the water each time the waves were drawn back out to sea. This constant friction transformed them into smooth, beautiful jewels and the process sounded like applause. Perhaps they were giving thanks.

As I approached Wedding Rock, I realized how small we all are and how our lives are a blip on the radar screen. And as I watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, I considered that we don’t have much time to leave our mark on this planet before our own suns set.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Reflecting on the Summit

Yesterday morning, I hiked up the Giant Steps Trail at East Rock Park in New Haven, CT. It’s a short but steep climb to the top of the rock called the Summit where you can see for miles. It’s here where one can get a “bird’s eye” view of the city, neighboring towns, and the ocean. It is here where one can ponder over the big picture. Where the minutiae become buried and where matters of significance rise to the surface. We often get so busy with our days that we forget why we’re doing what we’re doing. Or we get so sidetracked with drama or trivial matters that we lose site of our values and our goals and we begin to do things that we shouldn’t be doing. Or we put ourselves on autopilot and don’t see when it’s time to rethink what we’re doing.

So to ensure that we reach our mountaintops we need to take the time to review our “big picture”. And ask the big questions such as, how am I doing? Am I focused on my goals? Am I proceeding in the right direction? Am I leading a meaningful, fulfilling life? Do I have solid relationships? Do I have a strong inner life? Am I a good role model? Am I making an impact? Am I thankful for what I have versus longing for what I don’t? Positive answers enforce our goals and give us the courage to reach even further, for example, by taking more risks. If we’re unhappy with our answers, we can decide what needs to change to put us on the right path. So whether it’s standing on the top of a giant rock or sitting on your living room floor, reflect on your big picture regularly so that it remains in focus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Artistic Expression

There are numerous art galleries and museums in New Haven and over the weekend I visited The Knights of Columbus Museum to see the work of Antonella Cappuccio ( She’s an incredibly talented painter who began as a costume designer, but in her 30s, found her inspiration for painting on a visit to Africa. She paints in Rome where she’s lived for most of her life. I also watched a video at the museum, showcasing her career and what struck me the most about her was her fearlessness with regard to different techniques in painting. She has clearly mastered so many, including painting on a number of different media, such as canvas, copper, and glass. On my walk to the museum, I also came across a few pieces of art and expressions of beauty. There are so many examples tucked away as well as in clear view, if one wants to see them. I share a few of them in the video below along with the work of some budding artistic talent now on display at the Creative Arts Workshop. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lunch With a Side of Gratitude

Gratitude. It’s not something given to us, it’s something that we give. It’s an attitude, a perspective on our Worlds. It allows us to weather the storms with more strength and grace, keeps us humble, and teaches us compassion. In her book, Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, Sarah Ban Breathnach says that “abundance and lack are parallel realities; everyday I make the choice of which one to inhabit.” Under gratitude’s influence, we focus on what we “have” rather than what we “have not”. The more grateful we are for where we are at a given moment, the richer our lives become. And a positive feedback loop develops whereby the better our lives become, the happier we get. I was at the farmer’s market on July 4th and met Glen Colello, owner of Catch a Healthy Habit, a raw foods café in West Haven, CT. I stopped by there today for lunch and had their zucchini pasta. Very tasty. You can meet Glen in the video below and listen to his description of Café Gratitude in California.

Glen explains the dining experience that nourishes both the body and soul, thereby instilling in its customers the idea that they are special. And demonstrating a deep level of appreciation for what we have begins with us, within ourselves. Just imagine a World in which we all chose to elevate those we connect with everyday. I believe our greatest offering of gratitude would be for each other. I would like the “I Am Beautiful” to go, please…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Loving the Rain

Rainy days. So many of us sigh at the thought of a rainy day. We lose our energy, our drive, and our enthusiasm that the sunny, blue sky seems to generate. They represent those dark times when we’re facing a challenge or struggling with one of life’s curveballs. Those times when we want nothing more than to hibernate. But over the years, I’ve come to love rainy days. To me, they’re an opportunity to slow down a bit or to catch up on things. Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen things I would do and have done to make the most of a rainy day: freshen up my home, read a good book or watch a movie, journal, try a new recipe, call family or friends, listen to great music, sit and think or make plans, exercise, take a nap and the list goes on. Over the winter, I spent a few months in Rwanda. It was the rainy season there. It rained almost everyday. And on so many of those days, a beautiful rainbow would appear to brighten the sky as the sun was coming out. And everything would quickly come back to life.

I was thinking that rainbows are an interface, the doorway between the dark and the light that can lead to life’s riches. If we embrace those dark times, those rainy days, understanding that they too will pass and spend them reflecting, learning, loving, catching up, immersing ourselves in the downpour, cleaning up our messes, grateful for what we have, then we will have accomplished something, learned something and maybe even grown. So then when we look up and see the sky again come alive with color and the sun begin to shine, we will be ready for the gifts that life has to offer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What are You Afraid of?

I wouldn’t say that I have too many vices. Coffee, chocolate, and wine are what immediately come to mind and not much else. And actually in moderation, I would argue that they are not vices at all. Coffee is an everyday thing, while chocolate and wine I indulge in less frequently. So what is it about entering a wine shop, though, that makes many people uncomfortable? Is it the atmosphere or a perception that wine drinking is an elite sport and unless one knows what to look for, it can’t be appreciated? Years ago, I had a fear of wine shops : ) In truth, they were intimidating to me because of my own ignorance. But several things changed that. For one, I began to read about the basics of grapes and wine making, then I took a couple of classes and began to visit vineyards to taste wine whenever I had the opportunity. This helped tremendously and allowed me to learn exactly what I like in wine. In addition, I realized that wine really is an art and for many, a profession, and those passionate about wine were more than likely working with it on a daily basis and those authentically passionate souls were also teaching it to others. In class one night, the instructor made the statement, “Good wine is wine that you like.” True, many high priced wines are far superior to less expensive wines, but I’ve tried high-end wines in the past that I wasn’t crazy about while I’ve fallen in love with some inexpensive bottles. It truly is what you like. One particular wine shop that I’ve come to adore is the Wine Thief in New Haven, CT. The staff is knowledgeable, they make picking out wine fun, and they have a mission:

…”to ensure that every bottle of wine we sell is savored and enjoyed. If your wine selection fails to meet your expectations, simply return the unused portion for a complete refund.”

This takes the risk out of buying wine and keeps me coming back. With most visits to the Wine Thief, I’ll know the type of wine I’ll looking for, but not sure exactly which bottle to buy. Other times, I’ll walk in just start asking questions and they’re happy to walk me around some of the options. I visited the Wine Thief to buy wine for a 4th of July barbecue. You can meet Robert Jordan in the video below who once again made my experience at their shop enjoyable and who recommended two wines that worked well that day.

So what’s the message in gratitude here? There are several. The most obvious is my appreciation of a nice glass of wine with dinner and to celebrate with friends. Second, we all have the choice to alleviate our fears by running towards them. Sometimes a fear originates from nothing more than a lack of understanding or knowledge. I’m grateful that I took the opportunity to learn something about wine. It eliminated the fear of entering wine shops, which I now see as fun and sometimes even an adventure. And I've met lots of people in the process. Third, people generally want to help and be of service and I found that to be true with the Wine Thief. They are leaders within this community, truly committed to their customers and I’m grateful to have them here in my back yard to provide an invaluable service to us all.

What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lessons From an Inchworm

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of the things that I am grateful for are my quiet mornings in the backyard. With the nice weather here, I am finding more and more that I will take the opportunity to spend time there, even with my computer to do work. Just sitting under the tree alone helps me feel more connected to nature and makes doing anything more enjoyable. But what is it about nature that inspires me? Is it the colors, the sounds, the tranquility, the beauty? Certainly all of those things come to mind and have a calming yet positive influence over me. But I’ve also come to realize it’s the abundance of energy as well. By discovering some of the organisms present, even in the backyard, I’ve concluded that the energy in nature exerts enormous influence. It’s infinite: there are birds of all kinds, squirrels, chipmunks. Bugs galore, many that I’ve just recently discovered here, including this adorable inchworm (more on the millimeter scale) that made its way down my computer screen and onto the keyboard.

I was fascinated by its determination. And then there are the plants and trees and the infinite number of microorganisms found in and above the soil. In fact, in Bernard Dixon’s book, Power Unseen, How Microbes Rule the World, he says that “The powerful work of microbes in the soil is essential to the existence of life as we know it would simply not be possible without their assistance.” So, too, there is a staggering amount of activity and life happening around us that we can’t even see. All of it, though, I believe is in the form of pure, positive energy, without attitude, without baggage. With a simple purpose. Life’s only pursuit in nature is to thrive and proliferate and when we submerge ourselves in that atmosphere (with a continuous supply of fresh oxygen produced from trees and plants), we can’t help but feel energized and refreshed. It helps to clear my head to make room for new ideas and at the same time lift my spirits. Its contribution is unconditional. It never fails because it knows no other way and it is undeterred from the influences of you or me. So whenever possible, take a break from behind the four walls. Sit, read, meditate, walk or even try doing some work in nature. You’ll be grateful for the benefits.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gratitude List

Hello, my name is Linda and I want to welcome and thank you all for visiting my blog. I'd like to focus here on the concept of gratitude and the idea that there is always something to be thankful for. I find this to be a very powerful tool that I frequently use and I hope, along the way to share with you some of the simple things that bring joy into my life as well as some of the extraordinary people and places that add beauty to the World we live in.