Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Gift of Flowers

Today I bought fresh carnations for the Serenity Room. I chose deep red which matches perfectly the burgundy pillow in my lime green wicker chair. It's such a nice way to bring springtime inside. This inexpensive luxury adds color, life and a slight touch of romance to the room.

Every woman should have fresh cut flowers in her home. Whether they are a gift from someone special or she buys them for herself, they whisper love and thoughtful attention to detail.

The way we decorate our homes discloses much about our inner-selves. Personally, I prefer soft colors and fabrics...a little on the feminine side but not to the extreme. However we choose to express our particular style, a colorful bouquet is always an attractive and tasteful addition to any room.

Don't go another day without giving yourself the gift of flowers. You will be rewarded with many days of graceful beauty.

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change." -Gautama Siddharta

Monday, April 28, 2008

Springtime In The Valley

I open the door to the Serenity Room. The lamplight is dimmed, the candles are lit and soft music floats like a mourning dove across the room. I sit down in the lime green wicker chair beside the bed and listen. The aroma of lavender penetrates the gentle stillness and my heartbeat immediately slows. As I slide my tired feet into pink satin bedroom slippers, I revisit this perfect day.

It has been a cold, wet winter, one that seemed to go on forever. But today the springtime sun warmed our magnificent little valley for the first time in months. Neighbors tended their flowering dogwoods and clipped fragrant golden daffodils for dining tables and bedrooms. Couples passed the garden gate, seemingly engrossed in the simple activity of walking hand in hand.

The dreamscape was awash today in emerald green, white, yellow and a variety of pink and purple, a picture of tranquility. I find myself imagining my own backyard garden and the treasures I will place within it this year. This week I must buy plants and clear the patio of windblown twigs and the few dried brown leaves left from last autumn. Soon family and friends will gather there for the parties and picnics I so enjoy.

I am at peace tonight, knowing that God is still in charge of His Creation. He is the Faithful Artist. His handiwork is Eternal.

"Nothing is more the child of art than a garden." -Sir Walter Scott

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let's Have A Party

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I love parties! It doesn't matter whether it's a birthday party, a New Year's eve party, a graduation party, a wedding reception, a pot luck dinner or just a family get-together, it's something I look forward to with child-like anticipation.

When I was a child, my mother saw to it that I always had a big birthday party. There would be over twenty of my friends in attendance. She would sit up a big table under a tree and since my birthday was in July, the weather was almost always perfect. Friends still look back with fond memories to those parties full of games, party favors and laughter. Perhaps that's where I get my love of social gatherings.

I've read lately that laughter and social interaction can add years to ones life and I believe that's true. Many of the oldest people I've known had a keen sense of humor. One of my friends lived to be over one hundred and always had a joke to tell. There was never a time she didn't have a smile on her face. I wonder if her mother gave her parties, too?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine...." Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seeds of Happiness

I am a worrier by nature. I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood worrying about one thing or another. And after all that anxiety, I'm sure it didn't change many things or added one extra day to my life. I do think it's given me a lot of grey hairs, an ulcer or two and cheated me out of many happy days.

As I grow older I'm finding how important it is to put angst aside and look for realities in life. I have two choices. I can listen to all those little meaningless messages constantly running around in my head or I can embrace joy and live in the present moment.

There will be inevitable stresses in our daily lives and we all must make moment by moment decisions, but there is no need to fictionalize future events. 99% of all our fears never come to pass. I'm learning to replace worry with optimism, love, laughter, and forgiveness, especially forgiveness and not let cloudy thoughts obscure the blessings of life and cheat me out of my happiness.

Martha Washington once said, "We carry the seeds of happiness with us wherever we go." We can nourish and grow these seeds within ourselves and transplant them into the lives of others.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pause To "Thank"

"If you pause to think, you'll have cause to thank!" -Unknown Author

Several years ago, I was going through a low period in my life. I felt depressed and discouraged. My dreams seemed unattainable and middle-age had slipped up on me. My children were moving away from home, one at a time, and I had no plan for the rest of my life. My glass was "half full", as they say. I was having a grand "pity-party" and I invited anyone I could find to be my guest. I must say, I couldn't find anyone who thought that would be a lot of fun, so I ended up with a "party" of one.

One evening as I lay in bed reading, the book's author suggested keeping a "grateful journal" and in my sad condition I decided to try it; I would have tried anything at that point.

The next day I bought a beautiful little notebook and began, each evening, listing everything I could think of that I was grateful for. Here is a very small sampling:

1. My healthy family (and my own good health)
2. My six children
3. Autumn leaves
4. The smell of wood smoke
5. A walk in the rain
6. Bubble bath
7. The color red
8. A telephone call from a friend
9. Biscuits and gravy
10. My electric blanket
11. Birthday parties
12. Snow
13. Hot chocolate
14. Christmas trees
15. Sunsets

As you can see, my list often contained "little" things, but isn't it those things which make life so delicious? I continued to write night after night and eventually ended my "pity-party". I began to realize God's gifts and how fortunate I had been all of my life. There were blessings all around me if I took enough time to "see" with my heart.

The exercise in journal-keeping changed my life. Now everyday is an adventure in joy and personal discovery.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Letter Well Written

I recently received a greeting card from a childhood friend thanking me for our many years of friendship. How thoughtful and what a surprise! It made me feel loved, hugged and appreciated. It's not often someone will take time out of their busy schedule to pick out a special card and take the trouble of sending it.

Many years ago when I was much younger, I loved going to the bookstore where I could find boxes of gorgeous parchment stationary with matching envelops. There was an enormous selection to choose from in every color of the rainbow...some in solid pastel shades and some in pastel/floral. The delicate paper and matching envelops were such a delight to own and to write upon. Sending well-written letters was one of life's little pleasures back then.

The internet and email have changed our lives. We can rush off numerous messages with a click and although it has made us a more communicative society, it has also taken away much of the personal beauty of letter writing.

Today while shopping at the mall, I'm going to look for pretty stationary and I'll try to send more handwritten correspondences in the future. We can either rush through our day or slow down and tell beloved friends how much they mean to us.

Friends should never be taken for granted. They bring companionship, humor and acceptance to our lives; they share our interests and give us a sense of constancy. It's easy to lose sight of their special past contributions to us. So today, let's reach out in a lovely personal way to show how very much we cherish and honor them. Consider sending a letter well written.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Graceful Living

Have you "graced your space" today? Women sometimes fall into a rut when it comes to their homes and families. Boredom can bring on a lackluster attitude as we plod along day after day performing the same mundane routine from morning until night. We cook, clean, taxi the kids from activity to activity.....well, you know the drill. But how often do we relax and survey the space we call home? How often do we actually enjoy our dwelling place, our nice accessories and the comfort and peace they offer?

I once knew a lady who had the propensity to safeguard her precious belongings. Her nicest bedding, linen, china, stemware, vases, jewelry, lingerie, etc. were placed safely away for later use. She worried that something might be broken or stained or lost. It was not that she wasn't going to use her fine accouterments....it was just that they were not going to be used today. Today turned into tomorrow and tomorrow turned into next month. Next month turned into next year and so forth until she died in her late sixties. She never experienced the joy and beauty of enjoying those cherished items. She only admired them occasionally as they lay in a drawer or hung in her closet.

Don't wait for tomorrow. Don't wait for company. Today, let us bring out the beautiful linens, albums, quilts, candles, crystal goblets and china. Have each member of the family dress elegantly for dinner (at least one night each week). Eat slowly by candlelight while listening to classical music. Engage in interesting and civil conversation. Practice correct table manners. Enjoy good wine. Say "please" and "thank you". Encourage our families to appreciate and practice gracious living.

Today we can bring harmony and serenity to our home through appreciating one another and sharing our personal luxuries. Live graciously, love abundantly and enjoy the blessings God has given.

"Perform every act in life as though it were your last." -Marcus Aurelius

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gentle Giant

Last summer I often sat in my garden alone in the evening listening to relaxing music and sipping southern sweet tea. This was my special treat as the sun slowly moved beyond the sunburned mountain and allowed the valley air to cool.

One evening as I sat in private solitude I noticed Tucker, our 22 lb. Siamese/Lynx Point cat, had come to sit at my feet. He seemed different...more serene. I spoke a gentle "hello" to him, stroked his soft, long fur and turned my attention back to a copy of Oprah Magazine. Fifteen minutes later I noticed Tucker had moved a short distance away from my chair. He was now lying under the small table on which the CD player had been placed. His eyes were closed, although, he was not sleeping. I knew, for a certainty, he was listening and enjoying the timeless beauty of Pachelbel's Canon. What an enchanting moment...witnessing our sensitive, furry giant sharing this extraordinary time with me. He and I shared many more amazing evenings as I began to appreciate the Spirit within him.

Tucker seems to understand and honor the indoor "Serenity Room" as well. Knowing he can't sleep on the bed, he positions himself in a quiet corner to listen and enjoy whatever classical arrangement is playing that particular day.

*I would love to hear your animal stories. Please leave them under "comments".*

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." -Anatole France

Monday, April 21, 2008

Forgotten Friends

(This posting was first published here in April 2008. From time to time you will see a repeat of my previous writings.)

"No furniture so charming as books." -Rev. Sydney Smith (1771-1845)

Not long after organizing the "Serenity Room" I realized something was missing. The journals were all there, my favorite Cd's were stored in decorative boxes, there were fresh flowers in the room, the scented candles were lit. So what had I forgotten? Of course! Books! My favorite books were still in bookshelves around the house waiting for me to remember them. Not wanting to create chaos and disarray within the peaceful space, I ask my husband to install a shelf in the windows on each side of the bed. Perfect!! Armfuls of books were carried and placed in their rightful spot. Harmony and balance were soon established.

A few weeks later I picked up a book on Feng Shui. I wanted to know more about health, harmony, and happiness. As you know, I would never turn down good advice, but to my surprise and disappointment the book advised it's readers to keep books out of the bedroom. According to the author, books have a tendency to disrupt sleep and serenity. My feelings were just the opposite. Books give me a sense of warm coziness, comfort and well-being. It has always been that way, even as a child. So as you might imagine, I continue to keep those old friends in the room surrounding me.

Happy reading to all of you!!

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Dance

The "Serenity Room" is quiet. A CD of Beethoven plays softly in the background. The glow of fragrant candles light the room and the red and yellow carnations are still fresh in the brandy snifter beside the bed. It's Sunday morning and the anticipation of relaxation and contemplation excites my spirit. I will come into this room many times today. I will come here to write or to catch up on my reading or listen to the genius of Beethoven.

From the beginning I was determined to keep the mood of the "Serenity Room" introspective and gentle; always inviting the Divine to dwell there. Delightfully, my intentions have been honored by both family and guests.

In this latter stage of my life, my primary aim has been to experience a state of joy and grace and to nurture the inherent identity which resonates deep within my soul. I'm beginning to find it. In addition, I find it easier to relish each moment for it's beauty, meaning and importance.

I am dancing my dance. I am hearing my unique life-song. Come along and dance, too. It will not be the same dance or the same song. We'll just enjoy the moment together.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lavender Dreams

Every woman needs a room of her own, especially when she arrives at mid-life. Men seem to find this space earlier in the form of an office or workshop or perhaps the fishing bank. My husband once commented after a day of fishing that he found being out in nature was a spiritual experience for him. He could sense the Creator in the beauty around him. I'm sure many men and women have experienced the same feeling and it's not uncommon to find a state of peace while gardening. As I have mentioned before, I created a space in my backyard garden, where this same peaceful state of mind could easily exist; where the Spirit could be nourished.

As fall and winter settled in on us I searched for the same "healing place" I had found in my summer garden. I decided in December to turn our guest room into the "Serenity Room". It would be a place to pray and meditate, read, write, listen to music and dance if I felt like it. The room was perfect with it's pale lavender walls and cream colored carpet. Now all it needed was the right accessories. I wanted each picture, vase, pillow, chair, candle, quilt and figurine to have special meaning; evoking positive attitudes and tranquility.

Robert Brault once said, "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Small things make up the content of my quiet room. Joy is found in soft music, beloved books, candlelight, letters well written, soft pastels, fluffy pillows and the down comforter.

Whether, inside or out-of-doors, give yourself permission to relax and rest in a space of your own. The opportunity to be alone for a few moments is priceless. Listen to your favorite music, have lunch on the patio-- served up on your favorite china and crystal, take a nap in the afternoon (delicious), daydream, read poetry, write in your journal, pray, dance.

Treat yourself as you would a welcomed guest. Enjoy!
Copyright 2008 By-Barbara Davis

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Serenity Room / The Beginning

Hello Friends....

Well, I've decided to enter the world of "blogs" and would like to invite you into my "Serenity Room" (I'll tell you all about it later). I want to share with you the joy I've found there. It will be a journey we take together and I hope you fine a sense of peace here as we explore the beauty of life and living.

Last year as I created my summer garden I found a way to unwind and listen to the world in a new way. I found peace among the plants, birds and wildlife. Each day as I sat in the shade of the afternoon, I began to enjoy my own company. At the age of sixty-three I had come to a place in my life where quiet surroundings were important. I needed a place to relax and to think my own thoughts. I needed a place to find creativity and spiritually...to find myself. I had taken vacations and even though I visited many lovely spots none seemed as precious and special as my little backyard garden.

All summer I added beautiful items to the garden and only those things that gave me peace and inspiration. I even added "soft" music through a CD player that I hid among the plants. Music played continually throughout the day, so that whenever I entered the garden I would instantly hear it.

Summer ended too soon and my little garden faded away as the weather changed and the leaves fell from the trees. It was a sad time for me as my sanctuary gradually disappeared. I would have to wait another eight months before it could be restored.

Several months passed before I realized that I had another potential sanctuary within my own home. Our guest room was the perfect place to create a sacred space where I (or anyone) could enter and find solitude and peace; a quiet place. That's how my "Serenity Room" was created.

Tomorrow I will begin to share my experiences with you. I invite all of you to share your stories with me.