Cultivating Happiness

Cherry Blossoms by my daughter, Michelene
Magnolia Blossoms by my daughter, Michelene

Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast. Norman Vincent Peale

I love this optimistic quote. I’m into happiness these days because even though we still have some snow on the ground, I am thinking, dreaming of magnolia trees!

Their beautiful pink color, guarantee of spring and summer, and magnificent beauty bring a smile to my face. I think I first laid eyes upon a magnolia tree when I visited my godfather John in Charleston, South Carolina as a little girl. I remember their huge blossoms and heady fragrance. I probably fell in love with them on the spot.

Around here in SW Pennsylvania, the magnolia trees will bloom if it gets warm and stays warm. I am keeping my fingers crossed this year for no late frosts!

Magnolia 2

Magnolias seemed a fitting entry flower for this first post on my new self hosted website because they make a bold, beautiful statement. Yes, I am wearing my big girl bloomers and hoping, praying that my email subscribers and my blogger friends are viewing this post. Can you please let me know? A quick comment below or an email to me at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com will do much for positive reinforcement!

After this long and challenging winter, I am patiently cultivating happiness. Dreamy images of digging in soft soil with a warm sun bring me closer to nature and to God. I can’t wait to make my first backyard campfire and hear the crackle from all those random branches that have been laying around my yard for months. My New York cousin made her reservation this week to come with her daughter for some quality time during April’s spring break. This makes me very happy. Lent has begun with its great promise.

How are you cultivating happiness? My daughter Michelene is an avid gardener and she shared her seed wish list with me the other day. Squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, heirloom tomatoes were all there and more, and I could see the twinkle in her eye. She is ready for her own garden, at her own place and I bet she’ll share her seed extras with Jim and I. This is cultivating happiness.

If we are not defined by our problems but by our gifts and talents, life becomes a canvas on which we can paint the world we have always dreamed of. The challenges of the past will not matter. We can move forward, confident of our God given abilities, and with appreciation for our own beauty within.

As one of my favorite artists, Mary Engelbreit would say- “Bloom Where You Are Planted”.

What is your favorite way to cultivate happiness?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Moving in a New Direction

My original blog picture!
My original blog picture!

How do you know when it’s time to move on?

Well, I know. When I feel that restlessness, that movement deep within me that says it’s time to break out of my own comfort zone.

When I created the website for my business Katherine’s Daughter Events, I found a fabulous webmaster (thanks to my sister Mary!) who held my hand every step of the way. From the beginning of our friendship Susan encouraged me to not only create my own events website, but to move my blog where I would have more control over what I can do with it.

The time has come. We are moving this blog, Katherine’s Daughter, over to a self hosted site in the next few days where it will be easier for me to manage and hopefully, grow my readership beyond what it is right now.

What will happen to you? Absolutely nothing if you are already an email subscriber. You will not notice a thing and you should still receive all of my posts via your email. I applaud you, my faithful reader, for sticking with me and I look forward to having you along on this next phase of my blogging journey.

If you are jointly a WordPress follower and an email follower, you will have to re-subscribe if you still want to receive email updates. I will still show up in your WordPress reader. So we can still hang out together!

This is a brave new world for me and recently I heard the quote “Facing fear is the new black.” I love that. I believe in plowing ahead, stretching out of my comfort zone and taking new chances.

So here we go into the next new phase! I’ll keep you posted!

Love, Joanne 🙂

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Winter Comforts

Faith Tree

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows

How is it possible to find comfort in a winter that seems to never end?

Here in the Northeast, as in other parts of the country, we have been bombarded by snow, snow, snow and freezing temperatures. We woke up to freezing rain and snow this morning yet again, and it’s only the beginning of February!

As optimistic as I try to be, I can get down in the dumps about all this cold weather. But I do have some secret weapons that help me through a long winter. Here are some of my best strategies:

First, I use pops of color to keep me motivated. I have a set of bright beaded bracelets I bought from a sweet bunch of young girls who were selling them to raise money. I think it was the Girl Scouts. So I bought a handful of them and sport them on bleak dreary days. I also have some bright sweaters- red!- and cheery scarves just perfect for a pick me up.

A Crystal Dove on my Winter Tree!
A Crystal Dove on my Winter Tree!

Second, I made an indoor winter tree. Since I didn’t have the heart to completely dismantle my holiday tree, I adapted it. I put away the obvious Christmas ornaments and left the winter ones on. I have a small pair of mittens, a miniature ice skate, frosted cranberry branches and other red and white decorations amid golden twinkle lights. I admit to lighting this glowing tree every morning while I drink my first coffee of the day and do my spiritual readings. I love the glow and the light infuses hope into my heart and soul.

Third, I spend time with my friends. We go to lunch, hit the mall or my favorite consignment shop. I put on my warmest boots and coat and push myself to get out, as long as the roads are good. Lunch with Amy is one of my favorite things and we went to a place recently with a crackling fire. I love fires!

Fourth, I drink a lot of hot cocoa! I bought some candy cane cocoa at holiday’s end and I’ve been enjoying a mug almost daily. Yes, it is indulgent but tough times call for strategic measures! Cocoa is a must in winter weather and marshmallows make it all the better.

Finally, I try new recipes. I made a delicious navy bean soup twice in the last few weeks. Making my own chicken broth and using a leftover holiday ham bone cranked up the volume on this heart warming soup! Check out the recipe HERE if you’re a bean soup fan!

Don’t you feel warmer and cozier already? Please share your winter weather strategy measures. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure others would as well!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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An Attitude of Gratitude

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If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart

I went to a wedding not so long ago and when the thank you note for the gift arrived, it was a picture of the bride and groom holding a sign that said “thank you.” It was nice but there was no personalization, no signature, just the picture. My heart sank a bit as I thought this was yet another symptom of our too busy lives. Were thank you notes becoming a thing of the past?

So it gave my heart a lift when my husband shared this story with me recently. He said, “There are days when it is terrible to be a nurse in the ER. We see some of the same people over and over again, who do nothing different for their own conditions, and yet they expect us to fix it immediately. I get tired and worn out and wonder for what purpose I am here.”

On one particular day Jim headed back to his station and there was a clasp envelope laying on his desk. When he opened it, there were three thank you notes inside. They were from the children of a woman he worked with; they had all come to Jim’s Honey Party and had participated in spinning the combs and witnessing the delicious, sticky honey that had come from that experience.

The notes expressed gratitude and warmed my husband’s heart. He told me, “It was a great moment to realize that I had made a difference in someone’s life.” I am guessing those little notes restored Jim’s faith in himself and the reason he is here on earth.

I have several boxes of pretty thank you cards and I try and remember to thank people who have given me a gift. But I also try and send a thank you for no reason other than to acknowledge someone else’s loving act of kindness. Recently, my aunt and uncle took me to Chicago for a wedding. They came to my doorstep and picked me up. We spent the entire, wonderful weekend together. Afterwards I wrote them a thank you note because not only did I have an amazing time, but I got to know their teen grandchildren a whole lot better and realized what totally beautiful kids they are.

A few years ago when I was beginning my spiritual journey, I decided to keep a gratitude journal. I wrote a few things down each night I was grateful for. It could be something that happened that day, or a quality I had come to recognize in myself or others. After pages and pages of gratitude, a shift in my thinking occurred. I realized the gift of every day life.

I save most all of the thank you notes I receive. There is a shoe box in my closet where I have amassed a collection of notes I’ve received over the years. There are hallmark cards, handwritten notes, some large and some small, but that box serves a purpose. Whenever I am feeling down, I reach for it. I pull out the cards and read them one by one. By the time I am done, my faith in myself is restored.

*The thank you note on the window sill says, “Thank you for giving my shoes back. I liked playing with Jake. A bee is flying.” (sweet!)

Have you ever received a thank you note that you just never forgot? Tell me about it!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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When Less Is Really Better

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“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Life is moving in slow motion for me these days. For the first time in many years I have the luxury of enjoying summer, spending time with my mom, family and friends. It’s a big switch for me, multi- tasker that I am, as I am used to cramming as much as I can into my waking hours. It was nothing for me to go non stop from 7am until 10pm at night, rarely stopping long enough to catch my breath in between. My sister Mary said to me once, “Jo, you’re making us all look bad.”

These days, it is life without much of an agenda. It is freeing really to have a minimal schedule and plenty of time to work on small projects. And, the bonus to all this is I am living on a lot less money than I used to. My needs have become very simple. I tried to figure it out the other day, what was it that was really different? First, I am just not buying stuff like I used to. Second, I am content with a lot less.

DSC_0162Part of this I can attribute to grace and age. As I truly work on embracing life from the standpoint of a spiritual journey, material things have become less and less important. As I get older I feel like I am truly embracing what my mother Katherine has always set an example of- that less is really better. Bigger, fancier and complicated just means more expensive, more maintenance, more potential aggravation. Make more money and we spend more money. Easy and simple I’m finding is really the way to go. Pare things down, decide what’s really important, ease back and enjoy it.

The bonus to all this less is more attitude is more time and energy, and a bit of extra money for what I feel most passionate about. The ability to decide what’s really important bestows a true attitude of generosity in so many other ways. Ways that can really make a difference.

Thanks again to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

What’s your simplest pleasure? I’d love to know!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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The Divine Mr. Kibosh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss


Almost twenty years ago, I began a speciality coffee business. This was when gourmet coffee was just on the cusp of becoming something really big.

From Google.com
Delicious Coffee! Via Pinterest

My little coffeehouse was called “Cappuccino City.” It quickly established itself as the hip place to be and I thoroughly enjoyed being a small business owner. I made friends during that time that I still have to this day.

One of my customers was a stand out. His name was Joe. My nickname is Jo. Catch the catch? He’d come in and say “Hi Jo!” and I’d say “Hi Joe!”. We’d chat a few minutes and then he’d be on his way.

Years later, after I sold the coffee house, I needed some financial work done and I saw his ad in a local publication. I called him and said “Joe, do you remember me?” He said, “Of course!” Turns out his business was right down the road from my house.

So we became business acquaintances, but more. Joe was my cheerleader, always encouraging me to ask for more money (!) from my jobs and making me feel so good about myself that I’d leave his office practically on Cloud Nine.

Soon, after years of driving the parkway into Pittsburgh, I grew weary. I was looking for opportunities close to home. I had my eye on Joe, just in case he would need me.

I let him know it at one of my visits. Just an “if you ever need someone, please keep me in mind” pitch. And then one day, when it seemed I couldn’t take another traffic jam, I happened to call him about something. He said his long time admin had left. I asked him if I could interview for the job.

He said to come down and meet with his lead person. She and I went to lunch and the rest is history.

So it was with a heavy heart that I left Joe last month, after barely hitting my two year mark. As you may remember, I needed to spend more time with Mom. But I consider every minute I spent with  Joe worth it. Here are some great bits of wisdom I learned from him:

1. You develop confidence when you figure things out for yourself.

2. Pizza with pepperoni that is baked a little longer tastes really good.

3. When someone puts a stop to something, it’s called a “kibosh”.

4. There is no substitute for personal attention to a client.

5. Don’t get something new until the old one breaks. 🙂

I like to think I taught Joe a few things myself. He loved the Greek word “Fuss-a-ria” which means to cause a big fuss. Once Joe learned this word, it became a part of his dictionary. (and I love the word “Kibosh!”) He loved other things Greek too. I took him to my church during our food festival and introduced him to some great Greek food. Hopefully, I taught him some other wisdom filled lessons; some he needed and some he probably didn’t want – like a crash course on menopausal women! In return, he believed in me and my capabilities. He had confidence in me when sometimes I did not have it myself.

I believe in my heart that even though my time with Joe was short, it had a divine purpose. I learned many new things that could be of great benefit someday. Sometimes even the shortest experiences have the longest impressions.

Have you ever met someone you feel had a divine purpose in your life?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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