Hello Everyone ♥️ . . . I’m baaaaack . . . with MUSICA!
I’v always thought of myself as a lucky girl because I was born with the happy gene . . . I’m the one that wrote:That’s probably part of the reason I didn’t recognize the overwhelming feelings of loss that descended like a black cloud early in February and left me sitting on the couch, staring into space, wondering if I should go to the emergency room. I couldn’t even express the symptoms. What could this shaky, unmoored feeling of being perched on the edge of a razor blade possibly mean? I should have known, but I forgot. Twenty years ago in Girlfriends Forever I wrote:How could I forget? This part especially ⬇️ . . . it sneaks up on you. Yes, it does. I’d been too busy with racing thoughts, deadlines, and worrying about the world to notice the black cloud swirling until the floor suddenly dropped out from under me. Yes, I did spend a lot of time worrying, but wasn’t that normal in this day and age? My purpose in life has always been to try and spread a little sunshine in hopes of changing the world. I had the happy gene! I counted my blessings! But the other side of my coin, I was born worried. Since I was little, I could feel the despair, no matter where in the world it was, and I worried about it. Don’t tell me not to, I can’t help it … I worry about everything from starving lost people to fish choking on plastic.I cried to think of our isolated beloveds stuck in nursing homes with no hugs, and anguished about hungry, confused, innocent children left alone to fend for themselves. I lost heart wondering if the healthy, strong, and rich would ever care for the weak, poor, and vulnerable. Otherwise why did God put us here? Why do animals have to suffer because of us? I was disgusted with the sick adoration of money. These last years of turmoil and chaos, floods and fires, gunshots and death counts made me feel like what I spent my life doing didn’t matter. And of course, my mom died, and February was her birthday, my first without her. My dad was gone.😢 Too many sadnesses lead to sleeplessness and anxiety. I lost control of my brain and bad thoughts filtered through my dreams. I felt so alone. But, now I know I wasn’t.
One gray day, I found one of my best friends standing outside my kitchen window holding this sign in her hand. 😢 Of course, I let her in. The first person in our house in a year. Joe made us a fire, I lit some candles and made tea. She sat at one end of the living room and I was at the other. We commiserated about our moms, about the constant bad news, how awful it was for children missing school, how overwhelming it was. missing everything ~ we dreamed out loud about what we were going to do when it was all over. If it was ever over . . . the light at the end of the tunnel was still very dim.I read in the newspaper that that people all over the world have been coping with stress because this dam-panic has been MISERABLE. The drip-drip-drip of bad news wears on us like a plague. Stress is too small a word ~ when your mental health starts affecting your physical health, it becomes much more than mere stress. And, if I felt like this, what about the nurses and doctors, the hospitals, and the families who had to deal with constant grief, would it ever end for them? I read about trauma. I knew it shouldn’t be like this.
My world looked like this. Hope had flown the coop.
I could not find the bright side. I couldn’t even write you. Something HAD to be done.
One day, sitting in my chair, wondering if I should tell Joe (I didn’t want to worry him) and ask him to take me to the emergency room, I said to myself, “What do people do when they don’t feel well?” I glanced over at the couch and answered, “They lie down and go to sleep.” So that’s what I did. And I felt a little better when I woke up. It gave me just enough energy to get on Google to find out WHAT IS THIS? I already knew, but I forgot. I had somehow gotten myself into this, and I learned from Google, I could get myself out. I read that if you are not sleeping well then you MUST nap. It’s not a luxury, it is a necessity. Your overall health depends on it.
And when the rain stopped we went for a brisk, wet walk through the woods and out to the sea. Every day. I turned off the news and turned on HGTV and watched everyone choose floors and faucets for their dream homes. I wallowed in the creativity of other people. Ommmmm . . .
I stopped eating lunch at my desk, and started eating it in front of an old movie. Where the music is wonderful, the rooms are gloriously romantic, and everything comes out the way it’s supposed to.I stopped going into my studio and signed up for twice-a-week sessions with my girlfriend who is an acupuncturist. At first, I got there dizzy and unsteady and lay down like a buzz saw, hovering above the table about a half inch, holding on for dear life to the razor’s edge. But when Marjorie found the first point (she said it was the “Gate of Hope”) boom, I fell to the table all at once, became grounded and calm, like someone had handed me a teddy bear and a blankie. It was life saving. She said my “adrenals” were shot. Whatever that was. I put myself in her good hands and it’s been a huge help. At first it seemed to wear off after a couple of days, but each week I got stronger, the wearing off took longer, and now it doesn’t happen at all! I have a 2 pm appt. with her today!👏 Because I am committed. I have places to go and people to see. But more than anything, my Google research reminded me . . .
I started meditating faithfully once again, every day, about two months ago. When I first started, I pictured myself sitting on top of the earth with the stars, a lovely, quiet place to be. Something else that’s cumulative, one day of meditation is definitely not enough. It’s made a world of difference to consciously stop time for a little while and count my blessings. And find, once again, that within each of us is everything we need, bravery, wisdom, clarity, gratitude, peace, healing, God. I made up my own mantra: I say an affirmation such as, I am happy, or I choose health, and at the end of each affirmation, I add “Because every cell of my body is bathed in the creative light and love of God.” It’s heaven in there. My mom and dad visit.💞 And it’s making me well . . .
If you’ve never tried meditation, or if it has seemed too hard (another word for meditation is prayer🙏), you might enjoy reading about the different kinds of meditation. My favorite is “guided” meditation . . . it keeps your mind from wandering in the most wonderful way. You can find so many guided meditations on Youtube . . . try this one, or this one. Or choose one for your own circumstances. I don’t know if I would have ever written my first book if I hadn’t found meditation. It’s so powerful. You have to do it every day, every other day is no good! Care for self comes first so we can care for others.💞
Being faithful to meditation reminded me of when I first moved to the island, feeling that loneliness and terrible loss of self . . . many of you remember me writing about discovering it in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams.
It was like that, burrowing in, rebuilding, getting strong again . . .
Relying on others to help.
And you know I have the perfect others!
He needed me. Sort of. Not really.😹 But I can wield a mean can-opener. It’s good to be needed.♥️
And this good man. My guardian angel. He needs me too.♥️ Every day I got better.
So then I discovered these little magic things . . . AirPods, wireless earbuds. You just put them NEAR your iPhone, push NO buttons, and they hook themselves up to your phone.😲 Then you sign up for Audible, audio books you keep on your phone, and voila! A new world opens!
You put one earbud in your own ear, and the other one in Joe’s.
And off you go, into the woods, with the blue sky coming through the bare branches, the clean cold air filling your lungs with Spring, and the luv-lee sound of an English Storybook in your ears as you walk through the woods to the sea and crashing waves, the salt smell, the seagulls call.💞 Joy of life.
I’d read the book before, but Joe hadn’t ~ he loved it as much as me. Much more fun with him! Sometimes we walk all the way to the water with the book playing, then take out the earbuds, and walk back doing “book club.”
It’s even a better book that it was a movie, and it’s a WONDERFUL movie. In case you haven’t seen it. Set in 1930s England, published first in the 1940s … Delightfully written with every word a pearl, I Capture the Castle. We finished it yesterday and today we start a new book, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson ~ everything personal and public about Winston Churchill during WWII. Another English accent to listen to while we walk! ♥️
Other “words as pearls” arrived this winter, beautiful letters, kind emails, and concerned comments on this blog from Girlfriends, who somehow knew, even though they didn’t really, and worried about me, and sent love.💞 Inside the watercolored rose Ann B. painted, she wrote, “Now abideth faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” One girlfriend (Ellen I.) wrote, “The journey of life has ups and downs, not always easy to see the silver linings, the positives…the blessings… there’s always something to be thankful for.” Made me cry. See how connected we are?
I read that what we eat has a lot to do with overall health, even mental health, so I ate better . . . Mmmmm, split pea soup and beets.
And after I meditated, and after our walk, and after I got home from acupuncture, it cheered me up to make ice cream sandwiches like flowers to take to friends.
And I made some for us . . . (This easy delicious recipe is in the 30-year anniversary edition of Heart of the Home ~ this time I made them with ginger cookies, pickled ginger, coconut ice cream and ground black pepper ~ yum!)
I put flowers in my tiny vases, one of my tried-and-true cures for whatever ails you.
I felt better every day, and finally cleaned the kitchen . . . the red holiday rugs were getting on my nerves, I needed to lighten up, so I changed them out for summer blues and brought down my bluebird lampshade. We opened the door and let in a little fresh air . . .
I washed everything in the open dish cupboards, made it all shine . . . stood there and stared at it, proud.Pride doesn’t have to be big, even little pride can help . . .
And noticed with joy that the sun was getting stronger and our days were growing longer…👏
We watched a wonderful movie called Two Popes . . . A must see! THIS is what I call HOPE! You don’t have to be Catholic, or even religious to love it! It’s a people movie.♥️
I finally finished the 2022 calendars! I worried I would NEVER get them done, but I did! God and nature and the whole world and the stars too. . .
I sewed a little heart on this guy to give him as a get-well gift . . . couldn’t tie off the thread, had to leave a long one hanging inside of him . . .
This happened in the garden . . . so I brought some in …
Snow drops, the first flower to bloom here on the Island… they come up even in the snow! If that’s not a vision of hope I don’t know what is.
Then this happened in the woods . . .
And this happened in the kitchen . . .
And I made an Easter Cake . . . Domesticity always comes to the rescue with me.🌼 And you can’t beat domesticity in the spring. It’s the best! Spring cleaning to a new beginning.
But the most wonderful of all . . .
I got my first Covid-19 vaccine ON my mother’s birthday, and the second one on the first day of Spring, and then, on Easter Sunday, I was fully immune (as immune as we can be).🌺 They gave me this card and I felt like it was an “I voted” sticker! Talk about proud! Wanted to wear it on my coat! Most of our friends were in the same boat at the same time. We have experienced our first hugs now.💞 I CRIED when I got my first shot. I didn’t expect to cry but I was suddenly filled with gratitude for our amazing medical people and scientists who worked so hard to save us from another year of this misery. The joy at our hospital where they gave the shots was palpable. Everyone felt it. We’ve lost so much, but my heart tells me there’s been a shift. I even heard people talking on TV about money not being everything this morning ~ that made me very happy. Maybe, just maybe, we have learned something. Maybe we are coming out stronger, better, more loving.🙏
We celebrated on the first nice day with a picnic with the swans . . . and then we went home and took a nap. And each day I felt better and stronger and more “myself” than the day before . . .
We planned our first Dahlia garden. Joe has always wanted one.
Soon it will be time to plant. It’s going inside the picket fence on the right side of the gate (in the center), so we can see the tops of the flowers peeking over the fence from the kitchen window. This year I want to fill that garden with
SO MUCH B E A U T Y!
Dahlias, forget me nots, roses, foxgloves, Shasta daisies, white cosmos, hollyhocks, and pink petunias. You’ll see. I’ll take pictures! Don’t we all feel this way? A new start! Sweet Peas, my favorite flowers, don’t grow well here on the island . . . but if they do where you are, be sure to look for the variety “Cupani” … I hear they are more resistant to heat, and have the very best fragrance . . . and with a sweet pea, that is saying something!
Isn’t this gorgeous? We ordered our dahlias on line from Swan Island Dahlias at www.dahlias.com . . .
We chose big ones and little ones, but mostly ones that make good cut flowers . . . we got fifteen varieties . . .
Hard to narrow choices since there are over 50,000 different varieties! Some people make a life’s work of them, finding all the rare ones … I watched a wonderful Easter Special about a Dahlia Garden in England belonging to a couple who’ve been growing them for twenty years . . .💞
I managed to make us some new cards . . . the always-needed festive Birthday Card ~ and Friendship for saying goodbye to a PANDEMIC . . .
And these rainbow stickers! You’ll find them and the cards, along with some new sewing kits here.
And a new garden banner from our luv-lee creative girlfriend Janie! Look at that envelope, isn’t it darling? She is so good, we never know what new idea she will have!♥️
We got in a few more of my dishes including these sweet little ring plates.🌺
And two pages of bookmarks, decorated on both sides, you can cut out and give to your friends . . .💞And this is why I feel so much better . . . the grand essentials of happiness . . . Check ✔️! And yes I’m about to start designing us some new cups! I’m ready! But I saved the best for last . . .
Loving our Country Life Magazine . . . giving us hope for the future! It’s time to start dreaming! So let’s have more MUSICA, one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite songs . . . all about dreaming . . .
So, if all goes well . . . Joe and I will go WEST to California via AMTRAK, in our room with a view, this fall to see everyone … Oh the hugs. I can’t wait. Big dream. I hope this world cooperates and doesn’t mess with us!
And then, oh yes . . . We made reservations to sail to England on the Queen Mary 2 next year, on May 1, 2022, God willing and the variants don’t rise! And wouldn’t it be fun if this time you come along with us for real? Think about it! You wouldn’t have to be crushed into suitcases and smuggled aboard and dance in the dark this time! Because yesterday I called Cunard to see what I could do to make that happen.♥️ I spoke to Susan Gannon and she said if you’d like to sail with us next year, you can call her at 800-468-7752 ext. 41663 and she will personally help make your reservations. You will have to mention that you’re part of the Susan Branch Girlfriends group, give them this group number: TNM, and voyage #M211 so they can keep track of us as a group . . . If there’s enough of us they’ll have special group pricing and other surprises. They had to cancel their entire spring and summer itinerary this year, which means that many of the people that didn’t get to go this year, will be going next year. So think fast! You would have to make a deposit, but you can cancel with complete refund if you do it by December 31, 2021, this year. It would give you extra time to decide for sure. Susan can answer any questions you have and you can call her anytime. This isn’t a tour like the kind you read about, where you have a “tour guide.” It’s more like one of our picnics, only on the ship!🚢 2022 Should be an especially WONDERFUL year in England 🇬🇧 ~ probably dancing in the street due to freedom from pandemic🤞, but that’s not all . . . bunting will criss-cross every city and village as the whole nation celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth! It’s the first time ANY British monarch will have celebrated 70 years on the throne! She will decree an additional “bank holiday” … an extra four-day weekend for everyone! (How’s that for power to make joy?🎉) I’m sure there will be fireworks, probably in June! We were there for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and I can tell you, Brits know how to celebrate their Queen! Every kind of ship and boat came from all over the Commonwealth to London to honor her in a Parade on the Thames! Even rowboats and the “Dunkirk Little Ships” were there. It was beautiful.⛵️
I stopped writing here, and when I did, I heard the sad news that Prince Philip had died at age 99.😢 The Queen’s rock. Macho man who took on the job of guardian angel.💖 A reminder that we’re losing the Greatest Generation. The Prince is a huge piece of the past, our history too, the history of the world. The Queen has “carried on” through thick and thin, through wars and Prime Ministers, natural disasters, and even worse disasters, the man-made kind ~ through every sort of challenge, always with Prince Philip at her side, but this one will be her most difficult of all, she must go it alone. I hope the UK spends all of 2022 celebrating their love.♥️ I hope they play this MUSICA . . . it was their song when they were young. Wasn’t she lucky to have the person she loved at her side for so very long for what I think might be the worst possible job in the world!?! Sending my deepest condolences to all my UK Girlfriends …
So out we go, it’s a good time for our walk with Winnie (just found out he took two baths a day no matter WHAT was happening! Even during his darkest hours. The ultimate in self-care. Love this man.) I hope you are having a WONDERFUL DAY and taking very good care of yourself💗… now, I will go add MUSICA to this blog, and voila, fini! Finally! Happy spring dearests!🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 Talk soon!