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  


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!

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  1. Judy H says:

    Dear Susan,
    Welcome back. Please continue to take care of yourself. Stress is an awful thing and as I read in the posts here we are all in the same boat and experiencing much of the same things. Glad you have your sails aloft and catching the wind again.
    I missed you.

  2. Grace from Barnstable says:

    Wait a minute…you mean I’m not the only happy-gene-make-it-better-for-every-one-else person who now finds myself wondering if I will ever feel better??? WHAT A RELIEF! You don’t know how much better you made me feel just by admitting that even my ultimate ray-of-sunshine idol has gotten down by all that is going on. I too did not want to let my hubby see that I was struggling. I too counted my blessings but just felt so bad for everyone else. I think us happy gene people actually have control issues. We want everyone to be as happy as we are and it’s almost unbearable that we can’t make it so.
    Beach walks here on the Cape, deep breathing and marveling at the inevitability of Spring in all its glory are what is getting me past this. Now I have the QE trip to dream about. Thank you Susan for keeping dreams alive!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, well, I like our kind of “control” … till it kills us! 😂 Oh dear, humans are such funny animals. All the power for evil, and ALL the power for good . . . and a lifelong choice of what matters most. And finding balance. And spreading love. Beach walks are heaven, especially with the cold spring air to breathe. Lovely Grace, thank you!💖

  3. Sheila Munro says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us even when it is a difficult one , you give inspiration to push forward when life throws us a curve ball and lets face it we have all had that happen during this pandemic . So happy to read you are doing better , I’ve missed your beautiful words and drawings. Virtual hugs from Nova Scotia ❤

  4. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    Susan, my second comment, but did I just miss something? Isn’t it your birthday in a couple of days???

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!! Hope it’s wonderful!

  5. Sharon in Weymouth says:

    I’m so happy for you that you’re feeling better now. I am also glad that you recognized that you needed help and began to take steps toward getting your equilibrium back. Your travel plans are exciting and certainly much to look forward too! And summer on Martha’s Vineyard! Life is good! Sending a big hug.

    • sbranch says:

      Like coming to my senses and realizing there is NOTHING WRONG WITH ME! Except an overactive imagination! Tone it down, I said to myself, and I have! Life is good! 🌸 xoxo

  6. Julie Buck says:

    I’ve been worried about you. I am so happy to hear you are feeling better and finding the formula for happiness again. I have gone through something similar myself, so I know how real it is. I am so, so thrilled that you are okay and coming back to yourself. Take good care of yourself. Play with Jack. Eat your good food. Hold hands with Joe. And just “be.” I need all those same things myself, and am doing it all but the playing with Jack. We have no pets anymore, as we can’t take them out to run around and play with them. Unfair to any creature we can’t take care of properly, so we’ll just remember our darling kitty, Mischa, and her everlasting lust to get outside so she could “get at” those birds in the tree just beyond her reach. We finally lived in a house and she could go outside. She never went near the birds, ran away from the squirrels and the bunnies, and slept on the lawn next to all kinds of animal shenanigans going on beside her. Big talker, she was.

    Best of all, remember that you are loved.

    And the trip is so exciting! I hope lots of girlfriends go with you.

    Thank you for this beautiful post.

    • sbranch says:

      Jack has been an indoor cat so long that I think he is AFRAID to go outdoors. Just as his evil mommy planned it! Too much danger out there for my little darling … Ha, ha, “big talker!” so cute! ❌⭕️ Thank you for the kind words Julie!

      • Ellen I says:

        I have been wondering if Jack is an indoor cat. Our new girl Joie is indoors too…our first cat not an indoor/outdoor cat. Yes, too many dangers.
        Evil mommy! Ha.

        • sbranch says:

          All my other cats were able to go in and out at will, but after my girlfriend, who lives across the street from me, lost two kitties to cars … I decided to keep Jack in. He’s fine with it … doesn’t even try to go out, and if I take him out, he wants back in within a minute. Trained well! Evil mommies unite! 😘

  7. Janie Foltz says:

    Susan…’there is a balm in Gilead”. When I opened your email I rejoiced. I too have been suffering and felt so guilty. I am very blessed and I cannot imagine the pain and suffering so many have experienced. Each morning I would read several devotions and commit to stop drifting deeper and deeper into a ‘funk’…but each day I failed miserably. I, like you… love to laugh and bring joy and happiness to other’s. I did not recognize myself anymore. An extrovert had become an introvert. I have gained weight and that has only added to my depression. Now…I feel that maybe the light is about to break. Your marvelous writing and honesty has helped. I intend to read many times and savor each word. Shall we agree to pray for each other. I am going to seriously ponder joining you and Joe and other’s for this voyage. Oh…what a delight that would be. Thank you Susan…sending love and lifting prayers. Janie

    • sbranch says:

      I felt guilty too . . . one thing I learned, we need to forgive ourselves, and maybe even others. It’s been such a good journey … at least in the NOW part of it. Life is a course of learning . . . we don’t stop. Blessings to you and yours Janie!

  8. Chris says:

    So glad you’re fixing yourself 🌸 we missed you so much!

  9. Sally says:

    I think you would find comfort in the online series, The Chosen: thechosen.tv/app. It is a series based on the gospels and is incredibly well done.

  10. Pam Sinsabaugh says:

    More than happy to hear from you! I checked every day for your updated blog & was so concerned that you or your sweet Joe were sick. Life has been trying for a long time, but I do believe better days are ahead! Great to know that you are taking care of yourself. May God give you the strength needed for the days ahead💕

    • sbranch says:

      So far, He is right THERE, on the spot, and I’m feeling the light every day. MAKING the light! Always reminded of that lovely saying, “Pray to God but continue to row toward shore.” He gave us what it takes to help ourselves, I think He expects us to do our part! 🌷 XOXOXO

  11. Eileen Schoenfeld says:

    I’m so glad to hear you are feeling better – we were worried about you! Sending good thoughts from Kalamazoo!

  12. Joyce in NYC says:

    Dear Susan,
    THANK YOU for sharing your feelings so candidly. It’s been a long, weary, sad winter, and I’ve wondered why I felt so out of it, more so than other years. I am hanging on by dreaming of the day when my husband and I can retire and finally leave the big, scary city, and once again live in a charming home with a flower garden and a vegetable garden, and lots of windows, a front porch, a fire pit … all this dreaming keeps me going. My motto: Always have something to look forward to. It surely keeps me going. Hugs to you …

  13. Brenda says:

    God bless. Take care.

  14. Rachel P says:

    So crazy how your gf’s knew instinctively something was wrong! A few days before you wrote this blog post I started worrying about you night and day, just knew something was wrong. So glad you are taking steps to feel better and getting back to feeling like yourself. Remember if you do need some extra help there is nothing wrong with calling the Dr! You bring light and love to so many. Please take time for yourself and do whatever makes you happy. And having 2 great trips coming up sure is something to look forward to!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, I think it’s a woman thing . . . we just sort of know. I’m sorry to worry everyone, but I knew you would forgive me when and if I got myself out of that! And, yes, good things on the calendar really do help! 💞xoxoxo

  15. Rosemary, nine miles north of Boston says:

    Oh Sue (echos of so many of your girlfriends), I am so Very Very glad to hear from you. I was so worried not hearing from you, kept trying to find out if you were ok, didn’t know how to do it. A million thanks for your words, they hit me in my heart. I’d been blathering for the past 9 months about the PTSD that everyone In The World is experiencing, but didn’t notice that it crept up and flattened me in February, when we lost our beloved dog of 11 years. I slowly stopped being me, forgot things, tired all the time, spent way too much time on the couch. Trying to keep house, shop for (a major stress) and feed my family took every ounce of my energy. I haven’t touched our older kids–spread across the country–in over a year. And I was just too drowned in all the horrific things that kept happening to everyone everywhere to understand that all this would finally take its toll on me. I too started to feel like I had some disease that would take me before I could go for a walk without fear, see and hug all my children–actually Eat Dinner at a Restaurant for heaven’s sake. Thank you so much for being brave enough to show me that I’m not crazy, just sick and tired from what everyone is going through. I will take your words to heart. I do my own meditation each morning and every night before I go to bed (mine are my conversations with God), and I will start taking better care of myself. I can see a little tiny light at the end of the crappy Covid tunnel, almost all of my family has been or started to be vaccinated. And the Good Lord willing, we Will see and touch and hug each other in the not too distant future. You have given me back my hope. I’ll still stumble, still try to make it all better (I was “the Bandaid” in my family’s dynamic growing up, fixing things, you can imagine how Covid’s theft of that control went down), but will hope to stop myself and heal myself and perhaps save myself. Please keep writing, you are the light on my laptop when I see your post. Bless you, Bless Joe, and Bless your wonderful kitty. Take care, and I’ll be reading you again soon! Much Love,

    • sbranch says:

      “Sick, and tired . . .” perfect words. We say them all the time, but now we know their full meaning! It does sneak up on you … suddenly you experience the last straw and it doesn’t even have to be a big thing, just a little too much weight that finally tips you over. My meditations are also conversations with God, feeling his presence within, but they are also affirmations of self worth, words to grow my heart, to make sure the positives in my mind FAR out weigh the negatives. Yes, I’m the oldest child, was always the “fairness police” also in charge of keeping people alive … Look both ways! Where are your shoes! So it starts young! Wouldn’t change a thing!🌸 Blessings to you and yours Rosemary . . . we get by with a little help from our friends!💞

  16. Joan B says:

    Biggest lesson learned from my meditation practice & teachers: be gentle with your self. Talk to your self like you would to a good friend who is hurting & in pain.
    It is too easy to forget this, and get caught up in fear & guilt & shame.
    Thank you for reminding us all to take care of our selves. And each other.
    Much love to you & your loved ones, Susan. God bless💞

    • sbranch says:

      Fear, guilt, and shame mostly made up by that stinker who lives in our brains and feels perfectly free to stick his nose in our business anytime he wants with his lies! I’ve got him back under control. Yes, self care, part of the good life!🌸 Written about it all my life, excellent time for reminding . . . can’t say enough good about it!🛁💐🏡☀️

  17. Grand Pam says:

    Bless your heart! You are Sunshine for so many of us and I hope you realize that. Life for the entire world has been hard. Love, laughter, and prayer to God has gotten me through. Please know you and Joe continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Always look forward to your post.

  18. Katy says:

    I don’t think you are the only one with the happy gene that has been totally upended this year. I think I’m a pretty positive person pretty much all the time, but it has been such a struggle! Thankfully, with the vaccine comes freedom to return to normal, whatever normal looks like now. I won’t forget the first time I got to hug my friend after not seeing her for a year thanks to all of this. Such a feeling. You won’t forget it either. I’ll be praying that you get all the way back to the wonderful person you are as quickly as possible. You bring a lot of joy to this world, and I’m grateful. Sending love your way!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Katy, you too . . . I do feel so much better! Every day better than the day before! I feel the love!💖

  19. ANN MEADS says:

    So glad you made it through! Keep on the SUNNY SIDE Looking forward to SUMMER. Ann on cape cod

    • sbranch says:

      It helps when we look outside and see the yellow forsythia in bloom! A little bit of sunshine in the garden!☀️

  20. Marge says:

    Susan, I was delighted to find you in my email today. 😊 Welcome back, I truly missed you. I too have been anxious and depressed since March 2020. I never expected to travel again due to the pandemic, but when I read about the possibility of sailing with you next year on the Queen Mary I am having second thoughts. Maybe I can treat myself to a vacation and have something to look forward to next year. Wow, I never expected to be hopeful about any travel again. Are you suggesting just a crossing to Southampton as a group and then we go our merry way or an entire planned all inclusive package? Thank you for brightening my day and rekindling my spirit. ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      We just go on our merry way . . . I don’t think I would know how to do a real tour . . . but we’d be with kindred spirits on board the ship, and that would be wonderful. There are so many guided tours available in England for those who’d like one … 💝 Yes, a treat to look forward to! And don’t we need it!💖

      • Janice B Smith says:

        Check out “Discover Europe” tours. Wonderful small group tours of 4-14. I used to do them with my Mom. They are online and you can check out what they have close to the arrival at Southhampton. 🙂
        Jan from Northern CA

  21. Leigh D. says:

    Thank you for your transparency! I’ve walked this path as well – and it was like nothing I had experienced before. A favorite verse from that season in my life is Psalm 89:8 “Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.”……the Lord taught me that His faithfulness surrounds Him….just keep looking for Him. Sometimes feelings aren’t real – just think on ‘these things.’ Blessings!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, “sometimes feelings aren’t real” … that is so true! And if we do so much damage with feelings that aren’t real, imagine the good we can do when we change our feelings! Magic! Thank you so much Leigh … lovely to hear from you!🌸

  22. ANDREA JAPINGA says:

    Dear Sweet Susan,
    Sooooo excited to read your blog.WELCOME BACK!!!
    You are the heart ❤ & Soul of the Vineyard & of EVERYTHING SUSAN BRANCH. So ecstatic you were able to find the best of yourself & make the journey “home” to all of us who care so deeply for you. I’m getting my 2nd shot on the 12th & will beso grateful my husband and I will be able to finally travel to visit our son in Las Vegas. Haven’t been with him for almost a year and a half. We have a few holidays/birthdays to make up for 🎉🥳🐇🐤🎃🎄
    You need to take care of you for everyone near & dear to you & GIRLFRIENDS 4 sure too.
    If I could sit across the porch from GOD in a big old wicker rocking chair, I’d thank Him for lending me you to keep me😊 and believe that YES… there is still goodness in our world. Know that God will always hold you in the palm of His hand and close to His 💞❣😘🙏
    Girlfriend Hugs, Andrea J from NJ
    Please let me know you received my post as I
    never see mine posted like others. Thank you

    • sbranch says:

      SO MUCH GOODNESS … and if we don’t know, all we have to do is read yours, and these over 500 comments … It’s a beautiful thing.🌷 Thank you from the bottom of my heart! ❌⭕️ You are getting your shot on MY birthday! It’s a gift to me and to the world that we do this… so I can say thank you Andrea!🎁🎉

  23. Dawn Zaino says:

    I’ve been so worried about you Susan! Thank you for your lovely APRIL Blog. Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling well, you aren’t alone!! These are depressing, difficult times for all of us!! My elderly mom passed recently from Covid, caught in a nursing home!
    Thank you for being a bright light in so many people’s lives!! I can’t wait to order “Enchanted”, when it’s ready!! I’m praying for you and thank you for all the happiness you give us all!! ❤️Dawn

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Dawn, I’m so very sorry to hear about your mom. Really the worst. Sending healing hugs wrapped love xoxoxo

  24. ANDREA JAPINGA says:

    Hi again Susan,
    just wanted to say that I went into my archives to read /reread soooo many of your Willard letters which kept me connected to you & they made my 💔🙂. Also have your Mother’s day mug from my son out to keep both of you close to me 😍🤩💐💝

  25. Karen Carpenter says:

    Dear Susan,

    I had been thinking of you alot and why no new post. But as usual you expressed what I have been feeling. I thought it was me! Well I shall do as you say and begin to be grateful. The last 4 1/2 years have taken such a toll for so many reasons. I too was born a worry wart and it has gotten worse with age. I am so happy you are picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and returning to life. We are so hard on ourselves! Keep it up and thank heavens your back.
    Now for the Queen Mary, I think I will look into that and consider it. Thank you for thinking of that. It will be a big birthday for you and me just a few days apart. I deserve that. There is reason to be happy, we were vaccinated too, the second jab being on Ashe Wednesday, such an appropriate day. Its time for this pandemic to go away.

    Thank you, thank you. Happy Spring! Karen Carpenter. P.S. its a new email.

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Karen! Nice to hear from you … Worry-Warts Unite! 😍 We should get t-shirts made.💖 Good you are thinking about the Queen Mary … it’s beautiful out there on the ocean … kind of a little miracle is what it feels like. xoxoxo

  26. Tawni Urrutia says:

    Dear Sweet Susan,
    I adore you, and it breaks my heart for you to suffer. One tidal wave of grief and disbelief after another for such a prolonged period of time. Who can take it without feeling like your heart and mind and soul are turning to mercury? Thanks be to God, you’re well on your way to feeling like your cheerful, glowing self. You give so much peace and joy and comfort and inspiration to so many of us. I wonder if that isn’t a little pressuring to you. You’ve created a beautiful space for people to gather and share and encourage one another. I thank you for that from the bottom of o my heart. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. Continue to be good to yourself.
    Tawni Urrutia in Lodi Ca

    • sbranch says:

      And I definitely do feel encouraged, by my sweet Girlfriends. A lifetime of getting to know all of you has been a joy. Thank you Tawni!💖

  27. Michelle says:

    Glad to hear you are coming back around. It’s been a long rough road. I normally don’t get down about much and my life wasn’t affected as much on a daily basis, I am I home most days all day (stay at home mom) I can say my heart has been breaking for my teen son, having a medical issue that we need to really watch exposure. He has been at home schooling and not hanging with friends for over a year. He finally got to go back to person this week and got his first vaccine shot, as did my fiancé and myself. As far as that picture of the card, the first comment should have been more polite and less rude…but what they are talking about is they are advising not to show it because it has your name and birthday on it usually. It also shows where you got it done. There is a very slim chance for identity theft. Nowadays, most social media posts your birthday. But, the concern is you can get spam that if you fall for, can be a problem. For example, hey, there was an issue with your lot number of your vaccine, give us your social security number to verify it. I work as a volunteer receptionist at our police dept. So I hear all the theft and scam stories. Love the kitty pics!

    • sbranch says:

      I see, thank you … I went to look at my card and the only thing on it was my name. No birthday. But I love that my girlfriends let me know, I hadn’t heard about that! Gotta take care of each other. I’m so happy things are getting better at your house! One day at a time!

  28. Rebecca Pappenheim says:

    Dear Susan, thank goodness for your post!! Just thinking and wondering where you were!!! Reading your post I cried and cried, still crying, lost my husband this last year after a battle with cancer. I’m so blessed with a very close family who care for me and each other so much! You are so lucky to have all of your girlfriends who are with you in thoughts and prayers. And We are all so lucky to have you in ours. Thank you for your post I really needed it, it helped me to cry years that are much needed to heal! Sincerely, Becky

    • sbranch says:

      I was thinking the same thing, how GOOD those tears are. That’s what I do when my parents visit during meditation. It’s been a surprise and a gift . . . I didn’t let myself do enough of it until now. Sort of like washing grief away. Healing. I’m so sorry for your loss Rebecca, beyond words … sending love …. 💞

  29. diana from ancaster says:

    Keep looking up…. that’s where the stars are.

  30. Michelle Smock says:

    So glad you’re okay 💕

  31. Connie Leach says:

    So glad you’re back. Having empathy, sympathy makes your heart vulnerable. You have a beautiful soul. Hope in GOD. Thanks for all the joy you give us.

  32. Debbie Clardy says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for the inspiration during these difficult times.
    Despite the passing of my beloved husband on March 13th, I am anticipating this beautiful Spring as a season of renewal and healing.
    Take good care.
    Debbie from Eastampton, NJ

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss Debbie. Spring and the end of the pandemic are positives and every little bit of that helps. Sending love.💖

  33. Patti Moran says:

    As always, this arrived with perfect timing. A balm for the soul. I caught my breath as I read and buffed along. (I’m breathing again just fine now.) You described how I felt, starting at the beginning of February. I kept feeling that it was as though the lights went out. And I couldn’t find the switch.
    Last year at this time, I was very ill with Covid. I’m still rebuilding with self care. Then we lost my dear cousin and my mother in law. And cats. The bright spot was a new grandson. But we weren’t allowed to see him right away for safety reasons. Seven weeks felt heartbreakingly long.
    And now spring has arrived. I stepped outside this morning and breathed in hope.
    Thank you for your constancy.
    And God bless the Queen, as she mourns the love of her life.

    • sbranch says:

      Too many heartbreaks, with people we know and love, and with people we don’t know, but still feel for. We’re making it through, but it hasn’t been easy. Now the Queen and don’t we know or imagine how it must be for her. And everything so public. I too, breathe in hope every day. 💝

  34. Linda, near Seattle says:

    Hi Susan, I have missed you and worried about you. I am so happy to once again see your post, but sad that you went through such a dark period. I have been in a dark place in the past, and was worried that what I was seeing at work would take me back down that dark hole. This has been a tough year for the residents at the skilled nursing facility, but we have just recently begun to allow well-orchestrated visits. The signs of Spring I see in our gardens help me to move forward. I am thankful for the vaccines and for those brilliant scientists who worked so hard to bring them to us. I have re-read your wonderful book, “Isle of Dreams”, and every evening as I read, I had a smile on my face, knowing that things worked out for you in the end. I hope you know how much you inspire me and many others. Please keep taking care of yourself. Hugs to you, Joe, and your precious kitty.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much for what you do Linda . . . I have no doubt you have been a bright light for so many trying to get through this dam-panic. ❌⭕️

  35. Barb says:

    I love that you included the line from the Christmas carol – “the weary world rejoices”. The next line, as I’m sure you know, is “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”. This brought tears to my eyes this past Christmas, and I actually wrote it out and put it on my fridge. It seemed so appropriate for these times. It makes me happy to know that it resonated with you, too. In a world where we can control so few things, looking after our own health is something we can do. It’s something I’m working on lately, and I’m glad to hear you are, too. Take care, my friend who I don’t know, but feel like I do.

  36. Marian M says:

    Susan, I’m sorry to hear of all that you’ve been going through. And happy to hear that you’re on the mend and feeling better. You have always brightened up my days with your blogs and books and emphasis on obtaining joy from simple things. Thank you.

  37. Jana says:

    Glad you’re feeling better. In two days my husband and I will be fully immunized. I’ve been dreaming of going to the nursery, or the grocery store to get the produce that I want – not just what they give me at curbside. But I’m so grateful that we’ve had that luxury, and it’s been working pretty well. I just tell myself it’s like being in a CSA and working with whatever they give you – ha. I have a bit of social anxiety and health limitations so staying at home, working through my fabric stash to make quilts and baby blankets, and watching funny movies for a year has been right up my alley. Plus, my daughter and grandson have come to visit regularly because they don’t go anywhere either. We Zoom with our two sons who are out of town – who both got engaged and now are planning weddings in 2021! Keep thinking positive thoughts and doing the things you’re doing. We’re getting close to the end!
    P S. When I googled, it said that your card usually shows your name, date of birth, and when and where you got your vaccine. That is information that could be used by scammers in the future. So, probably best not to show it. But I know how you feel about having it. We took pictures to keep in our phone and made copies to put in our fire safe.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Jana … They didn’t put that personal info on my card … except they did say MV Hospital. It’s probably too late for me to hide where I live! 😂 Yes! The nursery! Ours aren’t even open yet … we have to wait for warmer weather, but it won’t be long before we can walk between the rows of God’s gift to humanity!!! Flowers! Can’t wait! Take care! 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

  38. Joanne says:

    “Dear Susan – I think my message may not have made it though to you. Just in case – briefly, I just wanted to say that my mom [birthday also in February] always ended a phone conversation by saying “take care of you.” We are all so used to the beautiful upbeat blog you share with us – in spite of your busy life. It all comes from a good heart. But since I am probably about 20 years older than you, I say that a good heart cannot safely carry the weight of the world around without a BREAK. You surely are doing all the right things to bring yourself back. So to repeat “take care of you.!”

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what my mother used to say to me . . . “Sue, you can’t solve all the world’s problems.” I would look at her quizzically to say “why not?” LOL. Now I know! I doubt if I’ll ever stop trying. There was a heartbreaking story about racism and how it affects kids in a Reader’s Digest when I was little that I brought to show my mom with tears in my eyes. When I grew up, I found that article tucked in my baby book. She saved it. It was just the beginning! Take care of you Joanne . . . thank you for the kind words.💗

  39. Kari OBrien says:

    Thank you, Dear Susan! You have been dearly missed! I am relieved and grateful to know you feel better. Sending all of my bursting-out-of-the-heart-love to you and wishing you Happy Days, one right after the other. What a gift you are to so many. XO

  40. Nicoline says:

    Dearest Susan, Thank you, just thank you, again and again, for sharing what you went through…..I can truly say you were very much missed. I am so glad you are feeling better and thanks so much for sharing the things that helped you to reach that return to your happy, smiling self.
    Dahlias!! I had never really cared for them , but last year we saw so many in gardens, blooming right into the Autumn, we decided we wanted some too! When we were on Texel ( little island off the coast in the North sea) we went to a tiny grower, and we could pick the flowers we wanted, to show the owners, who then dug up the tubers for us to take home and store until we plant them.
    Your experience with acupuncture has inspired me to google more information, and a few members of this family are thinking of trying it too, so thank you for that!
    Oh that DARLING little black and white cuddly bear, I’m assuming it’s a panda bear? Did you make it? Or where did you buy it? I have a soft spot for a cute panda bear:)
    I think I “need” to read “I capture A castle”, it sounds delightful! Have you ever heard of David Grayson? I came across him, via a blog, and bought his book called The Friendly Road, written almost 100 years ago….I found a copy with a name written in the 1st page, dated 1928!!
    Don’t you just LOVE the smell of old books….? Is that a very odd thing to do??
    Oh you DID save the BEST FOR LAST!!!! Yeah, another trip across the pond!! Oh wonderful, counting the days already!! Can’t wait to hear more plans!
    We’ve had to cancel (AGAIN) because of not being able to cross borders into France and Belgium, so sad about that, but I’m sure it will make the Homecoming ( As we always feel when we’re back in the UK) even sweeter!!
    As soon as I had heard about the extra long Bank Holiday weekend, we made plans to be in the UK at that time, so we will be in Cornwall hoping to take part in whatever festivities there are….Street parties?? Keeping everything crossed things will be back to some kind of normal, by then…
    Thank you again, and I hope you never think that what you have done with your life hasn’t mattered, because it HAS mattered more than you’d ever guess, for more people than you’ll ever know.
    Lots of love to Joe too, and at this very moment Kitty and Katy are racing across the room, over my lap, and this computer, so I need to press SEND soon, or else this might get deleted…….
    Happy BIRTHDAY to you, too!!
    From us all, lots of love
    Nicoline and family

    • sbranch says:

      Always wonderful to hear from you Nicoline, your writing exudes love of life! You, of all people, should RUN to the bookstore for I Capture the Castle. You will love it … it was written for you! No, haven’t heard of David Grayson, but wrote it down, maybe it would be a good “walking” book, if it’s available. And the little bear, yes, looks like a panda to me too, I got him at Maurice Florist just around the corner from me. He was sitting there with his arms reaching out and I had to hug him. I think he hugged me back. Had to get him for my girlfriend who just had surgery. Everyone needs a care bear! Hugs to Kitty and Katy, and to you and the family! Stay well and happy ~ until we meet again some sunny day! ♥️

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Thanks Nicoline fir mentioning David Graydon. I do hope you’ll be able to find some of his books, Susan. I have read and collected several of his books over the years. My very favourite is a slim volume titled “A Day of Pleasant Bread” . It’s about a simple Christmas dinner in the country. I found it in an antique book shop on Queen Street in downtown Toronto probably 30 years ago. We walked into the shop and there it was. I was thrilled to find it as I had several of his other books. “Adventures in Contentment”, “Adventures in Friendship” and the “Friendly Road” are just a few of his titles. You can google “David Grayson” to find out more about him and his books. Enjoy your Sunday. Hugs, Elaine

        • Nicoline says:

          Hello Elaine,
          Lovely to hear from you! I will certainly try to find some more books by D Grayson, thank you for the information.
          Oh, walking through downtown Toronto, sounds just lovely! I lived in Toronto, with my parents, when I was MUCH younger, spent 5 years there, went to school there, learned English etc, so I have soft spot for Toronto, and all of Canada…..
          Best wishes from Holland, Nicoline

        • Dianne says:

          Hi Nicoline,
          Are you by chance from the Netherlands? If so, I believe I met you at breakfast at the Sawrey House Hotel the morning after the picnic at Castle Castle. We mentioned to each other that the people at Susan’s gatherings are always so nice and so positive. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there might be another picnic in 2022. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I am planning a trip to England at that time and I do hope to be there for the Jubilee.

          • Nicoline says:

            Hello Dianne,
            Hi, yes I am from the Netherlands, and we did have breakfast at Sawrey House!! Lovely to hear from you!
            As soon as I had heard about the extra long Bank Holiday weekend, we ( my husband and I) made plans to be in the UK at that time, so we will be in Cornwall hoping to take part in whatever festivities there are….Street parties?? Keeping everything crossed things will be back to some kind of normal, by then…
            AND also keeping fingers ( and everything else) crossed Susan will organize another picnic for next year.
            What kind of trip are you planning? A road trip through several parts of the UK?
            Best wishes from Holland and happy planning!

          • sbranch says:

            LOL, this makes me so happy to see such a small world! xoxo

      • Nicoline says:

        Oh, I’m running as we “speak”, thank you for the recommendation!
        Hugs from the panda, can things get any better! I hope your friend is recovering well from her surgery.
        So glad you already had the vaccinations! Here in Holland, it’s all going quite slow , making many people frustrated…But Gabri and I have an appointment for Thursday for our 1st jab. We’re getting the Astra Zenega, and there are doubts and uncertainties, but we have no option for a different one. So we are counting on it will all go well.

        Hugs back to you from us all, and Vera Lynn is going through my head now, such a lovely song, and keeping everything crossed we WILL meet again, so sunny day! OXOX

        • Dianne says:

          Dear Nicoline,
          It was so good to hear from you. I am glad that you and your husband are well and looking ahead to a vacation in Cornwall. I am still waiting for my turn with the vaccine. I was originally scheduled for July, but things are rolling out a little faster now. I was hoping to get the J & J vaccine, but it was recently recalled. Like you, I’ll get whatever is available at the time and hope for the best.
          I am just now beginning to plan my trip to England. Although I would LOVE to do a road trip, I don’t think that I would feel comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road (and I’m sure that the Brits would prefer that I didn’t). I’m hoping to find someone to share the adventure with and maybe they won’t mind driving. I know that I want to visit some gardens while there, and I want to be there for the Jubilee. Since I plan to combine my trip with a walking vacation, a lot depends on what is available in terms of guided walks. Since my activity is restricted while I recover, I have a lot of time in which to research ideas. My first walking vacation was in north Cornwall. It is absolutely beautiful there. You will love it! We visited several Doc Martin sites (I was the only one in the group unfamiliar with the show). One of my highlights was visiting a home used in the German productions of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books. She is one of my favorite authors. Bye for now

  41. Joy says:

    It was lovely to find a new blog post but so sorry to hear of your battles and so glad you are feeling better now. Thank you for sharing your story – so many are struggling right now. Sending you the very best wishes from a cold but sunny England. Our news is reporting that Prince Harry will travel home for the funeral next Saturday. Even though millions of us have now had at least one vaccine we are still only allowed to meet friends and family outside – and still no hugging, still we have to socially distance. It’s been a long year…

    • sbranch says:

      I feel your pain. (That’s almost funny!😂 I didn’t mean it to be!) But I do … I think we’d all go stark raving mad if we had to put up with much more of this. And yet, only one year, so blessed. But, generally speaking, GET US OUT OF HERE.⚡️⚡️⚡️ Thank you Joy, very nice to hear from you!🌸

  42. Linda Zimmer says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for sharing the dark with the light. Your post is comforting, informative, life affirming and full of ideas for creating and savoring JOY!

    • sbranch says:

      If you read these wonderful comments, you’ll find that I am getting it back two-fold!😍 Thank you!

  43. Ann Wirtz says:

    I’m sorry I got carried away in my first response and wrote like I was writing a letter! Somehow I ended up sharing all I’ve felt as I’ve read your books. 🙂 I’ll condense it to: thank you from the bottom of my heart for the loveliness you express that gives such exquisite pleasure. I’m deeply sorry for your mother’s passing; life shifts a bit when we lose our last parent – it’s hard. Thank you for sharing your heart and the beauty that is your soul. Blessings, always, Ann

    • sbranch says:

      That was beautiful Ann, thank you so much for your lovely words … my computer decided to give me a day of glitch yesterday ~ but it seems okay this morning so I’m finally getting to read and respond to these wonderful comments . . . I hope everyone has time to read them, they’re filled with wisdom, faith, and positivity.💗

  44. LC says:

    I remember reading many of your Twitter posts and thinking “Wow! This poor girl is worrying WAY too much about things out of her control.” That is so often the start of so many stress related symptoms. If you can step in to help remedy a situation then volunteer to do it. If that’s not possible then donate money in an effort to help. And research the legislation that would assist and then support that. Anything else becomes self-absorption: your worry, your sadness, your depression – all about you. It seems you have found ways to feel better and that is great. You have such lovely gifts and skills, good for you for getting back to them.

  45. Claud says:

    Dearest sweet Susan

    We all need to retreat at times, so I am so pleased you surfaced again. From the many responses that were written from the hearts of many who could identify, you were certainly not alone. I have exited from all news and it seems my world has returned to the compassion, integrity and empathy that I once recognized. We really do have a world of lovely people, lead it seems by land angels like yourself. I watch a lot of hgtv these days and always have birds singing their melodies in the background shielding out everything but pure joy. Continue sprinkling your happy genes, that is a dose we could all embrace.

  46. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    I just knew you weren’t right and am so glad you are back, safe and sound. I love you. We all do. Wishing you a wonderful birthday and much peace…..

  47. Kelly says:

    I love this!
    I love you!
    There is hope!

    • sbranch says:

      And to anyone reading this … I have to stop replying . . . there are still 450 comments waiting for me. I will definitely read them, but I am going to have to force myself not to answer or I will never get them done! Sending LOVE to all of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Kindred spirits, in it together.💞

  48. Kathy Fleming says:

    Glad to hear you are feeling better. Can you give us any info on the new cups in the making? Will there be any “sold out” cups brought back?

    • sbranch says:

      Are there any you’d like to see? I was thinking we might love to have a Gratitude cup!

      • Janice B Smith says:

        A lovely tea cup that represents what we all seem to feel. Blessings and gratitude for all we have.
        I will buy one
        Jan from Northern CA

      • Kathy Fleming says:

        Please consider bringing the Autumn, Summer and Winter Cups back. I have quite the collection and part of my daily joy is to choose which cup to use each day. Those are the ones I have missed out on purchasing. Also, the Fourth of July is a real beauty! I chipped mine against the faucet!!!!! Oh NO!!! I am so sad!!! How about a “Daffodil” cup? Daffodils signify hope! Another suggestion…”Cape Cod!” Enjoy the day, Susan and thank you!

  49. Anne says:

    Dear Susan, I have been meaning to drop you a note for some time after reading your Martha’s Vineyard book. I read it last summer and it gave me so much hope and joy. I had begun to despair of being single with a house to look after (and this after 10 years of being there and constantly renovating/remodelling!) and I had been worn down by the pandemic measures that were now necessary. I, too, live on the opposite side of the country from my family and friends and where I grew up. And I love where I live as well, but I wasn’t able to go home for a visit last year and I won’t be able to this year either. Between the motivation of your book and the need to do something positive, I was inspired to begin a daily meditation practice and a workout routine. These were actually a normal part of my life before I became single again but I guess I just let myself wallow for too long. At any rate, today I feel amazing again and happy in my soul. Thank you for helping. Although I am sick to death of all the news and mask wearing and not seeing my friends and family, I do believe that ultimately many wonderful things will come about as a result of this pandemic. Let’s hope we all survive with the spirit intact so that we can enjoy them! 😉 Thanks again, much love Anne xoxox

    • sbranch says:

      Brings you right back up, doesn’t it Anne!? We’re encouraged so much these days to look for answers outside ourselves … but it’s all there, inside … waiting, a gift from God. We have it in us. I’m with you, I think we’re getting things from this misery we didn’t expect. I think we’ll be better. And until we’re all the way there, we can help those around us see the light. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  50. Nanette Hill says:

    Ever since I lost the love of my life in 2017 I too have felt like you felt. And like you daily meditation (twice actually) and constant talking with God has helped me. Sure I still have days I miss him greatly–to tears– and need to talk with him, which I do. Thankfully I have a beach place I can get away to and just do nothing if need to. Spring is my time of year and it is finally waking up for all its beauty. Your blog has also been a life saver through the years. Whatever it takes, we must do for me and for you to continue in this day.
    Much love and prayers.

    • sbranch says:

      Love to hear your practice … love that it’s a practice, not a cure. Love and prayers to you too Nanette. xoxoxo💖

  51. Janet O’Connor says:

    Dear Susan,
    I was distressed to read that you were struggling. We all have been in our own ways. We had been wrenched out of our normal lives and into a dark place. At least everything has begun to get a little brighter, and we have to feed that fire with inner peace, love and happiness.
    Take good care, girlfriend. We love you and need your love too.

    • sbranch says:

      Brighter everyday, re-strengthened to handle what life is throwing . . . most of it, the vast mass of it, so wonderful.💖

  52. cheryl jennifer hubbard says:

    Thankyou for your honesty and for your post of our Prince Philip, we are bereft for our beloved Queen.

    • sbranch says:

      I can only imagine. It’s so sad. I believe in her. I think she is made of amazing stuff. I hope she can stand this, we have a lot to celebrate next year, and I hope as much as it’s about her 70 years, it’s about their love. It’s a bit of a fairy tale. They’ve already started delighting us with their story on screen. I think there will be more. They are the last of a dying breed. The GREATEST generation. My heart goes out to you and all our lovely British friends. 🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

  53. You have been missed. So happy you are on the mend. Prince Phillips death brings about an end to an era. God bless the Queen and family and hold them up in care and comfort.

  54. Pamela says:

    Oh, Susan!!!! It’s so wonderful to see you back again!! I kept checking for your new blog post. But found you in Twitter which I do not do – I only joined to see what Jim Gaffigan had said last fall. I totally understand having to take a break. You orchestrated your sabbatical so well!

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful mother – anniversaries after we lose a loved one are so hard. My only sister died suddenly while visiting us – those “firsts” (first Christmas, first birthday) without our loved ones are so tough. Little wonder February was so hard on top of the Dam-Panic.

    I, too, found myself in a depression in January. Most likely pandemic fatigue. It was the first time we had not been with at least a subset of our family (we have five children). Zoom Thanksgiving and Christmas was not enthralling. I had a very small stroke in my eye in February and that revealed a tiny heart issue (except it is so rare my cardiologist stayed up all night reading up on it before my televisit). The visual loss is tiny and has not progressed so the retina specialist is delighted. But now on preventative medications. So as a result, I have stayed in since almost day one. I used to swim 3-5 miles a week. I had to give that up.

    My husband retired in November – we had planned to go to Europe right after his last day. Getting used to him at home all of the time has been a matter of adjustment (we just celebrated our 40th anniversary last September).

    So many things were cancelled including our daughter’s wedding in Austin last March. But we got our Pfizer vaccinations on January 27th and February 18th. I cried! We lost two friends on the day we got our first vaccination. We have lost four in all – and a fifth has been sick since December 22 and just received a double lung transplant. He is doing much better but will most likely never practice medicine again.

    (I don’t know if anyone else has said anything to you but you might want to reconsider the photo of your vaccination record. There have been warnings of people pirating them for vaccination passports)

    We had not been able to be with our 6 grandchildren during the Dam-Panic. We have done a lot of Zoom calls. Two of our son-in-laws are ER doctors and our daughter is a pediatrician so they have been in constant exposure to Covid. One had Covid in October but thankfully it was mild. Now all of our kids and spouses have been vaccinated except for one daughter who is pregnant. She will wait until Harrison is born in July.

    But a week after our second vaccination, we left for Austin (by car) loaded with serving platters, dishes, silverware, candles, tablecloths and napkins for the dinners in our two huge VRBOs on the Colorado River – we only had immediate family but with our 5 kids and families, that made 25 – five from the groom’s side! The restaurants could not accommodate that many on their properties even though TX had begun to open up. The snowstorm disrupted the food supply chain in Texas so it was touch and go with the caterers. But it turned out perfectly because the Littles could go to bed after meals and everyone could sleep at the two houses and not worry about driving. It was spectacular to finally be with our entire family – and our son is a priest so I was very emotional about being able to receive Communion when he did a family Mass on Sunday just before we all left.

    Last night we went out to dinner for the first time with so many friends we had not seen since last March. It was amazing! Still a little scary to go out into the world. But we are blessed! Now we are packing up again to drive to Omaha to be with our youngest daughter and our first grandson, Henry. He will receive his First Communion on the 18th, his mommy’s 27th birthday!

    Thank you so very much for your post. I loved reading each sentence and studying your photos. I will go back and read it over and over to savor. You put so much into your blog. It is like a huge warm hug to all your Girlfriends. God bless you!

    Stay well and be safe!
    Pam in Indiana

    • sbranch says:

      Love reading how everyone is getting through this . . . all about Love isn’t it? Blessings to you and yours Pam! ❌⭕️

  55. Tamara says:

    Thank you! You don’t know me – I’ve never met you …( actually, I attended a book signing in Utah several years ago), but when I read your blog I think we must be soul sisters from another place and time (I believe in the pre-existence … maybe that’s it:) Thank you for being transparent and real about your struggle – helps one feel one is not alone in the struggle (you bring out a British accent in me☺️). In spite of the difficulties of this past year, there are some amazing takeaways and I hope we embrace them as we step out into “ the world” again as new and improved human beings 😌 God bless us all!

  56. Drucye says:

    Hi Susan, I was feeling the same way in February. Then I came across these words in an article Sean Dietrich wrote and he summed it up perfectly:
    “Here’s the thing. What I just described isn’t called motivation loss. This is classic grief. Which is exactly what you’re experiencing right now, “collective grief.” And before you tell me I’m an idiot for using this phrase, I didn’t make up that term. Mental health experts did. We are grieving the loss of a world we grew up in. And we’ve lost a lot. We’ve lost travel, parties, concerts, church services, holidays, buffets, handshakes, indoor dining, gainful employment, company picnics, Little League, hugs, and movie theaters.” Sean Dietrich, author

  57. Christine Morgan says:

    Dear Susan.

    I think we have all experienced feelings this past year that are nothing like anything we knew. So glad you are doing better. I have had my up and down days this year. Being a happy worrier myself I could always pull myself out. This year it took a bit more pulling. So happy to see your post this morning. You take care of yourself—-HUGS!

  58. Debb S(from Minnesota) says:

    Only you, dear Susan, can put a spin on despair with such deep compassion. Having compassion and kindness towards yourself is putting on the oxygen mask first. Thank you for being open enough and vulnerable enough to share with us. It gives me hope that I am “normal” to also go through some of that.

    Part of my daily therapy is to go outside and gaze up at the sky and realize we all share the same sun and moon and stars…. All some 7 billion of us on this glorious planet. Your star in the cosmos shines very bright for all of us. I spend some time forgiving all the negativity I may experience through my lens of my perception and forgiving myself for living in fear, that helps me to shift to a place of Love… Love finds the good or silver lining in every situation.
    Be well our wonderful SB!

    I adore you and wish you joy in your dear and continued inspiration in your writings and beautiful drawings for us to lean on for hope and joy as well.

  59. Linda Becker says:

    Sending a hug and prayers, thank you for sharing ❤️

  60. Pamela Jorgensen Nichols says:

    Although your experience is unique to you, thank you for sharing what so many of us have been feeling. It has been a hard time, but we will prevail. Your puzzle helped me smile. Please know how inspiring you are to us! xoxo Pam in Michigan

  61. MJ in MI says:

    So happy you are feeling better. Thank you for your honesty and humanity. Please know how much peace you bring to others and I hope it is reflected back on you. Continue to take care of yourself and thanks for all you do 😘.

  62. Sue in Long Valley NJ says:


    this is just a quick note to caution and alert you to please TAKE DOWN YOUR PHOTO of the covid vaxx card!!! News reports today cite scammers are using photos of such posted cards to sell on the internet. Please don’t publicize your cards – anyone!!

  63. Peggy McInturff says:

    So grateful for you and praying for you❤️

  64. Karen Holm says:

    Well, I was so relieved to read this blog. I know many feel bad that you have been struggling but I am so thankful you have the courage to share so much so honestly because so many of us are there with you. I was thinking about Hemingway’s time on this earth with so many catastrophic events – WWI, WWII, The Depression, The Nazis and their evil deeds, the uncertainty of life after all these events not to mention one’s own life heartaches and confusion. My Mom and Dad lived these years as well, and, somehow, they survived and sometimes thrived and sometimes cried. I miss them both but I know their lives were not perfect nor is mine. I just keep letting myself cry a little and see the beauty in things. And yesterday, a friend and I listed all the trips we want to take while we had tea and cakes. My heart breaks daily for all the hate and sadness in our world so I send another check to the food bank and Humane Society and world organizations that support ALL people. Because I am at a loss as to how to fix it. I have been a follower since you started and, because we are the same age, share so many experiences of growing up in this world. I think we will make it. And it will be easy and not easy, joyful and sad and confused and clear. And it will be our life.
    Thanks for sharing who you are – I feel like this was your most honest blog yet.

  65. charlotte m. says:

    Such a wonderful newsy post. I am so happy you are taking care of yourself and feeling better. We have all been on this rollercoaster ride and are ready to get off. I cannot imagine stepping out into and open world just yet. I still have 3 weeks until my second shot, but I don’t see going out unmasked even then. I shall continue to be cautious until Dr. Fauci says it’s okay. I am using up so much of my patience, but I can make more. Cannot wait to see your beautiful flowers.

  66. Sharon S. says:

    Dear Susan,

    So sorry that you were feeling badly…I guess we all have been given the state the world is in. I’m not on social media of any kind, but am so glad that you are back to being your old chipper self…I missed your blogs! I would also like to wish you a very Happy Birthday because I remembered that your birthday is tomorrow. Hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings to you and Joe…

  67. Rhea says:

    My Sweet girlfriend……..Even though we haven’t seen each other face to face I have been apart of your life for many many years and you in mine, so yes, I have the privilege to call you my girlfriend. I finally opened my computer this morning and saw your email and it was like you had read my journal page to page except you are way ahead of me in the recovery dept. When this pandemic hit us like a ton of bricks, I chose to hunker down and make the most of being homebound, cooking, reading, organizing, etc. We moved back to the west coast as you know and began implementing our long term retirement goals having no idea how bad it was going to get and has it been bad. I have endured loss and trauma (losing my 9 year old son) and thought that I could manage just about anything. Im a homebody anyway so I thought I was going to better off than most people who really need the day to day busy schedule. Wrong. Boy was I wrong. I saw my son work so hard to graduate and get into some really good colleges, not have a graduation, choose online schooling due to his compromised immune system and thank god he did because the schools have had such a difficult time. I feel sorry for all of them. The teachers, students and parents. I too worry about everyone which is draining and fills me with anxiety. I have been covered in hives for months like its not a big deal, just living with itchy welts all over my body. Something else that I never factored in was the frustration of most of my friends not taking precautions and how that would effect our relationships. I tried so hard not to judge them for not wearing a mask and now not getting the vaccine that we are SO lucky to have available to us and I have really struggled with that. I have lost connection with many of them because they judge me for being overly cautious and I have lost respect for them for being so selfish and flippant about hundreds of people dying. I pray everyday that the new normal will bring us all closer and see that it truly is the small things that matter like being kind to one another. Thats what Im taking from this as I slowly get out from under the dark cloud.The crying!! After I received my first shot I got into the shower to get all of the Covid germs off of me from the hospital and it just poured out of me from deep within. I didn’t know what was happening because I was so grateful and proud of myself for taking care of myself, family and anybody around me. My husband is fully vaccinated and both my son and I will be next week. Our daughter in LA will get hers end of April so hope is in the air!! Reading that you of all people struggled too made me feel like I’m not alone in this as I have kept it to myself not to worry my family because they have enough to worry about so thank you for your honesty. That was a brave thing you wrote and I believe you have made a lot of people feel much better, I know I do. Not to mention the fact that you still completed our calendar, took your walks, cooked, and probably wrote a book or two, designed a few mugs, and painted beautiful artwork in between naps, LOL. Big hugs and lots and lots of love and will you please give Jack a pet from me?

    • sbranch says:

      Would be happy happy to do that! Love to you, we have to be true to ourselves. Know how much I appreciate you. xoxoxo 😘 We’re all in this together, like it or not. Good to make friends with the people in your boat! 💞

  68. Lauri in Virginia says:

    I just wanted you to know that I read your books when I want to cheer myself up. They make me feel warm and cozy 🤗.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy to hear that Lauri! That’s the reason I wrote them, so you are making my day! xoxoxo

  69. Hala says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so much for the honest and heartfelt blog post. So glad you are on the road to feeling better. I, too am a happy gene but also a worrier. I have been feeling so similar this winter- normally I am the positive, happy one, cheering everyone else up. But I have been feeling low, tired and anxious. And my precious cat,😽 Misty died. I felt like I didn’t have the right to feel as sad as I did with all the human loss that we have had. I have been really trying to look after myself – meditating, walking, gardening. Not doing so well on the healthy eating though! I’ll keep trying. Another thing I do when I’m low is to get your books out to re-read again. Especially the one you signed for me at Stourhead!!! They always help! Thank you so much for writing them! ❤️💕 Have you heard of Charlie Mackesy? He is an artist and has written a book ‘The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse’. Beautiful illustrations with comforting quotes like – ‘One of the kindest things you can do ,’ said the mole, ‘is be gentle and patient with yourself.’ You can follow him on Twitter. Sending lots of love from a chilly England – sun, ☀️ hail, 🌨and snow ❄️all on this April 💐day! Love from Hala, nr. Bath xxxx

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes Hala, I have that darling book! Thank you so much for those sweet thoughtful words. I’m so sorry about Misty… such a terrible loss, our little petty-pets who know everything and love us anyway. Look forward to better days! Maybe another walk in Stourhead. We love it there! Take care! 🌷

    • Dianne says:

      I absolutely love Charlie Mackesy’s book. There is so much wisdom contained in those simple words and illustrations. As he says, “a message for those eight to eighty”. I especially love his closing words, “Sometimes all you hear about is the hate, but there is more love in this world than you could possibly imagine.”

      • Dianne says:

        I also love “what do you want to be when you grow up? “Kind…” “Nothing beats kindness…it sits quietly beyond all things”

  70. Maria says:

    Welcome back, you certainly have been missed!!

  71. Thanks for putting into words what we all have felt, from time to time, during the past year. Whew – who could ever have imagined? But, spring is here, and the birds are returning. All shall be well.

  72. Jane from the train says:

    Oh, my darling friend! (I’m Jane from the SLO gathering who took the train 29 hrs. From Seattle with my dear friend Sue. I have a pic with you and Sue and myself and your dear Diana). Just had to establish that we are old, old friends. I’ve honestly been praying for you, suspecting some horrible — If not Covid, I’m not surprised that you have been hurting so with your tender, tender heart. I must tell you that I have attended a few evenings with Nancy Pearl who is a very famous librarian from these parts who has her own bobble head and was invited to the White House during Bush W administration and dear Laura. ANYWAY, I asked her at one of the events for her favorite book title. She had to struggle as she had declared that she knew the UPS book delivery guy better than her hubby. Guess what?! She finally said, “I Capture the Castle.” I ordered it immediately and still haven’t read it but will soon. Two moves later, I’m not sure I own it but will find it. I ATE UP every word of this missive you wrote and ached and laughed and was so very thankful that you concluded it later. Too much to touch on. Secret question: the photo of your dear Joe. What is that on his finger? Did he marry someone? I’m being very nosy but I hope so. I loved what you wrote about the queen. Nothing like a lifetime of love. We are nearing 48 years and I pray often we’ll make it to 73! I forwarded your latest to three friends who don’t know you because it’s such a sunny, uplifting inspiration. Don’t be a stranger – Welcome Back – Plant a sweet pea! Xoxoxox

  73. Mary Peterson says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am so glad that you are healing everyday! Your recent post resonated with me so much as I lost my 93 year old Mom this year. Due to the pandemic, my siblings and I were not allowed to be with her. During the pandemic, I have kept busy but “hit a wall” about 2 weeks ago. Grief hits you at times when you lease expect it. Then, I read your blog, and realized that there are so many feeling the same….I am not alone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story with us. Yes, meditation does help. I teach Mindfulness Meditation and it has definitely been an anchor for me this year. Hoping that you continue to heal. I said a prayer for you on Zoom Mass today.

  74. Cyndi says:

    So happy you are feeling better! I have been feeling much the same for the last couple of months, I live alone and work from home so not much to look forward to. But, Spring is here and getting outside makes all the difference. I find I can’t do long walks after sitting around all winter so I’m doing at least 2 shorter walks a day. I checked to see if the local library system had “I Capture the Castle” and they have 8 copies and ebooks also, but they’re all checked out! It made me happy to think they must be Susan Branch Girlfriends and there are so many out here in rural Wisconsin!

  75. Debbie Boerger says:

    Dear Lady, I am so very thankful for all these wonderful comments, so many ways of dealing with Grief. And I have read each and every one, jotting down some of the feelings and recommendations. Thank you for providing this beautiful, safe place to express our joys as well as our struggles. I remember writing in one of my first comments after I “discovered” you…Please take time for yourself. You very wisely did that. I loved the comment from one of us….Put the oxygen mask on yourself first. You can’t help others if you are passed out on the floor. Stiff upper lips have their places, but so does self care. I’ll be searching for an acupuncturist! Have scheduled a deep tissue message for this coming week. Oooooo, can’t wait! Over did the yard work yesterday, so I’m wearing my brace and settling down to work on my SB (diabolical) puzzle. I took one of the comments to heart, and I have 4 cake pans with my “sorting outs”. Still can’t find 3 of the edge pieces! Sneaky little buggers, aren’t they?

  76. Debby says:

    Reading your blog was like you had read my journal and expressed all of my thoughts, feelings and sadness that I have been writing about for months. Your journey made me realize that I am not alone as I too begin to emerge from this long heartbreaking year of this pandemic and all of the other challenges we have faced along the way. My husband and I got our vaccines and the only side effect was a sense of relief. Spring is arriving in Michigan and we aren’t going to miss a minute of it this year!!!

  77. Corrina says:

    God bless you Susan 💭🤩🙏
    So glad to hear you are feeling more yourself again
    Also what exciting news re your 2022 trip to the UK 🇬🇧 again.
    Do you think you will have another Peter Rabbit picnic ?
    Anyways take care of you s

  78. Pam Romo says:

    Dear Susan –
    SO very thankful that you’re feeling better! Have been worried about you. Take good care, with love from California.

  79. Kathy says:

    I am relating to your body and soul journey. God Bless Us. Had no thought acupuncture could help. Need to study that.

  80. Dear Susan,
    Your post is such a close description to what I have been going through too.
    I call it battle fatigue- and when you can’t get to your usual well to refill your soul you’ve got to dig a new trench.
    I always read a book by L.M. Montgomery called “The Blue Castle” when I need cheering- I have to admit that I have read it multiple-multiple times in the last year.
    My body went kerplooey on me last October, resulting in what essentially was a stroke to nerves in my back and leg and my having to use a walker and become even more housebound than just with Covid.
    Then my Dad died right before Christmas. We had a small funeral with Covid restrictions.
    Luckily, I am slowly recovering with physical therapy.
    I haven’t used the walker in the last two weeks. Hurrah! 🙂
    Just, all in all, these have been harrowing times- but it’s good to know that we’re not alone and that although we all go through difficult times- we are here for each other. Thank you for sharing your hard times with us as well as your light!
    I wish you every possible blessing!

  81. Sandy B. says:

    Happy Birthday, dear Susan. So glad you’re on the mend….and thank you for the wonderful blog.


  82. Jaclyn Krueger says:

    OH JOY! To go to your Blog today and see you have posted! I just KNEW in my heart-of-hearts that something must be wrong; you are so faithful about writing to us and when I went weekly to the Blog and February was till there – no March – I just KNEW! It just goes to prove that one never knows whom might be suffering and dealing with sadness, despair, disappointment, hurts. I had you “tagged” for a “Keep your sunny side up, up” gal (yes I’ve read all your books but being young and recently divorced, every right to be blue and feel undirected, floundering. But now, being such a successful author, artist, happily married, living in such an idyllic place, traveling where others only go in their daydreams, no money problems…well, the “perfect life” so-to-speak. But then, bam! Along comes a pandemic and our worlds come crashing down as our spirit plunges and the light in our soul darkens). Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your journey back to YOU! I am so thankful (just told God that I was) that you are feeling oh so much better and that most of all you had it in you to dig down and start to try different things to pull yourself back up. You have done so many “right” things. I just had a 79th birthday (one year closer to 80-YIKES!) and am so help me Jesus, I want to have a spirit of gratitude for my wonderful life I’ve been given and grow old gracefully not just grow old. I want to ignore the “clanging bells” that remind us every year we are in part of an endless battle of aging. So Susan, keep putting both feet on the floor each morning, praying, listening, eating well, remembering you are here at this time for a reason; let’s not miss the opportunities to help guide and encourage those around us. The more years we live, the more experiences we’re given to learn from, and the more wisdom and perspective we gain to see life in new and beautiful ways. Remember, we’re “treasured by God” at any age: Isaiah 45:4 says “I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you.” WELCOME back, take care of you, keep healing, keep moving forward, and know internally that what you share and create externally makes a difference in this BIG MESSED UP WORLD. Make your own world your sanctuary. Love you and THANKS for APRIL posting – just in time for my birthday!!! Sending you a virtual HUG.

  83. Diane T says:

    Dear Susan,
    It is so good to hear from you. I am so glad that you are feeling better. It has been quite a journey. but I have faith that God will see us through. Take good care of yourself and thank you for sharing with us. I think we can all relate!
    God bless,

  84. Christine Underdahl says:

    Susan, I am so glad that you are doing better. I really enjoy your blog and also your books, of which I have several. This dampanic (I truly love this name for it) has really changed our lives, hopefully only for awhile longer. I really hope for at least some kind of normal and the sooner the better. I believe it has caused a lot of the unrest we are seeing in the country today. I am sending hugs and prayers to you as you continue to brighten lives by all that you do. Take care. (I did notice you talked about going to England in 2022, then in your note later on, you said 2021 was the Queen’s 70th – I don’t follow much of England’s news, but I did wonder if you meant 2022?). Also! Happy Birthday! 🎂🎉🎈

  85. Maria Shiyou Holden says:

    So glad you are feeling better. It has been a trying time for most to say the least. So happy to see your blog again
    And so sorry for Queen Elizabeth. She and Prince Philip were so blessed to have each other for so many years but that doesn’t ease the heartbreak.


  86. Jodi says:

    Dear, precious Susan. Try as you might in your own strength- Jesus is the only answer to our human condition……….. No more worry, no more fear of death, no more heartache,total freedom!! He is waiting for you with open arms. You will find rest in Him…….


  87. Patti Fitzgerald from Skippack, PA says:

    Dearest Susan, first let me wish you a very Happy April 12th Birthday!!! I’ve been missing your blog, and just a few days ago, I had to check to see when you posted your last one . . . . February 1st! Oh, no! How could it possibly be that two months have gone by without your lovely words and glorious illustrations to lift my spirits?? Little did I know that it was YOUR spirits that needed lifting! Please promise us that if “it” ever happens again, you will immediately reach out to us for comfort and love and hugs and encouragement. . . . for that is exactly what you so willingly give to us with everything you share – – – your words, your paintings, your thoughts, your feelings, your everything.
    Your purpose on this earth is very clear to me. You have cheered me, consoled me, lifted me, inspired me, encouraged me . . . as you have done for thousands of Girlfriends all around the world. Your influence is global, your true loving heart is apparent in all you do and say. When I count my blessings, I count you among them. Although we have never met in person, I feel such a kinship with you . . . my Kindred Spirit, as Anne with an E would say!
    Reading your blogs is like hitting my Refresh button . . . I am once again inspired by all that you offer to us in each and every “love letter”. I keep each new blog front and center in my email inbox, so that I can easily re-read it whenever I please – – – you are that important to me! I pray that you will continue to feel better and stronger each and every day, and remember how very much you are loved and valued by so many . . . xoxoxoxo

  88. Pat says:

    I understand your feelings of fear depression. After a three year battle I lost my husband to leukemia. During this time my beloved cat Newman died too. Then COVID. Fear seemed to grip everyone. Rightfully so, as we lost a friend to the illness. So, alone after 43 years I couldn’t go anywhere. Be near my grandkids. It became a treat to mask up and run to the grocery. Wipe it all down and try to keep lonely at bay. I became an HGTV groupie. I’ve seen most shows more times than I’d like. Totally tired of the white/ gray theme. I read 82 books last year and there’s hardly anything left in my closets because each time I clean then I get rid of more stuff. I’ve learned a lot. A person doesn’t need much stuff but a person sure needs to give and receive love face to face on a regular basis or some unknown thing dies in us. I say unknown because I’d imagine it’s different for each of us. Hope returns, light gets brighter and soon grandchildren hugs will return. God is good. I’m glad you feel better too.

  89. Debbie T says:

    Dear Susan,
    So sorry to read that you have been working through a dark time but I am glad to know you are feeling better. These have been some of the most challenging times for many of us. As I read through the comments it is clear that we have all been struggling but also that we are surrounded by love and support. There is still so much that is good and beautiful. I hope that as you read these comments you know how much you mean to so many of us and that you find comfort knowing that we are here sending love and support even if it is just words on a screen. Your life is an inspiration and your honesty is a balm to me and countless others. From the time I discovered Heart of the Home so many years ago as a young woman just discovering who I wanted to be I have felt a kinship with you. It has been a lasting friendship. I hope you continue to feel stronger each day. Please take good care of yourself.❤️

  90. Jean Singleton says:

    Susan, I am so happy that you are back and feeling better. This past year has been brutal and losing Mom makes your grief, on top of everything else, that much worse. I’m still having sleep issues, but some days, especially sunny days help. I couldn’t read very much, but your books including the cookbooks made me feel good throughout the year. Thank you!
    My husband and I have thought about making a transatlantic trip for years. I will be talking to Susan Gannon tomorrow and hopefully, we will be a part of your group. Will you plan any group activities on board? I know there are different “levels” on board, Britannia, Princess and Queen. Is the Princess the only one available for your trip?
    Take care,

    • sbranch says:

      It’s really not MY trip, you can have it any way you like … which rooms you choose are totally up to you. We are getting a room so we can all be together at least once … but I know they’re putting the group together when eating … and there will be lots of us, people can meet in the Commodore Room for drinks, or out for walks, or at the movies … but yet, we don’t HAVE to … we can meet others too … it’s as if you made these reservations, without me, but you accidentally know lots of people on board!

  91. Karen Pedevillano says:

    So glad you are on the mend. I was worried about you. You bring such joy to me when I see your post in my email. All the things you did to regain your joy of life are the best. I am a teacher and it has been a year to remember or forget, that is. My husband and I took the QM 2 2019. It was the best trip ever. We spent 3 weeks in England driving everywhere. We visited all the places you did in “Falling in Love with the English Countryside.” I want so much to book the trip with you, but I am still teaching at 64. I can’t leave until late June around the 21st. Hoping this opportunity comes again. Stay well. Best, Karen

  92. Maureen from SoCal says:

    Happy birthday Susan. Hoping it will be a great one! 🥳🎊🎉

  93. Rose Wood says:

    So sorry for you. I have been checking everyday since the beginning of March for a new post. It takes work to care for ourselves, doesn’t it? I was at the Queens Diamond Jubilee and have a trip planned to be in London next year. So sorry for the loss of her greatest love. So glad you are feeling better, Susan. Love Rose

  94. Linda H (from northern IN) says:

    Hi Susan!
    I was pleased to see your new blog post on my birthday (made my day!), and Happy Birthday to you, dear Susan, tomorrow, I believe!
    I’ve missed you too! I had no idea of what you were going through, and am so sorry that you felt this way. But I know you’re not the only one. So many things were out of our control that many of us had feelings of hopelessness. I’m so glad that you found the techniques that have worked to bring you back to “yourself.” I have had acupuncture in the past for various aches, but didn’t realize that it could help in this way. And that’s a good reminder of the benefits of meditation. I must try it more consistently. Old movies definitely do the trick for me if my mind and spirit are “off.” Right this moment, “What a Woman!” with Rosalind Russell is on my tv!
    So here’s to our hopes for our lives getting back closer to normal very soon!

  95. Care Woodard says:

    Oh your dear sweet heart. I cried to read your blog. God bless you and all of us with meditation every day. I have slowly taught the puppy, Josephine March, to sit beside me and old dog, Mabel, every morning for dock meditation; The best thing that helps me these days. Also baths and gardening. God bless everyone to immunity. God bless you

  96. Dee G says:

    I’m sorry you were sinking. I’ve been there and for me, it became stickier and heavier the longer I was down. But you recognized it And sought help. That is huge! And you’re better, and bettering. I’m very, very glad. Be well for you, and we will all benefit. Hugs!!

  97. Linda says:

    Susan– sorry if this is a duplicate…am so happy you are ok and on the mend!!!!!! I’ve been checking daily and have been sending good healing thoughts your way.. ❤️

    Linda from Gainesville.

  98. R P says:

    Sweet Susan, I was wondering why we hadn’t heard from you and I really missed you! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing real life with us. You put words to some of my unexpressed feelings. I am so glad you got help. When I think about how I’ve gotten through this damn-panic, it is due to my morning devotions and prayer, my quiet time with God. He is my Rock. Comfort comes in many ways and your creativity and honesty always inspire me and I feel like you’re a good friend. Thank you for sharing your feelings, your art, new books I can read, and your dreams with all of us. You are loved, Girlfriend!

  99. Cindy Ayers says:

    Dear Susan,
    XOXO, I’ve missed you. Hope you continue to feel happier each day. Wishing you a Happy Birthday 🎊🎉🎂 and hope you can now celebrate with friends.

  100. Linda says:

    I will be cruising on the QM2 returning to NYC from Southampton departing the day you arrive. Due to the pandemic our cruise was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. Fingers crossed I really get to go in 2022!

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