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. Robin Bailey says:

    I’m so glad to see a new post! It always makes my day when there’s a new one. Most of all, I’m so glad you’re feeling better! We’ve been through some rough days , but I see light at the end of the tunnel, hang on!

  2. Heather Ebb says:

    Dearest Susan, so wonderful to hear from you – I had been a little worried. Thank you for sharing what’s been going on in your life this year – so brave and generous to give us the gift of understanding and a chance to learn from your experience. I hope you can celebrate this birthday especially well! You have earned it. Blessings to you and Joe xxxx

  3. Cindy L says:

    God bless you! I was so worried that something had happened and you didn’t want to tell us. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog! Such a fresh breath for us weary souls.

  4. Deborah James says:

    Dear Friend,
    Before the busy-ness of life takes over another day as we slowly unravel from the wonky order of the past many months, I must add my voice to the beautiful chorus of women (and men and fluffy animals of every kind) and sing your praises on this your very own birthday! To celebrate you is to celebrate all things tender and dear and simple and true. I can’t imagine a better friend to have, artist to admire or example to follow because at the end of the day you are real and warm and the most darling girl ever!

    When the colors slowly faded from our lives this past year and we discovered that those resulting shades of gray everywhere left our hearts so dull and weary, each of us in our own way grew more sullen and empty. We all needed light, just some dash of hope to break us out of that barren place of insecurity and gloom caused by the illness, anger and insecurity of events beyond our immediate control. A tall order and one we seemed unable to find as we sat and became more immovable and stuck. But heaven is generous with it’s blessings, if we will just take a moment to look for them, are all around us all of the time, a flower sprouts, a phone rings and a voice delights, a hand reaches out and a cup of warm cocoa melts away the gloom and we remember that it is the simple things in life where we find our own peace of mind.

    You are not alone ever. Your path was detoured for a moment and as the clock ticks away steadily it moves us all forward towards the better, the sweeter and the more comfortable and familiar days ahead. That is the blessing of foggy days, they give us time to pause, appreciate the sun more fully and reassure us that their chill is only for a time and will fade in a while.

    Spring is here! Green and pink and white and yellow are filling in all of the gray and faith and walking and kittens and birthday cake can, and will, turn your heart towards a more joyful path. Kindness matters when you are feeling sad and if I can do or say or sing anything that would let you know how much you are loved and admired and appreciated then just let me know because I am ready with all kinds of words and music and even a treat or two that will cheer you until your heart is bursting with life and sparkle once again! You make every day a celebration for so many so let us (your army of girlfriends known and unknown) march together and make today YOUR day! Happy Happy Birthday dear friend! I am glad you were born! I am glad you share your talents freely and I am oh-so-very-glad that there is someone else in this world who values England, holiday magic, cooking and sewing and friends and books just like me! May every day of this year bring you great happiness!
    With extra love to you, Deborah

    • dezi says:

      That was such a lovely “card” to our dear SB. Happiest late birthday dearest Susan!! We are in spring now, and I have been thinking every week of this year of “dam-panic” thinking of things that make me grateful for having to stay home this whole year. It’s not easy with all the deaths and heartaches, but I’m trying to be a Pollyanna do the glad thing in our quarantine! My husband built a long needed fence around our back yard and gained us a hundred more square feet to add to our “English garden” filled with low water flowers and Keto vegetables. We finally painted our house, also very much needed. He replaced the rotted beams and posts to our screen porch! I sewed so many ideas I have wanted to make for years, and made four seasonal linen hand embroidered tea towels for my new daughter in law. First time I did anything like that. I sewed two fifteen foot by three foot Easter banners for our cathedral of a church of Christ resurrected. I believe I learned to sew and do so much watching the You Tube university! It is also easier to be happy when I stop giving my opinion about politics. I closed every social media account I had save for Pinterest and news-flash, all I feel is true joy now, but I have not lost anyone close, and I am not mourning a family member either. Those who are going through grief NEED to allow themselves go through that mourning period, however long it takes, no matter how dark it gets it is a needed process, every one is different, and NO apologies necessary. I learned this the hard way when I wouldn’t allow myself to accept my brother’s death when I was 12. A therapist when I was thirty finally got me to face it and to fully grieve after my mother passed from cancer. I was really messed up until he helped me through it. It took a year but I did it. SO ALLOW grief, people. You won’t forget but you can move on. Even Jesus tells us to grieve etc. in the Gospels. Lovzies to you and to Susan Branch and to all girlfriends! You are all in my daily prayers. —dezi

      • sbranch says:

        What a season of creativity for you two! I’m proud of you! Just keep on keepin’ on … ❌⭕️ to you Dezi!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Deborah! Such a beautiful note. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know how I got so lucky to meet you and so many lovely kindred spirits, but I think I planned it while I was writing my first book. And now look! Beautiful words, sharing, generosity. Feeling so blessed. Thank you. xoxoxo

  5. Kathie Bee says:

    What a helpful, lovely post. I am going through a similar thing, as I’m sure others are. Just to know you’re not alone is so positive. Thank you. Please consider another 11oz. mug when you design more dishes. That’s just the right size for my pg tips teabags. I adore my Little House mug from you!

  6. Karen Wills says:

    Glad you are feeling better. Take good care of yourself.

  7. Suzanne C says:

    Susan, I am so glad you are doing better! I admit I kept checking the blog through March to see if there was an update and was worried, but so happy you are coming through to the other side. Spring helps! Vaccines help! Chirping birds, flowers and something to look forward to helps! And, as flight attendants always say, you need to put your mask on first and take care of yourself before you can assist others. I hope you and Joe have a wonderful summer 🙂

  8. Janice says:

    Happy Birthday dear Susan!
    May your year ahead be filled with hope, love and joy. “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” How that Proverb applies to you! I’m so very grateful for your kind heart to so many of us over the years. We all appreciate your thoughtful, caring and gentle ways, and how you inspire others❣️
    Love you dearly, Janice
    PS My friend and I decided we need more birthdays. So we will start celebrating our half birthdates too. So, on Oct 12 you may enjoy a 1/2 cake, half moon🌗, half card and half song.🎵 I’m certain you can be much more creative with a half party theme. Hap Bir! 🍰

  9. Bridget B. in Tennessee says:

    Susan, It was very kind of you to be so open with us. It helps to know that everyone struggles from time to time. You mean more to all of us than you realize. A few years back I lost my husband and mother in just 7 months. Your calendar in my kitchen was a little source of joy during the time afterward. I could read a little quote or something about memories and rbe uplifted. So glad that you are feeling better. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful birthday !! 🎂 With love, Bridget.

  10. Jackie Pellow says:

    Dear Susan,

    SO GRATEFUL you took time to intuitively ‘fill your bucket’ as you so wonderful at filling each of ours👏🎉🦋

    Thank you dear Sister♥️❌⭕️


  11. rhea says:

    Susan!!!! You so inspired me. I planted 2 small garden beds that Mike built out of our moving crates that we can take with us as we are still renting. We look like Sanford & Son but I don’t care. It’s our dirty little secret and nobody can see. I know we are lucky to have a roof over our heads but renting is not my cup of tea. Can’t nest which is what I do best. The rent is double what a mortgage is and you pay dog rent! 100 dollars per dog a month! Thats a new one. The real estate market is out of control so we decided to wait it out, me having to put my big girl panties on and have some patients. You would hate it. Its like living in a hotel but you’re not Eloise. Anyway, the good news is that I might live after all because of you. I started yoga again with a guided meditation. Magic. Signed up for 3 months. And I didn’t eat the cheesy chicken enchiladas I made for the boys and had a kale salad with quinoa because I need to drop the Covid 15. Still don’t care if I ever wear jeans again. Im 50! Why would I? I was so tired by 7:00 that I was punchy so I went to bed and slept 12 hrs. I never do that. Today will be the start of self care and a nap until I get out of this funk. I’m on board. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Needed some inspiration and most of all, honesty. I thought it was just me. After reading your post, it was like a brick was lifted off of my chest because if you felt that way then I could feel that way and not be ashamed or feel like I needed to hide it. I told my family my plan and to my surprise they knew (wasn’t fooling anybody) and so it begins. Have a lovely day. Big hugs.

  12. Debbie Boerger says:

    My Birthday wish for you…..all the Happiness you emit reflected right back to you. Hope you get to Zoom with all you hold dear.
    Mucho Love to you!
    Debbie in Maine

  13. Carolyn Wilson says:

    Your joie de vivre is back up and running beautifully! You took the time you needed and we’re all benefitting from your uplifting advice. Thank you!!!
    And thank you for sharing I Capture the Castle with us. Bonnie and I loved this delightful movie! And we ordered the book too. Dodie Smith is very versatile. She wrote this delightful and romantic walk through England and also brought us 101 Dalmatians. There is a whole treasure trove of looks and movies to savor and fill our well of sweetness with. Take us away! Home cooking is something I treasure now more than ever. It’s simple, satisfying, honest, and delicious. It fills our homes with delicious smells and nourishes our bodies and souls with the love we put in it! Our local flora and fauna make such sweet tableaus for our homes to fill them with beauty and happiness. The outside world doesn’t stand a chance against the homemade beauty we create simply and joyfully. May each of us walk in the light and beauty of simple pleasures.

  14. Jen Pen says:

    Sending big hugs.
    You helped so many with this “me too” blog post.
    I’m glad you’ve let the light come in.
    Hills and valleys.
    Keep the faith.

  15. Becky says:

    Hi Susan!
    I finally got to read your post this morning. It was a busy weekend and a bit overwhelming. Thank you for all of the reminder to take care of ourselves as well as everyone else, for the understanding, and for the path to back to joy. My husband thinks I should “stress” less but he might as well tell me to change species. Fortunately I also balance it out with the happy gene, so it works out most of the time. I have recently taken on a volunteer assignment that is overwhelming to me but has lots of potential for good and joy and blessings. So, yes, I feel like a few days keep sneeking up on me at once but there is so much hope. Thank you again for helping me remember where to find it!

  16. Jenny says:

    Oh how this post touched me and how much I love how pragmatic you are with your reasoning even when you’re hurting. To look at issues and try to see resolutions in a common sense way is lovely. I hope for you the loveliest of birthdays in whatever way you most want today to be!! 🎉🎊🎂🥳

  17. Mamey Brown says:

    I had a feeling something was up. I checked your website almost daily for a new blog post. I was praying you didn’t have Covid. So glad to hear you are getting better and better each day. We have to take such good care of ourselves especially our mental health during this pandemic. I have been meditating more consistently since November 2020 and it has helped me immensely as well. Thank you for being honest and posting this very important message.

  18. Paula from Texas says:

    I have a Birman cat I call Miss Lemon. I named her after Poirot’s secretary. She only had one line in “Plymouth Express” which was memorable: “Difficulties are made to be overcome.” She is a constant reminder of staying positive. After all the alternative Sourpuss! So we do have choices.

  19. April says:

    We were all getting worried when we didn’t hear from you. So glad to know you are doing better!!! Happy Birthday. I hope you have a lovely day❤️

  20. Pam Bair says:

    Welcome back, Susan. We missed you! It has been a hard year for all of us, but through it all you were always there with words of encouragement. Your experience is a lesson for us all about how easy it is to slip into despair. I am so glad you are feeling better about life. You are a gift and loved by so many for the beauty you contribute to our world Have a Happy Birthday today! You mean so much to so many.

  21. Meg Reilly says:

    Happy Birthday to you.
    I am glad you are feeling better and you shared your post with the world. We have all felt this way to varying degrees.
    Being a heath care worker has been especially difficult as I cannot get away from the “news” of daily cases. Daily walks listening to Brene Brown has helped.

    • sbranch says:

      You are not expected to carry the entire weight of the world … but I join everyone in gratitude for your selflessness and all you’ve done to help us through this nightmare. Take good care of yourself. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  22. Clare says:

    Much love to you, dear Susan xo

  23. juli kiel says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday to you Susan! I Hope you have a wonderful day celebrating you! Thank you for all of the warm and cozy blogs you’ve given us throughout this “dam-panic”. You are a gift to us. Enjoy your special day!


  24. Glorian Garner says:

    You are my answer today…….I asked God for help……he sent you.

  25. Elizabeth Doherty says:

    So good to read you again, Susan.
    I worried about you and Joe, as I’m sure all your readers did.
    Stress and depression does creep up on one, and we are all surprised when it hits us. Last year was tough. Wishing you a way better year now. Sounds like you are
    on the right track. Glad you are back. Thank you.
    from Beth S.D.

  26. sharon butera says:

    I try to begin each day visiting my blogging and instagramming buddies, more of a multivitamin than the one I take with breakfast. Your posts are illustrated letters that take me right to your door. I feel the positive energy radiating from you all the way out here in SW Wisconsin.
    Suddenly your blog went silent. I began wondering if i had missed a note from you saying you were taking a little break. I worried that perhaps I had been cut off from your beautiful online presence as a devious trick of the internet. I prayed you weren’t ill, never thinking that the dark times can creep in and around even the most joyous heart.
    How unfair is it to expect that happy, beautiful people will always radiate that happiness, that beauty. No one, not even you my darling, can give from an empty cup. Arrows from every possible direction have been piercing our mental adn yes spiritual vessels for more than a year.
    Thank you for your honesty. For sharing your time deep in the well and showing us all how to reach up and out of that dark pit that steals all that is good. For underscoring that we cannot allow what is outside of ourselves to alter who we are within.
    May spring, your passions, and plans for the future keep you in the light. God bless.

  27. Sharon from Ab Canada says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan.

    Thank you for your honesty about your struggles. The words have encouraged me as well as many others. I don’t watch the news as much anymore but focus on happier things (jigsaw puzzles, crafts, reading, etc). It seems to make the world a little brighter. Received my first Covid shot last week. So happy!!!

    Please continue to take care of yourself.

  28. Kristin says:

    So glad to see your post and find out what was going on. I kept checking in over the past month, hoping to find that you were okay. And yes, January and February were very blue months for me as well. Now that the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and being outside is a pleasure again, I am also feeling more hopeful and happy. Please keep taking care of yourself and Joe. Reading your posts, even the older posts gives me comfort and the knowledge that I can change my world one loaf of bread, one sewing project, one bike ride, and one act of kindness at a time. Looking forward to returning to volunteer work at the local library and tutoring reading in the local schools. I am disabled and can no longer manage a full time job, but I still enjoy giving back where I can.

  29. Anne Smith says:

    Welcome back, dear friend of my ❤️ Heart. I kept getting the feeling someone needed my prayers, not knowing it was you. Your posts, photos of cats…specially cats, and your lovely artwork lead me on. Now, to think of another trip to England and the future book I can enjoy…pure Bliss. Do take care…much love from North Carolina. Anne

  30. mary spring says:

    Good day to you, Susan ! I hope you are having an amazing day full of joy, hope, and love ! I wanted to say thank you for this post; yes, it has been extremely difficult…but we are getting through it, aren’t we ? When I first read your post I wanted to e mail a picture of my two daughters at work to you ( both nurses )…they have been my reason for trying to stay strong..for them and for all the others trying so hard to cope amidst all these difficult days… you too have been our light and how grateful are we all for all you do !! much love and peace to you, dear Susan !! you are so loved !!! sincerely

  31. Dianne says:

    I can’t believe I just erased my comment!
    Dear Susan,
    I am so happy that you are on the road to “recovery”. Like so many others, I was beginning to worry. These have been challenging times, but better days are ahead. When I feel overwhelmed, I watch a You Tube video sent to me by a friend. It’s called Putting Things in Perspective. I just checked and I think it is actually called “Imagine if you were born in 1900” by Merin Joseph.
    Since I am your age, I can say that we have truly been blessed for most of our lives. Yes there have been challenges, but I like to think of them as opportunities for growth. I have been “surviving” by taking daily walks outside in the fresh (often bitter cold) air. Since I’m currently recovering from foot surgery, walks are out of the question. But, I did go for a ride in the car a few days ago. The forsythia and daffodils were glorious, as were the Japanese tulip trees. Spring is here!! I came home and opened all my windows to let the freshness in.
    I have been slowly rereading A Fine Romance- allowing myself a few pages each night before bed (so I can once again savor the words and drawings). Last night, I read your “new rules”- rule #1 “Don’t take things so seriously (as you know, it only leads to STRESS).
    I just talked to Susan Gannon at Cunard, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my dream of a transatlantic crossing will soon come true.


  32. Flossy Stewart says:

    Hi dear Susan HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU💐…wishing you a year and beyond of sweet dreams come true…sooooo happy to be sharing Earth with you and all the girlfriends too💞…

  33. Susie Durrschmidt says:

    Welcome back dear buddy! I am overjoyed to read your post today and immediately went to the cupboard to get my ‘Red Letter Day’ cup and put out a good cuppa to settle down to read more and partake in a good girlfriend to girlfriend chat. Hugs to you sweet Susan. You did all the right things to eek back into the SB we all know so well. It is happening all around us to everyone. I call it ‘coviditis’ and it effects all of us in different ways. I cannot wait to see your gorgeous garden this year. The “Dahlia Garden in England” video on You Tube was amazing. I would love to be there when he dead heads each day. I would want to make a dress out of them. Give my regards to your leading men, Joe and Jack. Happy birthday! Make a wish. Dream big. Hugs~

  34. Cindy Berry says:

    Happy Birthday Susan! Virtual hugs to you from all of us who look to you for soul guidance and happy vibes. Glad you are back – have missed you. And yay for plans for the future….woo hoo!

  35. Melissa in Maine says:

    Happy Birthday Susan, and Gladys Taber and me!

  36. Patricia Edde says:

    Hi there Miss Susan,
    I think my email must have been eaten up by a cyber bunny because I was the first one to respond to your new blog entry and there is no sign of it being received. Oh well, I will just have to put fingers to keys once more.
    I, as so many others, am so glad that you are back and feeling better and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your pain with us. It makes the rest of us feel not so alone in our own little part of the abyss. Some of you, like Susan, have looked it in the eye and have, or are, starting to find your way out. Some of us are still caught in its sticky web but have faith that, in time, this to shall pass. None of us can expect to come out unscathed from having our worlds turned upside down but it helps to share the sadness and also the bright moments of happiness that break through and remind us that HOPE is one of those good 4 letter words and it will get us, eventually, through this. Thank you Susan for sharing the things that have helped you and to all of the other girlfriends who are sharing theirs. I am a strong believer that sadness, as well as gladness, should be shared and not turned away from if we want to release its hold on us so thank you to all of you for sharing your stories.
    My fervent hope is that we come out of this year plus of tragedies in all areas, not just the pandemic, better people. I started out first bewildered, then sad, then angry, then sad again and now maybe a little bit wiser, more gentle and more sure of what my role is in my country. OK, nuff said and on to other stuff, like what will it feel like when I have to actually wear a bra again. Not looking forward to that one but on the positive side, how good it will feel to actually buy what I want IN the stores and not have to wait for it to be sent and then have to break down all of those cardboard boxes, feel guilty for all of the plastic used to protect the contents, heave the cardboard into my car and then heave it, once again, into the HUGE recycling bins in town. My first, and greatly awaited stores to to take my covid gained pounds into (if I fit through the doors), Trader Joes, Barnes and Noble and Target – be still my heart. Living in the Midwest it isn’t wise to plant until after, at least Mother’s Day, but I can dream of all of the beautiful plants and trees that will make it into the ground right after that (hydrangeas, roses, hollyhocks, larkspur, dahlias). So much to look forward to. I still am not ready to go into a movie theater but will remain content with my reruns of Midsommer Murders, Doc Martin, Vera, Endeavor, Poirot, Miss Marple etc. (as you perhaps can tell, I am a fan of British shows, especially mysteries).
    This time has shown us that life has been harder on some more than others and we need to keep our hearts open to them as well as our pocketbooks, when and where we can. We do have much to be thankful for in this country and if we can remember to hold that thankfulness close, close, close to our hearts and souls, we will come out of this jolly good.
    Much love to you, Susan, Joe and Jack and to all of you girlfriends
    from Patricia, Olivia, Bixby and Silas whose much loved furry bodies have helped me through these weary times.

  37. Linda Lepage says:

    I have no words of wisdom, only HUGZ sent via message!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Linda in PA

  38. Kathie Ferko says:

    Dearest Susan,
    So sorry to hear that you were feeling so down…wondered why there had been no new words from you! This pandemic has really gotten me down too! I am so glad warmer weather is soon upon us. We had a week of really open Spring like weather…got lettuces, carrots, Swiss chard,
    radishes planted and potatoes planted in a bin… near my back door… my kitchen garden…
    now it is back to cold and damp weather this week!
    Being outside in the garden is a God send for me. Trying to keep vases filled with Daffodils
    and Muscari on my table.
    Hubby and I have gotten our first Covid(Pfizer) vaccine and get #2 next week. Can’t wait to
    See my vaccinated friends once again… it has been a lonely year😔😔😔.
    Thanks so much for your lovely blog…. the trip sound lovely but will I still be able to stow
    along with you?
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUSAN….hope you are having a lovely day…KEEP THE FAITH!
    Hope you had a nice Easter…. We are also celebrating Orthodox Easter in May…..So glad my fully vaccinated son is coming to visit…he moved to outside of Pittsburgh a year ago and we only saw him once so far since then…HUGS, HUGS,HUGS!
    Take care of yourself…and Joe
    We are almost at the finish line!,,,,,
    Kathie from Limerick

  39. Barbara H. Scott says:

    Hello Susan,

    Like everyone, I am so glad that you are feeling better. I understand just how you feel. Like Google said, most of the time we have to get ourselves out of the bad place we fall into. My method was watching Torvill & Dean ice dancing and reading 1930’s novels by Mary Roberts Rineheart and Victor Canning. We just have to find our help where we can. You, bless you, have been another wonderful help. Each morning when my husband and I have our coffee, I rejoice in the lovely cups that you created. Instant joy! Thanks for being there.

  40. Marjory Abeyta says:

    Thank you for posting this — I have been feeling the same drumpy way and not sure why. (I always tough things out, stay positive). You’re so right about the world’s goings on getting us all down, and that we need to recognize this and face it and get help in whatever way(s) necessary. I will try some of your cures, and I hope that you are doing a little better each day. Cheers!!

  41. Connie wellner says:

    Hi Susan. So happy you are feeling better. It has been so hard for all of us! One thing that helped me the most is a fun artist to follow each day.
    I have really been busy with
    all the new things I have learned.
    She comes on Facebook every week day at 8:00 am pst and we work together with the prompts for the day or a million other things she teaches us. Did I tell you it is free!
    She teaches other classes also and does charge a small amt for those
    She has written many books on her style and lettering

    I think you might enjoy this and being such a great artist yourself the two of you would be great together. Lindsay Waltman ostrom. The creator of cuteness

  42. Linda Bee says:

    Hi Susan – and HAPPY BIRTHDAY (to you and GT)–
    I’m sorry for your dark times, glad you rested (who knew, as a kid, that as adults a nap could be more a “treat” than as perceived punishment?!), walked, are enjoying beauty and love in your life and feeling better, and shared so much with us, thank you. This spring truly feels even more hopeful!

  43. Barbara says:

    A very long year ….. but things are changing in such a good way! So glad to read that you are feeling better and ready for spring and a wonderful trip next year. My husband and I are both fully vaccinated and we felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. It gave us such a “free” feeling and not the dread we had hovering over our heads for so long this past year. Life seems “lighter” and more promising than ever before. I believe prayer or meditation is the only thing that got me through 2020. Wonderful to see your blog posts again! Yay! xoxox

  44. Lisa says:

    Hi Susan,

    I wonder if this might be helpful to you or anyone else out there.
    You’ve heard of the toy company, Melissa and Doug? Well there’s an article in Hadassah magazine about her struggle with “existential depression.” She wrote a memoir called LifeLines and started a website about it as a communal resource for others: Lifelines. com. Maybe others can benefit from her journey and insights.


  45. Kindred Kate says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan!! Is Joe baking you a cake?! Do you have a traditional dinner on your bday or celebrate in any special way?

  46. Ginny says:

    I so appreciate your honest post. For too long I have been reading of how so many people are sailing through the pandemic happily baking and gardening and have wondered why we are so committed to making it seem like we are all doing just great..
    The reality is that many of us have lost loved ones and have found our lives upended by the past year. I was handling everything (including learning how to teach preschoolers online!) pretty well until my father became ill and died in February. Since then, the exhaustion and the huge effort it takes to get ANYTHING done have surprised me. I thought I could muscle through anything by just trying harder. Your post gives me permission to be less than productive every day. Maybe going to work and making dinner is all I need to ask of myself right now. I am sorry for the stress which has troubled you, but am glad to know that I am not alone..

  47. Jackie, Orange County, California says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan!!

    …and remembering dear Gladys Taber today also.

  48. Suzanne says:

    I was texting my twin sister-in-laws a happy birthday today and remembered it was yours too! Happy Birthday Susan! 🎂
    Then I decided to check for a post today and was surprised to read that we have been going through a very similar season. My daily devotions (meditation) have saved me and I feel I am on the other side of grief. My Lord and Savior has carried me through and I have found a faith deeper than all of my 65 years put together!

  49. Lynda says:

    Wow! I went through the same thing as you! I have found The Chateau Diaries on YouTube, which has helped enormously. But I was ready to call my doctor to get anti- depressants when we got the call from our local hospital telling us they could give us vaccine appointments. I went to instant happiness and hope!
    I too have been using mindless videos , walks with the dogs, playing with my horses…all have helped…
    Glad you are feeling better , too!

  50. Barbara Middleton says:

    Susan: I just went to my doctor last week with “the symptoms.” He said it’s called pandemic syndrome and he said so many people have it now as we come out of the dark. He’s sending me for physical therapy to get me up and moving again—and getting a little socialization. Glad we’re all on the road out of the woods!

    Thanks, Barb from Charlotte

  51. Marsha says:

    Hi Susan,
    So happy to see your blog! I was a bit worried with the Covid. It’s so special that you shared what you are going through. Sending you warm hugs and a little ray of sunshine. Glad you feel a little better. Thank you for making my day special with your blog and posting.
    Feel better soon ❌⭕️❌⭕️
    Happy Birthday!🎂🎉✨💫✨
    All the Best,

  52. Joanne says:

    Susan – Here is a “PS’ to my note ofApril 11. [I’m the one who is 20 years older than you.] You posted later that morning “I have to stop replying” – along with your thanks. YES! Wise of you. Too overwhelming for your fragile soul even from your well meaning girl friends. Just a “teaspoon of sugar” at a time as Mary Poppins would say. Now go out and sniff the flowers.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for the reminder, because here I go again! 😂 Such beautiful words from everyone makes it SO HARD to not reply… but I am going to try again and see how long I last! ❌⭕️ to you Joanne!

  53. Debi Hutchinson says:

    Oh, dear Susan, I’m so sorry this happened, but really appreciate you sharing. I’ve been under a dark cloud since my daughter, Tiffany, passed away last July, and, of course, s small gathering at her service which didn’t give everyone who needed the opportunity to mourn. We missed all the hugs we needed. She was 39 and the mother to her miracle baby who was just 9 months old when she passed. We thank God every day for giving that sweet boy to her…we now have a piece of her that we love and adore. I didn’t take care of myself until recently. My husband and I took a two week vacation and just rested, read, tried wonderful food, and spent time with just each other. We both felt so much better afterwards. And now I’m home and eating much better and will work on getting the exercise back in my day. I know personally how difficult it is to get out from under that black cloud. I rejoice that there may be an end in sight for this pandemic and am waiting patiently to get my second vaccine. Sweet hugs coming your way with gladness in my heart that you, too, found your way. Thanks for enriching my life with your beautiful blog and for your honesty.

    • sbranch says:

      Black cloud is exactly the right words. Hard to see your way out. I’m so happy you’re finding the light dear Debi. Losing your daughter, no words for such a loss. I’m so happy you have her precious baby. Love to you and yours. 😘

  54. Patty Volner says:

    Thank you Susan for not forgetting us. So delighted you have shared with us your journey. Now, if a few or many hop on the ship to cross with you to England wouldn’t you consider a picnic, maybe a Mother’s Day picnic at Hilltop and then we go our merry ways? Seems like we’d need one connection in England before we go on our way….please think about it!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m thinking of it . . . I’m not sure after 6 days together everyone will want to rush off to a picnic … maybe they will want to rush off to play! What do you think? And, BTW, I will never forget you.💝

      • FayE in CA! says:

        Susan, you can have the “picnic” on board…I’m sure there is a traditional “high tea” that could be arranged in a beautiful room. Invitations could left on pillows along with name tags in the state rooms. Maybe it is time to form The Susan Branch Society!! Girlfriends could pack their special tea party dress. Maybe arrangements could be made to have some of your Musica play while tea cups tip to wash down the tea desserts and sandwiches. All of the arrangements could be carried out by the Event Planner and you would be a guest at your own party. Good news is that the group wouldn’t freeze in the elements and Girlfriends are already gathered on the ship.

        Just a thought to keep stress off of you because the sailing is your long-awaited return journey for you and lovebird, Joe. ❤️🚢

        • sbranch says:

          Yes FayE, they have afternoon tea in the Queens Room on the ship every afternoon!🚢 It’s going to be wonderful!

  55. Susan Sparling says:

    Self-care is essential for our hearts, minds and bodies, as is (I’ve learned, acupuncture and other healing arts). So glad to hear you are healing — blessings to you from the Central Coast CA on your healing journey.

  56. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Meditation has been and continues to be my way through grief. The love of my life and I had been together for 47 years when he passed away on Feb 25. Each morning I sit in the quiet with my kitty, turn inward, hold a hand over my heart (the part of my body in need of care), and listen to a talk/reflection on grief and loss (Tara Brach) then do a guided meditation. The grief washes over and through me but so does love and gratitude, and my heart eases a little more each time. I started meditating 20 years ago when my husband was first diagnosed with MS, had become spotty about doing it, but when he died I knew I would need it to get myself through. It is a blessing, as are our kids and my dear girlfriends. As one said, life will never be the same, but it can still be good. My darling said he knew when he was gone that I would shine, so I have to give it my best shot. Blessings to you.❤️P.S. My daughter gave me your little Courage dish and it became a sort of good luck charm during the caregiving days.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Rosanne.💔 I too am learning that meditation is a wonderful place to deal with grief, because your loved one can be there with you. I love your husband …. that he wanted and expected and knew you would shine. What a perfect legacy of his love. Thank you . . . I love having you here. Hugs dearheart. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  57. Jacqueline Davey says:

    Dear Susan,

    I’m So sorry to hear you have been suffering. I had missed you and wondered why …now I am sorry you were having such a bad time….
    Take Care…you brighten our days and bring joy to so many…

    Jacqui X

  58. Simone Dextraze says:

    Love you Susan Branch. Thank you for sharing your woes and your blessings. You bring sunshine into this crazy world. May God bless you and Joe always.

  59. Mary H. says:

    Susan Branch, I absolutely adore you! I’m so glad you are feeling better.❤️

  60. Janet Taber says:

    Your post was so helpful to me. I’ve been dealing with that same thing — that thing that is worse than stress, but what else can it be called. Your suggestions and helpful hints and example are going to help me pull through, too. I have another friend who strongly suggested meditation, but for some reason I’ve been afraid of it. Now I am feeling brave and am ready to take the meditation plunge. Thanks for your candor and willingness to show us your tender heart. I cannot wait for your next post!

    • sbranch says:

      You’ll love it Janet. Just remember, there are no rules, if your guide says something that’s not applicable to you, just make up your own words. One day at a time, it’s cumulative, but every day life appears brighter, sleep begins to come easier, relaxation is better. 💫⭐️💫 “Because every cell of my being is flooded with the creative light and love of God.” xoxoxo

  61. Allison Collins says:

    Dear Susan,
    I read your blog today and cried all the way through it. I have been feeling the exact same way as you. The last year and a half has been horrible, and to top it off, last Monday we had to send one of our beloved kitties to Heaven. He’s no longer in pain or suffering, but I miss having him around. He was our peace-loving hippie, such a good, kind, sweet boy.
    I will take your words to heart, and try to turn a corner. Thank you for being you – creative, kind, fun, inspirational, and a lovely human being. I love your art, your voice, you – the ultimate Girlfriend, with a capital G.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh poor girl, we teeter on the edge and losing a beloved kitty can easily topple us, even in the best of times, which this is definitely NOT. You with the lovely words and pure kind heart. You’ll be okay, just take some naps . . . sometimes as they say, the way to be in the world, is to be out of it for a little while. Sending love.💔💞💞💞💞

  62. Rosinda Antunes says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, for this beautiful and heartfelt post. This past year has been a tough one for us all. I’m so happy to know you haven’t lost your sparkle. You are truly a gift to this earth. Thank you! Love you! Sending you a big hug from Canada! 😘💖

    • sbranch says:

      Love hearing from you Rosinda! Hope you and yours are well . . . I see you all the time on Instagram, always makes me happy! xoxoxo

  63. Lisa C from my little cabin in Washington says:

    Awww… welcome back, Susan. I’ve been worried about you. Kept checking the blog for a new post. Thank you for sharing your heart and your coping strategies. You are a blessing to so many.

    • sbranch says:

      It was like climbing out of a hole, but I’m SO much BETTER! Everything is beautiful to me again! 💖

  64. Marisa in sunny Florida says:

    Dear Susan, I too, like so many others, was so worried about you. Didn’t know what to think…maybe she’s sick or maybe Joe is sick 🙁 Glad you’re on the mend 🙂 I found mini daffodils from Cornwall, England at our local market the other day, and I immediately thought of you! I remembered how you were so excited when you also found them at the market. Anyway, so happy you are back and feeling better! Take care and blessings to you and yours.

  65. Christie Levin says:

    Re-reading this luverlee blog, becoming inspired by your plans for new cups and future travel adventures, I started mentally sailing on the beautiful historic Queen Mary II. That’s when a picture of a cup covered with your ocean-liner art floated into my saltwater-soaked brain. Also cups decorated with RR signs, cozy rooms with a view, your travel sticker-studded suitcases, and a train chugging across the USA with S&J hearts popping out of the engine’s smoke stack (and maybe even an Amtrak logo somewhere on it?). Anyway, thought I’d share. xoxoxo

  66. Suzanne K. says:

    I was really getting worried about you when I didn’t see a March 1st Rabbit Rabbit post. So glad you are feeling better. Another pick for an enjoyable movie or novel, “Cold Comfort Farm” by Stella Gibbons, ,very good. As I planted by seeds…I kept repeating in my head your “to plant a seed is a hopeful deed”, as each seed went into the soil. Like a mantra or a prayer:) Thank you for the wonderful post. Stay hopeful girlfriends!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Suzanne!❌⭕️

      • Dianne says:

        There is also an Audrey Hepburn quote- “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. I have it on a refrigerator magnet (available from Cafe Press) and feel hopeful whenever I catch a glimpse of it

  67. Karen Mac says:

    Oh how I’ve missed you!!! Stress certainly can cripple the body and soul. I’m so glad that you are doing better. Whatever would this group do without our breath of fresh air? I am widowed now for three years and sometimes the silence in this house screams at me. I’ve been in a funk lately but your post has definitely motivated me. I too am fully vaccinated now and looking forward to seeing people. I haven’t seen my dear friends in over a year. Covid stinks. Unfortunately I was a victim at the beginning of the year. It certainly played games with my mind. It’s so scary. Luckily I came out of it unscathed and I feel so fortunate to be alive and well. Stay happy girl. The world needs you. There is no substitute for our Susan Q

    • sbranch says:

      Yup, ends up being up to us to get ourselves out of a funk! I just came in from the first 2 hours I’ve spent in the garden since last years, clipping, a little of this, and a little of that, in the cool sunshine, and I can add it to the list of uplifting things to do! Yes, this virus is SO Scary, I’m happy you got through THAT. Some people are frightened to get the vaccine, but I think Covid, and all it’s life-changing hiccups is WAY more scary! Happy to hear from you Karen! Stay well . . . getting brighter every day!🌷🌷🌷

  68. Karen B. says:

    I’m so relieved you got help and created some help of your own. I couldn’t bear the person that brings me the most online happiness being sad. It sounds like your on the right track…a trip to England in 2022 is the cure for a lot of bad things.

  69. FayE in CA! says:

    The past few years have been exhausting. We’ve all felt the stress and anxiety that have “stopped” our good sleep, hopefulness, the ability to concentrate and, in general, decreased the joy in our daily living. Angers spilled over to overwhelm us for political and re-occuring social injustices. We have all been shaken to our cores for one reason or another.

    We glued ourselves to our favorite chairs in front of our TVs trying to understand, keep informed and listen to hear news of positive, social changes and Covid-19 info. The escalations of anger, fear, financial trauma, lockdown and
    family loss triggered depression and anxiety in people who had never dealt with the conditions before. Sadly, the experiences dug into the ability to function on any level.

    Happy people couldn’t be happy. Susan, you suffered, like many of us, the incomprehensible changes occuring in our country and the world. Added to societal issues, Covid slammed us. Like others, your daily vigils of hope for positive changes became too much to monitor on a regular basis. Your compassion for others and unfathomable hope finally became an internal, physical burden and too much to carry. You became a statistic, too.

    I turned off the TV after the Senate trial on the January 6 attack on our democracy. Nothing made sense to me anymore. My sense of logic, justice, accountability and democracy was finally and completely shattered. My worry and hope couldn’t change anything.

    My sleep is still whacked, eating patterns awful. My hope for a positively changed world is realistic and gone. Turning off the news has eliminated my outbursts of disbelief, but I can’t feel joy at this point. All the societal ills can’t be solved by me or one community. It will take all of society standing up for righteous behaviors, laws and legislators. It will require everyone to acknowledge a world virus and get the vaccines and follow simple guidelines.

    Hate to put my head in the sand, but my stress level is way down, however, my sadness at the dysfunction of everything is deeply imbedded in me and has changed me.

    I am thankful that you are now seeing rays of sunshine. I, too, sensed something was wrong. I think there is a bit of your own self-imposed pressure to “keep being Susan” for all of us. We love you, but scaling back a bit for the sake of your health would be totally understandable…and encouraged.

    Cute pic of Joe. Happy that you two are so in-sync and excited about the plans to resume living your dreams via train and Atlantic crossing!

    Bless your heart and KNOW that you DO make a difference in so many ways…never doubt that!

    • sbranch says:

      That same dysfunction hit my happy button too and turned it all off. I really don’t do well in chaos. That’s what I learned!😂 But you WILL get it back, you just have to feed yourself from the well of sweetness . . . a VERY strict diet. You’re on your way. If it isn’t lovely and good, delete it. Just for a while until you get back on an even keel, and have the strength to edit better. Stay very alert, note where you are several times during the day, let your eyes light on something beautiful and say, aren’t I so lucky? I’m sleeping better, something I thought would NEVER happen. Go outside if you can FayE, the sky is a wonderful thing!❌⭕️

  70. Nancy Cadiente says:

    Dear Susan,
    I have so missed your posts the last couple of months, so today when I opened your blog I was overjoyed, and then teary, over what you have been feeling. I’m sure I’m speaking for many when I say we are standing with you, experiencing much of the same thing, and hoping, praying, for better days ahead. My hubby and I haven’t seem our grown children in a year and a half, sniffles, and are longing for that final vaccination so that we can safely make a beeline to them, for the biggest momma and pappa hug ever given. A big, virtual hug to you too, our biggest joy giver in girl’s lives, who sometimes, we might forget, needs the love that lifts us up and replenishes us, too. Be good to yourself. There has to be light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the only precious way to look at life :-).

    • sbranch says:

      There is, I see it Nancy. And with those hugs, hope will wash over you like the first sunny day. Blessings to you and yours! ❌⭕️

  71. Carrie H says:

    so happy to see your blog and hear from you! Take good care because I look forward to your blogs and I had a feeling something was up. Glad you are feeling better! As a mental health therapist myself, I can tell you that you are Not alone in what you have been feeling. We have to all give eachother lots of big hugs in 2021!! Take good care!

  72. Katherine Steele says:

    I missed you! What a time this has been. Sending a virtual hug!

  73. Andrea says:

    Thank you for sharing. You are so not alone. I stopped walking and Yoga. I put on a brave face yet at night actually cried hugging my sweet kitties. Books remained unopened. I stopped hoping and praying. It was a blanket of sadness and anxiety. On top of the Pandemic, life’s “regular” hardships still continued. My husband needed surgery. I for the first time in 40 years had to make hard decisions and do things I never did before. I didn’t sleep. I cared too much and then stopped caring. Then my magical girlfriends, even during a pandemic rallied around me. Calls, gift baskets, texts, bringing dinner, pots of soup made with hope and love. Visits through the window. My husband and I got vaccinated and were finally able to see our 5 little grandchildren. What a love elixir. Tori Rey ran into my arms as fast as her 2 year old legs would go. Something within me stirred. I crocheted a baby blanket for a newborn, made a Spring wreath for my door. So many Blessings. Now your beautiful blog of honesty. Bless you dear Susan and thank you from the bottom of my healing heart.

    • sbranch says:

      “Love elixir …”😭 JUST what the doctor ordered! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Andrea, This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing about grief, depression and anxiety I have ever read. And your sharing of your feelings is why it’s so important to me to read every word of the comments here on Susan’s Blog.
      Thank you, Dear Heart,
      Debbie in Marvelous, Springtime Maine

  74. Viffy says:

    Hi! So very glad to do a search and see a new post from you. I completely (been there myself) understand the doldrums that can creep in and take hold. My amazing man told me that I had to get out more… so, I finally did. Got in the car, turned the key, and took a drive with the sunshine on my face and the radio on. It was wonderful to see my neighborhood. To just be out of the house. I’ve only had my first vaccine shot (the other at the end of this month) but I do believe we’ll get through this. Stay strong. Just know that your artwork and writing bring much needed smiles to people. It’s a gift and you are a treasure. Just seeing that you are planting dahlias (my favorite) made me smile! I also have watched “The Two Popes” (at first, I said no thanks to it) but I really loved it. I took the lesson that we can disagree without being disagreeable, we can learn from others because everyone has a story to tell. Please never stop sharing your story with the world.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Viffy! We are doing what you did, getting in the car for a big island drive today . . . lots of little stores to visit now that we’ve been vaccined … course we’ll wear our masks and keep distanced until we get our counts down around here! But yes, good to get out and witness spring! 🌷

  75. Julie Borg says:

    Just last week I went searching my email for your latest blog update. I thought I must have surely missed it somewhere. I’m so sorry that you had the blues! I think the whole world has them! It is time to shake them off and move on! I hosted a luncheon at my house with actual in person girlfriends last week! It was so wonderful to have real live friends in my house! We hugged and laughed and ate lunch together! I even busted out Great Aunt Isla’s china. It’s this wonderful setting of Minton china called Garden Pinks. I’ve had it for close to 20 years and have only used it a few times. I guess I was saving it for special. Thank you for brightening my day!

    • sbranch says:

      My birthday was an occasion like yours… the first time my BFFs have been together in a room without masks in over a year. We hugged, we cried, it was glorious. 💖 Means the world doesn’t it, Julie? ❌⭕️

  76. JulieV. from Springfield, MO says:

    Dear Susan I was so relieved to see the notice of your blog post pop up last week. I knew something had happen for you to go so long without writing to us. You are a dear kindred spirit and I am happy that you are on the mend.
    I have been in Florida for the wedding of one of our nephews. We were thrilled to see our family members that we have not seen since Christmas 2019 or longer. All of us have had a least one round, if not both, of the vaccine and we masked up and hand sanitized. Plus most of our family are doctors, nurses and EMTs so we felt pretty safe. Being on the beach was such a relief from the worries of the past year. We have been lucky here in Springfield. MO that our health care systems and city council have been on top of the Covid situation from the beginning.
    Reading how you felt and how surprised you were that us “happy gene” girls can let something like that sneak up on us I know how you felt. Two years ago I was in the process of building a house that I had spent three years designing. The stress and constant checking work left me living on two – three hours of sleep a night for almost two years. I could not turn off the to do list and making sure that everyone did their jobs right – which a lot of the time they didn’t which made me crazy. I got to the point were my cognitive function was so bad I had trouble doing simple everyday thinking like adding numbers, answering emails and was in a constant fog. Like you I started meditating and making naps a priority. I also played a CD from Dr. Daniel Amen called Memory Rescue from his Bright Minds program- you might have seen it on PBS. It made a huge difference and really helped with the terrible brain fog. It took me at least six months before I started to notice a difference in how I felt and to be able to sleep again. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt that way and plan for it to be the last!. Doesn’t getting outside make a world of difference!
    I plan to get on Amazon and look for the book “I Capture the Castle” and also check the library for it on CD to listen to while I mow our three acres! We are planning to put in a cut flower bed next year and Dahlias were on the list. Thank you for the links for ordering and learning more about them. Sweet peas are one of my favorite flowers (and also what I called our son when he was little and sometimes even now that he is 27).
    So sad about Prince Phillip – he was a man before his time with his views on the environment and other causes. I believe that when you are married that your souls become tethered and Queen Elizabeth is surely feeling the lose of part of her soul.
    Exciting news of you traveling this fall to see family and then next year to go on the Queen Mary II!! I would love to go along but, I think I will be in your suitcase again. We are hoping to go to Northern Ireland and Scotland this July on a trip delayed by the “you know what” last year.
    Sending love and happy thoughts to you dear friend! All the best to Joe and Jack! Oh – Happy Birthday to my fellow Aries girlfriend!

    • sbranch says:

      Building a house, despite the joy when it’s all over, can be a NIGHTMARE. Those night-time to-do lists are the worst. Shepherding loose men is not a job for the faint hearted. I like the sound of Memory Rescue for Brain Fog … I’ll check it out. Yes, a little digging in the dirt is WONDERFUL! Happy Birthday dear Julie! Keep sharing that joyful spirit! 🌷🌷🌷🌷

  77. Mary Stasko says:

    Dear Susan – I was overjoyed when I googled you this morning. It seems I had just known that something was amiss. Now I know it was, but better best yet – it’s very much on it’s way to better, much better now! I lost my dad to complications of covid and dementia on May 1 ’20. The last I saw him was 3/14/20. I am among so many others who also have lost. He paints sunrises for me every morning now. Thankfully there is a lot of his art and music on youtube or other archives. He is on my heartwheel forever. And you, dear friend, I am glad for your “network” of goodness that propels you forward. Looking forward to all these wonderful posts from you and thankful for all your helping hands to keep you well ! Scatter Joy !

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Mary…. My mom passed on April 26 last year . . . not from Covid, but the how doesn’t matter so much as the fact of the going. I love your painted sunrises! Lovely thought. All we can be is grateful. Thank you for sharing, all my very best to you! ❌⭕️

      • Evie Tong says:

        Oh my …. sending sympathy & condolences as I just read of your Mother’s passing on April 26; my Mother’s date is April 13, 2018 and her birthday February 13, your Mom on the 26… how we intertwined!!
        Hoping you received my reply on FEED BACK… Alo-ha-ha, Evie in San Diego💕💝💕

  78. Dawn Marie Beavers says:

    I was soooo happy when I saw your new post. I had been checking often and praying you would be healed of what was keeping you away. I have been dosing myself of reruns of Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and Miss Potter to increase my spirits. Reread many stories-Beatrix Potter, Brambley Hedge, Wind in the Willows and Fox Wood Tales. As I tended the chickens, I looked for tiny foot prints of the little folks in the forest. I was desperate for hope and a feeling of relief from the last year. I feel many of us are finally coming to the light at the end of the tunnel. The smell of spring air sure helps. Happy Spring to you both.

  79. Sara says:

    Susan, I had to comment on your post, because it appears we were going through almost the exact same thing at the exact same time. I have a history of intense worry and anxiety, but over the years have mostly learned how to work with it, and use it for good instead of evil, ha! However, I was totally blindsided by the “flare up” I experienced at the end of the winter this year. Spring has always been a brutal time for me…I think with the change of season, weather, allergies, but this year’s seasonal shift was next-level. Knowing I needed to address the stress that my body was communicating to me, I also found myself in the acupuncturists…although my treatments were a bit rockier in that I experienced an unleashing of unresolved anxiety in what was described to me as a “healing crisis.” I started experiencing scary physical symptoms like muscle-twitches, horrible, vivid nightmares, seeing spots and feeling shaky, and just a general cloud of impending doom that colored all my days. I didn’t feel like eating and I was white-knuckling my way through my days. Luckily, I’ve been here before and this latest episode was confirmation that indeed anxiety is a life-long issue and there is only so much that one can handle. (And eventually, the acupuncture DID help.) A devastating cancer diagnosis for my father, followed by genetic testing for the BRCA gene for me and my sisters, followed by Covid and all the associated worry, anger, and grief…I had reached my breaking point. I am a homebody by nature, so from a schedule/socialization point of view, this past year really didn’t seem that “bad” to me…it actually felt like the world was tailored more towards my introverted ways. But I don’t think I realized the toll it took while being deprived of the outlets even I need to decompress…a hug from my family, a glass of wine with a friend, a trip to “getaway” for a bit. I understand exactly how you feel, how scary, painful, and lonely it was and I’m so glad to report that, like you, I am finding the light at the end of the tunnel with meditation (I love the Mindful.org website), yoga, brain food, being in nature, and admitting to myself and other people what i’m going through. Now, me and my husband are finally vaccinated, and we get to venture out in the world again (cautiously, as only a verified card-carrying member of the Introvert Alliance would do) and start to “do life” again, in a new way. Thank you for sharing your experience. You made this worry-wart’s day, who would be a rich woman if I had a even a penny for everytime I was told to “just relax.” I’m trying…I swear! Please know that people like me reach for your books and cookbooks as a way to soothe our nervous systems. And it helps. A lot.

    • sbranch says:

      That feeling of impending doom … the worst! Makes people afraid to go to bed! Amazing what we can make happen inside our heads . . . and how great it is when we reprogram ourselves and begin to use that same life-or-death energy to see beautiful blue skies and calm seas! I didn’t realize the toll it was taking either… I don’t think any of us knew how devastating a forced isolation can be for our hearts and spirits. I’m so proud of all of us climbing out of this dark place. Yes, the light is on… and now we can even see it! And thank you for sharing. It really helps everyone to know we aren’t alone . . . and for the kind words. 💖💖💖💖💖

  80. Jackie Grabinski says:

    Hi Susan, have you ever watched the series, “Escape to the Chateau “? I really enjoyed it. I found it on Home and Garden, then searched for it on Comcast and got the whole series. It is about a British couple that buy a Chateau in France and renovate it. Very creative woman and darling children. 🤗😊👩‍🎨

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, we watched the entire thing! My favorite “character” is that adorable little boy who is so filled with joy it radiates from him! Even when he was a baby he was a laughing maniac! Very sweet!

  81. Peggy Rasche says:

    When there wasn’t a blog post in March, I knew something was wrong. I have been there too, as have everyone at some point throughout this past year. It does help to know that you are not alone. You have given me so much inspiration over the years. I am very glad to hear that you are finding your way out of the slump.
    Sending positive thoughts your way which I hope helps. Spring is here and it’s a beautiful one at that. Enjoy the day and each other. Hugs to you!

  82. Joyce Dupont says:

    Such a helpful post for many that cannot find the words to express their anxiety.
    It brings to mind one of my favorite scrptures….
    What a wonderful God we have…who so wonderfully strengthens us in our hardships and trials.  And why does He do this?  So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass unto them this same help and comfort, God has given us. 
         ~ 2 Cor 1:3-4
    Reading through all the reply touches the heart.
    Prayers for us all…so glad you are on the mend.

  83. Helen "Maggie" Giltmier says:

    So good to see you on my IPAD today! I have been so sick with the virus I caught somehow the beginning of March, and so grateful God has taken care of me and gave me His strength, for I surely had none of my own. I was so afraid and concerned when they told me I was positive. I thought I did all thee right things to be safe and also helping my neighbors in my condo, cleaning all the banisters and door knobs and mailboxes, wearing masks constantly, not going out only once a month to get groceries except for milk and bread. I have baked goodies and made soups and chilies to bless and share with them, just to keep my self busy and because I enjoy cooking and baking. I try to sing and read good things when I can, and I too watch HGTV, I pray, I meditate, I try to open the windows every chance I can. I thank God everyday for my little Smokey who snuggles and stays by me always, like a little guardian angel who hardly left my side while I was so sick. There is still so much goodness and dear and good people and God still is on the throne and He loves us ALL! This darkness will end, we will get through, the sun still shines and the little bird’s sing us songs and the beautiful flowers grow free to brighten our world once again. I will keep you and all of us and our world in my prayers everyday….rest my friend when you can, the world needs you in it and so do we!!!You inspire me! Thank you for all that you give to all of us! Maggie

    • sbranch says:

      Oh dear Maggie! You sound wonderful despite all that you’ve been through. That sneaky, rotten virus … even when we do everything right… being in the wrong place at the wrong time is basically the whole problem. Stay safe, I love your gratitude, ❌⭕️

  84. Andrea says:

    I am so glad to see your post – I kept checking and checking and praying and praying that all was well. I missed you very much! Please continue to take care of yourself and stay safe.

  85. Gale Harris says:

    So reassuring to hear your story of finding your way back to health and happiness. I’ve come unmoored from my tried and true lifesavers (including meditation) more than once in my life. Yet my spirit never gives up on me and always leads me back. This spring is giving me new reminders and endlessly wondrous but familiar reasons to hope. May we all regenerate in our own way the light that’s needed to save the world. It’s really no less important than that.

  86. Deborah Metzger says:

    Every night make it a point to watch a classic TV comedy before you go to bed. I have been doing it for years and having the great comedy writing(and James Burrows direction) of shows such as Cheers(Woody has incredible punch lines), Mary Tyler Moore Show, Dick Van Dyke Show or BOB NEWHART(Bob Newhart Show AND Newhart) as the last thing you remember before you go to sleep will keep you in a great humor. I thank Decades TV, Antenna TV and ME TV as three examples of classic TV viewing that put my mind in a happy place at the end of the day.

    • sbranch says:

      Brilliant idea! That’s why growing up was so much sweeter for us than it is today… where their little psyches get beat up by rudeness of Beavis and Butthead … and value-free vacuity of who-cares Kardashian dramas! Give me Mary Tyler Moore any day!

      • Deborah Metzger says:

        One other thing;
        I went to high school in the late 1960s(Vietnam, drugged out street people) with all of it’s problems and people then thought we had hit rock bottom. Now those people are friends and coworkers. For thousands of years people have felt we were deep in trouble at times but the majority on this planet have been working, playing and loving for generations. I visit stores everywhere as a merchandiser and people of all nationalities coexist everyday in a cheerful manner. When the news( and its twisted commentators) gets you down turn it off, leave it off and notice how strangers get along so easily.
        Also, I have a rule:
        When I have one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong I get to treat myself with dinner out. I do what I have to do!

  87. Zoe Greenwood says:

    Dearest, dearest Susan,
    I am soooooo very glad that you are feeling better and are back! Stress is a horrid, horrid thing. Been there, done that…never doing that again. I was even diagnosed with post traumatic streets disorder! NOT a fun time. Acupuncture and massage helped me. I got through it. You will and are! The recent past has been VERY difficult. But, there is light and love and we will go on. We must! Take good care of yourself…the world needs you so very, very much.
    Love always, Zoe

    • sbranch says:

      Too much long-term chaos and loss can really get us down. Yes, we know what brings us out of it, and it really does work! And if it doesn’t, if we’ve fallen into too deep a hole, doctors can help with meds. We just can’t give up! So grateful! Thank you so much Zoe … love seeing you here.💞

  88. Patty Volner says:

    Dear Susan, So wonderful to hear from you again, thank you! Don’t you think there should be one gathering once the ship has landed in good Ole England to celebrate the event? Us, the Queen, Hill Top?!? I encourage you to think about it. Many thanks for inviting us along.

    • sbranch says:

      I am thinking about it! This boat trip will be like a nice long picnic! But once we figure out where we’re going, maybe we’ll add another to it ~ I’m torn because I think everyone is going to want to go off on their own once we get there! All too exciting!💖

  89. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh WoW! Your garden is so, so….Clean. Just waiting for those dahlias. Doesn’t it feel great to have dirt under your nails. If, like I, you can’t stand to use gardening gloves. I’ll be wearing leather ones today, though, when I trim and cut out the dead stuff in the rugosa bed…beach roses.
    Can’t wait to see the blooms and ‘smell the roses’. When the windows are open, the smell is wonderful. I planted dahlias one year, just a couple small varieties, but guess I didn’t do a good job drying the corms (?) when I dug them up to store in the basement for the winter. They rotted. Didn’t PG Wodehouse have an Aunt Dahlia in his books? I never knew what they were until the first September up in Maine, The Blue Hill Fair (as in Charlotte’s Web) The agricultural barn had so many, some blooms literally the size of dinner plates.
    So Thankful for this beautiful day, and for you!
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I love the clip-clip-clip of the clippers!😄 I have to use gloves, my fingernails become unbearable if I don’t! Plus, I am stabbed to death by roses! I didn’t buy any of the dinner plate Dahlias, I could just SEE myself out there constantly trying to tie them up against their own weight … Plus, this is not The Plaza Hotel, we don’t need bouquets with 12″ flowers in them!😂 Fun isn’t it Debbie!? All these lovely decisions! 🌷🌷🌷

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Snowed last night! Just a dusting, now turned to rain, but the western Maine mountains got enough to make the ski slope owners pleased, maybe one more good weekend.
        I agree about the dinner plate dahlias! Tying up the peonies is enough tying up for us. Tom gave me wonderful “gauntlet” gloves for the roses, soft leather, but thorn proof, and long, almost up to my elbows.
        I, too, heard all the trees slurping and giggling 😉

  90. Bev Johnson says:

    All booked on the Queen Mary 2 with my friends!!! First time traveling to England for me ‘ I am SO excited- & having it to look forward to brings back a touch of feeling “normal” again🥰 Hoping you will brief us on your favorite little English villages so we can map out our trip after we get there! And the ship will be such an experience ❤️ Eeek – so fun!! 🚢

    • sbranch says:

      Looks like there are lots of us coming along, I’m so happy . . . Read my A Fine Romance for ideas on where to go after we dock! I can’t believe this is going to happen!!!

      • Janice Bond Smith says:

        Wondering if any Girlfriends would be interested in joining together for a tour? We could possibly plan one through the small group (4-15) tour company I have traveled with (Mom and I) over the years? They have great guides who are so knowledgeable of the UK. They are based out the US. Anyway, if those going on the crossing are interested…..we have a year to figure something out? info@discovereuropeltd.com
        Go check them out. I recommend them as I have traveled with them (with Mom) over 5 times since the 90’s.
        I’m not sure I want to learn to drive….on the wrong side of the road….like Susan and Joe. lol Let someone else do the driving…..or take a train?? So exited to go!!
        Jan from Northern CA

        • sbranch says:

          WONDERFUL idea. On Monday, I’ve asked Kellee to put a special page on Facebook for this trip … where everyone can talk and discuss the trip … this would be the perfect information to share there! Thank you! Sounds perfect!

  91. SYLVIA in Seattle says:

    Gosh this batch of comments are powerful – so helpful in getting my own mind out of a funky rut. I look forward to seeing your tidy garden when its in full bloom. We’re having a run of sunny weather here in often cloudy wet Seattle. My daughter, Nancy, put a whole new batch of flowers in my window box and I love watching them grow, lapping up that sunshine and warmth. Love you, Susan, for keeping this blog going. Its a bright spot for me and so many others I’m sure. Thank you and thank you for all the comments everyone.

  92. Oh lovely ones,
    I am in tears reading through the comments. So many have been through so much more than just a pandemic. (Did I seriously just write “just a pandemic”?)
    The whole world has been suffering, but so many of you have suffered additional losses. I just want you to know that you are not alone and that I send my most loving, healing thoughts to you all. May a pink bubble of happiness descend and hold you all safe in joy and love!
    Musica must be “Like a Bridge over Troubled Water” and “You’ve Got a Friend”

  93. Neame says:

    I missed you. So very glad you are back! Thank you for the sharing and caring.

  94. Bev T says:

    These days are hard! So glad to hear you fought your way back. Thank you for sharing and offering encouraging words to others…you do that so well.

    Looking forward to spring. Snowing today in Michigan…UGH!

    Missed you…stay well.

    • sbranch says:

      Raining here, just a solid rain, I keep thinking how the roots of our pink magnolia tree are lapping it up! Here comes spring Bev, I promise!🌷🌷🌷

  95. Peggy Lison says:

    Hello Susan,
    Every day I hoped we would hear from you again!! I was so afraid you or Joe had gotten Covid. I think we all have had moments of true despair during this and am glad you are coming back to yourself and us!

    Last week I had terrible news about some of my neighbors and fell hard too. I am trying to hold on and move on.

    I am in my 7th month of fiddle lessons which I started to get me thru the pandemic. Now I can finally play about 2 dozen tunes (mostly Irish). My zoom teacher Holly is the brightest star and is helping me so much. I will pray to my mom for your complete recovery -she is the best at these things – moms are like that:) Take very good care of you Susan -the world needs you so. Sending love and hugs from Peggy in Madison

    • sbranch says:

      I love the fiddle, what a great accomplishment Peggy! 🎻 And thank you, I really feel so much better . . . self care was the answer for me! Just can’t ignore ourselves, must do it even if we feel okay! 💖

      • Dianne says:

        I, too, love the fiddle- especially those Irish tunes. You have obviously taken the words of the book What Do You Do With a Problem to heart. (It’s a children’s book with a message for all). Seeing the problem as an opportunity for growth is going to bring you so much joy. If I close my eyes, I can hear you playing. Take care

  96. Debbie says:

    This has been such a difficult time for everyone, so many terrible losses, so much bad news. Thank you so much for sharing what you have been going through and how you are working your way through …it helps me to remember that we are not going through this alone and things will get better. I am hoping for brighter days ahead!

  97. Care Woodard says:

    Dear one, I wept tears of deep connectedness when I read your beautiful post, for all of us share so much in common. I told my Mom to read your post and she cried too… relief that we have a place to share this. NEVER feel like what you do doesn’t matter. Your bright light has guided me, and I know many others, through the division over the last years and through the virus. There were many many days I could not watch the news and I got my news from your tweets. You were bravely on the front line and I hid behind you. Look what you have accomplished!! No wonder you are tired out!! I am heart glad that you are feeling better. Hoorah for meditation !! All of us girlfriends will unite our hopes and dreams for the planet there and just see how the world will evolve. I am sending you vast love and a good book recommendation. I bought the hard back after I read the paper back so I could put a book plate inside that says,”This is Caroline Woodard’s favorite book of all time” It is, In Sunlight And In Shadow by Mark Helprin. The setting is NYC just after WW2. He also wrote a book called Paris In The Present Tense that I loved so much, my husband is reading it now. You will grow stronger and stronger and burst out into blossom just like the flowers coming up now. xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It’s happening just as you say, Care! Feel SO MUCH better. You are so perfectly named!!!💝

  98. Sue G. says:

    Hello Susan,
    You know how you get that funny feeling something is going on..When there wasn’t a post from you, that feeling hit me. So I tacked you on to my growing list of people to pray for.. I hope it is working
    It was so good to hear from you. Sometimes with our worry we forget about ourselves. We need to take time out for ourselves and not feel quilty about doing so. Thanks to your posts that is my time.
    Hope you are doing better each day. Please know you are loved (and missed) by so many

  99. Charissa says:

    Susan, I want to wish you a Belated Happy Birthday!!!!!! Here is my toast… To a Master of white space, a Master of the human heart and all that is good in the world, a friend to us all and my comfort when I am in need. Kindred spirits and friends are we all because of you❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ clink clink goes the teacups and lager tonight the champagne glasses in your honor🥂 I hope you had a wonderful day!

  100. Rhonda Williams says:

    I cried. Glad your back. God is good all the time.

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