Life Is Good . . .

I am doing something today that I never do – sharing something very personal . . .

In all the years that I have been communicating online, through Groups and Blogs and classes, etc., I have made it an edict that I never share anything less than joyful. I even made my hip fractures as entertaining as possible.

I have lost a beloved dog (Teddy, who died suddenly from a ruptured tumor in January), and my beloved brother, John, who passed in the middle of making a joke in the recovery room, after a routine surgery that had been perfectly successful.

My dogs are my children, as you know, and the loss of Teddy was devastating, but the loss of my sibling was unspeakable.

I know that those of you who care about me feel sad right now and I am sorry for that, but I am only writing this post because there are things learned that I feel can be valuable for all of us.

I despise condolences, so please forego them. No one ever knows the right thing to say, I don’t know the right thing to say back, and none of it does any good in my world.

Instead, I want this post and its comments to be about celebrating life.

Life is precious and life is good, and we need to quit losing track of that. Knowing it, living it, and appreciating it, is of paramount importance. I don’t love the term “life is short”, but it is, actually, in the scheme of things, and every moment counts.

Teddy was a lonely one year old rescue Husky when we met. For the next ten years, he lived the most perfect life a dog could wish for. I feel good about that.

My brother, John, could be a bit headstrong at times (a general family trait), but that was always about keeping his life exactly as he wanted it to be – in every detail. He lived, worked, fathered, and grandfathered, right in our hometown, and kept everything simple. He had it his way – the whole way – and I feel good about that.

I did my grieving in my garden, planted beautiful red rose bushes for both of my beloveds – John’s favorite color is red, and Teddy’s favorite thing was smelling flowers and being with me in the garden.

I spent time in California with family, and found, when I got back on Wednesday, that these . . .

had turned into these . . .

My heart filled with joy, and none seemed to spill out, so I think the fractures are beginning to heal.

I am newly committed to self care (although my brother had the healthiest lifestyle of anyone in the family), and awareness of my bad habits – like worry and fish&chips, and worry about having eaten fish&chips.

I am re-committed to mindfulness and appreciating every second I get to be alive.

And I learned a good thing just this morning. Although living in the moment is so important, when that moment doesn’t feel so great, it is helpful to see the big picture. You can get mired in daily detail and not know that, overall, a thing is alright.

I will move on to living my best life, and I just wanted to remind you to hold that thought for a moment.

Is there something you can do to bring more moments of joyful living into your life?

What brings you joy? (Besides these beautiful baby Robins)

What are the BEST things you do for you?

THAT’s what I would like to hear in comments – instead of condolences.

What are the BEST things you do for you?

We might all get some new ideas!




  1. Spending time in nature brings me great joy, whether in the garden or during my almost daily hikes in the foothills near my house. On this morning’s hike, I observed about 20 species of wildflowers, hummingbirds, & a meadowlark on the tip of a tree singing a beautiful song in search of a mate. I also entertained myself thinking about all the different paint pigments that make up the variety of greens along the trail. My hips were stiff when I started walking, but by the end of the hike they were well lubricated, and I finished the 2.5 mile hike feeling strong and grateful, with a spring in my step. Carpe Diem!

  2. Thank you for taking me on this hike, Nan. Felt like I was there.

  3. Oh how I savor and love:
    -Your blogs.
    – the gentle soothing chittering of the tree frogs as I fall asleep with my windows open in my new subtropical home.
    – yesterday I watched the entire bath that one of my kitties gave himself. I was in awe.
    – kitty paw pads.
    – clouds in all of their variety and magnificence.
    – connecting with my friends.
    – sitting with the ocean.
    – drawing.

  4. I recently wanted to see the movie Paris Can Wait as I love all things related to Paris. It was at an art theatre an hour drive away, had no one to go with me, so I went by myself and had fun! I’ve learned not to wait for other people but to go and enjoy myself. I like to connect with friends but they are not always available.

  5. Spending time with my camera and then spending time in front of my computer to turn some of those pictures into pieces of art with the help of photoshop! And I thank you for your part in teaching me those skills.

  6. The best thing I do for me is to fill it up with prescious friends like you! I love you and miss you❤️

  7. I got to say happy birthday to my brother today who is the baby of the family and is now 60 years old. We are totally opposite in politics and have been going through argumentative rounds but he and I keep our senses of humor and I love him bunches in spite of it!

    What a happy message to see the baby birds when you got back home – life renews itself in so many ways!

    I do have to say, that passing while enjoying a joke must be about the best way to cross – while happy and not anticipating anything but happiness.

    It’s really, really hard to NOT give condolences so I am just going to go hug all my dogs right now and hope to hear from you again soon (like a post telling us how your kiln issues are going lol).

  8. Anne – one of the great joy-makers of my life was the day (LONG ago) when I gave myself permission to go places by myself. Really broadened my horizons and I love the adventures it brings.
    Barb – it warms my heart that you are still finding your joy in photography! You were a great student and your photos were (and are) amazing.
    Vesta – I love you too, my sister-friend.
    Timaree – You have sent the best condolence I ever heard. Enjoying and loving your brother and hugging your dogs is just the best thing!

  9. I find myself saying, right out loud, “Life is Good” pretty much every day now. There is always something that brings the realization up.
    I’ve had a couple of close calls in the past few years. I feel fortunate to still have enough of my health to be able to appreciate that being alive is a good thing.
    Watching birds and squirrels at the feeders on the deck never ceases to bring me joy. There are so many wondrous things in life.

  10. What a blessing to have a life in which we have made the time to watch an entire kitty bath and squirrels at the bird feeders (which can be immensely entertaining!)

  11. I try to get lost in my creative expression. I love the part where time flies and I’m just so involved that when I look up its dark out or morning.
    I love the eggs and baby birds. Thank you. I realize I need to be out with nature more.

  12. Things I need contact with on a regular basis to keep me calm and functioning:
    Home and garden, my dog, my horse, nature/country time, reading, studio time. Not much else required, other than family.

  13. Thank you for these peeks into your happy life moments, ladies. I love getting lost in art and everything on Judy’s list (except I don’t have a horse).

  14. My greatest joys are time spent with my family, including my fur babies, and time by myself. I need both in copious amounts to be happy. Time to be creative is also vital, whether I am making cards, creating art on my iPad (thank you for getting me started on that journey), or designing dies and stamps for FranticStamper…they all feed my soul. Time with a good book is also good for what ails me, but the most healing thing in the world for me is watching the waves roll and crash on a quiet coast, rain or shine, summer or winter. All of the sea’s moods bring me peace.

  15. My 15 year old rescued German Shepherd passed away yesterday so this post has come at the right time for me. She used to love to sit in the garden and look out over her domain and I am determined to spend more time in the garden just sitting and enjoying rather than only going out for weeding and cutting.
    It is hard to let go of a loved one whether 2 legged or 4 but I am trying to focus on the moments of joy we shared together.

  16. The best thing I have decided to do for myself is to start counseling. I’ve had losses over the last few years including my mom and a lot of my health. And I haven’t gotten out of the depression so I’m thinking I need help. For fun, I go to estate sales and church rummage sales and garage sales. Sometimes I find such great treasures that I never knew I wanted or needed. Many new items were chosen for photography props. Some real treasures. So now I need to take some photos and get them posted on my new blog, on IG and on FB.

  17. I know I haven’t commented for a very long time. I hope this helps. My mom always turned to nature for solace. It has worked for me. My dad once said that everything that happens to us, good or bad, is another chapter in our lives. We need to live it and move on to the next chapter. However, I will say, with lots of experience since 2011, sometimes the chapters run together. I have not gotten over the losses of loved ones and health issues. I’m grateful for each day and I say “thanks” when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. I am also using my photography to keep me busy and focused on things other than health issues and losses. Support of friends and being grateful are life savers. You have a wonderful support group here, and although I don’t write often, I am also here.

  18. Kathy – On my way back from San Francisco, I visited my favorite ocean spot – Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA. I arrived early enough to spend several hours allowing the sea’s solace. Love it.
    Scrapmate – (I won’t do the condolence thing), but I will say that if your German Shepherd made it to 15, she had a wonderful life indeed. It may sound nuts, but I truly believe our fur kids are spirit guides (or guardian angels) who just keep coming back in new fur suits. I feel Teddy is with me whenever I am in the garden – even though he hasn’t shown up again physically yet. Spend as much time as you can in your sweet girl’s garden domain. She’ll be there with you, and maybe be barking at the gate soon too. You never know, so pay attention.
    Marianne – I applaud your decision and think counseling will help a lot – and so will your beautiful photography.
    Christine – You had very wise parents and I am going to borrow their advice.

    I do have a wonderful support Group here. – Thank you all.

  19. I think nature helps. I cannot take walks like I used to but I due take time to observe the wild life that appears on my property such as deer, squirrels, birds, bunnies, an occasional fox and of course black snakes. Many of my friends are afraid of them but I am quite amazed by their ability to climb vertical surfaces even though they don’t have arms or legs. I also find reading relaxing and enlightening depending on the book. Of course a good nap can also be restorative.

  20. I met your brother and your mom at one of your workshops years ago. I loved the candor that your family shared. One of my joys is baking bread… it has taught me patience in the simplest of ingredients. It takes at good portion of the least day to create a loaf. While it is baking and the smell is wafting in the kitchen, I anticipate taking it from the oven and while still hot smothering it with butter.

  21. I’m with you. Whenever there is a difficulty or something that makes me sad, I try to step back. There is *always* something to be grateful for. I think seeing the upside or finding something good from any situation is a great way of taking good care of yourself. Things that make me happy are animals, specifically dog and goats. I don’t have either right now but often take care of other people’s dogs. They bring me happiness. Beautiful pictures even if they’re only Pinterest images make me calm and happy. Walking through the local cheese shop which is also like being in a market in France makes me happy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and causing me to reflect.

  22. I always go to my studio, to work through whatever needs dealing with in my life. Paste down some papers. Get out some paint and gesso. Move my brush around. Scribble with a pencil. When I stand back and look, I often perceive things that I couldn’t otherwise. Somehow, my art is a mirror, and I have to look into it see myself.

  23. Thank you, Jessica, for this reminder. I have been bogged down in the mire of life, difficult relationships, losing our beloved rescued Maggie the Bearded Collie in January, guiding adult children through tough decisions. I have been so depressed. Your beautiful post reminded me that I am driving my bus. I am the only one who can change my inner life. I talk to Maggie daily, I talk to our rescued Akita/Wheaten Duncan about her and we share how much we miss her but how glad we are that she is no longer suffering. I find joy in watching the red shouldered hawk pair that nests next door, I wish I could peek into their nest as you did the robins! Their soaring cries and fierce grasp on life are an inspiration to me to spread my wings and fly. I am making a promise to myself right now to get up, go do things I enjoy, spend time in my studio and not wait on situations or people to go with me. Thank you again for this powerful kick in the behind! Today I am going to a beading class that I could actually teach just to be a student and be with other creative souls. Sending you hugs and smiles and happy laughter.

  24. Sister, once again, you’ve given a gift to us all. Reminding us, from your place of reflection, to reflect into our own spaces and appreciate all that life has given us. Spending time with you in CA was about as healing a strategy as I can imagine. No matter how many years pass, you and I are youthful sisters with a bond that I am grateful beyond words to have. Per our Mom’s instructions, we each need to renew our commitment to self-care so that we can indeed live every one of our moments to the fullest. I love you.

  25. I have been in depression for some time and haven’t seemed able to get out of it—except when volunteering at an elementary school. The kids are happy and they make me laugh. A wise person told me that being in the sunshine and feeling the grass (or the water) between our toes gives us peace and renewal. What can I do to bring joy back into my life? Walking in the park, eating better, making new friends, creating…anything. Thank you for reminding us to see the good, no matter where it is or where it comes from. And to enjoy what we have been given.

  26. After reading your blog, I started a list of joyful moments in the back of my art journal, with the intent of adding to it regularly. Here are some items on my list: the color turquoise, bedsheets dried on the clothesline, afogatos, birdsong, being called grandmama, the sound of wind in the pines, afternoon thunderstorms with I am inside, running water in nature, bicycling downhill, stolen moments, snuggles, lattes in bed, artichokes, fawns, when seeds sprout in the garden, clouds, instant gratification, delayed gratification, strawberries, running water in nature, the ocean, alpenglow, daily sudoku in the newspaper, 100% cotton T shirts, that aren’t too high or too loose, no holes, and are in colors that make me happy, hummingbirds, birds in the bird bath or birdhouse, Colorado high country, alpine forgets me nots…

  27. Thank you for the sharing of all the joys and thoughtful insights, my friends. I love being reminded of some of the small things that I love too – and maybe haven’t thought of in awhile. My fountains are not yet set up in the garden so that is on the priority list for today. The sound of running water is the best nature sound for me besides birdsong.

  28. Like you Jessica and many others on this blog entry, I’ve gone through life changing events and loss this year. Nature and my sweet almost fourteen year old Westie have sustained me. The joy of watching the daily party at the bird bath, the miracle of new life on a freeze ruined vine in the garden, and the sheer beauty of spring color where there was drabness merely days before. It all has sustained me and allowed me to see the bigger awesome picture of existence.

  29. Things I am joyful, thankful for or things I do that give me joy, art and creating, reading, my dogs (my fur babies with me now and those that left us), my house, family friends, my health, being able to look up and see the beautiful sky and color of light where I live, being only 45 minutes or so from the ocean. The ability to share art through the internet, learning new things, learning about art and so much more. Thank you everyone for posting and Jessica for asking us.

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