Inspired by change, challenge and creativity

Conversations In The Garden- On Awareness


A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.

~Leonard Nimoy



My mom is now in the winter of her life.  At 83, her body is shutting down, and she is in need of more assistance in her basic daily living skills.  It has been a traumatic journey for her recently, and given me much on which to pause and reflect.



DSCN0389I think about all she has given me over the years.  I was a sickly child, with asthma from the time I was born.  I almost died of pneumonia when I was one, and was in and out of hospitals from a very early age.  I had every childhood disease imaginable.  And in all that time, my mom never complained, and never once wasn’t there for me.



And now in her most vulnerable time, I try to be there with comforting words.  To give her guidance, to talk about her day, every day I can even though I am almost 3000 miles away.



And I think about my own mortality, now more than ever before.  How much time I have left here on this earth, in this body.  How long will it continue to allow me to do and think about the things I love….even the everyday things like walking, eating, breathing.



DSCN0384As I think about all this, I am drawn back to the Wabi-Sabi principles I learned about in January, in particular Principle 6:  Accept the inevitable.  Life is evanescent.  Before we know it another day has gone by, and then another month and another year….and then more years than we care to think about.




So if life is so fleeting, what can we do to not let it pass us by?  I think this is why I have been in a ‘noticing’ frame of mind recently.  To experience each moment….be present, be aware of my surroundings.  Really look, and deeply listen.  And especially become aware of myself.  Observing how I feel, what I am doing, how I am reacting to my life.  What choices I am making.  What might I want to change or do with my life right now.



DSCN0485And I have found great freedom in this noticing.  I find I am free now to do what I want…whatever that might be.  I am still discovering, even now in my life, that new paths are always showing themselves to me if I can be more aware.



Winter is a great time to reflect on our lives.  This past winter was a brutally cold one.  One that wore on with endless days of piles of snow unrelenting, and a frigid, bone chilling wind that never ceased to howl.  And under all that snow was a garden about to come to life again.  But for a long time though this winter, all I could see were my memories of it as it was held frozen below the landscape of white.



DSCN0516And if I take any lessons from this winter, it is this season will pass and be replaced by a new season, a new path, a new time, a new memory.  As I sit with the window cracked listening to the last of winter’s winds blow through the barren trees, I smell the change it is bringing.



And I hear the birds once again singing in a new season….rejoicing for this new time that is at hand.  A time to celebrate the beauty of what was, and what is to come.  A new garden to be born with new memories to be made.  My life, still before me each new day lived to its fullest.  The possibilities are endless when we are aware, in the moment.  




I am sharing this life and garden lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I hope you will join her.





Note:   All these images, of my garden, were taken this February during our brutal winter.  Even in its bitter cold and snow, there was beauty to be found.  The last photo is of my early spring garden last year.



The quote, at the beginning of the post, is the last Tweet Leonard Nimoy made a few days before he died.  I found it inspiring, thoughtful, and in his honor as Mr. Spock, “fascinating”.  May we all, “Live long and prosper”.






I leave you with another thought about aging, acceptance and life.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

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  1. March 19, 2015    

    Your post is profound with your wisdom and understanding of aging. I valued it very much. My husband and I are currently caring for his 97 year old mom. It has been a revelation in some ways, although I know a good deal already about aging. The “quickening” of her spirit was completely lost when she slipped and fell on her knees about six months ago. All the physical caring in the world has helped, but the biggest part—her desire to keep on living—will either come from within her or not. And who can blame her? She’s tired. We just watch and love and support and wait.

    • March 20, 2015    

      Oh Susan you have pointed out the most important part which is the will to live. My mom still has that although not everyday. She is most anxious right now and depressed from all the changes she has been through lately. It is all we can do to just keep loving and supporting them.

  2. March 19, 2015    

    Beautiful words and images… So much to consider here. I very much resonate to the idea of being a “noticer”. I feel so many are focused on doing over being. I too am attempting to slow down and bear witness to my own life and the lives (large and small) around me.

    • March 20, 2015    

      Thanks Deb….I am finding I am getting better at noticing…but it is still a journey.

  3. Debbie Debbie
    March 19, 2015    

    As always, thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I love the quote with the lovely picture.

    • March 20, 2015    

      So glad you enjoyed the post Debbie.

  4. March 19, 2015    

    There is beauty everywhere, and every when if I keep my eyes, heart and mind open to see it. A lesson I seem to need to learn and relearn.
    Thank you. And warm thoughts across cyber space for you and your mama.

    • March 20, 2015    

      Oh Soosie thank you for those warm thoughts.

  5. March 19, 2015    

    The distance between you both in physical miles must be hard Donna, she sounds a wonderful woman. You are a skilled and wise writer, I feel sure your spoken words will be of such great comfort. Sending best wishes to you both and I hope your snow is now gone.

    • March 20, 2015    

      No our snow is not moving as it is cold now and they say it will be for a couple more weeks. She calls me to talk and I enjoy helping her, but it is so hard not being there Julie.

  6. March 19, 2015    

    I too have been thinking about mortality…the new baby coming helps to make me feel renewed I think… beautiful..I am going to share…Michelle

    • March 20, 2015    

      So glad you enjoyed it and wanted to share it. I do wish we could have had children but it was not in the cards.

  7. March 19, 2015    

    Donna, I love all the beauty in your snowy captures and feel amazed by the amount of snow you had experienced this winter as we did not enjoy much. I personally think that being able to experience different seasons throughout a year and their repeating is very enlightening. We can learn so much if we are willing to notice… You have found great freedom in that noticing and that sounds inspiring.

    • March 20, 2015    

      I love your words here Petra. I have found so much more freedom in noticing and living in the moment more. And oh my goodness the winter is inspiring although getting a bit much now as we still have snow and no spring.

  8. March 20, 2015    

    Such a beautiful and comforting post. I really liked both quotes – they made me think. As did your wise words.
    Emjoy your day, Donna!

    • March 20, 2015    

      Thanks so much Katarina…glad you enjoyed the post!

  9. March 20, 2015    

    This was a lovely post. I too was a sickly child and almost died from pneumonia. My Mom passed away last year. I will never regret the time I spent with her throughout her final years. Giving is not a sacrifice, rather a gift given freely to loved ones that pays dividends back to ourselves. God bless you on this journey. Stopping by from Over 40 Blogging World.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

    • March 20, 2015    

      Oh Susan I am sorry you lost your mom last year. You are so correct that giving is a gift. I will be stopping by your blog tomorrow.

  10. March 20, 2015    

    What a beautiful and thoughtful post ; what a wonderful mother and now you are the nurturer to her. I briefly checked out your wabi sabi mention and it sounds quite like the book on Zen that I am reading. Typically as a Christian for most of my life, prayer has been beseeching or talking etc. With the different form of meditation one cannot help but notice the mind more, and remind oneself to be mindful ( I find that I am rarely in the present moment at all! 🙂

    • March 20, 2015    

      Thanks. I’d say wabi sabi is very zen Deb. And yes I find when I meditate my mind opens more to the noticing….but oh it is hard to quiet my mind to be in the moment.

  11. March 20, 2015    

    It is hard to separated so far from someone you love and may worry about. Winter — the season or the time of life — really is a great time for reflections and dreams. Loved this.

    • March 20, 2015    

      Thanks so much Debra for your lovely comment.

  12. March 20, 2015    

    This is such a beautiful post. It must be very difficult to be so far away from your mum. I know you will treasure your conversations with her. I miss chatting and laughing with my mum; and I remember our last conversation as if it happened only yesterday (even though it is over 3 years ago). Taking time to notice our world is a privilege and a joy. Sadly it is too easy to rush around, worrying about tomorrow and missing what is here right now. I like that last quote a lot.

    • March 20, 2015    

      Oh Sarah thank you for stopping by and giving me your lovely perspective. I am sorry that you lost your mom.

  13. March 20, 2015    

    What a beautiful post! I am trying to live calmly in the moment…good reminders here today:)

    • March 20, 2015    

      Thanks so much and I am glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Stacy Moore Stacy Moore
    March 20, 2015    

    Donna, I’m sorry about your mother’s health. You have always written powerfully and lovingly about her role in your life. You write movingly here, too, about winter and thoughtfulness and the importance of each moment. I used to see “live in the moment” as something else to put on the to-do list (isn’t that ironic?) and have recently begun to see the kind of freedom you describe in it. I’ve been attending a restorative yoga class recently, and the instructor has a lovely phrase: “Let yourself alone.” She always follows it up with “Just enjoy BEING with yourself.” I don’t think I realized how much a little part of my mind was always picking away at things.

    I hope the spring is bringing you many more fresh smells and some signs of new growth stirring. (Oh, dear. Just looked at the Finger Lakes weather forecast. Maybe Tuesday!) 😉

    • March 20, 2015    

      I really love what your instructor says…”Let yourself alone”….and thanks for your lovely sweet words Stacy. The winter is still here with a foot of snow still on the ground, more coming here and there but the worst is the cold which is keeping the snow here. So no spring yet. I really do need the change of seasons soon.

  15. March 20, 2015    

    This is so poignant and soulful, Donna. I just got home from Florida and visiting my similar-aged parents, so I understand these feelings deeply. It was weird how I was glad to visit them in the sunny south, yet glad to get back to my home in the cool, springy north. Feeling caught between two seasons; caught between life stages. Beautiful post! Thanks for joining in and collaborating on the memes. Hugs.

    • March 20, 2015    

      Oh you said it perfectly Beth…feeling caught between the stages and seasons. Although here we are suspended in winter with a foot of snow and cold so I am imagining no spring until April I hope. So glad to join in again and collaborate. 🙂

  16. March 20, 2015    

    Donna, It must be difficult for you to be so far away from your mother at this time. I felt lucky that both my parents experienced their final illnesses during years that I was on sabbatical and relatively close by (3 hours drive) rather than in Gettysburg. Have you seen Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal? He writes as a doctor about the ways that medicine does not deal well with the end of life because medical practice is so often based on a denial of death, and he uses his father’s final illness as a case study that threads through the book. He presents evidence that acceptance of death leads to not only a better quality of life in life’s winter but also to longer life.
    I have long been convinced that it is their finiteness that makes our lives meaningful.

    • March 21, 2015    

      It sounds like a marvelous must read Jean. I have been discovering much the same…that my stubborn denial of death has made for a sadder time in my life. But once knowing it will come makes life so much more meaningful and allows the days to stretch out in wonderment. Thanks as always for your insightful comments. I learn so much from you….would have loved to have been a student in one of your classes!

  17. March 20, 2015    

    Maybe it’s ourselves aging, or our parents aging, but I too am “noticing” more and more. Life moves in circles, some slow, some fast. The garden and the seasons are just markers of it’s movement.


    • March 21, 2015    

      What a lovely way to look at it Jen as markers….right now snow is marking a stubborn winter not wanting to let go, but hopefully soon spring will be stronger and push her way in…as far as life is concerned, I will take a slower pace and season of my life.

  18. March 21, 2015    

    We don’t often hear younger individuals talk about ‘living in the moment’. Why would they? They have yet to learn that everything changes…friendships, our bodies, our health. As we grow older and see our parents’ health decline and finally fail, as friends pass and perhaps even siblings, we can’t help but think about the inevitable. What was once so easy to ignore, is no longer so. So yes, appreciating what is, not what we wish to be, is a gift.

    This is a lovely, thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing. (Stopping by from Over 40).

    • March 21, 2015    

      Thank you Doreen….so very true about younger folks and I too remember thinking the same way then.

  19. March 21, 2015    

    Beautiful words and thoughts. There is beauty to be found in every season and in every season of our lives. I think as we look at our aging parents and see our own mortality we do realize that we can take any path that we want. Life is full of so many possibilities. XO Laura

    • March 21, 2015    

      And what a great realization to have Laura. thank you for stopping by with these lovely words of inspiration! XO

  20. March 21, 2015    

    I wish you well on this journey to see your dear mother through this stage in her life. I did the same for mine, having her here at our home for her last six months. After she was gone and I sorted through her things, I began to see her as a woman who lived with the same dreams and expectations that I have myself – and not just as “my mother.” That experience affected me profoundly. I wish I could have known her in that capacity too.

    • March 21, 2015    

      Oh Joyce thank you for stopping by with your wonderful comment. I am getting to know my mom more than just as my mom, and it is really humbling to see her as a human being who is vulnerable like me….

  21. March 21, 2015    

    I think this reflection must be a natural part of aging. I have been having exactly the same thoughts and I see it reflected by other writers of a similar age. So much is known and examined in child development and so little at the other end of life. I think it would be a rich and rewarding subject to explore. The last quote is so affirming.

    • March 22, 2015    

      I agree Susan we need to examine aging more and what we go through with our parents as they age…I loved that last quote when I found it. And Mary Oliver just says it beautifully!

  22. March 22, 2015    

    Beautiful, Donna. It doesn’t help to fight the inevitable. It’s so much easier, in one sense, to surrender and be in the present moment. But it can still be challenging since we’re not used to that. I’ll be keeping you and your mother in my heart.

    • March 22, 2015    

      It is challenging to stay in the present Sandra but a wonderful goal to keep shooting for…thanks for your kindness Sandra.

  23. March 23, 2015    

    Hi Donna – visiting from TO40s – I really love this post. I’ve never been good at being aware and present, but I’ve been trying hard to work on it recently. Thanks for the wonderful words of inspiration 🙂

    • March 23, 2015    

      You are most welcome Anne and thanks for stopping by!

  24. March 23, 2015    

    As cold as, I’m sure, it was, your garden was still gorgeous!

    • March 23, 2015    

      It was the one thing I focused on daily to keep me sane…the beauty of winter…

  25. March 24, 2015    

    Miles between is hard. My mom was only 78 when she passed and I got the call 420 miles away. A very sad call and a long ride to PA.

    • March 25, 2015    

      It is so hard when we lose parents or they age and are ill. A very long drive indeed Donna.

  26. March 26, 2015    

    Hi I love your post. Beautiful thoughts. Al;ways keep in mind that life is a beautiful journey. Thanks so much for sharing.

  27. April 3, 2015    

    My parents are into their golden years and it does make me think about life and how quickly it flies by. Spending time in the garden is an opportunity to appreciate all the seasons of the year – and your life.

    • April 5, 2015    

      Absolutely Chris…I think that is why I am so connected to my garden. Thanks for stopping by and for your wonderful comment.

  28. April 24, 2015    

    Life is full of possibilities every moment, if we are aware…so deep, beautiful, and true! I was touched!

    • April 24, 2015    

      Thanks so much Lynne…I am pleased you enjoyed the post.

Favorite Quote This Week:

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” ~ Aristotle


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