“The best part about life? Every morning you have a new opportunity to become a happier version of yourself.” ~ Unknown
What a strange Kentucky Derby we had today. Another dreary first Saturday in May – though last year’s 3.5″ of rain was worse – and for the first time in 145 years the winner was disqualified. We were so stunned that no one spoke for a while. Up to that point, however, much laughter ensued. John, Bryan, and Stacy – all radio personalities – make me howl with laughter. Each on his/her own is hilariously funny, but put all three in a room, and it’s better than the best comedy show going. I love these people so much.
“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~ David Steindl-Rast
This was a real interesting day in case you couldn’t tell from the photo alone. Lots of love. Lots of laughs. Lots of photos. Some spit, a bottomed out ride, and loads of mistletoe in the trees. It was all good. All of it.
“Never trust someone who isn’t kind to animals.” ~ Unknown
1. Annie Bassoni and sweet, sweet artist friend Katie Swartz from Mason, Ohio.
2. Artist and BFF Deb Chenault selling her wares as Annie and Jeanne Marie Hibberd (and my forehead) look on
3. The totally awesome maker of the coolest crows ever, artist Steve Heartsill
4. Longtime BFFs and artists David and Rebecca Miller Campbell were surprised that I didn’t have the large camera. I like to keep them guessing!
5. The Morgan County Corner of Kentucky Market was more than well represented with photographer Dean Hill next door to David and Rebecca. They make Morgan County proud.
6. Mary Barber, whom I had not seen in easily 40+ years, recognized my name as Annie yelled “Kopana, I’m going to the restroom.” I grew up and went through school with Mary’s youngest sisters, and graduated with the baby of the Barber Clan, Cynthia. It was absolutely wonderful to catch up with her.
7. Yours truly entered these photos in the KY Arts Council’s Veterans traveling exhibit. This is the second time I’ve had work in an exhibit that ended up at The Market. #proud
8. Annie and an adorable cup made by Katie. It was a gorgeous day in the Bluegrass, a perfect day to see beautiful art and wonderful friends. I call this day a win.
“One way to pray in a fear-filled world is to choose love over anxiety.” ~ Henri Nouwen
Sometimes, I feel totally out of the loop when it comes to modern-day pop culture. Thank goodness for friends like Deb Chenault to keep me from being perpetually dense. Before Deb and I went to the Hall of Fame induction the other night, she gave me a sweet little heart box of Russell Stover chocolates and a handmade Galentine’s Day card with a handmade brass bookmark. (she made the card and the bookmark, naturally) She said,”Happy Galentine’s Day,” and I just thought that was so clever of her. Deb is very clever and super thoughtful. Then she explained that it really was Galentine’s Day. Okay, so it wasn’t her clever idea, but she’s still clever as far as I’m concerned. By night’s end I see all the women Happy Galentine’s Daying all the other women across facebooklandia. I thought, “Oh, this is a really sweet way for gals to appreciate one another through Valentine’s Day.” Valentine’s Day rolls up a couple of hours later and I run into Crystal Heis at work. “Happy Galentine’s Day,” I say, to which she immediately and matter-of-factly replies, “That was yesterday. It’s always February 13th.” Seriously? Somehow feeling the sentiment of Galentine’s Day was just squashed like a ladybug underfoot. Crystal explained, as heard on NPR earlier that morning, that Galentine’s Day comes from an episode of Parks and Recreation. Amy Pohler’s character on the show set Feb 13 as a day for ladies to celebrate ladies; female friendships. Unbeknownst to me, obviously, the idea took off for real after that episode aired. Any excuse for a holiday I guess, and hey, I’m on board with this one. We gals can’t celebrate friendships enough. Thank you, Deb, for helping me navigate American Capitalism more splendidly and for being my Galentine. And here I thought I’d been watching too much TV.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell
When the winter Solstice arrives, the best possible event is a gathering of women who love me and love one another. You’d be hard pressed to find a hostess better suited for such a gathering than Jeanne Marie Hibbard. Many years ago her kindness opened the door and we all – Stacy Yelton, Annie Bassoni, Deb Chenault and I – walked through. There’s not been a single moment of regret. Our friendships have become a support system I didn’t know I needed. These women make me laugh, they enlighten me, they push me (in a good way), and they delight me.
“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters of our lives won’t have a title until much later.” ~ Unknown
You might recall that I had to cancel my Derby party this year, but I promised we’d get together in the summer. Stacy suggested we gather for the Belmont Stakes, which ran today. That turned out to be a brilliant idea as Justify won the Triple Crown. He ran a flawless, stunning race and we erupted in screams of joy as he crossed the finish line. We then retreated to the backyard where our salt water soaked grilled corn (John’s recipe) had cooled to perfection. We also took a few moments for the funny group pic. The only problem today was being reminded that I only see John once a year, and that’s just not enough. I adore him. I love all these people so much. Every time we’re together we laugh and talk and eat very well. What more could I want? They fill me with joy.
“The life in front of you is way more important than the life behind you.” ~ Unknown
Some of the Happiness troupe met at Brier Books for Silas House’s reading of his latest novel, Southernmost. There were so many people that the event was moved outside. Because a few of us have issues with direct sun for long(ish) periods, we opted out of the reading, and instead went to dinner where we proceeded to spend two glorious hours clucking like the hens we are. The food was good, too. Annie was on a mission to photograph Silas with Limbourghini while we were still at the bookstore. Sadly, it was not to be. Way too many people demanding his time. Plan B was to photoshop him into the photo. But really, now that I think about it, I think they were holding a space for me. If I had a picture of myself standing up I would have photoshopped myself in. Since I don’t, you’ll just have to imagine that I did, and that’s almost as funny. Like so many times before, I had the best time with these women. We always have great talks and lots of laughter. They get me. Balm for my soul.
“One reason people resists change is because they focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain.” ~ Rick Godwin
These gals tickle me. We’ve been talking about dieting this week. Almost all of us Happiness Gals are trying to drop a few pounds. Thanks to Weight Watchers – again – I’ve dropped ten pounds in the last three weeks, even after Apollo Pizza (Did I mention their cauliflower crust? It’s a must for the dieting gal). Deb has since gotten on the WW train, and Erin is thinking about it. Weight Watchers ought to pay me commission I do so much advertising for them. We Happiness gals make our own support group though. We’re supportive and entertaining.
Twelve Steps to Self Care:
1. If it feels wrong, don’t do it
2. Say exactly what you mean
3. Don’t be a people pleaser
4. Trust your instincts
5. Never speak bad about yourself
6. Never give up on your dreams
7. Don’t be afraid to say “No”
8. Don’t be afraid to say “Yes”
9. Be kind to yourself
10. Let go of what you can’t control
11. Stay away from drama and negativity
Deb Chenault is always going on about how I post the worst pictures of her. What she doesn’t understand is this; where she sees fault, I see beauty. Does anyone ever see themselves the way others see them? I seriously doubt it (though there are narcissists among us). What makes a person beautiful isn’t just their looks. In fact, that has very little to do with it as far as I’m concerned. It’s their personality. The way they treat others. Deb brought our little Happiness group of women together at a time when we needed to be together, and these many years later we continue to see one another whenever we can, and we always support each other no matter what. I depend on them. Deb did that. Someone once said that people won’t remember what you said, but they’ll always remember the way you made them feel. That’s what makes Deb beautiful. And for the record, she photographs great despite her protestations, doncha think?
“There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it.
If you can’t accept it, change it. If you can’t change it, leave it.”
Like yesterday’s photo where we saw Harriette and Silas meet the first time, here we see the moment when Erica Chambers and I met. This is sometimes what it looks like when photographers meet. She was a pure delight.
Erica and I have a lot in common. The more she talked, the more I felt like I was meeting my younger self, but a much nicer version. It was very trippy actually. We’re both photographers, and both use Canon. We’re both musicians. At least we play different instruments. We’re both from Eastern Kentucky, neighboring counties no less. It’s uncanny how similar we seem to be. If Erica was older we probably would have met sooner. Leave it to Erin Chandler to connect people. Erica designed Erin’s book for which she used one of my photos on the back cover. We were destined to meet. As if meeting wasn’t enough, she was kind enough to snap the bottom photo of Deb Chenault, Erin, and I. If only Stacy Yelton had been in it we’d have the original Happiness Girls foursome. It was a great day and I feel like I made a real friend in Erica.