“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.
“Think positive and positive things will happen.” ~ Unknown
It was finally time for Ky Crafted: The Market. It was a totally rotten weather day; perfect to be inside soaking up lots of good art. I met Annie Bassoni, fellow art soaker upper, and off we went. We were on the lookout for a few people, and sure enough, we found them. Our first victim, I mean, friend encounter was the ever beautiful Deb Chenault. As usual, she shied away from my camera. Annie somehow thought that this silly symbol would stop me. pfffftttt We continued our meandering ways when we spotted Rebecca Campbell, sending Annie into recon mode looking for David so I could spring the paparazzi on him. It was not a successful mission for David saw us first. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all. It does my heart good to visit with my people however short the time. And visiting among art? As good a day as it gets in my book.
“There’s too much hate and bad shit in this world. Ya’ll be good to somebody when you can.”
~ Catfish Cooley
One of the best things about Marcie’s hen henna party last week was her willingness to be a blank canvas for anyone willing to try their hand at henna. Deb Chenault was, of course, the perfect person to give it a go. She is maybe best known for her jewelry, but she’s an incredibly gifted visual artist as well (she’s also a gifted writer). Also, it spoke volumes about Tammy Cornett’s character that she would be okay with someone else working alongside her. Not only was she okay with it, she encouraged it. Yes, the hen henna party was pretty clucking cool, and I was fortunate to be amongst such generous, open, kind – and arty – hens.
“The beauty of life lies not in eliminating what we consider troublesome,
but in learning how to grow using turmoil as a tool.” ~ Terry A. Gordon
My friend Marcella Christensen has been undergoing chemo and radiation for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for several months. She got the diagnosis just a week or so after we attended the Death Cafe back in September. Looking at the link you’ll notice she was walking with a cane that day. She thought she had a knee going bad. It turned out to be far worse. This was a profound diagnosis given that Marcie lost her husband to cancer; a battle with which she is intimately familiar, and certainly not one she expected to deal with again. Yet, as Marcie is wont to do, she pulled-up her big girl britches and headed straight for treatment with the kind of life affirming attitude that is nothing less than inspirational.
Marcie’s friend Tammy Cornett does henna. Marcie wanted her bald head adorned with henna designs. She’d planned a henna “hen” party last month, but Tammy got sick, and, well, you can’t be hanging out with sick people when you’re having chemo. But today, the stars aligned, and most all the hens could be present for the Decorating of The Noggin. We met at Ann Daugherty’s delightful house. She’s Marcie’s BFF. The photos don’t do it justice. Inside or out, you don’t really feel like you’re in the city. It was perfect for a hen party. As you can see, we were enthralled with the process. Deb Chenault and Ann each contributed a small design to The Noggin. That’s Marcie’s sister, Linda, taking a picture. Marcie introduced her as “My Linda,” which I thought was sweet as can be. That little person seated to the right of Deb? That’s Kathy Robinson whom I met at the Death Cafe and immediately fell in love with. This was the first time I’d seen her since September. It turns out that she was in the hospital at the same time as Marcie (but not with cancer)! I hugged her extra hard when I found out how lucky we were to still have her, too.
I didn’t get to stay long enough to see the finished product, but I’ll see it soon. For however short my time, I was extremely grateful to be in everyone’s company, and witness this moving event. There was nothing but love and gratitude swirling around in that room. I met new people, and hugged old friends. Their gentle spirits and kind energy lifted me so much, as I’m sure was true for each of them as well. The best news of all is that Marcie’s cancer is gone save for a few small spots that will be eradicated with a final round of chemo and radiation. What glorious, hopeful news. This day definitely goes in the win category,
“Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.” ~ Unknown
I had the opportunity to go to KY Crafted: The Market. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I met Annie Bassoni at the venue and off we went a-lookin’ at glorious art. For three hours we went a-lookin’, and along the way we ran into lots of friends, old and new. David Campbell (above) finally found a way to elude my lens, although it took hiding behind the black curtain to do it. I love David and Rebecca so much. This was her first year at The Market and she won KAC’s Accessibility Award. David also pointed out something really special about this year’s event. “There are three artists here from Morgan County. You’re in the exhibit, Dean Hill is down the other aisle, and here we are. I texted Pam (Oldfield Meade) and told her next year she has to be involved so Morgan County can just take over the whole thing!” Speaking of Dean Hill, he took home a purchase award from the Chamber of Commerce. Rebecca and Dean, way to represent Morgan County! I’m awfully proud to be among such gifted artists from Morgan County, and the Commonwealth overall. There’s just so much good in this state that I have to pinch myself sometimes to remember that I’m here, too, and I’m part of it. Pictured below are just some of the wonderful people I saw today: 1. Judy Sackett and Nancy Lewis 2. Deb Chenault and Annie Bassoni 3. Rebecca Miller Campbell and her beautiful creations.
“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present.”
~ Dr. Steve Maraboli
The Michler’s Christmas Fair – way back the first of December – doubled as an excuse for the Happiness Gals to convene for our Christmas celebration. Not all of us could be there (we missed them), and none of my shots are very good. So, since I’m rarely in the group photos, I thought I’d lead off with a blurry self-portrait courtesy of the fair’s tuba player. That we’re missing excellent pix of the day is irrelevant really. What mattered was that we were together sharing conversation, laughter, and good cheer. I love my gals. They’re such a blessing.