The best of now

The first flowers of spring won't last, but we can enjoy them today! Keukenhof, the Netherlands, March 2007

The first flowers of spring won’t last, but we can enjoy them today!
Keukenhof, the Netherlands, March 2007

“No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.”
John Greenleaf Whittier

No matter what is going on in your life right now, this day holds many hidden gifts.  Which ones will you discover?

One year ago today:

Not a harbor



  1. raynard

    Julia if I do”make that trip to Home Depot( never cared for Lowes) , you will be the first to get pictures. With more motivation, I can start that patio garden( I ‘m not the outdoor cafe type guy on display lol) I think 5- 6 more cakes and i will be done for the season. Need to focus on my online radio station/podcast. Started that last year with the desire to do like a audiobook style blog to”keep my dream/fantasy of being a voice over actor. I did back in the 80’s while stationed in Turkey had a 9 month volunteer DJ gig at the base radio station( Kinda like Robin Williams in that movie Good Morning Vietnam( but I did no comedy mostly played Jazz). Spring tomorrow Yea!! Be blessed

    • I haven’t seen that movie in so long, but I still remember it was hilarious. I would get too distracted to be a DJ, the record would end and I’d be busy with something else and the dreaded “dead air” would get me fired – even if I was a volunteer! It’s definitely time to be starting that patio garden, even if only indoors. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to move my begonias and geraniums outside yet. Most of the snow melted today and it’s supposed to get to 57 tomorrow, so maybe it will feel like spring. I hope so!

  2. Julia, good morning. thanks for the lovely flowers. 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Merry – I just loved the way they looked against that blue wall!

  3. Sheila

    Good morning, knowing you’re planning for a day of appointments. Saying a prayer for your meetings with Matt’s cardiology team today that all goes well. I should have been to the post office sooner to get his little package mailed. Maybe today! May your day be as bright as those flowers! 🙂

    • Thanks Sheila – today I had to look a bit harder for those “hidden gifts” but they were there. It was a long, intense day. Lots of discussion and the usual debates about Matt’s pacer data and settings. It’s like sitting in on a session of congress or something, all the doctors and technicians trying to figure out what to think of Matt’s highly idiosyncratic heart rhythms. The structural stuff (valves etc.) is fairly straightforward in comparison. “Matt, you’re an interesting guy!” is the most common remark we’ve heard about him over the years from all sorts of doctors, educators, and therapists. When they said it today I said “That’s what happens when you have a genetic disorder that there are only 12 cases of in the whole world.” We finally got home just after 6:30 tonight, but 90 minutes of that was spent in DC traffic getting back in the rain. But we got here safely and that’s what counts.

      Had a nice long chat with the surgeon about all the different things that are planned for this next open heart surgery. Basically at least 5 or 6 different things they hope to accomplish. His cardiology team keeps getting bigger and bigger, but that’s a good thing; they all seem in agreement about where things need to go, so it’s reassuring to have more than one doctor involved. At least they don’t do like Jeff’s tumor board and leave us in suspense while they meet behind closed doors to discuss his case! I bet those guys draw straws to see who gets stuck dealing with all my arguments issues questions. 😀

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        Do the doctors agree about a time frame?

        • Yes, we know what week and probably what date. As always, I don’t publish that online. It will be in April.

      • Sheila

        Julia, sometimes we share long, intense days but so many miles apart. It is late. Bill is in his home office and I’m just finishing my day, too. I wanted to say “good night” and that my heart is right there with you. 🙂

        • Thank you Sheila! It is a great comfort to know you are always with us in spirit. I am so glad we have connected here!

  4. Amen! Yes, there are Presents in Presence! ♥

    • Always! and often unexpected ones, too. 🙂

  5. Jenelle

    Lovely picture! Ducks have created a nest in our backyard that now has 5 eggs. Everyday, for 2 weeks, the mommy and daddy duck swim up and while the mommy checks on the eggs, the dad stand guard on the dock. The mommy is now moving the eggs one by one to less rugged terrain and the entire process has been fascinating to watch. Man, that daddy is protective and has even taken on some very annoying geese. This has been an unexpected gift and my kids are loving the entire process. I hope your day is well today 🙂

    • Wow, that is so interesting! I didn’t realize ducks did not sit constantly on their eggs, nor did I know they could move them around. How does she do it? Does she just nudge them with her bill? I wonder if they ever get broken en route? Oh, the risks of parenting! Can geese be totally obnoxious or what? We have some that live in an adjoining neighborhood in York Co. and they take over the road whenever they please…and look at you as if to say “go ahead, just TRY running over us.” I’d love to see a Daddy duck cop an attitude with them! I can well imagine that your kids are loving it. Thanks for sharing this funny, touching story with us.

  6. Amy

    I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!!! I am thinking of moving to Australia!! But then I came home and opened my messages and here was this beautiful photo. You always find the hidden gems. Hope all is well for you. Thanks for this blog. You are doing an awesome job with it. I guess I will stay here in VA. I hear some days are like that, even in Australia. Love ya.

    • OH, NO, Amy, I’m so sorry you had a bad day! Wish you were hear for tea and sympathy!! I’ll go to Australia with you if you still want to go after all these medical crises are over!! 🙂 But Alexander was right, there are bad days even in Australia. You were with me when I took that photo, but if I hadn’t taken it, I would not have remembered those potted flowers after all the fields of beautiful ones growing out of the ground. I had to check the dates to make sure it was actually Keukenhof and not one of the many little flower stands we saw elsewhere. You HAVE to stay here in northern Virginia at least while we are up here! Don’t leave me here surrounded by politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists with no sensible friends nearby! 😀

  7. michael

    Looking for the best of now. That is a great line, often not undertaken and sometimes overlooked- or often overlooked and I suppose if we miss the best of the day -it is gone forever and if God has proposed to give us a gift on a particular day and we don’t see it, do we get another chance? I think that is what grace is and we live in a world of second chances and we are always getting another opportunity to find the best of now. I have read that once you see the Burning Bush then all the bushes will seem to burn after that first one.
    Have you seen Diane Breen’s Ted talk on sympathy versus empathy? She talks about our propensity to silverlinize everything. I can’t imagine what it is like to have a child with a genetic disorder, even one as rare as 12 out of everyone. I might be extremely angry at God.

    • I love the thought about the Burning Bush! I haven’t seen that TED talk you mention, but I need to look it up. I generally have to stay away from TED though because it’s like going down the rabbit hole for me, just like with Pinterest, I get lost in it and end up spending more time than I have available for it. For someone who’s primarily an auditory learner, as I always have been, it’s very addictive.

      I don’t remember ever being extremely angry at God, although I went through a time (while we lived in Hawaii) that I now think was an undiagnosed period of depression, when I felt distanced from God. I never stopped believing, I just felt as if everything was pointless and made no difference. Once when I told a friend about Matt’s genetic disorder and its low incidence she said “Why couldn’t you have just won the lottery or something?” which I thought was a really funny and healthy reaction. In one short phrase she acknowledged the random nature of life without too much hand-wringing. We both laughed and moved on to another topic.

      In reality I feel that I’ve been so fortunate in so many other ways that it’s hard to say “why me?” although I do hurt for Matt and what he has had to endure all his life; that’s really the hardest part. Yet I see where he too is blessed, maybe more than most of us. I think having a child with any sort of congenital disorder is pretty much the same as having a so-called “normal” child, but everything is experienced exponentially. More joy, more sorrow, more insecurity, more “am I doing the right thing?” self-questioning, more fears for the future. Once someone asked Drew what it had been like to grow up as Matt’s 16-months-older brother. Drew answered simply “He is a very large part of who I am.” I think that’s true for Jeff and me as well, and I would not want to be the people we might have been if not for Matt.

  8. What beautiful flowers! Two of my daffodils opened today. They’re magnificent harbingers of spring.

    • Yes, they are my favorite flowers…and that’s really saying something! 🙂 I’m so happy ours finally are blooming.

  9. michael

    Sounds like a very loving family. It sounds like some of the comments from parents of Down’s children who have learned to appreciate the unique gifts of these special people. Sad to think that-according to what I read- many of these unborn Downs children are aborted-when parents learn of the possibility of a Down’s child. My niece who was an extreme pre-me baby -born at one pound 10 ounces has had a number of physical ailments including, lungs and vision due to very high oxygen levels after birth. She has like 10 percent vision in one eye. She also has A.D.D. and a number of learning disabilities. Her mother was a meth addict at the time of birth, which may have led to a number of inherited problems. Rissa sometimes questions why she was born. She is now living independently and works part time at a college book store. She has a number of health issues she is still working on.

    • Michael, I’ve read that about 90% of Down Syndrome children never make it into this world (based on how many pregnancies are terminated) which does seem sad, but what haunts me even more are all the ones who were born but eventually left alone due to deaths of parents and/or being abandoned to institutional care. How many of these children live in group homes without any friends or visitors from outside? How many have anyone in their life who is not paid to be there? Some of the most beautiful people in this world to me are those who have devoted their lives to people that others disregard. Sometimes they are doctors or therapists or care providers; sometimes they are just friends and neighbors who can see possibilities where other people cannot. I am happy to read that your niece is able to live independently and work, but I do feel sad that she wonders why she was born. Of course, many people without disabilities wonder this also. One thing I have learned over the years is that many of the sorrows of life that I might tend to “blame” on Matt’s disabilities are actually just universal to the human condition. Having said that, though, none of us who are relatively healthy can begin to imagine what it is like to deal with medical challenges from birth onward. I admire your niece for her strength and determination.

  10. michael

    That says a lot about what our culture values and I can’t but think of the parallels with older folks in gradual decline- languishing away in so called retirement centers. My mom was one of them and ended up in nursing home way too young – in her early seventies. People in her family -including her brother said, “Well we just don’t like to see her like that.” So they did not visit her. I am not blameless here either. I can’t but think of Hawaii and the eastern influence that seems to value the aged more than our youth worshipping culture. i.e. Justin Bieber.
    Is there a name for people who get on the backside of the Blogs and continue to post? Back bloggers? The problem is I forget sometimes where I have commented.
    i.e. Gov. Kasich today talking about those living in the shadows, “the mentally ill, the addicted, the aged.” They need to be brought back into society.

    • Michael, no one is blameless when it comes to neglecting those who need us. “We don’t like to see” anything that makes us feel sad, uncomfortable or distressed. If only we could learn to carry a happy, joyful climate with us, we could enter places of sorrow or pain and bring joy there, rather than fleeing such places in depression and despair. But most of us have a hard enough time staying contented with our very abundant and comfortable lives. Humans are strange creatures indeed. We have much to learn from those who have been able to find deep fulfillment in living and working where life is truly hard and challenging. If those living in shadows are brought back into society and not shut away, perhaps we will be forced to acknowledge our own advantages.

      I don’t know what you are referring to about “the back side of blogs” – are you referring to the comments? I think of the comments as the front page :-). I think if you join WordPress (you don’t have to publish a blog to join it; you can just have the dashboard there and never publish anything) you can see where you have commented. But I think everyone understands that sometimes duplicate comments get posted. That’s just the nature of online conversation.

  11. michael

    You mean I am on the front page? I thought I was hiding in the back. Have to check out Word Press- a website.?

    • Michael, each separate post has its own URL and web address, and the comments appear directly below the post. It can be confusing to those who subscribe by email, though, because often they just read the post in the body of the email and don’t see the way it looks online. My blog does not have a “front page” as such – whenever anyone types in the main URL it goes to a long page with the most recent posts in reverse chronological order. Then from there, if you click on the title to any post, it takes you to the URL for that particular post, which is where all the comments show up. So if you are thinking of the main home page as the “front page” you are correct in assuming comments don’t show up there. WordPress can allow me to make the home page “static” which means that one particular post would be the home page, but I’d rather have it show the most recent posts. Different bloggers do things different ways, which may add to the confusion.

  12. My spring fix for the day! I really love a single pot planted en-mass with one variety of bulb. It makes a strong visual impact 😀 I’m pinning for next spring. The mini daffodils are so sweet.

    ‘Now’ has been very good to me this week as you know 😉 How could I possibly not be thankful? We sometimes have to make our own magic don’t we? I think there’s some truth in the fact that joyful lives attract good things. Where as those who constantly feel deserving and wanting never seem to find satisfaction in anything.

    • I think that’s true. I see it in my own life, and in others’ lives. If we stay on the lookout for things to be grateful for, we won’t miss as many of the things that we might tend to ignore when we start ruminating on our trials and troubles. Glad you liked the flower photo! I just noticed today that the hyacinths that were in the Easter basket Matt gave me last year are blooming! I was afraid they might not have survived the winter. Hooray for spring!

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