Absolutely, positively, certainly 2016

I’m still here. Hope you’re still there! Another reblog; this one was originally posted on November 27, 2012:

Fresh flowers bought for a few dollars at the Kroger markdown bin give us days of enjoyment, and lift my spirits every time I come into the kitchen.  Here’s to inexpensive joys!

“In our rush for newer, quicker, better, we seem to be missing out on what we fundamentally crave, a calmer, gentler, sweeter and more gracious life.  Is it easy to achieve such a life?  Definitely not.  Is it possible?  Absolutely, positively, certainly, yes.  (Don’t look for impossible from me; I’ve never found a solution in cynicism.)”  — Alexandra Stoddard

I’ve always loved Alexandra Stoddard’s writing.  Her words are calm, measured, and unfailingly optimistic, and she understands that life is a gift to be treasured in all circumstances.  As we struggle with the toughest challenges, we find renewal in seeking for good wherever it can be found.  May your day be blessed with eyes, heart and mind sharply focused on the abundance all around us.


  1. Good morning, Julia! “I’ve never found a solution in cynicism.” That really says it all.
    It becomes more and more difficult to get past that barrier, the more we practice cynicism (as many of us have, relative to our recent election). So let’s throw that energy-sapper right out the window (being careful not to let it land on someone walking past!) and be bright and cheerful as flowers (even marked-down flowers don’t care – the just go on doing what flowers do!). Let’s keep blooming!
    Love to you!

    • Susan, you are so right. We cannot afford to waste any energy when there are so many good and helpful things to do, and so little time to do them. And you’re right, it doesn’t matter whether we are hothouse orchids or wildflowers — we can all strive to keep blooming. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Love and giant Thanksgiving hugs!

  2. Veronica Brown

    Even now you continue to be a blessing to me with hope & encouragement as my husband battles health issues. Thank you for such a loving, giving spirit.

    • Veronica, I am so sorry for your husband’s health challenges. I just sent up a quick prayer for you both, as I know so well that these trials are shared ones, as are so many other blessings and setbacks for couples. I am happy and humbled to think that any of my words here are helpful to you. I wish for you a wonderful holiday full of blessings amid the difficulties. Thanks for being with us, and for sharing.

  3. Leslie Smith

    Thanks Julia. The library has several of Stoddard’s books available, so I’m going to check one out over the weekend. I am praying for you and your family.

    • I think one of her first ones, Living a Beautiful Life, is a great place to start. She has her critics, particularly people who resent affluence and especially hate the whole idea of getting lifestyle advice from people who live and move in higher socioeconomic environments. I can understand those critics, but I find that she has a deep awareness of simple joys, and despite my living a vastly different life than the one she has lived, I enjoy reading her. I think her philosophy is helpful for people in all sorts of circumstances. Bravo to you for using the public library — no risk if you don’t like the book! Plus you can enjoy a nice browse of the entire section where it is shelved, and find no end of treasures. Ms. Stoddard herself would approve, I’m sure. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your prayers. We continue to need and appreciate them!

  4. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. ☕️ It’s the coldest morning that we’ve had in Garden City this fall. I always describe these chilly starts as invigorating! I went to Kroger yesterday and treated myself (in addition to fried chicken) to pausing in their florist department, enjoying the many seasonal flowers. It was fun to see the many colors for Thanksgiving alongside the Christmas poinsettias. Did you know the poinsettia was introduced from Mexico to the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett, a South Carolina native? I think of you so many times during each and every day. This won’t be an easy week, my friend! I just know you’ll find some smiles, though! 🙏 Love to y’all, Sheila

    • Wow, Sheila, I didn’t know that we have a South Carolina native to thank for the gorgeous Poinsettia! I have one that has been kept alive (by Jeff) for several years, but it stays green. Mama has kept some that actually have some of the leaves turn red. I just went to Kroger myself yesterday but was in too big a hurry to stop and see the flowers…my loss! I’ll try to channel my Club Verandah instincts next time I’m there and give myself what Julia Cameron refers to as an “artist date” (her phrase for feeding your brain beautiful visual images, whether it be in an art gallery, floral shop or fabric store — wherever color and beauty are found). I’ll try to think of “chilly” as invigorating! I actually got HOT outside on Saturday, but the weather changed remarkably quickly as the cold blew in…

      This week will be hard in many respects (not least a paper due in a hard class) but I do feel the love and support of so many, keeping us afloat. I wish you and all the “Vann Clan” a wonderful holiday season by the sea, or wherever else the festivities are planned!

  5. JillBortell

    I’m still here,too. Praying for your continual comfort. Mama Jill

    • Thank you Mama Jill. I do think your prayers are helping. I don’t know how else we would be surviving. I so appreciate your presence here!

  6. Steve Bodiford

    A message that when first offered, might have been at the conclusion of another Presidential election and all the supposed cosmic circumstances at the results. A calm and peaceful spirit, as you have shared, also speaks to our faith in God vs. our senses. I may learn to be content, but, I can always seek a greater contentment.
    Thank you for the calm wind of your message Julia. Praying for you and your family this week!

    • Thank you, Steve. Actually, it was (as I’m sure you can see) published at the conclusion of another election. In fact, it’s interesting to me that I am hearing all the same sorts of things this year as I heard in 2008 and 2012; the only difference is the source of the diatribes. It’s remarkable the similarity of the reactions from either side of the spectrum. Just goes to show that bad attitudes are truly bipartisan. As are good ones, for which I’m thankful.

      We continue to need and appreciate your prayers! I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday. Thanks for being here.

  7. Nice calm encouraging thoughts and a beautiful picture. Just what I needed at this moment. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Carol. I’m so happy it was helpful. Thanks for being here and leaving a comment to encourage me.

  8. Amy

    Still here. Love to your family. See you soon.

    • Thank you Amy! You are my rock now that Jeff is gone.

  9. I like the idea of living with grace. Taking time to relish the blissful things that cross my daily path can be a rare treat these days. Usually it’s just a great cup of coffee after a trip to the market or watching one of the cats sleep. Admittedly, I’m luckier than most, since my time is generally my own and filled with my own choosing. That being said, I like to choose optimisim over pragmatism if it doesn’t hurt anyone in doing so. For me, being pragmatic means living without wonder and whimsey. Consequently, chores and errands are far down the list of how to enjoy my day. LOL. xo K

    • I tend to agree with you…but since wonder and whimsey add so much to life, I declare them pragmatic! Especially when the wonder and whimsey are found in everyday blessings like coffee and kitties. Mary Poppins would agree, I’m sure. 🙂

      • I’m sure she would Julia and we both know, she’s practically perfect 😀 ❤

        • “In every way!” 🙂

  10. Ann

    I’m still here too! Just treated myself to reading all the recent comments and your responses. You are one of the hidden heroes mentioned in an earlier post.

    Thanks for introducing me to Alexandria Stoddard.

    Prayers for Matt and you.

    • Thank you, Ann. I just found a lovely Alexandra Stoddard book at the library sale — it looks brand new but I got it for fifty cents. That’s the sort of thing that makes my day. Thanks so much for the prayers, they are always needed, but some days way more than others. ❤

  11. Harry Sims

    Nothing which ever existed ceases to be in existence.
    Everything is there and the collective unconscious.
    We’ve been together for several years now so we are very firm.

    • Harry, that’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing it.

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