Linger in the beautiful

Untitled photo by Carli Jeen via Unsplash

Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”
Okakura Kakuzō

Exactly five years ago tomorrow, I published the very first post of this blog. For the past few weeks I’ve wondered whether I should do anything to celebrate this milestone, and then I looked back at last year’s post on the exact four-year anniversary– I wasn’t even sure if I was back to writing blogs so soon after Jeff’s death– but I was here, writing about an everyday topic. However, there was no mention of it being the four-year mark. Probably I didn’t even think about it. I was still pretty numb then.

I decided Okakura’s quote was fitting for this five-year mark, because it captures so much of what I hoped to establish here from the very beginning. I wanted this blog to be a place where I, and hopefully others, would slow down and linger over whatever beauty or joy or solace we might be able to share here. The steam rising from that hot cup is a visual reminder of life’s evanescence and a source of warm, healing vapors to inhale in the midst of rapidly-chilling weather (or the remaining cool days of spring, if you live in the southern hemisphere).

Five years ago I didn’t envision I would still be here at this blog at all, let alone being here while missing some of the most important people of my life, and yet also giving thanks for so many others newly arrived, bringing me consolation and joy. Then, as now, I have no idea how much longer I will be here online, or here on this earth, but that’s okay. When we come close to understanding how very brief life is, even for those of us who may live a long time, it’s true that most of the things that seem important to us start to appear at least a little bit foolish. But how beautiful much of that foolishness is, while it is ours!



  1. Awesome post Julia 😊. Reading this one made my day. Thanks a lot for this beautiful piece of post and please do keep writing 😊

    • Thank you, Abhijith! I appreciate your visit here and your comment. I enjoyed visiting your blog as well. It appears we have similar goals for our blogs.

      • You are welcome Julia and thanks a lot for replying back 😊. Your blog is really awesome and inspiring. You have a great gift within you.Please continue blogging and inspire people around you 😊. And if you can please do visit my blog and let me know about it. It would be really helpful 😊. This is the link to my blog


        • Thank you, Abhijith. I really do need the encouragement today, and when I finish answering the waiting comments, I will visit your blog. I know it will give me some positive thoughts to adjust my focus.

  2. Sheila

    Good morning, my friend. “While it is ours” is so beautiful and something to ponder. Congratulations on another milestone, the five year anniversary of Defeat Despair. I sense a difference, one of more hope, in your recent posts. Your friendship is treasured, Southern Sister! I hope for you smiles that remind, memories that bring comfort, and contentment with the blessings that are yours now! Hey, girlie, let’s walk on some sunshine! 💛 Love, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, I’m still having ups and downs but I try to save my comments and posts for times when I’m feeling more up than down. Some days I still feel very, very sad, and usually I feel that way for at least a part of every single day. But I know everyone’s life has always had sad times, just to a greater or lesser degree some years than others. But I’m determined to keep walking on sunshine, even if I have to go at a slower pace. 🙂 ❤ Thinking of you with love and gratitude!

      • (((Julia)))

      • Shiela’s comments have meant a lot to me, too, over the nearly five years since I first took note of her. She, more than any other, seems to elicit transparency from the blogger.
        The frequency of “ups and downs” is an important factor among experts. More than a decade ago, during “extreme vetting” by an agency of the federal government I was asked: “Do you ever get depressed?:” When I answered in the affirmative, the government-appointed psychiatrist then asked: “Do you ever stay depressed for more than a couple of days?”
        I take encouragement in the “parts of days” being “down”. That’s a much better symptom than being down for days on end, without any let-up.

        • Thank you, Eric. I’ll share your thoughts with the blogger.

  3. tpeastin

    Hi Julia!

    Your quote had me stymied momentarily. I had to go to to find out the meaning of two of the words in the quote:

    soughing (suffing) – whistling is one of the synonyms
    evanescence – vanishing is one of the synonyms

    Then I reread the quote and your commentary and it all made sense. It reminded me of a bible verse: “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 Fortunately, for those of us who are Christ followers, we know that despite of the brevity of life, there is much joy on this side of eternity (some heartache too)…and an inconceiveably wonderful reward of everlasting joy in heaven.

    Well, my brain is certainly not used to working so hard this early in the morning! Big congrats on your five year anniversary, Julia. Taking a quote from the movie “The Help” I just want to tell you this: You is kind, you is smart, you is important!

    Pat XOXO

    • Pat, your brain is doing just fine no matter what time it is. I too had to check the dictionary with that quote (thanks for offering the help for others who might not have one handy) – there are many words that I “kind of” know what they mean, but I’m often surprised at the shades of meaning in certain words that I was unaware of. Sometimes, I find that my idea of a word’s meaning was just slightly off– close, but not exact.

      Thanks so much for sending me that lovely quote, from one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years. As always, I liked the book a bit better, but the movie was perfectly cast and “did the book proud.”

      Thanks, too, for being with me all these years! ❤

  4. Bob

    Congratulations, Julia, on your 5 year anniversary. Since I stumbled on to your blog very soon after you began posting, I am reminded of just how fast time passes in good times and the challenging ones (probably faster in the good ones though). I, for one, hope you stay here and on line for a long time!! Thoughts and prayers for ya’ll today and thanks for starting so many of my days with a positive thought.

    • Thank you, Bob. I am so happy you have enjoyed the blog. I will be here as long as I can. I appreciate your prayers!

      • Ann

        What Bob said!🙂🙂

        • Awww, thank you Ann. ❤

  5. Carolyn

    I am glad you are still here writing your blogs. I always look forward to Monday and Thursday , to see what you have on your blog. Keep writing girl it’s good for the soul. Hope you have a great weekend. Oh, I had a great birthday, 73 years and still going. Love and hugs to you and Matt.

    • Carolyn, I loved seeing your birthday photo on FB. You look great!! Happy Birthday! Sending prayers for a happy and healthy year for you!

      • Carolyn

        Thanks it was a good one.

        • I’m so glad. 🙂

  6. Harry Sims

    Someone suggested this blog site to me from near its beginning and I want to thank my lucky stars.
    I want to thank our dear leader and all our contributors.


    • Harry Sims

      Must we all effanesce?

      • Yep. Some more quickly than others, but it is our common fate to fade to nothing, gradually or quickly- one of a very few certainties that unite every single human.

    • Thank you, Harry. This blog has some of the best (and most patient) contributors out there!

  7. Congrats on 5 years, Julia. It shows that there is at least a tiny bit of healing in your noticing it this year. I had mine on Halloween and just let it pass. It only matters if I get one more post written and they come further and further apart these days. I hope yours continue to get closer and closer together. You always write with such gentility. Love coming here to wind down. My tea is gone so I’ll go for my walk before I make another. Happy weekend. Hugs.

    • Thank you, Marlene. Sorry to be so late replying to this. Speaking of “further and further apart,” I missed publishing a post today, but it simply wasn’t possible right now. As Sully said to the tower when they told him to return to LaGuardia, “UNABLE.” Thinking of you, and hoping that you are enjoying a lovely week so far. ❤

  8. Time flies. Sometimes cliches are true. I’m glad you’ve stuck with your blog, Julia. I think they’re food for the soul, (yours) as well as an inspiration to others. And look at the friendships you’ve made along the way. You’re brave to continue. Congratulations on your five years here.

    • Thank you, Alys. When I count my blogger-blessings, you are always one of the first who come to mind. 🙂

  9. Judy from Pennsylvania

    I always love the photographs you select, and today’s is beautiful in a serene and tender way. I hope you’re inspired to write for another five years because you’re inspired to share what seems like an unending flow of uplifting thoughts and matching, lovely photos. I’m sure that there are many readers like myself who turn to your blog for encouragement, or a bit of wisdom, or a moment of connection and peacefulness. You’re gifted and set apart for a unique ministry, my online friend. Love you, Julia!

    • Thank you Judy. I so needed to read those words of encouragement today. It means more than you know. The problem is that the unending flow of thoughts contains both helpful and harmful, and one will drown the other out with surprising regularity. Writing the blog helps me pan for the gold, so to speak, but the mud and silt and rocks often obscure what tiny particles of precious metal might be hiding within. As with the California 49ers, successes can seem few and far between. So I appreciate your standing beside me as I strive to choose joy!

  10. Mike

    I had to look up that word too- Sloughing- “The whistling in the pines.” I like the line about the beautiful foolishness of things. Reminds me of someone who said – That life is tragically wonderful or is it the other way around?
    Last week I was in NYC visiting my youinger son Kris in Harlem. Sunday we went to the Statue of liberty. Had a nice visit except he lost his apartment keys which had a quick drive on them that contained his applaication for a PHD program in teaching. Please add to prayer list.

    • Oh no! I felt instant agony for Kris. So horrible to lose something that important. I can easily drive myself crazy with such. I will certainly keep praying that the lost objects will be found. I lost my keys over Thanksgiving holiday and my sister, brother in law and I spent 2 days searching for them. By the time I found them (in a place I had already checked once, but apparently not well enough) I had almost lost my mind. Or wait, maybe I DID lose my mind…that would explain a lot…

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