Author Archive: Julia

Count on flowers

“No matter how uncertain our world sometimes seems, we can count on flowers to appear each spring.” – Barbara Milo Ohrbach Longtime members of the Defeat Despair community will be familiar with Susan, whom I first met here and whose previous visits have inspired earlier posts. She spent some time with Matt and me this …

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The jangled soul can flee

‘Tis fitting in these days of noise, Here in these thunder years of steam, The soul should keep its equipoise And think its thoughts and dream its dream. We scar the placid vales with mills, We scoop the seas and shear the hills: ‘Tis well that to these temples of the mind The jangled soul …

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Nothing but the thread

“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.”― John Bartlett In a recent post, we talked about the fondness for quotes that many of us share. Probably no name has been more associated with quotations than John Bartlett, whose classic collection has continued …

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To share our pain

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” — Henri Nouwen “…losing love Is like a …

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Conversation partners

“The borders between reading and writing and living are fluid. I do not take time out from life to write, nor do I take time out from life to read. When I quote somebody, I’m not hiding. I’m introducing you to one of my conversation partners.” — Patrick Henry (no, not that one, this one) …

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No endings

“There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one.” ― Hilary Mantel “…life is eternal And love is immortal And death is only a horizon Life is eternal As we move into the light And a horizon is nothing Save the limit of our …

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Inverse correlation

“There are things money can’t buy. I don’t think standard of living equates with cost of living beyond a certain point. Good housing, good health, good food, good transport. There’s a point you start getting inverse correlation between wealth and quality of life… I have everything I need to have, and I don’t need any …

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But one has seen

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is …

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Hard to imagine

“Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into …

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Mostly standing still

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.  — Mary Oliver Bereavement, grief and aging are slicing through much of what once seemed inviolable …

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Bringing people together

“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.” — Clare Ansberry As a context for visiting with neighbors, I think gardening is second only to walking a dog. Whenever I’m out working in the yard or the flowerbeds, I always end up having friendly chats with neighbors who …

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The fog of the future

“Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.” – Elisabeth Elliot I’ve heard it said that anger is really fear in disguise, and I’ve seen …

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One day

“I have wandered far upon the desert plain, but in my heart a bird keeps singing, and the daffodils beckon and blow, — and one day I shall wander back.” — Muriel Strode Last week was a good one for me, but it began on a gloomy note. I spent most of the week at …

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Neatly-arranged and well-provisioned

“Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly-arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne I certainly agree with Hawthorne. Perhaps the beautifully bountiful breakfast was as special in his age as it is in ours; likely even more so. I’m sure the time to enjoy a leisurely morning meal was a luxury for his generation, …

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Hopes rise blooming

Our sweetest hopes rise blooming And then again are gone, They bloom and fade alternate, And so it goes rolling on. I know it, and it troubles My life, my love, my rest, My heart is wise and witty, And it bleeds within my breast. — Heinrich Heine Recently, several of you asked me to …

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Bursting the bounds

Because today’s quote is long, I’m going to save it for the end and try to keep my comments relatively short. I found myself unable to find any part of the passage that could be cut out into a short sentence or two. In addition to sharing a birthday with each other, Jeff and I …

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Singularly moved

I, singularly moved To love the lovely that are not beloved, Of all the seasons most Love winter. – Coventry Patmore If you read the comments section, you may recall that I mentioned this verse to Marlene when she said she loved winter. This is the post I told her I would write for her. …

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My state of general wonder

“Not until years later would I realize that my state of general wonder throughout this process, peppered though it was with fear and doubt, would help preserve my sanity through the events that followed.” — Hilary Tindle Sometimes I will hear or read a sentence that rings so true in my own experience that I …

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Snow helps

“I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don’t matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.” ― Charlie English If English is right about snow, it may help to explain why the final years of …

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A poet in January

“When one reads a poet in January, it is as lovely as when one goes to walk in June.” — Jean Paul Friedrich Richter If you’ve been reading this blog very long, you know how much I love walking, especially in mild weather. But I think Jean Paul was right about poetry and January, which …

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Perceptibly nearer

“New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence…yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. The vast and shadowy stream of time sweeps on without break, but the …

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Of reflection

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” — Winston Churchill  Merry Christmas! Chances are, this will be a busy day for you, coming on the heels of a busy season. For most of my adult life, it was that way for me, anyway. I love the Christmas season, with all the festive activities and joyful sharing. But it can …

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A little at a time

“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.” — Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)  Even more than last …

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Such an honest thing

“What I like about experience is that it is such an honest thing. You may take any number of wrong turnings, but keep your eyes open and you will not be allowed to go very far before the warning signs appear. You may have deceived yourself, but experience is not trying to deceive you. The …

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Knowing how to be

“…many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” ― bell hooks The photo above was taken in 1972, during one …

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