Serenity. Is it an emotion?  A moment in time, a state of being? In this world where everybody’s busy, time’s a commodity, and there’s so much conflict everywhere, where do you find “serenity”? Farmgirls know!

I’m a believer in not over-scheduling children, their every minute planned in timed slots.  I feel crazy-stressed when over-scheduled, (and often times don’t help myself by saying “yes” more than I should).  Some days it feels we’re trying to squeeze thirty hours into twenty-four, with our days resembling a revolving door!  I don’t want my child to feel that way.  There’s already so much coming at them nowadays. When summer arrives I try to have my daughter (and our family as a whole) less crazed.  As adults, there’s so much coming at us, too!  Turn on the news and it would seem as if the whole world is ending in a matter of minutes.

“Serenity” is defined as  “(1) A disposition free from stress or emotion; tranquility, quiet, repose. (2) The absence of mental stress or anxiety; heartsease, peace, peace of mind, peacefulness.”  I find it ironic that “heartsease” not only means “serenity”,  but is also a type of flower!  Plants, flowers, and gardening bring such joy for me.  There’s much peace to be found in connecting with the earth… there’s nothing more satisfying  than the “good” exhaustion that comes from having  mowed my grass, watered my veggies, and weeded my flower beds, bursting with color.  Just looking at my plants, knowing that I’ve tended them, or started them from seed gives me a pause from any worries that may be nagging.  Like good friends, when it comes to flowers, you can never have too many!  Seed catalogs make my heart pound faster than any clothing catalog ever could, and I’m like a little kid seeing a toy store whenever we drive by a nursery.

Last week, I fell head-over-heels for “Yarrow”, picking up a plant at the flea market.  I love its tiny, tea-stained mauve flowers and lace-like, delicate leaves!

Also blooming now is my red Bee-balm.  The flowers look like Fourth-of-July firecrackers, and are deer-resistant.  It’s always full of hummingbirds.  I love to sneak outside before the rest of my family gets up, sit in the nearby garden bench with a cup of coffee, and watch the birds.

Above: Two views of the flower garden with my red bee balm one sunny morning.

Below: Friend, fellow gardener, and professional photographer Mike Loring took this shot of a hungry hummingbird in my yard recently.

Keeping my hands busy doing crafts and hobbies makes me happy and peaceful, too. To increase the amount of birds visiting your yard, providing water is a must.  I’ve also wanted to earn the Merit badge for Birds (#10 under ‘Garden Gate’).  I  love whimsy and ‘Farmgirl style’, so I made a birdbath and a feeder following MaryJane’s ‘Tip of the Week’, August, 2010, Both projects were easy to do, and we’ve seen many more birds than before.  The smaller birds love the teacup feeder; they no longer have to compete with the larger ones for seed at the main feeder.

I’m really pleased how my bird feeder turned out and the birdbath adds the right amount of re-purposed, rustic charm!  The birds love it!

We’ve seen more birds than ever taking up residence in the yard.  I found this robin’s nest tucked away in my lilac bush, just under the deck.  Mama Robin has been busy and the babes are almost ready to fly on their own.

Being near (or gazing at a photo of) water is also a great way to feel peaceful, so my daughter and I headed to the beach for the day. She got out of school late this year, and I didn’t realize how tired and stressed we both felt until decompressing a day at the beach.  Of course, the decompression did not officially start until after we took a wrong turn, our beach umbrella would not cooperate, my daughter’s flip-flop and shorts’ zipper broke, and we both stepped on rocks getting into the water).  But after a day of fun in the sun,  it felt as if summer was “official”.

Long Island Sound, July 2012

For July fourth, we took a drive up to Newport, Rhode Island. If you’re on the East Coast, it’s worth a visit. We spent the day walking around enjoying the atmosphere, eating  lunch by the sea, and enjoying an old-fashioned ice cream cone. The day closed with a sailboat tour in the Atlantic. We felt relaxed, refreshed…serene.

July Fourth, 2012, Newport, Rhode Island.

It’s impossible to not feel serene when on a sailboat.  On the water…Newport, Rhode Island

While on our sailboat tour, we passed this ship.  It was used as a prop in “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

Still, I don’t have to go far to feel “serene”.  It’s scientifically proven that the act of petting a dog reduces stress.  This is what I wake up to every morning.

This week, my daughter turns ten, (or “double digits” as she puts it). Nothing’s better than the world through her eyes. As she’s grown she’s become my best friend, as well. (I’m still “in-charge”; I’m mom first, friend second). A total nature-girl, who often sees beauty where others might not, she’s my biggest reminder to slow down.

Visualize “Whirled Peas”

And POOF! She’s turning ten…my best friend and reminder to slow down and take notice!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to sit still for very long.  Keeping busy keeps me sane.  I’ll be teaching some  knitting classes, canning, crafting, and chasing lightning bugs with my daughter (something she begs of me every evening). It’s just so easy to get caught up in everything we’ve got to do, letting life’s pressures rule us.  We forget to pause, see where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished.  I’m making a point the next few weeks, even if for a few minutes a day, to unplug, unwind, and just “be”. Like the old saying goes,  “Stop and smell the roses!”  Tell me…where do YOU find “serenity”?

  1. Mary Ann says:

    Beautifully written and inspiring. I, too, find my serenity in my garden. Though I have to be off to work every morning I take the time to visit my garden for a moment and look at what’s new and blooming. I spend my weekends there, too. I also like to craft, and I love love love your little tea cup birdfeeder. I would love to make one for my garden. Thanks, Nicole!

    Thanks for writing me, Mary Ann.  Hope you make a bird feeder.  They are so cute and easy to do.  -Nicole

  2. Denise says:

    enjoyed your post, it was quite calming to read and look at your pictures!

    Thank you, Denise!  -Nicole

  3. Dianne says:

    I too am a suburban farmgirl, right across the sound from you in beautiful Port Jefferson. My serenity stop overs include my garden (where I can get lost for days)a long walk at the beach (so good for the soul) or a peaceful paddle in my kayak on Long Island Sound. There is so much beauty in our area, don’t you agree?
    Your gardens look amazing! I love your teacup feeder, so cute, and hummingbirds! How cool. I just installed a "hummingbird rest stop" in my yard. I’ll send you pix if you like!
    Please keep on writing. I truly enjoy your blog!

    Hi Dianne.  My husband and I have talked about taking the ferry over to Port Jefferson numerous times, on our list of day trips to take.  I agree that there is just so much beauty and charm in our area.

    I’d love to see a picture of your "hummingbird rest stop".  Please send me one…I’m intrigued!  Is it something you made?  Sounds cute.  Thanks for commenting!  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  4. Sarah Reckards says:

    Thank you for this blog today…I need some serenity, and a friendly reminder of how to get it is just what I needed. I just discovered that the large garden my husband and I have been working our butts off to get put in has contaminated manure throughout and now the plants are deformed and dying. No one knew, and now it’s inedible. What a blow. Thankfully we still have a lot of our plants in pots so we’re not w/o some veggies and plant friends. Heads up to anyone who didn’t know: make sure the manure you use in your garden is from animals fed spray-free feed. Most people don’t even know, and just assume. Don’t make the same mistake as us! Thanks again for the post…:)

    Wow! Sarah, I am so very sorry to hear about your garden. Thank you for sharing this…perhaps it will keep someone else from the same disappointment.  I know I would be upset!  Glad to hear you have some potted veggies, at least.  I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, and thanks so much for the tip! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Jan says:

    Wow! Now I’m just going to HAVE to get some bee balm started. A couple of days ago I saw a hummer checking out one of my sedum pots that had turned a brilliant red from the sun exposure (we’re having a week of mid to upper 90’s which is quite uncommon for this area!). My hubby took me to a job site where he found a hummingbird nest. I took a delightful photo of the nesting mother. The nests are so tiny and intricately woven…
    You gave me an ‘awwwww’ moment, hearing about your times spent with your daughter. I love summer and the memories of my family…Those memories will stay with you and comfort you in later life!
    Have fun!

    Thanks, Jan!  I do feel like the luckiest mom on earthSpeaking of moms, how cool to see a hummer nest!  Isn’t it amazing how mama birds nest and care for their young?  We watched our robins and they left the nest just the other day. (We are suffering from "empty nest syndrome"…literally)! 

    You will love the bee balm!  It is a great perennial, very easy to care for.  Just make sure it is in well-drained soil.  It will spread like wildfire each year, but is pretty easy to transplant.  The hummingbirds just love it!  Happy Summer, and thanks for sharing! -Nicole

  6. Rose says:

    Thank you for another great blog! And thanks for the reminder to slow down and take a few moments for ones soul. I try to stop and sit on a bench during my daily walk with the dog. I take a few deep breaths and take in my surroundings.

    Good for you, Rose.  It’s important to stop even if for only a few moments.  Thanks for commenting and big hugs to you! -Nicole

  7. bonnie ellis says:

    Lovely writing. I learned that I can mentally shut out everything and have a moment of peace. It comes from within ourselves. I used to find it after the kids were in bed. Now I find it with a moment on the porch in the early morning with my iced tea listening to the chickens next door and laughing as they compete with the traffic. I find serenity in my flower or vegetable garden or smelling the dried sheets I hung on the line. I find time to lay on the grass and imagine the critters in the clouds. Wearing my apron and smelling the fresh bread gives me peace too.

    So true, Bonnie!  Sounds like you and I are kindred spirits.  Thank you for commenting…what you wrote is beautiful.  Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Dianne says:

    Hi Nicole! I am having a hard time trying to figure out how to send you the picture of the hummingbird rest stop. I can’t seem to copy and paste it into this dialogue box. Any suggestions?

    Hey Dianne!  I will email you my address and we can try it that way!  Thanks!


  9. Miriam Russell says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Just reading about your serenity article calms me. You write so beautifully. Thank you. Miriam

    Oh, Miriam, thank you so very much!  Your comment is an amazing compliment, and I am grateful to you for it.  -Nicole

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