Yeah, right … whatever

May 15, 2007 at 12:10 pm | Posted in country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gifts, health, knitting, love, marriage, Mother's Day, pets, photography, relationships, romance, yarn | 32 Comments

Swallows in Love at Swallow Hallow Trail

I suppose it could get old, hearing about how beautiful and perfect things are here, in my life.

I mean, come on … really. Could anyone’s life that perfect?

Actually, no.

My life isn’t even as perfect as my life is.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Actually, no.Swamp Land in Alabama New York

Let me es’plain.

Sunday in church, the sermon was on the subject of accepting and being grateful for your life–your life, in and unto itself, not in comparison to anyone else’s life. Gratitude for the grace of one’s own life.

Listening to the sermon brought to mind many of the realizations I have come to over the past several years about my life, being grateful for even the ugly parts and the wrong turns (not just the good stuff). It also led me to thinking about my blog writing and the focus of the posts I tend to write.

My husband once asked me if perhaps it could be that I make it all sound too perfect, too unbelievably good and perfect for people to accept at a gut level. It is a valid question.

As I recalled his question Sunday during the sermon, and as I considered the focus of my blog, today’s subject came to my mind.

Crab Apple Trees in Bloom During Golden HourWhat is with all of this perfection, anyway? Is it real, imagined, slight of hand perhaps?

Honestly, all of the perfection and beauty I speak of does exist in fact. At the same time, if my viewpoint were different, none of it might exist–being overshadowed by alternate realities.

If I were to assume a different viewpoint about my life I could write about decaying barns in western New York slipping into oblivion as we sip our morning coffee and tea. I could write of a misunderstanding here or there between my husband and I. I could tell you about the fallen trees and branches littering the ground in the New York swampland … I could, for that matter, mention the fact that western New York is basically a swamp (at least around these parts where we live). I could tell you about Blu having an accident in the house one morning, or about a squirrel that met an unfortunate end when he went one way to avoid me and my reactions led me in the same direction. I could deliver plenty of bad news.

But no.

Mine is a different view.

I choose instead to tell you about the incredible lighting I saw on the crab apple blossoms on our tree across the road, above the river at 6:30 in the evening the past few days as God’s light created a perfect setting for the delicate white and pink blossoms. The blossoms, in that golden light, looked very much like floral arrangements carefully crafted for a lovely young bride to carry down an aisle.

I choose to tell you about Swallow Hallow Trail in Alabama, New York where we walked yesterday and saw pretty views of swampland reflecting blue sky and giving shelter to happy little birds.

Pretty Swamp Pond Near Fireflys FarmPretty, isn’t it?

I also choose to tell you about a delightful little emerald pond not too far from our farm that becomes covered over in duckweed during spring and summer, where we stopped to shoot some photographs Sunday morning.

Or, about the thrill I felt when I found a family of wild geese Friday evening in another nearby pond, during an outing with my dear husband and our sweet dog, Blu.

Hey, I can’t help it if this stuff exists, I just notice it, photograph it, and write about it.

And you see, that’s how life works.

I made a conscious decision (and I have made a string of conscious decisions similar to it) to celebrate life and to embrace it wholeheartedly. That means I don’t get to pick and choose which parts I am grateful for. This is all per my own directive to myself, not from any external source or force. I decided to choose to be grateful for it all. It is a conscious decision, and it has required real work, and at times will power, to get to where I’ve got it right. I choose to focus on what is right and good, and to ignore as much as possible those things which are not. Why not?

Wild Geese and their young at a pretty little pondPerhaps life is a double-edged sword made up of 50% perception and 50% illusion, or something like that. Perhaps earlier in my life I was perceiving hardship and I was experiencing the illusion of hardship. That was the side of the double-edged sword I was existing on.

I am certain that if my focus had been on perceiving beauty and perfection at that time that I would have experienced the illusion of beauty and perfection and ease rather than hardship.

And believe me, sometimes I still goof up on it and I find myself dwelling on something unhappy or convincing myself I’m tired of this, that, or the other thing. But nowadays I am so fluent in gratitude and seeing the beauty in life that I pretty quickly come back to the beauty side of the doubled-edged sword.

No matter what road you live on, whether it is in the city or the country, beautiful perfection is out there waiting for you to notice it and love it.

Fireflys Hand Knit Teddy Bear Sweater Progress Beauty and perfection is in your life, available for you to notice, to get it, to appreciate it in your heart and soul. What I have found, is that when I focus myself on these things, I find my heart swelling with wonder and my mind dances with delight and I just want to shout out jubilantly, “Look what I see! Isn’t this some good stuff!”

When I write, I have a very definite agenda of sharing what I have focused on in my life and shouting out with joy that I see it and that I appreciate it and that I am willing to show it to others. My agenda is to share what I am seeing here with you specifically so it will inspire you to take a look around your life and see the fine things there, no matter what other realities exists, that you could shout out in joy about.

No matter what else is going on around you, beauty and grace are there. Your life is beautiful, and worthwhile, and perfect because it is your life. When you actually fully embrace your life, you will see what I’m talking about.

That’s the secret to my happiness.

You get bombarded with enough bad news on television, the radio, and the newspaper. Squabbling politicians do everything possible, with the help of the media, to keep us all embroiled in upset, upheaval, worry, disgust, rage, angst, anxiety, darkness, and just plain bad manners. Television and movie producers make sure we get more than our fill of blood, violence, depression, anger, murder, mayhem, loss, pain, suffering, evil, hatred, lewdness, and so forth. We get it, we get the point. There is ugliness in the world, there is evil, some people have very bad manners, are insanely intolerant, and so on and so forth. Blah, blah, blah.

I choose to offer some relief. I figure if I keep putting out some beauty into the world through my photographs, my philosophy, my personal realizations about life, my stories, patterns, recipes, Thistleonians, and paintings, I can do my part to create a better world.

I feel a responsibility to do so, because I have an ability to do so.

Sampling of Three of Fireflys PaintingsIf you ever have gotten to the point with all of my blogging about how good and right and beautiful and seemingly perfect my life is where you think, “Yeah, right … whatever,” … don’t despair. Turn the looking glass of perfection toward your own life and find the many good things you have to be thankful for, shine a light on them, focus on them through the lens of a camera or merely through the quiet lens of your own private awareness. See the beauty that is you, embrace the perfection that is in your life and let that beauty and perfection outweigh and outshine all the rest..

On to other business: I have completed three paintings recently, and they are all up for auction at eBay as well as being posted on my One Painting a Day blog. There is a Vintage Button painting, Apples in a Basket, and Three Pear.

The teddy bear sweater is so close to being complete … close, but no cigar today.

I am also cooking up a new batch of Knitting Thistleonians. I’ll show them as soon as they are done.

Tweet TweetIf you haven’t read it yet, my mother’s journal entry regarding her life growing up on a farm in North Carolina is available at the I Live on a Farm website.

Have to run. Here’s to the perfect beauty in your life, outside your own front door.

Tweet, tweet.


Copyright © 2007 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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  1. Well said! There have been times when life’s disappointments have almost overwhelmed me and I have felt myself getting sucked down into despair. I try to acknowledge where I am, and put my oars in the water and steer the little ship of my psyche hard toward joy. It’s my little metaphor, it reminds me that joy and optimism and gratitude are choices and sometimes you have to work hard to keep yourself from being turned around and propelled toward darker thoughts like despair, resentment and bitterness.

    Keep creating a haven of all that is good and beautiful and hopeful, because those of us who pass by do find ourselves uplifted by all this!

  2. You have expressed the precise reason I look forward to reading your blog; for a grateful expression of life’s simple pleasures. Thank you for sharing the beauty and joy you seek and find in your heart, your home, your art, your world.

  3. Beautiful! It is the simple things in life that are truly the best! Like you, I know there are some dreadful things in the world, but will it help anyone if I let myself get down in the dumps over them. I think we help more people with a friendly smile and a positive attitude.
    Thanks for reminding me to catch the beauty of my life!

  4. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, thank goodness we all have different points of view.

    What a lovely post! Well written and concise. I’ll be back.

  5. I love your view of the world. So many blogs I skim are nothing but bitching and moaning (which is why I skim instead of reading). It’s nice to read something written by someone with such a positive voice.

  6. Thank you for putting into words what I try to feel each and every day – Thoreau said “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” I look and I am so grateful for the beauty that surrounds us – so many of us just go through the motions of life missing what is out there for us to see and listen to –

    Have a wonderful day and keep writing for us – I enjoy it thoroughly!

  7. Keep up the writing. It is so easy to focus on the not so perfect, problems and negativity and this leads to unhappiness. None of our lives are perfect, but I have found since reading your blog I now focus on what I am blessed to have, the beauty around me and my wonderful family. I find because of this I am a happier more positive person.

  8. I love the pics. Did you take them?

  9. Gosh, I just love your blog and you through it! I always ‘expect’ it on Monday morning and when it’s not there, I think I’ll just have to hang on until tomorrow. Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be? I struggle EVERY DAY with whether this is going to be a happy day or not. When I first ‘met’ you, as I told you then, I was going through a very difficult time in my life and you helped me with your blog – you still do and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

  10. Firefly, your perception of life is what keeps me and many others coming back to your blog day after day. I too love my life and am grateful for what God has bestowed on me. Beauty and Grace are what we all should strive for.

  11. Happiness is a Choice
    While I have been reading your blog, I have come to understand that. Yes, we all have problems in our lives. No one’s life is 100% perfect or even close. I have always appreciated the fact that while you also have issues in your life (anyone reading your blog and not realizing that is close minded) you always present the positive side to help us all keep going. THANK YOU!

  12. Sometimes you have a way of “kicking me in my pants”-in a very good way.
    Not everything in life is “perfect”, but maybe that imperfection is what makes life Perfect!
    We are able to learn from experience which things are truly special and Perfect.
    Thank you for your perspective. I need to reevaluate what I am thinking.

  13. As Elizabeth said, happiness is a choice. We are only as happy as we allow ourselves to be. I know that all of us have our bad times in life. If we focus on those, they will eat us alive.

  14. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 KJV of the Bible.

    I see you doing exactly that!

  15. I enjoy your posts on a regular basis…I don’t think that you are putting things in too perfect a light. I don’t come to your blog to read about your puppies accidents or the squabbles you have with your husband, I live the same kinds of things. I come to your blog to read about the light on the crabapple and the beauty that you see because that gives me a glimpse of the things that are not part of the mundane life that I live. You live a life very different from mine and I enjoy getting glimpses of yours.

    Thank you for your views.


  16. As Elizabeth above said, “Happiness is a choice”… everything in life is a choice, whether we realize it or not.

    Perspective is everything. I like to use a quirky little blurb to describe my husband. I say that he is Imperfectly Perfect. Flawed, as everyone is; but perfect for Me.

  17. Thanks for your uplifting perspective on life! The glass can be half full or half empty. The”world” wants me to see that the glass is half empty. I rejoice when I stumble on “little gems” like your blog that celebrate the glass being half full. I choose half full!
    Enjoy the day!

  18. Great perspective!

  19. and this is why I keep coming back to your blog, to remind myself to focus on the positive in life and to experience it to the full.

    I hope you have another day filled with beauty and wonder today.

  20. I love this post…

  21. For some reaseon, it’s so easy for me to focus on the negative. However, I do know (and think about it deeply alot) that positive, wonderful blessings are all around me in family, friends others and not to mention my surroundings. When I think of these, everything else negative fades away or doesn’t seem so bad. Nothing wrong with making the habit of writing, thinking, speaking, living the positive. It’s very hard to do, practice makes perfect.

  22. Tag! You have been invited to post 8 random things about yourself and tag 8 other bloggers to do the same.

    I do this relunctantly since I realize that everyone is busy..

  23. THANK YOU! I just love the way you write and your approach to life.Have a wonderful day!

  24. Hi Firefly,
    You are so right! Perfection is in the eye of the beholder or something like that! I think those of us who know Christ can have a better understanding of being grateful for the beauty, the love that surrounds us. My life is amazing; and oh yes, it isn’t a bed of roses at times but changing the way you look at something makes all the difference. Thank you for your beautiful realistic expressions of life. It is such a delight and always makes me think and be thankful! Thanks! Ann

  25. Right on!

  26. Too true! Thank you!
    Some wise woman in my family (no one will take credit for saying it first) told me that things will still be hard, you only get to choose if you laugh, smile or frown. Your choice changes nothing but you.
    And I agree with Ann, Christ does make me more grateful for the world around me.

  27. I can honestly say that I’ve never read one of your blog entries (and I do try to keep up to date reading them all) and thought that it was too “sugary sweet”. I just see you as someone blessed enough to be able to appreciate the happiness and beauty around you, which (as I’ve told you before, I think) encourages me to go out and do the same. Therefore your philosophy of sharing your observations does work, in that I never come away from your blog feeling discontented with my lot, or wishing that my life were any different to how it is. Keep posting, please!! Jennie (Wales) xxx

  28. like many others who read your blog, I like to be reminded of the simple things that I should be grateful for (and am!) because it makes getting through the days, and just life in general easier. If anything, there needs to be more people with your same vision and outlook on life. I think if there were, the world wouldn’t be in the current state its in.

  29. Whenever I come here to visit, I’ve always felt a sense of gratitude, not a Pollyanna vision of perfection. You have stated it simply- we get enough of doom & gloom from “real” life, so choosing to focus on the blessings in life shield our souls from becoming hardened with despair.

  30. Good morning, Firefly,
    What can I say that the other commenters have not already? Just that it never occurred to me that there was any reason to question your perspective! And I always look forward to your photos, too.

  31. This is why I will watch “Leave it to Beaver”, “Andy Griffith” and “I Love Lucy” over and over again–because it takes me “away” for a little while, with all the problems and challenges and stresses that is all around us in our time. I am not an old person and these programs have always been “reruns” to me! But it’s a breath of fresh air if only for a few half-hour segments at a time. I don’t find too much that’s out there on t.v. as “entertainment” anyways( How can evening soap-operas be entertaining?) and I agree that many bloggers complain too much and that’s a drag.
    I don’t even get the daily paper, it’s too negative and stressful.
    I enjoy your stories and photos. Honestly, I do think you have a great life as far as it can go while still being human and living in an imperfect world. And it’s a tribute to your character that you chose to be thankful for all that you have instead of taking it for granted.
    I’m glad you are sharing it with others.

  32. I just stumbled across this post, and proceeded to read it aloud to my 15 year old son, who has been reading Thoreau. Thank you for the lovely message that reminds me that God’s world is indeed a miraculous thing of beauty and delight. We truly do have the choice and free will to focus our lens on the beauty around us, and I am trying so hard to slow down and truly glorify God through my appreciation for all He gives me daily. Your post was a blessing for me, and I do enjoy your blog and beautiful photographs.

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