Happiest Greetings!

Dear Friend, this is my first and only message for 2017. I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU!! But it will all have to wait until 2018, which is unbelievably just around the corner.


I want to wish you the very happiest holiday season. My hope is that you find yourself feeling peaceful despite the demands of the season. My other wish is that as you approach this most amazing time of year, that you take time to sit back and ponder your blessings, the goodness in your life, the peace that comes as you contemplate the reason we celebrate Christmas (if you do) and the happiness that generosity and kindness can bring to others as well as to your heart.


Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own selves during this time of year, whether it be sadness or depression from whatever has occurred in our lives and in our past, that we do not think that extending ourselves to help others can chase those feelings away. I have experienced very hard Christmases, some I do not like to think about, but I remember that underlying the many emotions that existed during those Christmases, we were helped by ordinary people doing extraordinary things for us. You can be a light to someone’s life this year and it is not too late to find where you can be extraordinary.


Merry Christmas, my extraordinary friend. I wish you beautiful blessings and all good things.


Please take some time for yourself, a moment to breathe in the season, to lift your spirits and to remember.

This entry was posted on December 22, 2017. 1 Comment

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned from a Child

Being an adult means we’ve likely forgotten what it meant to be a child. How wise we were. How creative and imaginative and full of wonder we were. How trusting, how eager to love and to be loved. How perfect.

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I have been tending my Grandlings on and off for about 14 years. In that period of time I have been taught, or retaught I should say, by them. My first Grandling taught me more about myself and this world I live in than I ever learned in my life…to that point. Even when I parented my own children. The older we get the wiser we get, or at least we are supposed to, and mostly I concur. But true wisdom comes, I believe, when we allow ourselves be taught in utter simplicity by our grandchildren…or any child.


For two weeks, I had the joyful pleasure of caring for a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old while their parents were in Viet Nam. I nurtured, I guided, I taught, I diverted and I loved those babies. For two weeks, I had the joyful pleasure of being nurtured, guided, taught, diverted and loved by those babies. Here’s what I discovered.


I’d forgotten how much I love to play with Play-Doh…how therapeutic it is to knead it and roll it, stretch it and actually create something with it. My Grandlings think I am Michelangelo and they sat transfixed while I formed something that sort of resembles what they requested I make. I always loved the smell of Play-Doh.


I learned to suspend disbelief, to get caught in the delightful purity of pretending…of playing without regard to anything other than the joy of simply being in the moment. I cannot tell you how many zombies I managed to annihilate over a two-week period of time. The house was zombie-free, as was the yard, and we all slept better knowing that we were safe. My weapon of choice was one my Grandling crafted from Legos; or in a pinch, i wielded a mighty wooden spoon. I have been an ant placing food on an offering stone in my backyard after watching “A Bug’s Life” with my Grandling so many years ago. I was also Mags and he was Mags’ dad after we watched the Herbie the Love Bug movies. I am very good at pretending and jump right into play immediately. My Grandlings know a good pretender when they see one.

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I realize how very eager a child is to learn about her world. When I took care of one of my Grandlings in Portland three days a week for nearly a year, we had adventures whenever the sun shone as we explored her neighborhood and the area of the city where her mama worked. I let her touch the roughness of bricks and tree bark, press her tiny hands down on spongy green moss, she traced the smooth inside of a sea shell with her little finger and gently held a dandelion in her hands before plucking off the petals. I took picture after picture of wonders while she patiently waited in her stroller, knowing that her Mimi was all about capturing anything beautiful. I would tell her over and over again, when we saw something beautiful, as we made discovery after discovery, “Oh, wow!” Her very first words? “Oh, wow.” I cannot even express how delighted I am that those were the first words out of her precious little mouth.

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I watched in purest pleasure as I blew bubbles one afternoon and my Brandling, at first wondering and then embracing, chased after them. The gold from the house reflected in the surface of the bubbles…Midas’ golden orbs floating in the sky ; or a hundred rainbows captured in a single bubble. We laughed together and sitting there, with bubble juice running down my arm, I was both captivated and enchanted by this simple joy and obviously by her delight. I don’t know who had more fun.

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My Grandling sat before my computer one morning, studying everything so intently that he was unaware of anything around him. He was learning, absorbing and I could almost hear the wheels turning in that beautiful mind of his. Would that we all had that same devotion to learning something new and celebrated the process of learning anything…whatever it is, so that our minds grow and our world enlarges, no matter how old we are.

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I made a chart for my two Grandlings. I wanted them to be aware of what they were capable of…how they could change their behavior for the better, how they could become. Rewards are good things…for all of us; they are a means to help us celebrate a small or large victory as we move ourselves forward to betterment. I was amazed, as I made them aware of the things they could do, of just how important it was for them to get that sticker by their name on the chart. Pretty soon, it wasn’t about the sticker as much as it was me noticing that they were doing something even without the thought of reward. The good behavior had become ingrained in them and they noticed that they were changing and they liked it. I thought of my own life…and how I think I’m pretty okay and don’t need to push myself towards any changes in my life, but how wrong I am with that kind of thinking. I can always be better. I can always improve. I can always see where a change needs to be made and then make it. They taught me that.

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I learned how quick children are to forgive…even when they are wronged. Their love completely encompasses and swiftly smothers a wrong. I became aware that I didn’t really need to reprimand with words as much as with a look. The offender quickly hugged the offendee and all was right in the world. Would that we were as easy to forgive as children are. Adults think they have to carry grudges for past wrongs for so long that they’ve quite forgotten what the wrongs were…where they refuse to let go and find some perverse satisfaction in holding onto it and carrying the weight of all those wrongs. Our souls and spirits and hearts would be so much lighter and freer if we practiced the art of forgiveness with the same genuineness and love that children do.


My Grandling, age 2 ½, repeated everything I said. Only she said it much cuter than I did. She did this to learn. Her vocabulary and her brother’s vocabulary increased dramatically while I was with them. We talked ALL the time. Not just when we pretended, but when I read to them and asked questions about what we were reading, when we played outside, when we discovered our world. I talked when I was doing anything and I was astounded at how much they talked back to me, using many of the same words and in more complete sentences.

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To a four-year-old boy, there is absolutely no funnier word in all the human language as “poop.” It would send him into fitful paroxysms of utter joy, which would set me off, more at the sound of his laughter and his sweet face full of smile. Pretty soon I slipped the word into conversation whenever I could. It delighted me. And him. It really is a funny word. Poor Winnie-the-Pooh…and poor A.A. Milne, who will never know how the word “Pooh” would set generations of boys laughing hysterically and will, as long as their are boys. On our daily walks to the mailbox and then around the block and back home, it became the duty of a very diligent 4-year-old to discover the whereabouts of every bit of dog poop that lurked in the rocks. And then we would laugh ourselves silly. Holy cow.


I love having a child’s hand in mine. There is nothing I love more. I love it especially when they don’t balk at having to do that, by feeling constrained when they would rather fly off like little birds in any direction. When they hold my hand willingly, slipping that precious warm little hand into mine, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and smile. Utter bliss. Nothing better in the whole world…


…. Unless it’s kisses. Unrestrained, wet, sloppy, slightly snotty, sweet, smiley kisses…man. And when they give them to me without my asking…simply because they love me so much that they can’t help themselves…those kisses are the sweetest. The very sweetest. I am a kissy Mimi. My Grandlings know that. Baby bums, necks, tummies, mouths…anything’s fair game when I am around.

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A child’s love…there is nothing purer, finer, more holy than a child’s love. It is a sacred trust. They give that love so willingly. Love was one of the first words my children learned. It is among the first my Grandlings have learned and those heartfelt utterances, “I yuv ooh,” “I lah yoo” “I luff ooh” melt me. Utterly. I know exactly what they’re saying and their precious words go straight to my heart.

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Smiles. Children smile from the time they can mirror the smiles of adults at about age two months. They never quit. I realize that adults don’t smile anywhere near as often as children do. That’s unfortunate and sad. Children are eager to give their smiles away; they smile more than they don’t. I have tried to smile more at people I meet on the street now because of all those smiles given to me by my Grandlings; and I see how a smile can warm a heart, chase away a frown, make a moment better or heal and owie…whether it is a skinned knee or a skinned heart. It quite surprises people when you smile at them. And most of them smile back.

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Children’s laughter. There is no finer sound in the word than a child’s laughter. J.M. Barrie wrote that fairies are born from children’s laughter. I could not agree more. A child’s laugh is enough to banish sadness, chase worries and anxiety away, change our outlook and our hearts. I never tire of hearing their laughter. And when hearing it, I am enticed to laugh away with them. Belly laughs, tears-in-your-eyes laughs, chuckles, surprised laughter…whatever it is, I wish someone would find a way to bottle it and sell it. People sell dirt and water…and we never thought people would sell, let alone buy, something that. Why can’t someone capture the magic of a child’s laughter that we could open up when our own laughter eludes us?

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Why is it, when we’re older and still fumbling at learning how to live, that taking joy in an accomplishment, in a success, in the pure and simple act of doing a great good thing, is looked upon as prideful, as something we no longer do or shouldn’t do…as if we aren’t allowed that joy of being pleased with ourselves or with what we’ve done. A child builds a tower and looks up and smiles, expecting you to take joy in his accomplishment. To clap. To praise. To encourage. We aren’t allowed that as adults. We cannot accept our own applause on the stage of our lives when we accomplish something that pleases us..that we’re actually proud of doing. A child claps. A child dances. A child looks to me with the hope that I see what he’s done and that he’s pleased with himself and he want me, for that brief shining moment, to take part in the exultant celebration of that accomplishment. From now on, I’m going to allow myself to do that….to clap, to smile, to dance because of something I’ve done and taken joy in…even if there is no one else around the see. Especially if there’s no one around to see. It’s a solitary celebration.

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Grandlings are the reward of our old age. They remind us how to live, how to enjoy the wonders of this life, how to be better to ourselves, how to take advantage of each moment and be mindful of everything that matters, how to be surprised by joy.

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Girl on Fire



It is hard to believe that this year came so quickly. Gosh…we’re only four years away from 2020. I know, I know. I’ve cursed myself because I said that…now time will pass even faster. As a total aside…does it seem like only a few years ago since it was 2000 and not 15? Just wondering if I’m the only one out there. 2015 was almost nearly a blur. I am sure 2016 will be just as blurry.

I am a little late revealing my word for the year…that one little word that people adopt in lieu of resolutions. Most bloggers/Instgrammers revealed their words like clockwork on the first day of the year. I was otherwise occupied.

I like the move towards just one word that influences an entire year…if we are mindful of it. Last year I had 12 words. A word for every month. One of my readers suggested that I report each month on how I achieved success with that word as I implemented it into my life. That was a great idea…a phenomenal suggestion. I should have done it. However, I lived the life of a Bedouin (only without a tent and a camel) traveling here and there up one side of the country and back down it and slightly over to the east a couple of times. As you may have noticed, I was not a regular blogger and my posts were mostly hit and miss. I was a busy girl…busy implementing all those words all through the year. I felt that I was very mindful of those words almost daily. I should report to you, my small group of friends who have followed me despite my irregularities, that I did pretty well. Better than average. But not perfect. I was near to being sorta/kinda perfect in how I integrated those words and their subsequent catalysts into my life. I definitely could have done better, but by in large, I am satisfied. I grew. I learned. I thought more of others than of myself most of the time; and I feel that implementing my 12 Words for 2015, for the most part, was a success.

With the winter upon us, and the fact that my Russian stove/fireplace is the ONLY heat source for my downstairs (except for two expensive-to-run electric wall-mounted heaters in the kitchen), I light a lot of fires. My cottage was built in 1927. I do not think that there is much, if any, insulation behind the wooden walls and almost every wall is a window that opens up to the water and the sky and the incredible world…so my house gets cold during the winter IF I don’t keep a fire burning in my fireplace. As a result, our woodpile is stacked to the rafters of the woodshed; my woodbin on the porch is full; and I light at least 1-2 fires a day. The Russian stove does a beautiful job of keeping the house warm and comfortable with a gentle, even heat. The delicious part of that is that my home feels constantly romantic, cozy, comfortable and perfect.


Fire fascinates me. It is a phenomenon to me. I can only imagine how excited, perplexed, dumbfounded the first people were to discover fire. I stare as my match ignites, as I hold it beneath the kindling and watch it catch. The flame starts out slowly, but then eagerly as it consumes the kindling. The fire increases in heat and intensity, the wood warms and heats and finally relinquishes itself to the temperature of the fire. The flames lick and stroke the wood until my fireplace is soon aglow with a blazing, warming fire. I am hypnotized each time I do this and always spend a good amount of time watching the progress from lit match to furious fire.


There are many words than ran through my mind as I gave thought to my possible word for this year. People told me their words. I read the words of others, which were all very good words. I realized that each person who adopts a word, does so because of something needed in their lives, something that will make them a better person or a more complete person or the vision of who they want to be or the direction they want to take. It may make them more of this or more of that or fill the void in their lives of a very needed something that only they can acquire by means of who they become because of this word. Or at least put them on the path. All those words are as individual as the people who chose them; and, I have no doubt that each person put a tremendous amount of thought into their word choice.


My word, carefully chosen and thought about is: IGNITE. I want to be on fire with my potential…with what I can become. I want to ignite the parts of me that still need discovering and fan them into sparks of possibility. I want to stir the embers of my smoldering soul until I burn with joy and purpose and am constantly aflame. I need to feed the fire in my heart so that it doesn’t falter with fear but burns bright with trust and faith and so much love that I am a constantly a girl on fire. I want to glow.


I took a trip through Google images…for lack of appropriate IGNITE images and found these. There’s some pretty amazing stuff out there and all of it so appropriate…so obviously someone was thinking right up my alley, thankfully. All of these thoughts apply to exactly what I want to do: IGNITE.Don’t you jus love Rumi’s quote?

So that’s the word, my friends. My word for 2016: IGNITE!! I am a girl on fire. Maybe…just maybe I can cast a spark that can make a difference somewhere. A spark to ignite or warm another soul. A spark that can give light to another. A spark that will chase away the darkness that sometimes besets me. A light that shines. I so want to shine.


One spark CAN ignite the world.



Images: Google Images…thank you SO MUCH!

This entry was posted on January 9, 2016. 6 Comments

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree….how lovely are thy branches.”

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A beautiful evergreen tree…the quintessential part of Christmas and Christmas decorating. Christmas trees and I go waaaaaay back. They continue to be the start of our holiday season the Friday after Thanksgiving, jumpstarting the entire month of December. I could never have a December without a Christmas tree…at least in some form. Ever.



I remember the first Christmas my husband and I shared after we were married. We were poor as church mice with hardly a nickel to rub together. It was dangerously close to Christmas and there we were, in a dinky dark basement apartment, without a tree. We went out to a tree lot somewhere very south of Salt Lake City, in a part of the town I’d never been in, but where they had the cheapest live trees. The only day available, due to his school schedule, was the day of the worst freezing winter snowstorm in the history of very bad snowstorms. I was bone cold. We hurriedly found the first tree that fit the bill, paid the precious $25 we’d scrounged from somewhere and took it home, roped to the top of our Christmas-red late 1960’s two-door Galaxy 500. The sight of that tree standing so proud and beautiful made our tiny little space seem grand and glorious. We had a few no-longer-needed decorations from our parents and a cast-off tree stand. Mr. Farnia’s parents gave us the old-fashioned big-bulb colored lights and when we plugged them in, the tree was the epitome of a perfectly homey, picture postcard Christmas scene. It was a sparse Christmas…as Christmases go, but we had our tree, and we had each other…and that made the magic.


Once our children started arriving and through their growing-up years, we drove to local tree farms (we are blessed to live in Christmas tree central in the Pacific Northwest) to cut down our trees. We did this every Friday after Thanksgiving, always stopping at our favorite house of doughnuts before we set out, jug of hot chocolate in the back of the car, Christmas music playing in the car and me reading favorite Christmas stories to all our Littles sitting in the back seats. This was a precious tradition and one that I miss so much…setting out to find the perfect Christmas tree, sawing it down, toting it to the tiny train and finishing up the expedition with a tailgate hot chocolate and doughnut feast. At one time, we had three big trees on every level of our 3-story home, with little trees tucked in every bedroom and bathroom and in the kitchen. I love the scent of the trees and the sight of them in my rooms.


The first Christmas after my Daddy died, my Mom was reluctant to put up a tree. She had a lot of reasons: Christmas was not going to be the same without him, I can’t cut the tree down myself, it’s too messy to take care of and have to get rid of, etc. I was not going to have her live in that house without a Christmas tree in it. The lack of a tree would have made that house so dreary and sad at Christmas. If she did not want a live one, she would have to have an artificial tree; and so we set out to find her a tree that she could put up and take down by herself. Once we had it up, I offered to help her decorate it, if that would make it easier for her, but she wanted to do it herself and I was so happy for that. I think the process of pulling out each ornament, decorations that meant something to the both of them, precious baubles that had hung on their together-trees for so many years…was actually cathartic for her. She busied herself decking her halls and before long, the Christmas spirit had purged sorrow and loneliness from her heart and filled her home with the merriest of feelings. The healing began with that tree.


I do realize there are many who do not share this same affection for a Christmas tree, where the crazy cost of a live tree is prohibitive, where spaces are too small for such a thing, where someone just doesn’t care a whit about a tree. But I also know there are amazingly creative people who create a tree from a string of lights, or cut apart a pallet to make a tree, or stack books, those who paint a tree on a wall or on a chalkboard or who find a branch and stick it in dirt inside a tin can. I applaud all of you for taking the whole spirit of the sacred Christmas tree and putting your individual stamp on it.


One year the cost of buying two trees started to pinch. Disposing of the tree on the second floor after the holidays meant dragging it out the French doors, onto the upper deck, heaving it over the edge of the railing onto the pavers below where it sat, lonely, completely dead and devoid of all its needles until summer…it was time to rethink the artificial thing. Dealing with the water that spilled onto the carpet when I had to refill the reservoir and the needles that I could never quite vacuum up and found well into the summer…when all of that happened, I casually mentioned to Mr. Farnia that it might be a good thing to invest in an artificial tree. Horrors! I had always been staunchly anti-artificial-trees, but I finally began to see the wisdom in owning one. I was choosy. The first year I visited the family of my husband-to-be, there in the corner of their front room, was an aluminum Christmas tree…the kind that had aluminum rosettes on the tips of the branches and the little light that rotated at its base illuminating the tree with red, green, blue and clear lights. My jaw dropped.


All the artificial trees I’d seen looked so…well, artificial. They smelled like plastic. I suggested visiting our favorite nursery and checking the trees out there. It was a wise decision. No artificials from Costco, Michael’s, Home Depot or even the wholesale house were going to work. The nursery actually had pre-lit artificial trees that looked just like real trees. I loved that. They were a bit pricey, but I figured that the tree would pay for itself over the years. And it has. When we moved from our big old trees-on-every-floor-and-in-every-room house to a peaceful and content little (little being the operative word here) cottage on an island, we decided to just put up the artificial tree. I can have the tree up before Thanksgiving now, extending the season a little longer. I will say that I love our tree. It is regal, bushy, stately and perfect…and it really does look real, except for the scent. I found little hanging Christmas tree scents (check Target) that smell just like a Christmas tree; however, the scent doesn’t last long. (They do make everything in your Christmas storage bins smell heavenly when you tuck them inside with your ornaments.) I have Bath and Body Works “Winter” candles burning all the time and their wall scents with the “Winter” fragrance wafting through my home with that delicious scent all season long. It works. I do love my tree. I can do things on the artificial tree that I could not do with a real tree. It works for me. Yet…..


My memories of our annual tree-getting still keep me warm every Christmas. Our children, when their schedules and locations permit, continue the tradition of getting their own trees the Friday after Thanksgiving, fortified by doughnuts and hot chocolate and driving to a perfect tree farm to select their prize. We are invited along with those children that live the closest or if we are visiting the southernmost children at Thanksgiving. I love going with them and helping to cut their tree and watching them decorate it. Circumstances, such as living in Nevada and southern California, where there are no tree farms to be found, mean that those families drive over the freeway and through the neighborhoods to Home Depot or Whole Foods (who stock their trees early) dashing all the way, to get their beautiful trees. It is the spirit of the thing that counts. As are the recollections they cherish of driving over the river and through the woods every year for our perfect Christmas trees, which I know still fill their hearts with sweet memories so strongly that they want to have those same precious times with their own families. The tradition continues. Thank heaven.


I cry every year when I take the tree down. Sniff. It’s like a good friend and I hate to see it go.

Merriest and brightest of Christmases to you, my dear friends. I wish you peace, prosperity, snowflake kisses and snowman hugs.

The images you see here are from my Pinterest board. You can follow along with me at The Chronicles of Farnia. Hope to see you there.

Total aside here: you can kinda tell i’m obsessed with the whole GIF thing. Here’s one more, because I kinda this way every Christmas. Ho, ho, ho….



This entry was posted on December 15, 2015. 21 Comments


I am sitting at my children’s soon-to-be-laden table on this very early Thanksgiving morning. The moon still hangs heavy and full as it makes is descent towards morning somewhere else in the world. My precious family still lays sleeping upstairs, lost in their dreams. The days of November have flown like so many autumn leaves and suddenly, it seems, I am poised on the edge of December. December will be over before we know it and we will be on the brink of a new year. And I will be a year older and hopefully wiser.


As I sit here and reflect….which I seem to do a lot these days…the reflecting part that is, my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude for my countless blessings and tender mercies. Despite the bumps in the road, the unmet dreams, the hiccups that seem to arise as a part of life…I am blessed. Extraordinarily blessed.

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My greatest treasures are upstairs sleeping and the rest of my treasures live in different states where time and circumstance prevent them from being here with us. Despite that distance, we are tied by our heartstrings, by our memories, by the deep love we share. My family is my greatest blessing.

I could take up space here listing all my gratitudes and your are so lucky I am not doing that because you would be here reading for a very long time. If you haven’t done so already, grab a notebook and begin a daily habit of recording all those miracles and blessings and moments of profound gratitude in a gratitude journal. I have done this for years. Sometimes when I partake of a bit of tear-water tea (read it in Arnold Lobel’s Owl at Home….delightful), I have only to open my gratitude journals and steep myself in a wonderfully delicious brew of memories and small miracles that replace any maudlin  thinking. You will be so grateful that you do this. I promise.

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I hope that wherever you are, that you find yourself in the middle of your family and your Thanksgiving; or at least wrapped in sweet memories of them. I hope that your heart fills with gratitude for your own tender mercies, miracles and blessings.

I wish you peace, my friend. Make beautiful memories and baste them with the richness of love. Happy Thanksgiving.

(The falling leaf image (which I love) is from the Habitually Chic blog.)



This entry was posted on November 26, 2015. 6 Comments