A New Journey


“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”   Henry David Thoreau

We are on the eve of a new year.   And even with all the events of this past year, I am hopeful that this will be a good year….no I am confident it will be as I will endeavor to make this a good year, a better year.  It is the beginning of a very new journey for me as I say goodbye to a part of my life that has been with me for over 30 years.  I am leaving the world of public education; more of a vocation than a job.  But it is time to retire.  And with this way of life also goes a schedule that I could rely on, a comfortable way of living, a predictable way of life.IMG_3340

As I say goodbye there is a bit of me still uncertain if I can do this.  When people ask me if I am really retiring, I say for now I have not changed my mind.  I am still on schedule for August 1st.  And what is retirement really, but the act of retiring from one’s work.  It can also mean seclusion or retreating but I have no intention of doing that.  I am thinking that retirement will be more of a beginning for me.  The origin of a new action, a commencement… more like I have finally graduated from school and I am off to start my life or begin again to reinvent myself.

The difference though is that I have no plan.  I have some ideas, but no real direction yet.  And I am OK with this lack of goals.  After all it is a new adventure, and going with the flow is so much more fun.  To not have to have my schedule regulated for me or attend meetings or drive in the snow when I don’t want to or deal with ever increasing stress…no I am so OK with leaving these behind.

IMG_5792Of course spending a year without a plan in mind will take some getting used to.  My whole life has been highly goal oriented especially with my profession.  So what will it be like walking down this new path being in the moment and just going with the flow?  I will see what catches my eye or my interest.  And shift as my interest shifts.  Explore life for fun, enjoyment, education and whatever joy it brings.

Can you imagine waking up and doing whatever you feel like at the moment?  My fear is that I may do nothing for a while, but you know that is OK too, and I bet very freeing.  I may sit in a chair and watch the world go by, or wander around my garden with camera in hand just smelling the flowers.  I intend to watch the sunrise daily to catch those first beams of light as they make the garden glow.

I am told that living without a fixed goal or destination is more about the journey and I IMG_5466believe that.  As Leo Babauta (the guru of this idea of no goals) has said:

You learn to be flexible instead of set. You learn to be good at change and uncertainty, instead of fearing it.

This sounds so enticing to me, and how I have envisioned my life to be especially when I was tired, worn out and wanted a change.  I’ll keep you posted once I start on this path August 1st.



“My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been before.”  Diane Arbus


IMG_5214So as I prepare for this new year and this new phase of my life, I am thinking about how I can celebrate the New Year.  And I have decided to forgo all the goal setting and resolutions in favor of a “one word” mantra to help me focus the year.  It wasn’t hard to figure out what that word would be either. I easily settled on…..



I have been wanting to practice gratitude more.  To openly speak it, write it down and know it.  But I let life and long hours at work get in the way of it.  But as it is time for me to make some necessary changes in my life,  I think it important to know intimately what I am already grateful for….the life I have, the very breath of life.

And in this world today we need to practice gratitude even more.  To invite it into our lives especially when we need it most.  I have read that when IMG_2184we do this we experience more joy in our lives.  So when I am sick, worn out and dealing with bad news I am learning to turn to gratitude.  I am finding the best way to do this is to write it down.  Whether in a paper journal, an online journal or an app like  Random Gratitude Journal, it is important to officially acknowledge the gratitude.

Feel free to jump in and write about your gratitude and share it from time to time too.  And of course I will be sharing lots more about the garden and my life’s lessons learned there.  I am so excited to begin this new year.  Whatever it brings, I know I will learn and grow from those experiences.



If you had to pick one word to use as your mantra for the New Year, what would it be?



“My will shall shape my future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me. Or I can be lost in the maze. My choice. My responsibility. Win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.”  Elaine Maxwell



Wishing Everyone a Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year in 2013!! 



Next up on the blog:     Monday will be my first post of 2013.  I will usher the new year in with a new poem and garden journal entry.  In the coming months I will continue my Garden Book Reviews and my Simply the Best series while adding some Wildflower Tales.  I have a special post coming on the 18th that I will talk more about next week.  I hope you will join me.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my current post now.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

98 Replies to “A New Journey”

  1. Dear Donna, Congratulations on your forthcoming retirement! I love the idea of no goals, although I have to say I retired (from public education) with the goal of creating a garden. Before I retired my mantra was “Too blessed to be stressed!” You will be amazed how the stress disappears (although gradually – I found) as the new life takes shape. Gratitude is a wonderfully appropriate mantra and I must adopt it, especially after the difficult year we have all just experienced. Your postings are so inspirational. You will find having more time to write is a blessing. Wishing you a very Happy New Year! P. x

    1. Pam how very special your comment is to me. I expect the stress to melt and a new life to find its way…I am looking forward to moving on! Wishing you a very blessed New Year filled with gratitude…

  2. Sounds like this will be a momentous year ahead for you. The lack of structure in your days come August may be freeing and perhaps a little disturbing at first. I have a feeling you will have no trouble filling your days. Maybe do some volunteer work or take in some classes to add a bit of a schedule back in to your week, if the need arises. I don’t have a word for next year, but it sounds like a nice exercise to come up with one. Gratitude is a good one! Happy holidays!

    1. Thank you Jennifer. It will be interesting to see what fills my days as they unfold..I look forward to the change.

  3. I think you will be surprised to find that the days can still go by far to quickly and you will find many rewarding activities to fill them with. Life is such an exciting journey and one never knows what lies beyond the next turn. You will find your calling and inspiration in your retirement I am sure! This year I am trying to stick with some goal setting and staying organized with a focus on my family. Starting in the fall I will be homeschooling and that will be an entirely new adventure. Best wishes Donna for a gratifying new year! I look forward to sharing notes and inspiration. xx

    1. Wow Karin that is a big undertaking…love to hear more about it.We both have big changes coming. I would love to share notes and inspiration with you my friend!!

  4. Gratitude is an excellent attitude…and I for one feel grattitude for your reflections. As for retirement, though I have only experienced this vicariously through Tom…I can say that for him it was indeed a graduation, it was cathartic, “like a rose opening petal by petal” (e.e. cummings….somewhere I have never traveled). Again…your attitude is spot on…your “next chapter” awaits you with a gift in its hand…spontaneity, adventure, silence (is golden), and who knows what else? Marvelous! Ahappy happy 2013 to you and all.

    1. Joyce I often think about Tom and his experience when I think of my retirement. I look forward that special rose opening in my garden!! Happy New Year to you and Tom!

  5. When I lost my job a few years ago, I had empty days ahead of me. I volunteered, started writing, gardening. But I found that I was not yet ready to retire. I like being with people and having a schedule. And of course, I liked having the money that a job brings in. So I am back working. I was not yet ready to retire, but I hear that we know when it is time.

    1. I hear you Mary. I intend to fill my days and find some new vocations that will supplement my retirement fund. But above all I intend to have fun!!

  6. It’s a from-the-heart post.

    My thought is that you’ll be alright if you have a camera. I don’t suppose it’s universal but I find looking through a lens gets me so absorbed in the world beyond myself and beyond my own thoughts, it lifts me through everything . . . and what with the internet being a way to share . . . The internet is not enough but what with photographs and community here . . . It will, hopefully, give you the kind of strength you need (in the sense of absence of nothingness) while other things flood in and your new life forms. That’s what’s supposed to happen . . . and, for reasons I don’t properly understand, it seems to happen more easily for women than for men – so you’ve got everything going for you – a camera, a blog, a word, and you’re female. (And August is ages away!)

    1. How wonderful Lucy as I have a feeling that my new camera will be integral for my retirement…I agree that I am lost in a lovely world with it…thank you for your thoughts!

  7. The word I would pick for my mantra would be “hope.” That is what keeps me going. I know you will enjoy your retirement. I retired almost 8 years ago after a 30 year career in education. Retirement at first seemed like one long “recess”. What a liberating feeling! And do you know that I just recently began a gratitude journal? It helps me focus on the positive, and no matter how difficult the day, I always manage to find 5 things that I am grateful for.
    May you be blessed with happiness, peace, and good health in the coming year!

    1. Dorothy how wonderful to hear. I am awaiting that “recess”. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying a gratitude journal too! Wishing you a beautiful, blessed New Year!

  8. Happy New Year! There have been times in my life that I have “drifted” with no goals. And I always felt a bit bad about it – good to know that I was actually being flexible! 😉 I am thinking of some goals for the New Year and it is scary! I guess change always is – even retiring. So, I hope you will take the time to truly enjoy retirement for a while before you forge ahead with new goals. I think gratitude is a wonderful thing to focus on.

  9. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement, Donna! You will LOVE being retired. Free time! Yes! Like me, you love to garden and with a garden the size of yours, you will be plenty busy in spring, summer, and fall…yet, that will not take all of your time. Still time for relaxing, homemaking, volunteering, or whatever it is that is right for you. Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous, and joyful 2013!
    Hugs, Beth

  10. You are retiring from work, not life, so make the most of it. I can not imagine having no direction or goals or things to do. You will find yourself as busy as you want to be rather than as busy as you have to be. That is what will be great about retirement. I wish you the best of health so you can enjoy your new and exciting life. I agree with Lucy, a camera in hand will make you want to explore new things. It will be exciting to see what you find and where it takes you.

    1. Yes you are correct Donna…I am glad to be retiring from my job and finding new things to occupy my time…health will be most important and I have been working on things to ensure it. Of course with less stress from my job I will be have less health issues. I appreciate your words of encouragement Donna!

  11. I’m poised between unemployed and retired. Between garden and blog. Between family and a new home. But how different life is when you are busy by your own choice. Without a work schedule I can sleep when I choose, have breakfast at lunch time (not a sunrise person!) We have an exciting year ahead of us.

  12. I love your post Donna. And I love your word: gratitude. It might be mine too except I keep choosing that one each year, so this year it will be Change. I keep noticing the magnificence of change when fear leaves the scene. Just as ripening fruit falls when it is ready, we fall into new states of being and life. So many fear-based things create anxiety too and I’ve noticed that anxiety is a old hag who will latch onto any synapse that will have her! So I’m embracing Change, which also means loving all the silence in the garden just now and knowing that life is stirring underneath just waiting waiting waiting.

    1. Susan that is a great word, Change. I don’t intend to let that old hag latch onto me…fear and anxiety are less of an issue for me at this time. I love your analogy of the ripening fruit. I will consider myself a wonderful fruit ripening as the sun shines longer and longer each day!

  13. Donna – My mantra is “Just Do It!” as I am rather prone to analysis paralysis. Looking forward to reading about how you express your gratitude next year. You’re not really retiring from education as your writing teaches us so much.

    1. That is how I have been feeling as well…I am just moving my teaching and classroom to my blog now…I like you mantra…perhaps we will keep each other posted as to how we are doing…so far I am using the app faithfully and enjoying it. Easier than I thought.

  14. How exciting, I probably have another 19 years before I can retire. One of my work colleagues has just retired and she is starting with a holiday with her husband which I think is a good idea. She has no real plans just being and pottering.

    I think you will be surprised at how quickly you start to make plans even small ones and you soon adjust to not having someone else’s schedule imposed on you


  15. Love your choice of photos to go with your post. I can understanding you thinking about your impending retirement. My husband has tried it three times but likes working to solve the challenges of a job. I think it will take time to find what truly makes you happy. Whatever it is, I wish you all the best for the new year.

    1. Thanks Karen…each photo meant something special to me. I see myself always working at something…just what that next thing will be is going to be fun to uncover 🙂

  16. may this new year of gratitude and flow be a guide toward acceptance of what simply is… kind of an open “goal”… and no goal all at once. Happy New Year!

  17. Love the photo of the croci…crocusses? My mantra will be the same as last year, something Charles Bukowski said: “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

  18. As always, I feel very blessed as I enter 2013. Life is busy, with projects at work as well as in the garden. I dream of retirement so that I could have more time to devote to those garden related things I love so much. But what would I do without the tiny babies I care for or my friends at work? I wish you the very best, and may your upcoming retirement be just the beginning of new possibilities and adventures.

    1. Oh Deborah I can understand…I know with my changes new people will be coming into my life…that will be exciting.

  19. I’m a very goal-oriented person, but after a detour a few years ago that was unexpected, and out of my control, I discovered that a change in the plan isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although my previous goals were no longer attainable, I simply found myself setting new goals. I remember a time when ‘retirement’ was more of a loss of something, but thankfully, today, I don’t think that’s true. I agree that instead retirement can be a new beginning, an invitation, an opportunity, finally freeing up time and resources for other endeavors that we might not otherwise have pursued. Retirement is also what we choose to make it. Five years ago I did not predict that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, but I’m loving every minute of it. I hope you also find yourself standing somewhere unexpected over the coming months and years, doing something you love too, but until you reach that destination, I hope you enjoy the journey it takes to get there. Happy New Year!

    1. Clare that is half the fun I think, the journey…I look forward to the next endeavor and the fun in getting there.

  20. Happy New Year to you Donna! I think it will be a super good year for you as retirement is a special thing indeed. That’s a really big deal for 2012! My one word for my new year would have to be to exercise. Ha! I better get started soon….take care.

  21. Donna, I’m excited for you and the changes 2013 will bring! This was an open and thoughtful post. Your attitude sounds positive, and I look forward to your updates. My mantra for the year is growth, and while I really mean “personal growth/improvement,” I’m hoping that professional growth/improvement comes with it. Although I often resist change, sometimes I just know when it needs to happen. Best wishes for this New Year!

    1. I think Growth is so appropriate and I hope that may be my next step…here’s to a great New Year filled with ots of growth.

  22. I love your quote at the beginning by Thoreau, we set our own course. Thank you for this beautiful post, all about changes and we turn the corner into 2013. My mantra for the new year is ‘look up’ and see the people around me. Not to be so focused on me and mine but to open up my view and embrace what is out there! Happy 2012 to you!!!

    1. Fabulous Elaine…I think we could all use a bit of looking up and opening up as well…here’s to a great New Year!

  23. Hi Donna,

    Good luck with your retirement… I am sure you will love it! No doubt you will find plenty of things to keep you entertained. I imagine at first you will enjoy just doing nothing, but then it’ll soon get boring and you’ll begin to do things to keep yourself stimulated. I know after I graduated for the um second time (heehee) I spent a nice month or so just relaxing and waiting for my results before looking for a job. I enjoyed myself immensely, especially as I didn’t have to worry about money for the time… Oh how I wish I was still care-free! 🙂

    1. I miss those care free times and plan to recapture them for a time…we will have to see what my second graduation brings 🙂

  24. Couldn’t think of a more apt word for your upcoming adventure! On a selfish note I hope you grow your talent for writing as well as you beautiful garden and you continue to flourish as a blogger and photographer. Donna I am full of excitement for your creativity and I hope you know that I am cheering you on. My word for 2013 is light, which I share with you and I thank you for all your encouragement in that. X

    1. Catherine your light shines through to me and all your encouragement means so much…I will be working on my writing and my photography as well as other creative outlets.

  25. Something tells me you are preparing perfectly for you coming retirement. Even allowing life to unfold before you, you will still choose what has heart and meaning for you and to what you will give your energy. I’m guessing you’re good at those things and will take delight in what comes your way. Anyway, I sure look forward to the rest of the story!

  26. My husband retired at 55 yrs from teaching 8 years ago. He took a break and is now teaching at a community college which he enjoys. You will find what you want to do and it will be something you love and have a passion for..and totally your decision. Thoughtful post as always Donna…. Michelle

  27. Donna-
    I have just loaded your lovely blog into my Grow Your Blog party- so you are all set. Latest updates are on my blog – see you on the 19th!

  28. I ‘retired’ from teaching after 18 years to go and work part-time in a small independent book shop. I love it 🙂
    I’m sure you will find a new path that brings you joy too.

    PS I love the gratitude app (I’m new to fertilizer Friday).

    1. Brona welcome and I love the app too…it works great. I look forward to retiring and doing something part time and fun…glad to hear your journey has been wonderful!

  29. Congratulation on your upcoming retirement Donna, I’m sure you’ll fill your ‘spare’ time with wonderful projects and writing.

  30. Best wishes for the new year and what it brings. I hope finding things to be grateful for comes easy and you enjoy the freedom of retirement.

    1. Alicia my purposeful gratitude has been very helpful and quite easy as I am using the app I referenced…thank you for your kind words Alicia!

  31. Happy New Year and a happy new adventures. Although exciting I know changes can be stressful. I wish you the best and look forward to reading your posts in 2013.

    1. How very nice of you to say so Malinda…I think this may be one of my least stressful times…but change can be a hard adjustment.

  32. oh Donna you americans and your ‘goal’ obsessions, I think if one has to have goals they should be things like to be happy, to be considerate of others excetera, not work, imo. I heard someone say once they had never heard of a person having on their headstone ‘I wish I spent more time at work’

    you sound a bit like you are trying to convince yourself you are happy to retire, although your word ‘gratitude’ is a good word I think and believe it is something you already do in a big way, it comes through in your writing, you are a caring person, I hope you don’t mind my saying but I think for you the word that comes to mind from reading your blog is ‘play’ you need to learn to take time off work and learn the fun of ‘play’ let go, unwind, relax,

    stop worrying, Frances xx
    ps absolutely love your first photo, worms eye view 😉

    1. Frances you are correct about us Americans and our goals. That is why I have abandoned them for more life oriented ones…we obsess about work here…not enough play anymore and something I long for more of…so I thank you for the reminder. I don’t think I am worrying at this point…I have passed that now but I will look for my word to be play as I move on from work to more enjoyable retirement. I really loved taking the worms eye view picture this past spring 🙂

      1. Donna I’m so pleased to read you are worrying less as I know from your blog writing you have worried much in the past 🙂

        I’m also pleased you understood my comment in the friendly way it was meant (I did worry a bit after I had posted it)

        on one of my quilt lists a lady posted she retires this year and though she looks forward to having more time for her art/quilting she is concerned about the change in her routine and asked how others coped, I wish you could see the replies as they are all so wonderfully positive and uplifting, one thing they all have in common is that it has led to a better and more enjoyable way of life, Frances x

        1. Frances I would never take your comment the wrong way…I know you are always helpful and caring. I do love and appreciate your comments!!

  33. Donna after posting my first comment I realised I didn’t mention ‘vocation’ I think for many/most people working in certain professions like education, health, etc. there is a dedication that goes way beyond ‘just a job’

    you are retiring from your ‘job’ but you will never retire from your vocation, people never do. they can’t as it is deep inside them. However when they retire from ‘the job’ they find other out lets for their vocation, you will too, you won’t need to go looking for it, when the time is right something will turn up,
    Frances x

    1. So true as I think I have moved my vocation to teaching about gardening and imparting life’s lessons I am learning…I so appreciate your kind words and wisdom Frances my friend!

    1. Now how did I know that would be your favorite…snowdrops mean a lot to me as they are the first blooms of spring usually in my garden.

  34. What ever you decide to do – may your retirement be a happy one!
    I think that you are doing it the right way – giving everything a chance to sink in before you take on any commitment. I wish you well in what ever path you choose!

  35. Hi Donna, wishing you the best of luck as you embark on a new journey in 2013! Sounds exciting and so much to look forward to for you. Lovely photos and inspiring words, as always. Gratitude is one of my favorite words, too. Happy New Year 🙂

  36. I think gratitude is a perfect word for me. I know I have shared a lot of our retirement fun, you will find your path. You will find things that speak to your heart. Relax and let go, August 1st will open a new door for you.
    One thing I have been doing more since we moved here and Charlie retired is read. We hit the library frequently and read every night.

  37. I really hope you enjoy your new journey Donna. Life without a set schedule can be very liberating, a chance to find out more about yourself and explore things that you never had time for before. I am smiling wryly as I write this, since my goal for the coming year is to put back a basic rhythm in my life, not a strict schedule as such, but a framework that I can use to help me achieve more than when I drift through the days. Different seasons for the pair of us, but I am excited for you, and look forward to reading about your year as it unfolds.

    1. Interesting Janet as I know I will reach the point where I need a bit of a schedule although for now I am looking forward to no schedule. Thank you for your support!

  38. Donna, In typical academic fashion, as I prepare for my own retirement, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. My favorite book about retirement is Robert Weiss’s *The Experience of Retirement* (Cornell University Press, 2005) which is based on interviews with retirees. (I think Weiss did the study in order to help him make sense of his own retirement experience.) My favorite book about open-ended adventure is Alice Steinbach’s *Without Reservations* (Random House, 2000), which is about taking a year off from work for open-ended travel. (I seem to reread this one whenever I need inspiration to be more open and adventurous in my life.) Wishing you a joyous and adventurous year. -Jean

    1. Thanks Jean. I will have to check these books out…I am still in limbo about this move too wrapped up in work (actually overwhelmed) so I have no time to even think about the retirement. Not sure if that is good or bad but it sure makes me happy for the retirement as I am ready to move on…I hope perhaps we might actually get to chat about our retirements and meet in the next year…

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