Gifts for the Soul

Guess what I found in my mailbox today?  A wonderful package from Brit, a student who just graduated with a B.A. in English.  I met Brit in the fall when she took a Creative Drama course under my instruction.  We bonded immediately.  She’s a sweet spirit.  Bright, warm, giving.  She’s on her way to becoming an amazing early childhood educator.

Brit sent a journal featuring George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte—1884. Considered a masterpiece of Pointillism and the French Post-Impressionist‘s best known work, the painting shows members of different social classes enjoying leisure time in the park.  The 10-foot-wide painting took the artist 2 years to complete.   The journal cover (front and back) is embossed. The photo really does little justice.

Journal Cover Front

Journal Cover Front

She also sent another little something for my soul—My Personal Daily Prayer Book by Christine A. Dallman and Margaret Anne Huffman.  The beautiful gilt-edged book features a prayer, passage of scripture and a meditation for each day of the year.  There is journaling space at the end of each month.  Publications International published the book.

My Personal Daily Prayer Book

My Personal Daily Prayer Book

Brit inscribed each and also enclosed a very touching card.  I am doing a lot of meditating, reflecting and writing this summer, so these are perfect for the kind of summer I’m having. Thanks, Brit. You know your (former) prof very well.  Hearts and hugs to you!

My Personal Prayer Book by

My Personal Prayer Book Cover

Traces of Love

Today marks three months since my sister’s passing.  I wish I could say it’s easier, but the pain is just as fresh and heart-crushing today as it was when the news first fell on my ears. Anticipating that today might be a little more difficult, last night before I went to bed, I took a sympathy card I received out of a keepsake box.  I received many cards and expressions of sympathy over the last few months.  But this one touched my heart in a special way—perhaps, because it was sent to me by a “stranger;” perhaps because I pulled it from my campus mailbox right at the end of the academic year when I was still reeling miserably and pushing myself to just “get through” the end of semester madness.

I left the card on my nightstand and opened it early this morning because I needed to read the words again.  Postcrosser Silke in Germany sent the card. She resent a postcard because she rightly assumed that I did not received the first one she sent. Before resending, she reviewed my profile and visited my blog.  At the time, the last post was about my sister’s passing.  Silke was compelled to write and send this card.

Heartfelt Sympathy:  The only important things in life are the traces of love we leave as we go.

Translation: “Heartfelt Sympathy–The only important things in life are the traces of love we leave as we go.

She writes:  “There is not much comfort to offer you.  Your belief will help you […]. You will learn how to deal with the gap that is now in your life.  The first year is the most difficult […].  Remember her, even though it is painful; remember how she did not concentrate on the hard fate that had to come to her.  Try to think of the good times.  I’m convinced the way you described her, that’s what she would want you to keep in mind.  Not the end.  Her life was more than the end.  Take courage. Talk about her. Cry. This is the time to.”

This card is meaningful for another reason—its message reminds that the footprints and impressions, specifically, the traces of love we leave are most important in life.  Silke grasps this concept.  I am a stranger on “the other side” of the world, but she expressed a deep love for humanity by reaching out across land and water and sharing her light in this way.  She left a “trace of love,” a strong impression on my heart and in my life.

Thanks, Silke.

Mischief Makers

I told one of my more “mature” friends that my next blog post would be about “little old ladies.”  Her response was something like “she’d kill me” if I were referring to her.   Needless to say, I was not.  I do value my life.  But this post does feature two postcards of mischievous mature women that are part of my postcard collection. Even though one seems “scripted,” the postcards are so similar in composition and tone that one would assume the photos were taken by the same photographer. They were not. I purchased the first postcard in New York City, intending to send it to another “mature” friend because she’s just as mischievous and cheeky as the women portrayed.  I never got around to sending it–so I guess, I’ll send her the link to this post.

"No Evil," Photograph by Michael Corsi 1973, published by fotofolio

“No Evil,” Photograph by Michael Corsi 1973, published by fotofolio

I do wonder, though, if the photograph captures the women’s natural reaction to something presented to them.  I guess, I’ll never know.

The second card was sent by Postcrosser Maurice from the Netherlands.  Aren’t these women wonderfully cheeky?  My son would fit right in with them!

Photo by Anne Lax/Voller Ernst, published by Guthrath

Photo by Anne Lax/Voller Ernst, published by Guthrath

Maurice, a graphic designer, lives in Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands with his wife and cat (see neat drawing below).  My good friend, Marijke, whom the first card was intended for, would love this one too.  The bonus for her is she’s also Dutch, like the sender.

"Cyrus the Cat," Drawn by Maurice from the Netherlands

“Cyrus the Cat,” Drawn by Maurice from the Netherlands

Have a mischief-filled weekend!

Color Me Yellow!

Quite a bit of yellow has gone in and out of my mailbox over the last week or two, so this post is all about the yellow. I joined the “May Color: Yellow Photo” swap hosted by swap-bot Sharp Shooter, Lou. Here’s what I sent to my partner:

Close-up, 2013

“Close-up,” 2013

This flower was part of a bright and beautiful bouquet my parents received earlier this year. As much as I love photographing flowers, I know the names of very few of them. If you know what this is, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks!

Yellow Tang, Tennessee Aquarium, 2013

“Yellow Tang,” Tennessee Aquarium, 2013

Found this yellow tang at the Tennessee Aquarium. It is usually difficult to get good shots in aquariums, but I found the TN Aquarium particularly challenging. I was constantly changing the camera settings and hoping for good shots. At one point, I gave up on the fish and just shot photos of plants, flowers and all the outdoor creatures. None of them were yellow, though. 😉

Yellow Weeds aka Wild Flowers

“Yellow Weeds aka Wild Flowers”

These lovely weeds (really, wildflowers) were the inspiration for a swap I hosted, “Pretty Weeds,” but I couldn’t resist sending my “Yellow” partner an advanced copy of the photo. These were taken at a park near our home.

And here’s what my partner, the swap host, sent to me:

"Daffodils," photo by Lou

“Daffodils,” Photo by Lou

When I see daffodils, I’m reminded of two things: (1) the lyrics of song, “I Like the Mountains”–“I like the mountains, I like the rolling hills. I like the flowers. I like the daffodils. I like the fireside when all the lights are low.” (2) Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy. In the novel, the title character recounts being forced (while in school) to learn a poem about daffodils even though she had never seen one–they did not grow in her “small island” homeplace. If memory serves me well, she sees her first daffodils after moving to the United States to work as an au pair.

"Lemons," photo by Lou

“Lemons,” Photo by Lou

Lemons. Just in time for summer and some nice cool lemonade. Lou shot these photos at the Macy’s Flower Show in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

All of this yellow reminds me of some other yellow that went in and out of my mailbox earlier this year. Beckra, one of my “Professors United” friends, hosted a swap last year entitled “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day.” She was a little too busy to handle the swap this year, so she gave me permission to host the swap instead. In some countries, it is customary to exchange flowers on International Women’s Day (IWD)–March 8th–so for swap individuals sent postcards that incorporated a yellow flower.

I sent two postcards to each of my partners. They were made with Hallmark cardmaking software. I was actually looking through the software for another reason and happened across the sunflowers and the “other” yellow flowers. I sent the sunflowers “as is.” After all, who would tamper with the beauty of sunflowers? I added the 2013 theme for IWD to the “other” flowers. Both were well received. One swap participant expressed her appreciation for the IWD theme for the year, since she herself was a victim of violence.

Yellow Flowers for International Women's Day 2013

“Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day 2013: Sunflowers”

"Yellow Flowers for International Women's Day 2013: A Promise is a Promise"

“Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day 2013: A Promise is a Promise”

In return, I received three beautiful postcards–including one from Beckra, who did not participate in the actual swap.

"Waking Up in a New Country," photo by Troy M. Litten

“Waking Up in a New Country,” Photo by Troy M. Litten

“Waking Up” was sent by eepy from Canada. The postcard comes from Wanderlust: 30 Posstcards for Insatiable Travelers. Eepy loves to travel by train and the idea of opening her compartment window and seeing all the yellow flowers in the morning is appealing to her.

"Yellow Flowers for International Women's Day 2013," from Kirstyenarnox, Netherlands

“Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day 2013”

Kirstyenarnox sent this beautiful yellow flower with love from the Netherlands.

"Yellow Flowers for International Women's Day," Photo by Beckra

“Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day,” Photo by Beckra

Last, but not least, Beckra sent this stunning close-up of a yellow orchid. She shared a Hortense Calisher quote–“One must give back the store of the universe. Anybody can”–and two of her own centos. Yay for me and my mailbox!

Since I’m now in the mood for William Wordsworth, I leave you with “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.