Hello Beautiful!

“Hello Beautiful,” by Timree

I sent the final letters for Love Notes 20 this morning. Sigh. I’ll send postcards periodically to my Love Notes pals while we wait for the next round, but the return to work tomorrow and preparation for the 2017-18 academic year means I must take a short break from my role as a snail mail revolutionary and focus on the life of the mind.

As you may recall from earlier posts:

Love Notes is a postcard project coordinated by Jennifer Belthoff that “encourages slowing down, getting back to basics, and connecting through handwritten notes sent through the mail.” Participants sign up for the swap on Jennifer’s website and then she assigns partners–notified via email–who correspond with each other for three weeks based on a prompt she provides each Sunday.

The prompts for this round were provided by Mindy T of Embody Love Movement. Each prompt provided participants with the opportunity to reflect and share with their partners. I plan to use today’s microblog and the next two “Microblog Mondays” to share the cards and messages I received from my assigned partner and the kind souls who sent beautiful reflections out of the goodness of their hearts.

The first prompt was “Hello beautiful…”

Being told we are beautiful makes a tremendous impact on our mental, physical, and emotional health, so I can only imagine the good vibes that reverberated throughout the world as Love Notes participants retrieved postcard after postcard, note after note, letter after letter that began with the words, “Hello Beautiful!”

My partner, Jenni P, sent a postcard from the “Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site.”

From the postcard back: Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site preserves the 19th-century home of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and stepmother of our 16t president. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer living in Springfield by the time his parents moved here, but his burgeoning law practice often brought him to Charleston and the farm, especially during the 1840s. Abraham Lincoln also owned a portion of the farm which he deeded back to his father and step-mother for their use during their lifetime. Today, Lincoln Log Cabin is an 86 acre historic site that includes an accurate reproduction of the Lincolns’ two-room cabin which was reconstructed on the original cabin site in 1935-1936 as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project. A working, living history farm has been developed around the cabin. The site also includes the Moore Home, where Lincoln bid farewell to his family in 1861 before leaving to assume the Presidency, and the grave sites of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln at the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery. For more information, go to www. lincolnlogcabin.org.

Jenni has no knowledge of my love for purple, so it was a nice coincidence to find the purple flowers in the photo. Her message:

Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks, not in what they say. Just in what they are. –Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger

Andrea F, whose work you’ve seen recently in a “summertime post,” graced my mailbox with a collage of “happy red postcards.”

Collage, “Happy Red Postcards,” by Andrea F.

She wrote that the collage is a compilation of postcards from some “beautiful happy moments” in her life she wishes to share.  She closed the note simply–

Be beautiful.

Lori W’s cute chipmunk gave me the “warm fuzzies.”  The little critter comes from Animal Box: A Collection of 100 Animal Postcards.

“Chipmunk,” 1990. By David Howell. Originally published in Sermons in Stone: The Stone Walls of New England and New York by Susan Allport

Her message–

Hello beautiful! Rest your heart on the ultimate certainty–you are loved!

Isn’t it so that when we walk in this truth (knowing we are loved) we are indeed more beautiful–inside and out?

I did the happy mail dance when I pulled the cards from Christine B and Connie F from the mailbox. Why? They both sent sunflowers! Christine sent a bouquet of sunflowers embellished with washi tape and paper accents.

“Sunflowers seem to be always smiling.”  Photo postcard by Christine B.

She counseled:

Be true to who you are and smile. It’s the prettiest thing you can wear.

Connie designed “one of a kind” cards for some of us in the group. I was simply speechless when I pulled her card out of the envelope. Everything about this card made my heart sing–the sunflowers, the washi tape, the tiny mirrors, and the heartfelt message. [Photo does no justice].

“Hello Beautiful,” crafted by Connie F.

There are many beautiful people in the world.  Never forget you are one of them.  I hope you feel beautiful today! If you start to wonder what beautiful looks like, check the mirror.

My own message, drawn from a wall sticker in my home office, “Be your own kind of beautiful,” encouraged my postcard pals to embrace their unique light and shine on!

Just yesterday, I happily found a package of “Hello Beautiful” notecards (top) designed by Timree that I purchased some time ago. They’re too pretty to remain stored in my stuffed box of stationery, so I plan to write to some of my sisterfriends and remind them of their beauty.

If you were to write a “hello beautiful” message today, to whom would you write and what would you say?

Snapshots from Madrid: Doors and a Fond Farewell

We’ve reached the final installment of Cy’s “Snapshots from Madrid” series.  Today’s post features some of the interesting doors Cy “experienced” while in Madrid, an appropriate ending for the series.

I had the opportunity to visit the 80th anniversary Picasso exhibit at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. The exhibit, entitled Pity and Terror in Picasso: The Path to Guernica, bring[s] together approximately 150 masterpieces by the artist–some from the Reina Sofía’s own collection and others from over 30 institutions around the world, including the Musée Picasso and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Tate Modern in London; The Museum of Modern Art  (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, to name a few.  There are also selections from private collections including that of Claude Ruiz-Picasso, the son of the artist.

The exhibit was well worth the 10€ entry fee.

But I find the art of everyday Madrid inspirational as well.  In particular, the entry doors to apartment buildings and offices kept me engrossed for quite some time.  Some of the doors appear below.

[Click an image for a closer look.  Be sure to note the fine details–the artistry–of the doors].

  Without a doubt, Madrid has some of the most beautiful doors I’ve ever seen.

As Cy “closes the door” on her adventures in Madrid, she leaves knowing that the door will always be open. Who knows? Maybe, she’ll find her way back to Madrid some day.

Although this is the end of Cy’s series, I have a feeling I’ll be back with a few more random “Snapshots from Madrid” some time soon.

To visit–or revisit–the other three posts in the series, follow the links below:

Thank you, Cy, for allowing us to experience Madrid through you. Have a safe return home.  See you soon, friend!

Purple and the Language of Flowers

What’s just as heartwarming as “found” hearts?  Purple blossoms in the mail, of course! My postcard pal, Jacki W., makes sure that I find purple flowers in my mailbox regularly.  Jacki, a Love Notes and Global HeART participant, loves purple just as much as I do. Here are some of the gorgeous postcards she sent recently.

Wisteria Climbing: Potent Symbol of New Life

There is so much to love about this postcard! The way the wisteria adorns the house, the windows and doors. The garden beneath. The quaint home itself. Just a lovely scene.

According to Flower Meaning, the botanist who recorded details of the flower named it in honor of a fellow scientist, Dr. Wistar.

This flower is native to Asia, so naturally many of its meanings come from Chinese and Japanese culture. In China, this flower is commonly featured in art and plays involving marriage. Many people exchange the flowers as a good luck charm when planning a wedding. Since the vines and trees bloom in spring and early summer, it’s a potent symbol of new life. This is why modern florists recommend it for both baby showers and business openings. A well-trimmed wisteria bonsai offers perfection in a tiny package, tapping into the meaning of devotion.  –From Flower Meaning.

Anemone: Windflower and Magic Fairies

There are few things as beautiful as a flower that stands alone.  This image needs nothing more than the beautiful purple blossoms–no background at all. If I remember correctly, I squealed when I received this one.

The stories about anemones make the flower even more endearing:

The name anemone comes from the Greek word for “windflower.” According to Greek mythology, the anemone sprang from Aphrodite’s tears as she mourned the death of Adonis.

Thought to bring luck and protect against evil, legend has it that when the anemone closes its petals, it’s a signal that rain is approaching.

Still other mythology connects the anemone to magical fairies, who were believed to sleep under the petals after they closed at sunset. Perhaps it’s because of this magical and prophetic tales that today in the language of flowers, anemones represent anticipation.  –from Teleflora.

Hyacinth: Constancy and Sincerity

Isn’t this deep purple simply breathtaking?

Legend has it the origin of hyacinth, the highly fragrant, bell-shaped flower, can be traced back to a young Greek boy named Hyakinthos. As the story goes, two gods – Apollo the sun god, and Zephyr the god of the west wind – adored Hyakinthos and competed for his attention. One day, while Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos the art of throwing a discus, Zephyr, in a jealous rage, blew the discus back, killing Hyakinthos with a strike to the head. Apollo named the flower that grew from Hyakinthos’s blood hyacinth.

Symbolizing sport or play in the language of flowers, hyacinth represent constancy, while blue hyacinth expresses sincerity.  –From Teleflora

We select particular flowers for our loved ones because they carry a sentiment we can sometimes communicate only through the gift, especially when we are miles apart.  So Jacki’s postcard selections convey powerful messages of well wishes, visions for my life, and a statement about the character of our friendship.  Jacki has been a constant postcard pal and her cards always brighten my spirits. [Thank you, Jacki!]

I’m determined to transform my home office space into a purple space, and in that space I will have a wall filled with purple postcards. Until then, they’ll adorn the purple walls of my office at work.

Photography: Finding Love Notes, Naturally

I’ve been “finding hearts” a lot this summer–when I look up, when I look down, when I’m simply enjoying my surroundings. Here’s a sampling of the hearts I “found” and photographed this summer.

❤ ❤ ❤

After seven years of faithful (and perhaps too much) shooting, my camera died on me late one April afternoon while I was shooting Magnolia blossoms. I was heartbroken. One of my good friends offered to purchase a new camera for me in return for a small favor. I would have done the favor anyway, so I resisted until I read a quote about not denying others the gift of giving to us. It finally convinced me to allow her to bless me in this way.  (And yes, I have amazing friends).

The camera arrived on a quiet Thursday afternoon. I unpacked it, took a shot of it straight out of the box with my phone, then stepped outside to give it a test run. The sun was a bit too much for my eyes, so I decided to shoot the heart I “found” a few months ago–I had to cast my gaze downward, which wasn’t as harsh on my eyes.

But what did I see when my eyes adjusted to the brightness of outdoors? Another heart! The heart affirmed my acceptance of the gift (because “truth be told,” I still had a problem with accepting it).

“Affirmation,” June 2017

❤ ❤ ❤

While my guys and I were walking through Ditto Landing a recent Saturday afternoon, my little one pointed out the heart (below) carved into the pavement–a natural symbol of the love embodied in our little family.

“Etched in Stone,” July 2017

I found a second heart during our walk, but I’m saving that one for another post. 😉

❤ ❤ ❤

My neighbor’s mini sunflower “patch” has been my happy place over the last few weeks. As I fretted over one thing or another one morning, I decided to visit them (again). This sunflower was a double reminder to turn my worries over to God and embrace His all-encompassing love, which will carry me through my difficulties.

“First Visit,” July 2017

❤ ❤ ❤

Just a few days ago, as I was again attempting to declutter and destash, I ran across an envelope filled with “found hearts” I received for a swap some time ago. The sender, Kelly (aka Mugsie), also loves found hearts and she sent several of her original photographs. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

Kelly finds hearts everywhere. If this small collection doesn’t convince you, take a look at her “naturally found hearts” site where you’ll find many more.

❤ ❤ ❤

It’s always a pleasure finding hearts when I’m out and about and it thrills me to share the hearts with friends and family. The photos serve well–in quick “thinking about you” notes, as “love posts,” and even as Liberate Your Art selections. The hearts “appear” when I need them most and reassure me that my world is okay.

What about you? Do you “find” hearts? Or is there some other symbol you “find” or look for when you need a particular message?

Snapshots from Madrid: Beauty and Oppression

It’s Friday, so that means I am back with another installment of “Snapshots from Madrid.” Here Cy shares stunning architectural photos from Toledo and Buen Retiro Park in Madrid. Instead of the expected tourist response to the edifices, she shares her unique musings on the buildings.

There are a lot of things that I can say about Spain, some good and some bad, but I choose the good every day. What’s the use in rehearsing the problems that are familiar to us?  Today, I bought a few souvenirs from street hawkers. The hawkers are a bit ragged, but they work hard. So I buy a little something. As a tourist, I am careful to spend money with traditional as well as non-traditional vendors. That way everyone benefits.

The photos I am sharing today are from the expected tourist routes. The first is an alley in the Jewish Quarter of Toledo.

The Jewish Quarter Alley in Toledo, Spain. Photo by Cy

The others are from Buen Retiro Park in Madrid. I think these are the remains of a palace, but I’m not sure.  The “remains” are not like the “ruins” of Jerusalem and Greece. They’re more like museum structures–well-maintained partial structures with interiors.

“Park of the Pleasant Retreat,” Buen Retiro Park in Madrid. Photo by Cy.

“Another View,” Photo by Cy.

What do these preserved historical edifices have in common with the vendors I encounter on the streets?  I wonder what they would say about the paradoxes of which they are a part.  If they could speak, what would these edifices say about the people who are selling wares against such backdrops of beauty…and oppression?

If you want more information, click the links to find out more about the Jewish Quarter of Toledo and Buen Retiro Park and be sure to tune in next week for our final installment of “Snapshots from Madrid.”

Love Notes Catchup: Time for New Friendships

Another round of Love Notes began last week, and as I await postcards, I thought it might be wise to share many of the dozens of love notes I received during and since Love Notes #19 (in April). It seems there will never be enough time to showcase all of them, so I’ve decided to share a bundle of cards in this post and others later in their own special posts. As usual, some of the cards are handmade, some are store-bought, but all were especially chosen for me. Forgive me for the lack of details, but do enjoy the pretty. [Click an image for a closer look].

 

Yanelis, my assigned partner, wrote in the first card she sent, “It’s time for new friendships.” Her statement was almost prophetic; I met many new penfriends via the last round and I’m looking forward to getting to know more members of the Love Notes community.

Wishing you a week filled with love and postcards!

Snapshots from Madrid: The Path I Take

In case you missed last week’s Snapshots from Madrid–Cy is sending me notes and pics about her experiences in Madrid this month, and I’m sharing some of her messages as blog posts. She is involved in an intensive month-long workshop to enhance skills in teaching English as a Second Language. Cy spends most of her time in classes and studying, but she takes a moment to photograph scenes from her daily life. These posts aren’t about tourism, but about the day to day path of a traveler who finds beauty in the mundane.

“The Path I Take,” Photo by Cy

I walk by this street almost every day on my way to and from school.  It’s prettiest in the morning when few people are out. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live abroad–for a few years at least. But, I have not yet found the place that calls me to stay and leave everything behind. Madrid is lovely and I’ve heard that there are more breathtaking cities in Spain. I’ve not had a chance to see those other places; still I know this isn’t the country that calls my name. It’s been a good experience so far, and I’ve learned quite a bit in and out of school. But when it’s time to leave, I will go.

Earlier this year, Cy and I challenged ourselves to “look for the light” in our daily movements. This photograph demonstrates that Cy is still finding light. That’s a good thing.

Tune in next Friday to see what Cy shares. I think I’ll make a personal request for some architecture photos. 😉