Love Means…

“Love” by Robert Indiana, 6th Avenue at 55th Street, New York City. Photo by Jennifer Howland Hill.

“Love” is likely the most difficult word to define. We talk about what it means, but definitions fail to hit the mark. Since it finds meaning in action and in character, we describe love more than we define it.

“Love means” was the final prompt for Love Notes 27. Peggy, again, did not disappoint as she shared a poem which demonstrates the evolving meaning(s) of love as she travels the decades.

Love Means
By Peggy L.

At the age of 10
Love means my mama’s smile and a hug.

At the age of 20
Love means bodies tangled in the sheets.

At the age of 30
Love means walking my sweet daughter to class before heading to work.

At the age of 40
Love means letting my baby find her own life, away from me.

At the age of 50
Love means discovering myself and learning to paint.

At the age of 60
Love means…

I’ll let you know.

I love how the poem touches on parental love, romantic love, self-love, and the “unknowns” of love.

As for my part, exhausted and with a mile-long to-do list I couldn’t  even attempt. I went to the Source of Love and sent my partner 1 Corinthians 13:4-8–but again, that describes rather than defines love, and there are more negatives than positives in the description.

According to 1 John 4:8. God is love. Love, therefore, is as complex and multifaceted as God. Perhaps, this is what makes it difficult to define.

If you missed Peggy’s responses to LN 27 Prompt 1 and Prompt 2, be sure click the previous link–twice!


About the imageThe postcard above was sent to me by my friend Cy after a trip to New York last summer.

From the postcard back: The artist, Robert Indiana, settled in New York City in 1954 and began making pop art. His most famous work, Love, was originally designed as a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1964. The image quickly became a symbol of peace at a time when the country had become involved in the Viet Nam War. The 12-foot sculpture was installed at the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in 1971, two blocks from MoMA. It has become one of the most photographed icons in New York City. Every day thousands of couples visit the sculpture and awkwardly ask a stranger to take their photograph.

Happy Weekend!

Speaking in Flowers: In Front of a Window

“Wallwurz und kleine rosa Nelken vor Fenster,” 1935. Gabriele Münter [Wallroot and small pink carnations in front of window]

The postcard above, which features the work of German expressionist painter Gabriele Münter, was one of the first I received for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month. It came from my Love Notes friend, Eileen V.

In honor of our sharing flowers with other women throughout the world, Eileen added another “flower.” She affixed to the message side of the postcard the story of the Greek goddess, Iris:

Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages. Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields. — Hana No Monogatari, from The Story of Flowers

2019 has been brutal thus far, and I’ve lacked the intellectual energy to give words to my feelings and experiences. Flowers have been easier, so taking a cue from nayirrah waheed, I’ll be “speaking in flowers” for much of the next few weeks. I’ll mix things up a bit and try not to bore you. 😉


Speaking of Love Notes, the deadline to sign up for the next round is in a few days. If you love receiving snail mail and want to be part of a wonderful community of creative mail-loving souls, click the link.

Women | Words and Art III

We’ve reached the final post of our women’s words and art series. Today’s postcards are just as empowering and inspiring as the previous posts.

Artist: Cyla Costa

Talking back to the ideology that a woman’s place is in the kitchen or bedroom, this art speaks volumes:

A woman’s place is in the resistance.

I “designed” my own postcard featuring Hillary Clinton’s “famous” phrase a few years ago:

Women’s rights are human rights.  –Hilary Clinton, from her speech at the United Nations Fourth Conference on Women, Beijing China

And from [my forever] First Lady of the United States, the timeless instruction our mothers instilled in us when we were children–to never, ever stoop to “their” level:

When they go low, we go high.  –Michelle Obama, Democratic National Convention, 2016

Artist: Cyla Costa

Reinterpreting Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer,” Angela Davis‘ oft-repeated declaration is another call to become agents of change.

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept. –Angela Davis

Even though I want more, more, more revolutionary art, Davis’s quote provides an apt ending. After all, women’s issues can’t be resolved with pretty words and lettering. We’ve got to get up and do something too!

Some of us are traditional activists. We don’t mind taking to the streets and marching or sitting in. Some use writing–letters, poems, opinion pieces, books. Some use art. Some use social media and phone calls. Some choose to approach change through the way we rear our sons and daughters. It all works–as long as the goal is to cultivate a world that does not stifle or limit women’s and girls’ rights, full participation or agency.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to check them out. Then…

Let’s get to work!

Women | Words and Art II

As promised, I’m back today with more art from “The Future Is Female” package. Are you ready to be empowered?

Nevertheless, she persisted.

In his explanation of Elizabeth Warren’s “silencing” during her “lengthy speech” criticizing [then] Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, Senator Mitch McConnell declared, “She was warned. She was given an explanation.  Nevertheless, she persisted.” Like “nasty woman,” the final sentence became a rallying call and was appropriated by women in a move to dismantle male-centric politics and policies.

Artist: Cyla Costa

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we raise them. May we be them.

Artist: Daiana Ruiz

Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.  –Anais Nin, Dairy, February 1954

Artist: Bodil Jane

When no one speaks and the whole world is silent, then even one voice becomes powerful.  –Malala Yousafzai, on acceptance of Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at Harvard University, 2013

If you missed the first post, be sure to take a look at the four art/quote pieces there. The final four will be in my next post. You’ll need it to complete your full dosage of woman-power. 😉

Women | Words and Art I

Did you see the Google Doodle on International Women’s Day? The doodle featured a collection of inspiring quotes by women beautifully illustrated by [other] women. It’s a pretty impressive collection, and I want the prints!

Fortunately, my bestie–from now on referred to as “the prophet”–anticipated this and sent me a beautiful collection of 12 woman-centered postcards. I finally took time to scan them, so I decided to share them on the blog in three installments.

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is anyone of you. –Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger,” National Women’s Studies Association Conference, 1981

Artist: Daiana Ruiz

Many of us recall when #45 described his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a nasty woman. He intended it as an insult, but his remark–steeped in misogyny–invited a world of women to “stay nasty.”

The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving. –Gloria Steinem

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.  –Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

The postcards are part of The Future Is Female, a 2019 calendar package published by Workman Publishing. The calendar is a rallying call to women–inspiring “a year of activism, unity, and sisterhood.” A portion of the proceeds from the calendar sales will be donated to Girls Write Now, a nonprofit organization “that mentors underserved young women and helps them find their voices through the power of writing and community.”

I hope you’re inspired by the words and art.

Stay tuned. I plan to write posts featuring the remaining eight postcards some time this week.

March on…

12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 12

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

–Howard Thurman, “Christmas Is Waiting to be Born” in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations 

Our final “12 Days of Christmas” post features a card Michael Lomax, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and former President of Dillard University (DU) in New Orleans (1997-2004), sent to University employees in 2002.

Of course, this card wasn’t just lying around waiting for this moment. I found it a couple of weeks ago during my latest “I’m going to purge for real” session.

The cover, entitled “A Tribute to Peace,” features the work of Damion Hunter, who was then a sophomore at DU. A native of New Orleans and DU alumnus, Damion now resides in Houston, Texas. Like this piece, much of his work reflects New Orleans themes.

“A Tribute to Peace” pairs well with Theologian Howard Thurman’s “Christmas Is Waiting to Be Born,” and both work well to end our 12 Days of Christmas.

Hoping you will join me as we begin the real work of Christmas…


If you’re in the Houston area, you can see more of Damion’s work up close and personal on January 11 downtown at Kulture Restaurant. If Houston’s too far to travel, see below for links to some of my favorites from his Instagram profile.


Eric Carle’s Bears: What Do Bears See?

It’s been several months since I last shared children’s book illustration [CBI] postcards, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I assigned partners for the public and group swaps #44 [on swap-bot] a few days ago, but with the exception of the special posting of the sunflower from one of the #30 swaps, I’m only up to #24 on the blog. So much for not falling behind.

Instead of picking up where I left off chronologically, I decided to share the four “bear” cards from the Brown Bear collaboration of writer Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrator Eric Carle.

All were sent to me by Geraldine [Nannydino on swap-bot], one of the swappers who faithfully joins the CBI swaps. The postcards she selects for me always, always, always result from a careful reading of my profile, but it was [still] so thoughtful of her to send me every one of the bear book covers for four separate swaps. It freed me to send these blank Carle cards in my own collection to someone else. After all, postcards filled with ink, stamps, and postal markings are way more interesting than blank postcards.

Here are Carle’s bear illustrations–sent for swaps #33, 36, 38, 41.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is the first book in the Brown Bear series; it was originally published in 1967. The cover above is from the 1992 edition.

The duo came together again more than two decades after Brown Bear to collaborate on Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? The book, published in 1991, was designed to help toddlers identify animals and their sounds.

Published in 2003, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? focuses on the world of endangered animals.

Published in 2007 Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? is the final book in the Brown Bear collaboration. In this one Baby Bear learns about North American animals while on his quest to find Mama.

Baby Bear holds a special place in my heart because I have a wonderful recording of my son “reading” it when he was about 18 months old. My mommy heart swoons each time I hear his tiny toddler voice rhythmically repeating the lines from the book. The Carle illustrations were among his favorites. And they are still among mine.

If you’re interested in the unique way Carle creates his illustrations, follow the link in my sunflower post. 

Until tomorrow…