Wild Roses and a Moment of Sweetness

“Eglantine,” from an original mouth-painted by D. Legrix. Published by the Association of Handicapped Artists.

I had a sweet moment today while looking for a particular postcard to blog today. Mixed in with the snail mail and art projects [in various stages] that consume my craft desk was a card from Aunt Sac [short for Sacramento], one of my great aunts, written way back in 1992.  Aunt Sac was very fond of me and I of her. [I was her favorite, but shhh…don’t tell].

In the note, she mentioned speaking briefly with my sister Lori and my [late] Aunt Joy’s failing health, emphasizing her complete trust in God. She joked about her age, commented on not seeing my mom lately, and encouraged me to “keep working hard and praying much.”  She closed the letter with the familiar phrase, “Love you,” our reminder that we’re okay even if all isn’t right in the world.

Aunt Sac is no longer with us, but she still holds a special place in my heart. I pulled the card from my box of old letters earlier this year [for some reason?]; it was nice to run across it again this rainy Thursday. There’s so much history and sweetness in old letters.


About the Image: I was also intrigued by the card. I’m sure I paid little attention to the artwork in my youth, but I am pleased to [now] learn about Denise Legrix (1910-2010), a French writer and artist who painted by mouth. The artwork, entitled “Eglantine,” was produced from an original and  published by the Association of Handicapped Artists, Inc., which is no longer active. I think the work of that organization was picked up by the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists association. Eglantine [sweetbrier] is a type of wild rose. The scan does little justice to the luxurious card, which has the look and feel of an original painting.

Until tomorrow…

Joy Break 5 | Scatter Joy!

Scatter JoyWhen I was in college, every Friday students were given an opportunity to write positive, joy-filled messages to whomever they wished. Someone would go around the cafeteria during the lunch hours and pass out minimally decorated colored paper entitled “Joy Notes,” give individuals an opportunity to write a message, collect them, and deliver them to the dormitory offices for distribution via students’ mailboxes.

It was such a pleasure to write these notes because I knew they would make the recipients feel loved and appreciated.

What a treat it was to discover a “Joy Note” in my own box–especially after an unbearable or stressful week.

I saved many of the Joy Notes written to me, and they still warm my heart. Among them are a note from my roommate, expressing her delight that we were rooming again and appreciation for my friendship; a note from one of my good friends that decried our busy senior-year life and that let me know she cherished our friendship though we didn’t have as much time to chat as we had in previous years; one from another friend, thankful for my support through a difficult time in his life; a lengthy “missive” from my bestie after she moved off campus about how much work she was getting done since she didn’t have our long talks, shopping sprees, one-on-one basketball games, and other adventures to distract her. But, of course, she was missing all of that! 😀

You know where this is heading.

This wouldn’t be Joy Week on Pics and Posts if I were to let it end without encouraging you to spread joy to others.

It’s always a delight to know that someone is thinking of us and that we are appreciated for simply being who we are. So…take a moment to write a “joy note” today. Write a note to your spouse, your child, a long-lost friend, your parents for putting up with you; a “thinking of you” note to a few individuals you haven’t heard from lately; a thank you to the neighbor who kindly drags your trash can from the curb each week or who cuts your grass as a surprise while you’re on vacation.

We shy away from such activities because we overthink them and try to do much more than is necessary. In this case, “less is more.” Even one sentence is sufficient to spread a little joy.

To make life easier, you can use the simple 4×6 printable I designed using one of my own doodled flowers. [Aren’t you proud of me?] The card prints nicely in black and white too and can be sent as a postcard if printed on card stock.

[Click the links below to access the freebies–one ruled, one unruled]

The “spread joy” flower was inspired by a coneflower drawn by my penfriend Christine for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketch Book Project. Her flower was inspired by a flower sketched by Jane M., another artist and Love Noter. One person’s creative joy led to another’s and that led to another’s. See how quickly the joy spreads?

Come on! Let’s scatter some joy this weekend!


Bonus: Check out the gorgeous “Scatter Joy” image available as a free download from Ashley at The Handmade Home.  Be sure to download the freebie and display it in your home to remind yourself to “scatter joy” each and every day.

 

Many Kinds of Blessings

Instruction ended today. Of course, I can’t celebrate too enthusiastically because after the last day of classes the most difficult work begins.

At this moment, university professors everywhere are clenching their teeth and focusing all their energy on overcoming the major hurdle of final grading and the accompanying drama of begging, pleading, and “shopping” for grades. We keep reminding ourselves that the end is in sight and a sweet summer of rest is on the way. [For many of us rest means working just as hard–but in our own space and on our own time].

At the end of the semester we must constantly remind ourselves of the general good in our students and the good we do for our students. My [former] student Raven made that effort a bit easier for me this week. When I finally made it to our P.O. Box a few days ago, I found among the cheerful greetings and cards from Love Notes pals a sweet and encouraging card from Raven. [Yes, Raven, I checked my mail days ago.]

The card reminded me that though we experience moments when we doubt our work, we actually do some good in the world; our students appreciate our pouring into them; and eventually, they get it.  Thankfully, some, like Raven, “get it” immediately.

Here’s part of her message:

You have been on my mind lately and I wanted to show you just how great you are and how thankful I am for your having been in my life as more than a professor and advisor. You share so much of yourself with your students and we are better for it. Thank you for being you. Your words of love and wisdom, the postcards you send, the blogs you post, the pictures you take…they all illustrate the beauty and intelligence that you are…

I am humbled by such messages. I do not take the influence or the gifts mentioned in Raven’s note lightly. I am blessed through my interactions with students and thankful–even if not always immediately–for the ways they help me stretch and grow.

I chose the [English] professoriate because through literature and language study, students and I open up and enter countless worlds together. It is my hope that through such study they ultimately become change agents in the hands of God.

A Written Word: Seven Days of Inspiration and Comfort

“A Bundle of Notes” from colleagues and students

It’s okay. It’s okay to bleed a while. –from a note written by Linda W.

In the quiet of night, after I’ve stirred restlessly and aimlessly all day, I find calm and peace as I unfold a note or open a card written to carry me through this difficult period in my life. The note Silke sent five years ago, which I’ve read and shared dozens of times, is read repeatedly again.

As I work through my grief, I’m moved by my friends, penfriends, colleagues, and students who put pen to paper to offer words of comfort and encouragement. There’s something sacred in those notes, in individuals’ choosing to take part in someone else’s pain and loss.

Often, people can’t find the words to say or they speak one sentence more than they should, but somehow, the pen helps them find words that possess power to soothe and heal.

The precious words offer the humanity I need when so much of my grief is trapped in an aching silence.

Someone else needs these words, so I’ve decided to share some of the beautiful, inspiring, comforting words on the blog this week–sometimes, an image and a quote, sometimes an excerpt from a card or note, sometimes a reflection.

Always in the evening…when I have a moment to “just be.”

This evening’s quote comes from the note written by a new friend who suffered her own loss not so long ago. It’s a reminder that it’s okay to be “not okay,” and ultimately, we pay the price for pretending we are.

Sweet Things Long Forgotten

A few days ago I told my bestie that I am thinking about deactivating my Facebook account because I am frustrated with the soul-tiring news that fills my feed. Today, I have another reason to deactivate.

Facebook stole my letters!

I spent some time this morning going through a box of letters from my (mostly) teen years. I lingered a bit with a stack of letters from my mom and siblings. I literally rolled on the floor laughing at almost every letter. I also marveled at how much memory is stored in those letters: my baby sister Dani’s tween prattling; my younger sister Angie’s (still) wry humor; my older brother Dennis’ first thoughts about California; my oldest sister Val’s daily tasks as a new mother; the squabbles between the two youngest; my mom’s instructions for how to use enclosed money; the envelope full of newspaper pages from Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Orleans.

The letters are treasures, really. Mini-histories of our family life.

I used to send a long, newsy letter to family and friends at the end or beginning of each year. The year I activated a Facebook account, that ceased. Even though I enjoyed writing the letters and selecting the top photos of the year to enclose, I stopped. I reasoned since most family and friends are on Facebook, I can share that way. But it’s surely not the same. I don’t share everything via social media. In fact, I share very little. Besides, there are still a lot of people in my family and friends circle who do not use social media at all.

Moreover.

Status updates and photos online are fun, but, 30 years from now, I don’t think it will be as rewarding to go through decades and decades of (the future equivalent of) Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds as it will be to go through stacks of letters from family and friends.

So, seriously. Pick up a pen. Grab some paper and write a letter; encourage  your parents, your siblings, your children to write as well. Write to family and life-long friends. Tell them to share the little joys of their day, their day-to-day interactions, their thoughts. Anything. Letters don’t have to be long. My mom was busy. Her letters were always short and sweet, but lovingly appreciated.

Years from now, when the cares of life burden your brain and you can barely remember which way is up, you’ll be glad for the little reminders of sweet things long forgotten.

Art and Letters: It’s Time for Happy Mail!

I’m dropping by today to encourage you to participate in the Liberate Your Art and/or Love Notes.  The signup deadlines are upon us.

Are you a “closet” artist who’s a little timid about sharing your art with the world? Do you have thousands of photos sitting on your hard drive, in your camera, or in the cloud? Dozens of drawings, sketches, illustrations, paintings, carvings, or sculptures? Have you crafted beautiful scarves or dresses.? Do you use calligraphy to write poems or quotes? If you create anything, Liberate Your Art is your swap, and it’s time to share your art with the world.

Participation is easy-peasy. You select one to five (1-5) pieces of art, make postcard reproductions, and send the postcards along with address labels and postage stamps to Kat Sloma, the swap founder and coordinator.  She organizes the postcards and “sends them out into the world.” You will receive six (6) pieces of art in return–one from Kat.

You can find all the details by clicking the image below:

And if you’re interested in seeing art I received and sent from past swaps, click here: LYA on Pics and Posts.

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So art’s not your thing, but you want to get in on the snail mail love? Try Love Notes. Also easy. You write three postcards (or note cards) to one partner over a three week period–in response to a prompt.  Cards may be purchased or handmade.  The idea is to connect with another person through writing and spread love via snail mail.

Click the link below for more details and to sign up! The first round of 2018 starts January 14, so act quickly!

You can check out some of the Love Notes exchanges I’ve participated in by clicking here: Love Notes on Pics and Posts.

I participate in both. In fact, a LYA participant introduced me to Love Notes. Should  you decide to participate, you will find wonderful communities of beautiful souls and (should you choose) your relationships will extend beyond the yearly (LYA) and quarterly (LN) swaps.

If you have any questions about either swap, please feel free to contact me using the contact form at the bottom of the “A Little About Me” page.

I highly recommend MOO for getting postcards printed. If you’d like to order from MOO, use my referral link and you can save 20% and I can earn moo bucks.  [Note: I’m not paid to advertise MOO. I’ve been using moo for 5+ years. They do great work and have excellent customer service. Also, I get to “moo” without being looked at strangely]. 😛

I hope to see you in one or both swaps!

Let’s Meet for Tea!

One day I’m going to plan a mega tea party and invite all my pen friends. It would be wonderful to sit around and chat at length about our mutual interests, the pretty things we all love, and our lives in general. That is not feasible at the moment, so instead, I gather the letters and postcards received and enjoy them with a hot cup of herbal tea during my quiet moments in the morning or evening.  I imagine that I am having tea with my friends as I savor their words.

That’s what Trang K’s Live-Laugh-Love postcard is about.

“Steeped in Life, Love, and Laughter,” Handmade Postcard by Trang K.

Trang crafts such delicate watercolor postcards. You might remember the sunflower she sent a few months ago. [She sent another sunflower recently. I’ll be sharing that one on the blog soon]. Trang not only creates visually beautiful cards but she also writes beautiful messages.  On this one she wrote about the way she crafted the postcard.

She writes:

Postcards have two sides: “a scenic” side and a “journey” side. While the scenic side tickles our senses, the journey side is filled with facts stamps, dates, and beautifully handwritten words from caring hearts…fingerprints of the postcard’s travels in time and space. ❤

She continues:

I created this postcard to feature the “journey” on both sides–real and imagined.  Like an envelope wraps the gift of a letter, the journey side, full of LIFE and stamped with LOVE and LAUGHTER is the gift.  May we each celebrate the scenic route and savor the homecoming of our hearts to our souls.

Don’t you want to write a letter now? Then do so…Grab a postcard or some stationery, make some tea, and have a spot with a faraway friend.