“A Psalm of Life: Let Us Be Up and Doing”

I thought about posting a biblical poem today, but once again, I was overwhelmed by my choices, so I decided to share Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “A Psalm of Life.” I happened across the poem this morning as I was reading through Our Daily Bread: Timeless Wisdom to Nourish the Soul, a gorgeous book I purchased nearly 20 years ago. The book is overflowing with scripture, poetry, and meditations.

Longfellow’s message is timely–life is real and we should live it to the fullest.

A Psalm of Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


About today’s images: Today’s images are from a set of photo cards designed by my photographer/art journalist friend Diane W (midteacher on swap-bot). You have seen Diane’s stunning creations on the blog many times. She sent the photos in a beautifully designed handmade envelope filled with photo goodies and design surprises (like hidden pockets filled with photos, stitching, and butterflies). The set has been sitting in my “to be blogged” bin for nearly two years! The two included here are perfect matches for Wadsworth’s poem. To see what Diane has been up to lately, check out her Instagram page: A Focused Journey.

A Boxful of Pooh!

Pooh and friends on the bridge watching as Eeyore floating beneath. Artwork by Susan Alena.

Way back in February—it seems eons ago, right?—I went to my mailbox a few times to find Winnie-the-Pooh goodies. There were envelopes filled with stickers, letters, postcards, tags, bookmarks, and even earrings. I was über busy when most arrived, so I oohed and ahhed over them for a moment and placed them back in their envelopes to enjoy later.

Later came today.

Pooh makes a great themed mail package–as the not one, two, or even three, but the four Pooh packages I received prove.

First came the envelope from Tess E (Vontak on swap-bot) filled with Baby Pooh stickers, washi tape, and note paper.

Aren’t they cute?! I am using these to send letters to a few baby nieces this week. I was supposed to write these letters weeks ago, but life really gets in the way of the fun stuff.

Then, a gorgeous Red Bubble envelope arrived with four Pooh postcards from Geraldine J (NannyDino on swap-bot). [Click an image to view larger]

I thought that was the swap, but a week or two later I received a fun package of even more Pooh goodies from Geraldine. [Click an image to view larger]

The handmade storybook envelope was packed with a Pooh birthday card, homemade stickers, and miniature classic Pooh book covers for crafting–all enclosed in a red polka dot envelope bedecked with Canadian Pooh postage. That’s a wonderful load of Pooh!

Then, surprise! My swap-bot-“Cup and Chaucer”-artist-blogging friend, Holly M sent a handmade tag and card “just because.”

Holly has the neatest Pooh supplies. Check out the stamps and the hand-lettering. Her stamping skills almost inspire me to pull out my rarely [and/or never] used stamps and put them to use. Almost. I really don’t like the cleanup part.

I recall Holly was kind enough to send some adorable Pooh mail a couple of years ago: Holly Art!

Finally, Susan Alena (postmansdaughter on swap-bot) sent a package that floored me.  All of it:

The hand-drawn art on the envelope.

The shrinky dink bookmark…

and earrings.

The watercolor that leads this post? Also, created by Susan.

If you ever wondered how much Pooh-love can be packed into an envelope, now you know. A whole lot.

Each sender gave her envelope so much time and attention. I know some people see it as “only mail,” but the mail often tells a story about the person’s heart. And–I do not take for granted how incredibly blessed I am to interact with so many beautiful people.

Letter from Lu! | Snail Mail Quick Tip

Squeals!!!

I received a “letter” from my little great-niece Lu [my niece Tiffany’s daughter]. Isn’t it adorable? I know you don’t understand the special language she used to write her letter, but trust me. It is full of ❤ for her favorite [great] aunt–me, of course! She even used my favorite colors!!!

Thank you for sharing your spectacular work, Lu!

Lu is the adorable baby in this post and this post. She’s now a whole two years old, grown enough to make art and send mail!

We’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the next few weeks, and kids will probably be making art almost daily–drawings, sketches, paintings, crafts, and more. If you’re like me, you already have an entire museum of your kid’s art in albums, on the walls, in piles on your desk, and in a sealed bin beneath the art table. 😀  Do you really want the task of finding ways to display or store weeks more of artwork?

Of course not!

Lu’s special letter prompted me to offer another snail mail quick tip: Art in the mail!

Sending art mail is a cute way to dispose of  share some of the precious art your kids make. Simply place those one-of-a-kind masterpieces in an envelope and send them to grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, friends, and/or the kind senior citizen who has a soft spot for your family. This will not only let them know you’re thinking about them but will also provide a bit of  sunshine while we’re all sort of “stuck.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I send and receive a lot of art mail. So–even if you don’t have children, you can send your own art.

It is so easy, but yields so much joy!

An Envelope Full of Sunflowers: Snail Mail Quick Tip

You have probably figured out by now that I receive a lot of cheerful sunflower mail, so much that I’m pretty sure I can start a blog just for sunflowers. I can’t let my second “Sunflower Week” pass without showing off the beautiful envelope full of sunflowers my Love Notes pal Lori-Anne C sent a few months ago.

Some contents from Lori-Anne’s envelope full of sunflowers

In addition to a stunning hand painted sunflower postcard, Lori-Anne enclosed a couple of sunflower tags (one for me to color), a paper sticker, and a painted wood sunflower magnet.

Note the gorgeous sunflower painted on the edge of the envelope.

Sunflower painted on envelope by Lori-Anne C

And of course, the stunning sunflower:

Live-Laugh-Love Sunflower by Lori-Anne C

Lori-Anne captured my heart–a sunflower with my little sister’s mantra. Absolutely perfect! I was headed to class when I opened the package, and my heart simply overflowed with gratitude.

The envelope full of sunflowers provides an opportunity to share another snail mail quick tip. This is slightly more challenging than the tip I offered some time ago, but it’s still pretty easy.

Tip: Send a themed envelope related to an individual’s interests. The options are endless–butterflies, foxes, roses, rocks, fairies, music, hearts, bears, plants, and so on.

Choose a family member or friend. Think about that person’s interests and fill an envelope with items related to one interest–stickers, note cards, magnets, quotes, postcards. Anything you think they’d like. If you insert just a few flat items, you’ll need only one postage stamp.

What I love about the themed envelope is that you can pack a lot of love with few words. So if you have little time to write or if long missives are not your thing, place a few “themed” items into an envelope, write a one-phrase note [“thinking of you” or “love you”] and send it on its way.

Trust me. You’ll make someone’s day.

Kindness Week Day 4: Save the Planet

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Take care of Mother Earth.

The first job given to mankind–after populating the earth–was to take care of it. As we’ve advanced, we’ve found more ways to damage the earth than to maintain it. Let’s do our part to change that.

One of the things I absolutely loved about my son’s Montessori School is that the school focused on the development of the whole person as a citizen of the world. The children were taught how to care about all people and how to care for the earth. Ziploc bags, disposable utensils and containers were not allowed. Lunches, including yogurt, milk and juice, had to be placed in reusable containers. There was a no waste policy. The director and teachers taught the children to conserve water when washing their hands and brushing their teeth and many other tips for saving the environment. The children learned that the little things we do as individuals add up to a world of difference.

Through my son’s early education, I became more intentional about my role in taking care of the earth. The idea of single-handedly conquering the varied “earth” issues is absurd, but there are many little things we can do to preserve our planet for future generations.

Starting today, let’s be kind to the earth. If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Use reusable containers, including water bottles and coffee cups
  • Unplug small appliances and phone chargers when they are not in use
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or lathering up
  • Use reusable grocery bags for shopping
  • Keep a trash bag in your car, so when you see litter you can pick it up. This also minimizes the temptation to toss the “beer can” out the window
  • Recycle and upcycle
  • Plant a tree, a shrub, flowers

If you already do these things, kudos! Now, it’s time to step up your game. There’s always more that can be done.

Note about today’s image: The gorgeous painting above was created by Lori-Anne C, one of my Love Notes pals. She created this for the latest Global heART Exchange. The theme was “Nature Quotes.” The back of the painting is just as beautiful as the front.

Just joining Kindness Week? Be sure to check out the previous posts:

Jusqu’à demain…

Many Postage Stamps + Washi Tape = Happier Mail

When an envelope that looks like this (below) arrives in your mailbox, you almost forget there might be something even more interesting inside!

After studying the stamps for several minutes, I did finally open the envelope to find an elegant handmade card from my penfriend Beth. She and I had not corresponded in quite some time, so I was overjoyed to receive a newsy letter from her.

“This Is the Day,” Handmade Card by Beth

My scanner is being weird, and no matter what I do, I can’t capture the vibrant colors in the card.  “In real life,” the white is whiter, the pink is “pinker” and the gold is “golder,” shinier, and more glittery.

Beth made the card with card stock, washi tape, and a scripture stamp. If I remember correctly, she’s the reason I made my first washi tape card (so embarrassed by it now) and postcards many moons ago. I haven’t made a washi card in years!

Her card comes at a good time. I’ve been bored with my washi tape (and my Cricut), but you can guess what I’ll be up to this weekend…

Thanks for the happy mail and the weekend therapy, Beth!

heART Exchange: Joy to the World!

Do you want to see what was in yesterday’s mail that made my heart skip with glee? 😃

Wishing you...

“Wishing You…,”–Handmade art by Ellen

I know this looks like a Christmas card and for some the holiday is “over and done,” but this isn’t a Christmas card. This is a joy to the world card.  To-maa-to,  to-mah-to. 😉  No matter.   I love the holiday season; in fact, I am still in the process of mailing my last few greetings.  [My rule–I have up to one month after the holiday to send cards.] 🙂

This piece of art was sent to me as part of heART Exchange, the Global Art Swap, coordinated by artist Louise Gale. Similar to other art swaps I’ve participated in, Louise inspires artists, collects and coordinates participants’ information, and assigns partners.  For the heART exchange, participates create art based on the assigned theme and send to three partners; they also receive art from three different partners.

Louise started the swap in 2011 because:

Giving and receiving is the constant flow of energy for our heart and what better way than to create, send and receive something beautiful and hand-made through your letter box. I would love to inspire you to live and create from the heart everyday, so it is so wonderful to host and take part in this global art swap.

The theme of the December exchange was “Joy to the World.”  “Wishing you” is the first postcard I’ve received from an assigned partner and I’m looking forward to the others showing up in my mailbox (fingers crossed).  The postcard made its way to me from the Netherlands with warm greetings from Ellen.  The scan does little justice to the cheerful creation which has lots of texture and silver and gold touches.  You can see more of (and perhaps purchase) Ellen’s work by visiting her website.

My postcard pal Christine–who introduced me to the swap–sent a bit of joy my way as well:

"Joy for the Anemones," Photo by Christine B.

“Joy for the Anemones,” Photo by Christine B.

If you’re interested, the next Global Art Swap starts in February, so click the link and join the fun!

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of creating and sending art into the world, Liberate Your Art 2017 signup is open, so take a click over to Kat Eye Studio and join in!

 

Cup and Chaucer: Mini Pocket Flipbook

One of the most enjoyable snail mail projects I worked on this year was a mini pocket flipbook for a swap in the Cup and Chaucer group on swap-bot.  Cup and Chaucer, as you might have guessed, is a group of swap-bots who love mulling over a great literature with piping hot cup of tea.

I’d never done a flipbook before, but my interest was piqued by the theme–books!  How could I resist?  Besides sticking to the theme, the only other requirement was that we incorporate a pocket.

My “receive from” partner, AnnaM, created a beautiful flipbook–lots of purple and gold, pretty embellishments, and many thoughtful handmade items.  Overall, it was an elegant flipbook, nicely presented.

This is how the flipbook came out of the envelope:

Flipbook Packaging

Flipbook Packaging

Here’s the front cover:

Flipbook Front Cover

Flipbook Front Cover

And the back cover:

Back Cover

“There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as the faint subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.” –Arthur Conan Doyle

And everything in between [click an image for a closer look]:

Here’s a closer look at some of the tuck-ins [click an image for a closer look]:

There was just so much “eye candy.” I remember doing the happy mail dance when I opened the package.

The swap came at a crazy time for me–April.  The cruelest month. Remember?  I didn’t even see an opportunity to work on it until the mail deadline date.  I ended up grabbing a bunch of supplies on my way out the door one morning, working on it, and completing it in record time in my office (between classes, of course).  I posted it on my way home.

I chose a color pallet and crafted without a plan:

fullsizerender-57

It was early spring and I was happy to see and play with color again.

True to my “English professor” word, I finished the front cover last (I tell my students to write their essay introductions last).

Bookish Flipbook Front Cover

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”  –Charles Williams Eliot

Here’s the back cover and everything in-between [click an image for a closer look]:

My favorite part is Dickens’ Dream by Victorian artist Robert William Buss.  I scavenged it from a mailer from one of the textbook publishers. The curly haired lady was also salvaged from an envelope or the back of a postcard.

The flipbook was 5 x 7 inches, a manageable size.  It was bound with washi tape. I tucked in Jane Austen postcards, Project Life cards, star-shaped Post-it notes, washi tape, and paperclip bookmarks–something else I learned to do this year.

Making the flipbook was an easy and fun activity; I’m looking forward to crafting another one. If you’d like to make your own flipbook and need to see more of the process, here’s the YouTube video I reviewed before making my own:

Doesn’t this look like fun for a rainy day?

Autumn Happy Mail

I hope you’re not tired of reading about autumn, because I received a bit of autumn happy mail today and I have to share!

Swap-bot’s Midteacher sent a swap in an autumn-themed envelope with a gorgeous autumn card and photo.  Autumn was not the theme of the swap, but it is not unusual for swappers to send extras that the receiver will enjoy. Of course, my love for the season is no secret.

I will share the swap items tomorrow, but for today, let’s just take a look at the envelope and the autumn extras.  Here’s the pretty mail art:

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Just seeing this envelope makes me smile.

On the inside was a card designed with one of Midteacher’s photos and embellished with paper, ribbon, and other items.

Fall Card made by Midteacher

Fall Card made by DBW aka Midteacher

I mentioned Midteacher’s card-making techniques in a post earlier this month.

She wrote a special thank you note inside which made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated.

She adhered a little photo  inspiration to the inside of the card:

Photo Inspiration by Midteacher

Photo Inspiration by DBW aka Midteacher

And added a photo featuring her favorite autumn mug and a crunchy, frosty pile of autumn leaves:

"Leaves and Tea," Photo by DBW/Diane aka Midteacher (swap-bot)

“Leaves and Tea,” Photo by Diane aka Midteacher

Now, I have to make a decision: Should these go on my “Fall Wall” or should they be used in my journaling?  Maybe, they should go on the wall until I’m ready to use them in a journal. Hmmm… I’ll figure it out later. For now, I’ll just enjoy the little happy-makers.

“See ya” tomorrow…

 

Postcards from Dr. Seuss

"Speak for the Trees," Mail Art by Nancylee on swap-bot

“Speak for the Trees,” Mail Art by Nancylee on swap-bot

Wouldn’t pulling this envelope out of your mailbox make you grin from ear to ear?  Maybe, that’s just me?  Swap-bot’s Nancylee so cheerfully decorated the envelope she sent to me in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday (in March) that I almost forgot to open the envelope!  The front was inspired by The Lorax; the back was inspired by none other than the Cat in the Hat.

Dr Seuss Bday Swap-1

Yes, she adorned the front and back with her imitations of Dr. Seuss characters.

Now, what was inside the envelope?  Two postcards from the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts, Theodor Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) hometown.  Although she has yet to visit the sculpture garden, Nancylee’s mom visited and sent her a bunch of postcards.

The first postcard features Horton of Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg fame standing inside the pages of a book.

"Horton Court,"

“Horton Court,” Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Sculptor

A couple of my favorite Horton quotes:

from Horton Hears a Who–

Please don’t harm all my little folks, who
have as much right to live as us bigger folks do!

from Horton Hatches the Egg–

I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.

The second postcard features Yertle from Yertle the Turtle standing loftily on top of all the turtles of the pond.  Yertle is probably the favorite Seuss tale in our home.  We applaud the moxie of a “plain little” turtle named Mack who stands up for turtles everywhere.

"Yertle the Turtle,"

“Yertle the Turtle,” Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Sculptor

My favorite quotes from the book:

I know up there on top, you are seeing great sights
but down here on the bottom, we, too, should have rights.

and of course,

And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles, and, maybe, all creatures should be.

The sculptures were created by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Geisel’s stepdaughter.  What a precious way to pay tribute to his memory and imagination!  If you’d like to find out more about the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, click the link.